Editor’s Note: World changers aren’t born, they evolve, and Rafferty Laredo is a world changer. To understand how one can have a significant impact on many, we need to learn about Laredo, a child born with an undiagnosed medical condition that almost cost him his life. This gave him a strong sense of compassion for those who are different. Laredo took that lesson with him through his academic and medical careers and then into a new endeavor to change the world around him. Part 1 of a 5 part series.
Rafferty Laredo, the new executive director of the National Spinal Cord Injury Association Houston (NSCIA Houston), is more than an executive of a non-profit. He is an occupational therapist and someone who has true passion and compassion for people with disabilities.
“I was different as a child,” says Laredo. “My family immigrated from the Philippines, and I was born in New Jersey and lived a pretty normal life. The first time I was ever influenced by anything in the medical profession was when I was a kid. I was always sick as a child, and no one really understood what was wrong with me.”
“When I was 10, I was diagnosed with Hirschsprung’s Disease, a blockage of the large intestine. The doctors didn’t understand the problem and weren’t able to diagnose it. They told my parents, ‘As Rafferty grows up, this problem will probably go away.’ For 10 years I had backed up waste in my body because I didn’t ever have the feeling or sensation of having to go to the bathroom. Finally, my body went into septic shock, and all my organs began to shut down. I went to the hospital, and my entire GI system had to be re-routed into a colostomy that I had to wear for 3 years. You can imagine the social impact of this whole ordeal–as if puberty wasn’t bad enough.”
As bad as that was for Laredo, he became keenly aware of what being physically different from other people was like and how that impacted his life. “I also felt like my body defined what I could physically do, so I felt defined by my problem,” Laredo explains. “I couldn’t go swimming, I couldn’t ride roller coasters, I couldn’t rough house with the other kids, and I became aware of all the things I couldn’t do (or didn’t allow myself to do) because I had a colostomy.” Then after 3 years, Laredo’s intestines were re-routed, and life was back to normal.
After high school, he went to college and got a degree in psychology. Next, he was accepted to and attended occupational therapy school at the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio. Through his early life experiences, he developed a compassion for others who were “different”, an appreciation for life, and an intense desire to help those around him.
Next: NSCIA Houston’s Rafferty Laredo Discusses His Occupational Therapy Career
About the Author: For the last 12 years, John E. Phillips of Vestavia, Alabama, has been a professional blogger for major companies, corporations and tourism associations throughout the nation. During his 24 years as Outdoor Editor for “The Birmingham Post-Herald” newspaper, he published more than 7,000 newspaper columns and sold more than 100,000 of his photos to newspapers, magazines and internet sites. He also hosted a radio show that was syndicated at 27 radio stations; created, wrote and sold a syndicated newspaper column that ran in 38 newspapers for more than a decade; and wrote and sold more than 30 books. Learn more at http://www.nighthawkpublications.com