A single parent, Rick did the self-work to overcome the pain of a childhood that included a father who disappeared, never to be found, at age 3. His mother, struck by polio as a child, worked multiple jobs and went to school at night. At age five, he and his mother moved in with his grandparents and he was sent to a strict Catholic school. His first-grade teacher, a Nun, ridiculed him for being left-handed, forced him to sit at a right-handed desk, and once broke his knuckle while beating his hand with a wooden ruler trying to force him to write with his right hand. Then, at age seven, on Easter Sunday morning, while getting ready to go to church, his grandfather fell to the ground and died. Ricky now believed he had to be the man of the house and vowed never to cry.
"Like the Tears of a Clown, I held my pain inside. I believed I didn't matter. All I wanted was an ordinary home. I started skipping school, quitting sports and getting into fights. Thankfully, I found Japanese Karate that gave me a place to find discipline and tradition I so needed and a way to get my anger out. I competed in full contact kickboxing and would hit a heavy bag over and over again until exhausted. One of my moments came while I was working night shift, running a printing press. On my break, I met a well-dressed woman. I was trying to get up the courage to ask her out and I looked at the ink stains on my fingernails and put my hands in my pockets and walked away. The next day I knew then I wanted to transform from a #junkyarddawg into something better. I started asking older businessmen for insight. They all told me to go to college. So, I cut my hair, bought a cheep suit, and was given a hand me down briefcase. I was blessed when the Dean at Saint Joseph's University and a renowned businessman saw a diamond in the rough and gave me a chance. I worked nights to pay for college, got my bachelors degree and I got a great job and a new life.
"I now believe all the pain was God's boot camp to purify me and teach me empathy for all his children. Life can be full of tremendous joy and extreme pain. It’s hard for someone like me to be vulnerable, but I’m willing to risk loving every day. To love and be loved is to be truly alive. This is the richness of life.”