The PossAbilities Speaker’s Bureau consists of PossAbilities members and community advocates that represent the program at a variety of speaking engagements. By sharing their stories and unique perspective on life, they are role models and inspire each of us to do our part to make the world a better place. Our speakers are available to speak at schools, community organizations, corporate meetings and retreats, social clubs, churches, etc. Call (909) 558-6384 for more details or to book a speaking engagement.
Growing up in Compton, California, sports were my life. It didn’t matter if it was football, baseball, or basketball – I had a passion for them all. A strong desire to succeed in these sports occupied the majority of my time. Another desire as a child was to ride in a jet plane. I remember asking my mom one day if I would ever be able to ride in a jet plane. Her response has been a motivation for many of my successes in life. She replied, “All young men that go to college and become professional athletes get to ride in those planes”. From that moment on, my mind was set; I was going to college to become a professional athlete. After graduating from Compton High School, I attended Harbor Community College (HCC) to play football. While at HCC, I was named a Junior All-American Outside Linebacker. This gave me the opportunity to earn a spot on Grambling State University’s football team, an NCAA Division I school. As a Grambling Tiger, I played well enough to receive an invitation to tryout for the Los Angeles Raiders. It wouldn’t be easy, but I wanted to accomplish two things – to make the team and to get a chance to ride on a plane. I did get a chance to ride on a plane, but I did not make the team and was released from the Raiders. As fate would have it, I was good enough to make an Arena Football team and gained enormous experience in the AFL. Through that experience,I received a second invitation to tryout with the Raiders and another opportunity to play in the NFL. That opportunity came to a screeching halt when, celebrating the second invitation with friends, I was shot six times in the back. This was bittersweet to me because, though I was shot, I protected a friend from being injured or killed. This happenstance left me paralyzed from the waist down and in a wheelchair for the rest of my life. With time, support and love from my family, I’ve learned to embrace the unique gift that God has provided me. I thank Him every day for a second chance. I may be paralyzed and in a wheelchair, but to me this is minor to me. I’ve had, and continue to have the wonderful opportunity to enjoy life to its fullest. We all have many choices in life, and in the 19 years since my injury, I’ve chosen to make my passion helping young people in our community. I still enjoy football, baseball and basketball, but now am able to pass on my experience and perspective on life through coaching. I’ve had the good fortune of coaching four football championship teams at the Junior College level, as well as a winning a championship at the NCAA Division III level. I’ve learned that in life, it’s not what you go through, but it’s how you go through it.
Hi! My name is Kibsaim Alicia Garcia. I’m 26 years old and have been a paraplegic for 22 years now. I was hit by a city bus when I was 4 years old. After an eight-month stay at the hospital, I was left with a body cast, and a broken arm, wrist, spine, knees and legs. I have learned to live my life with my disability and do not let it keep me from doing anything I want to do. Today I am a wife, a mother of two and a business owner. I am 100 percent independent and need no assistance to do any of my everyday activities. I drive, dress myself, cook, clean, shower and care for my kids and husband. I am honestly unbelievably blessed and am thankful for everyone and everything that has impacted my life, including my disability. I’ve learned that we are never given anything we can’t handle, and it takes a strong person to keep pushing forward. Giving up is easy and I’m too thankful to let this disability keep me down. Twenty-two years ago, specialists told my mom I wouldn’t live after my accident. Yet I’m more alive than ever. One of the things I wish I could change after my accident was having someone there by my side like myself who had gone through this hard experience to tell me everything would be OK. But I didn’t; therefore, I would like to be that person for someone else in need. I would like to share my experience and help others learn how to do things and how to still be independent. A helping hand can go a long way. There’s no better feeling than to know someone lives a better life because of something you did. That’s exactly why I put time aside to spend time with people who are having a hard time with their disability. Loma Linda has been one of the best hospitals where I have ever been treated. I have had a major back surgery and both C-sections there. I have never had a bad experience. Both doctors and nurses make you feel right at home and truly show that they care about your well-being. Loma Linda really goes above and beyond to accommodate your every need. When I had my back surgery, they took care of my mom’s stay at the Ronald McDonald hotel. Just so she could spend as much time as possible by my side in what was one of the hardest times of my childhood-at no cost to her. For these reasons and many more, I would love an opportunity to spend time at Loma Linda helping others. I hope that I can make a difference in someone’s life. I hope that when my children grow up, they can also follow in my footsteps and want to be that helping hand and know the importance of it.
My name is Zimri Solis I was born on December 31, 1982 in a city called Ocotlan Jalisco, Mexico. I was diagnosed with meningitis, meningococcal, at the age of 10 years old. My parents were not familiar with the symptoms I was having and it created panic. They decided to take me to Claremont Hospital. I was there for a couple of hours waiting before the doctors realized my condition was much more serious than they thought. My parents noticed a helicopter was landing to pick someone up, little did they know that the helicopter was there to pick me up. I was air lifted to Loma Linda University Medical Center where at the time of landing I was pronounced dead; I had no vital signs. Everyone was praying for me and at some point my vitals came back. The doctors explained to my parents that amputations had to be done in order to stop the virus from spreading; at this point my parents did not know what decision to make. The doctors when ahead with the surgery to complete the amputations and I was kept in a coma for 4 months. After waking up from my coma it was like being reborn. I had to learn how to walk and use my limbs all over again. After being discharged I started my rehabilitation process, which is when I met Dr. Murray Brandstater who has been there since day one helping through all of my rehabilitation, support, and surgeries. Today I work for Wal-Mart logistics and I am a forklift operator for the receiving department and I have adapted very well in my jobs. I’m currently in the process of going back to school and getting my associates degree in radiology. I’m part of the PossAbilities program and a Peer Visitor to other patients who are currently in the hospital with recent limb loss or other illness or injury as a mentor to them and to find ways to give back and get the satisfaction of helping others with physical disabilities.