"Hi! My name is Dan Metts. I live in Athens, Ohio. As a little kid, I was in sports all year round - football, basketball, baseball, you name it. During the summer, I played on a few baseball teams. Until high school, I stayed pretty busy with team sports, that was when my life calmed down a bit. In high school I just played football and baseball, which allowed me to spend time in the woods hunting and fishing every chance I got. I did well enough in football to have colleges looking to recruit me. Football was my life! My whole high school career I lived in the weight room and ended up going to Marietta college. I played there for two years - two entire years of the sport I loved...at the next level. Then life started calling.
At this point, I came home and worked with my father. He owned his own electric company, but after a few years working together, he finally closed up shop. That's when I was hired with Sun Electric. I'm still there today. Around this time I had my first born son, got married, had my daughter, life was great! Then the darker days came. The big 'D' word came along. We all struggled with the fact that our family was falling apart. What's worse... I found out that my 7 year old son was actually not mine at all.
That's when the alcohol came into play.
It helped me cope. It helped me feel a little better, even if it was just for a minute, but eventually I came back from it. It took a little while, but one day a light bulb went off... I realized I still had a beautiful little girl. I had a daughter that still needed her daddy and I had a mission to accomplish. My son was still my son. According to the courts, I needed to adopt him to make him mine in again.
By this time, life was full of soccer practices, games and tournaments. Bradley, my son, was on a travel soccer team and Brooklyn, my daughter, was just starting in a recreational league. Of course, I was coaching them both. I coached them both through the years... until November 9, 2013. That's the day our worlds were turned upside down.
Bradley had an ear infection that had spread to his brain. The surgeons went in and took all the infection out that they could find. Then something happened, with the lack of monitoring of brain swelling and the pressure in his head, he ended up having a brain-stem stroke at 9 years old. It was so surreal. He had just walked into the hospital himself. Two weekends before his soccer team won a tournament in Dayton, Ohio... A week before that he went to basketball tryouts for the first time. He did great! At this point, he was in the hospital where he stayed for a total of five months. He passed away three times there.
Now Bradley is in a wheelchair, on a ventilator, has minimal controlled movements, and communicates by blinking his eyes. Now, with all that, he still doesn't qualify for rehab, so I do all his rehab, everyday when I get home from work, but I also have to be a father to Brook. I'm doing Bradley's rehab and helping Brooklyn with her homework. I'm taking her taking her to soccer practices and games. I'm cooking dinner and making sure she is showered. I'm giving her the daddy/daughter time she needs to grow up healthy and happy.
What do you do to de-stress after or during a long, stressful day?
After a long day at work, I for one, know a little about stress. I constantly deal with deadlines and contracts on the jobs at work. Sometimes we all have to push a little harder to get a job done, or worry about material showing up. Normally, I'm dealing with doctors appointments all day for Brad. He has numerous and I have to work with the school. I have to get things ready for Brad to go back. The highlight of my day, is walking in the house after work. As soon as I come in, Bradley has a big smile on his face, and he's ready to work.
Everyday his smile melts away all my stress. Him and I set in and work for another 6 or 7 hours and, Brook, well I work with her too. We work on her homework and more. So after everything, I'll either lift weights, jump in the hot tub, or just sit in silence and reflect on the day... the great work Bradley did, or get excited about things I can do with him the next day. I try, when the weather permits it, to get some wind therapy on the weekends. I just jump on the Harley and let everything from the crazy week, just blow right off.
Where do you go for inspiration?
I find inspiration in a lot of places. Throughout the community there are many people that have it worse than I do, and they keep pushing forward. I have a few friends that I can looks towards for a good boost. I'm also on social media sites for stroke victims and locked in syndrome victims; hearing people's unbelievable stories and actually chatting with them about their experiences has pushed me to keep going.
But, of course, the biggest source of inspiration for me, is my son. It has been almost three years post-stroke, and he is still ready and willing to work. As long as he's ready, it doesn't matter how tired, or sore, or how bad a day I've had. ITS GO TIME!
What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone just starting their happy hustle journey?
The biggest piece of advice I can give to anyone is to learn patience. Take it from someone who had absolutely no patience, once you watch your son walk into a hospital, have a supposedly simple operation, code three times and every doctor tells you that you will never have your son back, time limits and deadlines don't matter. Every little step, as little as an eye movement, or being able to monitor your own blood pressure or temperature, is HUGE. After one accomplishment, start over and go for another. No rush, just keep working and waiting for the next tiny thing, that will mean the world!
What are some of your favorite quotes or words to live by?
In one word, sum up your life as a Happy Hustler.
Positive- I am a firm believer that a person's outlook and mood will determine the outcome of any situation. I have tried to be positive from day one. As soon as someone walks through the door and into my house, all negativity stays outside. I not only have to keep myself positive, I have to keep Bradley positive too. I honestly feel, he would not be as far as he is if he hadn't stayed positive all this time!