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Remembering Dr. Carlos Pappalardo (ep. 550)

John O’Leary celebrates the life of Dr. Carlos Pappalardo on the Live Inspired Podcast.

“If he were a horse, I’d shoot him.”

I’ll never forget the sting of hearing those words spoken about me by a physician who didn’t see the hope and possibility in a 10-year-old boy hoping to regain the use of his hands.

Weeks later, I found a very different, kind-heart, visionary physician: Dr. Carlos Pappalardo. One who looked into my heart when he spoke with me, treated me as a person, and masterfully blessed me with the ability to again use my hands.

Earlier this week I learned that Dr. Carlos Pappalardo passed away at the age of 93. Today, I want to share four specific encounters with this man, how they each had a profound impact on my life and how we all can learn to live a meaningful, significant, servant-oriented, faithful and generous life.

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  • When one doctor said “If he were a horse, I’d shoot him,” another one, Dr. Pappalardo, looked into my heart when he spoke with me, treated me as a person, and masterfully blessed me with the ability to again use my hands.
  • Beautiful as an Italian sunset: When Dr. Pappalardo poured hydrogen peroxide on my hands after a surgery, he’d proclaim “Pop the champagne!” as I watched it bubble and fizz upon making contact with my skin. Afterward it was time for an “ice cream party,” as he’d carefully massage white cream on my hands before rewrapping them in their bandages.
  • When John was able to have lunch with Dr. Pappalardo, he admired his passion of being a life-long learner.
  • “Watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.” – Roald Dahl
  • Through four surgeries, Dr. Pappalaro’s enthusiasm, hope, and joy seeped into my soul. He allowed me to see the good in life and to celebrate each victory, however minor, as we fought for the best life possible.
  • My friends, your presence and love, shared boldly and vulnerably with those you encounter, may do something ultimately even more important: provide a light in the midst of great darkness. And that glimmer will remind them that they are not alone, that there is reason for hope, and that the best is yet to come.


Did you enjoy today’s episode?

You’ll love my conversation with Nurse Roy. Thirty years ago, Nurse Roy challenged me to get up, look forward and dream. It was his vision, encouragement, and action that empowered me to walk again. It took me several months, but I took my first step. It’s that step that set me on a renewed journey of possibility and purpose. Listen to Nurse Roy on ep. 38.


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