MIAMI (CBSMiami) — Thanks- giving. It’s not always easy to connect to the true spirit of the day.
That’s why CBS4 Chief Investigative Reporter Michele Gillen offered a “menu” designed to inspire.
Three exceptional South Floridians who have all overcome adversity and are connected by the gift of gratitude.
Henry Flescher is the living embodiment of gratitude. Embracing his 90’s, with dancing blue eyes, Flescher skips the light fantastic. In his presence you realize that, for him, every minute is filled with a richness of not letting the moment pass him by.
“Everyday I get up in the morning and say ‘I am here’ and ‘I am up’ and I enjoy day by day. Because that ‘s what life is, we are all going to die. But don’t push it. We live only one life but if we do not enjoy that life it’s the problem because of the person,” said Flescher.
He is a holocaust survivor, and knowing his journey, many would think it was a miracle he survived the darkest days of imprisonment in France and then Poland. But even when in captivity, if he could spot just a little ray of light, he held on, till the next dawn and never stopped.
“Some people expect every, complain, there is too much sun, too much rain. For me every day is beautiful,” he shared while walking with Gillen through sun speckled archways at the Holocaust Memorial on Miami Beach.
For Flescher, gratitude is intrinsically linked to giving back. He donates his time every week as a volunteer at the memorial where he reflects on death but inspires all who meet him.
“I am grateful that I have a pair of eyes to see the beauty, a pair of legs to walk and to enjoy every moment of life,” he said.
Across town, the sentiment was echoed by a charming and smiling former teacher who’s eyes delight in hope and grace and who wears the warmth of hope like a cozy sweater.
If life were a song, Miriam Pizarro would be a world class conductor. She is a virtuoso of being appreciative of the gifts she has and does not ruminate on those she has lost.
“Gratitude to me is that you are in a place that …its when you know you are where you should be. I may not be perfect,” Pizarro said to Gillen.
Ironically, decades ago, the two shared the same elementary school in New York. Meeting on this journey now, so many years later could not be more appropriate than on this Thanksgiving Holiday.
Struck by Parkinson’s Disease, Pizarro, by example, now teaches her own master class…mastering all naysayers might say is impossible like climbing Mt. Washington and Kilimanjaro. Her odysseys of strength and courage have connected her to fans and supporters all over the world, including Micheal J. Fox who called her after one such climb.
“You are grateful because hey, I am still here. And I can still make a difference and I can still help other people. I can leave a little fingerprint on peoples heart,” said Pizarro.
Like Flescher, Pizzaro lives in the moment. By participating in Parkinsons trials that could benefit others, her footprints are headed into the future.
“How lucky can I get. That so many people have to go through such bad things…And for such a long time they are in the dark, and you look up and can’t see the light. I am so lucky that I can.”
The inner strength that fuels Pizarro and Flescher knows no age limits. Bree Ann Camacho is a teenager who shoulders too much grief and loss for her young age.
But like the magic that radiates through her smile, Camacho carries the memory of her beloved sister –in her heart. The life of 13-year old Kaely Camacho was stolen when a drunk driver hit the family van.
“We are so lucky to have her for the time we did,” her beloved big sister shares.
The loss of Kaely has propelled Bree Ann to appreciate life in ways she never first imagined she would.
“I really do feel that my faith has helped me a lot. And that talking with MADD ( Mothers Against Drunk Driving) and telling the story over and over again everyone knows who my sister was. And that’s what we want. ”
Camacho tirelessly offers her voice as a youth advocate to warn against he dangers of drunk driving. It is a path that keeps her close to her sister and gives her great reason to look forward to each day and cherish each one she has the gift of living.
Gratitude and giving back. For those who live it, it is a marriage of greatness for the soul.
These three South Floridians offer their salutations to each of you.
As Henry Flescher sums it up with his priceless smile “I wish you a Happy Thanksgiving. A Happy Turkey Day and enjoy life!”
For more information on the Foundations and causes of these three extraordinary South Floridians you can visit: