It was 1997, a typical sunny summer day in California, we were outside playing with all the neighborhood kids in the block. I was thirteen years old.

Some kids were riding their bicycles while others were playing catch. I lived in a cul-de-sac street so only vehicles that actually lived there would enter the street. No one feared getting hit by a car because people actually drove carefully in our street.

My uncle whom was only four years older than me asked me if I wanted to compete in a bike race.  He always wanted to show off his racing skills so I accepted.  I had hope that I could win.

We set up in the middle of street, ready to race. My cousin shouts, “Ready, Set, Go!”

The race begins and we head towards the dead end of the street. My uncle and I were head to head before we approach the dead end.

 I’m pedaling very hard and giving it my all. A bunch of kids were playing in the middle of the street so I turn left to go around the kids and my uncle turns right. 

I notice a little girl, maybe four years of age trying to cross my path.  She was in the middle of the street but decides that she wants to go to the sidewalk. I’m looking at her run straight across me, she never saw me.
I didn’t think twice, I turned as hard as possible to my left away from her and just closed my eyes. I was coming too fast, braking was not an option.

Next thing I know, I’m laying flat on my back on the street looking up at the blue sky. I begin to cry because I’m in so much pain. All the kids are looking at me and I hear people screaming. 

One of my family members comes running down the street towards me and picks me up. He carries me to my house. I’m so confused as to what happened. 

Once I got home, they call my mom and she comes rushing home.  She didn’t take me to the hospital since it didn’t appear that I broke anything. I’m Hispanic, this is normal.

Later on, my uncle whom I was racing explains that I was able to avoid hitting the little girl however I crashed into a metallic basketball poll. I hit it so hard that I flew out of my bike onto the air and made 360 degree flip in the air. I came to rest on my back. My front tire rim of my bicycle was vent to a “U” form.

What saved my life? I was wearing a helmet. If I wouldn’t have been wearing one, I most likely would have cracked my head open.  I tell my kids this story that helmets do save lives.  You never know what might get in your way.

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