On this Dad to Dad podcast, host David Hirsch talks with Special Father Jerry Castro, a financial industry veteran and father of 8, including Jack who passed away from complications due to premature birth at age 15. Jerry tells how his son was a real positive influence on the Castro family and that his legacy lives on. That’s all on this Dad to Dad Podcast, presented by the Special Fathers Network.
Dad to Dad 66 – Jerry Castro’s son Jack made a profound impact on his family & others before passing away at 15, due to his premature birth.
Jerry Castro: Just dropping a note saying that we’re praying for you or thinking of you that gives you so much stress, but he never was able to see, but he opened my eyes to more things and anybody calls arise, he never spoke. He taught me more lessons than anybody.
Tom Couch: That’s Jerry Castro of financial advisor and father of eight, including Jack who passed away from complications due to premature birth at age 15, Jerry tells how his son was a real positive influence on the Castro family. And that has legacy. Does indeed live on. That’s all on this dad to dad podcast. Here’s our 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 your 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: Now let’s listen in on the conversation between special father Jerry Castro and David Hirsch.
David Hirsch: I’m thrilled to be talking today with my friend, Jerry Castro of Annapolis, Maryland, a branch office manager with UBS. Financial services, industry veteran and father of eight children, including Jack who passed away in 2017 at age 15, from complications related to being born prematurely.
Jerry, thanks for taking the time to do a podcast interview for the Special Fathers Network.
Jerry Castro: Anytime I’ve got to do it for him.
David Hirsch: You and your wife, Catherine are the proud parents of eight children, including Jack who passed away just shy of his 16th birthday in 2017. Let’s start with some background. Where did you grow up?
Tell me something about your family.
Jerry Castro: I was born in, uh, they was up on doors and my father brought us to the United States to, uh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 1970. Grew up right outside of Pittsburgh. Went to college in Pennsylvania. I graduated and came straight into the financial services industry. I have one brother older brother and, um,
David Hirsch: That’s it. So what age would you have been when your family immigrated in from Honduras?
Jerry Castro: I was, uh, five, five years old.
David Hirsch: Wow. So pretty young age?
Jerry Castro: Yeah.
David Hirsch: And out of curiosity, what does your dad do professionally or what did he do for a living?
Jerry Castro: He came in it’s in the early sixties to play professional soccer. He was a professional soccer player and on doors.
Very good. One. And it didn’t work out. So he ended up acquiring a trade and that trade was cartography. He, uh, was introduced to a friend of a friend, learned the trade of cryptography and then designed maps for his entire career.
David Hirsch: Wow. Wow. Okay. So did he do that in Honduras as well as the U S or just in the U S
Jerry Castro: no, he’s under in the U S he never graduated from college, just starting to trade.
And, um, it says maps East to find, and I gas stations years ago. Uh, so we sat in a dark room and just design maps.
David Hirsch: Okay. Sounds like he was very detailed oriented. Is that.
Jerry Castro: Yes, he was
David Hirsch: okay. Is your dad still alive?
Jerry Castro: No. As a matter of fact, my father passed away two days prior to my son passing
David Hirsch: away. Oh, my, how old was he when he passed?
Jerry Castro: He was 91 years old.
David Hirsch: Oh, wow. So you got to know him for a good long period of time then?
Jerry Castro: Yes. Yes.
David Hirsch: How would you describe your relationship with your dad?
Jerry Castro: I’d say probably like most relationships with fathers and I was a little, he was everything to me. My parents divorced when I was, um, Then junior high school.
So my dad was always at all my sports games, football games, baseball games, and so forth. So it was close and I became a teenager. Like most teenagers, I probably became a little bit self centered and it was all about, uh, you know, myself and my friends and what I didn’t have. And my friends did have, cause I grew up in a very small apartment, you know, Rhonda home, who weren’t as close and I would say, but, um, as I got older, we became extremely close once
David Hirsch: again.
Okay. Wonderful. Were there some important takeaways, lessons that you learned from your dad that come to mind?
Jerry Castro: Uh, he was a hard worker and he was an hourly worker. So he, um, was always out early in the morning. When you live in a very small apartment, you hear everything cause he would get up very early back then like five 30, 5:00 AM.
And he would drive from in rebel, Pennsylvania, right outside of Pittsburgh, the Bronx, Pennsylvania, which is a gas, had to be about 25 miles away. And, uh, he put an overcome because we’ve gotta pay Tom and ass. So you just worked extremely hard. So the take away was that he worked extremely hard. He said to me, that all you’re owed in life is an opportunity.
And if you have an opportunity, it’s up to you to either take advantage of it, but, um, you should never be seeking a handout or anything of that nature. You know, my parents divorced. The only regret I have is I wasn’t aware, well, he probably needed me more when. I was in my teenage years, her early twenties, because he was basically alone.
David Hirsch: Wow. That’s a pretty, uh, important realization to come to.
Jerry Castro: Yes. Throw today
David Hirsch: was your older brother close to your dad as well or not?
Jerry Castro: You know what? My brother and I aren’t really that close he’s. Um, he’s older. Um, I think they had a pretty Rocky relationship, but, um, I think he had his own personal relationship with him.
Okay. I couldn’t answer I’ll close were, but he was closer to my mother and my father, but I think he had a pretty good relationship
David Hirsch: with him. Did you guys live with your mom or your dad or go back and forth?
Jerry Castro: Um, my brother more or less stayed with my mother. I was as my dad, we go back and forth every now and then.
So it was awkward because, uh, if they were dating, I would stay at my best friend’s house all the time. And he had, he was one of eight. So I think that’s where that we’d have a,
David Hirsch: okay. Did anyone else serve as a father figure when you were a young guy or perhaps as a young adult for that matter?
Jerry Castro: Um, it’s, that’s a weird question to me because I don’t want to take away what my father meant to me.
Right. But it was influential people in my life. Um, my best friend’s father, um, at Cal Stein was just his figure to me. I was always over my friend Steve’s house. They had eight kids. And, uh, you know, there were German and I’m the sort of dark, uh, Spanish kid, uh, hanging out with his family all the time. So it was kind of funny.
They took him on vacation. They did everything. I mean, uh, I basically live at their house a lot. So, um, I think he was a great figure. That’d be, that’d probably be it.
David Hirsch: Okay. So I’m curious to know how did you and Katherine meet
Jerry Castro: in Merrill Lynch.
David Hirsch: Oh, okay. Yeah. That’s right. You had worked at Merrill Lynch earlier in your career.
Jerry Castro: That’s right. Okay. Started at Merrill Lynch and, uh, we met and, um, You were great friends and you just came together and best thing that ever happened to me.
David Hirsch: Excellent. So from a career standpoint, what I remember is that you started at Merrill Lynch around 1990, originally in Pittsburgh, then you moved to DC and then from there you moved to Morgan Stanley.
Yes. So we overlapped a little bit from that perspective, uh, from 1996 to 2008. And then you’ve been with UBS since 2009 are about 10 or 11 years now. Correct. Have you always been doing the same thing or has your responsibility changed? I
Jerry Castro: need to change. I started off as an advisor and then I went into management.
Um, my wife has a very successful advisor. Also. She was a million dollar producer and when our son Jack was born, we had no expectations on what’s going to happen. So Sharon went back to work. So I was in a, I went into management and I’ve been in management since, uh, 1996. Uh, in DC, my whole career.
David Hirsch: Okay, wonderful.
So I’m going to switch gears. Let’s talk about special needs first on a personal level. And I’m wondering before a Jack situation, did you have any experience with the special needs committee?
Jerry Castro: Uh, no.
David Hirsch: No. And how did Jack’s situation transpire?
Jerry Castro: Yes, that’s a great question. Uh, he was due April of 2002. Okay.
And he was, um, born December 14th, 2001, all the doctors concluded and said that he had, um, some from a blood infection and that caused him to, um, come early.
David Hirsch: Okay. So he was born at like 25 weeks. Is that about right?
Jerry Castro: Yup. 25 weeks. And about a pound. There will rebound we, our Palm.
David Hirsch: Wow.
Jerry Castro: Who’s a, it was a very small group.
It’ll be like great little kid.
David Hirsch: Yeah. Well, it’s just frightening when you see a baby that small, not in the womb. Right. I can’t really relate to a, a little bit over a pond, but, uh, one of our daughters, our oldest daughter was a set of twins and she was born eight weeks premature. So about, you know, half the prematurity that Jack was, and she only weighed three pounds, nine ounces.
And she was in the hospital for a couple of weeks. And. Respirator surfactant because her lungs weren’t developed and looked like a science fair project. I don’t know if that was what your experience was like.
Jerry Castro: Uh, he was, he was so small. He was same way. He was on a respirator for like six months, which, um, greedy factors, eyesight.
I mean, he was really, really, really bad. So we do the mental hospitals for the first he’s part of his first year.
David Hirsch: Wow. I mean, and I’m not, it’s not lost on me that you’ve got older kids. It’s not like we just got one baby. You can both focus on being there, you know, switching off, back and forth, you know, and getting some rest and sort of maintaining your sanity.
It seems like it was one of those insane rollercoaster rides that you and Katherine must’ve been on.
Jerry Castro: It was, it was regardless that the product would be closer together, really. Um, it really showed. Uh, or industry and everybody’s character.
David Hirsch: Okay.
Jerry Castro: Which was very refreshing.
David Hirsch: So what, what is his actual diagnosis?
I know it’s not one thing, but it’s a series of things. So if you had to list them and sort of, this is the most profound, this is the next profound, et cetera. How would you describe what his diagnoses were?
Jerry Castro: Uh, I would say that the first thing is, um, his intestines weren’t fully developed. Uh, there was portions of his intestines that were, that were dead more or less.
So they had to do an operation to cut parts of his intestines out. And that required them. I don’t know the technical term, but they pulled his intestines out more or less, you know, they, they didn’t saw operation. It was a, if I remember correctly on February 4th of 2000 and, um, Too. And he had a terrible effect where his blood count shot up, um, with potassium, potassium culture up really high.
So I thought he was going to have a heart attack. He went from a pound a to like four pounds overnight looked at the mission.
David Hirsch: No,
Jerry Castro: it was, I mean, he was just a little, a fellow kicker fell away and that caused the lesions in his brain. And that was kind of the, the start of it. Um, he was in the hospital for quite some time and, um, he had a severe cerebral palsy, I mean, extreme cerebral palsy.
And he lost most of his eyesight from being on a respirator for so long.
David Hirsch: Is that like an overdose of oxygen? Yes. Is that sort of what that’s related to, right? Yeah. Yes.
Jerry Castro: And you know, when, when he was first going to NICU, they kept saying that, you know, we can’t wait for him to get off the theater, breathe on his own to be off the air.
And that was because, you know, his eyes and so forth, we wanted to
David Hirsch: preserve his eyesight. Okay.
Jerry Castro: Um, and then when we first took him for a M. And examination so forth to our John Hopkins. Uh, the doctor there, he had a horrible bedside manner. I still remember this. He said, um, just as a matter of fact, Lee, that he’s a spastic quadriplegic.
David Hirsch: Oh my. So was that a diagnosis accurate or was that just something he said that just didn’t pan out.
Jerry Castro: Well, I would say you look back on it. I mean, it was a, he could have handled the delivery significantly better, much better, but, um, he was a, I would say he, he had no ability to control any part of his body.
He can lift up his head, but aside from that, uh, he never walked. He never talked. He, um, couldn’t hold on the sayings. Uh, we always had to feed them. He always carried him somewhere, so he didn’t have function of his body.
David Hirsch: Wow. It reminds me a little bit and I don’t mean to compare your situation to anybody.
Else’s everybody’s situation is different, but, uh, one of the fellows that’s part of the network. He’s in Massachusetts as Dick Hoyt. This is that iconic father, son, or the dad’s been pushing his son and like a jumbo stroller for like the last 40 years, 34 Boston marathon, six iron man triathlons, 1200 races.
One of those, Oh my gosh. Type of stories. And I’ve gotten to know the two of them a little bit the last couple of years, and he’s just so genuine. So down to earth and you know, his son, Rick, who’s now 57, I guess, was born as a spastic quadriplegic with cerebral palsy. That’s why I was thinking about your situation and, you know, never able to talk or walk or, you know, communicate verbally.
He uses a. A computer, uh, to communicate and, um, you know, how each family sort of adapts or adjusts to their, their own reality. And it sounds like you had to do something similar in your situation as well.
Jerry Castro: It’s funny you bring them up. Um, I was watching, um, sports center when you went back and it had to be 2000 and.
Three 2004. And you know, it takes, it takes time for things to sink in because your life does change and you don’t recognize it’s changing, but I was, I’m holding Jack, but they call it story. Come on, ESPN. It was just absolutely amazing. If you just described, um, I actually called him and he actually answered the phone.
I couldn’t believe it. And, um, and I invited him to come in and speak. Uh, about, you know, his life and his life with his son and so forth. But he inspired me so much that I started running with my son. I never did what he did, all these events and my son couldn’t last for full marathon. But, um, the, and you’re so right.
He was so genuine in his talk. We invited clients and if they had teenage kids who bring their kids, it was standing room only because of his. Genuine care. And when you asked him, why do you do his? He goes, why wouldn’t I? And then it was just one of the most amazing people I’ve ever met. And what love that he really displayed for a son?
David Hirsch: Yeah. Well, it’s a very powerful story. I had been following him for. No exaggeration Jerry decades, not like actively following him, but yeah, you know, there would be news stories periodically that whether they were ESPN or sports channel or just the general media, I mean, it was a bigger story than just the athletics that those guys were pursuing.
And when we started this special father’s network, he was certainly on the short list of, you know, People that we wanted to reach out to, and he didn’t answer the phone. In fact, they didn’t really respond right away to my inquiries, but they agreed to do this interview back in March of, I guess that would have been 2018 now.
And I thought, well, I could just do an interview over the phone and, you know, knock it out. Or I could take a day off of work and I could go out there and meet with him. Maybe he’ll spend a half hour hour with me. It was like a surreal experience. It was like going to visit the Dalai Lama, honestly. Yeah. I don’t know what that’s about because I’ve never visited the Dalai Lama, but it was just like, Oh my gosh, I’m actually sitting here talking to this iconic person about something that is so close to both of our hearts, right?
The importance of a father’s love for his son or daughters or his children and three and a half hours later, I’m like, Oh my gosh, I need to get going. I need to get back to the airport. And he goes, Oh, before you do that, Would you like to meet Rick? I’m like, well, sure. So he goes, just jump in your car. You can follow me.
Rick lives about six miles up the road. And that was an amazing experience to actually meeting Rick. And, uh, you know, he he’s lived independently since he’s been 19. Rick has right. He went off to college and, you know, He wanted to be independent, like his younger brothers. Anyway, my wife refers to that is me having a man crush.
Jerry Castro: Well, that’s a great man
David Hirsch: question. Yeah.
Jerry Castro: I mean the impact he’s had. Yeah. I wish I never met a son. I wish order medicine. I never met a son. The son couldn’t travel when he came to DC
David Hirsch: while he’s still alive. Yeah. Rick is stolen and, um, They didn’t do the Boston marathon this year because Rick was hospitalized.
He had pneumonia, but, uh, I’m hoping that they’ll both live, you know, healthy and full lives like they have today. So, anyway, thanks for sharing. So I’m wondering, uh, despite the fact that, you know, you had this doctor that had less than favorable bedside manner that you were referring to, if there was any meaningful advice that you got early on, As it relates to how best to handle Jack’s situation.
Jerry Castro: I’ll answer that in two ways, what my wife and I and our kids did is we have a pretty fast active life for always busy. We always have our kids always have people over and so forth. So, um, we just took every single day as it came. But the one thing that you, that, that we really began to appreciate, because we never knew if Jack was going to live.
Uh, we were told on February 5th, instead of working out early in the morning, we’re very early riser. I’d go see my children’s hospital and it wouldn’t let me see him. And they said that he was going to have a heart attack because he had a terrible reaction to the sun surgery and he wasn’t going to make it.
I call my wife and she’s a circle and Brooklyn from Annapolis to a children’s in IDC. And, um, somebody came over to me and they said, um, at the level that your son is at, you have the option to stop care. And that was shocking to me. And I kind of snapped at the administrator. I apologize later, but I guess that’s a guideline that they have to ask.
So right away, I felt it Jack was teaching us something first and foremost. We didn’t know if she was going to live with, and you really start appreciating time. You really understand how many minutes a day and there’s 1,440 minutes in a day. And you really, really. I understand the value of time. You also understand, um, there’s people that have it worse.
And in the reason I say that is that there was other children in the hospital that weren’t as bad as Jack, but I guess it crossed a certain level of care and you really get an economic lesson there because there’s some, um, I remember a mother who had two or three other daughters, um, no father. And she couldn’t come back from the, the daughter, because if she didn’t go to work, she couldn’t take care of her three other daughters.
David Hirsch: While
Jerry Castro: you know, you start facing reality and right away you start recognizing that, you know, as we look back on it and he was teaching us time, teaching us never to judge anybody. Right. They’re teaching us said. Everything is going to be okay because no matter how bad you think you have somebody else has it worse.
On the other side, I would say that if you ever have somebody that’s a friend or even an acquaintance or somebody you don’t even know that is going through a difficult thing, just dropping a note saying that we’re praying for you or thinking of you that gives you so much strength to be able to get through another day, another week.
Because at the end of the day, life goes on and then you’re still there. So it’s nice when somebody just says. Just, how are you? How’s your son? Those things meant so much to us. These little notes they took would just show up from, from France. That was extremely powerful.
David Hirsch: Wow. So those are lessons you actually learned from Jack and the experience.
So, were there some important decisions you made, um, early on in Jack’s life or in your family, um, that help you make the most of the situation?
Jerry Castro: Um, yeah, I think so. Um, one thing is that we never opted to, uh, have a feeding tube projec. Okay. So we opted to always feed them ourselves. So it was basically my wife and myself.
And we had, um, one person to help us Angelina that would, they would be able to feed them. And Megan, wherever my wife and I free to go away or federal a business for Meghan would come in and feed them also. And to this day, We wouldn’t eat. That’s why Jack lived. As long as he did, you had that feeding tube, you would get out of infections.
And when you have an infection, when your body isn’t ready to fight off a lot of different infections, I don’t have any medical proof of this, but you read about children with the feeding tubes or the choking or something happening. And we as opted not to do it. And I thought that was an incredible decision.
And, um, the best decision ever, which wasn’t a decision at all, because it wasn’t even a consideration was when somebody asked, are you, do you want to stop care? It just, that blew my mind. I still remember that to this day.
David Hirsch: Do you think they still ask the question? It just seems so archaic.
Jerry Castro: No, I, I think, uh, at a certain level of care things, they have to ask them.
David Hirsch: Okay. Wow. Not to focus on the negative, but. Where are some of the bigger challenges that you and Catherine, your family faced over the years? I would
Jerry Castro: say others. That’s where challenges are. I mean, you know, taking care of care of Jack or life or life didn’t change completely because he needed care on the clock.
My wife, she wasn’t my, our producer. She worked her whole life. Um, she’d always be home with her daughters, went to school at five o’clock from IDC and. Extremely smart. Georgetown grad only miss one question or SATs, which is kind of, she’s much smarter than I am.
David Hirsch: We share that by the way,
Jerry Castro: my wife
David Hirsch: has valedictorian of her high school class straight A’s at Notre Dame, university of Chicago business school.
It’s like, okay, whatever you say.
Jerry Castro: Yeah. Hard to argue with, Hey, you have to, you have to go dirty. She argued with them. Yeah. Anyway, she, she gave everything up. She gave her entire career up. She, she pushed you to try new different kinds of therapy. Uh, to see if he he’d be able to walk. He was having 80, 90 seizures a day.
Um, his eyes would hurt like crazy. So, um, my wife was extremely medical. She did research and we ended up going to John Hopkins and we put him on this ketogenic diet. Uh, it was high in fat content and we kept him on that diet for. From a crutch a year or two. And it got rid of all the seizures.
David Hirsch: Yeah. This is the most amazing thing, Jerry.
I’m not exaggerating. I’m reading this book currently by a neuro psychologist. Her name is Rita Isenstein out in LA. It’s an amazing book. And in it, she profiles this one family. They’re a Jim and Nancy Abramson. And. Their son, Charlie had like hundreds of seizures on a daily basis. They couldn’t get on top of it.
The medication didn’t work, they had surgery that surgery didn’t work and they’re just going, you know, just trying to figure out what to do. And they found this research that had been done like the 1920s or thirties on this ketogenic diet. That you were just making reference to and you know, what, the sort of help of a dietician, you know, they tried to get their son, Charlie who’s now I think, you know, in his late twenties on this diet and within a month, they report that he is medication free and.
No seizures has not had any, any seizures for the rest of his life. It was such a transformative experience. Their family, they started something called the Charlie foundation for kinesthetic, uh, therapies. Right. Is what they do. I mean, that’s what the family does. I’m like, Oh my gosh. So you’re living proof.
That there is something there that has them to do a diet, as it relates to, um, addressing, um, Cesar country.
Jerry Castro: It was, it was amazing. So it made his life better. You know, you find it also it’s it’s on you. It’s on the family. If you really want to do the best care for your child, uh, you know, these nichey nurses deserve so much recognition and they don’t get paid with her.
What they deserve, uh, kinda makes you feel guilty when you’re in there. You’re you, you start recognizing the value of what a. Kind words. And then we all are brought up to say nice things, but you can bump into a lot of people throughout the day. And it’s like, they’re trained to say, how are you as they walk by
David Hirsch: like robots?
They’re like robots. Yeah,
Jerry Castro: exactly. Did you have a great weekend? Oh, that’s so great. Sounds like fun, but they’re not really listening. It just, it just made you realize that it’s those little important things in life that really matter. But it made me also realize that my wife saved. Jack life numerous times because these people were worked.
Maybe they were the wrong blood, came one to that potassium and they would kill them. She started, she was just on top of everything and, um, It changed us, but I think it brought us closer. It was a trying time, but it’s tartar. It started us on a journey December 14th of 2001. It was my defining moment of my life had changed everything on so many things that I view personally, me professionally, all my life.
And I also believe it change my, um, of children and, uh, all of us and everything. Jack had an impact on a lot of people that just. Saw him either with me or it’s one of their bro, his brothers and sisters out.
David Hirsch: Yeah. Well, it is very powerful. Thank you for sharing. And I, I was going to ask what impact Jack’s situation has had on his siblings and the rest of your family for that matter?
Jerry Castro: Well, um, he just makes you realize what’s important in life. Um, not none of our kids are lazy because, uh, Jack can never walk. I think he did this for everybody. I can speak on that for me, because all of us have our own individual stories, but he never was able to see, but he opened my eyes to more things and anybody Carlos arise, he never spoke, but he taught me more or lessons than anybody has ever taught me.
So that led for me. And I believe with my children also, and my wife. Then when you see somebody and they give you an answer, like, how are you doing? You know, typically if somebody says, okay, and we just walk on, you can tell something’s wrong. It made us dig deeper, you know, listen to understand. And it also made us realize that every decision you have, the second third level consequences of their initial decision are more important than that initial decision.
Taught us to, you know, just be thoughtful that everybody deserves attention. Everybody deserves to be heard to listen, to understand, see, to understand and you know, be compassionate. Yeah.
David Hirsch: Very powerful. Thank you. It’s almost takes my breath away to think about it.
Jerry Castro: The goal was to provide him with the best life possible.
And at the end of the day, if I came, whenever I came home at night, he heard my voice. He would just smile. And if you read my wife’s voice smile, I started running with him because I never ran at all. And then I’ve run 11 or 12, 13 miracle research marathon because of him. I trained with him, um, because to me, if, why can’t I run, he can even use his legs.
So he just changed us all every morning. I get up at four, I go work out every morning. I’d go in his room and I’d give him a kiss goodbye. And he’d just smile. And I really thought he was telling me to have a good day, you know, and given me the motivation or the, um, to, just to go, go for it because you can.
So, and I think he thought that for our kids in their own way, And me and my wife as
David Hirsch: well. So it sounds like, uh, you did push them like in a stroller or something if you’re training with them for the marathon. Yes.
Jerry Castro: Yes.
David Hirsch: Did you ever compete at any like five K’s or 10 K’s or anything like that?
Jerry Castro: No. Um, he, he could laugh apparently he could last maybe 15 miles.
Okay. So he was great. I can never do them in a marathon and run them in a marathon and so forth. Nothing like the court there. Coy is a Superman. Okay. Nothing I can bet they coin did inspire me watching that show that I reflect back. He did inspire me to reach out to him and made me realize if he can do what I can do it.
I can engage with my son in a way. And Jack loved it because when the wind hit his face, he would relax. Otherwise, when you put him in a car seat, he would strain like crazy and living in Annapolis, I always run to the Naval Academy and by the water, he would just, he would just love it. I mean, he really, really enjoyed it.
And, um, it was actually was free. If you were see Dick and run with a son, his son was so happy. You know, Dick may be struggling a little bit, not always had it, but his son’s really happy. He opened my eyes. And I think that is the power of, of not being, not holding back and taking a child out that has disabilities.
I started taking him to, um, to church every Sunday. And I would sit in the third Pew at this church in st. Mirrors. And at first I was worried that people were going to stare and, you know, whatever, really. I looked back at Dick Lloyd and he made me realize that, take your son out. I mean, he’s a human being.
And if everybody wants to judge shame on them. So I started doing the same thing with Jack and Oh, I know for a fact that Jack impacted so many people. That saw me taking him there. And it was just awesome.
David Hirsch: Yeah. Well, I think most of us have a pretty significant self-awareness about how people see us and how people judge us.
And I think that what I heard you saying is that you have to let go of that.
Jerry Castro: No question about it.
David Hirsch: And that’s another lesson, another takeaway, and another really positive takeaway is you can’t control what people think or say no. So don’t worry about it. And I think it also helps you me to be less judgmental.
And, uh, different situations, you know, whether it’s work or our personal affairs for that matter.
Jerry Castro: When you say judgment, a short, quick story, I wasn’t interested one day and there was always this guy that would come in and we only went to seven AMS. Okay. I mean, he really jacked love that. I felt like angel for talking to him.
There was this guy who would always sit in the front Pew, you ever come across in an older man. And he just looked like they were mad at the world. So I, I formed a judgment of him. He kept staring back as a year into me going to church every Sunday and 7:00 AM Masco. Are there serious Catholics there?
Right. So one day he just keeps looking back and, and I am just getting. Very angry
David Hirsch: in church of all places you’re getting angry, right? Yeah,
Jerry Castro: exactly. I’m not kidding. And then he kept looking back and, um, uh, I mean the F bomb is in my head. Um, I’m getting angry. I’m trying, I’m actually singing an act of contrition right away, because I’m going to hit this guy.
If he says anything. That’s what I see. So tourist trends, priests, you know, walks out. We, uh, go to the Pew, he grabs my arm. I said, okay, this is it. And I have Jack on one hand because he goes, go to caring. I turned around and I was going to say something and we connect eyes and he had watery eyes and he had tears coming down any, he just wanted to tell me how much he admired the ratio of my son and how much of an impact my son has given him.
And I went from, from anger to feeling like the biggest jerk in the world to almost crying myself. Because it made me realize, first of all, who am I to judge a human being? You know, I was judging him thinking, he’s thinking negative of my son when he wasn’t. And it made me realize how much of an impact is having on people that I don’t even know.
And it just made me feel so great. But once again, he taught me is through Jack. He taught me a lesson that I never thought I judged, but I caught myself. I wasn’t judging. And I think we do it all the time and we shouldn’t because of it, the end of the day, we’re all human beings money. Doesn’t give you that.
Yes. It’s being an unconditional human being. So telling me we’re, we’re completely unconditional under respect, anything in return, even with work in our industry, I don’t expect anything in return, but I think if she, you act that way, people want to do things as a result. And, and because they know it’s genuine and, uh, I owe that to my, my son and I’m extremely conscious, never judging human beings.
David Hirsch: Very powerful. Thank you for sharing. And it is ironic, you know, we judge people by. Their appearance, their body language, the car, they drive the neighborhood, they live in, you know, fill in the blank. And, you know, until you actually get to know somebody like, even just a brief conversation, you realize how wrong you were,
Jerry Castro: right
David Hirsch: about what what’s going on, right.
In somebody else’s life. And the beauty that goes along with. You know, being open minded and being understanding about other people’s situations and yeah, that’s a beautiful story. Thank you for sharing. So I’m thinking about advice and I’m wondering what some of the more important takeaways that come to mind, raising a child with differences.
I know you’ve made reference to some of them already, but I’m wondering if there’s anything else that comes to mind.
Jerry Castro: Um, I think that being aware that time is precious. And spending quality time. There’s four turn 40 minutes in a day jacket for 5,812 days. I got a tattoo here on my upper shoulder. You can see just a number.
Wow. It’s the number of days you do it because every day you can have an impact, can be the smallest impact. He taught me that before he was born, as you know, and as you can be both in the same industry, competition is something that. That’s there. And then people that are competitive and do exceptionally well.
And you’re typically competing against another firm or somebody else and so forth. When he was born, he opened my eyes and competition. Isn’t about the competition about me against me. And if I can become a better person and then it was the day prior, and then I’m always going to be competing at a high level.
Well, because our people don’t do that. So he made me realize that competition’s all about me. He also made me realize that it’s my obligation. Everybody’s obligation to, to the, his capabilities. And everybody has different levels of abilities is somebody’s best capability is to do a quarter of the job that somebody else does.
If they’re doing it to their fullest and the person that’s doing four times is only doing it to 50% of their forest. I want the guy that’s doing it. In a quarter because he’s giving it all and that’s all you can ever ask a human being. And I believe that Jack did that every day by impacting, by having a great smiling all the time.
And so he gave me this, he lifted this huge weight off my shoulder saying, Hey, who cares about what everybody else is doing? I got to compete with myself to be able to we’re human being a better person, a better father or a husband, a better friend, a better leader, a better colleague. And, and that’s what life’s about and being unconditional, as I mentioned before, that was the biggest thing.
You should do things, the kindness of your heart and not do things because you want to be, Oh, he gives so much to this charity and so forth. Well, that to me is fake. You know, just recognizing these little things. He really did change all of us. He made us all much more compassionate. And aware
David Hirsch: all spoken.
Um, and, uh, thank you again for sharing as well as emphasizing the importance of time, how precious that really is. You know, we have to be unconditional as far as our, um, the mints to not only our family members, but those that we’re responsible for and beyond for that matter. And, um, One of the thoughts that comes to mind has to do with, um, the word competition.
And I was told for the first 35 years of my life, how competitive I was. So I ended up at the Gallup leadership Institute. We go through this 21 theme analysis, you know, trying to figure out what our drivers are and what’s holding us back and all that. And. They come back and they say, well, you know, you realize you’re not competitive.
Right. And I’m said, well, you’re the only person that ever told me in my first 35 years that I’m not competitive. You must have made a mistake because how could you be riding everybody else be wrong as well? Um, it’s not a matter of being right or wrong, but we think that some people are driven by other things other than competition.
I said, well, I just know for a fact that I’m competitive and this, well, you might think so, but we think that you’re achievement oriented. I said, well, what really is the difference between being achievement oriented, being competitive? And they said, well, people who are competitive, it’s all about winning and losing.
Right. Zero-sum and people who are achievement oriented are those that set very high standards for themselves. They work diligently to improve themselves and get to wherever they want to be. And it was like a light bulb clicked on Jerry. It was like a liberating experience to say, Oh my gosh, Harold. Well, the first 35 years of my life, I thought I’m a competitive person.
People are always comparing me to themselves and other people and yeah. Was like a transformative experience to say, Oh yeah, that’s really what I am. I’m okay. If I don’t win. Right. As long as I give it everything, I’ve got like chase down every fricking tennis ball on the tennis ball court. That is just like my personality.
I’m never going to give up. No, it’s, uh, it’s important. And I think I sort of heard you saying that, you know, the word competitive, but what I heard was you’ve understood that same issue, that same fact, which is it’s not about winning and losing, right? It’s not about comparing yourself to other people.
It’s about having high standards and working diligently to achieve your goals, whatever those are. And like you were saying, you’d rather be surrounded with people that are giving it everything they have. Versus people that are super smart that are just like going through the motions. Right. Anyway, that resonated with me really strong.
So I’m wondering why is it that you’ve agreed to be a mentor? Father is part of the special fathers network.
Jerry Castro: Um, because what I learned the first couple of weeks when Jack was in hospital and he didn’t know she was going to make it and so forth how that. Just just a, a kind of thought, a kind message, a kind note, the little unexpected things, or somebody that you don’t even know shares a, you know, I’m praying for your gives you a mass card or, or just as something out of the strength that it gives a human being.
And that that’s strange in a lot of instances because it can mean the difference between somebody going into full blown depression. And, and really just moving to fight another day, you know, and given up it’s, um, it’s amazing. So, um, if I can help anybody get through that and I can let them know, Hey, I’m, I’m speaking from experience.
I know what it feels like late at night when it says you with your thoughts and it’s starting to sink in how your life is going to change. I know what that feeling is, and it’s okay to be upset. It’s okay to cry. It’s okay to, you know, feel like the world’s coming to an end because it’s not. And we should be thankful that we’re going through this experience because it’s teaching you something and love can get you through everything.
So, um, if I can help anybody get through those times, I know how. I felt I’d love to give back. And it also, I’ve spoken a lot about Jack with his other groups that I belong to. And, um, it makes me feel like Jack is still creating an impact and he’s still alive and he’s still here and that’s makes me feel awesome.
David Hirsch: Yeah. Well, his legacy definitely lives on, even though he’s not with us physically with us. No, just hearing you talk about, um, the impact that he’s had on you and Katherine and your family and people that you’ve. Brush up against whether it’s at church or in different situations. And, you know, I’d like to think that we’re all better people.
I think, you know, I’m a better person just for listening to your story and having a better understanding about, you know, the challenges, the opportunities that your family is encountered and, you know, there’s a purpose. Uh, behind all the things that go on in our lives. And I think oftentimes it’s just a matter of the enlightenment that goes along with all those things that are going on is having that higher level of, of awareness and being able to process it and put it all in perspective.
Jerry Castro: Yeah. I heard a quote once. I, it just resonates with me in some, this books that I haven’t had too long ago. And the quote was pain is nature’s reminder that there is something important for me to learn. And when I think back on that, anytime you go through something painful, you’re learning valuable lessons.
So instead of being afraid of pain, you should welcome pain and look at it as a, as an opportunity to learn something, to become a better person and help others. And, um, that really resonated so that can’t get that quarter to my mind.
David Hirsch: Yeah, well, I think it applies in a personal situation, our personal lives, and, you know, think about the type of work that we do.
You know, the lessons that you learn from your actual experience, right? As an investor, you know, you learn more from the time you lost something, right. Something didn’t go the way you anticipated than you did when everything sort of worked out as you anticipated, right. You’re much higher level of awareness and those lessons are the ones you’ll never forget.
So let’s give a special shout out to our mutual friend, Greg H and who’s the Chicago market had at UBS for helping bring us together.
Jerry Castro: Most definitely. I owe him a lot.
David Hirsch: Well, I don’t know him a lot yet, but I’m looking forward to getting to know him better.
Jerry Castro: Well, for connecting us, you can tell he’s a quality human being and anytime I’ve been around him, he is definitely a class act.
David Hirsch: Yep. Absolutely. Amen. So is there anything else you’d like to say before we wrap up?
Jerry Castro: The only thing I would say is that, um, no matter what kind of life anybody has, it’s a gift. And how you approach life every day and all the minutes you haven’t today, Valley treasure them because all those minutes and how you spend them is gonna determine what kind of a life you have and how happy you can be.
David Hirsch: Wonderful. So if somebody wants to get information on this, a ketogenic diet, or to contact you, how would they go about doing that?
Jerry Castro: I would say they reach out to you or me and I give him my wife’s cell phone number and she’ll walk them through it. Cause she had her everything and John Hopkins and so forth so well,
David Hirsch: Jerry, thank you for your time. And many insights as reminder, Jerry is just one of the dads. Who’s agreed to be a mentor father as 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, your own.
Please go to 21stcenturydads.org. There are a host of ways you can support the Special Fathers Network. You can post a review on iTunes, share the podcast with friends as well as making a charitable donation to the 21st Century Dads Foundation, Jerry, thanks again.
Jerry Castro: Thank you.
Tom Couch: And thank you for listening to the dad to dad podcast presented by this Special Fathers Network.
TheSpecial 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 fathers to support fathers go to 21scenturydads.org. That’s 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.
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The dad to dad podcast is produced by Couch Audio for the Special Fathers Network. Thanks for listening.