Student celebrates life in face of adversity

Nester Perez had aspirations of being a UFC boxer until last November, while on his way to surprise his girlfriend in Austin, he fell asleep at the wheel and nearly lost his life. Perez had kept a stringent 5-day work out schedule before the accident, and spent a lot of his time studying the sport.

“It’s a fun sport, and takes a lot of hard work,” Perez said. “It’s not about the guy who’s the biggest; it’s the guy with the most patience.”

Perez’s training was cut short, however, when a car accident almost claimed his life. According to Perez, he was unconscious while his car wrapped around a tree twice, pinning him inside. The rescuers had to use the Jaws of Life to get him out – by this time his lungs had collapsed. He was clinically dead until paramedics revived him. Perez was life flighted to Houston to undergo extensive reconstructive surgery after suffering a broken pelvis, tailbone, left arm, left ankle, heel, face and 11 ribs. Perez was released from the hospital on Dec. 22 and was confined to a wheelchair for a month. In addition to this he had to get metal plates in his face, and has to undergo extensive physical therapy. Despite his injuries, Perez said he has found the strength to continue his life. Though Perez is enrolled again as a full-time student he has found his adjustment back to the college life difficult because he’s not able to do some of the same things he used to be able to do. Simple activities like holding a backpack have become tedious tasks for him.

“I used to be able to lift heavy things but now I cant because of my injuries,” said Perez. “I have to keep adjusting myself when I’m in class because I still have a broken tailbone.”

Due to the accident, Perez said he has had the time to refocus his energy to his studies. Academics used to be pushed to late nights because of his training, but now he works out his mind in the library. Perez is on track to graduate in December with a degree in Criminal Justice, and will study to attend graduate school here as well. He wants to start work with local authorities and eventually work for the FBI. Perez said he has received a great amount of support from his fraternity, Sigma Lambda Beta, and their sister sorority Sigma Lambda Gamma.

“They’ve been there for me since I’ve been back in Huntsville. When I was in a wheelchair, they would push me to class,” he said.

Perez will celebrate his 22nd birthday today. Sigma Lambda Beta, Sigma Lambda Gamma, and the NAACP will hold a benefit in his honor at El Chicos on I-45 north from 4 to 9 p.m. Proceeds will go to help pay for hospital expenses.

“There is still a lot of stuff to pay for,” he said. “Everybody has to eat, so why not go to the benefit and help somebody out?”

Perez said he has learned a priceless lesson about life and overcoming adversity: “Live every day like it’s your last without regrets. And make sure you tell your family and loved ones that you love them every day, because you never know when the last time will be.”

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