“I was born and raised in Zion, Illinois. I grew up with my mom, sister and my grandma. When I was around 4, I unexpectedly passed out. My mom was very scared so she rushed me to the hospital where the doctors discovered I had a heart problem, and needed open-heart surgery.”

“I couldn’t ever imagine me as a parent, taking my 4-year-old in the hospital, worrying, ‘Is my child going to be OK?’ It’s a very scary thought to bear.”

“But, the surgery went really well. My mom says I came out from the surgery screaming, ‘God healed my heart! God healed my heart!’”

“Around kindergarten, I realized learning was a bit harder for me than other kids. When I took my spelling tests, the words would be right but the first letter would be switched around so instead of ‘dog’ I would write ‘bog’ – those type of mistakes. My mom and I concluded I had dyslexia, and I was put in some special education classes for math and English.”

“Elementary and middle school were hard. My grades weren’t where they needed to be for my class, and my teachers told my mom I probably wouldn’t make it to high school. My fourth grade teacher, Miss Tompkins, was pretty much the only one that said she saw progress, and I just had to focus on that. But outside of her, in elementary school I know a lot of my other teachers believed that I wouldn’t graduate, or even pass the sixth grade.”

“But I passed that elementary school. Then, I passed the middle school. Once I got in middle school or junior high, I did a lot better when it came to my test scores, but they still weren’t where they should have been for my grade level.”

“My mom made me devote more hours to studying, and I kept seeing more and more progress. I didn’t stress about it too much, because I knew that I would graduate, which I did. I graduated late, but I finished in spite of my learning challenges and teachers who said I wouldn’t even make it to high school.”

“At the moment, I want to be a chef. When I was younger, my grandma was always a great cook, and I loved helping her. One day, I was bored and messing around in the kitchen creating different types of sauces by mixing ketchup, mustard, soy sauce, brown sugar, a lot of syrup and many other things to create new sauces. They became a big hit, and I started selling them to friends and family. This led me to start a sauce business.”

“However, I hit a couple road blocks because I need to find a place where I can manufacture it so it can to be FDA approved. When you sell like food products, the business has to pass certain health codes. I can’t sell sauce in the house that we live in because it’s not ours. We rent, and our landlord says he doesn’t want us selling things out of his house.”

“I want to tell my story so that kids that deal with learning disabilities or people telling them, ‘They can’t be something,’ feel like they can be something, and they don’t listen to the negativity.”

“In spite of all the trauma and obstacles, kids can use those things as fuel to light their fire and motivation to find their success in whatever career they dream of pursuing.”

Jeremiah Griffin
Food entrepreneur
Zion, Illinois