Amway Hero Award for Determination: Hard work makes dreams come true

Maria and Pablo Garcia smile and pose for the camera while sitting on bench in an outdoor setting.

Pablo and Maria Garcia didn’t have it easy – but that did not matter to them.

Pablo recalled some advice from an uncle in the Dominican Republic. “We come from a country where nothing is given to us, and my uncle said to me, ‘You have to make your life in the same way that you have done it there. You have to do things in the correct way. Do not take anything for free.’ We came to this country to contribute.”

And contribute they have.

Optimism amid struggles

Their ability to stay optimistic and set an example as Amway Independent Business Owners, during even the most challenging times, earned them the Amway Hero Award for Determination. It’s one of four Amway Hero Awards given each year to honor Amway Independent Business Owners who build stronger communities and make positive impacts in the lives of others.

Their oldest son, Anibal, remembered his fifth-grade graduation. His father, an auto mechanic at the time, had just suffered second-degree burns on his face from an accident in the garage. “His face was red and swollen, but he showed up, wearing a suit and everything,” Anibal said. “What it took for him … is something that I can’t get out of my head.”

Just a few years ago, the Garcias faced their greatest challenge yet after a car accident seriously injured Maria. But the Garcias never gave up and they went on to reach their goal for their Amway business.

“Looking back,” Maria said, “you realize that you are taught by what you see, and my father was determined to follow his own principles and show us how to be hard workers.”

Pursuing the American dream

An early test for the couple came when they moved to the United States. “I saw how Americans lived in the movies and that’s what I wanted, too,” Maria said. “In a cozy house, drinking coffee and watching the snow fall.” But, she said, “it was not like that!”

She told Pablo, “This is not what I dreamed of when we came here. I don’t want my kids growing up in this tiny apartment, and we are going to buy a house.”

Their younger son, Ariel, said his parents pursued that dream by saving every dollar. While there were sacrifices, his parents insisted on private school for the boys.

“I wanted expensive basketball sneakers,” said Ariel. His mother told him, “I’m not going to buy you the fanciest things because I know that I need to get you things that you should really value, like an education.”

Pablo and Maria worked extra jobs to pay the bills. Once, when Pablo splurged on a bouquet for Maria, she told him, “Don’t bring me roses. Bring me the $20 that they cost.” They both laughed at the memory, and Maria said, “We just needed the money.”

Exactly one year after dedicating themselves to buying a home, they had enough saved for the down payment.

Strength to meet whatever life brings

Their determination was tested again three years ago. After the car accident, Maria was hospitalized for days, and spent countless hours in rehabilitation.

Pablo never left her side. “We are partners, and she is my right arm,” he said. “It was very tough for me to see her go through that pain. But I have realized that when something is difficult, she gets stronger.”

Her injured left eye was swollen shut and the doctor told her they might not be able to save it. But she remained optimistic and recovered — no surprise to those who know her.

“She is the epitome of determination,” said her friend Cely Rodriguez. “We’ve always seen her press on, no matter what, until the goal is accomplished.”

Lasting lessons

For Anibal, his parents’ most enduring example is that strength is a matter of determination. “It’s not something that’s given to you. It doesn’t just happen. Strength is something you decide to have.”

Maria’s voice trembled when she spoke about receiving the Hero Award for Determination. She and Pablo were humbled and didn’t even believe it at first. “We always saw the Amway Heroes as people who had excelled at so much that we had to ask, ‘Us? How? Why?’” she said.

Pablo softly added, “To be recognized for doing what comes naturally for us is just unbelievable.”

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