Paul Silver is organizing this fundraiser on behalf of Daniel Velazquez.
Goals are to promote the Go Fund Me for speech therapy, physical therapy, and sign language classes. This is the story of a young man working to rebuild his life and body after a motorcycle accident. He is raising money to help pay for physical therapist and training not covered by his insurance or the YMCA. If you have been to the YMCA branch anytime in the past eleven months, you have definitely either met or spotted our new Membership teammate, Daniel Velazquez. His big personality lights up every shadow, and he embraces moments to lift someone’s spirits. He willingly dives into a profound conversation about faith, throws back a joke when you give him a hard time, and determinedly gets to know everyone around him. This is why after several months of being a member here at the TownLake Y, our Membership team hired him as a greeter in the lobby. Daniel makes it his goal every day to be a smiling face when members arrive for their workouts and finds something unique about each individual to compliment them on in efforts to brighten their day. We have gotten to know him and are lucky to have him as part of our community and staff team. As we got to learn more about him, we found it important to tell his story – as it is one of change, perseverance, and faith in one’s ability to recover spiritually and physically with support and commitment. At 16 years old, Daniel spent six months in the Space Coast Marine Institute, which Daniel describes as being a valuable learning experience that taught him discipline, hard work, and structure. With an absent, alcoholic abusive father, Daniel learned quickly to fight and handle his circumstances reactively instead of proactively. This institute is a non-profit organization dedicated to helping youth develop into responsible and productive citizens and to protect public safety and positively impact as many youth as possible through the efforts of a diverse and innovative staff. Daniel felt it helped teach him ethics he was lacking from his relationship with his father and valued his time there. As Daniel was about to turn 17 years old in Florida, he welcomed a little girl into the world. Young and unready for a role as important as being a parent, Daniel was forced to grow up in ways that only a child can inspire one to do so. Through fishing, playing ball, and spending time with her, he hopes to create candid memories that she can carry with her in the years to come. He flies to Florida each year to visit her and receives a call from her each morning at 6AM before she goes to school. Now eight years old, she is in the third grade and continues to call him. On November 16, 2012, Daniel had just learned he was promoted at work and afterward was in an accident that would drastically change his life forever. Another driver pulled out of his hotel parking lot and into the center lane on West Vine Street in Kissimmee, Florida just as Daniel was driving in the oncoming traffic at 60MPH on his motorcycle without a helmet. He woke up eleven months later with no recollection of how he’d gotten there. Life before this motorcycle accident was pretty carefree and often careless with the expectation of invincibility despite Daniel frequently playing with fire. Daniel’s past consists of a DUI, trespassing, battery on a law enforcement officer, and violation of his probation. If you know him now, this might be surprising to learn. Daniel’s an illustration of how important it is to let your past guide you, not define you. He would later wake up from a coma and learn that he was thrown head-first into the trunk of the other car resulting in a traumatic brain injury. Imagine being tossed off of a 12-story building – this is the amount of impact Daniel underwent in his accident. He was transported by air to Orlando Regional Medical Center for life threatening brain injuries. He is still in recovery to this day, progressing little by little. Somedays are better than others, and he often finds himself struggling to be patient with the process. With the help of his family, friends, and team of doctors, Daniel has made tremendous physical and mental strides both on land and in the pool. Reaching goals he was warned he may never reach, Daniel continues to push to grow stronger and heal faster every time he goes to the gym. As a nine-time convicted felon turned committed believer, Daniel has a mission in life to heal, help others heal, and spread good as far as he can reach. Through his experiences – before and after the wreck – he savors each moment he has to give thanks and appreciation for those around him. Be sure to give him a fist bump or high five when you see him at the front desk, and if you have a spare minute, take some time to talk with him and learn more about his journey to recovery. Written by Lindsay Lewis.