187 – Edgar Pacheco, Sr. of Pearland, TX, Father of Three Including Son Edgar, Jr. Who Was Born Without Arms Or Legs
Our guest this week is Edgar Pacheco, Sr., of Pearland, TX, a senior paralegal and father of three, including oldest child Edgar Jr. who was born without arms or legs. We’ll hear the story of the two Edgars, from senior’s growing up in Huatulco, Mexico, his immigration to the U.S., the family’s faith as well as Edgar junior’s knack for politics and how he has been transforming lives.
That’s all on this Special Network Dad to Dad Podcast.
ABC News Story – https://abc13.com/game-changer-edgar-pacheco-tetra-amelia-pearland-texas/5384431/
House Bill 1252 renamed the Edgar Pacheco Bill (2:44 – 2:47)
Edgar Pacheco Email – email@example.com
Edgar’s phone # (956) 243-1952
Edgar Pacheco: The only thing they saw was the chair. They didn’t see the person. They didn’t see what he has—his value, his challenge. They only saw the chair.
Tom Couch: That’s our guest this week. Edgar Pacheco, a senior paralegal with three children, including Edgar Jr., who was born without arms or legs. We will hear Edgar’s story and about how Edgar Jr. has a certain knack for politics. That’s all on this Special Fathers Network Dad to Dad Podcast. Say hello to host David Hirsch.
David Hirsch: Hi, and thanks for listening to the Dad to Dad Podcast, fathers mentoring fathers of children with special needs presented by the Special Fathers Network.
Tom Couch: The Special Fathers Network is a dad to dad mentoring program for fathers raising children with special needs. Through our personalized matching process, new fathers with special needs children connect with mentor fathers in a similar situation. It’s a great way for dads to support dads. To find out more, go to 21stcenturydads.org.
David Hirsch: And if you’re a dad looking for help or would like to offer help, we’d be honored to have you join our closed Facebook group. Please go to facebook.com groups and search dad to dad.
Tom Couch: And now let’s hear this conversation between Edgar Pacheco and David Hirsch.
David Hirsch: I am thrilled to be talking today with Edgar Pacheco, Sr., of Pearland, Texas, a father of three, who’s a senior paralegal with the Andrew Thomas law firm in Houston. Edgar, thank you for taking the time to do a podcast interview for the Special Fathers Network.
Edgar Pacheco: Thank you, David for this opportunity to share my testimony with everybody.
David Hirsch: You and your wife Diana have been married for 21 years and are the proud parents of three: Arella, 15, Sarah, 18, and Edgar Jr., 20, who was born without arms or legs. Let’s start with some background. Where did you grow up? Tell me something about your family.
Edgar Pacheco: I was born in south Mexico. I lived there until the age of 18. I had to move to the north of the country, because I was failing my classes due to many issues when I was young. But it was fine, because at that point I did not realize how important my family was in my life. And my parents gave me the opportunity to move out and become a responsible person on my own. I love the country where I was born, and I miss it.
David Hirsch: Well, thank you for being so authentic. So if I can paraphrase what you’ve said, there were some bad influences as you were growing up as a young person. And somebody had the foresight to say, this is not a good environment for Edgar. You need to go someplace else. And that helped you get focused and make some important decisions and put you on the right path.
Edgar Pacheco: Yes.
David Hirsch: I remember when you were growing up that you also had an older sister and a younger brother, and I’m wondering if you keep in contact with them.
Edgar Pacheco: There are four of us. My older sister [?] is a sociologist in my city, and my brother Juan is a doctor who is the head of a forensics department in [?]. Then my little sister Gladys has worked at a local bank for more than 20 years. My dad passed away in 2004. My mom is still living with my sisters.
David Hirsch: Okay. Out of curiosity, what did your dad do for a living?
Edgar Pacheco: My dad started working for the Mexican postal office as a carrier, and he eventually became the postmaster.
David Hirsch: Well, sorry to hear that your dad passed away at such a young age, but I’m wondering how would you describe your relationship with your dad?
Edgar Pacheco: I had a good connection with my dad. He always stood up for me. I was always close to him and joking with him. My brother and sister said I was his favorite, but I didn’t see that. To me, he was the same with everybody. Maybe he was more concerned was me because I was the second child and the troublesome one.
He was a good dad. He was always for me. When he wasn’t working, he was home. He laughed and joked a lot, and he used to make fun things for me. He was also humble, and he was smart. I miss him, because he passed away a long time ago. But I’m grateful I had a close relationship with him.
David Hirsch: Yeah. Well thanks for sharing. I know there’s a running joke in our family because you’re not supposed to pick favorites.
Edgar Pacheco: Yes, exactly.
David Hirsch: As parents, you don’t ever want to say, “You’re my favorite,” because by definition you’re telling me others that they’re not your favorite. In our family, I refer to my oldest son is my favorite oldest son. And with my daughters, there’s a favorite oldest daughter, there’s a favorite middle daughter, and there’s a favorite youngest daughter. So anyway, they’re all my favorites.
Anyway, I’m wondering if there’s a takeaway or two, something that your dad always said or did, that you find yourself doing as a dad now?
Edgar Pacheco: I think of my relationship now, especially with Edgar. He’s always asking questions. You know, with modern technology, it’s easy to connect with me through messaging or phone calls.
In the old day, when my dad was at the office, he was working. The only time I had with him was when he came home. Now my work time and family time go together, because we’re more connected, and I’m always home with them. But my family comes first, and then the other things.
My girls come to me when they need something, when they need money for gas, or when they have issues they want to talk about, when something happens. But I’m most connected with Edgar, because we’re always talking.
David Hirsch: Yeah. Well, thanks for sharing. I’m wondering about other father figures. I’m wondering, did your grandfathers, either on your dad or your mom’s side, play an influential role in your life?
Edgar Pacheco: I remember my grandparents on my dad’s side. Every summer they took us to spend time with them where they lived, which wasn’t close to where we lived. Both of my grandfathers were farmers, and they taught us how to be helpful. We would help feed the cows and horses. We would also see where things like corn and watermelons grew. My grandfather on my dad’s side also taught us a song that I can still remember today.
David Hirsch: Oh, wow. That’s fabulous. I’m thinking about education. You had mentioned earlier that you probably weren’t a very good student as a young person, so you had to push the restart button. Now you do your paralegal work and your son Edgar has inspired you get an advanced degree. Could you share with our listening audience what that’s all about?
Edgar Pacheco: Yes, sure. I was not good at school, because I was always distracted. I enjoyed joking around with my friends. But I knew I was smart, so when I finished high school, I decided I wanted to be somebody. I wanted to get a degree. My mom told me to go ahead.
I studied business administration. I got a four-year bachelor’s degree, and then I had the opportunity to go to law school in Mexico. I wanted to be an attorney. After that I moved to Houston, where I got a master’s degree in international law at the University of Houston.
David Hirsch: So I’m sort of curious to know, how did you and Diana meet?
Edgar Pacheco: It’s a funny story, how we met. The internet was just starting, and in 1998 there was a way to send emails, and there was a way where you could put up your picture. I saw her picture, so I sent her a message. We ended up messaging for nearly three hours. We both told each other we enjoyed talking to each other, and said goodbye.
Days later, I tried to find her again, but I couldn’t. Until one day I got a message from her, and she wanted to keep talking. In fact, I got a message from her every day, if only to say, “Good morning, Edgar.” I thought, “Okay!”
Then one day she told me she had a sister in Monterrey, and she was going to visit her. She asked me if we could meet in person. I told her yes, but I was really nervous. Then when I met her, I could tell she was a really strong woman, and she made quite an impression on me. I gave her a kiss and a hug, and then we started talking. We spent the weekend with her sister.
I was living in a town on the border near Laredo, Texas. She was living in Brownsville, which is about eight hours away. She wanted to see me again, so I said, “How about next week?” After that I visited her every weekend for about a year, until she finally said, “Do you want to keep traveling, or do you want to stay? Tell me what you want with me.” I got the point. I said, “I want to marry you.” She said, “Okay, that’s fine.” After that, I bought her a ring, and we got married fast.
David Hirsch: Yeah. Well, I love the story. Thank you so much for sharing. And this is really before the big dating sites that everybody uses today. So you were pioneers. You were ahead of the time.
Let’s switch gears and talk about special needs, first with your situation with Edgar, and then beyond. So I’m sort of curious to know, when did you learn about Edgar’s situation, and what’s the backstory there?
Edgar Pacheco: It was around the 20-week point, I don’t remember exactly. When Diana got pregnant with Edgar, she gave me a little envelope. She said, “Open it.” I found the positive pregnancy test. I said, “I know it’s a boy!” Later, we went to get a test to see what the gender of the baby was. I was already thinking about all the things I would do with him. And the test showed that I was right—it was a boy.
But then the woman who was doing the test said, “Something is wrong. I don’t see any arms or legs on him.” I said, “Are you sure?” The doctors came in, and they also said the same thing. I didn’t believe them, because it was such a shock.
We went home and called Diana’s parents to tell them what we had heard. My father-in-law said, “Let’s pray that everything is okay.” But I had my doubts.
David Hirsch: It sounds like quite a shock, right? You saw how the technician and the doctors reacted, and they were also quite flustered. It seems like it would be overwhelming.
Edgar Pacheco: Honestly, I had mixed feelings. I was happy it was a boy, but on the other hand, I thought, “What just happened?”
David Hirsch: What were you thinking or doing at that point in time? Now this is your first child, so you’re first time parents. So you don’t have anything to compare it to. Were you afraid, or were you thinking, “He’s our son. We’re just going to have to do the best job we can”?
Edgar Pacheco: It was not easy for us. There were a lot of concerns. We decided to go to a second doctor to see if we could get a different diagnosis, but it was the same. We were told that he didn’t have any arms or legs, and that he would probably die right after he was born. They recommended that we terminate the pregnancy, like the baby was some kind of trash. We heard that same thing everywhere we went.
But his heartbeat was so strong. It was like he was sending us a message. “No, Dad. No, Mom. I’m strong. I’m fighting for this. I’m fighting on my side—you fight on your side.” Finally Diana said, “No more doctors.”
David Hirsch: I’m impressed with the fortitude that you both had to stay the course, even though the medical advice at the time was leading you to make a different decision. After Edgar was born, other than not having arms and legs, was he a healthy baby?
Edgar Pacheco: Yes. Even today he is a healthy boy. I remember when he born, Diane said, “We will find a doctor who will say, ‘You know what, Diana? Don’t worry. I can help you. Your baby will be fine.’”
There were a bunch of doctors and nurses and many people in the room when Edgar was born. All of them said, “Your boy is a healthy boy.” But the diagnosis was right. He had no legs or arms.
David Hirsch: Well, it sounds like you had to have some extraordinary perseverance. One of the things I’ve learned, Edgar, is that you can’t control what people say or do. So if you worry about those things, what people are saying and doing, life is so much more difficult.
But if you can sort of tune out what people are saying and what other people do, and focus on what you need to do for the benefit of your family, life is a little bit easier. It’s not easy peazy, but it’s not as difficult.
Edgar Pacheco: Yeah. But at some point we decided not to keep him hidden away. We took him to the mall without covering him up. I wanted the world to see, “This is my boy!” And that started the healing process.
David Hirsch: Well, not to focus on the negative, but what have been some of the biggest challenges that you faced? Challenges, you know, from the community.
Edgar Pacheco: School was a big issue. We would try to enroll him, but there was always something stopping the process. We sat down with the people in April, but we didn’t hear anything until August, and school would start the next week. The whole kids were ready to go to school. They were set up with teachers and buses and things like that. But for Edgar, we were told nothing.
So we started calling the school district to see what was going on. We were told they needed to do another evaluation. Days before school? He couldn’t start with the other children. He would be put in a classroom with kids that had Down syndrome or autism or some other disability. I saw how they would separate kids with mental issues or physical disabilities from the other children, and it bothered me that they would segregate them that way. So then we started fighting with the school
Also, the school that was close to our house was built before the ADA regulations, so they didn’t have a ramp or a special space for him. There was a brand new school that did have a ramp and all the other ADA requirements, so we started fighting for him to go there.
He went to first grade in Brownsville, but then we took him out of public school and tried homeschooling. But it wasn’t good for him, because he wasn’t interacting with any other kids, other than his little sister, and he started to get a little angry.
We also tried a Montessori school and a Baptist school, but even there he was separated from the other children. So he went back to the public school. But he was forced to quit in ninth grade, because the district would not provide services for him.
I wasn’t asking for something extra—I was asking that he be given the tools to be successful in school. They said they weren’t discriminating, but it was definitely because of his condition. He wasn’t able to complete his credits for that grade. We had to pay for someone to help him finish.
Then finally we were able to find an advocate, Louis Geigerman. He was tough with the school district. He was mad, or worse.
David Hirsch: He sounds like a bulldog.
Edgar Pacheco: I call him the shark. He helped us with getting things done. They offered to put Edgar in the engineering program, so he could finish getting his credits. Then for some reason we had to move him to another school in another district, where we started to have the same issues. But this time we had Louis, and he started fighting for him. And Edgar was able to graduate.
I didn’t understand why they treated him like that. I believe the only thing they saw was the chair. They didn’t see the person. They didn’t see what he has—his value, his challenge. They only saw the chair. That’s the only way they could do anything. The chair limited them.
David Hirsch: I’m sort of curious to know what impact Edgar’s situation has had on his younger siblings.
Edgar Pacheco: He’s had a good impact on my two girls, because he is very strong. He’s able to do many things, and he shows them that his disability is not something that stops him. His disability moves him to do things. They do have some issues they fight over—they’re brother and sisters. But at the end of the day, they’re connected.
David Hirsch: Did Edgar have any one-on-one aid, anybody to help him when he was in school, or not?
Edgar Pacheco: Yes. He always had one assistant every year. Some were good, some were bad. But he didn’t just need an assistant—he needed someone who would connect with him and help him, who would put in the extra time.
David Hirsch: Yeah. Well, I think the person that you were describing—the one that put in the extra effort, that wasn’t focused on the chair, but on the person—is one of those angels, right?
Edgar Pacheco: Yes.
David Hirsch: Not everybody’s like that, but there are people who show up in your life that play a really pivotal role. It sounds like it took a long time to finally get a person like that. But it’s gonna be really important for him for the rest of his life to have a person that has that special connection, or a couple people, so they can have some time to themselves. Because it’s something that takes constant attention.
So I’d like to talk a little bit about Edgar’s experience beyond the challenges individually that he is had. And I know that he had an influence on a Texas legislation, House Bill 1252. And I’m wondering, what’s the backstory on that, and what does that bill represent?
Edgar Pacheco: HB 1252 is a bill where the statute of limitation to file a complaint against school district in Texas was extended for two years. In the past, it was just one year. This affected us, because by the time we realized we could get lawyers to help us file a complaint, the time had passed.
But after we met Louis, he was willing to help us push the government to extend that limitation. One day Louis invited Edgar to help him with a case, and that’s where Edgar began to get knowledge about the process. Louis told Edgar, “We’d like to get someone to help pass this legislation to extend the statute of limitation, but we don’t have anyone. Would you help us with that?” Because Edgar had some background and he loved politics, he said, “Yes.”
He began to work as an intern with a candidate who was running for the U.S. Congress, Pete Olson. He also attended many political events. He was a school board candidate last year. When Louis invited him to go to the capital, he already knew quite a few of the representatives.
Pete Olsen got very involved in helping with the HB 1252, and eventually it was passed by the house of representatives. Edgar was there when the bill came to the senate floor, and he was recognized by the lieutenant governor as working day after day, often into the night, to get it passed.
When it finally passed the senate, they changed the name of the bill. It is now called the Edgar Pacheco Jr. Act. So now this is the law in Texas, and it reflects Edgar’s ability to make an impact in society. But I know it is only by the grace of God that this bill was passed.
David Hirsch: Yeah. Well congratulations. It’s quite an accomplishment, naming the bill after Edgar, recognizing all the time and energy that he put into the effort, it personalizes it. It’s not just that a number of amorphous things happened.
I think it’s a great testimony to Edgar Jr’s character, and I’m hoping it’s just the beginning of the type of experiences that’ll he’ll have in his life. It shows that if you stick to something and you follow through, you can get results.
It’s not about the deficits. The world is full of deficits, if it’s arms or legs or whatever the deficit might be. And we need to get people focused on being more inclusive and more accepting, focusing on our strengths instead of our disabilities. So I’m very inspired by the story. Thanks for sharing.
I’m thinking about advice now, and I’m wondering if there’s any advice that you can offer a young dad who’s at the beginning of his journey raising a child with differences..
Edgar Pacheco: To start to be a “special dad” is not easy. It brings a lot of mixed feelings. My recommendation to them is always support their kids. Always seek the correct help for them. And then fight for them. Learn about their rights under the law for them, because they’re protected. Find people like lawyers who can help. But most of all, love and accept your kids.
David Hirsch: Yeah. That’s really good advice. So I’m sort of curious to know, why is it that you’ve agreed to be a mentor father as part of the Special Fathers Network?
Edgar Pacheco: Louis asked me if I would like to be connected with you, and I said fine, no problem. I’m not a perfect dad, and I’ve always had my issues. But if my testimony or my words can help someone else, I’m here.
The thing I love about your organization is that everyone has done a good job with their kids, to raise them to be as happy and successful as possible. I’m very glad to be a part of that. So thank you for letting me share my testimony with you and your audience.
David Hirsch: Well, we’re thrilled to have you as part of the network. Thank you for being involved. I’m wondering if there’s anything else you’d like to say before we wrap up.
Edgar Pacheco: Dads, special kids are a blessing. We can see other dads who have normal kids, but they don’t have the same kind of relationship with them. And their kids have a lot of other problems besides disabilities.
I’m so blessed that Edgar is my son. I think every day how God has a purpose for his life and my life, and that makes me so happy. If you were to ask me if I would have choose to have him in my life, I would say yes. I grew up with him, and I’ve learned many things from him. I thank God for the opportunity to do something for him and for the special needs community.
David Hirsch: Yeah. Well, thank you. Let’s give a special shout out one more time to Louis Geigerman of the National ARD/IEP Advocates for introducing us. He does amazing work.
So if somebody wants to learn about your situation or contact you, what’s the best way to do that?
Edgar Pacheco: My phone number is 956-243-1952. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org . I’m more than happy to share my testimony about our situation.
David Hirsch: We’ll be sure to include that in the show notes so it makes it easy as possible for somebody to contact you. Edgar, thank you for taking the time and many insights. As a reminder, Edgar is just one of the dads who’s part of the Special Fathers Network, a mentoring program for fathers raising a child with special needs. If you’d like to be a mentor father, or are seeking advice from a mentor father with a similar situation to your own, please go to 21stcenturydads.org.
Thank you for listening to the latest episode of the Special Fathers Network Dad to Dad Podcast. I hope you enjoyed the conversation as much as I did. As you probably know, the 21st Century Dads Foundation is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization, which means we need your help to keep our content free to all concerned. Would you please consider making a tax deductible contribution? I would really appreciate your support.
Edgar, thanks again.
Edgar Pacheco: Thank you, David.
Tom Couch: And thank you for listening to the Special Fathers Network Dad to Dad Podcast. The Special Fathers Network is a dad to dad mentoring program for fathers raising children with special needs. Through our personalized matching process, new fathers with special needs children match up with mentor fathers in a similar situation. It’s a great way for dads to support other dads.
David Hirsch: And if you’re a dad looking for help or would like to offer help, we would be honored to have you join our closed Facebook group. Please go to facebook.com/groups and search dad to dad. Lastly, we’re always looking to share interesting stories. If you’d like to share your story, or know of a compelling story, please send an email to email@example.com.
Tom Couch: To find out more about the Special Fathers Network, go to 21stcenturydads.org. This program was produced by me, Tom Couch. Thanks for listening to the Special Fathers Network Dad to Dad Podcast.