A teen now living in the Metro East is showing the spirit of Puerto Rico to never give up. In just days, he'll walk the stage.
"It was one of the biggest Puerto Rican hurricanes," said Dante Sepulveda.
Living near San Juan, Dante survived Hurricane Maria. Weeks before, he had just dodged Hurricane Irma.
"I couldn't even explain it because I had never seen it before," added Sepulveda.
Hurricane Maria damaged his family's house. His family ended up living in a school. Dante's mother then decided to send him to distant family in Collinsville.
"I cried every night and I am still doing it. I had the faith that I did make the right decision," said Dante's mother, Mabel Jimenez.
He would start school at Althoff Catholic High in November. Dante would immediately notice challenges.
"Getting into the motion of English again," added Sepulveda. "Adapting to the people here, the climate here and the schools here. It really took a lot."
Playing basketball and volleyball were a few things to help him focus.
"Be in my own world and being in Puerto Rico, at the same time, by calling my family and calling my friends," added Sepulveda.
Months later, Sepulveda is ready to walk the stage to graduate.
"It still hasn't sunk in. I feel like the hurricane was yesterday and I just came here," added Sepulveda.
"He was just part of the family. So, whatever we did, Dante did it with us. If we were going out to eat, Dante would go eat with us. If Dante had practice, we would go out to practice," said Dante's cousin, Laura Suria.
Dante hopes to return to Puerto Rico soon and begin college.
"The teachers really cared for me. They understood," added Sepulveda.
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