If somebody said to you “If we can save the panthers, we can save Florida,” what would you do? For me, the answer to this question started back in El Salvador, where I was born and raised by two incredible parents!
From a young age, my three brothers and I spent as much time as we could outside, exploring and playing hard. Most of our weekends and many of our family vacations were spent in places where we learned to be outside: sailing, water skiing, body surfing the huge Pacific Ocean waves, 4 wheel driving up in the mountains, all while learning to appreciate and respect nature.
My professional life began as a pursuit of a lifelong dream of becoming a pilot and, through some twists and turns (no pun intended), I achieved that goal and eventually got a job flying Learjets for both passenger and air ambulance missions. It was a truly challenging but incredibly rewarding experience. My job was my passion and every flight was the fulfillment of a dream.
Life, however, has a way of throwing curve balls at us and mine came in the form of a small bleed in my brain stem which generated, amongst other symptoms, intense vertigo, a word the FAA does not like to associate with its pilots! At the young age of 27, and only three months after getting married to my wife Amy, my flying career and my passion were no longer an option.
I was incredibly fortunate that, with the help of my parents and my brothers, I was able to transition into the family business, which at the time was a third generation business (now part of the fourth generation is also involved!) focused in the hardware and paint industries. I loved it and spent the next 24 years growing myself and part of our business while getting the chance to travel to China, South Africa, Latin America, and other places.
During that time our family grew to include our two amazing children, Abby and Max, and we were fortunate to be able to take some incredible family vacations. Almost all of these vacations were to locations that would allow us to be outside, in nature, exploring. During those vacations we also discovered that Max shared my photography passion and he and I began to explore more of Florida together. We began to see, in person, the things that scientists were warning all of us about: streets flooding due to sea level rise, movement of water being disrupted, wildlife killed by vehicles, and wild lands being replaced by housing developments and strip malls.
Eventually we figured out a way to merge our passion for photography with our passion for the environment and the fStop Foundation was born! For four years, fStop was our passion project on nights and weekends. As time went on, a sense of urgency began to grow in me and I began to ask myself what I wanted and needed to do with the rest of my life.
I loved my work in our family business. However, the more I thought about my ability to positively impact the environment, the more I was convinced it was time to transition to full time with fStop. It was not an easy decision. I am incredibly fortunate that with the full support of my mother and brothers I was able to make this transition in January 2020. It has been one of the best decisions of my life and I am busier now than I have ever been.
Once again my job is my passion, and every day I, along with the fStop team, work to help save just a little bit more of this incredible planet we call home, one image, one video, and yes, one panther at a time!
Check out fStop on Manocause for information on volunteering and donation!
Head on over to The fStop Foundation page to get an up close look at what William and his team are doing!