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The Local Authority on Martial Arts


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Our mission is to provide medical

transport for critically ill or injured persons requiring medical or trauma facilities within our South Texas service area. Emergency assistance is provided to all persons regardless of their ability to pay. 361.265.0509 I N S P I R E C O A S TA L B E N D M A G . C O M



Alice 361-664-4888 路 Corpus Christi 361-882-5900 I N S P I R E C O A S TA L B E N D M A G . C O M

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Orthopaedic Associates of Corpus Christi

Announces the Formation of

bone & joint John M. Borkowski, M.D. / Frank A. Luckay, M.D. / Ryan B. Thomas, M.D. Charles W. Breckenridge, M.D. / Justin Klimisch, M.D. John P. Masciale, M.D. / Dawn M. Grosser, M.D. / Bernard M. Seger, M.D.

(361) 854-0811

Se habla espa単ol

601 Texan Trail, Suite #300


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Worry Less

with health care for life.

Live More. Retire happy—isn’t that what you’ve worked so hard for? Life isn’t about aging; it’s about growing. The same goes for life at Mirador, Corpus Christi’s most distinctive senior living community where all your favorite pleasures and perks are the fabric of everyday life. We take meticulous care of our spacious residences—and we take care of you with Life Care, health care for life. So you can feel free to explore the endless opportunities to simply live: outdoor barbeques, creative arts, card games, golf, fishing and more. Call us today at 361-371-4122 to discover it all.

Learn what it means to live more at a “Find Out Friday” event: June 13 at 11:30 a.m. | RSVP at 361-371-4122 5857 Timbergate Drive | Corpus Christi, TX 78414 | I N S P I R E C O A S TA L B E N D M A G . C O M







Presenting INTERNATIONAL STYLES OF PLAY June 15-19th and July 14-18th



CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Steven Alford Pearl Baez Sebastian Giraldo Dr. Kenneth Gonzales Tim Hamilton Sarah Tindall Dr. Ben Vela

PHOTOGRAPHY Steven Alford Dustin Ashcraft Jennifer Recio Photography

ACCOUNT EXECUTIVES Michelle Cadena Michelle Recio Jessica Salinas For advertising information, please call 361.548.1044 or email For editorial comments and suggestions, please email

GIRALDO ELITE FÚTBOL 361.442.1923 8 I N S P I R E C O A S TA L B E N D M A G . C O M

6537 S. Staples St., #125 Corpus Christi, Texas 78413 Phone: 361.548.1044

Copyright © Inspire Coastal Bend Magazine. All rights reserved. Reproduction without the expressed written permission of the publisher is prohibited.


PATIENT 10 12 14 16

Healing and Hope The Best Choice When Fillings Fail The Game Changer

FEATURE 18 A Paragon of Prevention 20 Leading a Leader in Health Care 22 Putting the Fun in Fundraising



Vela Dental Centers has become a dental empire in the Coastal Bend, thanks in large part to the hard work and dedication of this dentist and his focus on family and the Golden Rule.



As the local authority on martial arts, world champion Aurelio Gallegos Jr. lives the dream at this Brazilian JiuJitsu studio, the first of its kind in the Coastal Bend that teaches students a lot more than just self-defense.


Providing full-service dental care with a focus on cosmetic dentistry, this community-oriented DDS offers patients the latest and greatest in both dental technology and personable care.


FITNESS 38 The Soccer Takeover 40 In Pursuit of Self-improvement

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The orthopedic spine specialists at South Texas Bone & Joint help patients get back to living happy and productive lives by treating back pain with a conservative focus. SPECIAL TO INSPIRE COASTAL BEND Photos by: JENNIFER RECIO PHOTOGRAPHY

ACCORDING TO THE Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in Atlanta, one fourth of all Americans experience back pain at least once in a three-month period. The orthopedic spine specialists at South Texas Bone & Joint (located in the Corpus Christi Medical Center’s Charles Clark Building at 601 Texan Trail) want people who suffer from acute and chronic back pain to know there is hope that they can lead happy and productive lives. The key is early diagnosis and effective treatments, whether that includes medication, surgery or other non-surgical methods. “There’s a lot of interest regarding when to see a doctor about a back ailment,” says Dr. John P. Masciale, a board-certified orthopedic surgeon specializing in adult spinal surgery at South Texas Bone & Joint. “Many times, all that is needed is rest, heat and over-the-counter medications. But there are instances where the pain is just too intense and handicapping. That’s where we come in.” One of the warning signs you might have serious issues with your back is radiculopathy (numbness, tingling, weakness) in your legs or feet. Difficulty controlling the bladder is another serious warning sign of possible trouble. These symptoms should not be ignored, but reported to a primary care or ER physician immediately, before symptoms worsen. “Here at South Texas Bone & Joint,” Masciale adds, “we always try to treat back ailments conservatively, before surgery is considered.” In the appropriate patient with supporting clinical findings, an MRI of the affected area may be warranted. An MRI helps


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confirm the underlying basis for sciatic leg pain and radiculopathy of the legs. “Once a diagnosis has been made, we recommend rest and medication, along with other types of care such as epidural injections for disc herniations that are smaller and contained.” Another question patients might have is whether to treat symptoms with injections or to proceed with surgery. “It’s important to remember you might get better without having to undergo surgery,” he advises. “As a surgeon, we have a responsibility to the patient to help them decide what the best options for favorable outcomes will be, and that is decided on a case-by-case basis.” Sometimes epidural injections work wonders for a patient, Masciale notes. “It’s definitely less risky than surgery, and injections work for the right patient. Patient care is evolving, especially over the last 10 years. If these fail, then surgery can always be offered. Also, insurance companies are increasingly requiring medical evidence that legitimizes what we do for a patient. It’s not just a matter of entering a code and getting an authorization for care any more. Insurance companies want evidence that recommended treatments are medically prudent and necessary.” Lower back pain is one of the most common conditions patients complain about. It might start with intense pain in the buttocks area. Over time, it might progress as a deep-seated, burning pain and eventually run the length of the leg associated with altered leg sensation or weakness. “I see patients, some of whom are in so much pain, they can’t perform the most

basic daily activities,” Masciale says. “The empathy I have for my patients is the underlying basis for all that I do to help them. It forms the connection in a relationship of trust through which the best outcomes can be reached.” Masciale recalls the story of a young woman who had undergone complex back surgery and was in the intensive care unit for many days. The road to recovery would be long and arduous, but he knew she would recover and resume the active life she had always planned. “Knowing that I can help patients who feel like there is no hope and who feel they are losing control of their lives … knowing their intervention is reviving hope again … it’s about the best feeling in the world … besides being a father and husband.” Dr. John M. Borkowski specializes in adult reconstructive spinal surgery at South Texas Bone & Spine, but he always prefers minimally invasive procedures. “There’s less bleeding, quicker recovery times and smaller incisions,” Borkowski says. “Shorter hospital stays is an added bonus. Minimally invasive procedures mean less manipulation of the spine, which often results in better outcomes.” Borkowski notes some patients are not good candidates for minimally invasive surgery of the spine, but for the most part, these newer techniques are growing in popularity. There are ways patients with spine problems can avoid surgery altogether, according to Borkowski. “Weight loss and physical therapy work wonders, especially when patients understand their injury. My goal is to try and heal people without surgery. Each person’s spine is individualized, just like a fingerprint.” Technology continues to advance every day, and it is at the point where donating one’s own bone from the pelvis is a thing of the past. Today, cells that can perform the same function are grown in a lab or procured from a cadaver donor. Borkowski says the key to successful patient outcomes is education. He believes in educating his patients from the minute they walk into his office. “I have models in my office that help me explain what their problem is and what their surgery would look like. I try to comfort and reassure them with information. We visit websites together and review information about the latest innovations. Nowadays, patients prefer to be armed with more information versus less.” For patients wanting to avoid surgery, Borkowski warns that medicine alone is not a cure-all. “Long-term dependence on drugs (over-thecounter or prescription) can cause kidney or liver damage. It’s helpful for patients to understand getting better might be a year-long process, especially if they want to avoid surgery.” As we age and approach the mid-life stage, small injuries will make chronic conditions flare up and cause more pain, he explains. “The spine itself is largely a mysterious and incompletely understood part of the human body. What may work with a successful outcome for one person may be a failure in another. This is why I stress knowledge for the patient, so they are aware of all the options.”


Learn more about the innovative treatments for chronic back pain at SOUTH TEXAS BONE & JOINT by visiting www. or following the group on Facebook and Twitter. Call 361-854-0811 to make an appointment today.

Family and Cosmetic Dentistry • Warm caring doctors and team members • Comfortable, relaxing environment with beautiful decor and artwork. • Dental implant crowns, veneers, porcelain crowns, white fillings, gum treatment, Zoom teeth whitening • Modern,up-to-date, high-tech equipment Hours: Monday-Thursday: 8am-5pm / Friday: 8am-Noon Payment Plans, most insurance accepted.

“Committed to Excellence” KENNETH GONZALES, D.D.S., P.L.L.C. 361-992-2421

7426 S. Staples St., Ste. 101 • Corpus Christi,TX 78413 I N S P I R E C O A S TA L B E N D M A G . C O M




Say you want to restore your beautiful smile. Are dental implants right for you?


ften, we do so much during our day that many actions and habits come naturally and without thinking. Eating, talking, smiling, swallowing and all the great functions we perform with our mouth, teeth and facial muscles are perfect examples of naturally occurring actions. Unfortunately, these all-too-common abilities can become compromised and eventually lost due to dental disease. It can range from slight pain upon eating sweets to the complete inability to eat something

off our plate without having to cut it into very small, specific pieces. Many times, a tooth that cannot be saved and, for a number of reasons, must be removed. Missing teeth can lead to many problems that, if left unchecked, are detrimental to our quality of life. Although quite a few options exist for replacing teeth, dental implants are the best choice. When you lose a tooth, the jawbone immediately starts to disintegrate, as there is no longer any support from the roots of your teeth. The drifting of teeth, an increased chance for cavities on the teeth next to the missing

DENTAL IMPLANTS CAN BE USED TO:  Replace a missing tooth without compromising the surrounding teeth  Stabilize dentures and bridges  Improve chewing and speaking  Restore your beautiful smile

tooth, a higher potential for fracture of the teeth now taking a higher load and a general increase in disease all occur when we have a missing tooth. A dental implant is a reconstructive prosthetic that will restore your mouth and teeth to full functionality. Dental implants can be compared to the roots of your natural teeth, as they hold the tooth in place. Made out of titanium, dental implants are small metal posts that integrate with bone, creating a uniquely strong bond. Dental implants provide a more stable and long-lasting base for maximum functionality than partials, dentures and bridgework. Due to the complexity of dental implants, additional professional education is required for general dentists to perform this type of treatment. Some specialists receive this training in their respective programs. Medically, patients should be cleared, as there may be some adverse risks related to treatment. Dental implants have had over a 95 percent success rate over the last 15 years in almost every study available. Dental implants in the jaw encourage continual bone regeneration. Maintenance of your dental implants is no different from that of your natural teeth. Continue your daily brushing, flossing and regular check-ups for optimal results.


continual bone regeneration.

BEN VELA, DDS, is the owner of VELA DENTAL CENTERS and a fellow of the International Congress of Oral Implantologists. For more information or to see if you’re a candidate to restore your smile with dental implants, visit Vela Dental Southside, located at 4822 Holly Road in Corpus Christi, Texas. You may also call 361-994-4900 or go online to


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Dental fillings don’t last forever. Know your options when it comes time to have one of them replaced.


We dentists receive this question with common regularity. Dental restorations are intended to replace tooth structure lost to decay. These restorations may last many years; however, they eventually may need to be replaced. Constant chewing forces applied to teeth from normal eating, clenching and/or teeth grinding will eventually cause a dental filling to fail. Bacteria are the main culprits for tooth decay. Any tooth that has been weakened from the normal wear and tear may develop chipped teeth, cracked teeth or a filling that eventually falls out. Some of this wear on teeth may leave gaps between the tooth and the filling that can provide an entry point for bacteria.


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Bacteria can be found in saliva and in dental plaque (a thin film that forms on teeth and gums). What can happen is that the seal between the tooth and the filling deteriorates, and food particles and decay-causing bacteria work their way between the worn filling and the tooth. These areas are hidden from access via your toothbrush or any other means, and decay may develop along the edge of the filling or underneath it. Most of the time, this process does not take long. It can happen between your regularly scheduled visits to your dentist. Decay that is undiagnosed and untreated can progress to infect the nerve of the tooth, which could mean more invasive treatment such as a root canal or possibly loss of the affected tooth. Seeing your dentist on an ongoing basis, with regularly scheduled dental exams and X-rays, is important for detecting these problems at an early stage.


Although you might not be able to tell if your filling is worn, he or she can identify any weakness in it during your regular dental exam using X-rays and a clinical intra-oral examination. Tools such as X-rays, photos, dental explorers and electronic caries indicators are helpful in determining if the filling is sufficiently sealed to the tooth or if it needs replacement. The dental radiographs (X-rays) help dentists detect decay under existing dental fillings or between teeth, neither of which can be seen by simply looking at the tooth. If your dentist finds evidence that a filling has failed or detects decay on the radiograph, your dentist will inform you that it should be replaced promptly so you can make an informed decision on the recommended treatment options. Don’t wait until the tooth hurts or a crack appears because that usually leads to the need for more extensive and costly procedures.




Advances in dental materials and techniques offer new ways to create very pleasing, natural-looking smiles. Now available are ceramic, resin and plastic compounds that mimic the appearance of natural teeth. Several factors influence the performance, durability, longevity and expense of dental fillings. These include the components in the filling material; where and how the filling is placed; the chewing load the tooth must bear; and the length and number of visits needed to prepare and adjust the restored tooth. Amalgam is composed of a mixture of silver, copper, tin and mercury, all of which combine to form a strong and stable filling material. It is durable, easy to use, highly resistant to wear and relatively inexpensive, compared to other materials. But this material does have its controversy and negatives. Mainly, thanks to the Internet, many patients are aware and afraid of the potentially negative effects of mercury content in these fillings. The negative effect of mercury content cannot be completely substantiated or measured. The other negative is that it is not a cosmetically appealing restoration. I rarely use this material in my practice mainly for these reasons. Composite fillings are a mixture of acrylic resin and finely ground, glasslike particles that produce a tooth color restoration. These fillings provide a durability and resistance to fracture in small to mid-sized fillings that need to withstand moderate chewing pressure. They also more closely mimic the expansive and contractive properties of the tooth,

compared to amalgam fillings. They can be polished to a high shine that closely resembles tooth enamel. We have multiple shades and grades of tooth colors to choose from so we can match as closely to the natural color of the tooth to be repaired as possible. Composite restorations can be used on the back chewing tooth, as well as any of the front teeth that are in your smile. And unlike amalgam fillings, there is a part of the filling called the hybrid layer where the tooth and the filling become one. The modern advances in what we call adhesion dentistry achieve this hybrid layer. This is the material I favor in my practice. Glass ionomers are tooth-colored materials made of a mixture of fine fluoride containing glass powder and organic acid that forms a solid restoration able to release fluoride. Some of these types of restorations can even be recharged with the fluoride-containing toothpastes that most people use. This can be helpful in patients with caries-prone teeth or areas of the tooth that have had enamel loss or tooth root exposure. Final word: Talk to your dentist. The ultimate decision about the best material to use is determined by the patient in consultation with the dentist. Before your treatment begins, discuss your options. Most dentists are passionate about their profession and service to their patients. We are honored to be part of helping patients with their total oral health care.


MoNuMeNts “Creating Everlasting Memories” OVER 20 YEARS EXPERIENCE




Kenneth Gonzales, DDS, PLLC, practices at 7426 S. Staples St., Ste. 101, in Corpus Christi, Texas. For more information, call 361-992-2421, email or visit

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Layaway Available / No Interest Payment Plans Accepted By All Cementeries / Home Appointments Available

~361.452.2366~ 2501 S.P.I.D, CORPUS CHRISTI, TX 78415 WWW.NUECESMONUMENTS.COM Monday-Friday: 8:00am-6:00pm • Saturday: 9:00am-5:00pm I N S P I R E C O A S TA L B E N D M A G . C O M




CHRISTUS Spohn Health System debuts a new minimally invasive heart valve procedure, which may very well be the future of cardiology.


Evelyn Nicol (left) shares a laugh with Dr. Shamim Badruddin and Melissa Evans, R.N., at CHRISTUS Spohn Hospital Corpus Christi-Shoreline. Nicol was the first patient at the hospital to receive a new non-invasive heart valve replacement operation.


hree years ago, 92-year-old Evelyn Nicol’s heart began to weaken. She lost energy and stamina, and worse yet, she lost hope when she was advised she was too elderly to be considered as a candidate for open-heart surgery. But a new minimally invasive procedure only offered at CHRISTUS Spohn Hospital Corpus Christi-Shoreline has added years to Nicol’s life. It’s called transcatheter aortic valve replacement, or TAVR for short. The new procedure is best suited for patients who are not ideal candidates for traditional heart-valve replacement procedures. And it could just be the future of cardiology. “Our hearts are beating over 120,000 beats per day, every day, over the course of our lifetime,” said Dr. Srikanth Damaraju, a cardiologist who practices at CHRISTUS Spohn Hospital Corpus Christi-Shoreline. “Like anything else, it eventually wears out over time.” Nicol suffers from dengerative heart disease, or simply put, her heart and its valves were just wearing out, Damaraju explained. The heart’s valves are three tiny flaps, which look similar to a peace sign and open and close to regulate blood flow. Plaque can clog the arteries and valve, reducing the size of the heart’s valves from that of a one-inch pipe to nearly the size of a pinhole, Damaraju explained. Over time, the body’s wear and tear slows down the valve’s abilities to do their job, which, in turn, decreases blood flow, energy and overall health. “It was always a strain trying to breathe,” Nicol recalled during an interview with a news crew. She said she sometimes she felt dizzy or weak, and that she feared the end was near. Her physician suggested that she learn more about CHRISTUS Spohn’s new procedure, which forgoes opening the chest to access the heart, an operation that can cause complications for patients such as seniors who are already weakened. Instead, doctors run a tiny artificial heart valve through a vein in the groin, up into the aortic chambers of the patient’s heart. The new valve is put in place and begins working as good as new, and recovery time for patients is far less than traditional open-heart procedures. Nicol is the first patient to undergo the new valve-re-


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Dr. Srikanth Damaraju speaks with reporter Brian Burns from KIII TV News at CHRISTUS Spohn Hospital Corpus Christi-Shoreline about the new TAVR procedure, which is already making headlines for its ease and quick recovery time.

During the new TAVR procedure, a tiny artificial heart valve is run through a vein in the groin, up into the aortic chambers of the patients’ heart. The new valve is put in place and begins working as good as new without the use of opening the chest cavity.

placement procedure at CHRISTUS Spohn Hospital Corpus Christi-Shoreline. And several more patients have received the artificial valve since. “I felt sort of excited,” Nicols shared with KIII-TV News while sitting in her apartment overlooking Corpus Christi Bay. “I’m 92 years old, and now I’m going to live for a while longer. What am I going to do with that time?” The new procedure is a game-changer and likely will be the standard operation

within the next decade, according to Damaraju. “There’s much less risk involved with this procedure,” Damaraju explained during an interview at CHRISTUS Spohn Hospital Corpus Christi-Shoreline. “Right now we’re looking to improve the lives of our elderly patients, but I suspect this will soon be the standard for all ages.” For additional information, visit

Welcome to the SOUTH TEXAS BRAIN AND SPINE CENTER. Our surgeons provide neurosurgical care in many of the major hospitals in Corpus Christi, Texas. Our surgeons and staff provide individual and conservative treatment using the most effective and modern technologies available in the world.

SOUTH TEXAS BRAIN AND SPINE CENTER 1227 3rd Street, Corpus Christi, TX 78404

361.883.4323 I N S P I R E C O A S TA L B E N D M A G . C O M



A PARAGON OF PREVENTION By strengthening students both physically and mentally, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu helps stop bullying before it starts. By: PEARL BAEZ


ullying is not just a phase or something we all have to go through, and it is not something kids eventually just grow out of. Bullying is a serious problem that causes long-lasting harm. According to the American Justice Department, bullying statistics show that one out of every four kids will be bullied sometime throughout their adolescence. Seventy-sev- The bully strikes, and the victim lowers her level en percent of students and ducks the punch, are bullied mentally, clinching onto his legs and verbally and physicalgoing for the takedown. ly, and 46 percent of males, followed by 26 percent of females, have admitted to being victims in physical fights as reported in one report of bullying statistics by the Bureau of Justice School. Corpus Christi Paragon Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu offers a unique, exciting and practical way for children and teens to learn self-defense, improve their fitness level and gain self-confidence. We believe in strengthening our students physical-


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ly and mentally. These life skills, if taught at a young age, can have a tremendous impact on your child’s life and determine their level of success in life. According to recent studies, 43 percent of kids fear harassment in the bathroom at school. Every seven minutes, a child is bullied on The bully confronts the school playground. the victim. Eventually leading up to retaliation, 87 percent said shootings are motivated by a desire to “get back at those who have hurt them.” Eighty-six percent said that, “other kids picking on them, making fun of them or bullying them” causes teenagers turn to lethal violence in schools and/ or suicide. Bullying increases feelings of sadness and loneliness; changes in sleep and eating patterns; and loss of interest in activities. Bullying can threaten students’ physical and emotional safety at school, and it can negatively impact their ability to learn. The best way to address bullying is to stop it before it starts. Each day, 160,000 students miss school for fear of being bullied. In recent years, a series of bullying-related suicides in the United States and across the globe has drawn attention to the connection between bullying and suicide. Suicide is the third leading cause of death among young people, resulting in about 4,400 deaths per year, according to the CDC. For every suicide among young people, there are at least 100 suicide attempts. More than 14 percent of high school students have considered suicide, and almost 7 percent have attempted it. These thoughts about suicide may persist into adulthood. Childhood constitutes the most important years because during this time, children can be molded into the kinds of people you would like them to be as adults. The life skills taught at Paragon Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu will make a positive impact in the life of your child for many years to come. Don’t let your child become a victim, and put a stop to bullying before it starts today!

EACH DAY, 160,000 STUDENTS MISS SCHOOL FOR FEAR OF BEING BULLIED. traveled all along the West Coast for 16 years, and his martial arts career continues to dominate Corpus Christi. His experience, expertise and dedication make for an excellent instructor at Paragon Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Finally, the victim mounts the bully by securing a tight position, controlling his wrists and hooking her heels like spurs, making it impossible for the bully to escape much less strike the victim. She can hold this position without harm to herself or the bully until faculty or staff arrive.

We have class every Monday through Thursday from 5 to 6 p.m. for ages 5 and up. Aurelio Gallegos Jr. is an accomplished and dedicated Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu prac-

titioner and the chief instructor at Paragon Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Trained by Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Black Belt Ricardo “Franjinha� Miller, Gallegos trained in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and

Corpus Christi Paragon Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is located at 6313 Wooldridge, Ste. 8, in Corpus Christi, Texas. For more information, call 361-549-3597 or visit

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LEADING A LEADER IN HEALTH CARE The new CHRISTUS Spohn Hospital Corpus Christi-Memorial and Shoreline vice president and chief operating officer has deep ties to the Coastal Bend community. By: STEVEN ALFORD Photos by: STEVEN ALFORD


WHEN XAVIER VILLARREAL’S mother delivered him more than 40 years ago in Corpus Christi at what was then called Memorial Medical Center, she had no way of knowing he would one day run that very hospital. Villarreal is the new vice president and chief operating officer at both CHRISTUS Spohn Hospital Corpus Christi-Memorial and CHRISTUS Spohn Hospital Corpus Christi-Shoreline, returning to his hometown to oversee operations where he interned as a young man. The 1991 Mary Carroll High School graduate says he is excited to be back near his family and working for an organization where he first learned about service and health care. “Growing up in Corpus, I was very familiar with Spohn; it’s always been a leader in health care,” Villarreal says. “In the back of mind, I al-


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ways thought the chance to work there would be an incredible opportunity if it ever presented itself.” After high school, Villarreal initially studied accounting. After returning home to work at a Boy Scout camp for the summer, Villarreal met the then CEO of Memorial Medical Center, David Lopez, who encouraged him to intern at the hospital and learn more about careers in health care. Villarreal spent two months learning everything he could about hospital operations – witnessing surgeries, staying up late for night shifts with managers and studying the staff’s intricate job duties throughout the building. It opened his eyes to a new career, and he returned to Texas A&M University in College Station with a new career path in mind. “That’s really what sold me on going into health care administration,” he says. “That changed my long-term goals.” Villarreal went on to earn a master’s degree in health care administration from Trinity University in San Antonio, and he worked at various hospitals in the South, including time in Oklahoma, Abilene and Corsicana. Then, just a few months ago, Villarreal learned that CHRISTUS Spohn Health System was seeking an administrator in Corpus Christi at the hospital where his career trajectory was first inspired. Villarreal has taken the helm of CHRISTUS Spohn Hospital Corpus Christi-Memorial and Shoreline during an exciting time of transition for the two facilities. It was recently announced that CHRISTUS Spohn Health System has outlined a plan to transform health care for South Texans. A major component of this transformation is the proposed plan to create an ultra-modern family

Opposite page: Xavier Villarreal, the new vice president and chief operating officer of CHRISTUS Spohn Hospital Corpus Christi-Memorial and Shoreline, has deep ties to the community, having been born at then-named Memorial Medical Center and graduating from Mary Carroll High School. This page (bottom): Xavier Villarreal; his wife, Tiffany; and their children, Michael and Isabella, during Michael’s first communion

health center on the Memorial campus focused on providing chronic disease management, wellness and prevention in support of the west side community. The CHRISTUS Spohn Shoreline campus will be transformed into the region’s premier hospital housing the region’s only Level II trauma program, family practice and emergency medicine residency programs and advanced acute care services. This proposal to bring state-of-the-art, personalized medicine to South Texas is a $325 million investment for which no taxpayer dollars are needed. CHRISTUS Spohn has committed $275 million of financial support – the company’s largest investment in the region ever. The remaining $50 million will be raised through philanthropic support. Villarreal is excited about the opportunity to be part of ensuring the best health care is provided for generations to come. “Being born in Memorial, having worked there, that’s really where my dream of health care began,” he says. “I understand the history of what that location means. The potential models we are looking at for the two hospitals will really transform health care in the region.” And it’s not just the buildings that are changing; the health care industry as a whole is in a state of transition and improvement, according to Villarreal. The industry looks not only to provide care inside the four walls of hospitals, but also to provide preventative care in family health clinics and even at patients’ homes. “We’re seeing a lot of changes to the traditional model of the past, where hospitals were just waiting for patients to get sick and treating them there,” Villarreal says. “We really need to cater to our patients’ needs before they get sick and look at how we can best do that.” But for now, Villarreal is adjusting to his new position and getting his family settled in in Corpus Christi. He and his wife, Tiffany, a labor and delivery nurse, are set to celebrate their 10-year anniversary and are expecting their third child (a boy) in October. They also have an 8-year-old son and a 5-year-old daughter. In his spare time, Villarreal enjoys taking wine-tasting trips to Napa Valley and the Texas Hill Country with friends, and he is very active in Boy Scouts, having earned the rank of Eagle Scout in high school. He enjoys camping trips and sporting events with his son, who is now a Cub Scout. Villarreal says he feels blessed to be working in his new role with CHRISTUS Spohn in his hometown, serving the people of the community where he grew up not too long ago. He has deep ties to the community; his mother was a nurse at Memorial Medical Center and a school nurse for CCISD, while his father worked for years as an electrical engineer at the Corpus Christi Army Depot. Having been raised Catholic in Corpus Christi, where he attended Most Precious Blood Catholic Church, Villarreal says it feels good to return home to work for a Catholic organization. “I’m really looking forward to this opportunity,” he shares. “I’m excited to work alongside our medical staff and associates to continue to make improvements and provide high-quality care to our community.” For additional information, visit I N S P I R E C O A S TA L B E N D M A G . C O M



ABOUT CHRISTUS SPOHN HEALTH SYSTEM CHRISTUS Spohn Health System is the region’s largest health care system consisting of six hospital campuses: CHRISTUS Spohn Hospital Corpus Christi (Shoreline, Memorial and South), CHRISTUS Spohn Hospital Alice, CHRISTUS Spohn Hospital Beeville and CHRISTUS Spohn Hospital Kleberg (Kingsville). The health system is consistently ranked a leading health system in the area, and it has received national recognition for several pioneering programs, including cardiac care, clinical excellence and oncology. For more than 100 years, CHRISTUS Spohn has been distinguished by its high-caliber staff and affiliated physicians, its comprehensive and innovative services and its long history of responding to the needs of the community it serves. Joe Henkel (left) and her husband, George (right), purchase raffle tickets from a volunteer during the 2014 Alice Brush Country Bash.


David Guererro, David and Natalie Hoelscher and Martin Ornelas

2014 HONOREES: Bill and Phyllis Findley of Alice, Texas Owner: FESCO Ltd. Petroleum and Engineering Services

The 2014 Alice Brush Country Bash raises more than $70,000 for CHRISTUS Spohn Hospital Alice nurses.

Bill Findley has been in the oil and gas industry for more than 63 years.


SOUTH TEXAS nurses will now have better access to education and advancement opportunities thanks to the generosity of attendees at the 2014 Alice Brush Country Bash. The Fourth Annual Brush Country Bash on May 15 raised more than $71,000 at the Jim Well County Fairgrounds, providing leadership and educational opportunities for CHRISTUS Spohn Hospital Alice nurses and advanced care for Alice patients. The generosity of the more than 300 area residents who attended the San Miguel de Allende-themed event will benefit the CHRISTUS Spohn Hospital Alice Nursing Excellence Fund, which each year benefits CHRISTUS Spohn Hospital Alice nurses. It was a night of great food, dancing and fellowship, according to the organizers. “The crowd was happy to be there … in a happy


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place and raising money for a good cause,” said Courtney McLain, event organizer from the CHRISTUS Spohn Health System Foundation, which hosts the event each year, along with members of the Brush Country Bash Committee from Alice. “We had so much fun just mingling and catching up with folks we hadn’t seen in a while,” added Natalie Hoelscher, event co-chair. The annual Brush Country Bash has become a premier fundraising event in Alice, bringing fabulous auctions, seated dinner and live entertainment to Alice residents each year. In years past, the popular event has raised tens of thousands of dollars

for programs at CHRISTUS Spohn Hospital Alice to benefit the Alice community. The event was held Thursday, May 15, 2014, at the Merchant’s Building at the Jim Wells County Fair Grounds with attendees wearing their favorite pairs of cowboy boots or fiesta attire while they danced the night away to area musicians J.R. Castillo and Mikey Rivera Jr. The Coyote Cooks provided their scrumptious fish-fry, while CHRISTUS Spohn Alice Food Services added the delicious sides and desserts for guests, who also enjoyed eyeing the many items and gift packages made available during the event’s silent and live auctions. “The Coyote Cooks truly outdid themselves this year!” McLain said. “The fish


Pictured from left to right: Tiffany LeMonte; Karen Bonner, executive director of the CHRISTUS Spohn Foundation; and Matthew Lohmeier, vice president of CHRISTUS Spohn Mission Services at the 2014 Alice Brush Country Bash.

was absolutely delicious, and most of us went back for seconds.” Proceeds from this year’s Brush Country Bash will benefit CHRISTUS Spohn Hospital Alice’s Nursing Excellence Fund, which helps empower our nurses to advance in professional growth and delivery of high-quality patient care. This fund will help meet patients’ needs by building and strengthening our talented nursing workforce.

CHRISTUS Spohn Hospital Alice managers and associates make their way into the 2014 Alice Brush Country Bash at the Jim Wells County Fair Grounds.

be inspired For additional information, visit







I N S P I R E C O A S TA L B E N D M A G . C O M

With a firm family foundation and a focus on the Golden Rule, Dr. Benjamin Vela does the family proud at Vela Dental Centers. By: SARAH TINDALL / Photos by: DUSTIN ASHCRAFT I N S P I R E C O A S TA L B E N D M A G . C O M


r. Benjamin Vela has used the foundation of his father’s beloved local dental practice to build a dental empire in his hometown – not bad for the father/son team who represent the first generations of the family to attend college. “My grandpa couldn’t speak English and didn’t finish middle school,” Vela says. “My grandmother, Katie, was the driving force behind the education of her children. Although they lived and worked on a dairy farm, Katie told them that education was the sure way to success and a better life.” And her encouragement worked. Three of her five children went on to become doctors and eventually raise a new generation of doctors and lawyers. Dr. Rene Vela, Benjamin’s father, chose dental school and returned to South Texas after graduation in 1984 to serve the community in which he was raised. He and his brothers, Julio Vela, a gastroenterologist, and Robert Vela, an internal medicine specialist, built a building across from Spohn Memorial Hospital and set up shop. “They developed a tremendous following over the years and have taken care of so many people in the area,” Vela says. “The family understanding was that education was a sure way of providing for our families and making a positive impact on our community. The brothers focused on a strong work ethic and treating people the right way. That’s how we like to do business: to treat people the way we’d like to be treated.” Choosing dentistry was easy for Vela, who says he decided early on at 16 that this was the career for him. “Being a doctor was all I knew. I didn’t know what an engineer did. I hadn’t had much experience with many professions. I picked dentistry because, unlike my uncles, it allowed me to change lives while not having the pressure of saving them! I saw how my dad had enough time for us on weekends, hunting, traveling, etc. His ability to close the door at 5 and know he’d be back tomorrow appealed to me, and I also wanted to start a family after school was over, so the prospect of all those years in residency were not for me. “But I knew getting into and finishing dental school was a rough ride, and I’d have to keep my grades up and work hard. But my dad challenged me to do it, and I enjoyed the challenge of it. I owe much of my success to my parents and uncles who led the way.” And his hard work paid off. Vela graduated from King High School in 1999 and then went to Saint Mary’s in San Antonio and graduated in three years. During that time, he worked in his dad’s office, which he says solidified his career path. He was then accepted into the dental school at the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio, his dad’s alma mater. “It was kind of cool to go to the same school as my dad, and one of the top-ranked schools in the nation, as well,” Vela says. “It was difficult, but I was able to complete the requirements and graduated at 24 and moved back to Corpus Christi in 2006.” The legacy has continued from the original Vela brothers, and now Corpus Christi has an attorney, an anesthesiologist, a dentist and an orthodontist with the Vela name. Also in the family are two other attorneys and two other doctors. Dr. Ben, as he is often called to reduce confusion, started working alongside his dad at the original Vela Dental Center (Crosstown) at Cleo and Morgan. With the help of great mentorship, an intense experience, continuing education, a strong work ethic and natural ability, he quickly established his own set of patients after two years of working as an associate. In 2008, he spearheaded the opening of a second office on the south side. The patients were pleased, and with momentum behind them, a third office in Kingsville in 2009 opened. In just three short years, they turned a one-office operation into a Coastal Bend dental empire. In 2010, Vela bought into the practice and became a full partner.



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“We treat our patients the way we’d like to be treated.”

“A lot of smiles depend on us, and we take that seriously.”

Things were going great until his dad was injured, rendering him unable to practice for almost a year. But hard work and dedication won, and during his recuperation, they bought a fourth location in Alice. At the end of 2012, Vela bought his father out of three of the practices and sold him his half of the Alice location, so that each could focus solely on his own businesses and allow them to grow. And “grow” is exactly what they’ve been doing. Vela now has 30 employees and three associate doctors, and he has experienced a steady increase in production at each location over the past year-and-a-half. “What sets us apart is our customer service, efficiency and high quality,” Vela says. “We do our best to be available to our patients, and focus on our ability to convey what’s needed to them so they understand and feel comfortable. Patients love our entire team. Many of our employees speak Spanish, and all our patients appreciate our ability to let them know what they need in an honest, non-technical terminology, and we have many ways of helping patients get what they need done. “We offer different financing options, including CareCredit, as well as making sure we’re in network for most insurance providers. We treat our patients the way we’d like to be treated. We see them in a reasonable amount of time with limited waiting periods, and we make sure our rates are completive and reasonable. We’re doing procedures that many patients used to go to San Antonio or Houston.” That attitude of patient care has made Vela Dental a top provider of dental care in the area. In the past eight years, 25,000 patients have been treated between all the offices. This ensures that Vela and his doctors are some of the most experienced in Corpus Christi, as they have seen and treated almost all of the problems that can come up and know exactly how to best deal with them. “After taking numerous continuing education courses and treating thousands of patients, I am confident we can treat and manage most cases, no matter how complex. We use excellent dental laboratories and materials to increase the success of treatment outcomes. If we are able to keep treatment in-house, this can save the patient literally thousands of dollars!” Vela Dental is a full-service operation, with patients receiving everything from dental cleanings and X-rays to full mouth rehabilitation, including full sets of permanent teeth, crowns and implants. Vela’s plan was to continue to grow, and another office was in the works, but then another tragedy struck when his 2-year-old daughter was diagnosed with leukemia. Vela, who learned from his father that family comes first, put everything on the back burner to be there for his daughter, who is on the road to recovery at Driscoll Children’s Hospital. Instead of opening up new offices, Vela has remodeled the ones he has to facilitate more patients and improve their operation. He is looking to add more employees and doctors to meet current demand, recently adding 30-year local dental veteran Dr. Allan Ng to his practice. “A lot of smiles depend on us, and we take that seriously,” Vela says. “A smile is the first thing people notice and can say quite a bit about that person. It’s so amazing literally changing people’s lives – taking people who haven’t been able to smile or chew in years and making that possible again. We like to make sure that all patients who experience us are able to leave happy – the Vela name has a great history and a great future, and we want to do the family proud.”

For more information about Vela Dental Centers, visit one of the following locations: 2201 Cleo St., Ste. B, on Crosstown; 4822 Holly Road on the south side; or 1015 E. Henrietta Ave. in Kingsville. You can also go online to I N S P I R E C O A S TA L B E N D M A G . C O M



I N S P I R E C O A S TA L B E N D M A G . C O M

World champion martial arts master Aurelio Gallegos Jr. leads the charge at Paragon Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, the local authority on martial arts. By: SARAH TINDALL Photo by: DUSTIN ASHCRAFT

urelio Gallegos Jr. is living the “do what you love, love what you do” dream. For the past 14 years, the Corpus Christi native has owned and operated Paragon Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, located on the city’s south side at 6313 Wooldridge Road. He started practicing Jiu-Jitsu as a hobby after a friend introduced him to it 18 years ago. “I was working at an engineering firm, and I had been skateboarding and riding BMX bikes,” he says. “I didn’t know what I was going to do next, and I got hooked on Jiu-Jitsu. We were training every day in the living room, in the backyard, and it literally changed my life.” He trained for years after work and on weekends and was working in the legal industry when he quit to dedicate himself fulltime to opening his own studio. “I had a passion to teach and help others,” Gallegos says. “During one year’s time, I quit my job, got married, had a kid, built a house, bought a car and started a business. I would not recommend it to anyone, but that’s what I like about Jiu-Jitsu. It teaches you to take calculated risks and live with the consequences – to go down fighting and die with your boots on.” And the risk paid off. Paragon was the first Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu studio to open in the Coastal Bend, and his school has won the Texas State Championships for the last two years running. His students are loaded with awards, including Pan American Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Championship, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu U.S. Open Championship and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu World Championship awards. Gallegos himself has become the local authority on martial arts and defense tactics, and as such, is a Level III certified U.S. Army Modern Arts Combatives instructor; he travels all over the world training troops, as well as Corpus Christi Police and Sheriff’s Department officers and personnel. He is a world champion and a black belt himself, and he has 10 black belts training underneath him.

Paragon classes encompass the scope of martial arts training. Adult classes include Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, as well as Submission Wrestling, Mixed Martial Arts, Muay Thai and Kickboxing. Private instruction, personal training and in-house seminars by world champions are also offered. A typical Jiu-Jitsu class consists of four parts. The first is intense body weight and calisthenics training, focused on getting the body in shape and the cardiovascular system running smoothly. According to Gallegos, “this part of class is why the public has been saying Paragon BJJ has the most intense martial arts academy in Corpus Christi.” The second part of class consists of wrestling and judo takedowns, and the third is self-defense and all levels of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. The last part of class consists of physical submission grappling, or as some would say, “open mat.” Students practice the position or submissions technique taught either that day or at a previous class. Women and men train together, but Paragon also offers free rape prevention seminars. “Jiu-Jitsu is one of the best methods to combat rape,” Gallegos says. “Rape is all on the ground, and we teach women how to defend themselves in a struggle like that.” Paragon also offers women’s empowerment (WE) classes focused on intense cardio training fitness boot camp exercise. Gallegos encourages anyone to join any time, and at any fitness level. “People always say, ‘let me lose a few pounds or get back in shape and then I’ll start,’” he says. “But this is how to get in shape. We start you at the level you’re at, and you progress from there.” Kids participate in the Paragon kids’ program, which offers classes for 5- to 10-year-olds and 11- to 15-year-olds. The focus for this program is teaching kids valuable life skills including self-defense, focus, concentration, how to set and attain goals and self-confidence. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is called the “gentle” martial

art because there is no striking or kicking in the practice of the sport. Kids are taught to grapple with opponents in order to subdue them. This is especially important in bully prevention techniques: Children are able to subdue a bully and hold him or her down until a teacher or other adult can intervene. Paragon offers bully prevention classes on Wednesdays for the 11- to 15-year age group, as well as free bully prevention seminars for children during the summer. All of the classes are high-intensity and offer great cardio workouts for the kids. “We kick inhalers all the time,” Gallegos says. “That’s what we do: We kick those inhalers.” Offering children this outlet for aggression and hyperactivity is also beneficial, he says, using the example of an autistic student who had a compulsive habit of pulling the sides of his hair out. “Now he’s a gentle giant,” Gallegos says. “All of his aggression goes to Jiu-Jitsu, and he’s not pulling his hair or acting out any more.” Gallegos’ “common sense before self-defense” mantra is one the kids learn early, and he says the kids are not taught martial arts to be mean and aggressive. “We are more laidback, like a family,” he says. “We teach them joint manipulations and chokes and positions that are the best self-defense for kids. It helps them build self-confidence and self-esteem. We focus on teaching these kids healthy eating habits and diabetes prevention, as well as how to listen and take instruction, all of which are life skills that help them forever.” New equipment for the hundreds of people who attend classes daily has been a priority for Paragon, and they recently added a 20-foot rig and squats rack, as well as the Muay Thai bags, bands, bars and plates already in use. Kids and adults can sign up any time, and classes are offered throughout the summer for kids and adults who want to join.

For more information about Paragon Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, visit, go to the studio at 6313 Wooldridge Road, Ste. 8, in Corpus Christi or call 549-3597. I N S P I R E C O A S TA L B E N D M A G . C O M



I N S P I R E C O A S TA L B E N D M A G . C O M

With his focus on patient comfort, Kenneth Gonzales, DDS, is a dedicated dentist who is sure to put a smile on your face. By: SARAH TINDALL Photos by: DUSTIN ASHCRAFT


Kenneth Gonzales couldn’t be happier about his new location at 7426 South Staples St., Ste. 101. The new digs gave him a chance to design an office that is full of natural light and entirely focused on patient comfort. Each station has a window positioned for patients to enjoy the view and the latest and greatest in dental technology. He’s also now positioned as the dentist furthest out on Corpus Christi’s burgeoning south side, which makes his services easily accessible to his clientele. Gonzales’ practice focuses on cosmetic dentistry, offering the most advanced treatment options available to patients in need of everything from porcelain veneers and teeth whitening to porcelain caps and bridges to turn those pearly whites into a perfect smile. He is a full-service dentist, too, offering cleanings, dental exams and X-rays, as well as repair work like composite fillings, crowns and bridges. It’s all the fulfillment of a lifelong aspiration for Gonzales, who says he knew as a child growing up in the small town of Wharton that he was interested in dentistry. “My mom would always say, ‘Come here, my little doctor,’ to me as a child, but I didn’t enjoy going to my physician,” he says. “My orthodontist, however, would have pictures of his scuba diving and fishing trips up on the wall, and he also took the time to explain his work to me. He used to ask me if I had good grades and if I liked science, and when I told him I had a 100 average in science, he told me I should go to dental school.” Gonzales grew up with four brothers and a sister and parents who worked hard and inspired him with their entrepreneurial spirit. The children spent their childhood working in mom’s flower shop, in the family restaurant and even in their tuxedo rental business. By the time Gonzales was of age, he had begun his own window cleaning business and eventually had the entire downtown market locked up. He attended Wharton County Junior College and earned his biology degree at Texas A&M University-College Station, where he then spent a year in business school before entering the dental school. He graduated from the dental school at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio in 1993 – the same year the school was ranked No. 1 in the nation. As a junior, he married a fellow dentist who was a senior dental student he met his

freshman year. After graduation, the couple moved to El Campo and set up shop. They had a son together named Ryker, who is now 15 years old and a freshman at King High School in Corpus Christi. In 2005, Gonzales decided to move to Corpus Christi. “My wife and I had divorced, and she wanted to move to Corpus Christi because it was her hometown,” he says. “We were committed to raising our son together, so we decided that I make the move, as well.” Now he and she live five minutes away from each other; they have a good relationship for the sake of their son and have even taken family vacations together. The move has allowed Gonzales to be as involved in his son’s life as possible, serving as a leader of his son’s Boy Scout troop and in all his other activities, as well. After a couple of years working as an associate with Drs. Don Deaver and Allan Ng, Gonzales went out on his own and opened his practice in 2007. Things went well, the practice grew and he decided to make the move to the new location in September 2013. The new office sports two hygienists, six patient areas and state-of-the-art equipment designed with patient comfort and safety in mind. His patients range in age from kids to adults, but he says his main focus is cosmetic dentistry work. His advanced training is in the areas of cosmetic dentistry, implant restorative procedures, orthodontics and TMJ disorder. Gonzales continues to pursue dental training in the latest techniques and technologies so he can bring his patients the best of modern dental care, focused on comfort, minimally invasive techniques and beauty. His services include veneers, crowns, total mouth rehabilitation, dental implants and whitening. He is also a certified Invisalign dentist, so he offers clear, removable braces for older teens and adults. Gonzales places particular emphasis on his relationship with his patients. When patients approach him for a procedure, he begins with a thorough examination, including medical history, digital X-rays, digital photos and a discussion about desired outcomes. Next, each patient is given a consultation to discuss the course of action. “We go over risk, benefits and pros and cons of their suggested treatment to give them their options and work together with them as a team to see what works best for them,” Gonzales says. This also gives them time to go over insurance options and costs. This gives the patient time to make an informed decision about

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the best treatment option before any work is done. “If I can understand what they want, and they feel that they can trust me and ask questions, then I feel I am doing my best to treat them,” Gonzales says. “I and my staff try to make ourselves as open as possible so that we can best understand and address their needs.” That attention to detail is a hallmark of Gonzales’ practice – and it can also be seen

sentation,” Gonzales explains. “We find out about new procedures, etc.” Being involved like that is second nature to Gonzales, who was the first dental student on the admissions committee for his dental school his junior and senior year, as well as a member of student government. He also served as student ambassador to the University of Texas Board of Regents, president of his dental fraternity, a peer advisor, vice president of his dental class his freshman

in his art. He’s an artist and art lover at heart, and his office walls are full of art he collects and puts on display to keep his office an upbeat, casual and relaxed place so his patients feel at home. When he’s not painting or spending time scouting or hiking, running or biking with his son, Gonzales also enjoys being involved in the local community. He is the president of the Nueces Valley District Dental Society, a group comprised of all the ADA and TDA dentists in Nueces County in which he’s been involved since 2006. He also serves as the president of the Corpus Christi Dental Study Club, a group of dentists who get together for continuing dental education and to discuss how best to meet the needs of the local population. “We meet for dinner and discuss the dental needs of our city and then do an educational pre-

year and president of the class every year after that until graduation. For his future plans, Gonzales intends to add another dentist to his practice and continue to offer the best in dentistry to his patients. He’s enjoyed living in the Coastal Bend with all of the outdoor activities it has to offer, and he especially enjoys doing those with his son, so he intends to enjoy his new and improved location and continue to work hard at making people happy with their smiles. “Every time I see someone look in the mirror and how excited they are that we made such a difference,” he says, “I am happy to be able to do what I do every day.”

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For more information or to schedule an appointment, go to or call 361-992-2421.

Gonzales places particular emphasis on his relationship with his patients.


TREATMENTS AND PROGRAMS FOR: Musculoskeletal Injuries Pregnancy (Pre/Post Natal Care) Diabetes Fall Prevention Neuropathy Cardiovascular Therapy Osteoarthritis Vertigo (Dizziness) Osteoporosis Athletic Rehab (Sport Specific) Thoracic-Outlet Syndrome Orthotic Evaluation/Fabriation Pre-Op/Post-Operative Therapy








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CCRH is the

only free-standing

Acute Rehabilitation Hospital in the Coastal Bend Area You have a choice We understand that YOU HAVE A CHOICE when it comes to your rehabilitative care. At Corpus Christi Rehabilitation Hospital (CCRH) we value teamwork and are connected at our core by the treatment needs of our patients. We are proud to be a freestanding acute rehabilitation hospital serving Corpus Christi, providing attentive and compassionate patient care to the community in which we serve.

Brain Injury • Amputations • Stroke • Neuro • Orthopedic CCRH is now part of the Ernest Health network of facilities. Eight of Ernest’s rehabilitation hospitals have consistently ranked in the top 10% of Inpatient Rehab Facilities in the United States by UDSMR®. Ernest Health strives for all their hospitals to receive this recognition. To learn more about CCRH and our services, visit our website at


5726 Esplanade Drive • Corpus Christi, TX 78414 • 361.906.3700

I N S P I R E C O A S TA L B E N D M A G . C O M


KEEPING YOUR SMILE BEAUTIFUL For 30 years, over 30,000 patients have placed their trust in the Vela Dental Centers. With three offices in the South Texas area, we make sure excellent dental care is convenient, accessible and affordable. Vela Dental Crosstown, near Spohn Memorial Hospital, serves our downtown, Callalen, Robstown, and Portland areas. Vela Dental Southside, located at Holly and Everhart, serves as our flagship office, providing complex implant and dental rehabilitation for all of South Texas. Vela Dental Kingsville, located at 14th and Henrietta, serves all of Kingsville and the surrounding community. Our highly skilled team of dentists and staff take pride in keeping your smile beautiful or restoring your smile to the way you deserve.

WE HAVE THE ANSWER TO ALL OF YOUR DENTAL NEEDS • Fix damaged or painful teeth • Replace single or multiple missing teeth • Enhance your smile • Remove wisdom teeth & other bad teeth • Clean and prevent gum disease




AFTER - 6-unit bridge and fillings

AFTER - full arch rehabilitation with 11 porcelain crowns and 2 implants

AFTER - full mouth rehabilitation with 24 porcelain crowns

Benjamin Vela DDS & Associates • General Dentistry

SOUTHSIDE - 361.994.4900 CROSSTOWN - 361.884.2266 KINGSVILLE - 361.592.4373

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We are much more than just another CrossFit gym. Our coaches have a combined 25 years of training experience. We have helped literally hundreds of people transform their lives.

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AS I’VE BEEN INVOLVED in soccer my entire life, I have often been forced into the role of defender of all things soccer, from the popularity and beauty of the game all the way to the physicality and athleticism needed to be successful. In my daily soccer world, there is just no denying the growth of the game. Soccer-specific facilities, behemoth youth clubs, organized national youth championships, the rise of soccer professionals and the quantity of quality players are all indicators of the unstoppable soccer phenomenon. But now we have reached a critical point in soccer’s journey to becoming a major sport in the United States.


THE SOCCER TAKEOVER A look at the rise of soccer in the United States By: SEBASTIAN GIRALDO


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The reality is that with the much-anticipated FIFA World Cup in Brazil, we are about to get a gauge of what exactly has happened with soccer in the United States. For those intimately involved in the game, the experience will probably not be too shocking. For others, get ready because you are about to understand how entrenched soccer has become in the sociocultural fabric of our country. To lessen the shock of what is to be an explosive month of soccer fandom and overall “soccering,” here is some important information about the beautiful game in the United States.  


The 1994 World Cup started off the healthy rise of soccer in the United States and paved the path for major league soccer (MLS). Starting in 1996 with only 10 teams, the MLS now has 21 teams scattered across the nation. While there were definitely periods of instability, the MLS has firmly placed itself on the sports map with soccer-specific facilities, television con-

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Blue Star Radiology Official Radiologists of the Dallas Cowboys

Dallas, but now the popularity of soccer is pop-

tracts, lucrative sponsorships and events that attract international audiences. According to Forbes, average MLS attendance has surged to 18,600 – a 35 percent increase from 2000. The Seattle Sounders led the league attendance with an average crowd of 44,038. Probably the most staggering statistic is that the MLS fan base is the fastest growing of any sport in the decade period between 2002 and 2012, according to an ESPN sports poll. It might be hard for some to accept, but in a decade, the MLS has matched MLB in terms of popularity with teenagers. Soccer is not only growing rapidly with older generations, but firmly planting its roots in the hearts of the younger generations, which is a clear sign that the game is here to stay. To the critics who always reference money as the true indicator of growth, the MLS recently signed a record-breaking television deal with ESPN, FOX and Univision estimated to be worth over $90 million annually, according to SportsBusiness Journal. This new deal is worth five times the current television deal. To the critics who still manage some sort of argument against soccer’s growth, I simply say that all these numbers do not lie.


When you take a casual stroll to a local shopping center, what do you see? Messi, Ronaldo, Iniesta, Rooney and Donovan. This used to be the case only in soccer hotbeds like Los Angeles and

ping out at us at every turn. Most people see this and recognize it, but the foundation for soccer is stronger than most know. U.S. Youth Soccer is the largest youth sports organization in the country, with more than three million players, 600,000 volunteers and 300,000 coaches. These numbers, along with others from the American Youth Soccer Organization, are growing annually and show no indication of slowing down. The biggest challenge for soccer has been competition from other sports. The million-dollar question in soccer development has been, “how do we keep kids in soccer past puberty?” While the solution is complex and involves better facilities, soccer professionals, privatization and access, the best sign is that the American youth now embrace soccer as a major sport. For baseball aficionados, fear should be growing, as youth baseball participation is on a downward spiral, according to the Wall Street Journal, and soccer is now just as popular as baseball for teenagers. The likely scenario from most experts is that soccer will soon surpass baseball and begin to creep its way toward basketball. Projections indicate that soccer is on its way to becoming the second most popular major sport next to football. The unprecedented growth up to now has been fantastic, and there are many who even believe that soccer will eventually become the most popular sport in the United States. With the World Cup upon us, we must understand that soccer is no longer on the fringe of the American sports scene. Soccer is here to stay, and the carnival in Brazil will be strongly felt on our soil. For me, it is a moment in history that I will embrace and enjoy. For those of you who are not ready, soccer will not wait. The beautiful game will be lived this summer, and I urge you to join the party.

Sebastian Giraldo is the co-owner of Giraldo Elite Fútbol. For more information, visit

Michael B. Jones, M.D., DABR

Diagnostic Radiologist Fellowship in Musculoskeletal Imaging

David T. Larsen, M.D., DABR

Diagnostic Radiologist Fellowship in Magnetic Resonance Imaging

Michael E. Patyrak, M.D., DABR Diagnostic Radiologist Fellowship in Musculoskeletal Imaging

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Working on that six pack, but not getting anywhere? Here are seven reasons you can’t see your abs. By: TIM HAMILTON

THERE IS REALLY only one reason you can’t see your abs: You’ve got a layer of body fat covering them. Read on and shed some light on how that happens and what to do about it.  

Tim Hamilton is the owner of SeaCity CrossFit in Corpus Christi, Texas. He has been training and coaching kids and adults since 1999, and he is a CrossFit Level I trainer and a USAW sports performance coach. For more articles on fitness, visit Hamilton’s blog at www.seacitycrossfit. com.



When you consume sugar, your insulin spikes and your metabolism shifts to burning sugar and not fat. Do this often, and it’s a recipe for insulin resistance. That, in turn, can lead to weight gain and diabetes. Unless you are genetically gifted and can eat anything you want and stay lean, you’ll need to reduce or eliminate sugar if you want to reduce body fat. How much you can get away with varies according to individual genetics. You’ll have to figure that out through trial and error. But for most folks to lean out, it is necessary to cut carbs significantly, especially the easily digestible, high-glycemic type.


YOU’RE DOING TOO MUCH OF THE WRONG KIND OF EXERCISE, TOO LITTLE OF THE RIGHT KIND OR BOTH. If you’re a “cardio junkie” who’s feeling “skinny-fat,” you might need to rethink your training philosophy. Gaining muscle and improving body composition are generally incompatible with excessive endurance activity. Equally pointless are endless abdominal exercises of every imaginable variety. Resist the temptation to work the daylights out of your abs until you can barely walk. This has zero effect on the fat around your midsection in spite of misleading ads and product claims. A sensibly constructed weight-training routine is a great place to start. This ideally would include barbell lifts such as squats, deadlifts and presses, with relatively heavy weights, preferably with quality instruction. Muscle ignites your metabolism and favorably impacts hormones to help increase lean tissue and burn fat. We are not talking bicep curls, triceps extensions, rubber bands or little pink dumbbells. That’s not weight training. If you can do more than 20 reps, you’re developing endurance, not strength.


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Keep your conditioning work short and intense (in the neighborhood of 10 to 15 minutes), or go for a nice hourlong stroll at an effortless pace. Both have been shown to be favorable for burning fat.



Not everyone is going to have six-pack abs. You’ve got to play the hand you’ve been dealt the best you can. Like Jerry Garcia said, “Sometimes the cards ain’t worth a damn if you don’t lay ‘em down.” There are elite athletes who don’t have ripped abs. It’s mostly genetic. Some just have them, and some not so much. Some people are tall, and some are short. Some people have a tendency to store more body fat, while others tend to remain lean, regardless of diet. Some people can display impressive definition at 12 to 15 percent body fat, while others need to get to 6 to 8 percent. And some people, even when they are lean, will just not have deep grooves between the segments of the abs.



If you have reason to believe this is the case, see a doctor and get it checked out. Hormones override everything. There may or may not be anything you can do about it, but it’s worth looking into. But don’t rush to assume this. Do a reality check. Could your diet improve? Is your training consistent? An honest assessment is crucial.


YOU REFUSE TO LIMIT FREQUENT ALCOHOL CONSUMPTION, AND YOU EITHER MISUNDERSTAND OR DISMISS THE NEGATIVE CASCADE OF EVENTS THAT ACCOMPANY IT. If you refuse to limit alcohol, there is no mystery about a lack of progress in the gym. An occasional drink a few nights a week is usually not a problem. However, with excessive consumption, your dietary discipline goes out the window. You eat stuff you shouldn’t. Sleep is affected

negatively. Workout quality is compromised. Your ability to absorb vital nutrients is reduced. Chronic alcohol consumption reduces testosterone, strains the liver and tends to shut down fat burning, none of which are particularly favorable to attaining that six pack.





Maybe you just haven’t stuck with it long enough. Popular media would have you believe you can get ripped in a matter of a few weeks or so. No one wants to hear that it will take a year to attain the physique you want, or that it will be a major challenge. Our ADD culture has trained us to expect immediate satisfaction and instant gratification. Changing your body takes time, patience and consistent, unrelenting focus and effort. Success is neither quick nor haphazard. Develop a patient, determined mindset.



For some, the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence. This is a destructive mindset. Invest yourself fully in what you’re doing. Try not to be distracted. If you have hired a trainer, trust them and do exactly as they say. Give it a fair shake. If you suspect your trainer is incompetent, fire them, but before you do, just be sure it’s not actually you who is misinformed about training concepts. Try to see past the hype, the slick packaging and the social media buzz, and measure your program against the time-tested fundamentals previously described. Then stick with it long enough to see results before you hop off to something else. As your training career matures, you may find that your reasons for exercising and pursuing self-improvement grow deeper and less superficial. Six-pack abs are nice to have, but in the long run, your health, vitality and quality of life may prove to be more powerful motivators. I N S P I R E C O A S TA L B E N D M A G . C O M


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Inspire Coastal Bend Medical June/July 2014  
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