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The Honorable Mensch’n: Ariel Kasheri

By on April 3, 2015

Every once in awhile, one gets a rare opportunity to meet someone truly great. Someone who exemplifies strength, optimism, generosity—a true mensch. Potent emotions like awe, inspiration, gratitude, and even a tinge of shame flood one’s consciousness in response to such meetings. For those who have not recently met Ariel Kasheri, that is the experience you can expect by just one Coffee Bean meeting with him.

Unless you were on another planet in January 2012, you have likely heard of Ariel and the horrifying car accident in which he and his still-close friend Devin Maghen were involved. The collision, as result of a tie rod malfunction (in laymen’s terms, that has to do with steering capabilities), put Ariel in a coma for 3 months with severe brain damage and temporarily paralyzed the right side of his body. Ariel spent his 17th birthday in a coma; meanwhile, doctors were preparing his family to face the fact that either he may not wake up at all, or he would be brain-dead, a “vegetable” as they described it, when he does. Despite the hopelessness of all but one of his doctors, Neurosurgeon Dr. Babak Shafa, Ariel awoke. But it is no wonder the doctors had little hope. “If the ambulance came 5 seconds later,” Ariel said, “I would have been a goner.”

The accident left Ariel with many physical deficits, causing him to use a wheelchair for a year while he relearned how to walk. “He has to learn [how to do] everything again, the way a child does,” said his mother, Marjan Kasheri, “…he is my hero.” “My injury was more physical,” said Ariel, while Devin’s was more cognitive. Despite being hit with this devastating blow at a young age, 20 year-old Ariel emanates such an intense positive energy that it’s infectious.

He wanted to share a few messages with his supporters: be aware while driving–don’t text and drive, always work to be better, and take nothing for granted.

ariel&ashNot once during his interview did he whine about his situation. That is more than some people who have “everything” can say. “No, I never asked ‘why me,’” he said, “I just wondered how something like this could happen.” Ariel even quoted Tupac when he said, “through every situation and every mis-happen that happens to you, you always have to keep your sense of humor.” And indeed, Ariel heeds that advice. Despite his difficulty with varying pitch when he speaks, it was clear he’s a jokester and, not to mention, a social butterfly. He was left alone all but two minutes before he was laughing with the two elderly women at the next table.

He’s become a public figure of sorts and fortunately, he loves being approached by strangers who know of him. Ariel is the epitome of a ‘people person’; there are not many people who would take the spotlight so lovingly. He is empowered by his supporters and is grateful to them, for they push him to work harder (#stillmovin is his go-to on Facebook and Instagram). Meeting and helping people are his favorite hobbies, especially since basketball is not yet an option for him again.

Just a few hours before his interview, Ariel completed a portion of the Los Angeles Marathon with no wheelchair, no crutches, all him. In regards to how he is overcoming his disabilities, he simply said, “Work. Work. Work… I didn’t listen to physiology, I just kept going.”

Post accident, he aptly had “perseverance” tattooed on the inside of his upper left arm as inspiration. Fiercely independent, Ariel insists on doing everything he can on his own. “I’m scared, scared to death every time he walks up and down the stairs, but he’s so independent he doesn’t want help,” said his mom.

Ariel has big plans for the future. In terms of recovery, he continues to work; his next step is to work on improving his speaking. He is currently a full time student at Santa Monica College and aspires to become either a neurologist or a physical therapist, both of which have helped him a great deal, so he can to give back to others. Ariel knows that he could be a prodigious inspiration to other patients in similar conditions, like 70 million people who suffer brain damage each year in the US. In the meantime, however, he works to spread awareness about brain injury, particularly the one he has undergone T.B.I.; he also spends some spare time writing profound poems/raps like….

MIRACLE RAP
By: Ariel Kasheri

I woke up from a coma and was diagnosed with T.B.I.
Unfortunately all the doctors ruled that I would probably die
Thank God I didn’t die though
I went down to hell but I told Satan hell no!
I’m way too young to die
The Grim Reaper was definitely messing with the wrong guy                                       
So now I’m here, anticipating my recovery
Impatient, but I know this process is very slow and steady
Like the story with the tortoise
Lil bit of hard work but the end result will be enormous
From now on I’m going to work a bit harder
Transforming the words I can’t into I can do this better
I never said that this will be easy
All I can do is my best, believe me


(Ariel claims it’s still being edited, but it already seems perfect.)
This article could go on forever, but attention spans cannot. Ariel is an exceptional person, intelligent, deep, generous, strong, and truly inspiring. He’s the kind of man who insists on treating you to Coffee Bean (even though he’s doing you a favor by doing an interview for you), and then surprises you with two drinks when you couldn’t decide which one you want (that’s hypothetical, of course). He has a love for others and appreciation for life that betters the world. Everyone should take note from this honorable Mensch(-en).

 

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About Ashley Kohanarieh

Ashley Kohanarieh is currently pursuing her passion for art and writing. She has written for online magazines and marketing companies, but ultimately hopes to use the written word to contribute to the lives of others. Ashley has co-founded the organization Y.A.L.L.A.H., and she is dedicated to sharing knowledge and her understanding of Jewish life. Feel free to contact her at: ashleyleahkohan@gmail.com.