Today's birthday is beautiful Gloria Estefan (1957-), the singer and songwriter who has celebrated Latin and Hot Dance Music.
Born Gloria Maria Milagros Fajardo in Havana, Cuba and raised in Miami, she said of her upbringing, "I come from a family of strong and confident Latino women. My grandmother greatly influenced my life with her common sense, humbleness, and caring spirit."
Estefan mixed her Latin roots with American pop in 1985 to Conga into the music scene with the Miami Sound Machine.
A Grammy winner with over 70 million records sold, Estefan broke her back in a 1990 tour bus collision. "I tried to lift my legs, but they would only go so far," she recalled. "I remember thinking I would rather die than be paralyzed. But I told myself, 'No way. I'm not accepting this, I'm gonna get through this.'"
Temporarily paralyzed with a terrible prognosis, her courageous recovery followed months of difficult physical therapy. About courage and risk, boxer Muhammad Ali once said, "He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life."
Estefan has called herself "blessed" and is committed to giving back whenever she can. In 1997, she donated $250,000 to the Miami Project To Cure Paralysis, a research center dedicated to finding a cure for spinal cord paralysis.
"You never know what life has in store for you," she philosophized, "but I believe there are certain things one is meant to go through."
The upbeat Estefan said the accident made her celebrate life even more. "I learned to live life in the moment, to enjoy what's happening now... You must not take life for granted."
Keep yourself open to the messages that are out there for you.