Around the Thanksgiving holiday, many of us are scrambling to grocery stores gathering our goods for a holiday meal or packing our bags to hit the highway for a family getaway. For me, both options were up for grabs and I was more than ready for my one-day hiatus from work. But, before the festivities could occur, I was to volunteer and donate a free Thanksgiving meal to a deserving family. The mission: ask online subscribers to submit a story of a family in need; a family who could use an extra hand financially this holiday season. The submissions poured in and the recipient was subsequently chosen. Easy enough and worth every minute. But, the lesson wasn’t in the gift giving. The lesson was in what I would learn from the family that so graciously shared their heartwarming story. Break out the tissues because this one is a tearjerker.
Meet Francisco, affectionately known as Sisco. I had heard about Francisco as I was one of many news reporters who had followed his story which later had gone viral. He was a promising high school student-athlete who was injured in a near-fatal crash. And, he was clinging to life after the vehicle he was an occupant in was t-boned on the passenger side. He was a straight ‘A’ student, a football player and a role model to his two brothers as well as to his peers.
As a result of the crash, his skull was fractured, his spleen broken, his brain swollen and his lungs were filled with blood. From the pictures, it was a miracle that anyone walked away alive. His family was informed that he would have a long road to recovery. That was April 8th, 2016.
Eight months later, November 21st, 2016, on a surprise visit to share our Thanksgiving bundle, my friends and I walked into the home Sisco shared with his grandparents. We distributed a free turkey, ham, sides, pies and all the fixings befitting of a glorious meal.
And in walked Francisco with bright eyes and a smile – a remarkable transformation from the images I had seen months earlier. He walked into the living room with a natural pace accompanied with a slight limp wearing a shirt adorned with Superman’s emblem.
He appeared to have a glowing silhouette that brightened the already well-lit room. He hugged each of us thus melting our hearts. It was our hope that we would bring cheer to the family (which I believe we accomplished), but we were on the receiving end overwhelmed with an abundance of joy and still in awe-struck by a person we believed was still bedridden from life-threatening injuries.
I think it’s safe to say that we all fought back tears as he told us that he held no malice for the driver responsible, he talked about his desire to seek employment or enroll in college and even joked about his scars.
Sisco hugged us once more and thanked us for our generosity. Before meeting him, my only concern was picking up last-minute groceries, sifting through my closet for my Thanksgiving outfit and reminding myself of how delicious Thanksgiving meal was going to taste. But, as I headed out of Francisco’s home, I was reminded of the truest spirit of Thanksgiving. Not even the donations could make me feel better than knowing that despite his previous health condition; he had lain in a coma and unable to walk, Sisco was truly a shining example of a higher power at work. He remained humble, uplifted and thankful. We were the financial donors, but #ibedamned, what he gave us, money can’t buy.
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