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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Lessons from adversity

 
 

Swiss psychiatrist Elisabeth K?bler-Ross said finding ways out of the darkest times shapes beautiful people. From their struggles they develop “compassion, gentleness and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.”
Taylor Delz, senior finance major, is a living example of K?bler-Ross’s compassionate, loving person who was shaped through adversity.
When he was 14 years old, Delz experienced something most people never have to face. After an accident at a backyard bonfire, Delz suffered third-degree burns on more than 80 percent of his body. Embarking on the long road to recovery, Delz was hospitalized at Shriners Hospital for Children in Galveston, Texas, where he recuperated for more than a year.
Through his perseverance, hard work, a positive attitude and humility, Delz was able to endure this hardship to become who he is today.
Delz now serves as a patient ambassador at Shriners, where he speaks at events for Shriners across the country. With 22 locations in Canada, the U.S. and Mexico, every child admitted to Shriners Hospitals receives care free of charge due to the large amount of fundraising and donations given to Shriners each year.
“What Shriners does differently is they give kids who go through catastrophic events and their parents their lives back,” said Chris Easter, a resource nurse at Shriners Hospital in Galveston. “They save lives and give them the opportunities they always dreamed of. There is not one kid they will deny care to.”
Easter worked closely with Delz during his time at Shriners, and the two still keep in contact. Delz said the time he spent at Shriners, along with the patients and staff he met there, helped to motivate and inspire him to persevere and push through the obstacles he faced during his recovery.
“When I was first being treated as an outpatient, I was going to and from the hospital a bunch, and previously I was being treated in the intensive care unit, so I didn’t see the other children a bunch,” Delz said. “And I saw several of them running on prosthetics. And the smaller children, the way they just go along not realizing that they’re different, I thought, ‘If they can do that then I definitely can.'”
Delz said maintaining a positive attitude and focusing on the good from the situation helped him to grow.
“It’s definitely made me more compassionate,” Delz said, “Not just for burn victims. Now if I see someone struggling with anything, I want to help them, even if it’s not something I’ve gone through.”
Delz shared this compassion through his many other volunteer experiences at the Brazos Valley Animal Shelter and St. Joseph Hospitals in Bryan and College Station, as well as his job at Disabilities Services on campus.
Delz said his perspective and outlook on life also changed.
“I’ve learned to slow down and enjoy your life and not to worry about the small things,” Delz said. “Be appreciative of what you have, not what you don’t.”
Easter said Delz was a large source of inspiration in Easter’s own life. He said Delz’s positive outlook helped to set a standard that Easter hoped to live by.
“It’s hard to complain about one thing that goes on in your life when you work with someone as truly amazing as Taylor,” Easter said. “Burns can affect kids in different ways. I’ve seen kids burned during their teenage years and it can make them really bitter, but I never experienced that with Taylor. It was a pleasure taking care of him. I don’t know where a kid like that gets his work ethic.”
Easter said many can follow the wonderful example Delz sets, and said he even uses Delz as an example for raising his own children.
“But the burn world needs people like Taylor, too, to know that people can go on and succeed and go on into society, even get a college degree,” Easter said.
Going to college wasn’t always in Delz’s path.
“Beforehand, I was thinking of an easy manual labor job or joining the Army – something that required physical labor,” Delz said. “But I adapted, and quickly. I’ve learned to adapt to things thrown my way.”
Delz made up the year of high school he missed, graduated on time with his class and came to A&M. Delz said the community at A&M made him feel like he was right where he belonged.
“It’s this goal of service and a community that supports one another that makes A&M so unique,” Delz said.
Delz came to A&M along with several other students in his graduating class, including Clayton Maples, a senior finance major and a friend of Delz since second grade.
“He was always a really good friend,” Maples said. “But after the accident he became my hero. It’s not just that he came back and recovered and got back on the path, but he made his life even better than it was before. He completely took his situation and turned it around.”
Maples said anyone who hears Delz’s story can learn from him.
“He’s taught me humility – he gets a lot of attention and accolades, and will always credit others, but it was ultimately his strength that helped him through,” Maples said. “And he taught me that you can’t control everything that happens in life. What matters is what you do with a situation, and that happiness is a choice, and he made that choice to be happy.”
For Delz, the most important lesson he learned is to not be afraid to slow down his pace.
“If I could tell everyone one thing, it would be to slow down and enjoy your life,” Delz said. “Don’t worry about those small little things in life that aren’t worth worrying over. Do the best you can in any situation, and trust me, it will always work out.”

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