Inspired Perseverance

How people have been inspired to better themselves

Angelo Whittis

Angelo Whittis is a teenage boy who was abandoned by his parents and left with nothing except for his passion for football. His coach, Corey Parker, had noticed that Angelo does not have a permanent place to stay and possibly no family. Given that, he made it his decision to open himself up to Angelo and help him out. He gave Angelo a home and a loving family of his own. But this was only the start to his path to improvement. Corey spent every breathing hour with Angelo motivating him and helping him in every way possible. He kept him fit and healthy throughout his days. Without the help of his coach Corey Parker, Angelo’s life would not have been even close as great and he would not have been more thankful. Angelo probably would not have continued school and he would not have gotten a college degree without the help of his new family.


Because of the Parkers, Angelo has improved his life dramatically from what it once was. They gave him the confidence to him to keep on with his life and really try for a better future. Angelo Whittis is now at home with his true family, the only one that cared for him, fed him, and kept him on the path to success. Soon Angelo will have a baby brother that he can care for and love. Corey Parker should be put up as a hero because of what he did. He didn’t have to take Angelo in, he could have just been just a coach and not a father to him.

Chris Gardner

Chris Gardner was born into a broken home in small town Louisiana. His father, who he would only meet once during his life, was not around. While Chris was still very young his mother and two of his uncles left Louisiana in search of a better life, so, they packed the car and headed to Canada. While on their way, the car broke down in Milwaukee. Chris and his mother would spend his childhood and teen years growing up here, moving from house to house and suffering years of abuse by his stepfather. After being honorably discharged he relocated to the San Francisco area and pursued a career in the medical field, something he had been thinking about for years. Although away from all the people that caused him so much pain throughout his early years and being employed in field that he loved, the road ahead would prove to be wrought with challenges and adversity.
    Francisco General Hospital, where he worked, and was about to get in his car when Bob Bridges pulled into the parking lot in his red Ferrari. Chris motioned him over and told him he could have his spot and in return would like to ask him a couple of questions. “Sure” Bob says. “What do you do and how do you do it?” Chris asked. At the time, Mr. Bridges was among the most successful stockbrokers in the Bay area pulling in close to a million dollars a year at the time (early 80’s). After chatting a bit, Bob agreed to meet Chris a few weeks later to discuss how the stock brokerage business worked. After their meeting, Bob agreed to make some introductions for Chris.

    His hopes were to get Chris into a training program with one of the local brokerage firms. By the time 1988 rolled around Chris Gardner’s life had taken a complete 180 and he wasn’t looking back. His whole life was a dream come true! He was 34 at the time and had just had his first million dollar year. He was in Chicago by this time and was running his own firm, Gardner Rich & Company. He had also moved Chris Jr. & Jacintha to Chicago to be with him. They had been living with their mother Jackie in California while Chris was getting himself established.

      Chris Gardner is now worth upwards of 60 million dollars and he has not forgotten those who helped in when he needed it the most. In 2007, Gardner helped fund an affordable housing development project for Glide Memorial Church and its pastor Cecil Williams. Reverend Williams gave shelter to Chris & Chris Jr. in the winter of 82-83 at the Glide Memorial Church Homeless Center. Chris also donates to and is personally involved in a host of charities focused on a wide range of causes. For what are perhaps obvious reasons, he has close ties to the National Fatherhood Initiative, the National Education Association Foundation and the International Rescue Committee. Along the way Chris had not only physical, but emotional support from his family and friends.

      John F. Kennedy

      As you may know John Fitzgerald Kennedy was the 35th President of The United States of America. He stood for rights and justice. Lots of people think of him as a miraculous hero. Others disagree. I am here to talk about the Cold War and Kennedy’s involvement. As you may know The Cold War was a time of havoc, the Soviet Union was America’s greatest threat at the time, and they were only growing stronger each day. Cuba, which at the time was not necessarily a supposed threat, was relying every resource on the Soviet Union. At one point specifically Khrushchev made a bomb deal with Cuba. They gave them nuclear missiles and told them to strike upon the U.S. Of course Cuba agreed because there lives were totally dependent on the Soviet Union.

      Unlucky for them President John F. Kennedy was leading the U.S. at the time. John F. Kennedy heard of this bomb deal between the two countries from two military drones that spotted construction of these missiles and decided to take action! He declared an official naval blockade, or as he liked to call it a “quarantine”. This would block all communication of Cuba and take away their missiles. If JFK were not there, Cuba would have had a better chance and may have even been able to shoot the missiles at the U.S. and scar it for eternity. JFK did not get to where he was alone. He had help like all heroes from many supporters and important people in his career.

      John Paul DeJoria

      John Paul DeJoria grew up in Central Los Angeles with his mother and brother in a small bungalow. At the age of nine he was already starting to show sign of being an entrepreneur. He would go door to door everyday selling Christmas cards for pocket money. At the age of 10 he and his brother had moved up to paper routes selling in the LA Examiner. Even at this young age he was disciplined enough to be forced out of bed at 4 o’clock everyday in order to get papers delivered early enough for school. His parents were immigrants of Italian and Greek descent but had parted ways when John Paul was only two so most of the money he and his brother earned went to supporting their mother and themselves. Through his teen years he would perform odd jobs and at one point he found himself selling Collier’s Encyclopedias door-to-door. According to DeJoria, it was one job that prepared him for the hard work that he would eventually find himself doing when he started Paul Mitchell Systems.

      In high school he enlisted in the Navy, hoping that after he was done he could start up a dental career. But when he got out of the Navy he found himself with not enough money to pursue his dream. It wasn’t very long afterward that John Paul would find himself homeless. He was 22 at the time and had a two year old son from what turned out to be a brief marriage. As he tells it, one day his wife decided she didn’t want to be a mother anymore and decided to leave him and their son. On her way out she took what little money they had at the time. Rent was due, bills were behind and within a matter of a couple of weeks he found himself on the streets. His spent his days hustling around, collecting Coke bottles and selling them for a nickel apiece and doing whatever he could to survive. Luckily within a couple of weeks a biker friend took him in and gave him a place to stay.

      Over the next decade he found himself getting by any way he could… whether it was pumping gas, working as a janitor, selling life insurance or at one point taking a job as an entry-level marketing rep with TIME magazine, he kept plugging along. Then, in the early 70s, he landed a job at Redken Laboratories which is where he got his first taste of the hair care products industry. At that time, Redken was the leading salon grade hair care products manufacturer in the United States. John Paul stayed at Redken long enough to realize how profitable the hair care products industry was and realized he could make a product using natural ingredients that would be just as good or better than what Redken was offering. DeJoria started Patron with a friend, Martin Crowley, in 1989. Not long before that, John Paul asked Crowley to bring back some bottles of the best tequila he could find when returning from one of his trips back from Mexico. At that time, Crowley was making periodic runs there to buy stone pavers & furniture which he would bring back to California and sell to builders and decorators. Martin obviously outdid himself as he returned with the smoothest tequila either of them had ever tried and in hand-blown glass bottles to boot. To this day, Patron is sold in bottles that were modeled after the very ones Crowley brought back with him. After refining the tequila further to achieve an even smoother taste, they launched the Patron brand. Today Patron is the #1 selling top-shelf tequila in the world and is second only to the Jose’ Cuervo line in total annual sales. Even Dan Akroyd decided to join the party… he is responsible for Patron’s penetration into the Canadian marketplace. To this Day John Paul DeJoria is a billionaire living happily with his wife Eloise, and has six children along with four grandchildren.

      Brian Fazio

      Brian Fazio’s story is like no other, explaining how he fought cancer head on with no doubt in his mind. He had just graduated A-school in the Navy as a Radar man when he thought his life was going perfect. He had his dream job and he was perfectly healthy. That is until he went into the hospital with rushing pains in his chest and he walked out with some horrible news. The doctor’s found a 15 cm Tumor in Fazio’s chest and diagnosed him with Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Even though this form of cancer is highly curable, even in the late stages, after six rounds of chemo and two failed bone marrow transplants, there was no remission. The doctor’s outlook was bleak and in February of 2001 gave him only 9 months to live.


      Having to leave the Navy after his diagnosis, Bryan felt he had two choices… let the cancer beat him and take over his life OR fight the disease and continue living life to the fullest. Thankfully, and through his faith and perseverance, he chose to fight it and only 6 months later enrolled in Brandman University’s MBA program. He wanted no part in dying that soon. He was also given the help of his family and friends who motivated him all throughout his journey of recovery. He never gave up and he ended up beating his cancer. Though this was not an easy journey as said in Catherine Groux’s news article, Fazio said “Compared to anything I have done in the military or in college, this is the toughest journey I’ve been on by far but I’ve proven it doesn't have to be a death sentence.”


      In the end, and through it all Fazio’s life turned out as a success. He accomplished everything he wanted to over his lifetime and beat cancer.

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