Tag Archives: Inspiration

For Love of the Game

Opening day for another great season of baseball.

As it does each year, it brings with it the reminders of why we love the game…
The National Anthem played while the boys stand there with their hats held across their hearts, the smell of burgers and popcorn fill the air, volunteers everywhere, little siblings running up and down the bleachers-laughing, screaming, crying because they just dropped their ice cream-parents cheering for each and every kid on the team as if they were their own.

Yes, a sense of family is born each season- and with that, means teaching the boys to be humble for days that end with a win and dust off the clay when losses come their way, learn from them and keep on, keeping on.  I venture to say this is true in most aspects of our lives.

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What made today really awesome not only for my son but for all the players and parents was the umpire.

Charles is unlike any other. We have had the pleasure of getting to know him for a few seasons now. An Army veteran and former player himself-once upon a time was recruited and played for a Minor league team with dreams of making it big before repeated injuries set him on a slightly different path. Charles has a true passion for the game, and brings with him a genuine care and concern for each and every player. Often taking time to offer words of encouragement, give specific pointers, strutting his goofy dance moves on the field, always calling a fair game and keeping the kids and parents laughing with his amazing sense of humor and love of life.

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He serves as a wonderful reminder that regardless of the obstacles we must overcome and where we work, we can do it with passion, to the best of our ability and  seize   every opportunity to make meaningful connections with others.

I thank him for his service to our country and to the kids in our community especially #42.

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In the Arena

Romy & Gaby

My dear friend Romy and his team at SIS recently celebrated their one year anniversary at the end of June of opening the doors to their spinal cord rehab center.  I couldn’t be more proud of the hard work and dedication that he and the whole crew have put into this place.  Truly an example of what it means to be In the Arena. Congrats, Romy!

 

“Chief” as he is often called has a clothed covered hole in his throat-from the emergency tracheotomy performed by his teammate in 2008 during an ambush while serving in Afghanistan.

The scar will forever remain on his neck where the bullet entered shattering his cervical spine and rendering him a quadriplegic.

One may think that after spending almost two years in the VA hospital in critical condition  with a spinal cord injury  that it would prevent or deter him from serving others and bettering himself. They’d be wrong.

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My  dear friend Romy is defying the odds- He was told he would never breathe on his own; however with intensive  respiratory therapy, he now is able to breathe on his own for most of the day.  He was told he would never be able to move any of his limbs below the shoulder.  Romy has now been able to move his left arm a handful of times. Progress…

 

“They told me I wouldn’t be able to do anything, so I showed them I could.”

When I first met Romy in early 2009, he was still an inpatient at the hospital.   I was so deeply moved by his strength and that of his wife Gaby in remaining so positive despite the overwhelming, and unfathomable challenges that they were facing and would continue to endure.

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As was the case many times before, I had invited veterans to come into the schools where I taught to share their personal stories with our students. It is a lesson of a lifetime that no teacher could possibly convey better than a veteran- a lesson in sacrifice, and service above self.  A moment to connect a child, a teen with someone who has given them the ultimate gift- one of freedom and the opportunity to chase their dreams.

On the day  I met Romy, I knew he would be the next veteran I would bring to the school.  And so, just before Veterans Day in 2009 while still an inpatient, Romy along with his amazing wife and medical team, drove three hours to give his first public talk since his accident.  He spoke to over a thousand students, faculty, and community members who were there to honor him and his service to our country.  His message was clear:

“You can all keep fighting”

Romy  continues to speak to students, and organizations throughout the country.

Inspiring others.

Upon his discharge from the VA hospital, he began another difficult challenge; that of intense physical therapy.  If/when the time comes that Romy  regains use of his arms and legs, he is going to be darn sure that his body is as healthy as he can get it.  While traveling great distances for ongoing therapy not available in his hometown, he and his wife began to create a new dream of opening a spinal cord injury rehabilitation center for veterans and civilians alike.

In June of 2015 after more than a year of hard work , with loyal supporters and tremendous Faith,  Romy defied the odds once again.  He and Gaby opened the doors to Stay In Step Spinal Cord Injury Recovery Center to assist other SCI patients in receiving the best quality care possible.

“Go home and tell your children that dreams do come true”

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Chief Warrant Officer 3 Romy Camargo retired last year from active duty after serving his country for twenty years in the United States Army. He served with the 75th Ranger Regiment and 7th Special Forces Group as a Green Beret.  He was awarded the Bronze Star with two Oak Leaf Clusters,  and Purple Heart along with numerous other well earned badges, medals and tabs.

His story “Live to Tell” will be featured on the History Channel in November on or before Veterans Day.

What I know to be true of this soldier, husband, father , business owner and community leader is that he continues to live and breathe the Core Values of the United States Army:

Loyalty – Duty  -Respect-  Selfless Service-  Honor-  Integrity-  Personal Courage.

He epitomizes  Courage, Leadership and Purpose and what it means to be In the Arena.  This blog site is for him and every other individual who dares greatly  in overcoming their fears, grief and obstacles to live their best life.

Chief Romy

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How Big is your Brave?

“Mom, how big is your brave?”

These were the only words my ten year old son muttered to me on the long drive home from his neurology appointment on April 20th in 2015.  As my heart sank into the pit of my stomach, and with a crackling voice, I responded, “As big as you need it to be, Honey.” He turned his head back towards the passenger window and closed his eyes. 

After almost a year of numbness, tingling in arms and hands, multiple syncope episodes and other symptoms, ER visits, a wrong diagnosis, countless medical tests, and appointments,  he was finally diagnosed with a rare brain disorder called Chiari Malformation(and Syringomyelia); a condition that causes part of the brain to protrude into the spinal canal causing csf blockage, nerve damage and paralysis if left untreated.

 How could this be?  My son!  The sweet, kind-hearted, fun-loving gentle soul.  After talking with the neurologist about what was going on and options for treating it, my son finally forced the bottom line… “So what you are saying is that I need to have brain surgery, right?”  “Yes, that’s right” replied the doctor.

How does a parent prepare their child for this?  How do they steel themselves to such a medical condition?

The first week after we discovered what was the root of his medical issues, I was an emotional wreck.  6-the number of hours of sleep I got that week while my happy-go-lucky boy carried on with his days and normal curious nature; his nights filled with baseball practice, homework,  and games.  At the end of that week of extensive internet research, reading, multiple phone calls and medical opinions; I finally decided to check my emotions at the door and put on my Super Mommy cape and BE what my son needed me to be; strong, positive, and supportive.

Two nights before his surgery as I tucked him into bed and with tears in his eyes, he quietly asked me, “Mom, am I going to die?”  The only thing I could manage to get out of my mouth was, “No, and no matter what, I will be right there  every step of the way.”

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Morning of surgery

A month and a half after his initial diagnosis, my courageous son was wheeled into brain surgery.  On his second day post-op, the physical therapists were astounded at how motivated he was to get up and moving about the halls.  They obviously didn’t know my son as he rarely stops moving!

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Not a great day but still got a thumbs up!

With months of physical therapy, side effects of necessary medication, heavy restrictions on physical activities and getting back to “normal” life, I was reminded of just how resilient kids  are.  While he continues to recover and understands that life has to be lived a  bit different than before,  my hope is that he will embrace his scars as evidence of his strength, courage and inspiration for so many.

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When starting back to school now as a middle schooler, he was a bit apprehensive as to how he   would be received by the other kids when they saw his scar.  Upon entering his first period class, the teacher prompted the students with the question, “So what did you do this summer?”  As any courageous lion would, he quickly stormed in and replied “I had brain surgery!”  I’m pretty confident that topped all.

“Life doesn’t happen to us, it happens for us”

Though the ride on this journey has been a bumpy one for sure, we are beyond grateful for the gifted hands of his amazing neurosurgeon and so many extraordinary strangers who also live our story and to whom we now call friends.

When life taps you on the shoulder in those crucial moments – be sure to pay attention and ask yourself, “Did I allow this experience to  make me bitter or use it to make me better?” 

A Blessed Mom