I Beat the odds. Now I'm helping others do the same.

Mario Guidos (Saint Michael's Catholic Church) nearly died. The year was 2006. Mario was just 17 years old when he was the innocent victim of a drive-by shooting in Inglewood. After emergency surgery, doctors gave him 48 hours to live. Mario's family prepared for the worse.

But, that wasn't the plan for Mario's life. 

When he pulled through and stabilized, doctors called Mario the "Miracle Kid". Because of the sensitive location of his wound, doctors said he'd have to live with a bullet lodged in his skull. He'd also have to live with a set of disabilities that would render most unable to move forward. 

But, again, that wasn't the plan for Mario's life.

 A hospital x-ray of Mario's skull, 2006

A hospital x-ray of Mario's skull, 2006

Ten years after his injury, Mario Guidos achieved what should have been impossible. In spring 2017, he graduated from Los Angeles City College with an Associate degree in Human Services. He transferred to the School of Social Work at Cal State Los Angeles. And, today, Mario's story is a powerful example of the impact of Ascending Lights.

When Mario joined Ascending Lights, he was actively serving at Saint Michael’s Catholic Church. As an aid in Catechism classes, he often shared his personal and educational journey with underserved students in South LA. “Around here, many kids are forced to go to Mass,” Mario says. “They slouch in the pews. You can sense that they’re discouraged and disengaged.”

As an Ascending Lights scholar,  Mario's used his platform to bring a message of hope into the lives of students. “I became a sort of ambassador for Ascending Lights,” Mario says. “I tell everyone how my mentors not only kept me on track academically, but nurtured my spirituality."

 Mario Guidos (right) of Saint Michael's Catholic Church receives an academic achievement award from his mentor, 2009

Mario Guidos (right) of Saint Michael's Catholic Church receives an academic achievement award from his mentor, 2009

Mario says that he often senses the need for additional church-based services and trained volunteers in his community. “In South LA there are a number of students—middle school to early high school—who are exposed to gang culture,” Mario says. “As a result, many are testing boundaries and seeking attention. Anybody I meet who seems lost, I gravitate toward. You never know if you’re getting through, but you still do the work.”

We're proud to share Mario's story.

As a leader in his church community, his resilience, integrity, faith, and tenacity have been an inspiration to countless area youth. “My little sister, my cousins, and niece—they look up to me,” Mario says. "Someday they’ll say, if he could finish community college, we can too.”

 “My little sister, my cousins, and niece—they look up to me,” Mario says. "Someday they’ll say, if he could finish community college, we can too.”

 Mario (Saint Michael's Catholic Church)  attends a Leadership Training seminar through Ascending Lights, 2016.

Mario (Saint Michael's Catholic Church)  attends a Leadership Training seminar through Ascending Lights, 2016.

Mario plans to earn a Master's degree, then work as a drug and alcohol counselor. In the meantime, he continues to give-back and serve through Saint Michael's Church. “Based on my experiences, and how I got to where I am today, I see that despite our obstacles or disabilities, we all have the ability to progress and enhance our lives in positive ways.”

Mario Guidos (Saint Michael's Catholic Church) graduated in 2017 with an Associate degree in Human Services from Los Angeles City College. Today he attends the School of Social Work at Cal State University.