“It’s okay to feel bad sometimes; we are all going to shed tears. But don’t live there and by all means, don’t feel sorry for yourself. Look for the strength; sometimes you’ll find it within and oftentimes it will come from another human being. But thank God for every day, because there is a blessing wrapped in every struggle.”
If a picture is worth a thousand words, then a video is worth a million…
Oct. 31, 1987 — Anthony Razzano’s world would be forever changed when his happy-go-lucky life as a seventh-grader was reduced to ashes in a split second, landing him in an emergency room up against seemingly insurmountable odds.
A single match was lit, igniting a fireball that would swallow a young Anthony Razzano whole. The garage didn’t catch fire, but he did. Razzano was treated by paramedics from Noga Ambulance and taken first to Jameson Hospital’s emergency room, but his injuries were so severe that he was flown by helicopter to West Penn Burn Center in Pittsburgh. There, doctors gave Razzano little hope for a life he barely even had the chance to begin. With third-degree burns over more than eighty-seven percent of his body, he was destined to become another statistic; In fact, at the time of Razzano's arrival at West Penn Hospital, the Doctors gave him a mortality rate of one hundred percent.
“We were doing something we shouldn’t have been doing,” Razzano recalls candidly when asked what he and a friend were doing in the garage at his mother’s house, waiting to play an important Pop Warner League game. “We were sniffing gasoline.”
Doctors told his parents that he would probably die overnight. He would probably die within three days if he miraculously made it through the night. If he fought through those three days, he would die in three weeks of infection. The fingers on Razzano’s left hand were amputated due to gangrene. His temperature spiked to 106 degrees at one point, and his blood pressure was 49 over 20. Family members and friends held an all-night vigil, and the next morning—by some miracle—his fever broke, his heart rate stabilized, and his blood pressure rose. These were details Razzano would learn later because doctors had put him into an induced coma to help ease his excruciating pain.
“As I lay on the table, the pain of my burns being scrubbed was nearly pushing me to the edge. Being on fire is beyond imaginable, but the process of cleaning the injuries was far worse. In life, there are two types of people, those who fight through adversity and those who run from it. This was but one of many moments where I would be tested. Could I sustain the pain coursing through me? Or would I just roll over and die?”
The Last Rites
Hanging on through multiple bouts of infection and respiratory failure as specialized surgeons performed twelve operations, he underwent a rarely-used surgical procedure at West Penn Hospital’s Burn-Trauma Center to graft healthy, un-burned skin from his scalp and feet or from cadaver donors onto various parts of his body. There was no hope—so they thought—with every overnight victory being written off as a new, albeit delayed, expiration date; Razzano’s clock was ticking down, and the few days that they thought he had left would be full of pain and suffering. Last rites were administered three separate times, and his parents were told by physicians to make funeral arrangements more than once.
Both Anthony and his family remained determined and resolute in their goal to help him live another day, each day, for three months. Scarred and suffering pain like no other, he was alive and miraculously made it to his discharge date. What followed was nine months of rehabilitation, two years filled with 43 additional surgeries as well as 134 blood transfusions, and years of physical therapy beyond that.
The New Path
Playing professional sports is in Anthony's DNA with 9 Superbowl rings in the Razzano family. No one believed he would ever play again, but survival wasn’t enough for him. Anthony couldn’t handle living his teenage years under the shadow of his injury. So, after he was released from the hospital, he continued to fight. A few years after the accident that forever changed him, Razzano became the starting outside linebacker for the New Castle Red Hurricanes under legendary coach Lindy Lauro. By refusing to accept the odds or any limitations, he could live his dream of playing football.
“The bus door opened, and with helmet and shoulder pads in hand, I stepped onto the pavement on a blustery New Castle night. Before my accident, I used to look at the stars in the darkness on nights like this and wonder about what my future held. It all seemed so far away. And tonight, I couldn’t help but feel that the future had arrived. It was time for new goals and dreams, things that would keep me alive for the years to come. There were so many stars in the sky, and so many dreams left to make a reality.”
Fast forward: Most people, by looking at Razzano, aren’t aware that he lives in pain every day. Anthony, now 47, is a loving husband and father, a successful businessman as a certified wealth manager and licensed NFL agent, and coaches his son’s little league team outside of Pittsburg, PA. He remains an integral and beloved community member with a passion for youth sports and the power of living each day and playing as if it were your last. Of the 30 million children and teens in the U.S. participating in organized sports, about 3.5 million are injured every year.
Whether it’s common injuries like sprains, strains, and fractures or more severe trauma that can come from contact sports, Anthony finds that his story acts as a beacon of hope for children who are in recovery from sports-related injuries and yearning for the day that they can get back on the field, even when the odds of them being able to play again don’t look great.
Moreover, his story of success and perseverance well into adulthood he wasn’t sure he would ever get to see, inspires others facing difficult setbacks, unexpected illness or injury and seemingly insurmountable odds to adapt, keep faith in themselves, and thrive.
“In life, you have to adapt to circumstances. We’re all faced with tragic circumstances, and each of us bears scars—some are internal, and some you can see. Any play can be your last play, so it’s important to cherish your opportunities, even if you're not injured because you never know what tomorrow might bring.”
Looking for a speaker who will inspire your audience through the power of adaptation, the importance of cherishing each opportunity, and the resilience of the human spirit?
Anthony is an experienced and enthusiastic speaker who has shared his story with people from all walks of life. From classrooms, to locker rooms, to corporate events, he looks forward to adapting his keynotes to meet your audience’s needs, delivering an insightful and engaging talk.
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Learn how to reframe adversity from hopeless to happiness.