Wednesday, April 23, 2014

My meeting with John Paul II

My meeting with John Paul II

My meeting with John Paul II

Posted: 23 Apr 2014 07:10 AM PDT

My meeting with John Paul II

Victor Gomez Casanova currently Congressman of the Dominican Republic, tells his encounter with the Holy Father Juan Palo II when Victor was a child and it changed his life forever.

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Back to the Fair

Posted: 22 Apr 2014 08:30 PM PDT

On April 22, 2014, I returned to the site of the 1964 World's Fair in Queens, NY for the 50th Anniversary of the Fair's Opening Day. Although the NY State Pavilion (familiar to anyone who saw Men in Black) is more of a "ruins", the Unisphere remains a focal point as it did in '64. Copyrighted by Robert Ondrovic Photography

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Everyday is Earth Day!

Posted: 22 Apr 2014 03:46 PM PDT

Everyday is earth day when you're a nature lover! I spend most of my time among mother nature's beauty photographing all of its glory. Through my photography my goal has always been to influence the masses to appreciate our planet. And whether I influence thousands of people or even one person to learn a better understanding of our environment, then my goal has been accomplished! And no matter how big or small, every act we take to protect our planet is a step in the right direction. Whether you choose to recycle or buy local sustainable produce, turning off your water and lights, or simply opting to carry your own reusable shopping bag to the grocery store, you are saving the planet! On this earth day I challenge you to give back to mother nature and to make EVERYDAY just as special and significant as earth day. My wish is for people to fall in love and develop a relationship with nature. I hope that through my photography it will inspire others to appreciate the fragility and magnificence of our planet. We can change the world, one step at a time. God bless!

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AMAZING random act of kindness

Posted: 22 Apr 2014 01:21 PM PDT

I am a bartender at the Holiday Inn and on Saturday night, I was working. A couple came in ordered drinks, dinner, and we talked the regular day to day stuff. I have a tattoo of my dogs paw on arm and it got us talking about animals. I'm a huge animal lover and do animal rescue and advocate for them. Well, that morning my doggie Tucker had been rushed into emergency surgery and had a ball removed from his intestines. A $3,000 ball!!!! Well the gentlemen closed his tab and signed his credit card, leaving me a $1,000.00 tip! Told me to put it towards Tucker's surgery and that they would keep praying for Tucker. He would not take no for an answer. I stood there in tears, overwhelmed by his generosity. That night I shared it on Facebook to show my friends that good people do exist. It has gotten huge with over 3,000 likes overnight and over 200 shares of the picture of credit card slip and picture of my handsome Tucker being held by my crying son as we left him at hospital for surgery. I've received hundreds of messages of prayer for Tucker's safe recovery from perfect strangers. When I tell people this story they well up with tears and can't believe it either. I think the whole world needs to hear this. Everyone was so supportive and filled with love for me and my doggie that they have never met. I would also love nothing more than to publicly thank this couple in front of the world. I've never seen a random act give so many people, so much hope. I would love to share this story with everyone. Thank you So much.

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Boston Marathon 2014

Posted: 21 Apr 2014 11:00 PM PDT

It was a sunny day and everyone seemed excited outside. I was very nervous to go and watch the marathon because of the bombing at the finished line last year. I then decided to go and I was thrilled watching everyone around with so much energy, love for Boston and people cheering the runners. I took a video of the runners and noticed a man running with one leg, I was touched seeing him making it to the finish line at about 2:04pm. It showed determination and love for Boston also that if he can run with one leg, what about you or me with two legs? What stops us from running for Organizations? At about 6:34pm I came back to the finish line and there were so many others still running and it made me ponder how that man actually finished the race before more than two thousand people with two legs. He reminded me of Terry Fox the Canadian athlete and cancer research activist who ran to raise money and awareness for cancer research with one leg.
Meanwhile,It was a celebration in Boston as Meb Keflezighi, 38, won the men's division with an official time of 2:08:37 which was the first American man to win Boston marathon since 1983 and for the women division, Rita Jeptoo 33 from Kenya won. For me, Everyone who participated in the marathon is a winner.

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"I Love You"

Posted: 21 Apr 2014 09:10 PM PDT

How do you live your whole life loving someone, never being quite sure if they are ever going to be able to say "I Love You" back?


My little brother Sam Hoffman was the 81st person in the entire world. Let's just stop here for a minute. He wasn't the hundredth or the thousandth, oh no, he was the 81st person in the entire world to be diagnosed with a rare neurological disorder known as Succinic Semialdehyde Dehydrogenase Deficiency also known as SSADH. To a lot of people this is just a bunch of really long words that don't really mean anything, too me my brothers diagnosis would change my life forever.


So what is SSADH like? Over the years I've come to explain it as being Autism, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and Hoarding all bundled into one. This means that the simple tasks like getting a spoon out of the drawer or getting ready for bed became a monumental ordeal. Walking into the grocery store means at least having five people stare at you while your brother flaps his arms, exhales loudly and stands on his tippy toes, clearly this would be out of the ordinary for most people. I've become so used to it I simply laugh give him a slight nudge and tell him to "come on".


It was at the age of 6 months that my parents started to realize something wasn't quite right. There are certain signs of developmental progress that babies show after a certain amount of time, my brother was starting to miss these developmental windows. My parents decided to take him in to the doctor right around when he turned 1. Doctors were baffled at first not being able to pin down a clear indicator of what was causing my brothers lack of development. They proceeded to do an organic urine screen which is just a broad test to see chemical levels in the body. They then took the results of the test and compared them with the acceptable levels that the body should have. The results came back; for the chemical known as 4-hydrobeutraicacideria an acceptable level falls within the range of 0-2 his was 610. These levels were tested at Childrens Hospital in Milwaukee; however, his doctors didn't know what to make of the elevated level, so they start sending it around the nation to experts to see if they had any idea what this meant.


Eventually the test results went to Baylor University where Dr. Michael Gibson, PhD, finally diagnosed the problem. We were then told that my brother would never be able to walk or talk and would probably spend his entire life in a wheelchair.


This was crushing news to hear but my parents decided that this was not going to be the verdict that they would accept. He was immediately put into therapy of every kind; speech, occupational, physical, behavioral, you name it he's done it. A multitude of different medications were tested on him but there was no baseline for the doctors; it was like throwing darts blindfolded. Needless to say the successes of these medications were very hit or miss. Their medication had a clear impact on the progress of my brother. There were medications that completely knocked him out and most of the days he would spend sleeping. However some medications really brought out the ugly side of SSADH. He was constantly upset and agitated, completely disregarding his own personal safety; these were rough years constantly being on pins and needles always concerned for his wellbeing.


Fortunately we never gave up and with a lot of love and support from family and friends my brother is doing great. His medication situation has still got a few kinks in it but it has definitely improved my brother's condition. He can now ride a two wheeled bike, it wasn't easy and I received quite a few bumps and scrapes trying to run next to the bike while holding him upright on it but this is quite an accomplishment when you're told he was going to spend his life in a wheel chair. This last year he has begun job training in the hopes that one day he can live independently. Above all else though he can still get under my skin just like all little brothers do.


Just seeing improvement in Sam's life wasn't enough. My family took action, starting a non-profit organization called the SSADH Association to increase awareness and raise money for research. The going was not easy, being as my brother's disorder is so rare, there was little to no information available for people about SSADH. Over the course of the past 16 years there have been over 400 people diagnosed with SSADH all over the world. The organization has risen close to a million dollars which has all gone directly to research and this number is still growing.


What is the point? Why am I telling you all this? Through everything that has happened to my brother and the impact that his life has had on my own, my brother has become a beacon of hope. Not just for me but for an entire community of people. He is the constant reminder of the good that is in this world. He is that little voice in the back of your head telling you that things are never really that bad. He is hope for people that are told that they can't do something. He is that example that nothing is impossible.


So how do you live your whole life loving someone, never being quite sure if they are ever going to be able to say "I Love You" back? Simple: I don't ever need to hear him say it because I feel it. It is constantly there. When he gives me one of his awkward hugs with one hand way to high on my back and the other one tucked at an impossible angle into my side, I know that he loves me and he knows that I love him right back.

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Blackhawk Flyover

Posted: 21 Apr 2014 09:09 AM PDT

Blackhawk helicopters flyover Natick, Mass at start of Boston Marathon.

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