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The Importance of Persistence and Determination

Charles Larin -- Orange County, Florida

Persistence and determination have made me the man I am today. They keep me on track from the moment I wake to the moment I go to sleep. I see these attributes as omnipotent for success and change. President Calvin Coolidge once said “Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts.” With a goal in mind, persistence and determination make that goal attainable.

I never planned to join the military until I met a Marine. Hearing him talk about serving his country, experiencing his confidence, and feeling such reverence for a man I just met, I knew that I wanted to be more like him. I joined the Marines in 2010 and was determined to become a better version of myself. I was assigned to electronics, specifically the optics used in small weapons and small weapons systems. I absorbed and applied all the knowledge that was provided me. The challenges I encountered in the Marines helped me to expand beyond what I had thought were my limitations. Without a doubt, I am better and wiser because of my experiences.

I was diagnosed with MS after I left the Marines. I was in the reserves and attending college. When testing confirmed I had the disease, I was scared. As a young adult I was still trying to figure my life out, and getting a chronic disease was not in my life plan. I had thought that I would go back into the Marines as an Officer, but my diagnosis changed that plan. As the gravity of everything settled on me, I felt my world close in. I struggled to believe that I could do anything. I struggled to embrace change. But, in time, and with support and persistence, I was able to focus on what was important to me and to believe in myself again. My life was going to be different, but it wasn’t over. It was my life, and I was determined to make the best of it.

I always knew that I was going to graduate from college and work somewhere that would allow me to utilize my passion for math. I love numbers and my MS did not change this goal for me. After four years of hard work and persistence, I received a degree in finance, specifically international business, and a minor in commercial banking. I currently work as a Financial Analyst, a job that I enjoy. I wake up every day, with a beautiful wife, a wonderful home, and a job I love, and I know that my determination and persistence were essential to getting me here.

I’ve always enjoyed running and following my diagnosis of MS I’ve been able to continue running. In 2018 I was in the annual Marine Corps Marathon, which was an incredible honor. My VA providers wanted me to complete the 26.2-mile marathon with a handcycle, which would be easier for my joints and body in the heat. Using a handcycle was a new experience, and unfortunately the handcycle chain broke as I whizzed down a hill. I wasn’t even a mile into the race. I was sitting on the side of the road wondering what to do. People were cheering me on, and runners were passing me by. All of a sudden Kyle Carpenter, the youngest Medal of Honor recipient, runs past me; he looks at me and says “come on wheels”.

Those words, from a man who had sacrificed so much for his country, brought everything back into perspective and I knew in that moment that I would finish this race. My teammates encouraged me to just try again next year, but I was determined to finish. I left that handcycle with my teammates on the side of the road and I took off running. While I had many moments where I wanted to quit, my body exhausted, I persevered and finished that race. I look back on that day, how physically and mentally difficult it was to keep going, and it’s a reminder to me that I can do anything with enough determination. Things can be harder with MS, but challenges help us grow and achieve things we never thought were possible.