One day I was talking to an African American high school student who is in our Ranch Program about his future (he was in 12 grade). He said he had many goals in life but, as he put it, â¬Åhow am I going to pursue all of them. I asked him what he meant by that. â¬ÅWell, he said. â¬ÅThings are real hard on us in my city because all the people see is just another black person.
Now I admire this young man for setting goals for himself. One needs to do that to get some direction as to where he or she is going in life. However, setting goals is one thing. To believe that anyone other than yourself is responsible for reaching those goals is another. For every one person that fails because of the excuses he or she makes, there are 10 other people who succeed because they refuse to make the same excuses. People like Daniel Lazzatti. If anyone had the right to make excuses, Daniel sure did.
Daniel lived in a run down neighborhood in Florida. His mother left him when he was young and soon after his father was unable to keep up with the bills. The family later lost their home. With no place to go, father and son lived in a near empty house not far from their old home. Before two long, both parted ways and Daniel ended up living on his own in a shed behind the house of a women who raised 3 boys and who takes in all kinds of strays. He was 16 years old at the time. In spite of his bad luck, Daniel saw education as a way to a better life. But the road to success wouldn't be easy. Not only was Daniel homeless, but he had a learning disability as well. But he was determined. Every day he'd get up early, get on his bike and peddle for about 25 minutes to school. Rain, shine, wind or storm, he was there. At night, he would work long shifts at Burger King to help buy food and other necessities only to go back to his lonely, dark shack after work. How hard it must of been for this young man to be motivated. How easy it would have been to just quit; give in to the streets.
To make a long story short, Daniel had near perfect attendance in school from age 16 on and a 3.7 grade point average when he graduated. Eventually Daniel won a full scholarship to Mid Florida Tech to study computer support services.
Dan is a great example to all young people that one should never let race, nor poverty, nor family problems, nor physical obstacles, nor abuse, nor anything be an excuse to fail. When it's all said and done, YOU are going to make choices in life and the choices YOU make are going to turn around and end up making YOU.
After learning about Daniel's situation, I said to myself, â¬Åman, I wish I was I would have been there to help that kid. Later though, I thought, â¬Åyou know, that boy didn't need no help. He did fine on his own.