His name is Roberto Romoleroux. He is a young man who’s life changed drastically in 2008. It was on a late evening that year that he ran from the police in a vehicle, had an accident, lost his legs, and almost died.
Life is tough when you are 31 years old and have to start over dealing with simple things as a baby does. Things like walking, feeding yourself, and learning to just survive. Roberto knows all too well how it feels to be as vulnerable as a baby.
I met Roberto recently at Albertsons. I saw him across the parking lot as I made my way into the store. He was in a wheelchair scooting along and I went over and introduced myself to him. He has brown hair with a pony tali, good looks and an affable, open demeanor. His upper torso is well formed, muscular and trim. His internal organs are healthy. He has a smile that would brighten anyone’s day. My name is Roberto he told me with a big endearing smile across his face. I struck up a friendly conversation and after a couple of minutes I asked him, “what happened to your legs”. He immediately began to tell me his story.
“I was in my late 20’s” he said, and I was always getting into trouble, not bad stuff you know, but just trouble. One evening late in 2008 he was fighting with his girlfriend. After a heated argument he decided to take his girlfriend’s car and left to go to a friend’s house. After spending the evening with his friend Roberto got into his vehicle and decided to go home.
He was just miles from his home when he saw the police lights in his rear view mirror. Tired and forgetting that he was in his girlfriends car, he began to run from the police at speeds in excess of 100 miles an hour. He could see the lights of his house when he turned the corner, “I was just trying to get home”, he told me. Roberto hit the tree at almost 100 miles an hour. The wreck was devastating, reducing the car to a piece of almost unrecognizable scrap metal and crunching Roberto’s body between the rear compartment and the engine.
When firefighter and EMT’s arrived on the scene, they were sure that no one would be alive inside the car they saw wrapped around the tree, but they were wrong. They heard faint moans coming from inside the car and after over an hour trying desperately , using the jaws of life, Roberto was extricated from the vehicle. He was barely alive. “ All I remember” he told me was seeing the helicopter. Roberto was taken by emergency flight to the hospital and immediately into surgery, the doctors gave him a 5% chance to survive the night.
He awoke from his coma two months later and what he saw made him angry, afraid, confused and sad all at the same time. Both legs had been removed above the knees and half his fingers were gone. His body was smashed and mangled with too many wounds to count. He screamed out loud at the horror he saw, while trying to make sense of what had happened to him. He explained to me that the doctors had tried to save his legs, but after the operation, gangrene had set in and they had to be amputated. It was his father that had to make the decision to remove his legs to save his life. I was not angry at him he said, he did what he had to do.
“All the things in life that I took for granted are gone” he said. Things like running, walking, simply opening a car door and driving no longer exist for me. I live in a totally different world. He shared that he continued drinking heavily even after the accident causing his girlfriend to leave him. She left not because of the accident, but because of his drinking he explained. As we talked to told me that every day is a struggle for him just to survive. “ I contemplate suicide every day” he told me.
It was at that point that I began to share the love of God with him. I told Roberto that perhaps in all his pain and struggle that God could use his situation to bring happiness and joy to a life that has been full of pain and sorrow. As I shared, he told me that his father told him that he was still alive because God has a purpose in his life. Hearing the same thing from a total stranger touched his heart as I could see that he was visibly moved by our conversation. As I shared the love of God with Roberto I told him that God had a plan and purpose for His life and that God would bring him peace, joy and comfort beyond what he ever imagined possible. I prayed for Roberto on that rainy afternoon in July asking God to reach down into his heart and fill him with his presence and to take away the feeling of anger and suicidal tendencies and to bring him comfort and peace.
I saw Roberto again last week and he told me that he had received his new prosthetic legs and for the first time in 3 years he was able to stand on his own to legs and look at the world standing tall again. Overcome by emotion he told me, “I wept”. I forgot what it felt like to stand as a man and look at someone eye-to eye. He explained that it is very difficult to use his new legs and he can only wobble and walk a few steps at a time. I told him that in time with determination and hard work he could walk normally. I explained further that it takes a baby a year to learn how to walk and to give it time and with God’s help he could do it. We talked about Oscar Pistorius, a double amputee Known as the “Blade Runner” and “the fastest man on no legs”. Pistorius, who has a double amputation is a world record holder in track events and runs with the aid of artificial carbon fiber legs. I had shared with Roberto about Nick Vujicic(https://darrellcreswell.wordpress.com/2010/08/30/life-without-limbs-a-life-without-limits/) a man born with no legs or arms and Roberto had read and watched videos about him and was encouraged by his story.
I have made it a personal project to help Roberto financially as I am able and to help him find employment. “All I need is a chance”, he shared. So please join me in prayer for this young man as he struggles to start life anew. Pray that God will touch his life and heart and use him in a mighty way that He might be glorified. And as you walk today putting one foot in front of the other, thank God that you have your legs and your heath and pray for all those in need, in wheelchairs or physically disabled that we sometimes ignore, avoid or simple don’t notice in the rush of a day. Jesus took the time when he saw someone in need and instructed us to do the same. Roberto has brought joy to my life and touched me deeply with his story. There are many needs in this world, may God use each and every one of us in our own way to help reach those in need.
But when the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit upon his glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered in his presence, and he will separate the people as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will place the sheep at his right hand and the goats at his left.
“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world. For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.’
“Then these righteous ones will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?’
“And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’