When you hear the word comeback... what comes to mind? Perhaps you think of the Red Sox comeback to win the world series in 2004 after their 0-3 start to the series? Or maybe it's Superbowl 51 where the Patriots came back to win after a 28-3 deficit? Or possibly it's Tiger Woods, returning to the game of golf time and time again after many scandals, back surgeries and defeats only to have an incredible win at the 2019 Masters. All of these are amazing moments in sports history that can only be labeled at some of the greatest comebacks of all time. But... my definition of comeback is a little different. To explain, let me go back to April 23rd, 2005.
I grew up in a small town called Avon, NY. Everyone knew everyone and it was one of those towns that just feels like home. You can sit on your front porch for hours and say hi to everyone that walks by. Growing up, we lived on the main street of town and both of my parents were very involved in the community. My dad eventually was mayor of the town and opened his own company... Hurricane Technologies. My parents ran the company together in a building directly in the center of town. It's an amazing feeling watching your dad start something literally out of his garage and turning it into something so much bigger. He had a drive that was unmatched and my mom's support was everything. They were an incredible team and were just as incredible to watch.
On April 23rd, 2005, I was in my room and heard someone screaming from downstairs to hurry up and run. Hurricane was on fire. We ran down the street to literally watch my parents hard work go up in flames. Their hard work, dedication, everything... engulfed in a fire like I had never seen before. The streets were lined with people. Some just spectating, some hugging us, but everyone in shock. I remember wondering "What are my parents going to do now? They will have to find new jobs. Everything they worked for is over."
By April 26th, 2005, Hurricane Technologies opened their doors and continued serving their customers just a few doors down thanks to another business owner who let them rent their space. In just 3 days, my parents picked up the pieces and kept on going. They refused to let this set them back, let alone disrupt any service for their customers. The building was a total and complete loss. It burned to the ground. But again, they navigated the challenge and rebuilt a new building in the same location. Growing up in that town, being mayor, and being a business owner, my parents wanted to bring something better and more beautiful than before to the center of Avon. Even in their loss, they kept the community in mind.
(Tom Vonglis - 3rd from the left)
Now why am I telling this childhood story? Because to me... a comeback is so much more than a sports reference. It is a mindset... a way you face challenges in life. My parents have taught me so many things throughout the years and been the biggest support system I could've ever asked for. However... if I had to pick one defining moment in my life that shaped me as a person, it was watching my parents handle this devastating event in their life. They didn't give up. They didn't sit and cry and wait for help. They didn't rely on others for answers. They bounced back through hard work and determination. It's easy to feel sorry for ourselves when life throws a curveball. It's easy to get angry and blame others for the problems we are facing. All of that is ok, it's normal, and it's expected. BUT... none of that is going to change what's happening.
Life happens in an instant. Just 1 second is all it takes for everything to change. Whether it's a fire, cancer, death of a loved one, or any number of things... it just takes 1 second. How you respond to that second is what defines you as a person. My parents gave me the tools and set the path to face any challenge that has come my way. I am writing my comeback story. What's yours?