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Southlake Style

Southlake's Mike & Sheri Mills to Chair GRACE Gala

Feb 26, 2013 09:15AM ● By tina

2013 GRACE Gala Chairs, Mike & Sheri Mills appreciate how precious time is

While it's now the dead of winter, we wait for the grass to green again and temperatures to soar past 100 degrees, we also wait for the massive doors of the Irving Convention Center to once again open for the GRACE Gala on Saturday, October 12.

But while we wait, there’s no time like the present to begin planning for what will be a magical, sensational tenth annual fundraiser for GRACE. Southlake's Sheri and Mike Mills, the chairs for the 2013 GRACE Gala, know how precious time is— as Mike’s was nearly cut short.

A graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy in 1995, Mike suffered a near-fatal motorcycle accident while serving in San Antonio.  The near-tragedy dramatically changed the direction of his life.

Sheri and Mike believe a string of miracles led to his survival, including the proximity to the military hospital and a young surgeon, Dr. Tyler Putnam.  Dr. Putnam ran 486 units of blood through Mike’s torn body. His heart stopped twice, but Dr. Putnam never stopped.

Mike underwent so many surgeries that doctors “laced” him up rather than suturing to allow access for the next surgery. Mike was in a coma for over a month and his grandmother came to be by his side so Mike’s mother could return home to care for his siblings.

Then the doctors told Mike’s grandmother to call his mother back to San Antonio because it “was time to let him go.” With Mike barely clinging to life, held together with surgical wire and breathing by machine, Mike’s grandmother slipped away to a Taco Cabana for a bite to eat. 

As Mike’s grandmother tells it, a disheveled man walked into the Taco Cabana, straight up to her as she stood in the order line. “This is not my normal Taco Cabana,” he said. “I go to a Taco Cabana a few miles away. But now that I see you here, I know that I am supposed to tell you that he will be okay.”

That day as Mike’s mother was on her way to San Antonio expecting to find the worse, Mike’s vitals drastically improved and he took an incredible turn for the better.

While his recovery lasted a year, and Mike will carry the scars from that horrible trauma for life, both Mike and Sheri believe that he was left here for a reason. They struggled a long time with what that reason could be. Mike thought he was left here to do something “GREAT.”

“When you survive something horrible like the crash I was in, you look for the impact you make on the Earth to be one big event as well,” said Mike. “It took us some time, but we realized that it’s not about one big thing. It’s about all the little things you do to help the next person, so they can go on to help the next person.”

“That’s exactly right,” said Sheri. “Good will actually perpetuate, if you just start it. For example, I could only afford to help the Feed Our Kids program one day in the summer. When I told my neighbor about the program, she wanted to help too, and suddenly she had taken the lead for a second day.  It’s that pay-it-forward mentality that makes GRACE great.” 

“And that’s when it occurred to us that GRACE is the vehicle that allows us to make these changes,” concluded Mike.

Sheri and Mike met at the Byron Nelson Golf Tournament in 1997 and the two were married in 1999.

Mike and Sheri have three children, Alli, a 5th grader at Durham Intermediate School, Tyler Marie, a 3rd grader at Walnut Grove Elementary, and MJ, a 4-year old who attends the Spanish School House in Southlake.

The entire Mills Family volunteers a GRACE, through board positions, the God Squad, and the Feed Our Kids children’s program.

Photo Courtesy of Skipping Stone Studio