Joey and I on my birthday

Joey's 21st birthday!

Motorcycle ride!

My brother and I on Thanksgiving

My big brother, Joey, plays a huge role in my life. I feel as if there is some strange connection between us that I do not share with anyone else. This sort of connection is similar to Moying Li's with her Baba and with Lao Lao.

Ever since day one, my brother has been by my side. Through the good times and the bad he is always there for me, giving me advice, cheering me up, and supporting me. Joey is not only a brother to me, he is a best friend, a guide, my protector (especially now that I'm in high school), and a shoulder to always lean on. He is my Hero.


In your lifetime, what is the biggest obstacle or struggle you have had to overcome?

- Not being selected for my high school baseball team. I played my whole life and excelled in grade school and select baseball during grade school but did not make the team my freshman year at St. X. This was extremely tough for me to accept, as I was no longer what I considered to be an “athlete”.

How did you eventually overcome your struggle?

- I overcame my struggle with the help of my family and friends being very supportive as well as keeping an open mind and trying new things. I went out for intramural golf team and played soccer my freshman year and enjoyed both. My sophomore year I did not make the soccer team again, and really hit some more obstacles. Someone mentioned I should try out for the lacrosse team, and I had never really ever seen the sport played before and did not know much about it. I decided to give it a shot and it was a great experience. I ended up winning “best defensive player” and an Iron Man award my senior year.

What accomplishments are you most proud of?

- I attended a summer seminar at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland for a week long leadership seminar. We were treated as Plebes at the Academy and I was pushed to my mental and physical limits and beyond. It was a week that gave me an extreme boost of confidence that made me think that if I work hard enough and want something bad enough, I can do anything I set my mind to.

How do you think your life has impacted others?

- I hope to have set good examples for my two younger sisters and for my little brother, in hopes that they see what I have done and continue to do and that I have set a strong example for them. I have impacted others doing Housing Rehab in Sedamsville, Ohio and worked at soup kitchens in Over the Rhine during high school. Mainly I have high expectations for myself and I hope that by accomplishing many things and working as hard as I can, that I can be positive role models for others.

What was your life like growing up?

- My life was good. My parents got divorced when I was younger, but I have always had two loving parents that have always wanted the best for me and have sacrificed a lot so that I could have opportunities that they did not have. I was always taken care of and my grandparents also played a big role in my life growing up and were around a lot. They have had a tremendous impact on my life and continue to do so today.

What was your family like?

- My family was not “normal”, and it was not always rainbows and butterflies…but then again not very many families are. My parents were divorced and as time went on both of my parents remarried to good people. I lived with my mom and step father and visited my father and stepmom occasionally on the weekends. I was lucky to have 4 parents that loved me and provided for me and always looked out for us first. Divorced parents is never ideal, and there were some hard times for sure…but I am very lucky that my parents always put my sister and I first when making decisions and always tried to do what was best for us.

What kind of support did you have in your life?

- I had a great support system growing up. I was lucky enough like I said to have loving parents and grandparents around to babysit me and spend a lot of time with when my parents were not around. I had friends from sports teams to go to if I needed it and one or two good friends that I knew I could go to for advice. I think having a strong support system and a loving and close family is one of the best gifts a kid got ask for. It has definitely had an impact on my life and will continue for years to come.

What are some of the differences you see between your generation/experiences and mine?

- Not too many…Facebook was not as prevalent at such an early age when I was younger…we had AIM instead to use. We are pretty close in age, and I do not see that many generation differences.

What advice do you have for me/others?

Keep your family close. Stick with them through the thick and the thin. Listen to your mother. In a few years, you will understand why…right now she probably looks like she “doesn’t know anything”…but you will be surprised. I listened to a speech the other night from a man that was diagnosed with terminal cancer and would die in a few months. He said to do 3 things every day, to really live life.
“To me, there are three things we all should do every day. We should do this every day of our lives. Number one is laugh. You should laugh every day. Number two is think. You should spend some time in thought. And number three is, you should have your emotions moved to tears, could be happiness or joy. But think about it. If you laugh, you think, and you cry, that's a full day. That's a heck of a day. You do that seven days a week, you're going to have something special.”

- Lastly, I would say the most important advice I have is to stay true to yourself. In high school, college, and beyond there are going to be times where others are going to influence you. It happened to me and the pressures still exist…to fit in…to wear certain clothes…to try drugs and alcohol……my advice would be to make decisions based on one simple principle…which is look to role models in your life…the “papas” of your life and ask yourself if they would do it. Also, my approach that I use often when making tough decisions is the “look yourself in the mirror” trick. When faced with a decision that tests your integrity and your character…think about the next day when you wake up to get ready and you walk in the bathroom and see your reflection. Make decisions based upon how you want to feel when looking at yourself in the mirror. It sounds corny but it works. If you see someone of character, someone that does the right thing, integrity, someone that tells the truth, someone that is setting an example for their younger sister, someone that their grandparents would be proud of….then you are going to have one hell of a life. I love you Jen and am proud of you in so many ways. You challenge me to be an example for you and Jaclyn and I appreciate that.

My Hero Is You by Hayden Panettiere: Dedicated to my brother


5236 Cleves Warsaw
Cincinnati, Ohio 45238
November 29, 2011

Dear Joey,

You are not just a big brother to me. You are so much more; a best friend, a guide, my protector, and my hero. I feel a strong connection between you and I that don’t share with anyone else. It’s like you are the only other person on this planet who truly understands me. I guess that’s partly because we do share the same blood…Ever since our parents divorced, you and I grew together and we grew strong. When we didn’t have anyone else to talk to, we had each other. When I didn’t always understand what was happening within our family, you were always there to answer me. As we grew as teenagers, in some ways we grew apart. Though once you left for college, it felt as if a part of me was missing, and that part was you. Jaclyn and I miss you more than you could ever know Joe. Whether you realize it or not, when you come home, our whole world just lights up. We think about you constantly when you are away at college. And that’s why when you leave, Jaclyn and I give you a great big hug and leave you with saying, “think of us”. Now I appreciate your presence and more importantly, appreciate my brother more.

Big brother you have taught me so many things just by setting mature examples with every decision that you make. I want to thank you for always being there for me through thick and thin. It is the most comforting feeling to know that I will always have your shoulder to lean on. You are an inspiration to me and I am proud to be your little sister. Thank you “big Joe”, for not only being a wonderful big brother, but for being a pure, simple, and loving human being. I love you very much.