'E-Ticket was easy assignment after writing PR'
By Julian De Sevilla, Gainesville Lunch Out Blog guest correspondent
EDITOR'S NOTE: Say hello to Gainesville Lunch Out Blog Correspondent Julian De Sevilla. Julian is a serious foodie while attending the University of Florida College of Communications Grad school with hopes of becoming a foodie correspondent for the GLOB.
Early one Saturday morning in the summer of 1991, Mike Sanford was ejected from the rear windshield of his truck when a family motor home home barreled into the Sanford's truck that was parked on the side of the interstate outside of Ocala on U.S. Interstate #75.
Sanford, then 40, and his oldest daughter Lindsey, then 15, were a few miles outside of Ocala en route to one of her basketball games. She lost her front teeth; he suffered severe brain trauma in the early Saturday morning accident. The crash and subsequent rehabilitation process, which lasted nearly five years, inspired Five Year E-Ticket", a book Sanford wrote in the period that followed.
The title, he explained, is a reference to tickets sold at Disney World's Magic Kingdom prior to 1982. Different tickets, tiered from A to E, gave guests access to attractions. With E-tickets, guests got to ride the newest and most popular rides.
Sanford spoke about his recovery last Saturday in Meeting Room A of the Alachua County Library District Headquarters. If you've never been to Meeting Room A, it's probably not what you're thinking. Meeting Room A is a round room on the fourth floor of the library with walls stretching up to a domed ceiling. Stained glass windows adorn each wall and fill the room with warm light, giving the space the appearance of an unusually inviting chapel.
Just after 2:30 p.m., Sanford ambled up to the front of the room and, his friendly voice amplified by nothing other than the walls of Meeting Room A, he spoke to the room as though we were all out for lunch. Though much of what he described was less than light-hearted, it was clear that, if you were in that room, you could consider him a friend.
The book, available in September, contains excerpts from medical assessments and therapist evaluations alongside his first-person account. Sanford alternated between reading passages from it and speaking candidly about the events that inspired it, giving those in attendance a glimpse between the lines.
Sanford suffered a temporal lobe contusion which significantly altered his mood and behavior in addition to impairing his memory. He has no recollection, he said, of the period between the crash on May 31st and sometime around his birthday, in mid August.
Jana Sanford-Heller, his daughter, noted that he became more extroverted and social after his rehabilitation and highlighted her father's resilience.
"We call him 'Nine Lives the Cat' because, let's see, he also had non-Hodgkin lymphoma. He beat that. A heart attack and bypass surgery. He beat that. He is now batteling Type I diabetes and winning. I went to school for occupational therapy, so with every new condition we studied, I was like, 'I know about that! My dad had that.'"
The months following the crash, unsurprisingly, were challenging. In a second evaluation prognosis made seven months into rehabilitation, neurologist Dr. Celia Elbrecht wrote in his medical record:
"Mr. Sanford is likely to have continued difficulty with emotional lability making it difficult for him to find stable employment. Further, his memory is impaired to such a degree that he is unlikely to again find continued employment. His language difficulties (i.e., making paraphasic errors and word substitutions) make it difficult for him to be understood at all times, which would also decrease the likelihood of adequate functioning for employment. His emotion lability and frustration at his deficits further impair him. In summary, his prognosis is poor for significant recovery."
In spite of this, Sanford's career after his recovery included positions as director of communications for the Florida Department of Children and Families and a communications position in the Arts and finally a communications/Graphic Design post at the Department of Entomology and Nematology at the University of Florida. It was at the Department of Children and Families, over countless lunches with his colleagues, that the idea for the book took shape.
He said, "I had a different story for them every day. They all thought they were the funniest things, so after much consideration, I decided, "You know, I should make a book out of this.'"
These days, Sanford edits and publishes Gainesville's Lunch Out Blog, and the Daily GLOB each weekday morning. The GLOB Master -- his self appointed moniker -- reviews local restaurants that serve lunch in addition to writing columns dedicated to healthy eating, exploring Gainesville and keeping Gainesville abreast of local entertainment opportunities.
The idea for the GLOB originated from a New York Times article he read about a similar blog based on reviews of restaurants in midtown Manhattan, an idea he adapted to Gainesville's restaurant community.
Sanford wakes up at 4 a.m. most days, as he has for the last nine years, to have the day's stories published by lunchtime.
"Every one can't afford to go out to eat dinner every night," The GLOB Master said. "But every one has a lunch hour in their daily routine," Mike added.