Chief Wampum doesn’t whine

First Posted: 1:05 am - July 25th, 2015

By Scott Ballard - District Attorney

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This week we had motions in the Spalding County death penalty case. We had grand jury in Spalding—about 70 cases. In Fayette we took another 32 cases before the grand jury.

Those are heavy matters. Let’s discuss something more uplifting.

I met Chief Wampum’s mother. Let me explain.

I wanted to see if Daddy could have a private room in the hospital. Having a roommate on the other side of a curtain wasn’t ideal.

So, I went to see Jo Greene, the patient advocate at Piedmont Fayette. She promised to do what she could and, within a few days, Daddy had a private room.

While I was in her office, I saw photographs of her sons. She has four. In an older picture of all of them, I noticed that one of her boys was in a wheelchair. I asked about him.

“Oh, he’s my miracle child,” she said with a beaming smile.

Then she explained. She had experienced two miscarriages. And this child, Ryan Carter, lost his heartbeat at birth. Somehow, he survived. But, for 18 years he was unable to speak.

He made the best of things. He attended East Coweta High School in a wheelchair. They made him their mascot for the football games. Somebody rigged a canoe around his wheelchair and, dressed like an Indian Chief, he rolled onto the field. He was Chief Wampum.

The family explored different types of technology to try to help him speak. The first efforts failed. But, when Ryan was 18, they tried a new product.

Suddenly, he could speak.

Ms. Greene remembers the first words he ever said to her. Ryan was 18 and she was helping put on his shoes. Out of the blue, Ryan said, “Mom you are so annoying!”

I guess he had held it in as long as he could stand it.

Taken aback, she asked, “What do you mean?”

He said, “Why do you always do it sock, shoe and sock,shoe? Why can’t you put on both socks before you put on the shoes?”

Ryan is 22 now. He gives speeches to groups. Often he gives his testimony to churches. He tells folks, “Don’t worry. Me and God have got this.”

The company issued him business cards. His position? Ambassador.

He’s an ambassador, alright. All I wanted was a private room for my Daddy.

What I received was an inspiring story that made my problems seem small and manageable.

The next time I start to whine about anything, I’m going to remember Chief Wampum.

Scott Ballard is District Attorney for the Griffin Judicial Circuit, which is made up of Fayette, Pike, Spalding and Upson counties.


By Scott Ballard

District Attorney

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