Meet Robert Ram. He’s a senior at Tesoro High School in Las Flores, CA. He plays three sports: wrestling, water polo and swimming and diving. He’s also a mentor for the Challenged Athletes Foundation, where he encourages kids who have faced an amputation to never give up on sports. Oh yea – did we mention that Robert is a living example of what he teaches?
The 17-year-old is one of our Foot Locker Scholar Athlete semi-finalists. His story is amazeballs. Check out our interview below!
DoSomething.org: How has swimming changed your life?
Robert Ram: Swimming has taught me to not hide my disability, but embrace the fact that I can still be active with my life. It has taught me to never give up and I have become a leader through swimming as a result. I have learned to be committed with something, and not jump around doing a new thing every day.
DS: Can you tell us how you kicked cancer’s butt?
RR: There are many, many answers for this question. Everything I did from the day I was diagnosed (at age 12) has helped me in my battle with cancer. My family supporting me and being there for me showed me that people cared. My friends sending me posters and visiting me while I was in the hospital and not in school with them made me feel like I was not missing out on anything. My siblings keeping me company and making me smile made it feel like I was still a normal brother. And my drive to be alive and be happy kept me fighting.
DS: What’s something you learned from the adversity you’ve faced?
RR: I learned that everything happens for a reason and I live by that. I am actually more active, happier, and more caring and helpful to others because of cancer. It has taught me to help people and always be there for someone because there is always someone who is having a worse day than you are. Also, I do not complain about little things. I am thankful for the little things in life, because I have been in situations where I was scared I would not have those little things anymore.
I have also learned to embrace the fact that I am different from other people, and being different is good. I like standing out in crowds and being approached by someone who is interested in my prosthetic leg.
DS: How are you using your experiences to raise awareness?
RR: I am giving back to my community by speaking to local elementary, junior high, and high schools. I talk to students about my situation, and show them that not everyone is perfect. I am spreading awareness about cancer in teens and I am sharing my experiences with them.
I am also a mentor for young kids who have been affected by cancer. I visit children and their families in the hospital to provide emotional support and to be an example of what they can accomplish.
DS: What are your plans for the future?
RR: For my academics, I am attending a local community college for two years, and then transferring to the University of California, Irvine to study Computer Science.
For my swim career, I am training with a club and I am very close to making the USA National Paralympic Team. I have high hopes to make it to the 2016 Paralympic Games in Brazil. I am going to swim and attend college at the same time.
DS: Any advice for teens facing any obstacles?
RR: Know that there is someone going through, or has gone through something exactly like you. Asking for help is not hard, and you will receive it. Do not give up and you should be happy to be alive.
Help brighten the day of kids in hospitals with these tips. GO