Over the summer, my family and I took a trip to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina for a much needed getaway. It was the one week of the year where we try to shut things down and just relax.
If you know any caring business owner, work never stops no matter what you're location is...
My approach is a little different though. When I'm anywhere in the world, I'm always scanning the areas, trying to read the people surrounding me, or simply engaging in conversations with random people that I feel some kind of energy from. This trip will, of course, will be no different.
I saw a couple boys walking down the stairs of the complex we were staying in dragging baseball gear behind them, dressed in their full baseball uniforms. I thought to myself that I should reach out to them and introduce the boys to myself and the brand because I knew that they were truly about their business since it seemed to be a travel team that they played for.
I didn't approach the boys at that time but I couldn't shake the thoughts of them the rest of the day. Something kept pulling my mind towards them for some reason.
Later that day, the boys' dad was grilling by the pool and I just couldn't wait any longer to figure out why this energy keeps pulling me in this family's direction.
We began talking and I gave their dad (Jaime Martinez) some of the wristbands I had with me to give to the family and explained more about the BiO brand and purpose of my approach. As we get more in depth in our conversation, he tells me that his son, Edward, one of the baseball players that I had been seeing around, had been in an accident when he was 9 years old and his left eye had been severely damaged and he can't see out of it.
I instantly felt the chills come over my body. It all became clear that THIS was the reason I kept being pulled towards this family. Anybody that doesn't know about my own situation, I was in a car accident when I was 17 and had severe damage to my right eye and had to have the eye removed. It's almost like I was looking back at my younger self in Edward which was a powerful moment.
This moment was too powerful not to do something bigger with it. I started this brand based off of my experiences from my own injury and the strength I had gained from that process. What if I can be of some help to this young man? What if I can be an example to him since I've been through the same procedures and processes that he's been through and still going through?
It was all too surreal for us not to do something together.
A few weeks went by and everybody had gone back to their home states and Edward was still fresh on my mind. I wanted to do an interview to help tell his story.
"I'm Edward Martinez. I am 14 years old. I have played baseball for 10 years and I plan to keep going until I retire. I love video games, mostly racing games and MLB The Show. My favorite player of all-time is Craig Biggio, and my favorite current player is Alex Bregman.
Ever since I was 4 years old I have been playing ball, I've mainly trained with my dad through all these years, and he is my role model.
When I moved to my new house in Crosby (Texas) at the age of 9, my brother, my friends and I went to go on a bike ride just to explore what's around us.
I ended up having an accident that made me completely blind out of my left eye.
My brother and my friends were panicking because they did not know what to do, luckily a car had stopped and a lady came out and helped me. My brother gave me his shirt to help stop bleeding. My parents finally arrived and called 911. I was rushed to the hospital, and the doctors had said that my vision was completely gone. They said if the handlebar had gone any deeper, I would have not been here today.
After I was all clear to leave, I skipped one year of baseball to kinda get back in shape, but I had gained alot of weight but I hadn't noticed it.
I started baseball the next year to try to get back in my groove, but I was one of the worst in the league. That didn't stop me though. I kept playing baseball and practicing to get to where I used to be. As I had gotten better at the game, people were inspired by me and would say things like, "You play better ball than these kids with two eyes!" That tone might seem disrespectful to the players with their full vision but it really really encouraged me.
I plan to keep my baseball career going all the way to the MLB. Currently, I play for the North Channel Noles and have won 3 championship rings, went to a World Series in Myrtle Beach, and have made great friends with them.
In baseball, being blind in one eye makes you have adjust to things that were very simple like fielding a simple pop fly or a fastball down the middle but I have learned to adjust and adapt to things like that.
In school, coming to Crosby the first day of school, everybody stared at me like I was weird.
Most of the kids thought I was just wearing an eye patch for fun. It seemed like everybody, at some point, had asked me if there is anything wrong with my eye.
I said yes and they asked to see it...
Some were disgusted and some thought it was cool but I didn't let the reactions affect me. For the upcoming school year, I plan to not wear an eye patch because I have become comfortable with my eye.
Having one eye has shown me that I can do anything...no matter what or who...tries to stop me."
Edward's mom, Yhadi Martinez added her thoughts to the story as well...
"First of all I want to say it was awesome meeting you and your wife. Its like we were meant to meet y'all.
What can I say about my son?
Edward is a strong and stubborn kid. I think that is what has helped him overcome his freak accident. As a parent you worry about your children and this was the worst thing that could have happened, feeling helpless and unable to help your son take the pain away.
We just moved to a new neighborhood, which meant a new school district with a new group of kids. Of course, I think will they bully him, or not accept him. I don't want my baby to hurt or be hurt any more than what he has already endured. But he NEVER let it define him. He didn't care if people stared and he made friends quickly.
He was known as the "eye patch kid".
Up until recently he wore an eye patch out in public. Once he got out of the hospital he was ready to get right back on that bike of course I wasn't ready. The doctors were amazed by how he bounced back up so quickly and how strong he was for his age. Getting back into baseball
was a little hard for him. He had to completely re-learn the game.
From his batting stance, judging pop ups and pitches, everything had to be adjusted. It was hard for me to see him struggle so much but he never wanted special treatment from anyone. He has never given up and has never stopped trying to improve himself. He never ceases to amaze us, we are so proud of him. I always tell him if I could switch places with him, I would, I'd give him my eye if possible. I think I have a pretty strong and awesome kid."
To look back after this interview and to know that this connection, this interview, this reality...all stemmed from seeing a kid walk down the stairs in his uniform and a dad grilling by the pool should be proof enough that everything in life happens for a reason. That reason may not present itself when we think it should but it always comes out if you make the time to recognize it. Everyone has a story. When we make time for others, it can make us all better as individuals. I never knew Edward or his story but simply reaching out to have a conversation, he has made a major impact on my life and has given me a rejuvenated purpose in life and I hope to have done and will continue to do the same for him going forward.