June 1, 2010

Everyday Hero: Bob Juarez

garyBy Gary Metivier

The Story behind the Hero

I was watching my son playing baseball when I looked over and saw a man struggling. He was in a wheelchair working his way from the parking lot to the baseball diamond where his team was warming up for a game. He spun the wheels around the rain-rutted dirt path and rocks to slowly make his way to the dugout. Many of us felt like we should help—but we knew he was determined to do it on his own.

I, of course knew who he was, Bob Juarez, the Davenport firefighter injured fighting a fire downtown two years ago this Spring. But like so many stories we cover at KWQC, I really didn’t know much more about the person—other than realizing his life was forever changed after he fell from that ladder.

I saw the Pony League ballplayers (13 and 14 year olds) react to this man wheeling into his place in the dugout and reaching for the scorebook. They were excited to see him and eager for him to help them play baseball.

“After the accident, they wanted to play even harder for Bob,” Coach Denny Boever explained. “They dedicated the rest of the season to him—they were playing for Bob.”

Bob Juarez - Everyday Hero

Bob Juarez - Everyday Hero

Bob knew the injury had taken away a lot of things that he used to be able to do. But he was determined to challenge his body to see what it could still do—and what he could still offer to his baseball team.

“He would pull the kids aside and talk with them about their swing. He would work with them on the basics of the game,” Boever said. Boever’s son was one of the kids he helped.

“I was having a little trouble hitting,” Mitchel explained. “He helped show me things I could do to hit the ball better.”

The man who had lost most of the use of his legs—was using his talents to teach young players how to use their legs. He inspired that team—and so many others with his determination and commitment to the game, the kids and to himself.

“He was never a yeller,” Umpire and league president Rand Wanio told me. “He was and is such a great role model for the kids. He was the same person after the accident as he was before. Same person whether he was in a chair or not.”

The young player, now in high school, sums it up. “He supported our team by showing us you never give up. You keep pushing no matter what. He never gave up on himself or us—and we have learned so much from him.”

Now Bob Juarez has teamed up with Quad City coach Sean Mizlo to play wheelchair softball. They are hoping to build an adult and possibly a youth team to compete against other teams across the country. Just one of the reasons so many people are calling Juarez and everyday hero.


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