Ronald, now 72, was never supposed to live past five years old. At birth, Ronald was diagnosed with Spina Bifida, an incredibly debilitating congenital disorder and despite beating the odds has had to live with life-long disability. Ronald knows it was only through the help of others that he has been able to live so long. Now he has dedicated his life to helping those in need. Ronald, after fulfilling the dreams of so many others, has now fulfilled his own dream of visiting Hawaii through the help of Wish of a Lifetime.
Ronald is truly a perfect example of the strength of the human spirit. His disability has led to many health complications. This has made it incredibly difficult for Ronald to hold down a job. He cannot even drive a car, and is often seen biking on his three-wheeler around his hometown of La Habra, CA. He has been told by doctors numerous times he should be dead, but this has not deterred Ronald’s faith in God and humanity. Ronald has always remained good natured, and has always been ready to help others. He currently dedicates four days a week to volunteering at a local community center, serving tea, coffee and hot chocolate during daily older adult lunches. This is just the latest chapter in a long life of service.
Ronald spent thirteen years working with doctors and brain damaged children at the La Habra Developmental School. He additionally spent ten years volunteering with children at the St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital. Ronald lives by the words of the Dalai Lama, “our prime purpose in this life is to help others,” and he has truly displayed this. “I have been volunteering from 1985 until now. I like what I am doing. I enjoy the people,” Ronald says. His whole life has been dedicated to helping others, and it is incredibly fulfilling to see his own wish finally realized.
It has been Ronald’s longtime dream to visit Hawaii. At one point in his life, he had finally saved up enough money to go. However, when he realized his family was trying to save for a down payment on a house, he gladly turned over his savings to help. Now, working with Wish of a Lifetime, Ronald was finally able to visit Hawaii on September, 18th 2014. While in Hawaii, Ronald had the chance to visit Pearl Harbor. “Seeing the Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor was incredible,” he says. Ronald was accompanied on his trip by his best friend and cousin Len. Len’s birthday is the day after Ronald’s and they celebrated their birthdays together for the first time in 63 years. “It was the best birthday him and I ever had,” Len said. “I’ll never forget it. This was a trip that I will never forget,” says Ronald.
Photography courtesy Christiaan Phleger