Victor Pacini is a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, a victim of an alcoholic father, the premature death of his mother, the subsequent murder of his sister and so much more. At the age of eight, he watched his father transform from a dad to a monster with alcohol fueled rages. The abuse that occurred every day in his house was more than any eight year old should have to bear.

To add to the pain, during that same year, Victor was sexually abused by a family friend who told him not to say anything to his parents because they would be mad at him. So, Victor kept this painful moment buried deep in his mind for over ten years. The incident even caused him to question his sexuality because of his confusion and guilt over the incident.

Then, on September 3, 2001, Victor received a phone call from a policeman telling him that his sister had been involved in a shooting. Her husband shot her four times before committing suicide. His sister died three weeks later.

After everything he had been through in his childhood, he now had additional pain, confusion, anger and sadness dealing with the loss of his sister. But Victor finally began his healing phase as he stopped asking the WHY questions.

“I believe wisdom is in the question and not the answer.  If you don’t ask the right question you don’t get the right answer. I asked WHY many many times. Why was my father an alcoholic?  Why did he hit my mom?  Why did that person abuse me?  Why did my sister die?  These questions can lead to the answers that could help one cope.  However, I refuse to cope.  I want to overcome because that’s how I can be of service to people.”  – Victor Pacini 

Victor rallies to remind us that life is not always perfect but if we change the way we look at things the things we look at change. Victor has now become a successful motivational speaker and author. He routinely speaks as schools and organizations about how to move forward with your life.

While visiting a school, Victor asked a boy “What do you want to be when you grow up?”  He said,”I want to be a professional skateboarder.”  I then asked him “Do you ever fall off your skateboard?”  “All the time,” he said with a smile.  I proceeded, “Do you just lay there and wait for someone to come get you?”  He said, “No, Victor.  I get up, dust myself off and get back on the skateboard.”   Victor told him that’s the secret to life.  We will all fall, but it’s what we do with the fall that’s the key.  You can live in the fall for the rest of your life but it will be difficult because you will always be blaming someone.  Victor takes full responsibility for everything in his life.  He can’t change what happened in his past, but he feels that he can control how he lives his life in the future.

Check out the video below and visit Victor’s webpage to learn more here: www.victorpacini.com

On July 8, 2009, Michael DeStefano was involved in a serious car accident that left him with a traumatic brain injury. His life would never be the same after that accident, but he remains positive and is attempting to encourage others with his story.

Mike was born and raised in the western suburbs of Chicago. He was just a college student at Illinois State University when he was involved in a serious roll-over auto accident. He was riding home from work with a friend when the accident happened. Going 55 mph, the car ended up rolling over three times and left Mike clinging to life. It took about 45 minutes for the rescuers to cut Mike out of the car.

After 11 months, in four hospitals and two rehab facilities, Mike finally came home, but he has a long road ahead of him. Mike said it has been his strong family and a few close friends that have helped him during his recovery. They never gave up on him and that helped Mike never give up. Mike and his family don’t even take baby steps in the recovery, the steps are smaller than that. It is trying and taxing on them. All efforts are spent trying to help Mike recovery even a little bit more.

They focus on each little event as it comes and Mike tries to use humor to deal with his challenges. Mike’s positive attitude has been an inspiration to his family, but also to the nurses that took care of him and countless others who witness his will to go on with life and keep moving forward. Despite the challenges faced by Michael and his family, they have taken it upon themselves to educate others about traumatic brain injuries (TBI) and help others understand the challenges faced by victims of TBI.

The Michael A. DeStefano Foundation was founded in 2009 to provide advocacy and assistance to families whose loved ones have suffered from traumatic brain injuries. With his mother by his side, they go around speaking about people with traumatic brain injuries (TBI).  It helps a bit with their own healing and it is good for Mike to get out in front of others. For more information, visit: www.michaeladestefanofoundation.org

Below is a video of Michael and his mom speaking to speech therapists about TBI. The video is a bit long, but it really shows you the challenges faced by people like Mike and his family. It also shows their incredible perseverence.