A Science Experiment Changes a Life
June 13th, 2019 is a day the Rivera family will never forget. Their son Priest James, 13 years old at the time, was in his science class at his neighborhood elementary school. He was viewing in a science experiment, conducted by his teacher called “the black snake.” Rubbing alcohol, sand, and baking soda are combined to create a snake-like object to rise out of the flame. During the experiment, the flame would not ignite so the teacher added more alcohol. The experiment exploded in Priest’s face, causing his left cheek, ears, neck, chest, eyelid and hair to catch fire. His parents, Jason and Gina Rivera, were notified. They met him at the hospital where he eventually had to endure multiple surgeries, excruciating pain, emotional distress and physical trauma. This was a deeply emotional event for Priest, his family and friends. As a tight-knit family unit, the Rivera family has dealt with the circumstances of this tragedy together. Remaining strong and positive for the well-being of their child and family unit was a big priority for the Rivera’s. Making sure Priest had the best care and necessary support has been critical to the traumatic journey that was thrust upon them. “Our son was ignited with resiliency and resolve to overcome the physical and emotional circumstances he was facing,” shared Jason and Gina Rivera. “He could have become engulfed in self-pity, defeat, and hopelessness; instead he became focused and driven to forgive and heal. The gift and catalyst came to him from a hidden passion – Golf.” Ultimately, golf turned out to be the surprising big healer in Priest’s life
Priest believes this “healer” could become a catalyst for strength and determination in the lives of other people who have suffered a traumatic injury.