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Teaming Up to Help a Homeschool Dad

Five years ago, Derek Avilez broke his neck while skim boarding, changing the Florida homeschooling father’s life—and that of Priscilla, his wife and their three young children—forever.

Derek spent the next six months in the ICU, hooked up to a ventilator. Naturally, he had a lot of time to soul search and talk with God. He decided that because Jesus had known exactly what would happen to him on that day at the beach, he was determined to cooperate with God’s plan for his life, starting with prayer. Family and Facebook friends, many of whom knew him from his days as a member of a Christian professional sports team, surrounded him and his family with prayer. He knows their prayers are why he is here today.

Julie McDermott, the California State Ambassador for the Home School Foundation, is one such prayer warrior. Her husband had been one of Derek’s professional teammates when the Avilez family had lived in California. Julie followed the family’s personal and homeschooling journey during Derek’s tragic accident.

Seeing the mounting expenses for Derek’s recovery, Julie said, “I was confident the Lord was prompting me to make an Ambassador Program grant available to Derek’s family.”

Working together with Regina Hicks, the Florida State Ambassador, Julie raised funds for the Avilez family. She contributed the funds to the Florida State Ambassador Fund, and the Home School Foundation matched them. Then Julie and Regina arranged for a check to be given to the Avilez family to help with Derek’s vast medical bills.

Derek admits that his injury has definitely put his and Priscilla’s faith to the test. Daily, he must rely on the truth of the Bible to get through the day with joy and use his physical limitations and financial hardships as opportunities to seek God.

“My children are learning not to focus on what we can’t do with Daddy anymore, but instead to make the best of what we can do because I am alive,” Derek shared. “Not a day goes by that I don’t wish I was back to running around with my kids again, but I know without a shadow of doubt that this is where God has us right now.”

He attributes much of his post-accident success to his wife, Priscilla. “She is one of the godliest women I’ve ever met and, thank God, she is one of the strongest, too. She’s the first one up and the last one to bed. She gets me ready for work each day and welcomes me home in my wheelchair at the end of my day. I know she can’t wait for the day I can walk in the door, but for now we trust that God knows best.”

The Avilez family continues to homeschool with patience and pride and has many opportunities to share what God is doing.

“God has used so many different avenues to share our story of His miraculous healing power and grace to people in need. It is amazing how God is using our family to help hurting people gain perspective on how to be grateful for what they do have and not to focus on what they don’t have,” Derek said.

To learn more about becoming an ambassador, visit: www.homeschoolfoundation.org/volunteer.

To donate to the CA State Ambassador Fund, go to: https://www.homeschoolfoundation.org/SAFDonations and select California from the drop-down menu.

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