Think twice before calling in sick – Little Buddy
Selfless Determination – Power of 1
As you read this, at least half of you are considering your next meal. And I’m with you. Somewhere between Phoenix and Birmingham at 38,000 feet, I’m imagining my bowl of tortilla chicken soup on the layover that awaits.
What if that meal wasn’t waiting? What if you literally couldn’t eat?
Meet John (Little Buddy) Padilla. Buddy hasn’t eaten a meal in more than 8 years.
If you’ll take the time to read this story, I can assure you’ll see your world, the world in general, much differently. The story is about the selfless determination of an eighteen year old young man who has refused to give up, refused to settle, refused to not change lives. It’s the kind of story that causes 400 adults to give a standing ovation to a relatively small young man, with a big voice and a powerful message. The real power of his message was even greater than expected because it was more than his words, it was his unspoken action. In his case, just showing up is the message.
Buddy has a rare disorder, megacystis microcolon intestinal hypoperistalsis, that causes his gastrointestinal system to not absorb and digest foods and liquids as it should. As a result, Buddy has a parenteral nutrition line that provides him continuous nutrition as needed throughout the day. So, when he notes that he hasn’t eaten in 8 years, he means it.
During our Cheeriodicals Team Building Activities, we often request an individual from the children’s hospital who will receive the Big Green Boxes of Cheer, to share a few words of thanks with our corporate partner teams. Often these speakers are professionals from Child Life or the local Children’s Foundation. Sometimes we invite hospital CEO’s or marketing professionals. When we’re in Phoenix, we always invite Buddy Padilla to speak within his role as one of the Phoenix Children’s Hospital Patient Ambassadors.
On February 9, Buddy was set to join us to share a few words about what a Cheeriodicals delivery would mean to the children and families at Phoenix Children’s Hospital. As we were doing our sound checks for this team building activity for Andersen Corporation, young Buddy strolled in with his mother, with his usual easy smile, bright eyes and sense of purpose. After our usual hellos, how are you, how’s school, Buddy apologized in advance for possibly not being on his game in his presentation to come. Buddy shared that he had spent the night in the emergency room at Phoenix Children’s because of a complication with his feeding line and was just released at 9:00 am. It was now 12:30 pm that same day.
My first question was “Shouldn’t you be at home resting?” Second question “Are you physically able to do this?” Before I could get to my third question Buddy simply said “I didn’t want to disappoint you, your team and the 400 people here who will be moved by my message”.
As I seem to find myself often these days, I stood there speechless, humbled and exponentially inspired. My first thought, selfishly – how many times had I called in sick for work in my life? My second thought – what could possibly drive this young man to stand before 400 individuals he didn’t know, share his innermost feelings about his health-related struggles, all without any sleep the night before?
The answer came to me as I watched and listened to him speak to the crowd. It was the “Power of 1”. You see, this young man has so much of his life outside his control. He could have easily, probably should have, “called in sick”. We would have all understood; most of us would have surely made that call. Yet, he was better than the rest of us. Young Buddy showed up, took the stage and mesmerized the crowd. He was born with a disease that makes his life difficult, but he was also born with the “Power of 1” that makes him unforgettable.
If you are blessed enough to have the “Power of 1”, you have the power to change lives. Trust me, Buddy has it. He had the room in the palm of his hands, listening with full attention, waiting on each word like food for the soul. As he concluded, began his walk down from the stage, a standing ovation erupted that continued until he reached his seat. I personally felt small compared to this diminutive giant of a young man. Bucket list check-off time – be truly inspired – check!
Coincidentally, the theme of this Andersen Corporation meeting was “The Power of 1”. Meeting themes come together many months before the meeting actually occurs, so the possibility of this connection is magical in itself. Are there really coincidences like this?
So, the next time any of you consider calling in sick because you had a tough night, think about a man’s man affectionately named “Little Buddy”, with a heart bigger than Arizona!
You can see Buddy in the team building photo in the center in the red shirt with a black baseball hat, standing out just as he should. Some people are born to stand out, stand tall figuratively. Buddy is one of those people. A picture is worth a thousand words.