Thomas Schoettle was looking forward to seeing Zac Brown Band, his favorite country act, perform live on July 14. However, a tragic diving accident 17 days before the concert left the Pennsylvania teen paralyzed and unable to attend the show.
On Saturday, Zac Brown surprised his no. 1 fan at Bryn Mawr Rehab Center where the 17-year-old Glenolden native continues to recover from his injuries, including a fractured neck and bruised spinal chord.
“Oh my God,” Schoettle says as Brown enters his room as seen in videos shared by his mother, Samantha Springfield-Schoettle, on Facebook. “I figured since you couldn’t come to us, we’d come to you,” Brown, 38, jokes.
Earlier this month, a family friend of the Schoettle family reached out to Brown on Facebook pleading for the country singer to visit Thomas in the hospital.
“Dear Zac, I know you must get many requests but I figured I’d give it a shot. My sons (sic) best friend who is 17 years had a serious accident recently. They get tickets and go to your concert every time you come to the Philadelphia area. You are his favorite band,” the post reads.
“Unfortunately, on 6/27/17 Thomas dove into an 5 foot above ground pool and suffered a severe spinal cord injury and is paralyzed. At 17, the reality of the possibility of paralysis for the remainder of his life is difficult to accept,” the post continues. “Missing your concert this, Friday 7/14/17, is actually his first reality check as far as things he will miss and things he won’t be able to do. I know your schedule is super busy and I know its a long shot, but, would there be any chance you could visit him, if only for a couple minutes.”
Brown flew into the Malvern area by helicopter to spend an hour with Thomas at the rehab center, one day after the country star had dedicated a song to Thomas at the BB&T Pavilion concert, according to friends and family.
A GoFundMe account has been set up for Thomas’ medical bill fund.
“Thomas has had surgery and will have months of rehab ahead of him,” the page explains.