Never Let a Life Changing Moment Break You
Hello, I’m Vanessa Ramirez. A native of Phoenix, Arizona, born and raised in the West Valley. If you were to look at my life as it stands currently, things may seem pretty amazing – I have an exceptionally busy career in the television and entertainment industry as KPNX’s channel 12 Traffic Anchor (NBC), In-Game Entertainment Host for the Arizona Diamondbacks, local television Host for Cox 7’s Su Vida, and former radio personality. Behind the scenes, though, and most importantly, is a strong supportive family that allows me to enjoy this full schedule while also finding time to give back to my community. I’m thankful for everything in my world, but a lot of my success came with some difficult struggles, and life lessons. A major example of this was losing my father to non-smokers lung cancer in 2011. This was (and still remains) a huge life changing event in my life.
I’m thankful for everything in my world, but a lot of my success came with some difficult struggles, and life lessons.
Growing up I always enjoyed performing in dance recitals, and plays, but was too shy to speak in public.
Let me start with a little background about myself. I was raised as an only child to two amazing parents. My mother and father were very strict with me during my formative years, and they continued to keep a close watch over me until I graduated college at 23 years old. During college, I lived at home and commuted to Grand Canyon University every day. While in school, I kept busy working multiple jobs and internships. College was tough, and things began to fall into place for me after I convinced my parents to let me change my Physicians Assistant major to Communications. It was not an easy sell, and my parents were fairly resistant to this idea, but I was persistent and told them I felt strongly about this change. Looking back, I find it odd how a single change in life can direct you down a totally different path!
There are a few specific examples that are prominent, in my mind. Growing up I always enjoyed performing in dance recitals and plays, but was too shy to speak in public. I remained shy, with a small fear of public speaking, all throughout high school. After switching majors at GCU, part of my new curriculum required me to take a public speaking class. This class helped me realize, that I really enjoyed talking in front of a camera.
A Twist of Fate
So let’s fast forward… Upon graduating I began working a job at a local public relations company and moved out of my parents house. Life was moving along, and one day I received a call from my talent agent for an acting job on an independent film shot in Sedona. This is another moment in my life where I can reflect and find that a single decision led me down an entirely different path than I envisioned. I decided to take the role, and move to Sedona for the filming. In order to make this work, I needed to quit my public relations job in Phoenix. The short time away from home put a heavy strain on personal relationships with loved ones. But the experience was not entirely negative. While filming I received a call from the Arizona Diamondbacks about an interview for their In-Game Host position. I was so ecstatic about this opportunity, and decided that when the movie wrapped up filming I was moving back home without any guarantee of employment. The position with the Diamondbacks was not guaranteed, and I would still need to ace the interview. And I did. In retrospect, I was extremely fortunate that this terrific opportunity presented itself at such a critical time, and turned into a long-term employment with a fantastic organization. I have been working with the Diamondbacks now for 11 seasons!
Though there are many moments in my life that helped shape me into the woman I am today, this last example changed my life forever! In 2009, my father was diagnosed with non-small cell lung cancer, with a poor prognosis and short survival time. When I heard the bad news, a wave of emotions took over me. My mind was flooded full of memories; purchasing a car with my dad, family vacations, my parents helping me decorate my first home, having my dad nearby to fix little household problems. I asked myself, ‘what was I going to do without my dad?’ He was such an integral part of my life, and so important to the strength and stability of our family unit. How would I feel losing the ability to wave to him at the D-backs games, or losing out on the chance to walk down the aisle in his arm at my wedding?
Frank Ramirez Breathe to Believe Fundraiser
He fought courageously for a year and half, but passed away from the disease in December 2011. I held my dad for the very last time that December. Losing him was the most difficult situation I ever had to deal with (up until that point in my life). My dad was gone… it was now just me and my mom, and my life was forever changed. I was hurt, but I knew I had to be strong, like he would be. I needed to be a source of strength for my mom. In my mind, thinking about how awful it is to lose someone so close, I decided I would continue his fight. I wanted to help prevent other families from experiencing the heartache and loss our family experienced. So I established a yearly fundraiser in his name – The Frank Ramirez Breathe to Believe Fundraiser.
I hold this event every year near his birthday. Each dollar raised from this charity event is donated to lung cancer research. Every year, the fundraiser gets bigger and better. This year, in 2017, we raised over $10,000 and had over 200 attendees. Altogether the event has raised over $30,000 in my father’s memory! In addition to setting up this annual fundraiser, I also became an advocate with “Free to Breathe”, which is a national organization that focuses on lung cancer research and treatment. In 2016, I had the opportunity to partner with the American Cancer Society to raise money and awareness for other cancer research.
Despite my extremely hectic schedule, I accepted the offer to help with their event, continuing my father’s memory. I was blessed to be recognized for my passion and determination with the American Cancer Society Rising Star Woman of the Year award! While this award was an amazing honor to receive, everything that I do with regard to cancer research and fundraising is done to celebrate my father, his spirit, as well as the incredible impact he had on my life.
-…sometimes it is the tough, difficult moments that teach you the most in life.
I appreciate the ability to share with you some of the events I’ve experienced that changed my life journey. Some of these events are positive, but sometimes it is the tough, difficult moments that teach you the most in life. I tried to never let any of these negative experiences bring me down, but instead learn from them and move forward in a positive direction. I think it is incredibly important to use these experiences to help others along the way. Many years of hard work, determination and tough life lessons led me to where I am today. I remember everything my dad taught me and wake up each day hoping and trying my hardest to continue to make him proud!
We only have one life to live, so live it to the fullest!-Vanessa Ramirez
Vanessa Ramirez, a native Phoenician, who grew up in the West Valley.
She graduated from Grand Canyon University earning her BA degree in Communications. She has worked in the television and radio business for over ten years and loves every moment of it!
Ms. Ramirez keeps busy with a handful of jobs; which include being the Traffic Anchor for NBC affiliate KPNX Channel 12 in the mornings, In-Game-Host for the Arizona Diamondbacks and Television Host for Cox 7’s, Su Vida. Aside from her on-camera positions, you may also spot her featured in commercials and campaigns around the Valley.
Previously she was also the Mid-day radio personality for Mega 104.3 Monday through Friday, where you could hear talk about pop culture and play some good old school music.
Vanessa is the founder of The Frank Ramirez Breathe to Believe fundraising event that helps raise money towards lung cancer research. She started this after losing her father to non-smokers lung cancer 5 years ago.
She also enjoys helping out with other non-profits in the community, such as: the American Cancer Society and Latina Strong Foundation.
In 2016 she was awarded with the American Cancer Society Rising Star Woman of the Year award.
In her free time Vanessa enjoys spending time with family and friends, checking out the fun activities around town, especially food festivals and working out.
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