Veronica, Kansas City, Missouri 

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”I left home when I was 15, going on 16. I can chart a lot of things that explain why I didn’t get along with my family. I have 6 brothers and sisters and I was the oldest of the sons. There were 5 of us, but really when my brother, who was a year younger than me, committed suicide my life changed. It really woke me up as it related to my family. I put myself through college and I made a go of it and I was never going to look back. People ask me “Why would you ever do that?” and well it’s because my parents gave me all the right tools. I just didn’t agree with their values and I believed everybody was a human being and my parents were raised in the depression with some harsh ideas around humanity. I didn’t get along with their social values and how they operated in the world. They thought money was everything and that for me has never been a top priority. My brother’s suicide threw me through a major loop. It made me realize, how important my family was. But also, how could my brother think there wasn’t more to life than that? So, I took a deep search and I never wanted to get that depressed to the point where you don’t feel that life isn’t going have a good tomorrow and that’s when Veronica really started in the soul and in the heart. So, I started living as my authentic self, that was a real critical moment for me in 2002. In my post-transition once I retired and wasn’t a national swim team coach anymore, I wrote a book with a couple other people, so I’d leave a legacy. So, there’s a book out there called “Let ‘Em Play” that's centered on teaching young parents and young athletes and young coaches what youth sports can be, so you can maximize your dreams. I wrote it with a doctor who has their PhD in psychology and a professional baseball player in the hall of fame. I do a lot of charity work. I run a Meals on Wheels route every week and I volunteer for Cancer Action which is an organization that started in Kansas City and we provide care and transportation for patients who don’t have family. I have grandchildren over for breakfast every morning because their mothers are teachers and we take them to school, pick em’ up after school, and we watch em’ and that’s what I do. Life isn’t too bad. “


Basil Soper