It's not often that I reflect on the lucky breaks I got in life. I gave a store a price break to help out a student at my Alma Mater the University of Florida today. I had to search around for a store that would help him on the labor, but I helped him out with the parts. It's not the first time someone calls us with a special set of circumstances just that this one hit close to home.
I remember being a new student at UF and not having a lot of money so if a store was willing to pass it on to a student I'm thankful.
Back when I went to school we didn't have too many scooters on campus, I was probably the only guy I knew who had a part time job selling scooters at UF.
There were less than 400 units out there, but little by little I convinced all my friends to get one. These days there's something close to four or five thousand scooters running around a small college town.
If I wasn't selling scooters I held odd jobs from working events to being a DJ over the years, but I would never had made it past my first few months without the cash given to me by some very special people. Mainly the parents of Tracy Paules and Manny Taboada who helped me by paying for my books my first year of college. I was reminded of that today by the student telling me how his scooter was the most important thing in his life. The scooter was his only form of transport to work, to class, and he couldn't afford a car. Given all the struggles we've had the last few years even here at MRP with the economy, the banks, the ups and downs of the scooter industry it reminded me that I too was once this student. I can't do this for everyone and most shops have a business to run, but I know most owners try to help out when the circumstances are right. It reminded me I only finished school thanks to the help of some very good people.
Tracy Paules was a student at my high school in Miami. She set the standard for an overachiever. There is no telling what she could have done. She was from what I gather the homecoming queen, president of her class, the cheerleading squad captain, a blood drive chairman and the editor of the American High school newspaper. I tried my best and even got a few national scholarships, but I was never close to achieving what she achieved back in High School. She set a standard that we should all aspire to at that age. Her story was still on the minds of everyone at school when I transferred there in 1993.
Manny Taboada went to a school nearby and when I remember how he died trying to save her it still brings tears to my eyes. I would have liked to have met him and in a sense he died a hero.
I missed the anniversary of the tragedy in August this year, but I was reminded today. Time just goes by so fast and it's been years since I have been invited to speak to new students or a graduating class back at American High. Still I would like to tell them sixteen years later meeting the parent's of Tracy and Manny helped change my life. It was just books, but knowing I was able to pay for my books meant the world to me my freshman year. It was like winning the lottery.
The Tracy Paules-Manny Taboada Fund has since split and it seems Miami Dade County now handles the scholarship, but I think this is a worthy cause that should continue. I'm going to reach out to them and see how I can help.
Back in 1990 I wasn't even living in the United States. I was attending school abroad I had no idea where Gainesville was or that I would end up going to school there. I met the families six years after the tragic murders by Danny Rolling. It was two years later I went to the first memorial with Beta Theta PI at the 34th street wall. Since then I haven't heard much, but everyday I'm at work I know I'm where I'm at in life because the parents of Tracy Paules and Manny Taboada who took their time to help students wanting to attend UF. They're more than likely retired now, but wherever they are I wish them and their families the best.
Back in college I would have never thought in a million years it would become the scooter stronghold of Florida. I never thought I would be talking to a student looking for a break on scooter parts because he needed help getting to class. Life comes at you in circles sometimes.
To the parents of Tracy Paules and Manny Taboada once again thank you. I finished school, I went on to start a business, and I never would have gotten this far without your help my first year of school.
The Scooter Maven