Told He Would Never Walk Again, Man Defies Odds

by Tenesha Green | WeINSPIRE Reporter

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — After being pinned between an SUV and a boat, Joaquin Ortiz was faced with the horrible possibility that he would never walk again. In 2007, he suffered a broken back and fractured sacrum but he refused to let this be his life sentence. Despite a meek prognosis from doctors, after extensive rehab, Ortiz was walking again. 

Joaquin Ortiz - WeINSPIRE Ambassador  Photo Courtesy of Joaquin Ortiz

Joaquin Ortiz - WeINSPIRE Ambassador Photo Courtesy of Joaquin Ortiz

In 2011, Ortiz founded the nonprofit organization Conscious Acts of Kindness. Headquartered in Miami, Florida, it’s mission is to “empower and inspire people and their communities. Through Conscious Acts of Kindness®, we spotlight global issues, raise awareness, and unify the voices of our planet.” Under Ortiz’ direction, there is a focus on global issues, awareness for the underprivileged and those in need. 

“If you think about it, when you go and pick up a piece of trash, it is not a random act,” Ortiz said. “You are consciously picking it up and making the world a better place.”

Conscious Acts of Kindness Logo  Photo Courtesy of Conscious Acts of Kindness

Conscious Acts of Kindness Logo Photo Courtesy of Conscious Acts of Kindness

Ortiz’ sister saw the amazing work her brother’s organization was doing and took it upon herself to nominate him to become a WeINSPIRE Ambassador. In 2015, Ortiz was recognized by the WeINSPIRE Movement.

“I felt honored to be an ambassador,” Ortiz said. “The work that WeINSPIRE does is incredible. Often in the news, we recognize the negative and the positive is only a little portion.”

What started out locally by engaging the public in small offerings of kindness, like bringing Miami Beach construction workers bottles of water, has now expanded to saving elephants in Thailand. 

In 2018, Ortiz traveled to an elephant sanctuary in Chiang Mai, Thailand. The elephants were used to carry heavy equipment for mining.

“To travel to Thailand and work with elephant sanctuaries was one of my proudest moments,” he said. “We are helping the largest land animal by getting their story out of how they are endangered. We can help stop the trafficking of these elephants.”

Ortiz hugging an elephant  Photo Courtesy of Joaquin Ortiz

Ortiz hugging an elephant Photo Courtesy of Joaquin Ortiz

Ortiz’s entrepreneurship could have stopped at COAK but staying still is not in his DNA. This past summer he brought to life his latest business venture, Jealous Fork, a pancake food truck. 

Ortiz serving pancakes.  Photo Courtesy of Joaquin Ortiz

Ortiz serving pancakes. Photo Courtesy of Joaquin Ortiz

“The goal of the food truck is to bring a nostalgic and familial vibe when it comes to food trucks,” Ortiz said. “We’re working off of people’s feelings about their childhood. A person would think, ‘this reminds me of making pancakes with my grandma’. Then they taste it and say ‘wow, this is nothing like grandma’s.’”

Ortiz making pancakes.  Photo Courtesy of Joaquin Ortiz

Ortiz making pancakes. Photo Courtesy of Joaquin Ortiz

Jealous Fork only has artisan made and savory pancakes. They have catered to 1,000 girl scouts and are planning on being one of the food trucks for the University of Miami’s homecoming celebration. 

“I think what makes us stand out as a food truck is we want to get involved in the community,” Ortiz said. “We want to take away the idea that food from food truck’s are greasy and fat food.”

Sample pancakes from Jealous Fork.  Photo Courtesy of Joaquin Ortiz

Sample pancakes from Jealous Fork. Photo Courtesy of Joaquin Ortiz

As an entrepreneur, Ortiz has learned a lot of lessons. But he keeps one thing in mind when he looks into starting a new venture. 

“If you’re going to be a successful business person, you have to realize you have the ability to make a positive impact in the community,” he said. “No matter how many businesses I run, if they are not in align(ment) with my core values, of making the world a better place, I don’t want my hand in it.”