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Honoring Our Heroes: The Healing Power of Faith and Positivity

Rick Motes is a white middle-aged man with an orange hat, grey goatee, wearing glasses. He is seated in a lawn mower.

It was a bright and sunny morning right after Memorial Day, which has always been special for Rick Motes and his family. I was scheduled to meet Rick at Georgia Regional Hospital, where he works as a landscaper for Bobby Dodd Institute (BDI.) The first thing that I noticed about Rick is his smile. He warmly greeted me and instantly made me feel welcomed.

“Memorial Day means a lot to me. My whole family has served in the military,” Rick shared. As a family tradition, they visit the GA Veterans Memorial Cemetery at Canton each year to honor and remember his father, who also served in the armed forces. To stay connected to the army, their entire family participates in Wreaths across America every Christmas, an event where they lay remembrance wreaths on the graves of fallen heroes and say the name of every veteran aloud.

Rick has been with BDI for over eleven years now, and his supervisors are consistently impressed with his work. Since his hiring, Rick has worked closely with Bruce Wright, who serves as a field operations and landscaping manager at BDI. Bruce says, “The structure, the organization, everything that Rick brings to the organization is amazing. Without Rick, it makes the life a little bit harder.”

Rick graduated from high school in 1974 and, due to his family’s strong military ties, joining the military was the natural choice. Without hesitation or regret, he enlisted in the Marine Corps and served for four years, first as an Infantry and then as a Payroll Distribution NCO. He was stationed out in Missouri where he welcomed the birth of his daughter. Later, Rick served in the National Guard until retiring from the army.

The skills and values Rick acquired during his military service prepared him for his job at Delta Airlines. An injury and subsequent head surgery forced him to retire and seek new opportunities. When he learned about the Bobby Dodd Institute, he knew it was the perfect fit. Rick possessed the qualities the organization values most – hard work, organization, and extreme dependability.

“Military helped me in my work life, because there you are taught the particular way; if you don’t abide, you won’t succeed,” Rick shared. He has advice for the younger generation and those feeling lost: “If you are young, just out of high school, research options in the military. Being able to leave the nest is part of growing up.”

Just a year ago, Rick’s life turned upside down. What initially seemed like a simple back problem turned out to be a life-changing diagnosis. Rick visited his doctor for back pain treatment, and he was referred to have an MRI. When his doctor informed him of his cancer diagnosis, Rick and his wife experienced a rollercoaster of emotions. After a night of prayers, Rick woke up determined to fight for his life. Following 13 chemotherapy treatments, Rick achieved remission. From mid-July to mid-October, he underwent a stem cell transplant at Northside Hospital. The good news arrived on his 100th day of treatment when his doctor declared him 100 percent cancer-free.

Rick was ready to go back to his life and now works three days a week. Throughout his struggles, Bobby Dodd Institute has been a source of support for him. “I can’t believe that there not more people connected to organizations like Bobby Dodd Institute. The people who work here are learning to do something on their own, once you teach them, they become an asset for you because now you can utilize their talents,” Rick emphasized.

His managers made sure that he felt appreciated, valued, and respected.

“I always admired Rick for the strength that he exhibits and how positive every time he is. That inspired me to always face anything that I have going on in my life with positivity, with faith, with poise that everything will turn out to be great,” commented Bruce.

Rick is now healthy and happy, and he has a reminder for all of us.

“If you have any kind of pain, any kind of problems, go to the doctor. You never know. I went to get my back treated, but only because I got it checked, that doctor was actually able to save my life.”

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