10 Unforgettable Years
"Life is about 10% of what happens to you and 90% of how you react to it"
It all started when...
What were you doing 10 years?
Are things still the same? Or are you in a different place; mentally, emotionally, physically, literally, or figuratively? Is life what you thought it would be? Did life play itself out exactly how you planned? Have you been surprised at how things turned out and the direction that you headed because of certain circumstances or situations? Have you been at a loss for hope at some point? At some point did you find new purpose? Have you met new people or gained new friends and family? Have you doubted yourself in a situation and/or your ability, in a particular moment, only to realize “after the fact” that everything is going to be okay? I am going to utilize for just one second what I believe to be is both an educated guess and some deductive reasoning from some of the things that I've learned in my past 10 years.
I'm going to predict whether or not some of you have experience some of the things that I just questioned you about… I would guess that many of you are in different places from where you were 10 years ago; mentally, emotionally, physically, literally, and figuratively. I would guess that life did not go according to plan and you are probably a bit surprised at some of the decisions that you made and the paths that you were led down because of them. I'm going to assume that many of you lost hope, yet found new purpose in the midst of the struggle. I believe that many of you probably transitioned from old friends to different/new friends. I can imagine that many of you had a moment of doubt, but you rebounded tremendously and figured out the solution to the tough task in the end. I can guess that many of you have probably come to realize that what's within you is always stronger than what stands in front of you. YOU are capable of all things possible… I digress…
My life was much different 10 years ago, for the worse. 10 years ago I had just graduated from Claremont High School and was enrolled in college classes at Cal State University Long Beach. It was the summer prior to my college experience starting. Needless to say, I was on cloud nine. Summer was as good as it could be, as I was blessed enough, like I still am today, to be able to enjoy trips to the lake on a frequent basis and attend many fun events with close friends. Pretty incredible huh? Life was good to say the least, but it wasn't filled with purpose, value, selflessness, a humble nature, a sense of gratefulness for every bit of life that I was able to live. In many ways, I was living in a hell that I created for myself. I was one who listened to respond rather than listened to understand. I was somebody who was living my life by accident and was living it as it happened, rather than living a life of fulfillment, which entailed living life on purpose. As much as I believed I was a leader, I was only a leader of the followers, which in essence made me a follower. I was one who chased the competition rather than chased the dream. I was one who believed it was an honor to put my own interests first, but little did I know it's a luxury to put our interests first, but it is an honor to put the interests of others before our own. I was one who always believed that I needed to live life fast in order to get the most out of it, when in all reality if people want to go fast then they need to go alone. However, if people want to go far, they need to bring other people along for the ride. I was one who had much to learn, right? I was always one to ask "why me", rather than "why not me?" Until…
Ring ring ring ring ring (the alarm clock goes off). It's 4:15 AM on July 26, 2007. I miserably woke up out of a deep sleep to go fulfill a job duty, much like many do to make ends meet, but of course the self-centered me thought I was alone in that endeavor. For me, I was the selfish 17-year-old who was fortunate enough to have a father in business that provided me with a great opportunity of a JOB (jump out of bed) to make good money during the summer prior to my college starting (again this was another blessing that I failed to recognize). I lazily walked to the bathroom, with little purpose, to brush my teeth and wash my face. I was fulfilling what we call in this world the "routine." An easy to fall into habit of little motivation, little urgency and little life fulfillment. This is not for the mere sake of the blessed opportunities that we have in front of us, but merely because of ignorance and a failure to recognize the important opportunities that we can get the most out of ourselves and the most out of our life's. Tick tick tick tick tick (time was ticking away and every precious moment I was not regarding as important, what a shame…). I jumped into the 35-foot stake bed that was to control my life for the next 10 hours of that dismal day. But, in my eyes the day of WORK had some sort of light at the end of the tunnel for the mere fact that I was going to make it to Las Vegas and back, to be capped off by attending Claremont Little League's All-Star baseball team regional baseball game in San Bernardino. The game would send them to Williamsport, Pennsylvania for the Little League World Series (the pinnacle of Little League baseball). So, with some motivation to get my work done, that had nothing to do with my blessed JOB opportunity, I set off to Las Vegas to make a delivery of handicap accessible bathroom partition equipment for a Home Depot restroom that my dad's company was remodeling (pretty ironic right?).
It was 6:31 in the morning when the CHP dispatch team received the phone call that would change my life, my family's life, and each of you whom are reading this post lives forever.
CHP dispatch- 911 emergency what are you reporting?
Thoughtful bystander- Hello, we were just driving to Las Vegas and we saw a truck veer off the road and flip four times….
My nightmare became my reality.
Fast forward……. I was so excited to head off to college as a walk on to Cal State University Long Beach’s renowned baseball team, coached at that point in time by Coach Weathers. I was excited to make a real name for myself by playing the game of baseball, find new passions, add additional friends to my network, and enjoy the college experience. I had my life all figured out. I was going to move out, live on my own, and experience adulthood. Because as you all know it is as easy as we draw it up in our heads, because we really do not need our parents or their guidance. Or so I thought (insert overlooked life lesson here)... So ignorant I was. I was invincible. Nobody could touch me and I could never be hurt. All of those things that I heard at high school rallies and seminars about making good choices, car accidents, drinking and driving (things that were not taken seriously enough clearly). Mind you, let's not get it twisted, I was not drinking and driving and I truly was committed to the idea of adulthood and being able to be self-sufficient, however I was the same individual asking for the challenge of a lifetime. However, I only thought those about those things because I was selfish and everything started and ended with me; my grades, my career, college, sports, adulthood. I was invincible right? Not so much and not so fast… That's what life said.
Back to July 26th…..I'm in a cab of a truck. And I begin to roll uncontrollably after trying to avoid debris on the road. My life stands still and flashes before my eyes. I see my Monster energy drink hit the windshield. My pringles (my favorite snack mind you) launching out of the window of the truck. I see the cab of the truck beginning to crunch and crumble over the top of me with each and every impact of another roll. The dust stops around me and finally clears. I then see a family out of my peripheral of my left eye. I frantically cry for help and try to break free to save myself during a time of crisis. Because that's what each and every one of us does, we think about ourselves before others as a survival mechanism. The only problem was, I was not going anywhere… I couldn't move, both literally and figuratively.
Why won't my legs work? My arms aren't responding normally! Why? Why me? What did I do to deserve this? Can I not move because I’m trapped (both literally and physically) or am I paralyzed? I have heard that word before and it's very scary, what does it mean truly? I was at a loss for words and all I could do was close my eyes and then open them again, only to try and face the reality of my nightmare. Would I ever be able to say bye to my loved ones? Did I say “I love you” to my mom that morning as she helped me out the door? Did I say everything that I needed to say to every person around me, to remind them of how much they truly mean to me? Would I ever walk again? These questions, among other things replayed in my head like a pre-recorded tape cassette. Why does it always take something tragic and bad to happen for us to realize what is at our fingertips? Why can't we be grateful prior to losing those things that we love, the people that we love?
It was in that moment that I was faced with the reality of how sweet life can be and truly how short life could be. It was in that moment that I realized that life was about rowing. We must continue to row regardless of circumstance. During times of turmoil and through-out those tough rapids, we must power through the craziness and continue to grow. During those times of stagnant water, where things seem routine and boring, we must continue to row and find value in what we are doing. It was in that moment that I realized that I had so much more to live for than just myself and that I needed to continue to row…
Jeremy Stevens (one of the paramedics who saved my life)- (walks up to the side of the vehicle) Call the coroner he is dead..
Me (I become alert) I am in here, I am in here, please get me out!
Jeremy Stevens- We have a live one in here, let's get to work…
It's so easy during the midst of all of this turmoil to think about how my story was going to play out, what my current state was, and how my accident was presently affecting me. But, selfishly I forgot to regard what were my parents were going through when they got that phone call.
-6:40 A.M. A random number rings on my dad's cell phone, but as he is on his work phone with his Workmen's Comp. adjuster he ignores the call. The number calls again, yet he ignores the call. Why would he answer a random number at 6:40 in the morning anyways? My dad's buzzer goes off on his office phone from his secretary whom requested that my dad ought to pick up his other business line, as it was an emergency. My dad gets off the phone with his Workmen's Comp. adjuster and takes the call. To his surprise it's not what he expected, nothing that he would ever want to hear. Nothing that he would ever wish upon any parent, any family, any person. That dreadful phone call…
Dispatcher- Your son has been in a terrible car accident. Do you know where I-15 and Minneola Road is?
Big Hal-I do! Is my son alive?
Dispatcher- For now… You need to get here…
My dad jumps in his truck and heads towards our house (the one I left from that very morning just minutes after my dad) and is in a fit of panic as he approaches the home. He then sees my mom waiting curbside to jump in to a near moving vehicle. They take off at a high rate of speed, with one thing on their mind "love."
As I write this, literal tears come to my eyes as I think of some of the turmoil, distress, pain, and anguish that I put so many people through for no good reason. As my parents are driving up the 15 freeway my mother puts in several calls to the CHP dispatch team who simply cannot give her any answers about my condition or current state. But, finally they received a phone call that would sit uneasy with them in many ways, but provided some relief.
Dispatch- Your son has been life flight transported to Arrowhead Regional Hospital in Colton.
As my parents were just minutes away from the accident scene, which may have been unbearable for them to see in many ways, they flipped a U-turn and drove back south on the 15 freeway towards the bottom of the pass. But, my dad was nearly out of gas and as he pumped gas into his vehicle, when time literally felt like it was standing still and his hand shaking out of fear, it came to him… He jumped back in the vehicle and reassured my mom that they would not put me in a life flight helicopter unless I was alive. But, what they didn't know was for how much longer?
I remember being in the helicopter and feeling the distress of the tight strap that was constricted around my chest to keep me mobilized. It was another one of my fears coming to life. I fear snakes. In that moment I felt as if a boa constrictor had taken its lanky body and constricted around my chest to the point of submission. Would I make it through this?
My parents pulled up to Arrowhead Regional Hospital as the blades of my helicopter were coming to a halt. I had been escorted out of the helicopter and immediately taken to CAT scan and MRI at one of the most active trauma centers in Southern California that receives nearly 15 life flight helicopter's every day (not a place anybody wants to be). As the story was told, my mom ran as fast as her body would let her, as she blew past hospital security and had security chasing behind her in the halls of the hospital just so she could be at my bedside; even if it was to be during my final moments of living. It was in that moment that my dad felt comfort, that at least one of them would be there by my side during the most difficult day of our lives.
I can remember that day I felt true pain in my life, which I deemed to be the greatest blessing of all… Simply because the pain was telling me that I was still alive…. The doctor took the drill and drilled straight into my skull while I was wide awake. The pressure was unbearable, but at the same time lifesaving. As the halo was cinched into my skull and weight secured onto the back of the Frankenstein-like device, my spine realigned… But, this was just the beginning of a long road.
The following morning I underwent an eight-hour surgery to remove the halo and to insert four screws and two plates in to my spine at the cervical level vertebrae of 5/6. After a long surgery, and to me for what felt like a lifetime of incoherent nature, I finally came too when I asked both the doctors and my parents to shoot straight with me of what road was to lie ahead.
The neurosurgeon- You have a 1 to 3% chance ever to walk again…
That ladies and gentlemen, was all the hope in the world that I needed and I got that challenge that I was looking for… After eight days in intensive care and 62 more days in outpatient rehabilitation Hospital at Casa Colina, I finally came home and began the long road ahead that life had to offer me. Which quite frankly was the greatest blessing in the world because it was my second chance… It was in those dark moments of more than 70 days of hospital stay that I finally realized that my birthday had changed.
There are so many incredible people who were there for me since day 1 of my accident. I call the specific formula of individual people who got me through the toughest time of my life my "combination of care." I am blessed enough to say most everyone of those individuals are still an active part in my recovery today.
I had celebrated my 18th birthday on August 14th, while in the hospital at Casa Colina; with hundreds in attendance showing their support. The Claremont Police Department was there blowing their sirens in support and a helicopter flying overhead to reiterate the hope that was to be had. For me, in that moment, it was a flashback to what July 26 had to offer me. A day filled with sirens, helicopters, but in more ways than just physically, it was a day that literally saved my life of hell that I had built for myself for more reasons than I can put onto paper… July 26th became my new birthday and was the day that I was reborn.
July 27, 2007 was the greatest blessing of all, it was the start of my new life. It was the day that I began to realize that people in life have two ears and one mouth for a reason. We need to listen to understand, not to listen to respond. It was a day where I realized that I needed to not get so hung up on where I would rather be, rather I needed to make the best of where I was currently with what I currently had. I recognized that day that if something was important to me, even if the odds were against me, that I needed to do it and go after it. That day was the day that I had an epiphany, that it's important in life to be proud of who you are, but it's even more important to be extremely confident in who you can be. But, much like the day before, I also recognized that life was about rowing… We must never stop moving. Ever…
My story, well it really began the day that I got home from the hospital on October 5, 2007. I recognized that day that nothing great happens between the hours of 8 A.M. to 5 P.M.. You must put the time in to get the things that you want and not necessarily during the routine day of what we call WORK. What is work anyways? Generally, something we don't enjoy doing. I recognized that day that I needed to go back to the basics, because the basics are never wrong. I also learned that while I was dealing with an ailment that was called spinal cord injury and what many people refer to as paralysis, that I was not left with a disability, but I obtained an ability. I found that if I could not joke about my injury, then I would cry about it. Mind you, these were all learning experiences for me and did not happen overnight. As I tried to find purpose in who I was and what my true value was, after many nights of no sleep, heartache, and at a loss for hope, it finally came to me. I figured out what I needed to do. I needed to be myself… Because quite frankly everybody else was already taken. I recognized in that moment that "I was still me." And as much as I believed that I was some different person because I couldn't do the things physically that I could once do, I soon recognized that I was “still me” and I wanted everybody to know that…
I recognized at the beginning of my story that I was not being a true leader and that leadership is not about being in charge, leadership is about taking care of those in your charge. I realized that leadership is not a rank or position to be obtained, but merely a service to be given. I had a dream and that dream was to fulfill my purpose and I recognized my purpose, but that came after my legs were taken from me. Why does it take something bad to happen for us to be grateful? My dream came from a vision. A vision is like a dream, it will disappear unless we do something with it. Something big or small. My vision indicated to me that I needed to help others and put others before myself, in order to gain purpose and fulfillment back in my life. But, how could I do that if I couldn't even lead myself. I was so concerned about who was right in life and the fact that I always needed to be right. But, then I figured it out. Bad leaders care about who's right and good leaders care about what's right. One could say I learned a lot, but I would just tell you that I just opened my eyes and asked questions to those around me, whom knew things that I didn't. That's what life is about. Getting past surface level conversations and reaching people on a much deeper level. What did I figure out, you might ask? There's always somebody out there who know something we don't know, so why don't we ask questions to learn from their knowledge? Why don't we dig deeper? Why don't we put ourselves out there? Why do we deem people to be strangers, whom we do not choose to get to know better? Those people that we choose not to reach indicates our selfishness. I soon realized the true value of my life. The value my life was not determined by what I did for myself, it was determined by what I did for others.
Sometime after my accident, I was attending a place in San Diego called Project Walk. It was five months after my accident, around Christmas time, when I met an individual by the name of Brian O'Neill. Brian was going through a tough time. This was about the time that I realized that I was not in this alone and that there is always somebody worse off. That is not necessarily something that should make us grateful, but merely something that makes a spring into action to want to help others who are in need. After a long conversation with Brian at therapy, I reassured him that I would see him after the holidays. However, I received a response in return that wasn't so appealing to me.
Brian- Unfortunately, no you won't man. It comes down to putting food on the table for my family and making ends meet. I won't be seeing you after the holidays.
It was in that moment that my life purpose was unveiled. I had been called to help others… The Be Perfect Foundation was born. While the final straw to put it in to action came from Brian, each of you should know that the inspiration to start B.P. derived from each of you and how you influenced me.
I truly thought, for quite some time after my accident, that the only way I could repay each of you was to do individual deeds to say thank you. Little did I realize the best way that I could repay each of you for how much you were there for me and how selfless you were, was to give my life to others. So, I did it and we did it! Together! I guess when you want to go far, we must go together… And we did! Seven Annual Fundraisers, many random and little events, hundreds of donations, and $5 million later we did it. But, we are not done and our story is not over yet; nor is the one that I am speaking to you about in regards to my past 10 years;
I took the plunge. I got back into school and I immersed myself into my passions yet again. Pursued my dreams, new dreams I might add, my old dreams just temporarily put on hold. The University of La Verne brought incredible blessings to my life and allowed me to pursue a degree that I will utilize forever. It came with much thought and many late nights of debate, but I figured out my true passion; beyond helping others that is. I once was the guy on the field in the ninth-inning striking out the final batter, but I realized I could still be a part of that moment by being the guy up in the booth calling the final out of that game.
I received my undergraduate degree at the University of La Verne in Communications with an emphasis on Sports Broadcasting and Business. All of which I am able to apply to my present life. But, it was in that moment that I said it was not enough and I want more. I then pursued my higher education in Leadership and Management. When my accident happened, I thought getting back in to school was out of the cards let alone the thought of graduating. But, completing my Masters was something that reiterated to me that I could do anything that I set my mind to. I fully engaged myself in to my program of what it meant to be a leader and how I could apply those leadership and management skills to my own nonprofit. I learned many things throughout the program, among these things:
- Leadership is an education and the best leaders think of themselves as the students, not the teachers.
- A star wants to see himself rise to the top, but a leader wants to see those around him become stars.
- There are leaders and there are those who lead.
My experience at La Verne was a blessing and I gained many valuable friendships from new friends, teachers, professors, including our university president Devorah Lieberman. Each of which taught me something unique and caused me to recognize the many blessings around me.
I recognized the true value of leadership in my mission and how it could apply to my story. So, I committed myself to being the best that I could be. I put an emphasis on putting others before myself and I found happiness through that. I dedicated my life to my foundation to support others who were in dire need, yet I found myself as the benefactor. I continued my pursuit of my own recovery and recognized that while my body was never weaker, in turn I found that my faith was never stronger. So, I kept on rowing… Many of these learning experiences, these moments, these epiphanies kept me humbled and on the right track. I counted my blessings and thanked every individual during the process. I recognized that while dreams are universal and that we all have them, unfortunately opportunities are not. I am one of the few that has been blessed enough to have the opportunities that I've had and I can promise you I'm taking full advantage of those.
I am 10 years old now… It's 2017 and so much is different; in my life, in your life’s, environmentally, politically, relationally, and in every facet that we acknowledge. With just 10 years of experience I want to tell you what I've learned and it is this:
• Many of us have forgotten how to imagine, unless we are imagining worst case scenario.
• We need to fill our life’s with the experiences, not things. We need to have stories to tell, rather than things to show.
• Many people stop at certain places because they become content. • Failure is temporary but regret is forever.
• Be careful of what you say and how you say it. Always think before you talk and act. People will forget what you said, but they won't forget how you made them feel.
• Everything we do right now is in pencil, but tomorrow it's in ink.
• We treat the ones we love worse than the ones we don't even know.
• Generous comes from the same root as genius- which means to have the ability to give everything and hold nothing back.
• Dilemmas don't exist. We know the decision we need to make, we know what we have to do, but we don't want to make those decisions.
• Not making a decision is making a decision.
Many of these learning experiences occurred to me at many different instances. I'm not going to tell you that these moments were easy to identify, but they all came when I shut my mouth and I chose to listen and learn empathetically.
Life is much different for me now on my 10th birthday and each of you are to thank for that. I am beyond grateful for the blessings that you have given me and the strength that has come along with it. But, what I have recognized is that college degrees, family owned facilities (Project Walk Claremont), and impactful foundations who are influencing others all mean nothing without each of you participating in my story that I'm STILL writing. Please, I ask you, never leave my side because I need you more than you need me. Each of you gets me out of bed every morning, you remain my source of hope and my source of pride. I selfishly ask for you to stay in my life and remain the focal point of every chapter that I write, because this means nothing without you. Without even knowing it, many of you have taught and reminded me things that I will never forget:
- People don't buy what you are selling, they buy your intent.
- I need to start attending to my intending.
- I need to continue to have and create goals, and if I don't have any goals then I am simply reacting.
- I have a past and I need to get over it.
- How I do anything is how I do everything.
- I need to continue to ask myself "why?" Why am I here? When I continue to ask myself that, it continues to put more value on everything that I'm doing.
While many of you have left me with many questions that I need to answer over the past 10 years, which have caused me to learn much about myself and learn even more about you, I have a couple of things I would like to ask each of you. All of which are questions that I have asked myself.
1. What do you want?
2. What is your darkest place?
3. How uncomfortable are you willing to get?
Because in order to get what you want, you must go to your darkest place and you must be willing to get uncomfortable in order to better yourself to get what you want.
My pastor once asked me to answer these three final questions in order to prepare myself for the rest of my life:
1. Where my going to college?
2. Do I want to have kids?
3. Who am I going to marry?
While I have yet to answer a couple of those questions, I do believe that I have a script already written to answer those questions. But, the craziest part of life is, is not knowing what is going to happen next. I will be on my toes as much as I am committed to fulfilling every good deed that I can because of the great blessings that each of you have provided me with. Each of you have reiterated to me that being perfect is not about the scoreboard, it's not about winning. It's about me and my relationship to you and my family, and knowing that I didn't let each of you down. Because I did everything that I could to be all that I could be for each of you. Being perfect is not about being a perfect person, but it is about being the most that you are capable of being. What we all need to realize is that we have unlimited potential and the only limits that are put on our potential are from ourselves.
There are so many incredible people to thank for this incredible journey:
- My family and my girlfriend, none of this is possible without you. My mom and dad who have made countless and endless sacrifices for me. Corey, Hailey, and Bella each of you have been so unselfish with your time, your effort, and at times with the spotlight and moment being taken away from you, even when it deserve to be on you. Your unselfish nature, all while maintaining a willingness to support me through everything, is something that reminds me every day that I would never change my siblings for the world. My grandparents, my aunts and uncles, and my cousins, each of you have played such an integral part in my recovery. My grandparents, each of you have set the foundation for my morals, values, and beliefs. You are to thank for whom I become. My girlfriend, Catie. Those moments where I thought nobody would accept me for me and who would unconditionally love me even for some of my biggest flaws and faults, you have found this to be some of my greatest strengths and biggest assets. You have maintained a level head during times that could stress anybody else out, and you have given me confidence in ways that nobody else could. You are my rock. I love you all
- My Project Walk family and every trainer who has impacted my life in so many ways to the point where I now call you dear friends. Each of you has left a lasting impact on my life that has not only kept me healthy, but also allowed me to progress in a way where I continue to feel hopeful for my future. More than anything else, each of you have given me confidence in who I am and have made me proud to be outside the building and into the real world to know that I can be a productive member of society. You have provided way more for me that I have for you, and you are more than just trainers, you are dear friends.
- The Apex Imaging Services group- So many of you have made countless sacrifices of time, effort, and contributions to the foundation in so many ways. In many respects many of you had zero to little idea what or why you were doing it for, other than you believed in the mission of what the foundation stood for. I commend each of you for sticking it out and at many points putting your work to the side to help bring the foundation's mission to life. None of this would be possible without each of you.
- The Claremont Club and Mike Alpert. Without your support and your vision Mike, there is no telling where I would be in my journey and many of my dreams would not have come true. Thank you
- The Hafif family and their endless generosity of monetary donations and contributions to every annual event and providing an incredible venue for seven unbelievable events. You will never be forgotten..
- All of the community partners who have stepped up and whom have made the potential political nightmare of community partners, be the most rewarding partnerships in the world.
-Casa Colina for your unbelievable care and you preparing me to launch into the next part of my journey. From your doctors, to my physiatrist Dr. Patterson, and the leadership who carries it all out Dr. Levorso. You started this journey with me.
- The University of La Verne and Devorah Lieberman for providing me with an incredible education, many life lessons, and incredible relationships that will leave a lasting impact on my life.
- What I can argue to be the most important of all… The DONORS. All of you who are reading this! Each and every one of you is to thank for all of my dreams coming true and giving me true purpose back in my life. Without you, what would this all be for?
- My spinal cord injury friends: There is nobody more I can relate more to and whom understands the struggle each and every day but each of you. Each of you have been my source of inspiration and drive when I think about how each of you simply gets up every morning, does not complain and simply deals with the situation that's been thrown at you. We will walk again!
- Lastly, my true and dear best friends… Each of you have made me a believer in love, support, and forever lasting friendships. None of you left my side and never gave me any doubt and what our friendships not only meant to me but, what they meant to you. You are the true heroes in this endeavor. I will always need you more than you need me. You rose to the occasion!
There are so many things that so many of us have much to be proud for, for what we have accomplished together over the past 10 years! While some of these accolades and achievements might pertain to me, I say we because none of this would've been possible without each of you:
- ABC 7 "Pay it Forward" recipient of $7000 to Be Perfect
- Seven successful annual fundraisers for Be Perfect
- More than $5 million raised for Be Perfect
- Have helped more than 250 people with therapy cost, 50 people with wheelchairs, and countless more with medical supplies, coverage for home and car adaptations, and providing resources to people as well as hope.
- Incredible community partnerships with Apex Imaging Services, the Hafif Family Foundation, the Claremont Club, the Ontario Reign, Casa Colina, Bert & Rockies, Mountain View Chevrolet, and many more…
- Completion of Project Walk Claremont in 2013, with two additional expansions totaling 7,200 total square feet with currently 96 clients in the program. We have provided an incredible place for recovery and hope for those up in the Inland Empire. This was merely just a pipe dream for many people up in the Los Angeles area, but we have brought one of the premier recovery facilities throughout the world here to Southern California and here to our own backyard. Project Walk Claremont at the Claremont Club, is not only a place for people with paralysis to recover, but is also a place for a family to recover, as they have full and total access to the entire club. Because of each of your support and the incredible vision of Mike Alpert, Project Walk Claremont has expanded its services beyond just spinal cord injury and is treating many different types of illnesses that lead to paralysis: ALS, PLS, Parkinson's, MS, Traumatic brain injury, and stroke.
- Completion of Undergraduate and Master's degree from the University of La Verne
- Professional broadcasting experience for the Ontario Reign hockey team and more than 175 games of collegiate experience at the University of La Verne in broadcasting
- Radio disc jockey experience
- Humanitarian award
- Honorary Citizen of Claremont
- Community Service award
- Claremont Community Hero award
- University of La Verne broadcaster of the year award
- Moving out was a challenge, but was one of the greatest blessings of all to find independence that would give me purpose in my adult life again. All of that came out a cost and made me realize some of the great blessings that my mom and dad provided me with while living at home for so many years.
- Driving brought a newfound independence to my life that made me feel like a kid again. Mom did not have to drop me off at school anymore, nor take me over to my friends house in my mid 20's. For the longest time getting back behind the wheel was one of the most beautiful things I could ever think let alone dream of. But, each of you along my journey have taught me to move past our fears to make them our strengths. We did that!
Look what we have done in 10 years! Could you imagine what we could do together in 10 more years? Mind you, it takes a village!
What's going to happen the next 10 years? I'm not quite sure yet, but I can assure you of this: Each and every one of you can and will have an impact on the story that we are writing in some way. But, only if you choose to do so. I can make you this promise: The Be Perfect Foundation will continue to be around. But, at what level? How many people will we help? How many people will we impact? How many lives will we change for the better? We have the opportunity right now to write that script and make those dreams come true TOGETHER. Will you come along for the ride with me? 10 more years, that's all I'm asking. But, I may get selfish again and ask you for 10 more after that. Just know throughout the process that there is nobody that will be more grateful and more committed than me, to making this life as great as we can make it together.
I am forever indebted to each and everyone of you for giving me something that I could never gotten from anybody or anywhere else… A new-found purpose once again. I have never felt more value to this world because of each of you. Thank you
I will leave you with this…. Do what you love… Love you all!
- Lil Hal