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I got married! A post about unconditional love!

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Marriage: the legally or formally recognized union of two people as partners in a personal relationship (historically and in some jurisdictions specifically a union between a man and a woman).

I can now relate… It’s been a whirlwind of the six weeks, for very good reason. I am now married and I have embarked on marriage with my best friend, Catherine “Catie” Logan (previously) now Hargrave.  Marriage has in fact been all that is talked up to be, even better than I expected to tell you the truth, it has exceeded expectations by mile. As many of you that are accustomed to pure love can relate, “it just feels right”. Having said that, while there is much wisdom around us in the form of grandparents, parents, family, and friends who have years of marriage experience, they will be the first to tell you, which I taken note of “it takes effort.” But, don’t all good things in life take effort? Nothing good in life is easy. That makes it the best part. There is something to be said about the feeling that we get when we work hard for something. When we are on a relentless pursuit to obtain something, that we can finally call ours, soon becomes a feeling of pure euphoria. But what’s more is the feeling that we get when we can then hold on to that thing that means the most to us forever. When we can day after day work so hard to be a better version of ourselves, that the one that is by our side will continue to fall in love with us, because they notice that we are willing to do whatever it takes to be a person that they cannot live without. I’m willing to do whatever it takes…

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As I look back on my 29 years of life to reflect on how I have gotten to where I am today and how I became the person that I am today, I’ve realized that there is always people involved in those reflections. People are quite literally at the forefront of every important thing that matters in life. Humans are built around relationships. I believe that the term relationship gets taken out of context in many instances. I feel as if any people believe that relationships only exist with you and your significant other. I have a contrarian thinking to this matter. I believe that relationships can exist between all people, they don’t always have to be in the form of an intimate relationship, but then you would also have to define what intimacy is to you? Many people believe that intimacy comes in the form of sexuality and intimate contact and love between two people. But like relationships, can intimacy have its own different connotation as well? Where intimacy could also be held between people who are non-sexual together? I believe that intimacy could also be described as two beings being close and familiar with one another. Simply because they have broken down those tough to break down walls to get past surface level conversations and to reach the true depths of what it means to have an intimate relationship with somebody. Where you can connect on a level that it is so deep, that you cannot deny the familiarity that you share with somebody else. Mind you, this can be between two heterosexual or homosexual beings as well.

Where am I going with all this? I believe that up until this point in my life, I have shared many intimate relationships with many people, even other males in my life. These people have provided context to my life, have given my life meaning, have helped shape who I am and have helped me construct great learnings from my life experiences. They are to thank for where I am today and for who I am with, Catie. Hopefully I’m not speaking for her, but per her remarks to me Catie fell in love with a man who she felt would give up everything and anything for our relationship. She fell in love with a particular man for a particular reason. That man, being me, who is a culmination of my learnings and the people in my life today who have shaped me. In essence, it was those intimate relationships that have shaped who I am for Catie to fall in love with me. So, for that I’m beyond thankful for those life experiences, those people, and those teachings, who have brought me to today.

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Before I tell you the story of mine and Catie’s love affair, I must tell you of my previous perception of what I thought I needed and wanted in life in terms of somebody I wanted to be with. Much of it was built around physical standards. Checking off boxes that really did not matter in the grand scheme of life. Which brings me to a very important question that we all need to ask ourselves. Are we looking for the right things in the person that we want to be with? Are we focusing on the things that truly matter? Does it really need to be all about looks? Or are there other important things that we’re overlooking that really matter most. For me, what drew me towards Catie was her authenticity. Her ability to be wholeheartedly herself regardless of who was around and whomever she was interacting with. Some people might find that to be misunderstood about her, in terms of her stoic nature and her ability to always be so candid. I see this as the true beauty in somebody who you always know where she stands and what she is thinking all while being her fully authentic self. I grew to love and find the true non-surface level beauty in her, I just so happen to end up with and marry physically the most beautiful girl in the world as well.

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Mine and Catie’s love affair began several years ago. 7 ½ to be exact. We met in college at the University of La Verne. To tell you the true story, Catie was not interested in me, in that way, initially. There was a convincing process whether it was indirect or subliminal or not, which took place for some four years of our friendship. In many cases, internally I didn’t even realize that I was falling for her until it hit me right in the face. Our first interaction came on the floor of her safe haven, the volleyball court. I remember wheeling up to her as she was sitting cross-legged at center court on the campus of the University of La Verne. It was after an intramural volleyball game that she was playing in with one of my best friends, Jeremy. I reluctantly wheeled up to her, not because I didn’t want to speak to her, but because I did not know how to speak to her. I was lovestruck. Literally. (If any of you were wondering, I was single at this juncture in time) The feeling in my stomach was something I never felt before. She didn’t know that, but I felt as if it was portrayed all over my face. The first interaction on her court, where she would typically dominate the opposing players for four years of college, allowed me to see another side of her. She was one person in the heat of the battle on the volleyball court, but in that moment sitting in the middle of the court after the game, she was exactly what I always dreamed of in a woman. Attentive, direct, no hidden agenda. Authentic.

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We have been in an intimate relationship for many years, exploring the depth of each other to a very deep degree. Having very deep conversations, some very tough conversations, some life-changing moments. Mind you, throughout many of these 7 1/2 years, we were both in other relationships, we respected the boundaries of what that meant, all while maintaining an intimate relationship with each other that was built on the foundation of an understanding between the both of us that we both held a unique place in each other’s heart. That was something that neither of us ever discounted. It was important for us to both acknowledge that. To recognize and realize that. Falling back on that understanding and belief, was what got each of us through tough times, when we needed each other to run to, to cry to, or just for the other person to listen. That approach has got us to where we are today.

It was October 6, 2017 when I got down on one knee. Less literally and much more figuratively. They say relationships are about doing it in your own unique way. Our love story is definitely unique. Not to be confused with different, but simply one-of-a-kind. I will be honest with you, I feared that I would not a find woman that simply had her dream wedding and dream proposal built around a man who was standing in front of her looking her in the eyes. Because I physically cannot amount to that, I feared that I would not find anybody. I was wrong.

The best part of our relationship is whether it is conventional or not, traditional or not, Catie loves every bit of it. It doesn’t have to be perfect, love is all that matters to her. That’s truthfully why I have fallen in love with her. She sees me for me, regardless of the chair. Oh, by the way she said yes. It was a magical moment in our own backyard. I was given direction, a bit of direction, on certain criteria that I needed to meet for my proposal. 1. Make sure the moment is intimate and that we can share it by ourselves. 2. Make sure a photographer is there to capture every moment.

Those things seemed simple enough for me. So, I figured why not do it in our own backyard. It’s where I intend to start a family with her, where we have made incredible memories up until that point for a year and a half together of living in our home. And, there was so much symbolic nature about our backyard and our home that had shaped us. It seemed perfect. And the moment that I popped the question, was when I was reiterated that everything that I thought was true. This was exactly how everything was supposed to be. Everything, all good, bad, or indifferent all contributed to getting me to where I was at that exact moment. She was the girl for me. My proposal was exactly as I hoped it would be since the day I was born. It was perfect. Simply because it was shared with her. If that is not a great moment to start the rest of our life together, then I don’t know what would be?

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I will tell you that the moment I proposed something came over me and my love grew for her exponentially. I definitely grew as a person. I recognized that I needed to be more patient, more kind, more understanding, a better listener, simply a better version of myself each and every day. I will tell you, that even though I can write thousands and thousands of words onto a paper and speak to you, or you could put a microphone in my hand and I could talk for an hour, that sometimes I can struggle with communication. I tend not to sweat the little things, so in that regard I would brush aside what I felt were “dumb” conversations. In the grand scheme of life, I’ve recognized that even those “dumb” conversations are worth acknowledging and worth growing from. I like to think, that I have become a better communicator and a better listener.

Ultimately, what this journey the past 29 years has taught me, more than anything, is to love unconditionally. To quite literally love without conditions and no matter what. Most recently, I was with Catie somewhere and I came up with a saying, “Whether you are up, or you are down, do not deviate, stay the course, see it through to the end and do not give up.” This is now my mantra with her. I said it up on the altar, “through thick and thin.” I will tell you that we rarely, if ever, have arguments. That’s not to say that we do not know how to get under each other’s skin. I think that goes for each and every relationship without saying. However, I understand that my love for her, much like it is for other people that I share relationships with, is unconditional. It is never wavering and just because tough times happen, does not push me away, it brings me in tighter. I’ve recognized, that the only people in life that can hurt you, are the people that you truly care about. Those are the people that are worth investing into and worth going the extra mile for. Without conditions.

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Through all this I have grown to understand that I’m not easy to deal with. For those of you that know me, I think you know that that goes without saying. I have a lot that I need to do to grow, as an individual, as a person, as a husband, as a son, and hopefully as a future father. I know a lot about a little in life. And, the best thing that I can do is keep my eyes peeled for those easy to read point-blank obvious signs and learning experiences that are right in front of me. Each and every day, we all have them. We tend to overlook them. Not acknowledge them. Not communicate about them. But everything that we go through is a contributing factor to who we are today, tomorrow, and years from now. I made several vows to Catie, which I will share with you at the end of this, but the basic gist of all of it, is that I promised to be a better version of myself each and every day and I promised to not be complacent with the fact that I think that I will always have somebody that I will get to come home to. For me that is not a luxury. That is not an expectation. That is a blessing. When we have blessings in life, we should count them. We should hold onto them forever and we should acknowledge their importance to us in our lives. Thus, I vow to her to give her 1 million reasons each and every day to continue to want to come home to me. Much like I would put my heart on the line for anybody else, I would put my heart on the line for her. I have no doubt in my mind that there are better men out there for her, for other people, and just in general. But one thing that I can promise her, you, and the next person that I enter a relationship with, is that you will not find anybody else in this world that will be as willing to give as much of their heart as I will to each and every one of you and her.

As for our wedding day. My gosh, did it come and go like a whirlwind. We were blessed with many of our greatest supporters there. 344 people to be exact. To put it simply, we felt an overwhelming amount of love from each and every person. The only unfortunate part of it is I know that there was people who were not there, that I do wish could’ve be there. Hopefully many of you can relate and understand. I know that marriage and weddings are one of those things, where everybody does them differently. Everybody has their version of their perfect wedding day. Some, side on having smaller weddings to make them more intimate. This I can understand and relate to. I have been to many weddings with a smaller amount of people and I truly felt the intimacy in the air. However, maybe against Catie’s better judgment, she let me get my way and honored the fact that I had many important people in my life that I wanted to be there to witness the beginning of our courtship. I felt as if, there wasn’t one person that I could leave out. It was my version of a perfect day, with many people. Simply because so many people have impacted my life, it was my way of saying thank you to them.  

As I mentioned earlier, the day happen fast. Very fast. Too fast. It literally felt as if I woke up that morning down in the Escondido area and in the blink of an eye we left the venue that night, running through an arch of sparklers of what felt like still 344 people who did not leave until the party shut down. We pulled away in the getaway vehicle and I took a deep breath and soaked in the afternoon for a few moments. So many things to reflect on. So many people that I was able to acknowledge and others that I wasn’t. So much love that we felt. And those seven hours came and went in the blink of an eye. I couldn’t help but think about my last 11 years of my recovery and my journey. Literally in the blink of an eye it all culminated to that moment. 29 years, all boiled down to two words, “I do.” It came and went that fast and made me realize that truthfully, we never fully exercise the opportunity to live in the moment. To rid ourselves of distractions and to wholeheartedly be present and mindful of what is going on. I can promise you, I did everything in my power to be mindful of everything that was happening on that perfect wedding day on September 15, 2018. The greatest learning experience I had from that, is that is how I intend to live my life each and every day from now on. To be present. Life is more about than just showing up. You have to quite literally “show up” and be the best version of yourself in that moment. If you’re not, you’re selling yourself short.

I have a long way to go. But truthfully, since this love affair started with Catie, I have come a long way. I’ve overcome so many of my biggest fears in life and I’ve come to realize, that I should have never feared them. What doesn’t kill me, makes me stronger. After my accident, I truthfully felt that I would not find somebody in this world that would unconditionally see me for who I am. I thought that I would not be able to find somebody who would wholeheartedly love me and would see my greatest weaknesses as some of my biggest strengths and the things that she would actually love most about me. I thought that I would struggle to be the father that I want to be. I feared for my first dance at my wedding, because I knew it wouldn’t be conventional. I feared walking down the aisle with her, because it would not be conventional. What I’ve come to find out, is when you find the right person none of those things matter. I finally found somebody who does unconditionally love me and sees my confinement to a wheelchair as something that she has grown to love about me and takes joy in protecting me. I have realized that I will no doubt be the father that I want to be, not because of who I am, but because of who she is and who she makes me. I’m already set up for success because of her. Ultimately, my two biggest fears of our first dance and walking down the aisle became moments that I will never forget and that I grew to love. Simply, because she did not care if it was unconventional. In fact, she thought it was unique and amazing. This is the type of woman that she is.

So, for those of you that are reading this, that can relate, or that are still looking for that unconditional love that I’m speaking of, just know that this is just one story that I’m speaking of. This is just one way to do love. It’s not necessarily the right way, but it is the right way for me and Catie. I’ve grown to understand that every relationship, sexual or not, is very different with the people that we share it with. We don’t treat any two individuals the same in our life.  We can treat friends with the same level of fairness, but we will never treat them the same. That’s what makes the human bond so unique and so special. Each and every one of the relationships that we share is different and a perfect masterpiece. But, are you looking for the right things in those relationships? Are you acknowledging the important parts? Or are you dwelling on the things that don’t really matter? Are you growing from the things that you should be? Are you speaking up rather than holding things in? I’m sure many of you are laughing, thinking that I’m still in the honeymoon phase. There’s no denying that, but I guess I would really have to raise my eyebrows if I was feeling any differently than I do right now at this stage in the game. So, I’m asking from each and every one of you to please give me that important advice that I need to grow from. There is so much out there that I don’t know and that each and every one of you can shed light on to me with. I’m willing to listen and I’m willing to go out of my way to make sure that you are feeling valued during the process.

As I close, I ask you this, “What are you living for? What are you looking for? Are you doing what you love? Are you surrounding yourself with the things in life that truly matter, people? Are you investing into those people? Are you being your authentic self? Are you making time for those people? Are you ridding yourself of distractions so you can absorb every bit of reality, in terms of what’s right in front of you and not in terms of what’s on your phone?” To take this a step further, as I reflect on something that I read recently, I ask each of you, “Are we interruptible?” Are the tasks that need to be done really more urgent and important than those people that need just a minute of our time? If ultimately our mission on this earth is to wholeheartedly and unconditionally love people and love others, then we must take a second to stop and look around at what’s so blatantly right in front of us. It is easy to not recognize these opportunities In the midst of distractions. However, we need to be present for others. Just because things seem to be “urgent” in our life doesn’t mean that they are more important than our loved ones or others. This is not to say we should not go and get our work done or to not go grind. I’m not saying that. I’m saying to have balance. At the end of your life, you will be more likely to sit there and reflect on the fact that you did not have enough time with those you care about most.

My acknowledgment to all of you is to thank you for the unconditional love that you have shown me. Your love has transcended who I am, to be somebody who can show unconditional love to Catie and each and every one of you. Cheers to many years of marriage, till death do us apart. And, cheers to many years of intimate relationships with each and every one of you. I won’t leave your side.

I will leave you with one thing, as it is one thing that I intend to do with Catie and each of you for the rest of my life and I hope that you intend to do it in your own way with your own flair in your life at some point. I encourage you to pursue your relationships with intimacy, authenticity, and unconditional love.

As Andy Grammer says, " I give love to all of my people, All of my people need love, I give some, 'Cause in the end, the love we take's, Got nothing on the love we make, So give love.”

My vows:

Catie 

I promise to give you my undivided attention for 313 days of the year because Saturday’s will always be for the boys 

I’m kidding let me start over

Catie, my rock, my love, my heartbeat, my wheels, my spinal cord, my everything...

I have dreaded today, not for the reason that you think, but simply because I knew it would not be conventional, I knew it would not be traditional, I knew it would not be ordinary. But at the end of today, I know that is ultimately what makes us so special, it is us. There is nothing conventional, nothing normal about us and the best part is, is that you are OK with that. You see the beauty in all of it and you were OK with today not been picture perfect. That is what I love about you. You have made sacrifices that nobody else would make, all while being your authentic self. You never deviate from who you are, for anybody. You most certainly have layers to you and each and every time I get to peel back one of those layers I get to see the true beauty beneath all of it that most people do not get to see. Each and every time, the wait is worth it to learn something new and amazing about you. 

I don’t know how the traditional ways could possibly expect me to express the love that I have for you and how I promise to love you till the day I die in such a short amount of time, but here is my best shot at it. 

Catie

I promise to continue to be patient with you regardless of the piles sitting around the house, because in the grand scheme of life they are not that big of a deal.

I promise to reciprocate holding you while you fall asleep, because you hold my ear tight every night and it’s about time I hold up my end of the bargain.

I promise to make the effort to be the best husband and father that I can be. I have feared for this moment for many years, because I never thought that I could be the father to our children that I wanted to be. I’ve got to tell you, that fear went away when I met you, because I knew that you were the partner I needed to be the father I needed to be.

I promise to date you for the rest of our lives. I fell in love with you while dating you, and I intend to fall in love with you every day and I’m excited to do so, because the best part about you is getting to date you. 

I promise to always be passionate about the things that we share, the things that we mutually love the most. 

I promise to stay true to our values, morals, and beliefs that have set the foundation that our relationship is grounded on.

Catie, You may be the only one that understands this one (and you country music lovers), but it still bars me saying

I promise to not keep score and to cherish our sweet love. I promise to be your superhero because you make me lose my mind, because I’m drunk on your love and baby you are fire, but of course it’s because Time with you is time well spent. Catie I cannot sleep without you, because I love you like that. I hope that I never have to ask you to stay a little longer, because I hope you’ll never leave my side. I want to continue to pull all nighter‘s with you and go road Trippin just so I can show you off. I know with you anything goes, because things are always good good and because you make me smile. I’ve realized you are special because you are my angel and I have a confession that you are holy to me. When I am with you there’s no such thing as a broken heart, even when there is Only dirt on the road and many wrong turns, but with you I’m trying to go nowhere fast and I am only trying to get to where we need to go as long as we get it right. You are not perfect, said nobody ever, but forever I will ask you to be with me. Catie, I just want to say thank you for being my sweet thing and my better half. I have told everybody that you are my 11 and that everything is going to be good. I can’t live without you during these long hot summers, because I need somebody like you to dance to Texas time and you’ll always be my better life and I will make sure that blue will never be your color. Catie, I think God that I am yours. So let’s get out of here because I can’t wait for you to pull out that hotel key tonight. 

Catie, I have one last promise for you, for real.

I promise that everything I hear, everything I do, everything I see, and everything I think about will remind me of you. So let’s do this, me and you. Country concerts, world traveling, family, trials and tribulations, overcoming this darn injury, I don’t want to do it with anybody but you. And I’m ready right now… 

11 things that I have learned these past 11 years

11 Things I’ve Learned in 11 Years

These past 11 years have taught me much, there is no denying that. Though there has been trials and tribulations, there has been triumphs and victories along the way as well. My trials have humbled me, and my victories have kept me grounded and have given me hope to know that I can continue to be better. The most important part to acknowledge in all of this is the fact that I have opportunities. Above anything that I’m about to tell you, the one thing I’ve learned above everything else is that dreams are universal, but opportunities are not. I’m a part of the less than 1% of people in this world that has the opportunity to exercise all my dreams and to try and pursue them. Something we must all understand is that this is not the case throughout the world, let alone even here in our own backyard in Southern California. For this I remain humble, I remain hopeful, and most of all I remain motivated. I have the opportunity each and every morning to wake up and be better, not just for myself, my fiancé, or my family, but also for each and every one of you who has lent a helping hand along the way throughout this journey. For that I say thank you and to that I write to you this, the 11 pivotal things that I’ve learned over these past 11 years:

1. I’m Still Me.- Regardless of circumstance, regardless of time, regardless of place, regardless of the way in which I get around and the way in which I do things, I’m still me. Once I got injured, I thought that I would lose sight of who I am and that my identity was lost. Little did I know that life was leading me down a path of who I was ultimately supposed to become. This was the biggest lesson of all. I really am still me, still the same stubborn Hal at the end of the day. That same Hal is the one who will not give up on each of you, because I’m still me, that same 17-year-old that was asking for challenge and ultimately got it; one of the biggest challenges of all.

2. Don’t sweat the little things, but also at the same time acknowledge the little things because they turn into big things.- I’ve learned to become patient and my gosh do I still have a long ways to go. This injury has really grounded me in the sense that I have to be patient. I have become borderline OCD, that much I can tell you. There are certain things that I want to correct, want to change, want to clean up and because I physically can’t. it drives me crazy. This is where I have learned to be patient. Those things that would normally drive me nuts, the little things in life, I have learned to let them roll off my back. However, I have also chose, in the right context and in the right moments, to acknowledge the other little things in life that truly matter. These are the little details that I’ve learned to not overlook, because these are the little details that make up the true beauty in this life and in my journey. Sometimes those little things can also be what matter most.

3. Don’t let the 1% of people get you down.- I’ve found over these 11 years, that 99% of people are behind me and my endeavors. I have also found that there is 1% of people, that regardless of what myself, or you may do to try to better the world, those people will still always try to find fault in everything that you/we do. The best part about this, is that it is okay that those people feel that way. I have learned to let those people not get the best of me, there is still 99% of people who affect my life, who effect it in the right way, the positive way. I have learned to focus on those people, not on those who are ultimately trying to bring me down.

4. There is purpose behind all this.- Why me? What if? These were prominent questions early on in my 11 year journey that I continued to ask myself. I thought that I might have done something to deserve this, which ultimately left me in this state. Little did I know that there was much bigger purpose behind all of this. Look at all that it has become, my journey it is that I speak of. The foundation, The Perfect Step, and I’m not to be thanked for that by myself, we are all to be thanked for that. Have you ever taken a second to just look around to see all the people that we have helped? All the families that we have given hope. How could we look at that and say that there is not purpose behind this? Each and every one of us coming together was for a purpose. At the root of all this, we are just one person, with one voice. But when we rally together, we are much greater, we are the purpose in this journey. For that I say thank you and I tell you that I would never take this back in 1 million years because of the purpose behind all of this now. You. Us.

5. My friends and community are far greater than I even expected and my standard was already through the roof.- I had a true perception of each and every person around me prior to my accident, during the dark days, and even after my accident. I thought each and every one of you was amazing to never leave my side, to support my endeavors, and most importantly to support others around me. Little did I know, that each and every one of you could and would exceed my expectations. How have you done it? By being wholeheartedly and authentically yourselves. Each and every one of you has been the reason why I get up in the morning, because I’m so excited to see the expectations each of you will yet again exceed. I had the bar set high and you continue to set higher. Where will we go next? The only place to go is up. How do each of you continue to do this? You all are heaven sent.

6. Nobody can measure the power of ones will and determination.- There are people who will try to bring you down, naysayers, nonbelievers, and those who simply cannot measure one’s heart. We are all delivered doubt in some way by those around us; that is fuel to our fire. As cliché as it sounds, that fuel does not derive for me in wanting to prove those who doubt me wrong, but it more derives in wanting to prove myself right. I know that I can do this and my expectations are high for myself, because I know what I’m capable of. The only difference of where I want to be and where I am not right now is the excuses that I continue to make. I have unlimited potential and the only limits that are put on my potential are by myself. This I understand. Nobody can measure my will, my heart, or my determination but myself. I remain accountable to myself before I do to anybody else. People are huge on having accountability partners, but how can those people hold us accountable and to a certain standard if we are the only ones that know truly what that standard is within us and how good we can truly be. For this, I hold myself accountable and to a standard, that to some, is unattainable. But, to me it is the next thing that I’m going to accomplish. Nobody can bring me down.

7. We can all BE PERFECT.- It is a phrase that has led many people to believe that at its literal sense, it is unattainable by human beings, much less God himself. What I have begun to understand is that it is attainable by each and every one of us. We all have an understanding of how great we can be, how much we can give and how much more effort we have in the tank. As long as we are exercising that ability to be the best that we can be each and every day, are we really falling short of being perfect? No, we are able to be perfect in our own way. We are being a better version of ourselves each and every day and what more could anybody else ask from us? We all are a perfect masterpiece, with a perfect purpose that we are supposed to exercise in this world. As long as we are exercising that purpose in our own way, we all can be perfect…

8. Family and friends are everything.- When I look to my left and then to my right, during those moments that matter the most, who is there? Family and friends… One might say, who else is there in this world? Certainly there is enemies, or perceived enemies. There are people that we do not know yet, there are acquaintances. In addition, to me and my family, our friends are also quite simply the family members around us that we have gotten to choose ourselves. These are the people that we choose to surround ourselves with and there is something to be said of that. These are the people that bring us to the highest point in our lives, but are also there during the lowest lows, to bring us back up to reality. Family and friends are everything in life.

9. While people find fault in how much I like to go, go, go, I realize that it is OK to go and do those things that most people don’t get to go do.- I’ve often times been told that I need to slow down, when in all reality I live life at a three mile-per-hour clip each and every day. My life is fulfilled in a very sedentary way inside of a 16” x 16” chair where I always feel confined, there always seems to be constraints, there seems to be limitations trying to hold me back. I will not let these artificial resistances and roadblocks hold me back from what is out there. There is so much to do, so much to see, so much to experience, and the only way to do it is to just go. Sometimes I get ahead of myself and for those who are with me, they wonder how we are going to get to where we are going, how will we simply do it? What I have found to be crazy about all of this, is that it always seems to work itself out. This is simply because, for those who are around me, they simply follow my mentality of we will just figure it out. And that is exactly what we have done. I will continue to go, go, go, because, “dreams are universal and opportunities are not.” I have been so blessed and fortunate to have the opportunity to do the amazing things that I get to do on a daily basis. I’m going to take full advantage of those blessings that I’ve been given and I’m going to go enjoy every single moment that I have the opportunity to do so.

10. Just when I thought I wasn’t going to be able to, I have realized that I can still help people in my own way. - I truly thought when I was laying in bed in ICU and in rehabilitation hospital, that I had nothing left to give to the world. I was going to be a bump on the log. I was going to be a nuisance, I was going to be a burden on everybody around me. What more could I possibly offer? I was stuck in a chair, I had physical limitations, I couldn’t physically go and influence the lives of those around me. Wow, was I wrong… I had so much life left to live, so much left to give to others, and I could truly impact the lives of those around me in a very unique way. The biggest blessing in all of this, was not that I was put in this position, but simply was the fact that I have been put in a position to exercise my ability, so I could not focus on my disability. I’m being used as a tool to help God find his glory on earth. I know I have a role and a purpose in all of this and the best thing that I can do every day is to wake up unselfishly and go about doing what I do best; and that is serving others. If I can wake up and do that every day, I consider that a full life lived.

11. This is all for nothing if I can’t share it with all of you. Memories can’t be made by yourself, so if you want to go fast go alone, but if you want to go far go together.- When I tell you this, know that it comes from a sincere place. I do not intend to run a full sprint and for this to come to a complete halt. However, I must tell you that I do intend to give it all that I have each and every day, so the clip at which I will move will be fast to some, but to me this is my standard. I do intend to go far and I do have an understanding that in order to go far I must bring each and every one of you along with me for the ride. I need you far more than you need me. I have huge aspirations for us, bigger than many of you can even wrap your head around. I sit here as a physically weak man, with a literal and figuratively strong heart pleading to you to just trust me, to just believe me, and to just give me the benefit of the doubt when I tell you that we are going to exceed some of your wildest dreams. I just need you to remain patient, I need you to trust in helping other people, I need you to go, go, go with me, I need you to be the family and friends that I need by my side during the good and the bad, I need you to make the effort to be perfect every day, I need you to stay the course with an understanding that nobody can measure your heart and your determination, I need you to hang your hat on the fact that you are far greater than I ever anticipated and you should be proud of that, I need you to lay your head on the pillow comfortably at night knowing that there is a purpose behind all of this, I need each of you to stay positive and not let the 1% of people get you down, I need you to not sweat the little things but to not overlook the little details, and lastly I need each of you to recognize that I’m still me. If each of you can do each of these things for me, wow are we going to go amazing places together.

 

Those 11 things that I’ve learned over the last 11 years, what would you think if I told you I learned each of those things from each of you? How would that make you feel? It’s true. Something else I’ve learned on this journey is that if you are always right, then you are not learning anything new. If you are always talking, then how could you ever be listening. We have two ears and one mouth for a reason. Those moments when I am quiet and content and you think I am unengaged, is when I am most intently listening. For that important fact, that important piece of information that I could use to make me better. You see, I am the best I have ever been today because of each of you. But, I will be even better tomorrow because I am making the commitment to invest in each of you to continue to listen. I understand that the more I listen, the more I will learn and the more I will be better. The fact of the matter is, is that each of you knows something I don’t know, I want to get past the surface level conversations and stop talking about the weather and get down to business to talk about the things that matter most, those deep things. I want to learn more about life and most importantly I want to learn more about each and every one of you.

 

What do each of you think the next 11 years has in store for us? Are you going to jump off this moving train? Are you going to be left in the dust when all of us are triumphing together, celebrating both the good and the bad? Don’t be that person, because you have it in you. You can do it, you can stay with us. We might move swiftly, but we are going to go far and my gosh are we going to touch a lot of people in the process. Don’t you want to be a part of it all? Don’t forget to breathe, don’t hold it all in. Are you ready to Be Perfect? Let’s go, we got more left in the tank… Cheers to 11 more years!

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The Re-Branding of Project Walk Claremont to "The Perfect Step"

The Perfect Step Re-Branding

As some of you may already know or may have already made your calculated assumptions, there have been some big changes with one of our community partners, Project Walk Claremont. What was previously known as Project Walk Claremont, a center for paralysis recovery, has now moved to a different image. Now known as “The Perfect Step” or “TPS,” the newly rebranded facility has seen some major changes in more recent months. In November 2017, our local partnered facility completed another major expansion and was renamed, The Perfect Step. With 7000 square feet of space, it now has the capacity to treat up to 150 clients and includes two new office spaces to offer new services in-house, such as massage therapy, acupuncture, chiropractor services, and psychological services.

What is The Perfect Step?

The Perfect Step is a world-renowned facility for treatment to those living with paralysis is a and a multitude of neurological ailments. The Perfect Step treats hundreds of clients every year and has trainers with thousands of hours of experience to show for it. The Perfect Step treats clients who suffer from Spinal Cord Injury, Stroke, Parkinson’s, Cerebral Palsy, Multiple Sclerosis, Traumatic Brain Injury, ALS, And PLS. Our approach towards exercise-based therapy leaves individuals suffering from paralysis in a better position to succeed and regain self-identity, self-confidence, and independence through intense training.

The Perfect Step exists to provide an improved quality of life to people with paralysis through intense exercised-based recovery programs, education, research and development. The Perfect Step believes that "Exercise is Medicine" and the best form of medicine that any doctor can prescribe is a healthy, active, and fit lifestyle based around exercise. The Perfect Step understands that every client has special needs. Therefore, we offer several programs to best meet those needs and optimize our client's chances for recovery. Clients have the option to visit one of our locations or participate in a home recovery program. The Perfect Step helps give people with paralysis the independence, hope, and dreams that were lost because of this devastating reality.

The Meaning and Purpose Behind the Logo

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The icon built within The Perfect Step logo is an indicator of what the facility stands for. Like anything in life, things are interpreted based off one’s perception, however we have a particular belief and intent behind what our logo needs to our facility. The logo appears to be circular in shape where one might indicate a pathway or a road that is running through the shape. This circular shape to some may represent a wheel to that of a wheelchair, which correlates to the paralysis population that we treat. But, moving beyond the surface level of what the icon indicates, is what the true depth of the logo stand for. The road running through the circle is representative of a road to recovery. That road to recovery is breaking through the circle, which can be correlated back to how our facility breaks the mold and creates new paths. Here at The Perfect Step, we believe that the figurative “Perfect Step” in ones recovery is the one in the right direction and the one that starts them down the long road to recovery. We know that that road to recovery will be a long one, but in order to attain the goals that one is setting out to accomplish, they need to take a step in the right direction. From that point forward, we believe that we have the staff, the knowledge, the acumen, the tools, and the equipment to assist somebody down that road and continue those perfect steps forward in their recovery. We understand that, a particular clients road to recovery may have obstacles within, but regardless we will break through and attain many goals along the way.

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The Future of TPS

The Perfect Step’s journey has just began.  We are excited to duplicate our model and success across the country by partnering with franchise owners that want to open a TPS facility themselves and provide an incredible service with incredible outcomes.

Because of the efforts of both Mike Alpert and The Claremont Club, an incredible community partnership with Dr. Salas of Kaiser Permanente of Fontana has come to fruition. The Perfect Step is now engaged in a multi-year IRB Approved Medical Research Study conducted by Kaiser Permanente at TPS. The purpose is to measure quality of life and reduction of secondary complications using our methodology and "patterned neural activity recruitment” which will help fight for legislative reform and third-party reimbursement for programs like TPS so people living with paralysis can live their healthiest richest lives.

What Does This all Mean?

While there are many worthwhile causes in this world, all of which need our attention, our resources, our monetary giving, and our voice to help make a worldwide impact, we also must realize that there are needs here in our own backyard. The Claremont Club has welcomed “The Perfect Step,” with open arms as a inclusive facility that is willing to embrace something that would be turned down otherwise. Ultimately, the Claremont club has stepped up to the plate to be the ultimate community partner, and has offered up its facility, its members, and its services as a home for those who need it most. Clients who are in The Perfect Step Program, find value in a program that is expensive in regards to out-of-pocket pay (mind you the cost per hour for the program is an industry low price, “$95,” at a high-quality value). The clients not only see the value of the program, but the family members who are tied to the client, also are bound to the facility and The Claremont Club, because of the warm and welcoming nature that The Claremont Club and its members have offered. Where with these people go otherwise? Nowhere I tell you. Much of this may seem too good to be true to many of you, so the only way to convince you of the miracles that we are making happen every day, is to invite you in. When you walk by that glass door, walking down the hallway to the able-bodied gym at TCC and wonder what is inside, wonder no longer. Next time, stop in and be inspired. What you will be inspired by us, meaning those in wheelchairs, we in turn will also be inspired by you as we want to be those able-bodied people walking down the hallway again. Don’t you see? We need you as much as you need us. Let’s go change lives together and let’s continue to be regarded as the premier facility in the world for paralysis recovery. But, I must ask you that if you are going to be a part of the movement, that you would do it with the intention of not making money, just like our CEO Mike Alpert. When you are in the business of making money, you don’t. When you are in the business of helping other people, the money comes when you least expect it. And quite frankly the money never matters. The most important things in life are not things, they are people… Be Perfect

New brand, new image, new logo, same mission…

The passing of the inspiration behind Be Perfect, Bryan O'Neill

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Bryan O’Neill

It is never easy to write from a place of grief, from a place of sadness, from a place of overwhelmed nature, and from a place of un-explainable feelings. Nonetheless, I write to you from each of the stances. The Be perfect Foundation has consumed my life and has given me purpose for the last 11 years, since I was injured in July 2007. At the time of injury, I was a 17-year-old child who was strong headed, strong-willed, and selfish by nature. Much of what I did, how I acted, what I pursued, and what I set out to do, started and ended with what was in it for me. Gosh did I have much to learn… At 17 years old I lived a pretty darn good life. I had loving parents, I grew up in a very fortunate household with a roof over my head and food on the table at any time that I would like. I grew up in Southern California, that in itself was a blessing. I was motivated and pushed to be the best that I could be in school by my parents who cared dearly and my extracurricular's were also identified as important aspects of my life, as my parents pushed me to be a well-rounded individual. Nonetheless, all of my greatest fantasies and dreams, all were attainable given the great opportunities that were put in front of me. "Dreams are universal, but opportunities are not." I was the latter in this statement. I had dreams and I had opportunities. I was one of the 1%. Yet I chose to be selfish. Yet I chose to do things out of what was in it for me. Until……

Ring ring ring……….

Dispatcher: 911 this is an emergency?

Innocent bystander and observer of my accident: Yes, we were traveling to Las Vegas and we saw a truck roll four times and the individual is trapped inside the truck!

I look back on this split-second and this minuscule part in the grand scheme of my life and I am grateful. A split second was all it took for everything to change. 10 seconds of my life ultimately took away 17 years of hard work of my body, my mind, my aspirations, my dreams. With this in mind, I'm still grateful because things still could have been much worse. Death… A brain injury… Plenty of things.

But, isn’t that how life works? All it takes is a split second for everything to change. You can work so hard for something and be right back to square one in a split second. You can work three months inside of a gym to work out to reach certain goals and with one week off you can go back to where you were before. You can work for years at a time to gain somebody’s trust, but one wrong decision can have them lose all the trust in the world and you. My accident was no different.

I had worked so hard to get to the next stage of my life of moving out, going to college, finding independence, and being on my own, but life had different plans for me. Everything had started and ended with what was in it for me on the path that I was traveling down. I needed to be redirected onto the right course.

I spent more than 70 days in the hospital between ICU and inpatient acute care at Casa Colina. More than 70 days of retraining the brain to reconnect the body. More than 70 days of self reflection. More than 70 days of, at times, playing woe is me and asking the question “why me?” So selfish I was…

Then it all changed. I transitioned out of inpatient rehabilitation care and started going to outpatient care at a place down in Carlsbad called Project Walk. Project Walk was known as the pioneer in spinal cord injury recovery throughout the world. Again, one of my dreams. I learned that my dreams were not taken away in my accident, I just developed new dreams. These dreams yet again, I was blessed to have the opportunities to try and attain them. That’s not the case for 99.9% of the people suffering from paralysis. Nonetheless, I would travel down to Carlsbad, California about an hour and a half in one direction commute to attend one of the most well-respected outpatient care facilities for spinal cord injury recovery in the world. Again, opportunities that other people do not have. For some seven years of my life I did this. But, in my first few days at this facility I started meeting many people, new people, but the same stories as I. Only the same stories in the sense that they had been through tragedy and through horrific accidents, but thereafter their stories were much different. These were stories of sadness, stories of depression, stories of no support behind them, stories of no or minimal resources to be utilized, yet there I was, at that moment in time an 18-year-old kid who had it all handed to me. Yes, it seemed as if the entitlement generation was true at that moment in time. However, I told you I had a revelation and it really did happen. But when?

It was a couple of months after I started that Project Walk and it was around Christmas in December 2007. I had been at Project Walk for some two months and I had become good friends with an individual by the name of Bryan O’Neill. I had learned much of the depths of Bryan's story and his aspirations for the future to try and regain physical function in his recovery. Unfortunately, for Bryan his resources were tight and time was dwindling because he was no longer going to be able to put food on the table for his family if he continued in his workout regiment at $110 per hour, twice a week for two hours at a time. Mind you, the most pivotal part in somebody's recovery after sustaining a diagnosis is there workout regiment within the first two years of their diagnosis. Thus, I remember talking to Bryan right before Christmas and right before I would be taking two weeks off at Project Walk to go on a family vacation, again another luxury that 99.9% of people don’t have. Bryan told me he would be spending the holidays at home trying to keep his life intact, trying to aspire to be the father to his newborn child, Ezra, that he wanted to be, and trying to go back to the drawing board to figure out how he could make ends meet to keep his home, keep his car, keep the lights on in his house, and put food on the table for his family. Bryan flat-out told me, I would not be seeing him after the holidays.

I had a pit inside of my stomach trying to wrap my head around how such a gracious and hard-working 42-year-old man who had been injured doing what he loved, dirt biking, could have it all taken away from him in a split second. What did he do to deserve that? Why was I so blessed at the age of 18? I had not put my time in. I had done nothing to affect others. I was a product of being at the right place at the right time with a family that had resources. But why me? And this time I was asking why me for the antithesis of why I had been asking it before. Why was I so lucky?

I remembered in that moment that I wheeled out to my father who was with me at therapy that day and I looked at him and for the first time in some five months since my accident, I had finally figured out that I had purpose in my life again. I had finally figured out what I had been called to do. The writing was on the wall. It was right in front of my face. But what was I going to do about it? Was I going to let that moment passed me by? Yet again… No, I couldn’t do that one more time and bear to live with myself. So, I did something about it. I made the change and it was the best decision I ever made in my life.

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Without really knowing what I was saying or doing, I wheeled right back up to the front desk of Project Walk and simply told them that Bryan O’Neill would be sponsored by the Hargrave family after the holidays. What was I thinking? What did that mean? In any case, I had a father and a mother, and a family behind me that was waiting for something like this. How were we going to make lemonade, so to speak? How could we take a bad situation and make it good. I thought for the longest time that those hundreds of people that were in the hospital supporting me wanted me to return the favor at some point by thanking them and doing things for them. Little did I know, they were there to support me, so I could pay it forward by helping others who were in my situation. The writing had been on the wall for five months. I never saw it. I was oblivious. I was selfish, remember, right? After an hour and a half drive home from Carlsbad that day, it had basically been determined that the Hargrave family was setting out on a wild adventure, one in which we never knew how it would start, how it would go, or how it would end. Or if it would end? Would it even start?

In what seemed like a literal blur at that very moment we got home and filed for our non-profit status in the State of California and it was approved. The Be Perfect Foundation was born. The initial thought and intent behind the foundation was to help people suffering from spinal cord injuries, like Bryan O’Neill, pay for exercised-based therapy programs like Project Walk. Oh how it has evolved over the years…(We now support people with a variety of different neurological ailments pay for things like medical supplies, wheelchairs, and adaptations of homes and cars in addition to paying for exercise-based therapy programs) But, Bryan was the literal inspiration behind it all. The person who got me back up on my feet, the person who gave me perspective, the person who made me realize I was not in this alone, that I was not the only one suffering, that family and people around us suffer too. He taught me that people around us are also going through similar situations, or even situations of their own that we should acknowledge. Bryan taught me to grow up quick. I’ll never forget his words that resonated with me that changed my life forever. He said, “Hal you are my hero.”

I couldn’t help but think, “Why and how can I be this guy’s hero? He is more than double my age and has done double the amount to affect people around him. What have I done?”

I didn’t ask any questions of what he meant by that. I simply took it and ran with it as something to motivate me every day. I took it as something that I should take pride in and be proud to be me every single day, because somebody twice my age felt that way about me. It was in that moment I learned that I need to be selfless rather than selfish. People were counting on me. People were looking up to me. People were looking to see what my next move might be. I couldn’t let them down. This was bigger than just me at this point.

Little did I know that nine months after my accident that I would be sitting up on stage for the first ever Be Perfect event. Again, inspired by Bryan O’Neill.

I remember planning for the first ever event. Talking with my parents. We hoped that we could have 250 people in attendance and raise $35,000. Welp, there went that. The first annual event had more than 800 people in attendance and we raised $250,000 in one night. Maybe people really were counting on me. Maybe people really did believe in what I was doing. But, again they were not there to support me in terms of wanting me to return the favor to them. They were there to support me, so I could pay it forward to others who needed our help.

So, here we are some 11 years later. Post Eight annual events. We have never raised less than $250,000 at an event and we have never had less than 800 people in attendance. We have grown every year. People rally behind us every year. More people come to our doorstep wanting to be a part of what we are doing every year. All because of Bryan.

I told you that I write from a place of grief, discomfort, ailing, and sadness. Last Thursday, two days before the Eighth Annual Be Perfect Scholarship Fundraiser, Bryan left this green earth. Bryan’s final breath was symbolic of his tenacity, his fight, and his life that he lived for others. Bryan can no longer fight, so this is now our chance to fight for him.

Bryan had been suffering for many years from a pressure sore that became a very bad infection that would not heal. The secondary complications from his injury which we preach so often about and how they are detrimental to the body and the mind, is ultimately what took him down. None of this was for a lack of trying or what Bryan could not do mentally, but his body physically couldn't allow for any longer. Bryan is now in a place where he is not suffering, where complications are not detrimental to his life. But that is not to say that there are things now that we could do to prevent this in the future with other people that we know.

At outpatient facilities like The Perfect Step, we do not provide false hope by way of telling people that they are going to walk again, but what we do tell them is that they will become healthy through the process of participating in an exercise-based therapy program. Ultimately, we are about quality of life and health. We believe that exercise is medicine and that the body was intended to move.

Bryan did not have access nor the means to attend therapy like The Perfect Step in his later years of his life. Of course, the foundation was willing to cover these costs, but Bryan physically could not get to a program like The Perfect Step because of the secondary complications that he was dealing with.

The Perfect Step believes that through intense exercise that the likelihood of experiencing secondary complications goes exponentially down. When the body moves frequently and often, people are less susceptible to pressure sores, bladder infections, heterotrophic ossification, osteopenia/osteoporosis, blood pressure issues, mental and physical fatigue, and much more. Is that not worth the price of admission? Doesn’t that give quality of life? But even at an industry low price of $95 an hour at The Perfect Step, people do not have the opportunities that I have to go and get therapy on a regular basis. So, what can we do about it?

We must be advocates in the community for what paralysis is and what it means. The Perfect Step treats clients who are suffering from all types of neurological ailments in paralysis: Spinal Cord Injury, Stroke, Multiple Sclerosis, Cerebral Palsy, Parkinson’s, Traumatic Brain Injury, ALS, PLS.

In so many different ways, many of us are directly or indirectly connected with somebody who suffers from one of these chronic illnesses. It’s our turn and our chance to help them now.

By going in raising awareness, raising dollars, and giving hope, we can change these people’s lives. With what started as an inspirational factor by somebody who is no longer with us, Bryan O’Neill, it is our turn to fight for him now. Will you fight with me?

Donate today to the be perfect foundation, some people suffering can be given opportunities to attain their dreams.

Bryan O'Neill is survived by his wife Amber, his son Ezra, and his daughter Brittany. God bless them.

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B.P. 8.0 Recap “A Day at The Races”

May 5, 2018

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Life is about rowing……….

I reflect back on what I regard as one of the most magical evenings of my life and I am amazed. It was a time where division and different beliefs were disregarded and what was at the forefront of the evening was a constant movement in one direction by 1000 people in an effort to help The Be Perfect Foundation “Run Our Race.”

For those of you who attended, I express my sincere thanks to you, for not only making an impact on the lives of many people who your dollars will ultimately affect, but impacting my life in a way that you probably will never be able to understand and comprehend. You have given me a newfound perspective that has propelled me in a direction that makes it exciting to wake up every morning with a will to continue to Run My Race with each of you by my side.

For those of you who were unable to attend, but were supporting from the sidelines, all of you are near and dear to my heart and are an additional reason that the foundation continues to thrive on a day-to-day basis. We encourage each of you to stay in the race with us and meet us at our next event in 2019.

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While preparation for the event is exciting and stressful, taking in the event is impactful and moving, however one of the best parts of the event is decompressing and reflecting.

Of course the committee and myself are our own biggest critics, thus I can truthfully say on behalf of all of us, we feel as if we took first place and ran the fastest race of our lives on this event in particular. Our volunteers stepped up to the plate where needed and made the event go off without a hitch. The food and the service given by Gourmet Gourmet Catering was next level and timely. The interactive nature that was utilized from the AES auction tablets is always a great innovative and progressive piece to the puzzle. Alliant audiovisual provided the motion picture quality visuals for the event. Lastly, the Citrus College band “Night Shift” stole the night away with dancing that seemed like it would never end out of sheer joy and excitement from the crowd.

The generous commitment of the most beautiful venue around by the Hafif Family for their estate and outdoor and theater, yet again did not disappoint. Year in and year out this generous commitment for us to have the estate be called home for Be Perfect’s annual fundraiser, is something we never shy away from and something that we always look forward to. Truthfully, where else could we put 1000 people and get all the feels of being outdoors and having the elements consume us in the most positive way? Nowhere I tell you…

I articulated in my speech that I had taken up a new career path since I’d last seen everybody, the title of being a magician (In a less literal, but more figurative way). I intended to set out on a very important mission that night to help everybody find their own magic, as I am a magician who assist everybody in finding their true gift that they can give and the piece of the puzzle that they have that the foundation needs to complete a beautiful masterpiece. Thus, I posed a question to each of you. What do you want more of in life? Money? Supporters? Time? Perfect! As the magician that I am, I know the exact recipe on how to grant you more time. Here it is are you ready? The recipe is to wake up 30 minutes earlier and stay up 30 minutes later. But, why would you do that? Because, that will give you two extra weeks of time in a given calendar year. Now, extrapolate that over 70 years of living. That will give you 140 extra weeks of life. That is nearly 3 more years of life. What could you do a three more years? I can tell you this, you can impact so many lives in just three years.

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While I was the one that was trying to play magician throughout the night, little did I know the real magic of the night had nothing to do with me. It had everything to do with our guest speakers, the donors and supporters that were there creating magic, and most certainly our clients who are the most pivotal part of the recipe. Together we can create a perfect masterpiece. And we did…

David Francisco, an American Idol contestant and an up-and-coming music star, who got injured in a bicycling accent shortly after moving to Nashville while trying to pursue his music career, played an incredible part in the evening. He told the crowd about his own race that he is running and harmonize the crowd with his captivating voice. David truly at the heart of a lion that night, much like he has throughout his journey of recovery.

Victoria Arlen, a Dancing with The Stars contestant and multi-medalist in the 2012 London Paralympic games, blessed the attendees with an incredible keynote that will never be forgotten. Victoria’s message was heartfelt, real, and relatable even though many people will never go through the trials and tribulations that she has suffered in the past 10 years. Victoria suffered from two very rare diseases that ultimately left her with a neurological disorder, spinal cord injury. Victoria has not only triumphed over the disease and beat it in the most literal way, but she is also set an example of what it means to continue to move forward and make a difference regardless of circumstance.  Victoria's expression and analogy of how we should show up to our grave of having messed up hair, tattered clothes, and a worn-out body could not be more true for how each of us should live life. We should live it to its fullest even through the trials and tribulations.

The night ultimately was about raising funds for people who are suffering from paralysis; our clients. We had 48 clients that were in attendance, who showed their face, who came outside of their comfort zones, and told their stories in the most quiet but literal ways. Their presence alone indicated their support and belief in what Be Perfect does to support others, but also showed that they are in the midst of their own race as well. Often times, we each get the race we are running confused. Most people understand that it is a marathon and not a Sprint. However, what we all must understand is that even those marathons require for us to keep a keen pace and at points we need to run. While running however, we need to know when to slow down take a deep breath, and admire the little details around us. We should run from place to place, but then we need to find a way to be invested and present when we get to where we are going. 

In the midst of our marathon, in the fast-paced life in which we live, it’s easy for us to be un-engaged in any given moment. We might be physically present, but emotionally and mentally somewhere else. It’s so important for us to “show up.” When we show up, it allows us to be pure, truthful, and authentic. We must rid ourselves of our distractions, be self-aware, and be mindful enough to recognize the important little details around us and understand that those little details are ultimately what makes life so precious.

Clearly, I understand now that the little details are the things that ultimately mean the most. As I stood out on the stage on Saturday night, there was 1000 little details that I made sure I paid attention to and gave the acknowledgment, at least in my own mind, that they deserved. You are the people that matter in the race that I’m running. You are the inspiration behind what gets me up every morning and makes so proud to do what I do. You are the reasons that I “show up” and I make a wholehearted effort to be my authentic self in any given moment of every day. I find the need to be truthful and pure because of you. For this I say thank you as I try to be a better version of myself every day. Yet still, I have much work to do…

What I’ve found over this 28 year journey of my life, is that often times as people we are so prone to complain about the things around us that bug us. The things around us that we wish we could change. Yet we are not willing to do anything about it. Collectively, we must “Be the change we want to see in the world.”

We all must truly ask ourselves what it is that we truly want. Often times, we know what it is that we want. We know what it takes to get there, but we are not willing to do what it takes to go get those things that we want. Often times, we know the right decision to be made, but we are not willing to make it. We talk all the time about where we want to be in 10 years from now, but are we truly doing the things on a day-to-day basis that are moving us in that direction? Or are we just assuming that things will come to fruition? We must be willing to get uncomfortable to get what we want. Uncomfortability is a sign of growth. When we become comfortable and stagnant, we fall into a routine. We do not venture out. We do not do different things. We do not challenge ourselves. We become paralyzed both literally and figuratively. We must be willing to get uncomfortable. The truth of the matter is, is the only difference where we are currently and where we want to be is the excuses that we continue to make.

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I found this to be true even with myself; that I have my sites so set on the end result and the trophy that I forget to regard my journey as something that is special too. The path that I’m traveling on and every fork in the road has its own purpose. Nothing is by chance and nothing is ironic, everything is exactly how it should be. The reason things are that way is because everything is intended to be a learning experience that we grow from. There is not one moment that we can look back on our life's and say that it was irrelevant and did not contribute to who we are today. The reason that we act, the reason that we do, the reason that we react to certain things today is because of our previous experiences, good, bad, indifferent, minuscule, or grand. Yet, we choose to focus on the end result. We focus on the trophy. We are so fixated on being the hero, that we forget to slow down and take it all in. The journey, the dash, and the time in between those two dates that will be on her tombstone. The time between is really what matters…

With this in mind we must do as Confucius says, “It does not matter how slowly we go, so long as we do not stop.” Every moment throughout our journey has meaning. Sometimes these moments are more inundating than others. Sometimes we are exhausted and we don’t want to continue moving. Sometimes we want to just sit down and rest. But we must not stop when we are tired, we must only stop when we are done.

I’m here to tell you as I sit here today, now removed from the event, that I am in fact tired. Very tired. But there is not one ounce inside of me that is going to stop. I can’t stop. I won’t stop. Because of you. I have so much sweat equity into all of this, that literally if I tried to stop, I couldn’t. I have so much invested, so much to give, so much left in the tank. That I’m quite literally a machine now. Even if I tried to shut down and shut off, my mind, my emotions, my mentality, you, won’t let me. You are my sweat equity. Thank gosh for you, all of you…

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Life’s about rowing … During those moments when life is tough and we are going through the roaring rapids, we must continue to row even when we are going against the current. We can’t let those roaring rapids take us down. When the water is stagnant and everything seems calm, and we are in the routine of life, those are the times when we should be rowing as hard as we can. We can’t let ourselves fall into that routine rut, where we fail to grow, fail to appreciate, fail to recognize, that those are the moments where we are required to grind the most. Life’s about rowing. We must never stop rowing and moving forward.

I once heard somebody say that they are just one voice, but if we all had that mentality what would this world be?

But, in life, it takes a crazy person, with one voice, for incredible things to happen. 

We must take this mentality and apply it to the analogy of the stick on the ground. If we were to pick up that stick on the ground we could probably pretty easily break it. But, when we pick up a pile of sticks on the ground and try to break them in half, it is much tougher. That is what we need to collectively be as a unit, as a family, and as a foundation. People with many voices, with the same passion, the same dream, and the same intent to help others. As a group of sticks, we are unbreakable.

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When we become that pile of sticks, it allows us to focus on our commonalities as individuals rather than our differing beliefs, morals, and values.

There is a line in the sand, a barrier that is a roadblock to many of us that we are faced with every day. The unfortunate part in all of this, we have created this line in the sand as people. Whether it’s literal or figurative. We have put up barriers. We have kept people away. We have pushed people out of our life's. We have acknowledged our differing beliefs as something that is a focal point of why we don’t associate with certain people. Why can’t we just agree to disagree?

Why can’t we agree to disagree that we do have some political affiliation? Why does it have to be that we're either Republican or Democrat?

Why can’t we agree to disagree that we love sports? Why does it have to be a particular sport? A particular team? A particular player?

Why can’t we agree to disagree that we like music? Why does it have to be a certain genre? A certain artist?

Can we all agree that we love and support The Be Perfect Foundation? Can we all agree that the mission that we are behind and the movement that we are behind is something special?

We need to retrain our thinking to find the commonalities between us; that we are registered voters, that we do like sports, that we do like music, that we do support great causes. We must find these commonalities with the people to the right into the left of us. We are more alike than we think. We have more in common than what we know. Yet, we choose to find the surface level un-commonalities and disagreements and tend to focus on those way too much. But, when we get to talking to people, when we take the time to get to know people is when we realize that we really are closer to our “enemies” than we think. The people that we truly talk illy about, in most cases are the people that are most like us. We must pick and choose in this respect, what it is that we say.

When it comes down to it, we can all agree on one thing. We all have dreams. But, unfortunately while dreams are universal, opportunities are not. Each and every day, all of us do not live a life full of appreciation and gratitude for the mere fact that we live in the locale that we live. Because of us living in the locale that we live, we are granted and given opportunities that 99.9% of the world will never have access or opportunities to receive or attain. Yet, we choose to focus on the latter… However, even with these great opportunities that we are allotted, there is still people in our own backyard who are not given the same opportunities that we are. Those are the people that we were there supporting on Saturday night. The people who are suffering from paralysis, that may not have the means to recover. That may be a product of unfortunate circumstances, a tough card dealt. While we all deal with unfortunate circumstances at times and many of us are dealt tough cards, some of us still have the opportunities thereafter to overcome these tough circumstances. Yet, there are some people that we know that don’t have those opportunities. That’s what we were there fighting for on Saturday night. We were trying to give those people opportunities of a lifetime. Opportunities to recover. Opportunities to remain hopeful.

Each and every person that was in attendance on Saturday night, or everyone else in the world for that matter, is running their own race. Each and every one of our races that we are running, or marathons depending on how you look at it, has different mile markers. To put it figuratively, we are on a lifelong journey a lifelong marathon. Many of the people that we were there supporting that night, will wake up every morning of their marathon and have chronic illness. Something that inhibits them. And for the other people that were in attendance, they will wake up every morning and have an obstacle or something that stands in their way that is trying to sabotage them getting one step closer to a finish line that we hope to reach some day. This is where we must muster up all the courage in the world to find our own magic within.

We must fight and not stop. We must continue to move forward. And when we can move forward no longer, we ask other people to help run our race for us. We must take our own magic while we can and apply it to other people’s races, to help them reach their finish line.

Each and every one of us, on Saturday night who was in attendance, had the opportunity to utilize our own magic.  I tried to give a platform for everybody to utilize a bit of magic within themselves that they never knew that they had. That magic and that power is what I call “the power of influence and impact.” Each and every one of us has the opportunity to do it in any given day. In many different ways. On Saturday night, we had the opportunity to exercise that exact notion. Through one small and simple/small monthly gift, us as a unit, as a community, as a group of supporters, and as a foundation could become a pile of sticks together. An unbreakable pile of sticks. As an unbreakable pile of sticks, we could create pure miracle like magic.

As I reflect back on Saturday night and I acknowledge every little detail about the event, I sit here in an emotional place of humility and from a stance of truly humble nature.  I set out on a journey 11 years ago to impact other people’s lives and I became the benefactor in it all. You are the ones who have impacted my life.

You have given me the tools to utilize my magic within, that I never knew that I had. In turn, I am able to help other people find their magic. You are helping me run my race each and every day and you are helping me maintain a positive mindset that allows me to continue to row even in stagnant water or even when times get tough. Because of the acumen of life skills that I have attained by listening to each of you, you have reminded me that I must always be present and I must always “show up.” You have allowed me to become and to always be my pure and authentic self. I am no longer going to complain about what change I want to see in the world if I’m not going to make those changes myself. I’m no longer going to talk about where I want to be 10 years from now, unless I’m willing to do what it takes to get there. I am more self-aware than I’ve ever been. But less self-aware than I ever will be, because I’m going to make a conscious effort to be a better version of myself every single day. You have my word, but I always will recognize my commonalities with the person to the left and right of me before I recognize our differences. At the end of the day, do differences really matter? We have one commonality we can always fall back onto: we are all people; who are suffering, who are hurting, who are tired, who are in the midst of a race, who all need help from time to time, but at the root of it all, most all of us are wanting to make a difference. So, let’s do this together…

I want to go far. I want to go far…

“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”

Will you go with me? I need you. I can’t do this alone. I can’t do this as one stick. I can’t do this as one voice. But, I’m willing to do whatever it takes to become one with you.

Cheers to raising $500,000 on Saturday night to help victims of paralysis. I owe it all to you. None of this am I to be thanked for. My journey is simply a product of me being at the right place at the right time, with the right people around me. You are to be thanked more than anybody.

BE PERFECT…………

If you would like a full recap of the event and want to watch some of the videos that we showed, click here.

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Love and Engagement: The story of my proposal

What is true love? Is it a feeling? Is it something physical? Is it something mental? Something emotional? Do you see it? Do you feel it? Is it fictitious or literal? Is it real or fake? I've asked myself each of these questions at many points throughout my life, as I have searched for reasons to love different things, love different people and gain deeper affection for most anybody that I come into contact with. Love could be regarded as an intense feeling of deep affection and typically is directed towards a person, place, or thing. When people love they inherently develop a deep affection toward something, a fondness for its presence, a feeling of tenderness when it consumes them, a feeling of warmth when they are consumed by it, a feeling of intimacy upon its touch, a feeling of attachment upon its emotional makeup, and a feeling of endearment for what it stands for. Nonetheless, love is a powerful thing and it makes things that we would not otherwise do, or as some people put it, love can make us crazy in some of the best ways possible. Our pursuit for love does not just happen at an age in our late teens, or early adulthood, as we maintain a pursuit to seek out "the one."

People have varying beliefs, in terms of "soul mates," as some have gone as far to say that there may in fact be people out there that are best suited for us or multiple people who we can deem as "the one." While many of us can debate on this topic, one thing that we can all agree upon is that timing is everything. Timing can apply to just about anything in our life and can truly dictate an ultimate direction in which we head and the people during that time of our life that we are willing and wanting to bring along with us for that chapter of our life. For many of us, certain people stay relevant and remain present throughout many chapters of our lives, and we must say that there is no disrespect to those who have not transitioned from chapter to chapter, as timing is everything. Our feeling for love and our pursuit for love in fact begins long before our conscious memory can wrap our head around the idea of it. Many say love is present between a mother and her child that lies within her, as the love is exuded from the mother to the child in the womb. You see, for those who fight against the idea of love, or because of past circumstances and experiences, tend to distance themselves from love or disagree with it, we must all understand that if that is the stance we are going to take, that we have all been put at a disadvantage without even knowing it. Love has consumed our life before we even knew it. So, now each of us longs for it in different ways, from different people, and at different capacities. Love does not just reside in the love that we carry in unison with our significant other, love's existence is present in every relationship that we have with every friendship that we cultivate. Love is not just the intimate and sexual type of love. Love resides at different forms and we long for it from most anybody that we are friends with in many different ways. Many of us grow jealous of the type of love that our significant others withhold with other people in their lives, but we all must understand that the levels of love that we connect upon with other people are many times unexplainable, incomprehensible, and unimaginable. For many of us, the particulars of what that love means to us can oftentimes never be duplicated by other people, or replicated in a different fashion, so we must all understand and respect the type of love that are significant others share with other people. Often times, we cannot see it, we cannot see it's tangible reasoning behind it, yet we must be understanding. Often times, people are so quick to judge others on everything that they see on the surface, yet they are not willing to take the time to understand or see what goes on behind closed doors, so they can then make their judgments and opinions based on facts and evidence. Having said this, we all must be understanding of each of our individual situations and respectful of every relationship between every individual that happens before us. We all long for love right? This pursuit for love has consumed me for my entire life you could say. At various levels and differentiating capacities, people have reached me, connected with me, and changed my life by the love that they have given to me in so many different ways. We must grow to understand that life truly is about the connections we make, the people we meet, and the experiences that we share with those people. These experiences become something of value to us when they are rooted in the people that we share them with. The people that we share those experiences withhold more value with us based on the level of love that we share with them. Love comes in many different forms.

For me, my love has been rooted in sports and selfless acts of giving for much of my life, at least for much of my more recent 10 years, as people have seen the transformation in my personality, well being, and approach towards helping others. What I've grown to understand, that my love tank (my gas tank of love that is within my body, which is fueled by the things that I am most fond of) is most full when certain people reach me, when certain moments consume me, and when I am in my "element." For the duration of time I truly thought that my love tank was only filled and gassed up by the way that I pursued my life, the way I obtained certain accomplishments, and the products that I was able to gain from the hard work that I put into things. However, I failed to recognize somewhere along the way, that the ultimate catalyst to filling up my love tank did not just come from my own personal doings, it came from other people, certain people, someone else… Much of my love tank I felt was full when I was in the presence of sports and selfless people. I am affectionate at heart and I long to be touched in both the literal and figurative way, as I feel that both the literal and figurative touch displays volumes to the level of comfort in which we hold with certain people. It displays a level of warmth, a level of trust, a level of forgiveness, a level of sincerity, and the level of support that we can only truly connect with on that level with certain people. I would like to tell you the story of how my love tank became full and has remained full for much of the past seven years. Back in the spring of 2011, I met an individual who would change my life forever. There is an old saying that goes: "We meet many people in our lives and they never have a true impact upon us, and then we meet one single person and our world is changed forever." This in fact happened to me. For many people who are onlookers, bystanders, and even supporters, may never understand, or recognize, the true depths of the relationships that I have made with many different people. For this instance and this individual that I'm speaking of in the story, this is no different.

It was the spring of 2011 when I wheeled across the gym floor at, my alma mater, the University of La Verne. I made an elevator type speech of an introduction about myself, to a girl, who on a very superficial level met my eyes, and it was the figurative saying of "love at first sight." This is how I know that many people are unaware of the depths of love that certain people share with each other. I met this individual and made my first introduction and I knew right away she was not feeling the same way that I was. Was this a matter of personal circumstance? Her personal situation at the time with other individuals involved with her life? Could have been… Timing is everything… Nonetheless, I made my introduction regardless of how secure I was of my physical presence in a wheelchair that I withheld at the time. In that moment my insecurities went away, so I could simply show my confidence and my ability to take care of somebody that I held in such high regard. Her name was Catherine Logan; Catie to some of her good friends. Upon that introduction, neither of us knew where the relationship, which started as a friendship, would take us, but I knew that this woman would be a part of my life for many years to come. You see, she immediately filled and expanded my love tank two decks that I never knew were possible. It may have been her love for sports, her physical activity nature, and what appeared to be a selfless approach towards life; all of which aligned in many ways, with women that I seem to have found myself attracted to throughout much of my life. But, there was something different about her… Something more to it. The connection of love that was unexplainable to others and even to her own self. She had no idea my intentions, no idea my feelings, and had no idea of the depths that our love would reach in the years to come, and in many ways neither did I… After seven years of friendship at varying capacities and at many different levels of love, we stuck by each other sides as dear friends and sincere supporters regardless of each other's circumstances. Through other boyfriends and girlfriends, we maintained a tightknit relationship strung together by mutual interest and unexplainable love. The depths of our love reached places that we did not even know existed, rooted in of course the trials and tribulations, the misunderstandings and understandings, a mutual respect, and most certainly experiences and moments that will last a lifetime that only we can talk about, regurgitate, or give meaning to. Many of these moments were of course rooted in sporting events, as we cheered on our most beloved teams together, or cheered against each other at certain events, but always having our head hit the pillow every night with a sense of support and appreciation for the outcome of each other's beloved team. But, this relationship was much bigger than just our connection of sports and has grown deeper roots in each of our sacrifices that we have made to go outside of our comfort zone to do things that we don't want to do. Which thus have become new found passions of the both of us because of the new value in which we have placed upon the love and desires that each of us have toward certain things. The love that each of us has toward some of our deepest passions, have then become some of our newfound loves by the way that we support each other, respect each other, and most certainly appreciate every aspect of each other good, bad, or indifferent. Life truly is about sacrifice. With much writing on the wall and with all signs indicating towards finding "the one," I took the biggest step in my life both literally and figuratively. On October 6, with her family in town from Beaverton, Oregon, and with some of our closest friends there to celebrate soon after the proposal, I got down on one knee (in a much less literal way) and proposed to the woman who has stolen my heart away, in every way possible. Even her impact on me of stealing my heart away, has been rooted in selfless actions to allow me to be every bit of who I need to be, who I want to be, and to keep every near and dear person in my life at a close capacity regardless of circumstance.  She is, has become, and always will be the one who wholeheartedly accepts my physical situation in a wheelchair or not for what it is, and is never willing to give up on my pursuit of recovery and my pursuit of independence. I have reiterated to her that in every way shape or form my recovery has become much bigger than just me. Of course it was always rooted in doing it for the community and for those who have supported me, but now it has become about recovering, so I can take care of her and the children that are to come someday.

When my accident happened, I feared I would never be accepted again for who I am and I feared that no woman would see through the chair. This is not to say that there is not incredible males and females around me who wholeheartedly except me for my chair and have never left my side, because there is tons that I can put down on this paper whom all reign superior in my life in that regard. But, Catie is that one that at our level and our capacity of love has reined superior to all in an unexplainable, unimaginable, and most desirable type of love. It is a love that is rooted in true love and affection, but most importantly a clear understanding and being each other's biggest supporters even at some points barring our disagreements.

You might sit there and think to yourself, but wait tell me more about the proposal. Well I will just tell you that it was very 2017, as there was a drone involved with the delivery of her ring to us in our backyard. But, this all could not have been as meaningful as it was if some of the greatest people in my life were not there to share it with me. My best friend, who has literally been there by my side since the day of my accident, Brian Goodwin, whom is in a chair himself after and accident nine days after me, was the one who was driving the drone and delivering the ring during the proposal. A dear friend of ours, Kay Hurd, captured every bit of the action with her sharp shooting ability of a camera. There is an old adage that goes, “take a picture or it didn't happen” and there was no more pivotal time then that moment to capture a moment in time that could last forever in our eyes. So, we did. In fact, it gives me a greater appreciation now more than ever to be able to look back on that photo book at the end of my life and see some of those moments captured in time that were most meaningful and special to me. Some advice to all of you, do as your mom says and take the photo without complaint, because you will in fact appreciate it later…

So, the proposal happened after she walked through a house full of rose petals and love quotes pasted on walls of the house that I felt thus represented us, with a conclusion of a handwritten note from me with my handwriting that she has never seen before, she in fact walked outside to the backyard to greet me. Stunned was the expression she gave me. But, full of love was what she was exuding. I felt it in that moment as I have every day before and there was nothing more that could of told me that I was making the best decision that I ever have made in my life. She grabbed the box and opened it after the drone suspended it in the sky above us and I reiterated to her in a figurative sense of God's ability to always watch down upon us and keep us protected. The moment was captured and everything froze in time, just enough for her even to ask me at the end of the proposal if I had asked her to marry her and if she in fact said yes. I reassured her that she politely said yes and forever to engagement, to a courtship, and to life together at a level of love that is unexplainable, unimaginable, and most desirable. Our mid-20 selves looked at each other after with the sense of “Oh my gosh. We are actually doing this”? But, after the dust settled we even proceeded to ask why did we wait this long? Reassurance and societal expectations and standards may have been why, but nonetheless we did our way, at our pace, and at the right time.

Why do we wait so long to express and share with others the depths of love that they fill us with? Most of the time we tell them too little too late. But, timing is everything right? I advise all of you, good, bad or indifferent, to just go ahead and do it. This doesn't just have to be with your significant other, because everybody deserves and needs to know depths of love that we share with them. Often times, is the type of love that is misunderstood, or not seen by others, but is most needed to be shared before it's too late. As Catherine and I have stepped into the world of engagement, or as we know it “A formal agreement to get married,” we both understand that engagement is much more than just being busy, occupied, or unavailable to others. The idea of engagement is when one captures your heart. That individual figuratively catches you and grabs you, they captivate you in ways that you can not explain, they attract you to whom they are, they hold you for the comfort that you give to them, and they are absorbed by you because of who you are together. We have grown this understanding, as well as the pressures and timeliness of wedding planning and making every supporter around us feel loved and a part of the journey. We most certainly reassure all of you that that is our intent. As we take the next steps into courtship, we will most certainly explore in the years to come the idea of family and parenthood.

A true fear and doubt mine much before Catie even reached my life, 10 years ago at the time of my accident was: Will I ever get to be a father? Will I be able to be the father that I want to be? She has answered those questions in ways that she will never understand. I know that I will be able to be the father that I want to be, because she will reassure me that everything that I have to offer is more than any child could ever ask for. I know that I will get to be a father, because I have found the most supportive entity in my life to allow me to do so regardless of process or circumstances get better.

A very useful tool that Catie and I have used in our more recent weeks to truly connect with each other, is reading "The Five Love Languages" book by Dr. Gary Chapman. I encourage each and every one of you whom has a significant other that you are trying to find your identity with and how to coexist with, that you read this book. Yes, that still applies to people whom are married for 50 years. There is always something to work on in order to fill your significant others love tank. The premise of the book is this: Are you and your spouse speaking the same language? While love is a many splendored thing, it is sometimes a very confusing thing, too. And as people come in all varieties, shapes, and sizes, so do their choices of personal expressions of love. But more often than not, the giver and the receiver express love in two different ways. This can lead to misunderstanding, quarrels, and even divorce. Quality time, words of affirmation, acts of service, receiving gifts, and physical touch are the five basic love languages. Dr. Gary Chapman identifies these and guides couples towards a better understanding of their unique languages of love. Learn to speak and understand your mate's love language, and in no time you will be able to effectively love and truly feel loved in return. Skillful communication is within your grasp! What is your love language? Get the book and take the test to find out or take the test online.

I ask each of you, what does love and engagement mean to each of you? Do you only share that with one person? Or do you share it with every individual that touches your life in your heart? I assure you, whether you realize it or not, you do share love with everybody in your life, just in varying capacities. But, how do you explain and communicate that love to them? Are you selling something short? Are you going to say everything you need to say before it's too late? Maybe you owe it to them to tell them, just so they can sense your appreciation…

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Most of us are only shaped by our negative experiences. Why?

I can honestly tell you, that the last nine years of my life have contained some of the most positive experiences that I have ever been a part of in my entire life, and those are what shape me.

As I’ve had a chance to wind down from all of the good craziness, decompress, and compartmentalize finishing up my first year of grad school, completion of the seventh annual event, and then the actualization that it is really summertime now, I have had a chance to reflect upon the events that took place a couple of weeks ago up at the Hafif Estate.

There are not many words that come to mind to express my thoughts, as I have been very overwhelmed and gratefully emotional over the past couple of weeks.  I’ve caught myself crying at moments in time, out of pure joy and appreciation.  I suppose the word that comes to mind is some sort of synonym to the word “euphoric.” Each and every one of you not only made my dreams come true, but in many ways exceeded expectations. My dreams became reality, and my reality in a lot of ways was some sort of fairy tale or an ending, climax, or culmination of events that could not even be put into a movie script.

$400,000 raised simply speaks to itself. As a committee, it is very tough for us to say that we missed, messed up, or did things wrong, as we look at the monetary value of the money that we raised (Which will go directly back to those living with paralysis), however our committee is our biggest critics of all. We have heard the feedback, both positive, and very few negative, we have taken it all into account, and let’s just say that there is nobody more excited about preparing and getting ready for the Eighth Annual event sometime next year. However, if you were to ask people on the committee they might tell you give us a few months until we actually get into that mode, as these are people that put in tireless amounts of energy, time and effort into making one spectacular night every 16 to 18 months. Exhaustion might be the proper word, but fulfillment and the saying “This is why we do it” or “It was all worth it” are the only things that come to mind by any people on the committee.

I caught myself the morning after the event, up at the estate, watching a herd of people rallied together to help with cleanup of the venue only to think to myself “wow, I am more blessed than I will ever know or give credit towards.” The amount of people that came out, helped out, volunteered, supported, advocated, attended, and most importantly donated, is something that I quite literally cannot wrap my head around. Overwhelmed, with a variety of different positive emotions is the only thing that comes to mind. But, those thoughts, that I had at the venue the day after, all circled back to one overwhelming phrase in my mind, “This is why we do it every year.” For many of us, we can wake up each and every morning and have a variety of different excuses of why we do not do certain things and always revert back to the excuse that “Well, I just do not have the time.” But, as I tell some of the most important and closest people to me, when they are seeking out advice on how to manage their time and how to make time for the important things that they are missing out on in their lives, I simply tell them one thing, “People always make time and put in the effort for the things that they truly care about and the things that are important to them.” For many of us, that time and effort that we put into things is only directed towards things that directly affect us and that we get immediate satisfaction out of, in a tangible form. I’m here to tell you, when we redirect that effort and that focus towards things that affect us indirectly, maybe the things that we GIVE in life that affect us, in the terms of making us feel good as people, are far more important than directing our focus and attention towards things that only affect ourselves. I’ve gone out to say recently, “What would life and all that it encompasses, for each of us, be for if we did not share it with other people?” 

Our thoughts create our beliefs, which then create and influence our behavior and how we act. So, essentially life is about reaching people’s thoughts, so we can change their beliefs and ultimately change the way they act.  Unfortunately, these people that we are trying to reach to get them to change their behaviors, are so stuck in their own default settings, of both negativity, naiveness and ignorance that they are not tuned in to what is going on around them. As people, we must change this perception among those that we are trying to reach. We need to get out of our own default settings that tell us "What little we have to give won’t make a difference, or that what we could give is not worth our time or our effort." I spoke much about default settings the night of the event, and it is something that I will share with each and every one of you again, who are reading this.

Default settings-

What are they? What do they say? What does that mean?

Our Default Settings say:  Certain people drive us nuts, however often times the people that drive us nuts, or that we don’t like, are the people who are most like us.

Or they say:  We are all so different. But in actuality, while we are all very unique and different, we must remind ourselves we are much more closely related than divided.

Or they say:  We are the victim. But, how do you tell the story that you’re telling? Do you tell it as the hero, the victim or the knowledgeable bystander? If you tell it as a hero, you’ll miss out on what you need to work on and get better at. As a victim you will miss out on your strengths. But, as a knowledgeable bystander you can be your own friend or mentor who won’t pull any punches, but who is definitely on your side.

Or they say:  We are not capable of monetarily giving more. However, studies show that donors are capable of giving five times more the amount than they actually give throughout the year, without substantially changing their lifestyle.

Or they say: Sometimes when things are not going well we tell ourselves we need to try harder. However, a lot of times these failures are not because of a lack of effort but a lack of knowledge and limited insight. 

You see, as it turns out the most obvious and important realities are often the ones that are the hardest to see and talk about.  Because of our default settings we never want to admit the prized analysis that somebody else is right and that we are wrong, which we call “Blind Certainty.”

Blind certainty- Is a close-mindedness that amounts to imprisonment, so total that the prisoner doesn’t even know he’s locked up. The things that we wholeheartedly believe are to be true and that we are certain of, turn out to be some of the things that are the most uncertain things within our lives.

Many of us learned this the hard way. Because we all actually believe that we truly are the center of the universe. We all believe this, because it is our default setting that is ingrained in us at birth, because every experience that we have had, we have been at the absolute center of. Our default setting is to be deeply and literally self-centered. If you think about it, other people’s thoughts and feelings have to be communicated to us within those moments, but our own thoughts and feelings are immediately given to us. So you might wonder, how do I adjust to this default setting? Is it a matter of knowledge or intellect, or wisdom? Do you know what wisdom is? Wisdom is knowing that we know nothing.

Because of all of our distractions in this world, it is easy to not be attentive to what is going on around us and especially what is going on inside of us, with what we are feeling and quite possibly what others are feeling.

So, we come to find out that overcoming this default setting is merely about learning how to think, and learning how to think really means learning how to exercise some control over how and what we think. It means being conscious and aware enough to choose what we pay attention to and to choose how we construct meaning from those experiences.

For many of us, we need to stop from going through our comfortable, prosperous, respectable, adult lives dead and unconscious. A lot of this stems from the boredom and the routine of our days. For many of us we get up in the morning, go to our challenging white or blue-collar jobs, work hard for eight or 10 hours, and at the end of our day we are tired and somewhat stressed and all we want to do is go home and have a good meal for dinner and unwind and compartmentalize work life from home life for an hour, and then get in bed early, because of course we have to get up for the next day and do it all over again.

But then you remember there is no food at home and you have not had time to shop this week because of your inundating job, and so now after work you have to get in your car and drive to the supermarket, or we might as well say the DMV. People everywhere. It’s the end of the workday and the traffic is bad as always, because you know we live in L.A. So, getting to the store takes way longer than it should, and when we finally get there, of course the store's crowded and because of the time of day everybody else is in there doing the same thing we are after their busy work day.

But, of course in our own eyes we see the store as being hideously florescently lit and infused with soul killing muzak or corporate pop, and it’s pretty much the last place we want to be, but we can’t just get in and out of there quickly, because we have to wander all over the huge over lit store with confusing aisles just to find the stuff we want, and we have to maneuver our carts in and out of all the other tired, hurried people with carts.  But, eventually you get all of your supplies to make your home-cooked meal, but now there turns out to not be enough checkout lanes open even though it’s the end of the day rush. So the checkout line is incredibly long, which we find irritating, and we still can’t take our frustration out on the frantic lady working the register, who is overworked at her job as well. But, still in our eyes we see things so negatively like: We finally get to the checkout lines front and we pay for food and we get told to “Have a nice day!” In a voice that is the absolute voice of death to us at that juncture of our day. Then we have to take our flimsy plastic bags of groceries to our car with one crazy wheel that pulls to the left, all the way out to the crowded, bumpy, literary parking lot, and then we have the drive all the way home still in heavy, SUV intensive, rush hour traffic. 

Everybody who works the “9-5” has dealt with this in some way and it has become a part of their routine, as well as many more boring, meaningless routines aside. So, the point here is that these are the exact moments where as choosing what to pay attention to, want to think and what to believe comes into play.  Because the traffic jams, the crowded aisles and the checkout lines all give us time to think. If we all do not make a conscious effort of what we should be thinking about the perspective we should be seeing things from, then every time we go to shop we are going to be miserable because of our natural default setting, that we are the center of the universe and that everything is always about us: our hungriness, our desire to get home, and our overworked body.  We have this nature in us to think that everybody is always in our way, unworthy people, and people that don’t work as hard as us. See these are examples of how not to think, and may not actually be actuality in the world to other people, it might just only be actuality to our ignorant selves. It seems that we forgot, that it was our choice to live and work the ways that we do.  If we choose to think this way in a store or on the freeway, fine.  Lots of us do. Except thinking this way tends to be so easy and automatic that it doesn’t have to be a choice, it is our natural default setting.

Maybe if we tailor our thinking to see the other perspective we can get out of this default setting. By maybe thinking that the SUV filled parking lot that is on the freeway actually has people in the SUVs because they were horrible auto accidents before and their therapist ordered them to be in a larger vehicle to make them feel safer. This may not actually be impossible. Or maybe the car that just cut us off on the freeway actually has more important needs than we do to get where they are going, like maybe rushing to their child in the hospital, so, maybe we are in his way. Or maybe we should acknowledge that all of the people inside the supermarket are just as bored and frustrated as we are, and that maybe they have more tedious routine-like painful lives than we do. But, of course we don’t think of it that way, because we are the center of the universe. If we really learn how to think, how to pay attention, then we will know there are other options. It will actually be within our power to experience a crowded, hot, slow, consumer crazy type situation as not only meaningful, but sacred.

Because here’s the thing, while we can all debate over politics, religion, sports, or anything else in the world, one thing that we can all agree on that is Capital T true is that “we all have the choice of how we get to perceive everything, and what it is that we are going to worship.” But, let me just tell you that with that choice of what we want to worship, if money is what you worship you will never be content with what you have. If you worship your own bodies and sexual allure then as age starts to set in you will die a million deaths. If you worship the fact that you want to be seen as intellectual then at certain points you will feel as if you are incompetent. You see, the things that we worship are strictly a matter of default settings. They are the kind of worships that we gradually slip into day after day, getting more more selective about what we see and how we measure value without ever being fully aware of what we are doing. Society does not help us within this endeavor, with the rising cost of inflation, the need for power and control, puts us right back into our default settings.

But something we can control is getting out of our default setting by asking ourselves one question: If money were no object what would we be doing with our life’s? Or getting out of the default setting that "The few dollars that we have to give would not be enough to help somebody, so why give it all?"

The fact of the matter is, each and every one of us has the free will and the power to get out of these default settings of "Thinking we are the center of the world, so we can actually make a difference in it."  We can achieve this by doing what we love and trying to making a difference in other people’s lives that we know we can make, whether that’s through monetary means or through granting mental and emotional help to others.

The real value of our lessons learned, in life, actually has nothing to do with knowledge and everything to do with simple awareness. Awareness of what is so real and essential, so hidden in plain sight all around us, all the time, that we have to keep reminding ourselves to take a look around and get out of those easy to fall in to default settings.

OUR SUITCASES

Each of us has a less literal and more figurative suitcase that we carry with us at all times. Our suitcases are what we carry and what we hold near and dear to our hearts. Occasionally, we need to open up our suitcase, so the world can see what is in it, regardless of being introvert or extrovert, or ambivert. We need to get out of those default settings that say, “What we have in our suitcase is not of value to the world.” Because every little thing that we have in our suitcase, that we hold near and dear to our hearts, and those special talents that we have, and those resources that we can provide to others, could be what makes all the difference in the world.

But I ask you a simple question: What is your inner wealth? What are the things that you have to give that can change other people’s lives?

As I try to empty out my suitcase from time to time, I do it with an understanding that I am being vulnerable, I am exposed and that people might see a side of me that they do not know. All of us have a fear of showing that one unique side of us, that hidden talent or passion, that we fear will not be accepted by people or we fear it will not be of true value to others, so why show that side of us at all?

One important aspect of my suitcase that not many people know about me, is my ability to put my thoughts into words. I’m not here to tell you that I am some world-class writer, or an incredible author of a Barnes & Noble top seller book, but I’m telling you that what I love to do, is write. I’m not necessarily one to be creative, and I do not have one ounce of musical or artistic ability in my life. The accountable side of me, as I try to be more and more accountable each day, says: not blame my parents for making me an un-creative, not musically talented and a not artistically talented person. But, that’s neither here nor there. What I’m about to share with you, is something that I have kept in my suitcase for a while, that I feel all of you should see. A poem i wrote about my life....

Making All the Right Wrong Turns

Some say I’m excessive, but I say I’m thorough,

so for that I write you this:

I once learned a valuable life lesson,

People always put so much emphasis on the beginning and the end.

Those two dates,

Your inception and departure from this beloved place

But, I’ve learned that the true emphasis should be on the time between

They call it the dash

It’s purpose?

To indicate how you lived during the time between

My newfound perception led me down a unique path.

Unique meaning one of a kind, not to be confused with

“Different”.

My story from beginning to end will always be unique;

It’s my story.

From inception, till this moment

I’ve led a blessed life there is no denying that,

And you’ll never see me question thy path.

In my younger years I was emotional, naïve and stubborn to say the least,

And to this day the stubborn quality has not left me.

I remain stubborn because I’m a fighter and won’t give in,

but my stubbornness has made me, contrary to popular belief, a person who will listen.

I’ve realized I don’t know it all,

regardless of what my pride says.

I’ve learned most in life when I have been wrong rather than right,

Those are new learning experiences.

That’s enough for me to keep hearing out what the wise have to say.

It’s been said life works in mysterious ways,

I can attest to that.

All the trials and tribulations since my youth

Have shown me the utmost proof

that these mysterious happenings are oftentimes the greatest blessings.

I realize life is short and even more unpredictable

one will never know when that dash can no longer be lived.

Which is why life has prompted me to give

Give most all that I have,

from time to money, from effort to acknowledgement.

What is life for if you can’t share it with all,

While doing what you love?

I’ve noted my greatest gifts that I have received in life are also the ones I’ve been able to give

Yet, many still believe receiving gifts is the only way to live.

Can you believe that I’ve been told I don’t have much to say?

I have mile long scrolls of notes in my mind,

which indicate that I think about many things each and every day.

Just when someone thinks I’m not listening,

is when I’m listening most intently.

It’s just that my speaking and acting philosophy relates to relevancy.

Some speak regardless of what they think that others may feel,

others say if you don’t have anything nice to say, then don’t say anything at all.

I say, only speak when it’s relevant. Time is too precious.

Some might say to that philosophy, Then how am I supposed to know where you stand?

I say, “just ask”…

Like everyone in life, death and tragedy has surrounded me.

I haven’t let it to define me

only motivate me to be better to honor those before me.

In life effort is key,

And in nearly ever relationship it’s the binding arm to coherency.

I’ve leaned and noted much over my 26 years.

Who I am today can in many ways be denoted to my supporters and peers.

Life tried to break me,

once,

yet it only conquered my neck.

The rest stayed in tack and left my mind ready for whatever to come next.

The tragedy left me paralyzed and put me on wheels,

I laugh when I hear I’m paralyzed because I’m living life more fully than ever before.

What is a DISability anyways?

I am only “Able”

and I have been given the “Ability” now to be more than I ever could’ve before.

I grow scared of not being the dad that I want to be,

But still being a great dad is something that “I Can and Will Be”.

It won’t be the first time that I did something that I was once told I couldn’t.

People say its an impossibility to Be Perfect.

That’s okay it takes a crazy person to be unique.

Life is based off perception and is about the eyes of the beholder.

So, when may think you aren’t perfect,

there is one person that thinks you are imperfectly perfect,

because you are unique and you are yourself.

Just like, to the world you are one person, but to one person you may be the world.

So, when I wake up each day and think about what I strive to be

it truly just comes down to just me being me.

I don’t know how much time is left on my dash

and that’s okay

that’s more reason for me to take it one breath at a time and live day by day.

This path was cut out for me and that I will not deny,

in the words of O.D. (*see link below)

I truly believe that I’m “Making all the Right Wrong Turns” each time.

When my life comes to an end people will look at my photo album

and see those moments that I captured in time,

with all of my greatest supporters right there by my side.

The best part of all,

you don’t need legs to accomplish all of life’s test,

and I promise you one thing,

my stories not done yet

;

I am here to tell each and every one of you, that whatever it is that you have inside your suitcase, are not things that are meant to be hidden from the world and not to stay in the storage compartment of our lives. Sometimes, these are the most valuable assets and greatest gifts that we can show and give to the world that can make all the difference. So, I encourage each and every one of you to empty out that suitcase from time to time and truly think about what it is that you love in life. Because, when it comes down to it, in life, we must do what we love… You make the choice. Do what you love…

“The only way to do great work is to love what you do,” Steve Jobs once said. “If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle."

THANK YOU

DONOR THANK YOU

 

EVENT RECAP

 

O.D.- OLD DOMINION (COUNTRY MUSIC BAND) “WRONG TURNS” SONG LYRICS  azlyrics.com/…rics/olddominion/wrongturns

The Chapters in our book that we call "Our Lives"

Change in one’s life can be scary, and a quick transition from one chapter in life to the next can be terrifying. While change is inevitable to me and everybody else I can’t say that quick transitions have hindered me or have even happened through the midst of this chapter of my life. I try to slow down life in every way possible, to reduce quick transitions, by paying attention to the little details, living in every moment and recognizing my environment and people around me. Even while doing so life still moves quickly, sometimes too quickly, for us to realize what we have. With the end of a chapter, a new chapter is soon to follow where change is inevitable. During that transition period between the chapters is where one can be lost, misled or confused. Part of this current but ending chapter in my life started eight years ago where my life changed in an instant on July 26, 2007. Needless to say, it was an immediate transition and a drastic change of lifestyle and physical ability, but I found a way to manage much due to the credit of all of you who are reading this very post. What came with that change through that transition, was a loss of identity, confusion and loss of physical ability. The “why me?” and the “what if’s?” were limited to say the least and the “what can?” and “what will?” soon followed as I rebounded from my injury and look towards the next step of a great life. In any case, a new chapter was born.

The ability to be what I thought was a college kid and a young adult was nonexistent, to my knowledge, in my life at that point, while the loss of independence and the inability of driving hindered me in many ways. The thought of getting back behind the wheel after being in a life-threatening crash because of my own decisions (Of trying and avoid debris on the road) was something that I put off and refuse to acknowledge for many years because of the fear of not just hurting myself again and the possibility of hurting others. But, what I failed to realize was that in the process I began to selfishly rely on others to get me places, to be my support and to always be there for me through the snap of a finger. This wasn’t to say that I disregarded being respectful to these people in my life, but I most certainly felt that a change was necessary in my life to take the next step of regaining the independence of being a young adult and a kid again.

The answers to all of those questions have come recently as I have gotten back behind the wheel for the first time in eight years, which in itself is a scary thought, but at the same time brings a sigh of relief to many around me.

While the freedom has been unexplainable and incredible, the responsibility at times is insurmountable.

Often times I explain life as an analogy of driving down a city street where often times we are faced with stoplights; the green, the yellow and the red lights. What exactly do those signals mean to you? Whether it’s through driving or through situational things in life. Does green always mean go? Or when you see green do you start with the why question? Often times I think we live such a fast-paced life’s that we fail to regard the green lights as a moment to start with the question of why? Why are we doing something? Why are we at this juncture in our life? This isn’t to say to ask the question of why to be a skeptic, but merely to be fully invested in what it is that you are doing and the decision that you are making so you are able to make the best and proper decision at that moment in time. Does the yellow light always mean to proceed with caution? Sometimes those in between signals in our life are the things in life that are telling us to take a chance and go after something.

Then there are other times, which I believe this is more relatable while driving or to other situational things in life, where an in between signal might mean to slow down and stop and assess what’s around you before you proceed. Then there are the red lights where we automatically assume to stop dead in our tracks because if we move forward any farther we could be put in harm’s way. This is a spot in people’s lives where a lot of times they find themselves confused, in trouble or indecisive. These are the moments were people second-guess themselves, have regrets and can’t live life with a clear mind because of their past. I challenge you with this, whether it is with people or situational things in life, do not let the past effect the future to the point where you won’t give a current situation or change in your life a chance to transpire into something great.

Life for me, oddly, has slowed down since I’ve started driving just when you think it would have sped up and been on the fast track to freedom in my life. While driving I am so zoned in on the road and so attentive towards my surroundings that I slow life down in every way possible rather than having driving and life become second nature to me and putting the road and my life on cruise control and letting everything happen before me and pass me by.

While there is a time and a place to put your life and driving on cruise control, there is also a time and a place to take the bull by the horns, go after what you want, be assertive and have no regrets. Equally there is a time in your life to slow down, come to a complete stop and be a spectator while others take control. However, it is hard for many of us to compartmentalize what we are supposed to do in certain situations, whether it is to be a Type A personality and take control or Type B personality and to just sit back, relax and let fate take its course. But, do we control our own fate and destiny or in other situations is it divine intervention? So, as each of us individually write our own books and create our own chapters of the story that we call “Our Lives”, all of us in our own ways can control when these chapters say and new chapters will arise with change on the brink. It isn’t to say that as writers of our story that it is easy to find a transition from one thing to the next, but a lot of times it’s like jumping off a cliff and hoping that water is below you to create a soft landing. I’ve always wondered since my accident what life would be like after I graduated college? Then what? Not that I’m an indecisive person or not assertive, but then the question marks of acceptance came back into my life again and those demons surrounded my head of wondering did I have what it takes.

Let me just reassure you that those questions only arose in my mind for about 2.5 seconds until I laughed at myself with knowing that anything is possible with the support that I have behind me. What do you want to do with your life? Who do you want to be? These are questions that we were asked probably in grade school for some of us and thought we had answers to, but now more than ever we waver on those decisions. There’s something to be said that on average students change their majors four times while in college. I’m apart of that statistic myself. There’s something to be said in life that people on average change career jobs seven times in their life. I can only hope, and not because I’m judgmental of those people that can’t settle into the right job, that I find a job that I love and I stick with it, because that would reiterate to me that all those questions of “What will I do after college is over?”, will be answered. Much of that has been answered over the past year as I broadcasted for the Los Angeles Kings AA hockey team, the Ontario Reign. Yet again, as life always does in every way shape or form, change was put upon the Reign organization this off-season. The team heading into the 2015 – 2016 season will now become the AAA affiliate of the Los Angeles Kings. While that is great news for everybody inside the organization, especially the front office, that has left me with the decision, an easy one at that, of wanting to return to the team as a broadcaster for the upcoming season in my pursuit to someday make it to the major league level for one of the four major sports.

While great opportunities have been put in front of me, I would like to think through the help of many great people along the way I have found my niche and excelled in every way that I possibly could to my own standards. But, even though I have excelled during that time how I would’ve expected, I still have an expectation of myself that is far beyond where I’m at currently, which again means more change and more transitions in my life. I am not scared, if I’m being honest with you though, because as much as I have loved this chapter of my life, I have my pen ready to go and writer’s block not even remotely close to hindering me, as I’m in the preparation phase to write this next chapter.

I graduated undergraduate college from the University of La Verne on May 30th of this year. It was a great start to my summer to say the least. I graduated with a degree in Communications, with an emphasis on Sports Broadcasting and Business. While the degree has opened up many new doors for me and many new opportunities, the education was invaluable and has contributed to my expertise I so many different ways. Last year alone for the University I was able to commentate over 55 games for all of the schools collegiate sports and I’m honored to say that I received a co-broadcaster of the year award, alongside my best friend Andrew Zetterberg. The award for us was very humbling and a testament to the hard work he put in for preparing for games as well is putting up with me. I also am very humbled to say that I received the first ever award that was presented in the school’s history called “Voice of the Leopards”. It was an honorary award that the sports and athletic department issued me, which was completely unnecessary but I am very appreciative for their acknowledgements, and it was their way of telling me that I would be a Leopard for life and can always come back to broadcast games for the school.

While nothing that I do in life is to receive high regard for doing, I was beyond appreciative for their acts of kindness, as well of the schools support of me and to Be Perfect. The Integrated Business Program at the University of La Verne raised $6700 this past semester for the foundation by going out and promoting the foundation’s mission statement and selling waterproof portable speakers, which proceeds were to go back to the foundation. The group, of about seven students, worked very hard over the semester and by far exceeded their quota, and were the highest grossing group in the entire integrated business program with their particular campaign throughout the semester.

This type of support has made me want to be a Leo for life in every shape and form, beyond just being a Leo for my zodiac sign. I have just received word and have fully committed to going back to grad school at the University of La Verne starting this fall to receive my Masters degree in Leadership and Management. Much of this program centralizes around nonprofit management, public speaking and what it means to be a leader. These are all aspects of my life within my education that could greatly benefit me take my career path to the next level and I am beyond excited for this change and this transition in my life. So, while the next chapter of my life will include more change, more schooling, harnessing my driving skills and still pursuing my career of sports broadcasting, there will also be constants in my life, many of which have been consistent throughout the past eight years; friends, family, Claremont, foundation endeavors and event planning. So while I’m closing up with my remarks writing this chapter I can’t help but wonder what my hand will write on the paper for this next chapter.

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Much of that will begin on May 21, 2016 when the Be Perfect Foundation will host its Seventh Annual event, “The Seventh Inning Stretch” (Sports themed). Unfortunately, for many of us our biggest fear in life is what will happen next and how we will react to those moments in situations. But, many of us need to understand and reflect back upon our life and ask ourselves the questions of did we regret the things in life that we did do or did we regret the things in life that we didn’t do? I think it’s fair to say, that many of us are where we are today because of our past decisions and many of us have no complaints about where we are, unless it’s in regards to materialistic things.

If we are at a stage in life where turmoil is happening and things aren’t going our way, we all need to understand that tough times end, light is at the end of the tunnel and much of the time those are just phases in our life; simple paragraphs throughout our long chapters. What will happen next for you in the chapter that you are writing? Don’t stress yourself out about it, just react and live in the moment.

Last Sunday marked my eight year anniversary since my accident and I will tell you that every bit of those last eight years are moments that I will never regret and that have made me who I am today and I have each and every one of you that’s reading this to thank you for the great value, wisdom and inspiration that you brought to my life. It’s fair to say I would not be who I am today without all of you. And while I could only hope that each and every one of you has a few sentences if not many paragraphs written about you in my next chapter, then I hope that you make a cameo in my chapter at some point because sometimes those are the most meaningful and all. I love you guys and here’s to a big cheers to what the next chapter might bring to my life and to yours…. BE PERFECT

“LET GO OF THINGS YOU CAN’T CHANGE AND ONLY FOCUS ON THE THINGS YOU CAN CHANGE”

“THE SECRET OF CHANGE IS TO FOCUS ALL OF YOUR ENERGY, NOT ON FIGHTING THE OLD, BUT BUILDING THE NEW”

“CHANGE THE CHANGEABLE, ACCEPT THE UNCHANGEABLE, AND REMOVE YOURSELF FROM THE UNACCEPTABLE”

Ontario Reign Gala

The foundation has some incredible community partners from all businesses, corporations, organizations, supporters, and individual people. The pinnacle of those partnerships is with that of the Claremont Club and Mike Alpert. A lot of the incredible things that Mike does for the local community goes unseen, unnoticed, and under the radar. But let me just reassure you of the great things that he does for Be Perfect and this is just one example. Every year, Mike puts of a huge level sponsorship with that of the Ontario Reign hockey team. This sponsorship does get him some notoriety and recognition with commercials, logos and banners inside the Citizens Business Bank Arena and during Ontario Reign hockey games however, the sponsorship is intended to have one night during the season be dedicated towards raising funds towards the organization that sponsors the Ontario Reign hockey team. 

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Typically these nights are consisted of Jersey auction nights where the proceeds from the jersey auction go directly back to the company or business who sponsored the team. The past three years Mike has done this high level sponsorship for the Reign, but with the proceeds from the jersey auction night that should be allocated towards the Claremont Club, he donates it directly back to Be Perfect. The end of the season Gala for the Ontario Reign has been home of the jersey auction night that benefits the Claremont Club. The gala fundraiser is held at the Doubletree Hotel, in Claremont, every year and brings in all of the most wild and crazed Ontario Reign fans and season ticket holders who are wanting to bid high prices on the practice uniforms, that the Ontario Reign team wears throughout the year that have both the Claremont Club logo and the Be Perfect logo on the Jersey. 

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Just last weekend, the Gala fundraiser raised nearly $31,000 during the jersey auction because of Mike's incredible contributions. Mike got up and spoke eloquently in front of the crowd and educated them on what the Claremont Club does to help the local community and some of their great partnerships, namely with the Ontario Reign hockey team. Needless to say, it tugged at the crowd's heartstrings and they were willing to open their pocketbooks and wallets. To date over the past three years at the Jersey auction and end of the season Gala fundraiser, the Claremont Club and the Ontario Reign have teamed up to raise over some $96,000 for Be Perfect, to go directly back to help those suffering from paralysis. 

The event simply would not have been possible without the help of the PR department of Laura Tolbirt, assisted that night by Nicole Disney and Jesse Liebman emceeing the event, and the beautiful venue provided by community partner and season ticket holder for the Reign, Andrew Behnke. It has been an absolutely incredible partnership with the two organizations and I have been so blessed this season to now be a part of the Ontario Reign family as one of their broadcasters, alongside Jesse Liebman throughout the season. The past two years going to the Gala fundraiser I did not have any ties to the Ontario Reign, but it was definitely a unique night this year with being able to say that I was one of their own.

It has been an incredible learning experience this season with the team and alongside Jesse. The front office staff has been amazing from everyone from; Jesse Liebman, Laura Tolbirt, Nicole Disney, Aaron Arak, Jasmyn Wilson, Vinnie Aven, Chris Orechia, Jeff Kang, John Livas, Steven Minucci, Jonah Myers, Ulises Ramirez, Alexis Alonso, Daniel Hernandes, Jonathan Hawk and Katie Larson. A special thanks to previous Ontario Reign team president Justin Kemp for all that you have done for the team in the past, and also the new team president Darren Abbott for the great direction that we are heading in. As these community partnerships continue to grow, as do our services and our ability to continue to help more people in the surrounding area.

I can only hope and imagine what that partnership will become in years to come with the Ontario Reign making the move to be a AAA level affiliate next season of the Los Angeles Kings. This year they are the double-A affiliate of the Los Angeles Kings, which is a step below AAA. So next year it will only mean more fans to come out and truly appreciate great hockey, like this year already. Unfortunately, some of the great players that I have got to meet and share great bonds with will be moving on next year possibly along with the AA affiliate back to Manchester, or hopefully moving up to the AAA team and being back in Ontario again next season. But, hopefully it will still mean another group of great guys that are willing to come in and help raise some great money for Be Perfect. I have always been amazed at how giving and willing all of the players are in the organization to be a part of the various events that go on in the community and what they do for their fans and local partnerships. You simply do not see that dedication anywhere and it's amazing to think that it's right here in our backyard in Ontario.

Thanks to all who were involved. If you want to check a bit more on all the things that are going on with the Reign and the broadcasting that Jesse and I have been doing all season long, make sure you follow our twitter, @Ontarioreign, and it is the same for instagram. Also follow the Ontario Reign on YouTube and check out all of our game highlights. And you can also see more at halhargrave.com . BP Thanks a ton to Blaze the Dragon and the Dark Knight, team mascots, for always being huge supporters of me and Be Perfect. And even a bigger thanks to Lee Calkins as the team photographer this season for shooting some great shots at the end of the year Gala jersey auction.

Announcing.. Ontario Reign Event

Recently I've had some of the great opportunities and perks of being a part of the exceptional communications department at the University of La Verne, which has allowed me to get more involved on campus with our sports programs and student body. Aside from being a radio DJ on campus ( DJ H double), every Tuesday from 2 to 4, on our campus radio station 107.9 Leo FM, which can be accessed from our school's website, Laverne.edu I have also been able to pursue and get more experience in the field that I am aspiring to be a part of for the rest of my life of sports broadcasting. Much like I have been throughout the entire school year of broadcasting, both in play-by-play and color commentary, for football, volleyball, basketball, and now softball and baseball I have been able to gain much knowledge and unique experiences with being on live broadcasts that have made me more comfortable, more polished, and more professional at my craft as time goes on. But what I have learned more than anything else, is that I am far from being good and efficient, I don't know it all, and I have much room to continue to get better. Needless to say, it's a work in progress, but I have an absolute blast of doing it. Being able to pursue my dreams, at a young age, and in my college environment truly has been a dream come true. As I continue to broadcast more games, gain more experience, and truly harness my skills, I can only hope that the profession and facet of my life that I truly love, continues to grow on me and doors hopefully will begin to open for me with hard work, dedication, and putting my time in wherever it is needed to get my shot. You are all able to tune in any time throughout the week whether it's during my DJ shift on Leo FM, or even on our live broadcasts for almost every softball and baseball games, football, and basketball games at the University of La Verne. Just this past Sunday, I was able to attend an amazing event that benefited be perfect, with so many incredible people involved. For the second year in a row now, the Claremont club has partnered and had an affiliation with the Ontario reign, the minor-league team for the Los Angeles Kings hockey team. Many of these future NHL players, and exceptional young men to say the least, have been and were be on supportive on Sunday night at the Ontario reign's end of the year Gala where all proceeds went to the be perfect foundation. The owner of the Doubletree in Claremont, Andrew, for the past two years has been gracious enough to house and host the event at his facility as this year it was another beautiful setting in an outdoor courtyard, just outside the candlelight Pavilion, which was beautifully lit and decorated, and well served by the staff of the Doubletree employees. The night consisted of a cocktail hour, a short program, with some guest speakers, and a live auction of all of the players on the teams, practice uniforms, where all proceeds benefited the foundation. Through the generosity of so many loyal season-ticket holders who were in attendance that night, and many supporters of the Reign in general, the Ontario Reign, with the help of Mike Alpert's great presentation, were able to raise $25,000 for the foundation. This was at a peer generosity and grace on behalf of the Ontario Reign who simply said all we needed to do was to show up and show our support that night and they would handle the rest. They truly are a model organization who does more philanthropic things throughout the year that I could even began to count or tell you about, and they are an organization that the foundation is be on humble and of the utmost respect to say we are affiliated and partnered with. It truly was an incredible night, and was even more amazing to see how gracious every single one of the players, who were in attendance that night, with how humorous, how giving, and how supportive they were to try and raise the most money as possible for the foundation. Needless to say, these were all acts of both the players, the organization, management, and coaches, that they never needed to do for us, but because they are such great people, they did this selfless act with so much grace and respect for others that I was beyond words to express my thanks. I am so grateful, as well is my family and the foundation to have partners like the Ontario Reign, and so many of the great people who were involved over there that we can now say that we are both a part of their team as well as they are part of ours. It truly is a dream come true and something that I will never forget.

Am I weird? Driving?

I've never really understood society in some respects. Much of it starting and ending with respect for each other. We have been built around the notion that failure is unacceptable, faults are shunned upon, and an awareness of doing what is right from rather what is wrong is what ultimately shapes society in a positive way. The last remark I will agree with. However, the notion that failure is unacceptable is something I disagree with. Over my past seven and a half years since my accident, contrary to popular belief I have grown up a lot and matured in several different ways. Much of it starting and ending with accountability. People who know me closely, aside from maybe my mother and father, will tell you that I am very passive with certain issues and dilemmas in life, and I'm a people pleaser in a lot of respects. But, something I have recognized among other things in regards to life lessons, is the understanding that I do not always have to be right to win an argument or come out on top. Again, my parents would disagree with you on this but others were not. The reason being, is that I've found that those moments in life that I have sucked up my pride, let down my guard, and opened my eyes with an understanding that I don't know it all and that with certain knowledge I think I have in life that is in fact wrong and incorrect, have been the times that I have learned and gain the most. The moments in life where I have been correct and right on certain accusations and statements that I made, were things that I already knew and just by going through certain situations and circumstances with that knowledge did not gain me or better me in any way. But merely, those moments of being wrong or having faults have been the moments that I have grown the most. I DO NOT KNOW IT ALL. Is a statement that I constantly remind myself of every day. There are several people out there that have gone through the same circumstances and even life lessons that I have but have taken something completely different away from them that could quite possibly be a better way of knowing about handling a situation or approaching and the next one. So the notion that failure is unacceptable, I feel is not indicative of how people should approach situations in life. Because, the entitlement generation that I have grown up in has been taught, or rather self-taught/believe, to take take take and not to give give give. The entitlement generation, believes that everything should be handed to them and nothing should be worked for. The entitlement generation, believes that they are always right. In more ways than not, I am ultimately trying not to fit into that title of an “entitlement generation individual". Old disney movies and childhood movies always had the take away that the underdog always wins and prevails. But in today's society a different message is being portrayed and taken away from some of those same types of movies. Today you are seeing some of the favorites and even the underdogs “losing” within the plot of the movie, indicating that winning is not everything, but learning a greater lesson through losing, which is more important. I would absolutely agree with that notion, because you are not always going to win or be right in life. Because, just when I thought I have lost in life or have experienced failure, have been the moments when I have won the most because of how much I have gained and grown as a person. Society today, thrives off people pointing out others faults and when they have done wrong. We are such creatures of habits of this, with our loved ones around us and the people that we feel as if it is necessary that we call them out on their stuff. Quite frankly, accountability starts and ends with yourself. In a lot of ways and respects, people have become accustomed to the idea of having accountability partners in their life. People around them who hold them accountable and keep them on track. For me, as a person who I think has a good sense of common sense and the difference between right and wrong, and the common knowledge of my own ability to do something, I am my own biggest advocate of holding myself accountable. In life, it is not my job to point somebody else out on their faults and where they have gone wrong, or fallen short. Just like it is not my job to call or tell a girl how ugly she is, but it is merely my job to let her know how great and how beautiful she is in every aspect of her life and who she is beneath the surface. We have become so superficial and so much about being this perfect person in others eyes. At the bare bones of it all, we need to be able to look ourselves in the mirror and feel as if we are perfect within our own skin and be prideful of that. In all reality, the perception of what perfect is, relies in the eyes of the beholder, which is why I will always disagree when people say there is no such thing as perfect. There is always somebody out there that will treat somebody with respect and unconditionally accept somebody for exactly who they are. In my eyes, that is somebody acclaiming that they think somebody else is perfect within their own skin.

Society has lost sight of what true random acts of kindness are in the fact that when people are simply being polite these days it is actually considered people being weird in society. Random acts of kindness throughout the country have become a lost art because of the simple label of being weird or outlandish for committing such extreme acts. We expect to be put down, disregarded, torn apart, and demeaned by others around us, so when somebody actually respects, or goes out of their way to be kind it is weird. Why is this?

While speaking at Upland, Pioneer Junior High, just last Friday, I spoke about this very topic and how we need to take a different approach both as men and women with others around us in society. For guys, it's not always putting down women but merely building them up. For women, it's learning to have patience with guys and understand that they will make mistakes at time to time, because no guy can never fully understand the female species as it is. How did the kids respond to the message that I gave? After the first class heard the speech, a girl came up to me in tears and simply asked me if it would be “weird” if she hugged me. I looked her in the eye and said, ‘absolutely not, I wish more people in society would like you and did that’. What I have grown to find out and something that I will pride myself on and continue to do is to reach out to people and others around me. If you can get beyond having general conversations about the weather outside and really dig deep beneath the surface to find out about somebody, is when you are doing yourself a good service and not a disservice. So, now I will go out of my way down to ask somebody how their day is, if they need help, ask them how they are doing. And every single chance that I get I will pay them a compliment, let them know what they mean to me, and let them know what they mean to the world. Because the truth of the matter is, what if I didn't have that opportunity ever again to do those things or say those things? Would I regret it? Would I have anything left unsaid? Would I have left it all out on the table?

What type of person are you? When somebody ask you how you are doing do you give a generalized response or do you actually go into depth. Generalized would be: I'm doing all right how are you? Telling somebody how you really feel would be: I'm actually not doing too well these days and here's why. Because the truth of the matter is, the more that we tell and the more that we share, allows for more people to be a part of our lives in more ways than not and be able to help and support us. Life is about taking risk, opening up, being vulnerable when we are most scared. You miss 100% of the shots that you do not take in life. And when things in life get tough, the tough get going. So how will you react to what happens next?

For me it's been almost 8 years of battling the demon of getting back behind the wheel and feeling the freedom and control of driving someday again. For those of you that know me, would probably agree with the notion that I like control. Not necessarily control of others, but control of my own life and my own decisions, which might surprise you to the fact that I have not got back behind the wheel yet to try and fulfill such void in my life. Well, I'm here to tell you that that has all changed. Just recently, I got my truck that is handicap accessible and that I can drive. To bring clarification to how I got the truck: FOUNDATION DOLLARS AND DONORS DOLLARS WERE NOT USED TO PURSHASE MY VEHICLE. And for the first time since my accident in 2007 I have got back behind the wheel and in all reality probably a bit too comfortable with the fact that I have that type of freedom. So hide your kids, hide your wife, because your boy is back out on the open road and ready to take on life full speed. It's good to feel that sense of normalcy again, especially coming from a background that has grown up to love speed. The speed of cars, the speed of boats, the intensity of life, a fun filled schedule, but also the ability to slow down life and appreciate the little moments and live in them. The reason that life continues to pass us by quicker and quicker with age is because we fail to pay attention to those little moments as we grow older. Simply because, we are not experiencing our “first times” doing things anymore, so things start to hold less weight and less value with us after the first time we do those things. For me the way I put that into perspective is I tell myself that it is my first time on that particular day living on that date. Today is my first time experiencing March 22, 2015. So that is a great reason for me to pay attention to the little details regardless if it is something that I have done in the past. And when tomorrow comes around when it is March 23, 2015 I will remind myself of the same thing and have yet again another reason to get up out of bed, treat people with respect, encourage others, pay others complements, be regarded as weird for doing random acts of kindness, and now most recently get back out on the open road with the sense of a cautious conscious mind but a renewed sense of freedom…………

Happy Holidays......Thank You's and Yearly Recap

Dear friends, family members, supporters, and donors of the Be Perfect Foundation,

As we approach such a giving and thankful time of year, I felt it would be appropriate to personally thank all of you for your 2014 contributions to the Be Perfect Foundation. It has been an incredible year for the foundation to say the least--due mostly to your continued support and generosity.

With a multitude of events throughout the year, we have been able to touch more lives, educate more people, and establish a stronger sense of camaraderie, reminding our Be Perfect family how good it feels to give back and help others. It started at the beginning of the year when Kessler Alair held their beginning of the year luncheon to not only recap the previous year, but also to state and show their plans for the 2014 year ahead. They presented the foundation with a check from their 2013 fundraising efforts and detailed their plans to become a more integral part of the foundation's fundraising and awareness efforts in 2014.  They followed through on their 2014 commitment!  Many of you went to Farmer Boys just last week and bought lunch where 30% of your receipts went back to helping the foundation.  Kessler Alair, the Kessler family, and Kathryn Dalton orchestrated this wonderful event!

Not long after Kessler Alair kicked off 2014, Jenna Hardy, alongside her mom and other close Claremont families and parents, held a fundraiser at the Dale Brothers Brewing Festival at Cable Airport.  Through tips and donations for the beer pourers, we were able to raise over $1,000!  While this event raised funds and certainly raised awareness about the foundation and its mission, it also served as an introduction between the foundation's community and Dale Brothers.  Dale Brothers has been a longtime supporter of grassroots foundations in the area, including ours, and it was great to bring Be Perfect's community to their event.

In February, we were able to start our first round of the mentor program at Project Walk Claremont.  Eight high school students learned about spinal cord injuries and the rehabilitation process via a 12 week course.  The course taught the students the ins and outs of a spinal cord injury through lectures, seminars and through working with the clients that attend Project Walk Claremont.  This program is led by Dr. Steve Bast and is the pinnacle of what we are trying to accomplish at Project Walk Claremont--educating young people so they can educate the rest of the world.  The second round of our mentor program is supposed to begin at the first part of 2015.

In March, the Kappa Delta Fraternity at Pomona College put on their second annual 5K run to raise money for the foundation.  The event was a huge success and further solidified the foundation's relationship with the Claremont College community.  Later that month, one of our biggest community partners, the Ontario Reign, held their end of the season Gala/Jersey Auction, with all of the proceeds going directly to the foundation.  The event raised an astounding $40,000 for the second straight year!  We could not be happier to have such great community partner.  The partnership was created due to Mike Alpert, CEO of The Claremont Club, and his efforts to reach out to others in the community in the spirit of giving back.  In addition to all that Mike does, we thank him for helping to establish this fantastic partnership with the Ontario Reign.

In May, Brandon Rayburn, a client and employee at Project Walk Claremont, used his local connections to introduce us to Ray Podesta, a local franchise owner of several IHOP restaurants. Mr. Podesta generously arranged for a portion of all funds raised on May 21st at a local IHOP to go back to the foundation. That fundraiser raised well over $3,000!  We are so grateful for that new and unique partnership with Mr. Podesta and IHOP.

Then came September, and the sixth annual fundraising event, "Endless Summer". Yet again, all of you exceeded our expectations with your level of support.  For the fourth straight year, we had over 1,000 people in attendance and were able to raise over $300,000 for the foundation!  Certainly our committee members are to be thanked as well, but it is you, the donors and supporters, who truly bring that night to life with your acts of kindness and generosity towards the foundation in our pursuit to help others in need.

Just recently, Project Walk Claremont at The Claremont Club had its grand re-opening to celebrate a privately-funded project for facility expansion and accompanying new equipment.  The 2,000 square foot expansion and new equipment will allow Project Walk to better serve its existing clients and, in addition, will allow the facility to open its doors to more new clients that could so desperately benefit from Project Walk's program.  The foundation's growth at Project Walk Claremont has been rapid since its inception just a year and a half ago, now with over 53 clients in our program and seven trainers. At this rate, there is no telling where the foundation and Project Walk could be another year from now.

In closing, we ask that you please, during these holidays, as many of you do year in and year out, take the time to consider and think about how grateful and thankful you are for everything that you have around you, whether it be monetarily, spiritually, health-wise, or family. Many of the individuals that we help within Be Perfect do not have many of those entities in their life fulfilled and it is through the help of all of you donors that we are able to help fulfill just some of those qualities back into their lives and to give them hope for more. Paying it forward in life is the true definition of what random acts of kindness are. Random acts of kindness do not even necessarily have to be monetary, but merely giving your time and effort. If you happen to consider giving through these holiday months, I encourage you to please consider the Be Perfect Foundation for those endeavors.  You can be a part of the team by supporting in so many different ways. For those of us who area Amazon shoppers, make sure to do your shopping through Amazon Smile, a portion of your normal purchase price will go directly to the foundation for all of your purchases once you sign up--no additional cost to you.  If you would like to donate now, simply donate any amount you wish to the foundation and you can even allocate those dollars towards a specific person or client at Donate Now.  Lastly, buy our merchandise and continue to spread awareness by visiting the Be Perfect Store.  But most importantly, make the conscious effort yourself through the holidays to know what it means to be perfect and to wear the bracelet proudly every morning when you wake up and have the peace of mind to understand how good it feels to pay it forward every day.

Make sure you tune in this week on Wednesday night, November 26th, to ABC 7 at 11 PM to check out the new piece that Elex Michaelson is doing on the Project Walk expansion and all of the great things that are going on at Project Walk Claremont. Thank you for being vital part of our growth this year, and I am so excited to see where the 2015 year will take us and all the people that we can reach and help then as well.

Happy holidays... and Be Perfect,

Hal Hargrave Jr.

BP 6.0 RECAP

I feel like every year I truly do start my post event blog off this way by saying “wowwwwwwwww”. But it truly never has been more fitting and more true than after this year's event. I am left speechless in so many different ways after seeing, experience, executing, and being a part of one of the most special night of my life. The sixth annual fundraiser in my eyes was by far, and leaps and bounds the best event collectively that we have all ever assembled and created. As always, the local community, close family, friends, spinal cord injured friends and their families, all came together to support a cause that we all truly believe in. What all of you brought to the table was simply what I can Dean, a dream come true, a miracle, but at the same time what I have grown to expect of some of the most amazing people I have met on this journey. Every year, even though you guys have continued to set the bar high, and this isn't to say that I taken for granted, or even don't appreciate it, but you guys do exactly what I think you're going to do every year, and that is to simply leave me speechless, blown away, but also make all of you reliable to me that I know you will continue to come back, continue to support, and continue to change the lives of others like you all have continued to do. This year, was beyond special; from yet again another thousand people showing up, beautiful weather even though it scared us just hours before with possible rain even in the midst of this endless summer heat wave, over 100 volunteers from the La Verne baseball team, the La Verne football team, the Diamond Ranch baseball team, the Bloomington baseball team, Claremont club employees, and just close friends who all offered up their time and effort to make a beautiful night come to life. This type of help from all the volunteers and so many community members, created a night that was smooth flowing, effortless, and immaculate. Joe Johnson was able to orchestrate and guide our volunteers who using the tablets for both the silent auction and the bar throughout the night to create for a fun filled environment. Toni Fraizer assembled and created as she always does the best silent auction we've had in the first six years. Tom Cerafice and Doug Brooks got the night rolling up during cocktail hour with their hilarious and role-playing outfits of endless summer and truly bringing the beach theme to life by MC’ing and putting all the guest at ease as they walked in and bringing the life to the party. Laura and Mark Grochowski helped create a beautiful venue with some gorgeous decorations, and a beautiful backdrop on stage that was built from the ground up. Lydia Montano along with the help of her husband, daughter and son, truly put everybody at ease by doing his best job as they could with orchestrating all of the seating within the venue the night of the event, which took several man-hours in the months leading up to the event, and then beautiful photos taken by Justin Montano will help us remember the night. Another professional photographer, Mary Ellen helped capture the night in summary beautiful ways as many of you have probably already seen on Facebook. Teri Goodwin directed the best program that we have ever ran the night of any event, by keeping us all on task, on cue, and simply kept us in the places where we needed to be. Her husband Louis Goodwin did an incredible job with blessing the evening. The beautiful paintings that were created by Tom Clark throughout the night, as so many of us there had been treated to seeing in action for three events now, brought the night home after the program ended with an incredible live auction that brought nearly $40,000 to the foundation. Then there was the pit crew and summary of the unsung heroes off stage and behind the camera. Tony B, helped capture the night via video by filming and recording the entire night back in the pit and doing a great job with bringing a live feed up to the video monitors. Robert Melogoza who is an employee at my dad's office, offered up so much of his time to be such an integral part of running the program and using the video switcher throughout the program to keep our queues flowing properly. But what truly brought the program to life this year was the audiovisual and the huge help of both Jeremiah and Hunter Davis who created an orchestrated some of the best videos that attendees of the be perfect foundations annual event has ever seen. The stories video about trainer and client relationships, made it easy for attendees to relate to the special bonds that are formed in the therapy setting. The frames video that followed my speech, that was put together by Hunter and his team truly captured the essence of what my speech was about and how we can relate to our life as a photo album or pictures on the wall with various moments captured in time, and how these moments that we've captured in time are necessarily indicative of who we are as people, but they resemble a time in our life where we learn the lessons and it helped us become who we are today. We can either let these moments in time to find who we are, or we can use them as lessons learned. Then there was the “hey brother” video that Jeremiah created which showed my friends Missy, Blake, and Brian, and how their lives continued to go on beyond just the therapy setting, but merely in the midst of life they are continuing to do things that even able-bodied people would do. But the whole night culminated with Hunters video, which highlighted the night in its entirety in just 90 seconds. It was pretty unbelievable to think that Hunter was in the back editing this video as the night was going on and was able to show a finished product as the program ended. The aerial shots that were used from the drone that was flown overhead by my friend Jake Scott, truly captured some unique perspectives of the night that when the been captured without the drone. Jake Scott is a part of the Scott family who was always such a huge part and reason that the event is able to be such a success and we are so grateful for them, Richard, Tracy, Brittnee, and Jake. My aunt Deb, and David Bosson headed up the bars at the event, and truly put people at ease with a nice glass of wine or even a cocktail to help them relax and take in all the beautiful moments of the night. The whole entire Apex family, and all of my dad's employees, including my uncle Randy, cousin Ian, friend Jeremy Lay and everybody else who works so hard to pull time away from work to help out with the event, are some of the huge reasons that the night was so amazing. With the added addition of my friend RJ Maki, who is on board as an employee of my dad's business, but now most importantly the executive director of the foundation, was influential in many ways, with his new and fresh ideas, and new approach at social media and marketing, to truly take the foundation to the next level postevent, but also helps with bringing some new and fun aspects to the night like the exit box that you guys all received on your way out of the venue.


In my own eyes the comment the night and the program simply would not have been what it had been without some of our clients stepping up, like Chris Siebel and Stephanie Aiello, who are some new faces up on stage to help introduce videos, or even the likes of Jenna Hardy who is a trainer at Project Walk Claremont that give us all an update on a couple of her clients who are suffering from cancer. Our guest speaker for the night, Chris Simning is simply one of the most remarkable people that I've ever got to experience any sort of friendship with in my entire life. He was hilarious, witty, real, and heart wrenching with all of the great things that he had to say and share with all of us the night of the event and it simply was icing on the cake. The food of gourmet gourmet, was as always great. The visual effect from an incredible A/V team with all the people that are involved at Citrus College, brought great perspective to the night. And the dancing at the end of the night to “NIGHT SHIFT”, who were all college students at Citrus College, was honestly one of the best bands I've ever seen in person and was an absolute blast for everybody who stayed and danced. With so many people to be thanked for helping make the night happen, I couldn't go any farther without thinking my family, my mom and dad, my grandpa, and my grandmother who put in countless hours for months leading up to the event, whether it be registration, general event planning for both the program, silent auction, and all other entities of the event, they simply are some of the biggest doers and proactive people that I could ever surround myself with, and are the sole reason that my vision is able to come to life. I think it goes without saying that I could never fathom or even attempt to do this without them because it simply want to be possible and they are the ones you deserve the true credit. But when I look back on the night as a whole something continues to stand out to me. All of you, the donors, and the people who continue to support are the people who I hold most near and dear to my heart and people who literally bring me to tears whether you see it or not. To have another thousand people there this year, and to raise over $300,000 yet again, simply is a dream come true to put it most simply and clearly. Yet again you guys stepped up to the challenge and exceeded my expectations. With so many more people that I could possibly think individually, it could take the hours to explain my thanks to each and every one of you who helped out as a volunteer, as a supporter, and as a donor. I am forever grateful and appreciative and always remember that I love you all and I cannot wait to do it again next time in 2016. Make sure you all are ready because it will be the seventh inning stretch……….. Never forget to be perfect……..

P.S. Make sure to come and check out Project Walk Claremont's grand re-opening on Saturday, November 8 from nine to 12 o'clock in the morning.

Below are the links to all the videos that we shared with you guys the night of the event. So make sure to check them out and share them with your friends…..

All too late summertime update!

I have been lagging the past couple of months to say the least, to put an updated blog up on the site to tell all of you some of the great things that have gone on the summer as we approach the new school year which for me starts tomorrow, and for many of you has already started, as well as us approaching the upcoming Sixth Annual Be Perfect Foundation fundraiser " Endless Summer" on September 27 next month. I am beyond excited for all of the fun endeavors that will take place next month, with the new school year starting, and everything that leads up planning the event. Needless to say, myself, my family, and all of our committee members are beyond excited for the incredible evening that we have planned for all of you and we can't wait for all who will attend. Remember to get your tickets in early, before the prices go up, we sold out Last year at 1250 people and we don't want to be having to turn away anybody, so make sure to get your tickets in and purchased quickly. It is in fact a themed night again this year much like you might remember last year being a country western theme. This year is an "Endless Summer" theme, so I expect everybody to dress in beach attire, no this does not mean bathing suits haha. And girls, get your sundresses ready! Since the last time that I posted a blog on June 5, a lot has happened.  I've spent some incredible times out of the lake, I watched my dad race NASCAR and beat Joe Johnson in a race. I attended and saw many of my sisters close friends and people that I call my friends graduate from the class of 2014 from Claremont high school, and from the University of La Verne. I've attended some fun Dodgers and Angels games with some of my dear friends, made some incredible memories on a cruise to Mexico with 13 of my guy friends that will never be forgotten and at the same time never be spoken of again haha. I attended and made more relationships at the Matt Leinart foundation, celebrity bowling night fundraiser in which he raises money for his foundation and the Make-A-Wish foundation based out of Orange County. I made an incredible river trip with all of the guys from project walk. I celebrated yet another year of battling through this injury and experiencing what I deem as my new birthday of 7/26/07, the day that I was reborn. On this day I was able to share an incredible act of love by attending one of my dear friends, Sarah Webner's wedding, as she is now married to Mr. John Wells who is an incredible guy in his own right. The day after that was a day of much remembrance, and reflection as it was the one year anniversary of my grandfather Hargrave passing away. Needless to say, it was a huge day of reflection for my family and a day that we will all remember a lot of the values that we continue to use today that were instilled in us by my incredible grandfather. 7/27/13. It's been an exciting time at Project Walk in Claremont, as we have just newly finished our expansion of the facility. We are so excited to share and show all of you at our upcoming re-grand opening of the second half of the facility on November 8 of this year, from nine to 12 o'clock in the morning. The facility is now home to new and useful equipment that we will be able to utilize with all of our 50 clients that we now have enrolled in our program, and has expanded our facility by 2200 ft.².  I like many of you, was a part of one of the people who undertook the challenge, of getting a cold bucket of ice dumped on my head, for the ALS awareness ice bucket challenge. I then nominated my close friends Brandon Rayburn, Chris Seibel, and Brian Goodwin. It was a fun time doing it and brought some great awareness to the ALS community, and to somebody who's fighting the fight every day, Augie Nieto.  My very busy, productive, efficient, and relaxing summer has concluded this weekend, with attending one of Project Walk's very own clients, and my friend Eric Kerber's pool party, yesterday. Where many of us project what clients and trainers had a blast hanging out at the Kerber family's house, going down there slides of their pool, and having an incredible barbecue that was catered by the incredible Kerber family. Today I was back in in my very own element, ironically enough on the campus of University of La Verne, where school will start for me there tomorrow for the fall semester, by speaking to the University of La Verne football team. These are some of the guys that I call some of my dearest friends on campus, and will be friends of mine for life. I had an opportunity to go and provide some perspective for them today prior to the season starting, on the first day of the hell week, and to try and get things on track for everybody prior to school starting tomorrow. As always the guys made me feel more than welcome and a part of an incredible band of Brothers that couldn't be happier to be a part of.  I reiterated to them that if you were to cut me open, you would find green and orange spilling out of the blood coming out of my body. They made sure that I knew I was a part of the team and the biggest Leo fan myself, by presenting me with the University of La Verne leopards football jersey. They really are an incredible group of guys, led by incredible head coach in Coach Krich, and backed by an incredible coaching staff along with Coach Brent Baier who taught my theory of football class last semester. I must say though, as school get started tomorrow, I'm a little bummed to think that I won't be a radio DJ on campus this semester, my alter ego, DJ H double However, I will remain in my element as I am already scheduled to broadcast, and announce, via play-by-play and color commentary 15 games from now until the end of October. Whether it be, women's volleyball, men's and women's soccer, and of course one of my passions football. Needless to say, it's shaping up to be another fun school year and an incredible that I'm super excited to get started and get going. But for now, we will continue on with the crazy event planning, and filming a lot of the video work that we are really excited to show all of you next month, that has been produced, filmed, and edited by two Claremont's finest in Hunter and Jeremiah Davis For those of you that know these two guys, know what they bring to the table and how creative they can be so just sit back, relax, and prepare for your minds to be blown at next month's event. I can't wait to see all of you there. be perfect ....

NEW UPDATES... MAY and JUNE 2014

Just a few quick updates…  a couple of weeks ago we had an extremely generous offer from the owner, Ray Podesta, of the IHOP, off of Euclid in Upland, to have a day of fundraising for all who eat at IHOP that day, where 50% of the proceeds would go to the foundation. It really was incredible and generous offer, and incredible day of fundraising and support for all who came out. This day was completely made possible from two of our very own clients, Brandon Rayburn and Chris Seibel who headed up organizing and correlating the entire day and making the connection from Mr. Ray Podesta with the foundation. The proceeds generated an incredible $3500, that will go directly back to helping others and keeping many in recovery. It truly was an incredible turnout for all who support be perfect, and for so many other people within the community who came out just to show their face and get a bite to eat. It’s little acts of kindness like this, and the little fundraisers throughout the year that keep the foundation afloat and keep us all going. For somebody like Ray, who owns and runs many IHOP’s, the fact that he even considered and acknowledged the foundation and was willing to put on a fundraiser like this, truly tells a lot about him as a person and his character, and there truly needs to be more people like Ray in the community who are wanting to give back. This past weekend, on April 31, I had the honor and the privilege to go to one of our clients, Mark Hall’s, annual poker fundraiser. This is a fundraiser unfortunately for the past several years I have been unable to attend, but was so blessed to be able to be in town and be able to go this year, as it was at the beautiful home of another one of our clients, Eric Kerber’s families house. Showing up to this event, with several of the Project Walk trainers who all carpooled down there, to Corona, surely had the event hit home for me and it was so exciting to see how all of us within the spinal cord injury community, including our trainers rally behind each other, and all are so supportive of each other’s endeavors, and fundraising efforts simply to keep us all in recovery and keep us moving forward together. It was a pretty incredible turnout, with well over 100 people, for one of the greatest families that I have met along this incredible journey, in the likes of both Mark and Kelleigh, and it is so moving to me to see the type to support that they were given that night, because there is nobody else in the world that deserves that type of support and involvement from all of their friends and family to help make Mark’s dreams come true again of not only walking, but also remain true of being an incredible dad to his three little girls. And of course among other things lately, I had some great involvement and incredible support this year, from the Claremont high school baseball team, and was honored to be able to go to their banquet, this week on June 2. Yet again they showed their incredible support not only towards me, and inviting me in, and making me feel as if I'm still part of the program, but also showing their incredible support towards the foundation with paying great tribute, and even some fund-raising efforts along the way. Being at the end of the year banquet on Monday put such a warm feeling in my heart, and took me back to the glory days where my roots came from and something I’m so prideful about, and Claremont baseball. I’m so proud of all the players and coaches involved in the program this year, and look forward to another great season next year and for many years to come. For some many of the great people that there are to be thanked within that program this year, like the Bernstein family, the Galluchi family, the Witt family, all the great coaches and players, I am so blessed to live and be a part of this great city of Claremont.

4/9/09....... Remembering 5 Years Ago...... Courtney Stewart... NA, HP, JW

As I woke up yesterday morning time kind of stood still. I laid there for a second before calling my mom into the room to come get me out of bed, only because I was thinking about how it was that time of morning five years ago yesterday when people started catching word in finding out that one of my dearest friends, one of Claremont High School's finest alums, one of the most spirited people to attend El Roble, one of the silliest girls ever to attend Sumner elementary school, a perfect daughter, an incredible friend, and an amazing person had been taken from all of us to heaven oh to soon. Courtney Frances Stewart became one of my closest girlfriends when she started going to Sumner elementary school in the fifth grade. I can recall doing a group project with her and one of my best friends in elementary school at the time Jon Hall, where we did a report on one of the various types of snakes in the wild. Part of our presentation that we give to the class was to act out how snakes gave birth. Courtney had no problem offering up the duties of showing the class how an egg comes out of certain places, and plops onto the ground. She demonstrated this with much laughter, and I can assure you that the class followed suit as a fake white egg fell out of Courtney's pants and onto the ground mysteriously in the middle of class. It's not always stuff like this that I will remember Courtney by, but for the people around her that currently we will all remember her little giggle, two very loud laugh, her infectious smile, her blonde hair that you can see from a mile away, and that waddling walk that if all you saw was a silhouette of her you would still know it was her. Five years it's been now, and as each day goes on it gets a little easier to cope with, but never easier to forget. It's interesting how life works, how is people were so wired to be in tune, and be so appreciative of things after tragedy has struck our lives and after we have lost something that is so close to us. Whether it's figurative, literal, or even a person we tend to give life, and the people around us the attention and respect they finally deserve. Why that is? Not sure I have the answer to that question for everybody else, and at times I may even be a culprit of it myself, but I can assure you that over the past seven years since my life has drastically changed but certainly hasn't been the way I have approach things in my life. This isn't to say that my life experiences any better, any different, any worse, or any more valuable from myself and onto the next person, but the perspective that I have gained, and what I've taken away from what life has tried to teach me is a clear-cut understanding that life is short, and a true and living proof that people can truly live every moment to its fullest with appreciation and gratitude for others. Often times my overwhelming acknowledgment towards others uniqueness, positives, and beautiful traits within their personality, and incredible physical attributes as people can be misconstrued. My sincerely towards others, is sometimes interpreted as faulty, desperate, and a stretch from the truth. It may sometimes be even interpreted as sarcasm. But let me reassure you through my words and not through my mouth, so this can truly drive the point home of how everything should be interpreted that comes out of my own mouth. As some people who are close to me and that understand me have heard me say before, and have taken it literally, I will tell them it is not my job to point out somebody's false and tell them how ugly they are, or where they are lacking, but it is my job to be there for others to encourage them, motivate them, and show them that they truly are beautiful people whether they know it or not. This isn't to say that I'm out there searching for thousands of different girls, because this applies to the guys I talked to two, but merely I have found a way to find the beauty and everybody because I have a clear-cut understanding now that each and every one of us is a gift in some way, shape, or form, and all have been made a beautiful masterpiece whether we realize it or not. This is something that I have not only identified with and some of my close friends, but even with the people that I hardly even know. With all sincerity I mean this from the bottom of my heart, and when I try to reiterate to people, and tell them, and show them truly that they are a gift to this world and are beautiful in so many ways, I just hope from now on they can interpret it with much sincerely coming from Iran, and learn from it with a sense of pride and confidence that they can carry on out into the world. When I relate my own personal loss, to a loss of Courtney within my life it doesn't even compare, and that's why I have made a conscious effort the past five years, to tell those that I love around me truly what they're worth is to me, and more importantly what it means to the world. Also was a loss of Courtney, came with the loss of two others and the tragedy that would change someone else's life forever. Anaheim Angels pitcher, Nick Adenhart was in the car the night Courtney passed away, when she was hit by a drunk driver heading to Incahoots, in Fullerton to go line dancing. The night of the crash, Nick had just finished playing and pitching in his first ever major league game for the Angels, at home against the Oakland Athletics, where coaches, players, family and friends, and peers who were in attendance, already were deeming him to be a potential star in the major leagues and if anything in life. But it wasn't just Nick who went with Courtney, another dear friend of both Courtney and Nick, was Henry Pearson who unfortunately came out on the losing end of the crash as well. Three incredible individuals were lost, but what we all gain was an incredible perspective, lessons learned, and sense of pride from the roots of where we came from, and how each of them will forever impact our lives until eternity. But with these three individuals forever gone from the trash, didn't mean that more loss didn't occur. The fourth passenger in the car, and the lone survivor from the accident, somebody I deemed to be a dear friend, and a role model to me now, was John Wilhite. John was an incredible athlete himself, as he still is today as he fights his own battles and demons every morning when he wakes up. John will tell you, prior to the crash, some of his most memorable moments in life, were playing in the College World Series where he got a base hit, for one of the premier baseball colleges in the country, our own Orange counties Cal State Fullerton. But it wasn't just on a baseball field where John excelled. He has and had a plethora of friends that have been nothing but support to him since the accident. And much of this might be speaking for myself but from what I have gathered, as much as John has tried to escape the spotlight of being the lone survivor, at the same time he has become a huge icon and advocate not only for the three that we all have lost, but as well as preventing in advocating for non-drunk driving acts Of responsibility within the community. John has become a symbol of hope to most all of us, and somebody we can all look at to put a smile on her face. John absolutely lives up to the acronym of hope with, hold on pain ends. And even though the pain of losing the three will never fully go away, and is imprinted on all of our hearts, John is a constant reminder that we are still left with an Angel here on earth. Whether or not you've had the chance to meet John yet, is something that am deeply sorry for if you haven't. All you can do when you are around him for obvious reasons, is just smile. He's got a clear's personality, a heart of gold, tenacity, a fiery ambition, and a will that is unprecedented. He truly is a role model whether he knows it, believes it, or even thinks he's living it or not. As she is somebody that I look up to every day, I find great joy with sharing many great times with him, as he is become even closer to me with sharing a common interest beyond just baseball, that we both love and care about. John and his family have become some of the biggest and most passionate supporters of my foundation that I have met with in the past seven years. Since the crash, their family has managed to attend each event that the foundation has thrown sense, and have even gone as far to make a promise to me that they will be there every single year, simply because they love everything about it and the fact that it brings all of us together regardless of circumstances. Now what I haven't told you, is the fact that John is a miracle in himself. In the accident, John had received what was deemed as an internal decapitation of the head from the spine at the C1 level. This is something that nearly every single individual dies from, let alone ever walk again. I can assure you no matter how many stories you have ever heard, you will never hear anything like this. John has managed to not only recover from his injury and be alive, but he is also a walking testament that miracles can and do happen. The fact alone that he can walk up to me every time I see him and get me a hug, emulates the same feeling that I used to get when I would hug Courtney. As I texted John yesterday, to remind him that he is always in my thoughts and prayers, beyond just what yesterday signified to him and me and so many others, but our conversation ended with me doing what I do to most anybody that holds a true spot in my heart. I reminded him how great of a person he truly was, not out of pity, but out of pure sincerity. Doing what John always does, he flipped it back and threw it right back at me by saying that I was one of his heroes as well. I guess I have a clear-cut understanding now of why I have chosen to surround myself with somebody like him. He's a perfect angel.. so as each day goes by, nothing will bring back, Carrie's Courtney, my Courtney, our Courtney, our Nick Adenhart, or our Henry Pearson, but will always remain is the imprint that they left on our hearts and the angel that we are left with here on earth. And as much as things are taught in life, that we never really retain and never really learned, we can all gain a huge perspective from this and an even bigger lesson learned was something that true facts can backup. The facts are: every 15 minutes somebody is killed by a drunk driver. Drunk driving is an accident, it's a choice, and it's murder. Every 48 seconds, a drunk driver puts somebody like me, and somebody like John, into one of those handicap spots at the front of Von's that we all vie for. But what really matters from all of this, is the fact that we all still have hope, and we all still have a chance to change the world, but what will you do with that chance? Will you try to teach and provide perspective to others? Or will you sit back and not be an advocate and let a dear friend make that dumb decision that could be life-changing. Speak up, it only takes one voice to change the world, and one moment to change a life. So sincerely I will leave you with this as I hope you all take away a newfound perspective to do the same to others, do yourself a favor today and lay in bed tonight and try a few things. Sit up in bed, stretch your hands over your head, reach over and grab that glass of water beside your bed, then get up and go to the bathroom, then go lay back down and realize how fortunate you are to still be here. What does that mean to you? Because to Courtney, Nick, and Henry, they will never be able to do that again. And then think about how you just did something that John struggles every single day to do and will for the rest of his life. Are you living your life the way you should, and to its fullest? Only you can determine that. Never forget to say I love you only so you can hear, the words of an angel and what she would say back, " I love you more..." never forget 4/9/09........ and never forget the words that I spoke at Courtney's (MY COWGIRL) funeral as I gave part of her eulogy because it emulated to a T who she was as a person: " worry more about your character than your reputation, your character is who you are and your reputation is merely what others think of you..,  and to be perfect........."

http://sports.yahoo.com/news/the-sad-anniversary-of-an-angels-pitcher-lost-too-soon-152655169.html

The moving week of January 20-26!

This past week was a great week of reaching out to others, raising awareness, and bringing perspective to many individuals. I was blessed enough to have the opportunity to have several speaking engagements throughout the week, all of which were reaching out to students at the high school levels. The week started by speaking to sports teams at Claremont high school my alma mater. I was able to reach out to athletes from both the JV and Varsity level baseball team and the varsity basketball team. I tried to bring some perspective to all of them about the different values that should be put upon their time spent in high school and how valuable it is to be a part of a team and experience the camaraderie of being on. These were all aspects during my high school career in which I wish I'd paid more attention to and had more of a sense of appreciation towards my coaches and peers during those great times. I enjoy speaking to those types of kids who in a lot of ways I live vicariously through as I see them very image of myself in those kids shoes at my alma mater.  All of the kids were very receptive and I look forward to the ways that they will bring forth both their attitudes and their skills to represent Claremont high school as a whole. The very next day I tried to bring the same sort of perspective to kids that were a part of the San Dimas high school  baseball program as I spoke to them on the very same topics that I reiterated to the kids at my alma mater of being a part of the program and the team and the different contributions you can bring to that team to play your role as effective as possible.  I feel so blessed to have the sort of connections to be able to go out and talk to all of these types of athletes and students at the various surrounding schools in the area to provide my insight and perspective and what I feel as if is some valuable life lessons to kids that I can relate to. It also brings a lot of perspective to me while doing so, many perspectives in which he keeps me grounded and humbles me in so many different ways, to be able to share my story not in the way that sounds conceited, cocky, or in any case playing the woe is me card, but merely trying to bring perspective to many of these athletes mind to show them what they are truly capable of bringing to the table in life.  I also had a unique first experience with doing my first ever webinar online with a group of students that were from high schools in both Utah and Arizona.  This extremely interactive experience reiterated to me the power of technology and how getting the word out about be perfect and sharing my testimony with others can go far beyond just the local areas and on a face-to-face basis, but merely through the power of video chat in kids sending through question and answer responses through a unique software through Google hang out. There was no telling really the true amount students that were on the webinar because more than one student was locked in at any given time in classrooms of high schools, but in any case we were able to get the word out and I got much great feedback on both the use of the technology and the message that was being sent to all the students through the my testimonial. The great week ended when I attended a fundraiser at cable airport, in upland which is Claremont's neighboring city. The fundraiser was a beer festival, with live bands, food, vendors, and beer tasting first 40 different breweries all over Southern California, and the event was put on by Dale Brothers brewing Company out of Upland, and all the proceeds benefited CEF, the Claremont educational foundation. The Hardy family, and their close friend Richard, headed up this wonderful event along with the likes of many great Claremont ambassadors like the Harper family and so many other involved families in Claremont in order to make this a huge and successful event. The event initially expected somewhere in the ballpark of 1500 attendees and they were blown away by the great response of over 3000 people in attendance. Needless to say, it was a huge hit and spread the word of all the great things that Claremont educational foundation is doing in the community. What came along with this great event was a chance for my family and several other families in the community to volunteer at the various brewing company's tense where we were able to pour beers for all the attendees as volunteers. While doing so we were able to put out a tip jar and raise awareness for be perfect and we were able to raise over $900 in tips in just under 2 1/2 hours of pouring beverages to the attendees. It was an incredible response and a great day that I will remember, and definitely give my family nice some ideas for how we can make our event better and future events that relate to be perfect. I can't wait for next year's beer Festival and I can only hope that Claremont educational foundation receives an overwhelming response in which so many great monetary proceeds will go in their way after another great event. I just wanted to update you all on another perfect filled week, and will keep you updated on all the great things that are happening in the near future. 

A MOVING 2013, WITH A HOPEFUL 2014 TO LOOK FORWARD TO...

What an eventful year it was in reminiscence of 2013 and all that was in store for me, my family, my friends, in the foundation. There is so much to remember 2013 by, so much to take away from it, so much to gain from it, so much loss from it, but if anything else so many lessons learned from it. The year kicked off with the opening of the Project Walk Claremont facility at the Claremont club in February, 2013. The Project Walk model and methodology has been a huge part of my recovery for the past six years and has truly developed and evolved my recovery into something that has become pivotal with my lifestyle that I live on a day-to-day basis. It has taught me and brought me independence and most importantly has given me such a great mental outlook and perspective on life that continues to push and move me forward on a day-to-day basis. Three years ago I had mentioned and brought up to my parents the idea and the notion of bringing the first ever Project Walk franchise up to the Inland Empire and expand upon our small facility that we already had at the Claremont club in making it the first ever franchise that Project Walk has seen. After my parents agreement to match my dollar to dollar donation to the Claremont Club to start this facility, my family presented a check of $300,000 to get the project started. In our older facility that was much smaller, where we were operating out of a converted racquetball court, we certainly may do and had a great team of staff who was willing to put their best foot forward to make the lives of spinal cord injuries better was going along great until we recognize and identified that we were running out of space with nearly 21 clients in our program in just an 800 ft.² converted racquetball court. My family and I went to Mike Alpert who plays a vital part, of the day-to-day operations, along with the wellness director Denise Johnson at the Claremont Club, who certainly have made our dream come true of taking the next step of doing a remodel of an existing part of the Claremont Club to create a 3000 ft.² facility, that became home in February of this past year to the first ever Project Walk franchise, Project Walk Claremont. At the end of 2013 the growth the Project Walk Claremont was astounding. The facility itself was already seeing huge growth with both staff, clientele, recognition and even the need to already expand and do another remodel where here in the first quarter of 2014 we will be doubling our floor space and adding another 2000 ft.² to our existing facility to put us right at 5000 ft.² of being able to help spinal cord injured victims. Currently the facility has grown to two full-time receptionists, Rebecca and Nancy, two full time aides, Kristen, that complement our wonderful six specialists on the floor, Shawn, Skye, Loren, Jenna, Tanya, and Dania who accompany 40 full-time clients in our program already at the end of year number one. This is beyond incredible to me and something I'm very proud to say that we are moving and growing in the right direction at a good and steady pace and I know that it is getting the incredible recognition that it deserves throughout the spinal cord injury sector as people are beginning to consider Project Walk Claremont as the cornerstone and pinnacle of what a model spinal cord injury facility to gain recovery is all about.  This would not be made possible without the help of Mike Alpert and Denise Johnson wanted day-to-day basis make this dream come true of having the facility run smoothly and operate at the highest level. Within the project walk model we do not preach that you will walk again, but we do promise with hard work and determination the worst thing that can happen to you is that you are going to become healthier, reduce your chance of secondary complications, become physically fit, and most importantly a high mental capacity that will leave you with the utmost confidence to live a active and conducive lifestyle that is healthy to all individuals. And if all of this great happenings was not enough, the Be Perfect Foundation celebrated its Fifth Annual fundraiser in May, 2013 at yet again the Haffif Estate in north La Verne. The night was perfect to say the least, and record-breaking at anything else, as it was our first ever dressed themed event of, “These boots are made for walking”, cowboy theme. Simply because all of you made the night happened and another dream of mine come true. Over 1250 people attended, ready to line dance, at the Fifth Annual fundraiser which broke our previous record by 250 people, there were over 100 volunteers, close to 50 spinal cord injury friends in attendance, and over $300,000 raised, all of which 100% of the dollars going straight back to the foundation. The program was spectacular with guest appearances by team hot wheels, who provided some great wheel-chaired and able-bodied dancing, along with some great line dancing moves, a guest appearance by, Glee star, Ali Stroker who stole the show with an incredible singing performance in which the mothers who attended the event were honored the night before Mother's Day. And if all of this wasn't inspiring and moving enough as it is we tried to show our donors some tangible evidence that their dollars are being effective by highlighting eight of our clients up on stage and showing our audience an incredible 20 minute video about these clients recovery, and how be perfect has played such a vital role in changing their lives. The video “I'm still me” is still being raved about and watched by so many both on our new website, and on YouTube that it is simply moving every time you watch it. And if all of this wasn't enough as it is there was an incredible silent and live auction to complement it all and the night was capped off with some epic line dancing to the great brand the Silverado's. Needless to say, we are so proud of our upcoming event this year in September, which will be our Sixth Annual event, and we are so proud to have all of you back and show you what the past year has done to all who is involved with the Be Perfect foundation and we would love to invite you all out to the upcoming event. Please look out for our save the date card coming out in the mail here shortly, it's going to be another perfect event and we would love to see you all there. I'm so proud to say this as our incredible group of staff and board members who year in and year out volunteer their time to make this night and fundraiser happen are truly the reason why everything went so smoothly in the night even seized to exist. This whole experience is very humbling and makes me even feel better about it all when I can honestly say that 100% of our donors dollars are going directly back to helping those in need. We are one of the few nonprofits around that has a Board of Directors that doesn't collect a salary and is 100% volunteer-based. That means more of your dollars helping other people. We are so proud to say this and even with the expansion of our facility of Project Walk Claremont, this is 100% privately funded and none of our donors dollars are going towards bricks and mortar but merely 100% of the dollars are going directly back to keeping clients in our program at the facility in making the lives of others better through therapy and not through remodeling cost. The year continued on with so many great people throughout the year continuing to contribute and donate to be perfect that it is beyond my words and comprehension to really understand the value that all of you hold in my life and how all of you have got me through tough times and push me through adversity when I needed it the most. In July of this year, my grandfather passed away and it was something that was very hard on my family to both understand, comprehend, find closure with, and at times ask ourselves why him? But as firm believers in our faith and our trust with the reasons why things happen the way they do in life we found the light in it as a family and rallied together to truly try and make even a bigger difference with the understanding that giving is far better than receiving. This is a value and even a mantra that my family has lived by simply because of our upbringing by my grandfather Hargrave, as well as my grandmother and even my grandparents on my mother side with instilling these values within us as a family that the opportunity to give and help others is far sweeter than anything you could ever do for yourself and really brings perspective to my family and even my life of what's important. Since my grandfather has passed I certainly have stayed the course and My head on straight even beyond just the foundation but selfishly in my grades and with school with bringing forth my best semester yet in school, by applying myself and staying motivated throughout the semester to complete my fifth semester in a row of straight A's. At times people around me start to laugh at me with wondering why I worry so much about my grades, and them trying to explain to me that C’s get degrees, but I just simply tell them this is the type of person that I am and I know what I'm capable of and it's almost an internal competition with myself that I play to see that I can get these types of grades. It's almost indicative of life because grades exemplify what you got out of something, and I'm so keen on getting everything out of life that I can at this point because I and understand how sweet life is and how short it can be and how love ones are taken away from us in a split second, far earlier than they should ever be. So it's hard for me to say that my grandfather passed for no apparent reason, or for no moral significance after the fact because each and every day him and my grandmother who passed away three years ago play such a significant role in my day-to-day approach towards life that their legacies live on far beyond there dash. I refer to much of our lives on this earth based on the – in between the dates that we were both born and eventually pass away, because the – exemplifies the time that we spent on earth and simply how we spent that time changing the lives of other people. So with so much learned in 2013, and so much more to experience in 2014 I can only understand and only comprehend that life can get better from here, I can only make better decisions, I can only become more wise, and I can only be more appreciative for the things that I have in life because life is honestly perfect at this point. I couldn't ask for anything more, I couldn't ask for any more support, I couldn't ask for better people in my life, I can only offer up more of my life, more of my services, and more of my effort to help better the lives of others around me. And there is no starting or stopping point of where that begins and ends it is something that is instilled in me for the rest of my life and something that I will continue to do forever. There is no amount that is too much because there are constantly more people out there that need help and need me and you. We will do this together, we will continue to reach out and help more people, we will continue to spread the word, I will continue to public speak and share my knowledge to thousands that I encounter with, much like I did in 2013, but most importantly I will continue to be better for all of you, continue to work harder, continue to be smarter, and actively try to be perfect and be the best that I can be each day so I'm not leaving anything short and leaving anything on the table. I owe that to you, I owe that to him, I owe that to her, and I owe that to myself to never give up. You all now have my word, my heart, and my soul, that I will continue on, never stop, never be negative, always see the light and things, and always look forward to things getting better and making the best of each and every situation. I love you all and I can't wait for a great 2014, with so many public speaking engagements to attend, an expanded Project Walk facility, another Be Perfect event, and keeping my head on my toes for anything else that is thrown at me or all of us in 2014 so we can make the best of it. I love you all.. Stay you.. Stay perfect..

-Hal jr.

P.S.-My New Year's resolution is to be more active with updating my blog and keeping each and every one of you informed of my journey, and how be perfect is making a difference everywhere. I will inform all of you each time I go speak, each time I spread the word, and each time we change somebody's life throughout the year. Stay tuned in..