When my book came out a year ago, I started building my online platform. It didn't take me long to find Robert Rodriguez because of all the amazing things he was doing. I saw that he already had a big following on social media and was pretty well-known in the disabled community. Risking sounding desperate, I asked Robert if he could help me spread the word about my book. Not only did he help me do that, but he took it one step further and asked me to be on his motivational Instagram live show called Tuesday Talks.
Although I have never met Robert Rodriguez in person, I feel like I know him so well already. That speaks volumes to who he is as a person-- genuine, humble, vulnerable, and passionate. I admire how much of an outgoing, social guy he is because those traits don't come naturally to me. Robert goes out of his way, despite his busy schedule, to help and encourage anyone he encounters. He's also quick to correct you when you start to slip into a negative mindset, begin to underestimate yourself, or downplay your strengths. When I spoke with him on the phone the other day, I made the comment that I had gotten some great feedback from this author group I belong to that is full of legit authors. Robert stopped me mid sentence and said, "Whoa. I need to stop you right there. You wrote a book, right?"
"Yeah," I replied, laughing because I already saw where he was going with his question.
"Then you are a legit author. They're not better than you. You are one of them."
He's not just constantly lifting up his friends, but his encouragement also trickles into his home life as well. Robert believes in what he calls "power phrases." Each day he and his two kids recite this mantra in unison:
I know I can. I know I will. I am smart. I am strong. I have confidence. I am great, scared of nothing, no fear. Pain is temporary. I am amazing. I am amazing. I am amazing!
The last part is repeated louder each time until they are practically screaming it. How can you have a bad day or think negatively about yourself after that!?
Because I am so inspired by Robert, I thought I would spread the word in case he could provide you with the encouragement to be a better you and accomplish things that you never thought were possible. Robert is redefining what it means to be disabled. His physical limitations don't stop him, but instead, empower him. Undoubtedly, it's Robert's mentality that has enabled him to achieve so many great things. If we could all take a page out of his book and replicate his mental fortitude and positivity, there would be no stopping us!
1. Tell us a little about yourself
I am a professional motivational speaker and a Community Care Coordinator for Hanger Clinic, a father of two, and a husband. My hobbies are reading, shooting at the range, video games, and spending time with my family.
2. How and when did you become an amputee?
I was born with a birth defect called Fibular Hemimelia and had my amputation at 10 months old.
3. Describe how it was growing up as “different.”
Growing up wasn't easy being different. Technology was not what it is today; amputees were not on tv and resources as a young man were not available. I often found myself trying to ”fit in.” In 10th grade a girl was able to spot me in the neighborhood despite the fact that it was dark outside because she said that she recognized my limp. I really liked her and wanted to impress her, so I went home and exercised and practiced my walking everyday. It wasn't until I was about 18 when I started to learn it was cool to “stand out.”
4. What has been the hardest part about living life with a disability?
The hardest part about living with a disability has been being able to accept myself, what I look like, and having to adjust to do things that others can do a little different. For example, going to the beach was always difficult for me: getting sand in my prosthesis, not being able to wear a sandal, covering my leg with a towel so others wouldn't get scared (or I wouldn't feel embarrassed), hopping through sand and shells and seaweeds to get in the water... I was never a fan and avoided it at all cost!
5. How have you helped others with physical disabilities in the past, or how are you trying to do so now?
I have been blessed with the opportunity to help others with disabilities not only around the United States but also in other countries such as Africa, the Philippines, and Haiti. I worked with the Limb Kind Foundation and provided over100 prosthetic legs for underprivileged children who were in the same prosthesis for many years or who have never had a prosthesis to walk in. These children live in extreme conditions and with very little or no support. To be an outlet for them is something that is indescribable.
6. Name some things that have helped you overcome your disability and turn it into more of an ability.
The biggest factor in helping me overcome my disability is facing my fears. There have been many times I was scared to do or participate in certain things, and standing up to those challenges (whether I succeeded or failed) gave me confidence to continue to do so. As an amputee, I've have to overcome the inner struggle of wondering “Can I do this?" When I was playing a sport or competing against people with all their limbs, I always had this thought in the back of my mind of "Is my leg going to break or fall of?" I had to overcome myself and trust that things would work out for the best.
7. What advice do you have for others with disabilities?
My advice for others with disabilities is to believe in yourself, and although our path may be tough, it's not impossible. Gain inspiration from those before you and use that to find your inner ability.
8. For those without any physical limitations, what do you want them to know?
Anything is possible, and the only real limitation is a negative mind set.
9. Which of your roles do you enjoy the most: acting, being an athlete, or speaking? Why?
I enjoy all my roles and blessings. As a young, disabled minority I could only dream of who or what I would be. On any given day, I am blessed to share the talents that God has given me.
10. How did these opportunities come about? How did you start acting, speaking, etc..?
My opportunities from acting, speaking, and being an athlete have come from many different places, but the truth is they all started by volunteering my time and just showing up. We are all presented with small opportunities, and it's on us to pursue and dedicate ourselves no matter how big or small. From there, I was able to manifest and work hard to build each opportunity.
11. Discuss your history with sports.
My history with sports is a lifetime of competing with and against able-bodied athletes. I was introduced to adaptive sports and began competing at high levels of Stand Up Amputee Basketball, Sled Hockey, Sitting Volleyball, American Ninja Warrior, Para Spartan, U.S.A Amputee Soccer, and now I am on my pursuit of Triathlon.
12. Describe your current training as a Paralympic hopeful.
Training everyday isn't easy. It's a constant battle of pushing yourself and understanding your body and mind. I have to adapt to the changes with and without my prosthesis. I am working on competing at the highest level possible. But, having the ability to push yourself despite missing a limb makes us (para-triathletes) tougher.
I currently train between 12-15 hours a week, which I would like to increase. I try to focus on my nutrition in order to stay fueled and prepped for the next day. I am constantly being innovative with my diet and working on being healthier. Rest days are also really important. I usually take one or two days off every two weeks, and those days I still do light stretching or get a massage for recovery.
13. You recently started Limb Possible. Describe what it is and why you started it.
Limb Possible is a Adaptive Brand and motivational speaking company I started in 2017. It has always been a dream to start my own company.
14. You’re an extremely driven person with very lofty goals. Where does that come from? What drives you to set these goals and try to tackle all these things?
My drive comes from watching my mother and aunt work two jobs to provide for me and from watching my uncle and my dad constantly hustling to make things happen. As a kid, I saw my family working extremely hard to accomplish their goals, which has been embedded in me to do the same.
15. Name your proudest moments so far in life.
My children and getting married
My Emmy nomination
My 2018 World Cup Goal vs Nigeria
Helping amputees around the world
16. What else do you want to share that I haven’t asked about?
Anything is Possible!