I joined the Navy right out of High School to pursue my dream of becoming a Navy Seal. Unfortunately, I learned I had an undiagnosed injury in my shoulder that made it impossible for me to continue with the advanced training I had set my sights on.
I had my accident in New Orleans after being discharged from the Navy. Long story short, I was out with some buddies one night and I made some bad decisions. It could happen to anyone. I fell and broke my neck.
I was flown home to California to be closer to my family and to complete rehab—and, because of the extent of my injury, I had to move back in with my parents. You can imagine how difficult that was for me, so badly wanting to make it on my own, to have to rely on my parents to take care of me. I was heartbroken.
One day, my cousin introduced me to Helping Hands. I was so stoked about the idea of a service monkey! I decided right then and there that I was going to make this happen.
A couple of years later, the planets aligned. My sister was moving back to town and needed a place to stay, as did my brother. I started looking into houses and found a five bedroom house that was perfect for us and included a room for my future monkey! I rode 30 minutes in my wheelchair to meet the landlord and six months after we moved in, I applied to Helping Hands.
I had been in the chair for four years at this point, and I wanted to be able to spend time on my own, not having to ask people to do things for me or come over and hang out all the time to help me. I think I was most looking forward to the companionship that a monkey could provide me.
Then, in October 2015, I was matched with Siggy.
Our relationship is as magical and special as I always dreamt it would be. We are together every day while my sister is at work and Siggy provides so much distraction and entertainment. What I realized is, no matter how much preparation and reading you do, every service monkey and each journey is unique.
Long before I had the privilege of spending my days just monkeying around, I first had to come to terms with and acclimate myself to my new life. As I reflect on those darkest of days when I was first in the hospital and learned the extent of my injuries, I distinctly remember the day I first heard about Helping Hands. From that day forth, the program acted as a beacon of hope.
I find it amazing that people find it in their hearts to support a program that makes such an incredible difference in the lives of people like me. That there are people, like you, who want to help me realize my dream of living independently, without even knowing me. Because of Helping Hands, I am exactly where I want to be in my life, given the circumstances. It is a dream come true for me and I am eternally indebted to people like you who make this work possible. I wish to convey how deeply grateful I am for your generosity and thank you sincerely from the bottom of my heart.
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Watch Travis and Siggy together in the film, Great Beginnings