Truck Driver to Benefactor – The Remarkable Story of Tim Cotton
By: Jay Crosson, CEO, Cumberland Heights
I am so grateful to announce the new Timothy Cotton Fund for Patient Assistance, which will provide financial assistance in perpetuity for Cumberland Heights patients.
Tim Cotton, a beloved alumnus of Cumberland Heights, passed away in January 2016 and willed the proceeds from the sale of his East Nashville home to Cumberland Heights. Tim’s donation ranks among the top 20 donations Cumberland Heights ever received.
The fund is part of Cumberland Heights’ endowment and will provide financial assistance to patients who cannot afford treatment or do not have insurance that covers costs. Cotton was himself a patient on a MusiCares scholarship, so his gift back is especially meaningful.
Tim’s story is not about how much money he donated. His story is about making an impact in the lives of others regardless of your station in life.
Tim was a long-time driver for many musical acts, including Tim McGraw, Alan Jackson, Lonestar, Kathy Mattea, and Conway Twitty. He was known in the industry as a “human GPS” who knew every shortcut and detour to any venue.
At Cumberland Heights, we have many sayings, inspirations and principles to help guide us through recovery. In 1972, Tim wrote “My Top Ten List” of principles and actions that would guide his life. I feel like they are worth sharing with you here:
- To love and be loved
- Know everyone in my family is loved, safe and warm
- Hold close to the God who created and blesses me with life
- Never cause pain to another human being
- Not to turn my back when I see someone who needs help
- Know myself better
- Always be a free spirit
- Be good at any job I do
- Be respected by my friends
- Have a simple but comfortable place to live
Beginning in the late 1980s, Tim opened his home to HIV/AIDS patients who had nowhere else to go. He became certified as an HIV/AIDS volunteer and received the 1991 Honoree for the Mary Catherine Strobel Award as Volunteer of the Year from Nashville CARES.
About two years before his death, Tim was a patient at Cumberland Heights. He touched so many people in the Nashville recovery community that they organized aftercare meetings in his hospital room in his final days so he did not have to miss meetings. After his death, Cotton’s sister Cathy received numerous calls from Cumberland Heights’ alumni who had met Tim during treatment and were touched enough to call with condolences.
Tim’s East Nashville home was sold at auction to a young couple starting a family. They live two doors down from other family members and look forward to raising their children together. Tim would be pleased.
The real estate agent, Bill Branch of Life Style Real Estate Advisors, donated his commission because he was so moved by Tim’s story and his donation to Cumberland Heights.
I am proud that Cumberland Heights was able to impact Tim so positively late in his life. And I am grateful to Tim and his entire family. His generosity will have a positive effect on the Cumberland Heights community for many, many years to come.