Over the years growing up in Indiana, Pennsylvania I have learned many things, and the one that I will live my life by is family is forever. Whenever things are taken away from you, or your life is not where you want family will never change and will always be there. Your family is your sturdy base which sets the direction of your life, and gives you values, and morals to live your life. They are our biggest supporters, best friends, and mentors. They all come from different places, and views which combine to create our life story. My family comes from strong beliefs, humble beginnings, and a hard work ethic to give each family member a better life for their future.
My grandfather “Gued” Prola was born in Italy, and came over to the United States when he was a child on a boat. He never graduated from high school, because he was forced to start his work career early at the family owned Prola’s Bar and Tavern along with their brewery. When WWII came around he was drafted, and placed in the 99th infantry where he was a medic. He earned the Purple Heart, and Silver Star for his actions in Germany saving lives, and helping the cause. After the war he married my grandmother Evelyn Wimmel. She grew up in Portage, Pennsylvania where she graduated from high school. She never attended college, and worked for Blairsville school district as a nurse. As her and my grandfather were together, her family did not approve at first, because of my grandfather’s upbringings and owning a bar. My mom Dana was born and raised in Blairsville, Pennsylvania where she graduated from high school, and then continued her studies at Westminster, and later transferred and graduated from IUP with a degree in Education. Her parents emphasized school, religion, and family. She is the youngest of her 2 sisters, Kerry and Joni. She taught English at Derry Area Middle School for years, until later staying home to be my sister and me.
My Grandfather Bill Thompson was born and raised in Blairsville, Pennsylvania coming from a large family that emphasized their religion Roman Catholic. He was a quarterback during his football career, and catcher in baseball. He attended Saint Vincent, and played football and transferred to Penn State. He graduated with a degree in Electrical Engineering, and worked for Allegheny Ludwig. My grandma Lois also was from a big family that emphasized there Roman Catholic religion. She graduated from Blairsville high school, and attended and graduated from IUP with a degree in Business Education. She taught a class for two years until having kids, and being a stay at home mom. My grandparents married early at 22 years old, and my dad was the first of their five children. My dad was born in Blairsville, and had a successful athletic career. He played baseball, football, and wrestling in high school where he gained interest from schools for his ability. He attended IUP to play football, and baseball where he earned the honor of being an All-American. He graduated with a degree in Business, and works for State Farm as an agent. As a family growing up his grandparents believed in being there for every game, and event for all of their children. Along with that they went to church every Sunday, and valued being with each other through everything.
This leads me to my family which my parents have passed down the morals and beliefs that they have taught me. I was born and raised with my sister Kelsey in Indiana, Pennsylvania. She is 4 years older than me, and graduated from Indiana high school. In high school she was a guard on the varsity girls’ basketball team which her senior made it to the state championship. Kelsey graduated from Penn State with a degree in Public Relations. We were fortunate enough to have wonderful childhood, traveling to many places, and always being together. My family gave me every opportunity to live a healthy and successful life. Some things over the years I learned was to never take time with your family for granted, work hard in all aspects of life, and keep religion a priority. We take pride in being close to each other, and being there in any situation. I believe our strong relationship with each other is much because of what their families implemented in their childhood. They helped me take my academic career seriously, and also take me to countless practices and games. They helped me earn a scholarship to play baseball here at VCU, and earn a quality education. Our family has goes above and beyond to be each other’s biggest supporters.
After reflecting back on my family I wouldn’t change anything. I know after seeing others, and what they had growing up it makes me appreciate everything I was given from my family. It is truly an amazing story to think where your ancestors came from, and how your family came together. Anywhere from our family heritage, religion, and different parts of the world we come from. In the end we are all together for reason, and that is to be there for each other through life and wherever it takes us. Without family life is a scary place to take on yourself, and it gives us a sense safety and reliability. Family is forever, and that will never change in my life. It has helped me learn life lessons and qualities that would not have been possible without us being together.