Attitude is everything. It's something we may hear a lot when things aren't going our way, but when we see someone who lives it every day, it is truly remarkable.
Last month, during a wrestling meet between Belvidere North and Genoa-Kingston high schools, Eddie Avila broke his leg.
After several surgeries, his parents had to make a difficult decision. In order to save their son's life, doctors would need to amputate his leg.
Avila lost his leg, but not his smile and not his amazing outlook on life.
"This is the new normal for me. I'm still normal; everything's just going to be tweaked a little more," he said.
After the accident Avila wanted to visit his rival high school, so Genoa-Kingston planned a surprise assembly for him. More than 400 students and staff turned out to wish him well.
"Being part of the wrestling team has changed my life for the better," Avila said.
But on January 12th, this change began with a lot of pain. A rival wrestler grabbed Avila's leg with a legal take down move, broke Avila's femur and tibia, dislocated his knee and ruptured an artery that could not be repaired.
"I was terrified, confused, I was just on the floor waiting for the emergency ambulance to come and take me away," he said.
Genoa Kingston's athletic director Dirk Campbell visited Eddie in the hospital and it changed his life.
"I drove home that day from the hospital completely numb, it seemed like, the amputation was secondary in my mind, at that point it was the incredibly positive attitude they'd chosen to take. It was mind boggling," Campbell said. "To be honest with you, when his mom patted me on the arm a couple of times and asked me if I was doing okay, and if I was doing any better with this, I kept looking at her thinking, how are you doing this?"
"What we do is give it to the Lord, every each day and let his will be done, and that's how we proceed on our days," Avila's mother Adriana said. "Our faith is what gets us through, and no matter what happens, the Lord's always there."
On a day filled with faith and friendship, Campbell presented Avila with a Genoa Kingston Cog singlet, a wrestling uniform and a pledge.
"I don't want your injury to be what links us, these two schools. I want your hope and your courage and your heart and how much we admire that to be what links us," said Campbell.
Avila told the students he felt blessed by their support.
"Genoa-Kingston and Belvidere North will be linked through friendship and honor that I hope we will cherish for the rest of our lives," he said.
But the outpouring of love didn't stop there. The community raised $5,744.04 to help the Avila family with medical bills.
After the assembly Eddie met privately with the wrestling team, where he let down his guard about his amputation.
"What I didn't know is I had been sleeping for three days and I woke up feeling something missing other than my foot. It was really really hard for me to get that through my head," Avila said. "It was a hard day for me that day."
For the wrestlers who were at that fateful meet, Avila provided hope and healing.
"I want to say you're an amazing person, an inspiration to the whole team here, because it's really impressive how it turned out and how you guys are handling it," Genoa-Kingston wrestler Cody Krackle said.
"If you guys were bitter about this, it would be so much harder to deal with, because knowing that we were there when that happened - we always feel bad about it," another Genoa-Kingston wrestler Peter Dehmlow said.
Make no mistake. For the Avilas, it is not easy.
"We still have memories at night still of the good days when Eddie has his two good legs and I see him in my dreams running, in all of his sports," Avila's father Armando said. "It's hard. It's hard for me to wake up and see him in this condition."
But they remain positive and eternally optimistic.
"We serve an amazing God, and we see miracles happen already with Eddie before," Avila's mother said. "But he's our miracle."
To help the Avila family with Eddie's medical bills, please send a check to:
c/o Belvidere North High School
9393 Beloit Rd.,
Belvidere, IL 61008