For Chico Garcia, athletics was a way out; it was his thing to do. He was a former LSU cheerleader and later named coach, he studied jujitsu, and he did it all. Unfortunately, all came to a screeching halt in August of 2011 when he was in an accident that left him paralyzed from the shoulders down. Two years later, Garcia is bound to a wheelchair but it is not a barrier in his life.
“I have to keep my roller skates on because he’s always doing something,” his mom Syrjala Garcia said at the Donaldsonville Rotary Luncheon last week. “I have to have a calendar to keep up with his schedule because he’s between coaching, working, speaking, and everything else. He’s constantly going. This chair is not a barrier, he doesn’t stop.”
Chico spoke at the Donaldsonville Rotary Club’s weekly luncheon at Café Lafourche, but it wasn’t to talk about life’s difficulties since his wheelchair, it was to motivate the club not to “sweat the small things in life.”
Garcia admitted when he got into his accident in 2011 it turned his life upside down, but he learned quickly to choose to be positive about life.
“I had broken bones before, but I didn’t understand the severity of my accident until a month later when I got shipped to Shepherd [Center] in Atlanta the number one spinal cord injury hospital,” Chico said, who is the head LSU Cheerleading coach. “As soon as I got there they laid it out there with no sugar added, this is the one you’re going to be for the rest of your life you won’t have kids, probably not get married.”
From that point, Chico went back into himself and knowing how competitive he was and said he was determined to reach the goals to still be able to enjoy life as he does today.
“I want to really talk about not sweating the small stuff and for me I had to learn the hard way of not letting the small stuff get at you and get you aggravated,” Chico said.
He said when times get rough he just sits back and think. He’ll breathe first, think about it and ask himself does this matter in six months?
“Is it really that bad that you’re going to remember it in six months?” Garcia said, asking the club, “most of the time the answer is no so why allow yourself to raise your blood pressure.”
He said what started the anger doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things. Chico said you really have to weigh out what are you getting angry for and is it really that important.
“It happens to me everyday but I choose not to let it affect me,” Chico said. “Something in my life goes wrong every single day, but I choose to be happy about life and not let the small things get to me.”
Page 2 of 2 - Since his accident one of the toughest things has been the dating world, women don’t look for a guy in a wheel chair and Chico said he doesn’t blame them or anybody for that. If the shoe was on the other foot he wouldn’t either.
“It’s not that I’m mad at the women who don’t want me. I choose to be positive about it,” Chico said. “Why get mad, that’s not going to bring anybody to me. Nobody wants to date a negative person, that’s not going to help me out.”
Chico said you can look at anything in life the way you want, whether negative or positive and he chooses to be happy.
“I guarantee you’ll have a happier life that way,” Chico said