“My story begins when my life changed back in March 1, 2002, I was 20 living in a rough neighborhood on Aurora's East side. My 21st birthday was just 17 days away I couldn't wait but fate had other plans for me. I was working 3rd shift so during the day I had my 2 year old daughter at the time. I had picked up my daughter and I some McDonald's it was around 3p.m. That afternoon my whole life changed, after getting home from getting food I decided to go check the mail box before going inside. As I walked to the mailbox there was a guy walking by but I didn't think anything of it as I held my 2 year old daughter's hand I looked into the mailbox. I saw the guy moving fast out of the corner of my eye so I looked as he was pulling out a gun, I hurried up and picked up my daughter and started to run inside shielding her from the bullets. I felt like I was still running but I was laying on top of my daughter so I knew right away something wasn't right. I tried telling my daughter to slide out because I didn't want to die on top of her. My adrenaline and making sure my daughter was okay was the thing kept me fighting to stay alive.
As I was choking a neighbor came out, I somehow got the energy to ask him to check if she was hurt and as soon as he said," no she's fine" I blacked out for the next 2 weeks. All I remember was the medics cutting my clothes and one of them had mentioned one of the five bullets that hit me had the tip sticking out on my chest where my daughters head was. It was by the grace of God that she was not hurt.
I woke up about a week later to my parents over me crying and I was swollen to double my size with tubes everywhere at Loyola Hospital. My mom saw that I was trying to talk but with tubes in my mouth and nose she gave me a pen and held up a notebook. I used my only good arm to ask for my daughter. They brought her in and first thing she said was "Dad you remember you were spitting up Kool Aid" but I couldn't talk I was just so relieved she was ok I didn't care what happened to me.
The Doctors came in and I knew something was really wrong with me from the moment I was shot. I was strapped to the bed because Doctors thought that once I found out I was paralyzed I would try to get up but I didn't, I was just happy to be alive and still able to watch my daughter grow into the young women she is today. That's how I looked at it and I am able to manage to this day. I do have my moments as you can assume.
There are some moments that I wonder what my life would be if I was walking, but like they say God only gives us as much as we can handle. I figure he must really think I'm able to take on a lot.
Later after two moths in the hospital and in rehabilitation in Chicago I was able to go home. I was paralyzed at T6 and after spending my 21st birthday in the hospital my family had a little cook out for me to celebrate it two months later. After talking to my mom and dad I found out that I was taken to three different hospitals. First was Mercy in Aurora, they couldn't do anything for me so they air lifted me to Downers Grove. Then my parents were told I needed to be air lifted to Loyola because there was nothing any of the first two hospitals could do. My parents were told at Loyola there was a very slim chance I would make it and if I did I would be paralyzed.
So now my daughter is 18 years old and I was able to raise her after I got out of the hospital. I got full custody of her and she lived with me till she was 12 years old. It was just me and her, she was and is what keeps me going as well as my other 6 year old and my three step children. I feel like I have something to look forward to everyday.
My daughters and my step children like to go on bike rides but I have to stay behind since it's very expensive for an adaptive bike. But I saw their faces as they ran along side of me at the Abilities Expo and they were finally happy to know I could ride with them until I asked about the price of the adaptive bike. I then realized it was way out of my budget and would not be able to ride with my children.
This is how my whole life changed from one second to another. Thank You for all you do and making dreams come true. We don't realize what we have until we lose it. The things some people take for granted others wish they could do.
Thank You again for raising money to get me and adaptive bike, this means more to me then anyone will ever know.”