Love Transcends; Love Remains

Community EngagementBlog

Estimated Reading Time: 4 Minutes

“A family is like a circle
The connection never ends
And even if at times it breaks
In time it always mends”
—Nicole M. O’Neil

For what is love without kindness? These are the questions we generally ask ourselves when we search for stories we can share with you. In that search for stories, we occasionally come across people who show us the power of human connection and kindness. More so, we can observe firsthand its positive effects directly on others. When we spoke with Carol Snyder we had the opportunity to observe that love in its purest form is possible when it moves beyond ourselves and focuses on the one who asks only for love and companionship. Such is Carol’s love for her 66-year-old brother Warren Rovegno. Warren’s story is one through Carol. Carol’s story is the same as her brother’s.

Warren is unusual. Throughout his life, the boundaries that we as a society often try to impose, he has ignored them and eliminated them. He ignored distance, time, and space to coincide in an inclusive circle with a unique group: his sister Carol and her husband James, as well as his beloved pet Ellie, Carol’s family, and an exclusive group of bikers – American Legion Riders – that has given new meaning to his life.

In speaking with Carol, we realize that Warren’s story is one of continuous hope and living on terms in which love is a central part of his life. Warren, who has Down syndrome, lived most of his life with his parents in New Jersey. After the passing of his parents, he moved in with his sister Carol in 2000. He has been connected to the Inland Regional Center for years, receiving services that contribute to a fuller and more holistic life. Carol explains that Warren participates in a program at Rancho Cucamonga where he has the opportunity to participate in recreational activities. He enjoys being at the pool and loves his pet Ellie immensely. His interactions today are more limited as he requires constant care. However, he enjoys the opportunity to spend time with the American Legion Riders, which James is part of as well as the American Legion.

Carol shares that Warren started showing an interest in motorcycles. Carol’s husband, James, made modifications to his motorcycle using a bike rack to accommodate the wheelchair Warren needs for transportation. His love not only for riding motorcycles but for the experience of the ride itself is visible in his expression. There are other activities that he likes, however, traveling by motorcycle gives him that special something that other people find in art, sports, or music, for example. That’s why, seeing Warren’s enthusiasm, members of the American Legion Riders proposed something unusual: Warren should become a member of the group.

Joining the American Legion Riders was no easy task. To join the group, you must have been in the armed forces, and Warren didn’t have the opportunity to serve. However, it is in adversity that the best answers often come. Carol and Warren’s father was in the military during his lifetime, as a World War II (WWII) veteran, but was never a member of the American Legion Riders. Committee members proposed something even more unusual: granting an honorary membership after death to the father of Warren and Carol. Considered very special, the request must be made to the national commission and await a response.

To Carol and her family’s delight, the request passed and with that, her father became an honorary member. The next step was for Warren to join as a Son of the American Legion. With the excitement that every accomplishment can offer, the honor of becoming a member could not be any less. For that, the American Legion Riders collaborated to make the moment even more magical for Warren by holding a special ceremony to grant him membership in the group. Warren was inducted as a member of the American Legion Riders on April 23, 2022, in an event where veterans, riders, and family members celebrated Warren’s accomplishment. Carol recounts that for her brother Warren and his family, it was a very special moment because it allowed them to experience unforgettable moments that are only possible when there is a support group behind them to make it happen.

Warren’s story with his family and how he succeeds in becoming a member of the American Legion Riders reminds us more often than not, the most significant moments in our lives are the ones we share with those we love and for whom we are important. The victories are as big or small as we want to see them, but they are much better with a circle of support by your side at all times to celebrate them. Warren’s family knows this is a great step to share and we at Inland Regional Center (IRC) believe so too, so we’re sharing it with you. And if you happen to run into Warren while driving the Southern California roads, don’t forget to say hi! Warren and his family will thank you.

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Community Engagement

Inland Regional Center's Community Engagement Unit can be reached at [email protected]

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