What were you doing at the age of 13? Were you playing youth sports? Going out on the weekends with friends to do outdoors things? Certainly, many of the fortunate ones, who are reading this in fact, are people who had that luxury. For 13-year-old, Jared Avalos, of Whittier, California, these luxuries are something that he does not get to take full advantage of on the weekends—they are simply his goals and dreams.
As a kid, Avalos loved to play soccer with his friends at school, enjoyed bike-riding, and living life at a fast pace. Jared also liked to race his friends at school out on the track. Even when Jared was forced to put some of his favorite childhood activities aside, he has still been an incredible grandson to his grandmother and loves helping her around the house cleaning, cooking, and washing clothes. Many of these activities Jared has had to put on hold because of a sudden neurological disorder, transverse myelitis, that has attacked his spinal cord leaving him paralyzed. As a result of this life-changing neurological disorder, Jared has been unable to enjoy some of his favorite activities like playing with friends at recess, or kicking the soccer ball around, or getting to ride his bike with his brother.
But, do not let any of this fool you; even as a young teenager, Jared has become a model for what each and every one of us needs to strive to be as a person. His consistent optimistic mentality through his young recovery process has been contagious—he knows and believes that with each day, he is taking small steps in the right direction to becoming an active kid again.
Be Perfect sponsors Jared to stay on his path to recovery at Project Walk Claremont. As a result of our loyal donor support, Jared has been making tremendous strides since he started in the program in July of 2016. Jared found out about Project Walk through his P.E. teacher who knew another one of Be Perfect’s client, Kody Peraita, who also attends Project Walk Claremont. Jared’s teacher told him about Kody and the accomplishments he had been having at Project Walk Claremont. Like many of the clients who are also in the program, hearing about Kody's success, prompted Jared and his family to get started. Since beginning, Jared has built strong relationships with many of the other clients and the excellent trainers at Project Walk Claremont. Jared and his family are truly grateful for the opportunity to go to Project Walk. His mother states: "I want to thank the Be Perfect Foundation for helping my son and his recovery and to see once again a great smile on his face.”
For many of us during this holiday season, one of the things that we take for granted is to be able to stand tall for a holiday photo with our family. Could you imagine being the age of 13 and one of your only wishes and goals during the holiday season would be to stand tall and to have your knees straight? For Jared, that is what he says is his wish for the holiday season and one of his short-term goals.
But, do not let any of this lead you to believe that this was Jared’s only goal. Now able to stand and take small steps in his walker, Jared has set his mind to something even greater—running again and to walk on and off the stage at his middle school graduation next year. These are lofty goals, but as Jared would tell you, Project Walk Claremont provides him the motivation he needs to keep on working. Jared notes that the family feel and positive environment give him the confidence to train hard to reach his goals.
How often do you make excuses to not take care of your body? How often do you say I will just get my workout in tomorrow? These are excuses that have never come out of the mouth of a 13-year-old. As all of his trainers have said, since the day that he started in the program, "the kid has never missed a day of therapy for anything."
So, while many of us during this holiday season have much that we can probably complain about, stories like these put everything back into perspective. What were you doing at the age of 13? What were your hopes and dreams? I can tell you this much: at age 13, Jared Avalos is attacking his dreams as tenaciously as any 13-year-old I have ever met. As a Be Perfect sponsored client, Jared is holding up his end of the bargain and living every day with a purpose and with the mentality of trying to Be Perfect. He works so hard to get the most out of his recovery. Jared, his mom, and his family would be the first to tell you that none of this would be possible without YOU and YOUR support.
Jared is a reminder to all of us that while these injuries and ailments of paralysis can at many times have the end-all be-all goal, to be walking, sometimes just being able to be ourselves again is even more important...