Paco, My Dyslexic Hero

by Skye Malik

 (Me and my grandfather, Paco)
(Me and my grandfather, Paco)

Have you ever felt a connection with one of your grandparents? It could be as simple as the love of the same restaurant or as complex as communicating without being able to speak the same language. Well I have had that connection with my grandfather Leo Corey, otherwise known as Paco in my family. We both share the same learning disability, dyslexia. However, I found out about it much earlier than he did; I was diagnosed after second grade. Paco waited 80 years to find out the name for his struggles.

Growing up with one older brother, as I did, pales in comparison to growing up with six siblings. In Paco's case, he and his younger brother, Don, ended up in the same grade, but Don surpassed him in reading skills. "I was mad at myself.," Paco said, "It was very sad." He did not let this stop him but continued to diligently work and complete his homework with his trusty dictionary beside him. When he went to high school, he persevered but refused to read in front of the class. "In high school, once a teacher called on me to stand up and read, and I didn't. I just sat there." In 1943, when Paco was 18, he never received his high school diploma because he left high school to join the SeaBees, a regiment of the Navy.

Paco fought in World War II and the Korean War. Being a veteran not only makes him my hero but a hero of the country. When he was not fighting in the wars, Paco worked at the New England Power Company (NEPCO) following in his father's footsteps. Even without a high school diploma or a college degree, he still became a superintendent of NEPCO. He never let his dyslexia stop him from having a successful career. Paco is a two time survivor of cancer. He bravely fought it off once years ago when I was much younger. He is currently fighting it off now and is recovering from his surgery everyday. In between these bouts of cancer, Paco still goes to workout in the gym at the retirement home where he lives, and he and my grandmother take fitness classes together to stay healthy. If Captain America was Paco's age, he probably would not look as good.

One of the main reasons why Paco is my hero is because after 80 years of hiding his struggles to read, he can finally admit it. He more than just admitted it, he accepted it. Growing up, he always thought he was stupid and used to feel bad about himself. But since he learned the name for his difficulties and realized he was not dumb, his views on himself have changed. "I know I have difficulty reading, but I am great at everything else I do." Because of this, I am honoring him by naming my newest dyslexia endeavors after him, The Paco Project. (https://thepacoproject.org/home.aspx)  One of my goals with this project is to help dyslexic students not feel ashamed but rather feel capable and realize that they may have weaknesses but they have other strengths to balance it.

To me, Paco is more than just a grandfather. He is my fellow dyslexic family member, the one who knows how school and work can become extremely difficult at times, the one who truly understands how I feel and what I go through. He shares the fame with me of The Paco Project, and I am proud to share his story with others. In my eye, he will always be my Captain America and my dyslexic hero. Paco, together we will change the way dyslexic students and the world views dyslexia. We will show everyone that dyslexics can succeed at any thing they choose to take on. When I graduate high school and go to college, it will not only be for me but also for you.

Page created on 6/5/2014 2:18:18 PM

Last edited 1/5/2017 11:12:38 PM

Related Links

The Paco Project - From shame to empowerment. Helping NYC students with dyslexia.
Learning Ally - Making reading accessible to all

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