Power 3 min read

A Little Soldier's Big Dream

How a boy found inspiration and turned it into a non-profit.

(Photo: teamdiego.org)

You​ ​never​ ​know​ ​where​ ​inspiration​ ​will​ ​come​ ​from.​ ​For​ ​10-year-old​ ​Diego​ ​Mercado,​ ​it​ ​was​ ​at​ ​a fundraising​ ​run​ ​for​ ​wounded​ ​veterans​ ​that​ ​he​ ​found​ ​the​ ​beginnings​ ​of​ ​his​ ​dream.​ ​At​ ​only​ ​6​ ​years old,​ ​Diego​ ​looked​ ​up​ ​at​ ​his​ ​father,​ ​Captain​ ​Jason​ ​Mercado,​ ​and​ ​said​ ​“Dad,​ ​they​ ​have​ ​prosthetics like​ ​me!”​ ​Diego,​ ​who​ ​has​ ​adaptive​ ​challenges​ ​due​ ​to​ ​the​ ​amputation​ ​of​ ​one​ ​leg​ ​and​ ​several fingers,​ ​saw​ ​for​ ​the​ ​first​ ​time​ ​people​ ​with​ ​the​ ​same​ ​limitations​ ​he​ ​has​ ​and​ ​realized​ ​that​ ​they​ ​were able​ ​to​ ​do​ ​great​ ​things.

This​ ​meant​ ​he​ ​could​ ​do​ ​great​ ​things​ ​too!

Diego meets disabled vets often through Team Diego.(Photo: Diego meets disabled vets often through Team Diego.)
Inspired​ ​by​ ​this​ ​realization​ ​and​ ​the​ ​lifelong​ ​exposure​ ​to​ ​the​ ​military​ ​service​ ​because​ ​of​ ​his​ ​Vet dad,​ ​Diego​ ​set​ ​his​ ​mind​ ​on​ ​a​ ​dream:​ ​to​ ​be​ ​an​ ​officer​ ​in​ ​the​ ​United​ ​States​ ​military.

With​ ​that​ ​dream​ ​in​ ​mind,​ ​Deigo​ ​and​ ​Jason​ ​began​ ​participating​ ​in​ ​5k​ ​races​ ​to​ ​raise​ ​money​ ​for prosthetics​ ​for​ ​wounded​ ​Vets​ ​and​ ​children.​ ​Soon​ ​​Team​ ​Diego​​ ​was​ ​born.

The​ ​nonprofit​ ​organization​ ​has​ ​been​ ​involved​ ​in​ ​many​ ​events​ ​to​ ​raise​ ​donations​ ​and​ ​awareness for​ ​their​ ​cause​ ​but​ ​perhaps​ ​the​ ​most​ ​significant​ ​activity​ ​is​ ​the​ ​one​ ​that​ ​stands​ ​as​ ​Diego’s​ ​favorite and​ ​has​ ​drawn​ ​international​ ​attention.

The​ ​video​ ​shows​ ​Diego​ ​working​ ​out​ ​with​ ​wounded​ ​Vet​ ​and​ ​fellow​ ​amputee,​ ​Jose​ ​Luis​ ​Sanchez. Despite​ ​their​ ​limitations,​ ​they​ ​are​ ​able​ ​to​ ​do​ ​push​ ​ups,​ ​flip​ ​a​ ​large​ ​and​ ​heavy​ ​tire,​ ​and​ ​motivate each​ ​other​ ​to​ ​do​ ​their​ ​best.

TDJakes.com​ ​had​ ​the​ ​privilage​ ​of​ ​talking​ ​with​ ​Diego​ ​and​ ​his​ ​dad,​ ​Jason,​ ​and​ ​they​ ​shared​ ​a message​ ​of​ ​hope​ ​and​ ​determination.​ ​When​ ​recalling​ ​the​ ​troubles​ ​Diego​ ​had​ ​as​ ​a​ ​baby​ ​with​ ​his adaptive​ ​challenges,​ ​Jason​ ​shared​ ​the​ ​conflict​ ​he​ ​and​ ​his​ ​wife​ ​felt.​ ​“It​ ​would​ ​have​ ​been​ ​a disservice​ ​to​ ​him,”​ ​he​ ​shared,​ ​“to​ ​help​ ​him​ ​every​ ​time​ ​he​ ​fell,​ ​so​ ​we​ ​had​ ​to​ ​allow​ ​him​ ​to​ ​fall​ ​and teach​ ​him​ ​new​ ​ways​ ​to​ ​get​ ​back​ ​up.”

That​ ​philosophy​ ​is​ ​echoed​ ​in​ ​Diego​ ​and​ ​Jason’s​ ​relationship.​ ​It​ ​is​ ​one​ ​of​ ​mutual​ ​trust​ ​and understanding.​ ​It​ ​is​ ​a​ ​relationship​ ​that​ ​works​ ​to​ ​pull​ ​inspiration​ ​from​ ​each​ ​other​ ​in​ ​order​ ​to​ ​feed both​ ​their​ ​dreams​ ​and​ ​the​ ​dreams​ ​of​ ​wounded​ ​vets​ ​and​ ​kids.​ ​It’s​ ​a​ ​partnership​ ​that​ ​inspires​ ​the best​ ​in​ ​eachother.

A​ ​lot​ ​can​ ​be​ ​learned​ ​from​ ​Diego’s​ ​infectious​ ​optimism​ ​and​ ​desire​ ​to​ ​help​ ​others.​ ​We​ ​should remember​ ​that​ ​inspiration​ ​is​ ​best​ ​put​ ​to​ ​use​ ​when​ ​it​ ​is​ ​spread​ ​to​ ​other​ ​people.​ ​Like​ ​Diego​ ​does with​ ​his​ ​dad,​ ​we​ ​should​ ​look​ ​towards​ ​the​ ​motivators​ ​in​ ​our​ ​life​ ​for​ ​encouragement​ ​to​ ​follow​ ​our dreams​ ​and​ ​pass​ ​that​ ​enthusiasm​ ​on​ ​to​ ​others.​ ​Doing​ ​so​ ​will​ ​make​ ​the​ ​world​ ​a​ ​more​ ​positive and​ ​caring​ ​place​ ​where​ ​dreams​ ​are​ ​grown​ ​to​ ​accomplish​ ​good.

Deigo’s​ ​words​ ​to​ ​the​ ​readers​ ​of​ ​TDJakes.com​ ​were​ ​ones​ ​of​ ​hope​ ​and​ ​faith.​ ​He​ ​said​ ​if​ ​readers could​ ​take​ ​only​ ​one​ ​message​ ​away​ ​from​ ​the​ ​work​ ​Team​ ​Diego​ ​does,​ ​he​ ​hopes​ ​it​ ​is​ ​“be​ ​inspired and​ ​believe​ ​in​ ​yourself,​ ​always.”

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