Today my father turns 61. This may not seem like a big deal, but for our family to be able to celebrate his birthday and another year of life is a miracle. My father was diagnosed with a very rare disease, Wegener’s Granulomatosis in 1998. This caused him to have a stroke at the very young age of 47. Since then he has fought a myriad of health issues. My brother, Billy, donated our father a kidney and during the surgery he suffered a heart attack. Although he has to deal with paralysis and many complications, he has always remained faithful to God and his family. He had never missed a family occasion, and has even attended all of my fitness shows. He has taught me so many valuable life lessons:

  • That God must be first in your life.
  • The importance of family.
  • To do things right the first time.
  • To do what I love, and to pursue my dreams.
  • He gave me an incredible work ethic and taught me very young that if I want something, I need to earn it.
  • To love the outdoors, camping, fishing and appreciating the beauty of natures’ landscapes.
  • That a strong will can pretty much accomplish anything.

My father has never placed any value on material things. His worth is found in being a man of his word, loving his family and most importantly his love for God.

My dad and I didn’t always have the best relationship, but we worked through that. I speak about this, because life isn’t always perfect. But, what really matters is simple… you only get one dad. May I encourage you to consider that we don’t always have all the time we think, and we need to enjoy and appreciate the time we do have with our family. If you have your family at your side you can endure anything, and my dad has literally been through hell and back.

Today I celebrate the gift of my loving father. Thank you dad for the man you are and all that you’ve taught me. I wouldn’t be me without you. Here’s a fun glimpse from being your baby to having my own baby, Giavella.