I was born on October 18th, 1993.
I had been in foster care since birth, and was adopted in 1996 at the age of 2. Two different families were fighting over my adoption; one family that had cared for 3 of 12 of my siblings, and the mother and father that I have now. I was raised in a house with four children. My brothers Mike and Zack, sister Tangi (who was adopted as well) and myself.
As a child, I spent my days climbing trees, hanging out with the neighbors, playing little league baseball and of course, running around constantly. When I was about 10 years old, my adoptive parents had divorced. That had been tragic for me. I remember bits and pieces of one night when my sister and I had been sitting in the back of my mother’s car, tears running down her face when she realized that our parents were splitting up. I, on the other hand, was too young to fully understand what was going on. From there on, my siblings and I moved around with my mother a lot, traveling back and forth from Florida to Georgia, where my mother’s sister lived. This was a rough time for me. When I was finally used to the new surroundings, new faces, and new situation: we moved back to Florida. At this point, I was going into middle school.
In 6th and 7th grade, I really didn’t care much for school. I was an ESE student and that label, in itself, can be stressful. When my 8th grade year came around, everything changed. The friends I spent my time with, my interest in school and my overall attitude towards life had improved. That was also the year that I met my best friend, Brandon Mercado. We had two classes together that year: science and learning strategies. We were the two kids in the back of the classroom that just laughed and had fun the entire period, and occasionally did our assignments.
Three teachers that were inspiring that year had been Frank Argain, my math teacher, Robert Bender, english, and Michelle Brannon, learning strategies. They all had believed in me, and made me realize that I had greater potential than I thought. These three encouraged me to become a better student and overall human being.
At the end of the year, track season came around. The track coach, Brian Thomas, had mentioned to me that I should try out for the team one day when I was in aftercare. Brandon and I showed up to tryouts, and we both immediately had passion for the sport. Of course, in the beginning it was difficult. Thomas ran grueling tryouts that were unlike anything I had ever experienced before. Eventually, a passion for running grew from middle school track and field. I nurtured this passion and discovered that I enjoyed setting goals for myself, and then training to achieve and push past those goals.
Towards the end of track season, Brandon, B.T, and I had connected more. Brian Thomas had shared stories with us about his life, and we had learned a great deal from them. As an athlete, I made it all the way to regionals that year for the 800 meter and the 1 mile. I was very proud of my accomplishments. After that, I had grown close to Brandon and Brian. B.T. would take us to road races around the state. It was during this time that Brandon and I approached B.T. about teaching us to Run across the country. He said “no” on several occassions. Brian was concerned about the toll it would take on our bodies and minds. B.T. Gave us a check list of goals small and large that had to be completed by the time we graduated high school. We would go out running together, go to the beach, hang out at BT’s house, and even visit his family and train in Michigan. Together, we ran numerous races including the Palm Beaches marathon and the Keys 100. I was happy with the way my life was going. I felt that I was apart of something. Brandon had become a brother to me, and Brian was like another father figure in my life. They had taught me things that made me become the person I am today.
Now, we are training for an epic run across this country. On June 9th, 2012, we will run from West Palm Beach, Florida to Lake Orion, Michigan to raise money for Colon Cancer research. I am both excited and nervous about this journey. My next year will include running as much as 120 miles in one week just for training. It’s breathtaking to think about and realize that everything we’ve been planning and working for is about to become a reality. I have to tell myself, “this is real, and it is going to happen”! Where will you be on June 9, 2012?!