I have always believed that based on everything that happens to us, our destinies are not driven solely by our desire to succeed, but by a higher force that predetermines certain outcomes.
In the case of Nate Winters, a young Winter Park High schooler, his life was guided in a much different direction than most of us when a freak boating accident resulted in the amputation of his left leg. Given the severity of the injury, it's a miracle he even survived.
Baseball was Nate's life. But, although all seemed like he would never play the sport he loved again, he believed that nothing could stop him. Both he and his family persevered, and with God as my witness, he returned back to the baseball diamond and eventually became the winning pitcher in a key Winter Park High School Varsity baseball game.
But Nate did not stop there. He recognized his potential was far greater than the baseball field. He began to play the piano and guitar, and became proficient at both. But no matter what Nate has accomplished to date, his higher calling can be seen in his election as Winter Park High's junior class student body president.
Nate should be seen as an inspiration to us all in the sense of what is possible to achieve or accomplish. I never thought or believed I could be president of the United States, but given Nate's example, anything is possible.
Shortly after 4 p.m. on April 9, the Winter Springs Police Department received a 911 call informing them that Nadia Bloom was missing. Nadia's bicycle was located near a retention pond at the edge of her neighborhood bordering Lake Jesup, but Nadia was nowhere to be found.
Fortunately for Nadia, with a single phone call, local law enforcement agencies have immediate access to experts in child abduction and recovery investigations and personnel trained in the Incident Command System. This meant that every available First Responder was called into action, including the Child Abduction and Recovery Team, or CART, for short. In addition to the trained personnel involved, there were K-9 and equestrian teams, air support, marine patrol and multi-purpose vehicles. But what was not detailed in the newspapers is the makeup of this team and the recognition of the agencies involved.
It was not until a presentation in a recent City Council meeting that I realized that in the picture seen around the world when Nadia was first brought out of the woods, was our very own Maitland Police Lieutenant Ralph Palmer.
Maitland's role in the search was significant. Part of our team came in from the south, part from the west. Once Nadia was discovered, all teams converged on the location and assisted in bringing her out. Given the thick underbrush, one member cleared a path with a machete for hours in order to finally get her out of the swamp. Others provided critical support throughout the entire four-day ordeal.
Nadia's recovery is truly a miracle, but not just because of the guidance of a single person, but because of the total community support that resulted in her recovery.
Many thanks to all who were involved in bringing Nadia home, but, specifically, my personal thanks to the Maitland Police officers who were a part of the process:
Lieutenant Ralph Palmer
Lieutenant Dayne Krout
Sergeant Hayden Bonas
Detective Andrea Torres
Officer Steve Chapman
Officer Steve Mendez
As usual, our first responders save lives first and expect recognition last, if at all.
Miracles do happen when we are all guided to a common result!