Lisette Abad

I was fighting for the gold and he was fighting for his life, I know my father would have wanted me to be at the tournament.

The After-School All-Stars is a program that has truly changed my life and that has inspired me to help others. I began with the program at a very young age, taking part in as many programs as possible. The one program that influenced me the most was a judo class being held at San Jose State University. I began taking classes after my father was diagnosed with cancer. Medical bills were too expensive and so we could not afford any other programs around the area. It only took a few weeks before I knew that I had found the sport that I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I'm not sure if it was the comfort I felt that the program offered, or the thrill of fighting, but I knew I was in love.

My father passed away on February 11th, 2007, the same day as the Western Regional tournament. I was not informed about my father's passing till the afternoon, but we were both fighting at the same time. I was fighting for the gold and he was fighting for his life, I know my father would have wanted me to be at the tournament. I believe that his love for watching me fight and knowing that he is always watching me fight, is what drives me to succeed.

I have been doing judo for about eight years and have won many national titles, I was invited to the junior Pan-American championships, and just this June I competed in the Olympic trials for a chance of making the USA team. This summer I will be training to compete at nationals in Florida and at the Junior World Team trials.

I have come to realize that although the fame of winning is always a very exciting thing, that is not what matters most. The After-School All-Stars has changed my life, with my success I hope to not just represent the program, but to show kids that anything is possible if you only set your mind to it.

Editor's Note: This story was submitted in the Summer of 2008.

America's Afterschool Storybook tells the stories of people and communities transformed by afterschool programs.

The Afterschool Alliance launched the Storybook to help commemorate the 10th anniversary of the 21st Century Community Learning Centers, the only federal initiative dedicated to supporting community afterschool programs.

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Gretchen Wright