By DAVID GREEN
There are few country pop singers hotter than Taylor Swift these days, and she’s certainly number one in Tiffany Bates’s mind.
The Fayette freshman is laid up in the hospital after receiving severe burns on her face, arm and shoulder in an accident with the family’s corn burner furnace.
She’s had some tough times in the hospital and her sister, Trisha, thought hard about a way to brighten her life.
Trisha’s boyfriend, Brodie Youtzy, came up with an idea—an autograph from Tiffany’s favorite artist, Taylor Swift. He found an address, but he and Trisha soon discovered that a reply could take up to three months. No good.
Trisha mentioned the predicament to Parker Stockburger and he went to work looking for a telephone number. He found what he was looking for: the number of her agent in Tennessee.
“I instantly called the number,” Trisha said. “From there, I got transferred six or seven times to different people. I ended up getting transferred all the way to California.”
The last person she spoke with listened to the entire story and was obviously touched by the situation. She produced the key ingredient: the phone number of Taylor’s publicist.
“I began calling around 1:30 that afternoon,” Trisha said. “I called six times throughout the day and left voice mails. Brodie and Mara Raker also called numerous times.”
The Bates girls’ father, Dale, refers to the group as Stalkers, Inc.
Several hours went by without a response and Trisha started to think she hit a dead end.
Then the call came.
Publicist Paula Erickson called while Trisha was in her sister’s hospital room. She quickly exited so Tiffany wouldn’t catch on to what was being discussed. If Taylor finally called, it was going to be a surprise.
Paula listened to the story, told Trisha to send the information by e-mail, and said she would call back the next day.
In the end, even Trisha was surprised because Paula called back later that same day.
“Trisha, this is Paula again. Would you happen to be with Tiffany?”
“Could you give her the phone because someone wants to talk with her,” Paula said.
Trisha hurried back into Tiffany’s room, hit speaker phone and told Tiff she had a call. She was very tired and wasn’t too keen on talking.
“Her eyes opened wide and her mouth hit the floor when a young woman’s voice said, ‘Tiffany, this is Taylor Swift’,” Trisha remembers. “I was in shock and she was in shock.”
Trisha gave a nod of the head to let her sister know this was the real thing.
Taylor told Tiffany how strong she must be and offered a lot of encouragement. She talked about an incident from earlier in the day when she was on the Ellen DeGeneres Show and Ellen jumped out “and scared the crap out of me.”
Tiffany’s only response was to say, “It sounds like you had a better day than me.”
Before hanging up, Taylor told her to hang in there and said Tiffany would remain in her thoughts and prayers.
The call ended and the two sisters sat in amazement.
“It was incredible,” Trisha said. “We still can’t believe that it happened.”
At first, Tiffany thought someone was playing a joke on her, but it didn’t take long for her to become a believer. She now refers to Trisha as the best sister ever.
Trisha is just as happy that Taylor came through.
“It was an amazing sight to see Tiffany’s face light up like that. It was a moment in time that my sister and I will never forget.”