Personal Power…Your Potential is Limitless!

When you realize nothing is lacking, the whole world belongs to you Lao Tzu

Living Limitless – An Inspiring Story of Ultimate Human Potential

I was ushered into the auditorium in a wheelchair. Being a tetraplegic (which means paralyzed neck downwards) I cannot move an inch on my own, nor can I do any work without the help of a caretaker. As my caretaker smoothly guided my wheelchair onto the stage, an estimated 500-strong audience broke into applause. I was conducting an inspirational seminar in Mumbai, India for an international IT company. They had certainly been briefed about me, ‘The Positive Man’ – the title given to me by The Times of India. They were curious to know how a 90 percent-paralyzed man completely confined to a wheelchair can inspire or help them in any way. In a split-second, my mind traveled back 16 years, to the accident.

In December 1999, I was in Goa, India with my wife Eesha to welcome the new millennium. That was when I was completely able and traveled internationally for my interior design projects. Deep-sea diving was one of my favorite adventure sports. The spirit of festivity was in the air. We reached my favorite point – a perfect spot for deep-sea diving and soon I was on top of the cliff ready for my dive.

Months passed. I did not die. Something kept me alive, giving me courage even when I had none, soothing my forehead and asking me to relax.

I sprang with a certain experienced acrobatic maneuver towards the sea. 
A couple of seconds later, there was total darkness, only regaining consciousness on a hospital bed, with no track of time. I could only move my head. It was later in the day that the doctor explained the diagnosis – my cervical spinal cord nerves had been entirely pulverized and I was now neck-downwards paralyzed for life.

There was absolutely no cure for my condition and chances of survival were minimal. Even so, I would be living the rest of my life as a vegetable. I was devastated. Totally in denial, I refused to believe that this could happen to me. There was no light at the end of the tunnel. I was being sucked into an abyss.

Months passed. I did not die. Something kept me alive, giving me courage even when I had none, soothing my forehead and asking me to relax. One thing was for sure. This something was growing bigger and bigger within me, almost becoming a rebel, a stronger voice with each passing day.

“Girish. Wake up. Get out of the abyss. You have come into this world for a purpose. Your accident was not meant to defeat you. Wake up and march ahead. Fulfill your mission. Go inspire a billion hearts. Hope and positivity will spring from your heart and inspire all. You are the Hope Factory. Go, Fulfill -Mission Positive Earth. Touch and light up seven billion lives globally. Remember – the greatest success stories come from people who turn biggest adversities into greatest opportunities.”

Nothing made sense to me. I met the doctor who had given me the defeatist prognosis in my wheelchair. And yes. I did approach him in my wheelchair and told him with a determined and passionate voice. “Doctor. I appreciate your diagnosis. But I refuse to accept your verdict. I will not live like a vegetable for the rest of my life. Rather, I will spread hope, inspiration and positivity in the hearts of millions.”

He stared at me with definite awe. Looking at him, I knew that I had motivated him. A certain sense of confidence started building up inside me – if I can motivate a world-class doctor, I can motivate the whole world. Turning my biggest loss into my greatest strength, I can conquer seemingly insurmountable obstacles. I can accomplish –Mission Positive Earth.

One day, our driver drove my father, my caretaker, and me to Mumbai Central Railway Station, the largest landmark in Mumbai. The newly refurbished interiors unraveled before my eyes. The revamping was planned by me, and executed to perfection by the architects, engineers, and workers. This was one of the 15 international interior designing projects, which I did after my life-changing incident.

My father had wondrously exclaimed, “Hats off to you my son. Handling such a daunting task. In spite of being 90 percent paralyzed. Possible only with willpower, enduring passion, perseverance, and sheer determination, simply because you refused to quit and give up in life.” My heart swelled with pride and gratitude. I felt happy to note that several of my projects had featured in many international architectural magazines.

I must mention here that had it not been for the tremendous moral support of my parents, my sisters and my wife, it would not have been possible for me to keep up the fight. 

However, something was still bothering me. I confided in Eesha – “I am still feeling an emptiness within.” Eesha helped me to see that I wanted to reach out to others. Inspire them to fight against their adversities. Share my own example of resilience, grit and death-defying survival into victory.” Eesha’s words got etched deep in my mind. “Yes,” I acknowledged, “Now it’s time to share my life.
We came to observe life very closely. We realized that the human spirit is far stronger than anything that could happen to it, and also realized that giving is the highest level of living.

However, tragedy was to strike again. Eesha was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, a deadly degenerative disease which also has no cure.

 Over the months and years, her condition deteriorated, and she gradually lost 70 percent of her vision and 90 percent of her speech. She too became completely paralyzed neck downward, unable to move even an inch or do anything on her own.

Despite her being completely bedridden for the last nine years of her debilitating condition, we stood stoically beside each other like pillars of support. Rock bottom became the foundation on which we rebuilt our lives.

We came to observe life very closely. We realized that the human spirit is far stronger than anything that could happen to it, and also realized that giving is the highest level of living. I shut down my thriving interior designing business to answer my divine calling – which was to reinvent myself as an inspirational and motivational speaker.

Considering the world as one global family, duly loving and respecting each individual unconditionally, sharing our example of resilience in the face of grueling adversities with everybody and inspiring them to transform from victim into victory and trial into triumph – like a diehard optimist. And though my wife cannot accompany me physically for my seminars, in spirit she is always a part of Mission Positive Earth.

Obstacles actually strengthen our resolve even more. Struggles help us build character. Every challenging situation actually brings us closer to our inevitable victory.

Looking back at all these incidents today, I feel that every adversity I went through and am still going through is actually a divine plan to prepare me for the bigger challenges lying ahead in the global pursuit of Mission Positive Earth. I also feel that each of us has that powerful voice deep within and that the deepest core of every human being is a field of infinite possibilities.

I was finally beginning to understand what that voice was trying to tell me – “If we human beings realize that all the power we need to succeed is already within us, and if we can channelize this untapped potential, nothing is impossible. In every human being’s heart lies a spark of fire, which lights up in the darkest hour of adversity. All that lies behind us and all that lies in front of us is too little in comparison to what lies within us, and when we realize this, we find that limitations are but imaginary. And if we simply accept this miracle and march ahead with a positive belief in ourselves, we can overcome all our hardships and turn all our dreams into reality.

Obstacles actually strengthen our resolve even more. Struggles help us build character. Every challenging situation actually brings us closer to our inevitable victory. 
The small seminars at orphanages, old age homes, leprosy homes, home for the blind, non-profit organizations, etc., soon turned into much bigger corporate seminars for multi-national companies and educational institutions (my first corporate seminar being at Taj Palace Hotel, Mumbai.) A pulsating burning desire within me broke the shackles of my disabled condition. I – “The Positive Man” – became regular news in the media. I received the Karmaveer Chakra, The Positive Real Life Hero Award, and the MTC Global Top Ten Thinkers Award. But I do not work for awards or honors.

Someone once asked me how much I earn. I replied that my current turnover is a staggering seven billion good wishes and blessings from people all around the world. My real award is when someone tells me – “IF YOU CAN DO IT, SO CAN I”. Yes, I do receive generous donations from big corporations for every motivational seminar that I conduct, most of which I channel towards similar programs for the underprivileged sections of society.

A living is made by what we get, but honestly, life is made by what we give. I sincerely believe in receiving graciously and giving unconditionally. For it is said that our potential is God’s gift to us. And what we do with it is our gift to him. I believe that ultimately the collective energy of billions of humans can achieve anything, including fighting climate change and attaining World Peace. And I am determined to achieve these through my global pursuit called Mission Positive Earth. Sharing these thoughts with people through social media platforms is the main activity of my global mission. Every fiber of my being stands for this noble cause as I believe that total commitment is paramount to reach the pinnacle of success.

Today once again, I set out to touch hearts, inspiring all to live out their highest vision. Because each man is capable of doing more than he thinks he can do. Does it matter that I have lost sensation in 90 percent of my body and my respiratory function is only about 50 percent, that I cannot drink a drop of water on my own or eat a morsel of food on my own, that my four limbs don’t function leaving me completely dependent on my caretaker round the clock, that I have zero control of my bladder and bowels or that if I am neck downwards completely paralyzed ?

What really matters in life is that I am neck upwards wise and positively analyzed. I still have a heart that beats, a soul that feels and a mind that thinks optimistically.

Dear readers – never give up in life or lose hope, as we humans are born to win. And only those who have the strength to overcome are faced with hardships. So don’t run away; don’t escape. Let those hard times ignite the strength within your heart and blow away your adversities. Let us each be grateful and thankful for this wonderful, amazing and priceless opportunity called life. Indeed our I cans, I ams, and I wills are far more important than our IQs.

With this, I take your leave, dear readers, as I commence my seminar: 

“Good morning ladies and gentlemen! What a miraculous journey life is …”

Today’s inspirational story was written by Girish Goggia and is shared from the following website: https://goodmenproject.com/featured-content/living-limitless-an-inspiring-true-story-of-ultimate-human-potential-bbab/

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Every Life Matters…Everyone has a Mission!

Outstanding people have one thing in common: An absolute sense of mission Zig Ziglar

Why You Need to Tell Your Story to the World

Who are you? I bet you have a story to tell. Will you tell it? What would be the cost to you in your life if you choose not to tell your story? What would you like to share with the people who know you- and those who don’t?

Of all the things that you can do to make the world a better place, few things are more valuable and beneficial than telling your story. Great platforms such as this one, right here on Medium, blast the doors wide open to affording people, like you and me, this privilege. No one can tell your story better than you can. Chances are, you will help others and yourself in the process.

Where have you been and what have you learned? What do you hold dear? What have you endured and what has made you tougher? How have your experiences enlightened you and in turn, inspired and informed you to produce positive change for others?

Is your story a sad one, a trial of difficulties and hurtful experiences? If so, plenty of people will want to empathize and learn from the battles you’ve fought. And when you’re ready to tell that story, you’ll find that opening up to a person or community that you can trust, will allow a big weight to plummet from off of your shoulders.

The World Has Much To Gain From Your Story

I, for one, would love to know the values that you cling to; what matters in your life. Why and where you’re going to the places you are, and how you plan to get there. Do you realize the power that your words and actions have and how you can impact others, whatever your chosen path is in life?

Past, present and future, we have adventures, trials, failures, journeys and epic wins to share with people. There isn’t an excuse, really, if you don’t let others know your story. There’s so much to gain from the knowledge you possess. You will know your story- and the lessons that accompany it- better than anything else you’ll ever know in this world.

We waste time on websites like Twitter becoming followers, on Facebook being fans, all while we could be leaders today. The worst mistake we can make in life is thinking that other people don’t care what we have to say.

As I’ve consulted with business leaders, coached professionals and students, and learned from others, I’ve realized that each individual has a tremendous amount to contribute to humanity. Everyone can make a positive difference in the world through storytelling.

Stories of interest, humor, intellect, science, art, sport, love and more.

Our stories are unique, genuine and real. They are better told when we have the stage alone to ourselves. It certainly takes courage to tell your story- or any great story for that matter. There’s so much to lose by living in fear and passing on the opportunity to impact the lives of others. When we tell stories we’re excited about, we get excited and animated. We deliver them like they’re impassioned pleas to rejoice in the experience!

If you’ve never tried, I hope you’re willing to take the first step.

Find The Courage

Five years ago, a very good friend of mine invited me to join the young adult community at his church. Not long after, there I was, nervous as can be, sharing my personal story with a room of 40 strangers. I went into detail about my upbringing, my values, my family and my “why” for living. I shared the story of my life, how important faith is to me and the aspirations that drive me to be the man I am.

It was positively liberating!

I certainly didn’t deliver a Steve Jobs-like effort and believe me, it was no, “I Have a Dream speech.” But I got my message across in a manner that was sincere, honest, authentic and open. I may have influenced the lives of people in that room and maybe I inspired others to pursue their dreams more fervently. I don’t know that for certain. But it certainly made me feel better and I received very genuine, heartfelt praise afterwards.

That moment served as a springboard for me to want to share more of story and my journey with others.

The important thing is that I took the first step: I told my story- I gave it a shot. I encourage you to tell your story, when you feel the time is right. Trust me when I say, people want to hear it. As I have learned, the world is demanding it! The world needs you to tell your story.

Go forth in confidence and watch as the wave of positive emotions wash over your life and the lives of others.

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The Work of Being Happy

No misfortune is so bad that whining about it won’t make it worse Jeffrey R. Holland

Working at being happy takes some understanding and sometimes some simplification of our lives. It is best accomplished through being unselfish and caring more about the needs of those you love than about your own selfish desires. Have you ever noticed how miserable some celebrities are? There is a reason. There is no happiness in being a diva, and constantly being served. There is, however, happiness in serving and loving others.

Couch potatoes are rarely happy either. Again, there is a good reason, we are meant to be productive, hard-working individuals and our bodies were made to move! There may be a few highs involved with being a couch potato who has developed some gaming skills but there will not be long-term happiness and joy.

What about those difficult times that we all have? Some almost constantly? We can’t make all difficult circumstances go away but we can change our attitude and the way we address those difficult times. I remember not too long ago, a friend relating to me all of the difficult trials that had recently been a part of her life and then she added that she had met an individual at the hospital that made what she was going through look like a cake walk. Her point to me was that no matter how hard and how bad her life seemed at times, the Lord had reminded her of how much worse it could be and how many blessings were present in her life despite the difficulties.

Long term happiness is not to be found in short term thrills. Tried and true happiness is found in aligning ourselves with the Lord. It is He who knows us best and who knows exactly how to bring joy and happiness into our lives. For me, it is being a part of my family and something bigger than myself. For you, it might be holding a crack baby, watching after grandchildren, or playing with your child. Happiness does not come packaged in difficult to open gift boxes, it comes through loving and being loved.

Today, I am sharing another excerpt from the article by Jeffrey R. Holland called the The Gospel Plan of Happiness. I will share the last excerpt from his article on Monday. I hope you will read it and enjoy the inspired words that Jeffrey R. Holland shares! Have a wonderful weekend and choose to be happy!

Work At It

Here is one last suggestion when there are so many others we should consider. Nephi said that in an effort to find happiness in their new land after their 30 years of trouble, “I, Nephi, did cause my people to be industrious, and to labor with their hands” (2 Nephi 5:17). By contrast, those from whom they fled became “an idle people, full of mischief and subtlety” (2 Nephi 5:24).

If you want to be happy in school or on a mission or at a job or in a marriage—work at it. Learn to work. Serve diligently. Don’t be idle and mischievous. A homespun definition of Christlike character might be the integrity to do the right thing at the right time in the right way. Don’t be idle. Don’t be wasteful. “Seek learning, even by study and also by faith” (D&C 88:118). Be industrious and labor, including laboring for and serving others—one of the truly great keys to true happiness.

Now, let me close by citing Alma’s straightforward counsel to Corianton. With all the encouragement a father would want to give a son or daughter, he said that in the Resurrection the faithful are raised to a state of “endless happiness” wherein they “inherit the kingdom of God” (Alma 41:4). At that time, he added, we will be “raised to happiness according to [our] desires of happiness” (Alma 41:5). But he also sternly cautioned: “Do not suppose … that [without repentance] ye shall be restored from sin to happiness. Behold, I say unto you, wickedness never was happiness” (Alma 41:10; emphasis added).

Sin is the antithesis of “living after the manner of happiness.” Indeed, those who believe otherwise, Alma says, “are without God in the world, and … have gone contrary to the nature of God; therefore, they are in a state contrary to the nature of happiness” (Alma 41:11).

Excerpt of article by Jeffrey R. Holland entitled The Gospel Plan of Happiness was shared from the following website: https://www.lds.org/ensign/2017/09/the-gospel-path-to-happiness?lang=eng

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Life is Not About Waiting for the Storm to Pass…

Life is not about  waiting for the storm to pass ...it’s about learning to dance in the rain

I love learning about individuals who have overcome difficult obstacles.  What makes them inspirational to me is that they have been willing to endure tough moments, overcome doubts, and work at their skill set until everything has come together in a positive way.

Today’s story involves a young woman who has endured tough times and come out on top. I recognize that not everyone will succeed in just the same way.

For some of us, success may mending a relationship. For others, success may be an accomplishment in spite of a handicap.  For yet others, it may be nothing more than not giving up.

We all have difficulties and obstacles. My prayer is that, collectively, we will all endure the hard moments and wade through our difficulties and find that place in our hearts where love and peace and hope can eternally dwell. I hope you enjoy today’s story. For further enlightenment, go to YouTube.com and enjoy listening to Charice as well!

The Story of Charice Pempengco

Charice Pempengco’s dream of becoming a singer began halfway around the world in the Philippines. She found a following on the Internet after a stranger posted her jaw-dropping performances on YouTube.

Oprah’s producers were among the 13 million people who logged on to watch this 16-year-old sensation sing songs made famous by artists like Celine Dion and Beyoncé. Then, in May 2008, Charice flew 15 hours to showcase her talent on The Oprah Show. She stole the show with a soul-stirring rendition of Whitney Houston’s “I Have Nothing.”

Millions of viewers were moved by Charice’s powerful voice—including Gayle King. “That evening Gayle called me,” Oprah says. “She said she fell off her treadmill when she heard that girl.” Oprah says the performance blew her Manolos off!

Charice’s voice wasn’t the only thing that impressed Oprah. “One of the things I love most about Charice is that no matter what obstacles she’s faced in her life, she’s never given up on her dream of something better,” Oprah says.

In the small Filipino village where Charice lived as a child, there wasn’t much to sing about. When Charice was 3 years old, she says she remembers seeing her father fly into a fit of rage and take out his anger on her mother. She says she watched as he choked and attacked her.

Charice says the argument escalated, and her dad grabbed a shotgun and pointed it at her mom. “My dad was about to shoot my mom, and I couldn’t do anything,” she says.

Neighbors heard screams and broke down the door just in time. Fraternidad, a former neighbor, remembers it clearly. “The gun [was] pointed to the mother and then the children are crying,” she says.

Charice and her mother escaped with their lives. “We left my dad, and after that, I never saw him and I don’t want to see him,” she says. “I’m just singing now for my mom. I didn’t help her before. That’s why I want to help her now.”

When Charice was just 4 years old, her mom discovered her talent for the first time. “She thought the radio [was] playing,” Charice says. “She went to the living room, and she saw me singing and she was, like, ‘Oh, my gosh. She’s singing.'”

A few years later, Charice entered a singing contest. “Some people [were] saying that I’m not good enough and I’m not pretty,” she says. “I just wanted to prove that they’re wrong.”

When Charice first decided to enter competitions, her mother was working 16 hours a day, six days a week at a garment factory. Charice signed up for more than 80 contests to help support her family. “I really want[ed] to help Mom,” she says. “When I’m joining singing contests, and I won some $50, she was, like, ‘Okay, we’re going to have some food for one month, and we’re very happy.'”

After years of struggling financially—even being homeless—Charice has been able to use her contest winnings to help her mother pay for an apartment in a nice neighborhood. Charice now has her own room where she can draw, sing, play the guitar and continue to dream. “I think this is a big improvement because we’re more peaceful, and we’re happy,” she says.

In her bedroom, Charice has a notebook where she keeps drawings of the singers she idolizes, like Celine Dion. “I can say this is my dream notebook,” she says.

Charice can now say her dreams are beginning to come true, starting with an introduction to one of the most famous names in the music business. After hearing Charice sing, Oprah just couldn’t get the little girl with the big voice out of her head.

Instead of flying back to the Philippines after her appearance on The Oprah Show, producers pulled Charice off the plane and brought her back to Harpo Studios. Then, Oprah called legendary producer David Foster to see what the starmaker could do for Charice.

David invited Charice to join him in Las Vegas for a PBS special called “Hit Man: David Foster & Friends.” Backstage, Charice ran into some of show’s headliners, like Josh Groban and Michael Bublé. “I’m so glad I don’t have to follow you because that would suck for me very badly,” Michael said to Charice. “Because no matter how good I am, I know that you’d kick my butt.”

Charice then took the stage and sang three songs, including Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You” to a crowd of 10,000. Her soul-stirring performance brought the audience to its feet. “A star is born tonight,” David said.

Charice’s summer of dreams didn’t end there—after her performance, she received a surprise call from world-famous singer Andrea Bocelli. Within weeks, Charice was on her way to Italy to meet Andrea and sing a special duet with the renowned tenor. “That’s really a dream come true for me,” she says. “I really love Andrea Bocelli because he’s my idol. When I was younger, I’m always drawing some things like me singing with Celine and me singing with Mr. Andrea Bocelli.”

More than 8,000 people gathered in the Tuscan countryside near Andrea’s hometown for the exclusive concert. Together, they sang “The Prayer,” a song that holds special meaning for Charice. “I think that God is always listening to all my prayers, and I have so many dreams in my life,” she says. “That’s why I’m always praying that someday I’m going to achieve all my dreams.”

“The first song that I learned was ‘My Heart Will Go On,'” Charice says. “Of course I want to sing with [Celine Dion] soon, I wish, someday.”

After her performance, Charice learns she has a fan who’s been waiting to speak with her via satellite. She’s a working mom with a 7-year-old who also loves to sing. She also happens to be one of Charice’s idols—Celine Dion!

Celine says watching Charice sing left her speechless. “I can tell you that we have lots of things in common. I was very shy too. And I also had a mother—still have a mother—who is my strength,” Celine says. “You have more talent than most people. You can sing. You can speak and sing with your heart. You can play guitar. You can draw. And you can have dreams.”

Because Charice shares so much of her talent with others, Celine wants to give Charice something in return. “I’m going to be singing at Madison Square Garden, and I would love to ask you to come and sing a duet with me,” she says. “Maybe we can sing ‘Because You Loved Me,’ and maybe we can dedicate this song to your mother.”

Now it’s Charice who’s left speechless! “Thank you, idol,” she says.

Today’s inspiring story shared from the following website: http://www.oprah.com/oprahshow/teen-singing-sensation_1

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Everyone Can Be a Hero Through Service!

The truth of the matter is that you always know the right thing to do. The hard part is doing it Norman Schwarzkopf

So many emotions wash over me when I think of service. So many joyous memories gladden my heart.

I remember grandparents including me on their trips so that I would feel loved and cherished. I think of clerks with unknown names who have gone out of their way to provide me with great service. I smile as I think of teachers – both at school and at church who went the extra mile and who made sure that their students had both a name and an understanding of their worth. Memories of my father and his service to individuals I do not know come to mind. Professionals who worked tirelessly in behalf of my granddaughter gamer a special niche in that place within my heart. And, in addition to the numerous happy memories which hide in the recesses of my mind are the recollections of times with my sweetheart and family, so many of them filled with moments of thoughtfulness and acts of service.

I came across a young couple in my local hospital just a few weeks ago. I continue to think of them. I rode an elevator with that young couple. They had a seven month old baby boy in a stroller – their son. This couple was not from my hometown of Billings. They were from Bozeman. I don’t know all of the circumstances of their dilemma but I know that they started out in a hospital in Denver, Colorado and then got transferred to the hospital in Billings. Their baby boy smiled sweetly at me; his upper lip carved with two surgical scars. He had a tracheotomy – oxygen was being fed to him through his throat. I assume this sweet little guy was born in Denver under much duress. His parents shared that he had already been through two open heart surgeries in his short lifetime. They also shared that they had not been home for seven months. That means seven months of the smells and sterile cold walls of hospitals, agonizing over the health of their little guy, and no opportunity to find true rest and respite at home.

Every so often, I like to take items to our local Ronald McDonald House. What I bring is never very much and the effort required is small on my part. As I learned that this couple was staying at the Ronald McDonald house in Billings, My heart did a double take. Most of the time, my little stops at the Ronald McDonald house are made with little or no knowledge of the residents that are being housed there. All of a sudden, I felt guilty for being so aloof. What if I had taken the time to be more in tune with the personal needs of the residents? If I had, could I have lifted the burden this sweet couple had been carrying for a very long seven months? Calculate that into hospital time and you have what feels like lifetime.

That experience of just a few minutes has carried with me. I can’t do everything but I can do something. We all can do something!

As you read today’s inspiring story, think about how you could make a difference. No money has to be spent – time could be spent sitting with a loved one so their caretaker can have a break. Stories can be read to children. Even sharing patience instead of a grumpy scowl counts! I hope you enjoy today’s story – I also hope it inspires each of us to be a little more mindful of others that we share this world with!

A Family Saved

Lt. Bobby Qualls was shopping when he received a text message: Fire on Beechmont, one-story house, child trapped inside. “I was picking out gifts for the family our engine house adopted for Christmas,” remembers Qualls, who has been fighting fires in Memphis for 24 years. “I had this sinking feeling as I got in my car and headed over.”

The last time Qualls had been on Beechmont Street was to install smoke detectors at the Bateman-Tubbs home. He’d been on a secret mission to see if they needed an extra boost during the holidays. There he discovered that the four Bateman-Tubbs children were sleeping on bare mattresses, and he found two of the boys playing outside in 30-degree weather with no shoes or coats.

Qualls learned that Leonard Tubbs was doing his best to make ends meet laying floors while Kimberly Bateman stayed home with the kids.

“When Bobby told me his team wanted to be Secret Santas and buy my kids toys, at first I thought we didn’t need any help,” Bateman recalls. “It really touched me. I told him what the kids really needed was warm clothes.”

That’s exactly what Qualls was shopping for on December 9, 2008: winter jackets for Christopher, seven; JoJo, four; Madison, one; and two-month-old Charles. While driving over to Beechmont Street, he dialed Bateman’s cell phone. She answered on the first ring, screaming, “The house is on fire—JoJo’s trapped inside!”

By the time Qualls reached the house, the family had gotten out, but their home was severely damaged. His coworkers had found JoJo hiding under a pile of clothes in a back bedroom. He had stopped breathing and had been given CPR and rushed to the hospital. Qualls learned that JoJo was now on life support and might not make it through the night. He rushed to the hospital with Lt. Mark Eskew, who placed a stuffed teddy bear in a firefighter’s suit on JoJo’s bed.

“I just kept praying my little boy would open his eyes,” Bateman recalls. “There was nothing else I could do. They were pumping soot as black and thick as tar out of his lungs and stomach for days.”

After a few days, though, JoJo regained consciousness, and the tubes were taken out of his throat. While he began to slowly recover, the local newspaper and TV stations got hold of the story, and the Secret Santa mission of Qualls and his fellow firefighters snowballed. Before long, the fire station was overflowing with boxes of toys, food, toiletries, towels, and clothes. People called, wanting to donate furniture and appliances too. By December 23, Bateman and Tubbs had moved their kids into a new rental home. By Christmas Eve, JoJo was ready to leave the hospital, and the firefighters were ready to deliver the family their very own Christmas miracle.

“These guys aren’t just firefighters,” says Bateman, “they’re our guardian angels. If they hadn’t installed a smoke detector that first day they came to our house, we wouldn’t have known when the fire started. Then they went the extra ten miles to give us a Christmas.”

Story shared from the following website: http://www.rd.com/true-stories/inspiring/5-stories-that-celebrate-the-spirit-of-giving/2/

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