Christmas lights around downtown Mount Dora attract visitors from as far away as Europe. One of the most popular features is the Main Street Leasing Musical Christmas Tree on 4th Avenue. The displays will remain on nightly through January.
David Robarge’s life has been a battle since early childhood. The 33-year-old, deaf since he was 5, has endured multiple car accidents, survived brain surgery, and, most recently, severely injured his hip after falling off a roof. In addition to this, Robarge has been targeted by bullies because of his short stature and physical disabilities. Robarge believed that wearing two hearing aids made him more likely to get picked on by bullies at school, so he would remove one in hopes that it would curb the harassment he endured. Not only did it not stop the bullies, but he caused permanent damage to his right ear by not wearing the hearing aid. As an adult, he became afraid to go out by himself and grew depressed. His depression and anxiety would have continued had it not been for a chance encounter on Facebook with Brian Ruscio, owner of Grappling Mastery, a local gym specializing in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Ruscio sent Robarge a friend request and invited him to visit his facility and try out Jiu Jitsu. A year later, Robarge credits Jiu Jitsu and the Grappling Mastery team with changing his life. He has become a more confident person and is giving back by helping young kids learn Jiu Jitsu as well as how to deal with bullies.
Ted “Doc” Kendall, a veteran combat medic for the United States Navy, recently discovered that Jiu Jitsu is an effective and life-changing therapy to help him deal with the PTSD he incurred from an IED attack in Iraq. Kendall has been training at Grappling Mastery, in Mount Dora, Florida, where he often attends multiple classes a day. The martial art gives him a much-needed outlet for his depression, anger, and frustration. According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, 11-20% of veterans who served in Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. As a result, many veterans experience nightmares, flashbacks, and survivor’s guilt, along with a host of other symptoms. Veterans often have difficulty re-adjusting to civilian life after they are discharged. A report released in 2013 estimates that 22 veterans commit suicide per day.