March 25, 2010; News 12 at 6 o'clock
Sometimes, you meet someone who inspires you. Really inspires you. That happened to me recently, so I just had to share his story with you, and today is a very fitting day to introduce you to Poppa Daddy.
Every Sunday, Jerusalem Missionary Baptist Church Marches to the beat of a different drummer. You can't hear that he's different, though. You only see it, and you have to see it to believe it. Poppa Daddy, as everyone calls him, is missing a hand.
"I do a lot of things that people with two hands can't do," Poppa Daddy says.
A saw cut his hand off in 1966. He was only 23 years old. "I made a statement. If I couldn't play no more, let me die, and I woke up in the recovery room, so it was left up to me to find a way to play." That's exactly what he did.
He discovered he can bind the drum stick to his wrist. "I can wrap it up. You can't pull it out. But now, if I break a stick, I can take this one out and put this one in without wrapping it up again."
So Poppa Daddy didn't miss a beat. In fact, he kept the beat for a lot of famous singers. "James Brown and Jackie Wilson wanted to come to Augusta where they would all steal their musicians. We played with a lot of stars. Opened up for the OJ's. Opened up for Johnny Taylor and all of them."
Even after his accident, even after he lost his hand, he kept going. He kept his faith, and because of it his music is more than music. It's inspiration, and it's inspiring someone in his church congregation who means a lot to us at news 12.
Ketih Rush, or Krusher as we call him, was the chief photographer here at News 12 for years. He's the big man behind the camera with the big heart.
One of the last times he picked up a camera was to shoot the story about Poppa Daddy. The day before, he'd had a stroke.
You'd never know it by looking at his video. In fact, he didn't know it, either.
No one did. At 27, he was the picture of health. Today is his 28th birthday.
In 2008, we watched in awe as our 6'8" teddy bear started dropping weight, and he kept it off. He lost 162 pounds. "That's a whole person. Wow," he told us a year later when we turned the camera on him. Instead of shooting the story, he became the story.
In that story he told us, "I'm feeling fine in '09. It's hard trying to be skinny. I just want to preserve the sexy." And then, he laughed. And laughed. And laughed. That laugh is something we look forward to hearing again in our newsroom.
Not long after Krusher learned about that first stroke, he had another. Then, another. His third one was during surgery. He was in the hospital for months and many holidays and had lots of visitors, including Poppa Daddy and Freddie, the mascot for the Atlanta Falcons.
Now, he's recovering at home, and slowly but surely, he's getting better. He has a long way to go, but we know he'll get there. More importantly, he knows he'll get there. Plus he's got someone pretty special cheering him on: Poppa Daddy. "I got arthritis all over my body, got a false thumb and all, but it doesn't bother me when I'm playing because I'm doing it for the right reason."
He's playing for God, but he's also playing for Krusher and for everyone else who needs the reminder -- anything is possible.
Poppa Daddy is 65 years old, and he says everyone asks him when he's going to quit playing. He says it's not for him to decide. We hope he never stops.
We hope Krusher never stops, either. His rehab is going very well, and hopefully, he will be back behind the camera doing what he loves at News 12. In fact, he told us again today that he wants to be up and walking in two weeks.
Happy Birthday, Krusher. We love you.