Haley Scott DeMaria

Archive for February, 2009


On Tuesday, Feb.24th, I was in Orlando at the Keller-Williams Family Reunion. I was invited as a guest of Gary Keller to be interviewed by him in front of 3000 or so of his “mega agents.”

When I was first invited, I did not know why – or how – I was asked to be included in this event. But it did not take long for me to learn the answer to both.

First of all, even as a realty company, this is truly a Family event- and a Family Reunion for the company. It is clear that these Realtors view their company like family. And as you know, that is one of the foundations of my story: family who is there for you during your times of need. Right now, the housing industry is in a time of need – and I know the members of the Keller-William family are glad they have their sense of community in their workplace. In that sense, I was the perfect fit to speak at their convention: someone who could talk about difficult times, who could provide hope, and who could reassure that the lessons learned during these hard times will be valuable in the future.

Over the past few months I have been corresponding with a family whose son was in an automobile accident this past September. He is paralysed and struggling with many of the physical and emotional issues that I did. Just this week – at the K-W Family Reunion – I learned that it was an acquaintance of this family who shared my story with the company’s founder, Gary Keller. He too saw my story as an inspiring fit for his family company.

I learned many lessons this week. I learned that you never know who you are helping – and you never know the ways in which you can impact a life or make a difference. We have to be careful in all we say and do, because our words and actions are so powerful. I was also reminded that our workplace can be a place of strength and comfort to us. We spend so much time at our jobs, with our jobs, and with our co-workers; how wonderful that there are companies who value this and who instill a sense of family away from home.

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    Family, Faith and Friendship – I had a weekend of all three. Lucky me!

    I had the good fortune of spending three days with Scully. If you’ve read my book, you know her. She sat with me in the snow on the night of the accident. She sat next to me in my hospital room and as I recovered both in South Bend and in San Diego. She later stood next to me at both of our weddings – and then again next to me as I became Godmother to her first daughter. You could put her in all three catagories in my life: family, faith and friendship.

    This weekend, I was blessed to meet some of those who are important in her life: Friends who are like family. Friends from the Peace Corps, and one friend – a swimmer – from her childhood. A friend who is like a sister to her. We spent many hours together, sharing our lives – past and present – and sharing with her friends the story that we share: the story of the accident and our recoveries.

    I also spoke at the U.S. Swim School Association spring workshop. These dedicated members devote their lives to teaching children to swim – to saving lives on a daily basis. Drowning prevention is essential; and teaching our children to be water safe is our duty as parents. The Swim School Association performs miracles daily – and gives their students (and their families) a true gift. To find a swim school near you, please visit: www.usswimschools.org

    To continue with the blessings of family, faith and friendship, on Friday, my sister gave birth to her second child – a boy, named after our grandfather. Again, another example of family and faith in miracles surround our lives. Children are the ultimate blessings. I was fortunate to be able to visit her, and I know with in the next 12 months, she will have my little nephew in the pool, teaching him to swim and to be safe in the water. Perhaps at a swim school.

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    Yesterday I got a phone call from my mom as she was driving home from watching a young (teenage) family member play a tennis match. She had lost. When I asked my mom about it, she replied, “Her mom was so hard on her; it was hard to watch. I hope I wasn’t that hard on my children.” Then after a short pause, or perhaps because I did not answer, my mom added quietly, “I’m sure I was.”

    My non-answer, gave her just that. And now as a parent I know I too am hard on my children. Perhaps I am more aware of it – and I try to back off. I also am blessed to be raising my children with “good” enough friends to tell me when I need to relax a bit.

    I am also blessed with a different perspective than my mom was as a young parent. And that, is my mother’s true legacy. She raised a daughter who took the best of her and is able to forgive the rest. Each of us needs that in our life.

    But let me take a step back and give credit where credit is due.

    At any given talk or discussion, the relationship with my mother is one of the most-often mentioned storylines of What Though the Odds. It is something to which every mother and daughter can relate; and I have had 50-year-olds relate to my position as the daughter. Age does not define the relationship. It is complex. It does not end. It is unique and like no other. I have been praised for my honesty in writing about the conflict that existed between us. There was anger, there was sadness, and at times I was hard on my mom. Perhaps I learned that from her as well.

    But I am who I am today because of her. Was she hard on me? You bet. But I am a better person because of it. I overcame unspeakable odds because of it. I am a more caring and thoughtful person because of it. And most importantly, I am a better wife and mother because of it.

    Should I have answered, “Yes,” when she stated that she was hard on her children? No, I should have just said, Thank you.

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    I have never been a huge fan of this holiday. But this year, I saw it with a new perspective and I approached it from a new vantage point. It’s all about love.

    Yes, of course it has always been about love – romantic love, right? No – I have totally been missing the point. Since the birth of my three greatest joys: my two sons and my book, I have experienced a new kind of love. A love to celebrate on Valentine’s Day.

    This takes nothing away from the love I have for my husband, it actually expands it and increases it, and makes me realize how much love we actually do have in our lives.

    Love is what it is all about. Family, Faith and Friendship – those are all built upon the foundation of love. So to celebrate those, as I have in abundance since the publication of What Though the Odds, is to celebrate love. And there is no better day to do this, than today.

    I also watched my children take great care in making their Valentines for their friends and teachers this year. We spent a few hours sitting at our kitchen table, all a mess with stickers, hearts, scissors and pens. They wrote each name with excitement and, well…with love. Spending time as a family, we celebrated friendship.

    I loved it.

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    Wow. I don’t think I could have imagined what last night would be like.

    First of all, just learning about the Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation and all that they do for underprivileged youth sports was inspiring. As Cal Ripken, Jr. said, “We teach – through baseball – the key values that my father believed in. It’s not about baseball, it’s about life.” He is so right; and it was inspiring to meet this amazing athlete and, more importantly, this amazing man.

    Of course the highlight of my evening was the time I spent with the Holtz family. Coach Lou Holtz was honored with the top award of the evening, the Cal, Sr. Award. Just as Cal Ripken, Sr. was a coach for life- and a life coach, so too is Coach Holtz. It was inspiring, as always, to hear him speak. He spoke about his wife of 48 years, his four children and his grandchildren – two of whom I had the enjoyment of sitting with at our table. Two of Coach Holtz’s sons were also at our table: Skip and Kevin. They are different in personality, but very much hold the same character and values as their father. It was a personal honor to spend the evening getting to know them and to see more of their father’s direct legacy and his greatest joy: his family. Even with all the accolades, awards and accomplishments that Coach Holtz has achieved, he still “gets it” and he lives it. He still holds dear to him the core values we share: Family, Faith and Friendship.

    Coach Holtz spoke highly of Notre Dame, as he always does – and of how Notre Dame always does things the right way. I not only know that to be true, I have felt it and lived it. I think some of my admiration for Coach Holtz stems from our mutual affection for Notre Dame, and for the role each of us has played in contributing to the history of the school (though he certainly on a grander scale!)

    At the beginning of Coach Holtz’s acceptance speech, he introduced two of his former players, one of with whom I have the pleasure to serve on the Monogram Club Board at Notre Dame. Then he spent the next few minutes telling the story of, who he referred to as, “a real hero.” I was speechless to hear him tell my story to the hundreds who gathered to honor him, and even more overwhelmed when they all stood – mid-speech – to give me a standing ovation. There I stood, in a room filled with the great ones of the sports world.

    All I can say can is Wow. And THANK YOU.

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  • Tonight, Friday, February 6th, former Notre Dame Head Football Coach, current ESPN anaylist, and the author who wrote the Foreword to my book, Lou Holtz is being honored at the Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation’s Aspire Gala.

    From the Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation website:  Every year, the Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation hosts a one-of-a-kind gala.  A group of honorees is selected from the fields of entertainment, business, and sports, and in turn, we invite them to honor the people in their lives who have inspired and helped guide them to success.  The 2009 Cal, Sr. award will be presented to Hall of Fame football coach, Lou Holtz. 

    I was invited by Coach Holtz to be his guest at tonight’s dinner. What a thrill!

    Congratulations to Coach Holtz on this honor. He is a true life coach, and I will be sure to follow up with details of this once in a lifetime gala!

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    When I was in the hospital 17 years ago, I was told that I had two things going for me, in terms of my recovery: one, I was young; and two, I was in good shape.

    Well, I am not getting any younger. But I do make a point to do the best I can to stay in relatively good shape, including exercise and eating healthy. I want to have that full advantage, should I ever need to rely on it again.

    Recently, I was interviewed for a blog on how to be a mom and take time for myself. Check it out:


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    My accident happened two days before the Superbowl. The passage about Superbowl Sunday 1992, is shared in part in the STORY section of this website.

    Like most Americans, I watch the Superbowl each year. And while I still follow the NFL, once I went to Notre Dame I became more interested in football at the college level.

    However, in 1996, thanks to then-New York Times sports writer and friend, Malcolm Moran, I attended Superbowl XXX with my dad in Tempe, Arizona. The Dallas Cowboys played the Pittsburgh Steelers. What a thrill to actually attend a Superbowl and all the hoopla. It is a memory with my dad that I will always treasure.

    My oldest son is a football nut. He too, like me growing up, can watch any game – no matter who is playing. He cheers for Notre Dame during the Fall, but also roots for Navy, the Florida Gators, Penn State and some of the local professional teams: the Ravens, the Redskins and a family favorite: the Jets. He actually just likes to root for whichever team is winning. Last year during the Superbowl, he cheered for the Patriots until the end of the game, when he switched his season-long loyalty to the Giants. He just wanted to root for the winning team. When you are 7 years old, it is all about winning.

    But two weeks ago while watching the Ravens-Steelers game, I had a great teaching moment with my son. One of the Ravens’ players was injured and the game was delayed for several minutes while he was removed from the field. During that time, we talked about good sportsmanship (when both teams clapped when the player was taken away), and how football really is just a game. I am always telling my children that we only root for our teams – we never root against another team. We never wish ill-will on another team or player, and we are always respectful to our opponents.

    Out of the blue, while waiting for the Ravens-Steelers game to resume, my son asked, “Mom, did they carry you away on a board like that?” With tears in my eyes I realized he had made the connection and I replied, “Yes, and aren’t you glad all the other teams and other swimmers cheered for me?”

    He got it.

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