HOLLYWOOD, FLA. (WSVN) - South Dade High School Principal Javier Perez briefly took over local airwaves, Friday morning, as the guest DJ of a popular radio show.
The school administrator arrived at the HITS 97.3 FM studios in Hollywood to take part in a segment of the DJ Laz Show. It was the latest public appearance in what has been a holiday season full of surprises for Perez.
What Perez didn’t know was that there was another surprise in store for him.
But first, DJ Laz complimented the principal on his remarkable recovery. “You look great. You look great,” said the radio personality as he greeted Perez.
Perez said he has been overwhelmed by the outpouring of support from the community in the months since alleged drunk driver Marilyn Aguilera struck him at Tamiami Park, in Southwest Miami-Dade, during his son’s baseball game, on April 26.
But Perez said his road to recovery was no walk in the park, and initially the outlook looked grim. “Basically, they came to my wife and told her, ‘Gather the family together, call on the priest, because things weren’t looking good,'” he said.
The principal credited his loved ones’ faith for getting him through the rough stretches. “Through the power of prayer, the fight that my family, my wife, my kids, my friends, myself fighting to stay alive, we made it through,” he said.
Then it was time for the big reveal. “Norwegian Cruise Line has donated a one-week cruise, all expenses paid, for you and your family, in the summer, to go and to enjoy each other,” said DJ Laz.
The gift rendered Perez speechless. It also brought tears to the eyes of DJ Laz.
“A million, million thanks to Norwegian Cruise Line, and to everybody that’s been able to help us out through this tough journey,” said Perez, “but it’s made us better people.”
Perez hung out with DJ Laz for the remainder to the show. “We need to look up to people like yourself, because it is not an easy thing that you have gone through, my friend,” said DJ Laz.
The principal also learned his students were all watching and listening on Facebook Live. “All your students back at South Dade can’t wait till you walk through those doors and come and be principal again,” said DJ Laz.
Perez then addressed his students directly and replied that it is only a matter of time. “I’m going to be walking soon, and you know it, as soon as I’m ready, I’ll be back,” he said.
The principal said all of the love he received since landing in the hospital has kept his spirits up. “The outpouring of support that I’ve received in the months since the accident, the amount of people who have reached out, whether through email, letters, phone calls, even visits at the hospital just to wish me well or my family well, has been amazing,” he said.
Perez added that this all could have turned out much worse. “Look at the people around us. There’s always someone that’s worse off than we are,” he said, “and we have to continue assisting those people that need our help, but having a positive outlook.”
On Thursday, Perez was presented the Hometown Hero Award from the Miami Heat. With that award came a check for $7,500 to help pay some of his medical bills.
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