hit counter
Support Us

2010 A year to Remember……

Wow, what a year it has been and where do I begin with expressing my thanks to all of you who have impacted my life, and impacted the lives of many others through my foundation, and either donating to it or simply giving your time to help others. I will remember 2010 for all my public speaking all over the place.  The Third Annual Be Perfect Foundation event, traveling to Texas to speak at Permian high school,  Claremont High School every 15 minutes, speaking to the football team and Psychology classes, Sycamore Elementary Disabilities Awareness Day, El Roble Career Day, Chapparal Career day, University of La Verne MSS Colloquium, Pioneer Middle School Career Day, and my Alma Mater Sumner/ Danbury anniversary celebration. All of which I had the opportunity to change the lives of others. I met many interesting people and heard many tragic stories in 2010.  I became close with Zac Collie and his family, after a tragic incident at the beach, and met a girl named Stephanie Aiello who dealt with a tragedy of our own driving home from Vegas.  Hopefully 2011 has much greater things in store for them with turning around their lives.  For my best friend Desiree, she experienced what it was like to live with SCI and be in a chair for a couple weeks of her life, as she experienced a horrible jumping into the water accident and landing wrong, which left her with spinal shock. It was tragic on both of us and put much into perspective for both of us, our families and our friends.  It was a scary time thinking that this could happen yet again to somebody I knew, but fortunately she ended up being all right and having a full recovery, and I couldn’t be more grateful for that. As for my therapy; 2010 was a year for change with my body. I can only imagine that with hard work and determination, 2011 will be a year of movement for my own body and for many others. 2010 was a year of remembrance for all of us, but more importantly to myself when I think about dealing with adversity through my everyday struggles in life that have been turned into forever great memories and things that I don’t consider struggles anymore due to the nature of all the support that I’ve been given to my friends and family. It has also been a year of remembrance through adversity amongst my own family with the passing of my courageous grandmother Salce. At some point or another it was a gut check to my family and myself with putting life into perspective of what’s important. Immediately I realized that there truly is no point to life without the love and support of your family and your friends. Its funny sometimes to think of what life throws at you and truly what is the reasoning behind it all. I think we all sit there asking ourselves questions sometimes about why me or what if? But when you think about it life is pretty simple. We all have the same fear, the biggest fear of all; the fear of what’s could happen next. How will you react? How will you deal with what’s been thrown at you? Life can be simply related to as an analogy of baseball. Would you duck and miss the opportunity that’s been thrown at you? Or will you swing at it and hit it out of the park? Or will you simply stare at the opportunity and the ball that has come by you, and take a walk? Did you just pass up that chance? See, I think sometimes we all get caught up in those questions, without really realizing that you have to react on the spot, to what’s thrown at you. In a split second your actions can change your life forever. Scary to think about huh? That in a split second your whole world can be flipped upside down and thrown into a tailspin before you even think about getting the chance to react to it.  There are just too many times throughout the course of all of our days where we can sit there and ask ourselves, what if we would have waited 5 seconds later, or got there 5 seconds later? We could have avoided all of that? Things would’ve been different. Both good and bad. But they’re also times where if we would have been 5 seconds earlier things also would’ve been different. So the truth of the matter is, you can’t sit there and begin to ask yourself those questions, because as you react to how time goes on, you can’t go back and change anything, unfortunately. So we could be asking ourselves that very question all the time, but instead you just live with life and continue to move forward. You see, I have come to realize that things truly do happen for a reason. Sometimes it’s not so clear as to why it has panned out the way it has, but simply there is some reason for. It’s our job to find it and figured it out. I mean come on, what’s the fun in life without a challenge, without the unexpected. I think it would be pretty easy to say that 2010 wasn’t exactly the way we all envisioned it. Things happened, things changed, for good and for bad, but nevertheless all for a specific reason. Do you believe in miracles? 2010 changed my life in many ways. Starting with the going back to school at University of La Verne. I had an opportunity this last semester to take a writing class as well as a speech class this semester before. Both of which have altered, affected and changed my writing and speaking habits, and have helped me create a more articulate writing and speaking style with all the public speaking that I do. But I’ve come to realize it’s pretty simple. You see, a lot of us sometimes are so closed off and guarded that we don’t truly get to open up to the ones that we care about. For me this act is a little easier, due to the nature of my personality, vulnerability, and how I express myself, much to the power of emotion through my words and actions. I have come to realize it’s not what you say or what you think, it’s how you say it and put it into words to others that can separate you from somebody else. I have prided myself on expressing my true feelings not just through my road to recovery, but I have my entire life even since I was a little kid. Yes at times I’m pretty philosophical and go into much depth about what I’m feeling, but let me assure you for all of you nonbelievers, you truly can affect someone’s life just through the power of words. Isn’t that amazing to think? We all sit there sometimes and scheme different ways of how we can change and affect someone’s life, yet it stares us right in the face and is so simple; just express yourself. I have come to realize and developed many new techniques to use this expression in my everyday life; with the people I meet, in my studies and in school, and in my therapy. Sometimes I get so caught up with thinking that I won’t be understood by many people, but I just let it fly and usually go off-the-cuff. When I develop speeches I don’t ever write anything out because I think truly when you’re a public speaker it comes from your heart. I have so many things to say that I’ve never have gotten that chance to put it all into words. But now more than ever I assure myself with leaving it all out on the table and having no regrets. I live by a simple motto with giving it my all, and what comes along with that is saying everything I need to say to everybody, everyday. It helps me sleep better at night knowing that there wasn’t one more thing I wish I had said, if something were to somehow happen, then I wouldn’t see that person ever again. I wish I could get people to think like this more often, because it could make us all so much more appreciative for the things around us and the people that we have in our lives. Things truly can change in a split second and I’ll be the first to admit that. I’ve had many opportunities issued to me, to change others’ lives and have taken advantage of every moment. This is year three of my recovery, and it’s pretty easy to say that it is three times as special as it was in year one, with every breath I take, every muscle contraction that make, every push that I make, life becomes that much more sweeter when I still realize I shouldn’t be here, and there is a reason for that. Never once do I take my life, my family, my friends, or the things around me for granite. I constantly and reassuring myself that these things are important to me so I never live with any regrets. When we had our third annual event this year, I was yet again blown away by our turnout and the money we made in a down economy. Not only did you all affect my life that night, with an amazing community and group of friends coming together. But let me assure you that you affected the lives of many others through the money that we raised and the families that we were able to help over the course of the year. I think the best part of it all and having my foundation, is it doesn’t give me a chance to think of my own situation and what I’m dealing with, because quite frankly I meet so many other individuals and family every day that are far worse than I am that it puts life back into perspective for me, that I really don’t have it that bad. I think if I can get people to realize this; both able-bodied and spinal cord injuries, that it will make us all much more happy, content and appreciative people for what we have. I think of what is going on throughout the world now; the war in Afghanistan, the troops over there fighting for our lives and our freedom, the poverty that goes on every day throughout the world, and it makes me think about how lucky I really am. Life isn’t so bad when you think of it that way. Is it? I’ve learned many life lessons in 2010. I also refer to life as an analogy to a stoplight. A stoplight is something that we all are constantly faced with every single day. It’s decision time, as we approach the stoplight is either green (go), yellow ( slowdown), or red ( stop). Now think about life for a second, and think about the events that we face every day, the opportunities that arise, and the decisions we have to make on the spot every single day. In some way shape or form they are all like stoplights. We have decisions that need to be made instantly. We could either not think about it and just keep going with the green light.  Or maybe we could stop and say no with the red light. But at some point or another we are all faced with that yellow light. It’s that opportunity that puts life into perspective once again. Whether you are driving or this is something that is really happening in your life; it’s your opportunity to slow down to take a step back, and gather yourself once again and then continue going after the fact. We all rush through life, sometimes too quickly. This can be bad. Simply because it doesn’t give us a chance to stop and think about and realize the true beauty of what is going on in all of our lives. We don’t get a chance to look at the little details of what is going on. This is why we are left so confused sometimes and askingourselves those very questions of why me or what if? Have you ever thought of it that way? That maybe there is something you missed, that you didn’t slow down long enough to realize what was going on around you? We all drive down the road every day and are faced with that yellow light. For now on that should be a sign of all of us to slow down and stop and not to rush through it. Because quite frankly what is the rush? Tomorrow isn’t going to come any quicker. You can’t speed up time, you can only speed up how fast you go through it and that only leaves you more chances to miss certain opportunities that you could’ve taken, and leaves you with regrets. This is something that I’ve realize and have been very conscious of. I can’t speed up my recovery, so I might as well value and cherish every moment now. Because when I look back on it five years from now when I’m walking, it will all be that much sweeter to me, because I valued every moment and I overcame everything and every obstacle that life has to throw at me and I crushed it. I stomped on top of it and walked right through it. That’s the power within myself that nobody will ever know. So no matter what is thrown at me next I will be ready for, simply because I live my life to the analogy of a stoplight. I slow down at those yellow lights when there is questions, I assess them, take all of it into consideration, then act upon it in a split second. One lesson and thing that I heard this year that changed my life forever was a few quotes. One of which said, “ Through tough times, change, and adversity it doesn’t change who we are as people but simply makes us the individuals who we are supposed to be.” There is so much truth in that, when I think about my life over the past 3 1/2 years, and what my purpose is now that I could never havefathomed the day I got hurt, and was laying there asking myself the questions of how I thought it was helpless, I would never be able to give back to others again, and change somebody else life. I could never have been more wrong, after everything that has happened has exceeded my own expectations, as well as doctors and therapists, as miracles continue to happen in my life every single day. I will leave you all with this quote that changed my life, “Success in our own lives is determined by other people, but achievements are determined by ourselves.” Think about that quote for a second and how it really is the truth for all of us in our lives. Sometimes we get so caught up with living the lives that others want us to live and their own determining of what they believe, of how successful others are. But why does it matter how successful others believe we are? When we think of ourselves and what we have done with our own lives, we think of achievements. Those are things that are self-imposed, the goals and expectations we had put upon ourselves. Those of the things that matter, the challenges we put in front of ourselves without the motivation of others. These are the things that actually determines who you are as a person and what your character is, what you feel you have achieved. Those are the things that you’ll leave behind as your legacy, and that will continue to help others forever. So with 2010 coming and going in a blink of an eye, with many of our lives different and forever changed, we will share memories that we had, remember the times of adversity that we didn’t wish upon ourselves and learn from them, all while moving forward. Remember our loved ones, and cherish every breath that we take every single day. We all have a great 2011 ahead of us, with many memories to be shared, many events to happen unexpectedly, many opportunities to arise that can either be taken or not, with the economy coming back around once again, but more importantly, many lives to be affected and changed forever through The Be Perfect foundation. I love you all and thank you for your support, and the help through the tough times and adversity. R.i.p. Courtney Stewart (4-9-09) I love you grandma Salce, 10-10-10 I will remember forever…… Be Perfect