A vision to succeed Blind man reaches for goal, bachelors degree - Brownsville Herald: Local News

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A vision to succeed Blind man reaches for goal, bachelors degree

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Posted: Monday, July 29, 2002 12:00 am

By ELVIA AGUILAR

The Brownsville Herald

Although he faces a long journey, Ismael Cavazos has a vision to succeed.

He is intent upon reaching his goals.

Every morning, Cavazos who is legally blind since birth and paralyzed from the

neck down, wakes up and prepares to attend class at the University of

Texas-Brownsville and Texas Southmost College.

Getting to school involves having a van that can accommodate his wheelchair

stop by to pick him up. Once at school, Cavazos gets around with the help of a

person who guides his wheelchair to class.

Cavazos is currently working on his fourth major goal in life attaining a

bachelors degree in social work.

Theres no doubt in his mind that hell achieve it. A steely determination and

a will to succeed are staples of his character. To his way of thinking, he has

no choice. To get where hes going, hes had to push himself to the physical

and often emotional limit.

He still remembers vividly the day his life was changed forever.

It was Oct. 28, 1981. Cavazos and a group of friends had gathered at Hanna

High School for a mandatory ROTC drill practice.

The instructor had not arrived so we started horse playing and all I remember

is being pinned down by one of the guys in the wet grass, Cavazos said.

He says the only pain he felt at the time was a burning sensation throughout

his whole body.

Doctors gave him 72 hours to live, but he believes his mother, Carlottas,

prayers helped see him through.

Now paralyzed, Cavazos was moved to a nursing home in Killeen, Texas, several

weeks after the accident.

There werent any nursing homes in the Valley that took care of patients

needing respiratory help, Cavazos said.

He and his mother moved to Killeen, where they lived for two years. He recalls

that those days there were not happy ones.

I was constantly depressed because I wanted to move back to Brownsville and

try to be a bit more independent, so that became my first goal, Cavazos said.

Still, Cavazos made good use of his time in Killeen. He attained his high

school diploma a dream come true for him and his mother.

On Christmas of 1983, Cavazos arrived at Valley Grande Manor Nursing Home in

Brownsville and realized his first goal of independent living.

His mother passed away shortly thereafter and Cavazos befriended a volunteer

at the home who visited him frequently.

This person is helping him meet his second goal: author a book.

I always wanted to write a book about my life and some of the obstacles I

have overcome and the opportunity presented itself and I took it, Cavazos

said.

With the help of his friend, Cavazos was able to complete An Undying Spirit

That Never Quits, a book which he hopes soon will be published.

The next goal was accomplished thanks to Rosa Torres, an advocate for disabled

persons. Torres provided Cavazos with the information to find housing and a

home health provider.

I wanted to get out of the nursing home and have my own home, so that became

my next (and third) goal, Cavazos said.

He said that it was at this time that he became closer to God and relied on

the advice his mother had given him years before.

My mom always said that where there is a will, there is a way, and I believed

it and never lost hope, he said.

For the past two years, Cavazos has lived in an appartment near the airport in

Brownsville.

During that time, Oralia Galaviz, a home health provider, has assisted

Cavazos. Galaviz and her children live with Cavazos in his apartment.

I remember when I first met Mr. Cavazos. He had such a great sense of humor

and he still does. He makes me laugh so much, Galaviz said.

Today, Cavazos spends his days studying and working on his fourth goal.

I want to get my degree in social work, he said, smiling, so that people

out there can find out that you can do anything you set your mind to do.

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