This photo has been trending on my FB newsfeed. It was taken last month by Joyce Gilos Torrefranca, a medical student in Cebu:
It shows 9-year-old Daniel Cabrera kneeling on the pavement with the famous golden arches in the background. He's using a makeshift wooden bench as he writes in his workbook. "For me as a student, it just hit me a lot, like big time," Joyce Torrefranca told the Philippine news network ABS-CBN. "This kid, he doesn't have anything but he has dedication to study." Joyce said seeing Daniel struggling with his homework inspired her to work harder. The photo was quickly shared thousands of times with other people saying they'd been inspired by him too.An inspirational reminder of the blessings in our own lives, the struggles of those less fortunate, and the adage that if it's important enough to you, you will find a way; if it's not, you will find excuses.
Gymnastics is an expensive, "elitist" sport; and many kids don't have the opportunity to discover their potential in the environment of training in a well-managed, well-equipped, well-coached facility. As a gymnastics coach, I try and remind my athletes to never take their opportunities in life for granted. I have one athlete on the team whose parents struggle to afford her monthly tuition. The mom does not speak fluent English. Does not have a computer or email. She once pulled her daughter out of gym. At the end of the month and at the end of practice, without fanfare or warning, her kid comes up to me and matter-of-factly states, "This is my last day. Bye." I guess the mom was too embarrassed to let us know her husband lost his job and they were struggling. She was doing extra work just for her daughter because she knew how much her daughter loves gymnastics Fortunately we were able to talk her into keeping her daughter- my gymnast- enrolled in our program. I'm grateful to the gym I work for in that the owner and office management were willing to work with the mom and negotiate something that she could afford.
At the annual Vidmar Invitational out in Los Angeles, '84 Olympian Peter Vidmar reminds the competitors of this life lesson, telling the gymnasts that the next time their parents drop them off at the gym, to take pause and thank their parents and show deep appreciation. Because their parents don't have to do any of this: Driving them to practice, financing it, watching meets, etc. The 3 golden rules for the staff at my gym: Do your best... Always do the right thing... And everyday, do something selfless that benefits others.