For our very first Camelback Culture Community Spotlight interview, we met Lourdes Morris under the warming winter sun at the Echo Canyon Trailhead. It was Ms. Morris’ second time there that day; she had enjoyed an early morning hike before returning for our interview and sunshine
If you hike Camelback often, you may have had the good fortune of meeting Lourdes on her frequent sunrise ascents. She’s the one on the summit, getting her photo taken, throwing her arms out in joy for the glory bestowed by our majestic Arizona skies. Her love of this life is contagious, as she adds her Culture to our shared community
Ms. Morris was born in Chihuahua, Mexico. She smiles deeply as she describes her happy childhood on a farm as a “wild kid” with seven sisters and one brother. Her mother maintained a healthy household, keeping them active and not allowing many sugary treats in the house. Lourdes has great gratitude for this; but does remember fondly how at Christmas her mother treated them to Coca-cola and store bought cookies. Proving its the little things in life we cherish the most. She grew up to study teaching and taught elementary school in Mexico, until first moving to Chicago and then Arizona about 29 years ago. Lourdes was blessed with two children, continuing a happy life
Then, when her son Saulo was only 16 years into his vibrant life, they discovered he had leukemia. Not one to be easily deterred, Saulo showed courage and strength beyond his years. His time in the hospital exposed him to the reality of the many children in hospitals struggling with cancer, without much family or support. Eleven years ago, he created Team Saulo to provide meals, toys and community to children at Cardon Children’s Medical Center in Mesa, AZ, along with raising money for other charities. One of his first notable acts of giving came when he was contacted by the Make-a-Wish foundation. His wish? For them to give the money to Doctors Without Borders in Darfur. A first for Make-a-Wish, and after some work around existing rules, they made his wish come true! They donated $8,000 to Doctors Without Borders in Team Saulo’s name
“That’s my boy” Lourdes says with a huge smile and tears in her eyes
Saulo’s spirit of giving soon spread through his school, Thunderbird High School in Phoenix. They came together to throw “PandaPalooza” to raise money for the Cancer Society. (Panda was a nickname given to him by his friends, trying to encapsulate his happy, cheerful nature) Saulo, who played guitar, with his band, Sideways, along with many others, raised $32,000! Not to be slowed, they went on to have a drive to register potential bone marrow donors. 600 people registered in one day! Not one of them was a match for Saulo; but he was undaunted, knowing that one of those registrants could go on to help another… and they did. One of his close friends was found to be a match for someone in Florida later that year. Saving the life of another
Saulo’s beautiful story was destined to be full of love, family and friendship. It was not, however, destined to be long; he lost his battle two years after being diagnosed. Leaving his greatest gift to his mother: the purpose to Live in the Moment; to not dwell in what cannot be changed; to see the beauty, the good, the light, in Life; to keep finding purpose and community in every day. Ms. Morris carries on Saulo’s dream and the work of Team Saulo, spending every holiday and more spreading good cheer and love to the Children at Cardon Children’s Medical Center
"In the end, all the bumps along the road fall together to become a beautiful masterpiece: Your Life," Saulo Morris. Wise words shared with us by his mother, beaming with pride
A key ingredient to creating her Life’s masterpiece is hiking and the outdoors. She just doesn’t feel right if she can’t get out to hike for a while. And her outdoor adventures often find her on Camelback Mountain. When asked what her favorite thing about CB is, a wide grin comes across her face. “The sunrise, and the people, and the views, and I could go on and on and on,” she replies. I think many of us would agree. It’s not just the natural beauty, but the community Culture created on the mountain, that brings her back. Camelback Culture, Lourdes tells us, is the "friendships, adventures of the mountain, sunrises, you guys... It's a big part of my life"
Yes, we couldn’t agree more!
Team Saulo, is a small charity with every penny going to the children. If you would like to donate, they accept money, unwrapped gifts appropriate for kids from 0-18, or iTunes cards. You can contact Camelback Culture via email or DM on instagram. Team Saulo also has a Facebook page
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