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Man With Down Syndrome Discusses His Faith, Father, and Elvis

Hope for the Caregiver / Peter Rosenberger
The Truth Network Radio
January 11, 2022 3:00 am

Man With Down Syndrome Discusses His Faith, Father, and Elvis

Hope for the Caregiver / Peter Rosenberger

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January 11, 2022 3:00 am

Aaron Tornquist (43) lives with Down Syndrome and is an Elvis Tribute Artist. For Elvis's 87 birthday (January 8) - I invited Aaron to return to the program and share his story.

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According to latest figures from the CDC, approximately one million Americans are injured annually as a result of falling on ice and snow.

I'm Peter Rosenberg, and as a caregiver for my wife for more than 35 years, I understand the importance of helping someone with a mobility impairment get in and out of the home safely, particularly in inclement weather. And that's why this winter I'm using HeatTrak. They're snow and ice melting mats that you just plug in and they provide you a safe walkway to your garage, to your mailbox, to your deck, to your business. Whatever the need, HeatTrak has a mat that will fit that need and make sure that you can get in safely during snow and ice.

You don't have to plow, you don't have to shovel, and you don't have to worry about falling because you're walking on something that is safe and secure and dry. This winter, let's stay out of the emergency room. Let's make sure we're safe. Go to HeatTrak.com. You know, these make a great gift as well. During inclement weather, let's stay out of the emergency room and enjoy the winter instead.

Go to HeatTrak.com. Alright, I have a very special guest. His name is Aaron Torquist, and Aaron is on the phone with me from Nashville, Tennessee, or Franklin, Tennessee, right outside of Nashville. I've known Aaron since he was a young teenager, and he is now 43 years old. Aaron is a spectacular man who has Down syndrome and continues to be just a joy to everyone he engages with. Aaron, you with me? Yes, sir, I'm here. Well, Aaron, I had you on today for a very special reason.

What is that reason? About how Elvis meant to me. Well, today is Elvis' birthday. He would have been 87, Aaron, and you are an Elvis tribute artist. What does that mean, to be an Elvis tribute artist?

Well, there's two ways for saying that. That's what people call it now, Elvis tribute artist. They won't call it Elvis impersonator anymore, do they?

No, they don't. That means people don't respect Elvis and his music, but they're making fun of it, and now people don't like it anymore. Now they start calling them Elvis tribute artists, and they start liking it again. Well, your dad sent me some pictures of you guys, because you've had a lot of snow there in middle Tennessee, and you were obviously stuck in the home, and so you were wearing some of your Elvis gear. You've got several suits, don't you?

Yes, I did. What drew you to this? What drew you to Elvis? What did you like about Elvis? Well, I have a very strong connection to his religions, music, and personal life, and I have connection with that.

Let me ask you a couple questions about that. Number one, you now are 43 years old. That means that you're older, you've lived longer now than Elvis did, and for individuals with Down syndrome, that's saying something, because there was a time where people with Down syndrome didn't live very long, and here you are at 43.

What do you think about that, Aaron? You're older than Elvis. You're older than Elvis was when he died. Does that strike you as odd?

Yeah, yeah. This is my first time I found out how he died when he died. I was 42.

I'm lucky I'm still here. Do you have some thoughts that you'd like to share about Down syndrome, and now that you've blown the curve of the longer life expectancy, everything else, your dad says this to me about you. I don't know if you know this or not, but this is what your dad tells me about you. He says that Aaron is a wise man. He calls you a wise man.

That's true. Your dad calls me a wise guy, but he calls you a wise man. You have great wisdom. I've talked with you many times over the years. You've been on my program several times, and you've also been there in the studio with me when we did the show in Nashville. You have a wisdom to you, Aaron, and it's a quiet wisdom that comes from a lot of deep thoughts. I want to explore some of those with you, and I want you to share some things that are on your heart when we come back from the commercial. Can you hang through the break?

Can you hang on for just a little bit? All right. Well, listen, this is Peter Rosenberg, and this is Hope for the Caregiver. This is the program for you as a family caregiver. We're talking with my longtime friend, Aaron Torquist. He has Down syndrome, and he has some great insights to offer us and to parents of Down syndrome children. 888-589-8840. We'll be right back. Welcome back to Hope for the Caregiver.

This is Peter Rosenberg, and this is the program for you as a family caregiver. Aaron, you know who that is singing? I don't remember exactly. Well, that is a guy named Russ Taft, and that is my wife, Gracie, singing with him from her CD, Resilient. How'd she do there, Aaron? Did she do all right? I mean, she's no Elvis. She's no Elvis, but she does all right.

Yes, she does. Aaron Torquist joined me today from Franklin, Tennessee. He's a wonderful young man, and I still call you young man, Aaron, but I've known him since he was a teenager, and I guess I met you when you were 12, and maybe even younger than that.

That's right. And Elvis's birthday is today, and Aaron is an Elvis tribute artist. Aaron has Down syndrome, and he shares freely about things that he's learned along the way and what he's learned about life, about God, about himself. And his father, Greg, and I have been friends for a very long time, written a couple songs together, and Greg, they've been in the studio with me in Nashville.

We did the show there, and Aaron comes on periodically, and normally I would actually have Aaron on during October, which is Down syndrome awareness month, but this year it got a little bit weird from us with Gracie having a pretty ugly surgery on her leg when she fell and broke it, and then her mother passed away, and it just got away from him. But I thought, what better day to have him on than Elvis's birthday? And my favorite story, Aaron, that your dad tells is that when he'll drop you off at Graceland sometimes, and one of the tour guides at Graceland asked if you'd ever been there before, and what did you tell him? I said, I've been there a lot more than Elvis did. You were at Graceland more than Elvis was. Do you know, Aaron, the three Grammys that Elvis won, can you tell me what they were for? Well, it's the same song for different shows on that same song called How Great Thou Art.

That's right. And that is a wonderful hymn that ties in what we were talking about earlier as I look at it over the vast landscape where we live in Montana. Oh Lord, my God, when I in awesome wonder, and Elvis won a Grammy for that one, and the record he won a Grammy for, do you remember that one? Yeah, that was that song, yeah. Well, yeah, but for another one too, Bill Gaither wrote it called He Touched Me. Do you remember that? Yeah, that one, yeah.

And it's interesting, of all the songs that he recorded, his Grammys came from gospel records, and he was a great lover of gospel music. Aaron, the world right now is trying to do everything it can to prevent Down Syndrome children from being born. That's got to resonate on such a level with you, and I'd like to hear your thoughts on that, on parents who are expecting a child that may have Down Syndrome, and what do you think? What are your thoughts on that? Because there's a move right now to eradicate Down Syndrome by eradicating the baby. And here you are, 43 years old, you've lived longer than most believe that Down Syndrome children would. As your father says, you're a wise man, you have a very, very full life. What are your thoughts on that? Well, I've been born with Down Syndrome.

Some do make it, some don't, because you don't have the same chromosome most people don't have. I like Down Syndrome people, I like kids with Down Syndrome. I think that all parents need to be more careful when they make plans for the child's future, or let down treat others just like anybody else. Tell me about your dad. Oh man, my dad's a great caregiver to me.

I've been with my dad about 43 years, while I was a baby boy. He said, that's my boy. He's always, I'm a big lobber. He's a pretty good old guitar player too, isn't he? Yes, yes he has. He plays better than Elvis did, doesn't he?

I will not say that. I can hear him laughing in the background. Do you, your father brags on you a lot. And he enjoys you. He delights in you and he enjoys you. He is extremely proud of you.

And I think that the relationship you two have is remarkable. Tell me how your faith has grown through your journey as well, of coming to understand how God has provided for you, has cared for you, redeemed you, and loves you, and all those things that are part of your life. How has your faith journey been through this? Oh man, I truly believe in that because I know my first time I got, a couple years ago, I was sick and I was getting better.

I didn't know they were going to get me right away. But I was in bed asleep and some people said in the Bible, saying about, God will lift you up and hold you and make you feel better again. And I had that 24 hour bug, but I know I'm going to find out because most people I have, especially why we're dancing when people have 47 chromosomes, I have. My faith, I believe in faith. I know faith can change anybody's life. Well, your dad tells me that you have a wall of prayer, that you put prayer requests on your wall.

I remember when Gracie was very sick, you put her on the wall. And tell me about some of the prayer requests that you have that you put on your wall. I don't want to put anybody, anyone I don't think of.

You, your wife, anybody. It's really meaningful. There are a lot of, a lot of people that don't have a prayer wall, but here you have a prayer wall and you are going to God. And I believe that, uh, you have such a ministry to that, to folks that they may not even know about, but you're doing it and you're being faithful to pray on this. And Aaron, I tell you, it's very meaningful to hear that when, when your dad told me when, when Gracie first got COVID, uh, when it first came out, she was the first one in our County out here. And your dad texted me and said, Aaron's got Gracie on the prayer wall. And, uh, I was, I was, I was quite moved by that. And I thank you for that.

Aaron, any last thoughts that you have with us? Oh, go ahead. Yeah. Well, I first started doing a, making a more room wall cause I've been watching this movie.

Uh, her name is Pacific Sire and her movie is called war. Um, you know, I've been watching it for a long time and you know, I realized, you know, it's a powerful prayer to think of isn't a book of Matthew six, six. And you have a, and you go into your closet and pray. Yeah. Is that what, let me look up that verse here.

What is that? Uh, but when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your father who is unseen, then your father who sees what is done in secret will reward you. Yeah, that's what it says.

Yeah. And that's exactly what, and you take that verse literally and you actually do that and you go into your room, you shut your door and you pray to your father in the, who's in the secret place. What an inspiration that is. I usually pray without people seeing me doing that.

I just want to do it my own time. Well, that's what he asked us to do. And you're being obedient to do that. What, what's the last thing you want to share before we close this time out? Aaron, anything else that's on your heart? Anything, anything, like I said, it's Elvis's birthday. You're an Elvis tribute artist. I love you. I saw you in the gold jacket, by the way, that looks great on you, just like Elvis's and it looks great on you.

You look, you look spectacular. Yeah. What, what, what Elvis for that? That was back in 1957.

He had a home homecoming concert when he was born in Tupelo, Mississippi. Well, you, and then you've got the, uh, you've also, I've seen you with the, um, the white, uh, is it the, it's the black and white shirt and pants and the, and the white shoes with the black trim. What, what is that outfit? That outfit is one. Well, that shirt is a gift from my God, my birthday, my dad's girlfriend, Chrissy. She gave it to me for my birthday. I am so proud she's doing it.

I'm glad he's here with us. And wow, I'll say, wow, wow, wow. Well, do you, has the, has he, has your dad ever given you a cape to wear? A cape?

Like Elvis wore with his big cape? The big cape with the eagle on it, that came from my, from my mother. You got, you actually have that cape with the eagle on it. Yes, I still have the cape. All right. You got to send me a picture of that one.

You got, you got to send me a picture of that one. Well, Aaron, I thank you very much for taking the time to join me today and just share your heart. And, um, I, I, I hope that our listeners today will, uh, take heart and what you've inspired us to do. You go into your closet and you pray for people. You trust God with your, your journey.

And, uh, you've lived with Down syndrome now for 43 years. You have a very full life. You love to work. You love to engage with people. And, um, I tell you, uh, I, I've enjoyed having you on the show. We'll have to, we'll have to do this again, specifically, um, maybe even on Elvis's 90th birthday.

Um, we'll, we'll, we'll see it. And, but I, I just think it's, uh, it's wonderful to have you here and I thank you very much for taking the time. Okay. Oh, you're welcome. Aaron, Aaron Turquoise, Franklin Tennessee. And we thank him for being on the show with us today. Hey, this is Larry the Cable Guy. You are listening to Hope for the Caregiver with Peter Rosenberg. And if you're not listening to it, you're a communist.

Get it done. Some of you know the remarkable story of Peter's wife, Gracie, and recently Peter talked to Gracie about all the wonderful things that have emerged from her difficult journey. Take a listen. Gracie, when you envisioned doing a prosthetic limb outreach, did you ever think that inmates would help you do that?

Not in a million years. When you go to the facility run by CoreCivic and you see the faces of these inmates that are working on prosthetic limbs that you have helped collect from all over the country that you put out the plea for, and they're disassembling. You see all these legs, like what you have, your own prosthetic legs and arms. When you see all this, what does that do to you? It makes me cry because I see the smiles on their faces and I know what it is to be locked someplace where you can't get out without somebody else allowing you to get out.

Of course, being in the hospital so much and so long. These men are so glad that they get to be doing, as one band said, something good finally with my hands. Did you know before you became an amputee that parts of prosthetic limbs could be recycled? No, I had no idea.

I thought of peg legs, I thought of wooden legs, I never thought of titanium and carbon legs and flex feet and sea legs and all that. I never thought about that. As you watch these inmates participate in something like this, knowing that they're helping other people now walk, they're providing the means for these supplies to get over there, what does that do to you just on a heart level? I wish I could explain to the world what I see in there and I wish that I could be able to go and say, this guy right here, he needs to go to Africa with us. I never not feel that way.

Every time you always make me have to leave, I don't want to leave them. I feel like I'm at home with them and I feel like that we have a common bond that I would have never expected that only God could put together. Now that you've had an experience with it, what do you think of the faith-based programs that CoreCivic offers? I think they're just absolutely awesome and I think every prison out there should have faith-based programs like this because the return rate of the men that are involved in this particular faith-based program and other ones like it, but I know about this one, is just an amazingly low rate. Compared to those who don't have them and I think that that says so much. That doesn't have anything to do with me, it just has something to do with God using somebody broken to help other broken people. If people want to donate a used prosthetic limb, whether from a loved one who passed away or somebody who outgrew them, you've donated some of your own. How do they do that? Oh, please go to standingwithhope.com slash recycle standingwithhope.com slash recycle. Thanks, Gracie.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-06-29 13:36:29 / 2023-06-29 13:44:22 / 8

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