- On May 11, 2012
In June of 2011, Richard “Steelo” Vazquez, 32, began experiencing severe headaches and nausea. Later, he and his wife Penelope (Penni) would learn that this was the first of three aneurisms that he would suffer. Several days later, on Father’s Day, Sunday, June 19, Steelo was in church when he collapsed as a result of his second aneurism. Prior to his brain injury, Steelo was one of the top street dancers working in music, film and television. In May 2012 he was honored with a tribute on Dancing with the Stars, where he danced for the first time publicly since his injury.
In critical condition with severe swelling to his brain, Steelo was rushed to UCLA Medical Center where he underwent emergency surgery and spent nine weeks in ICU and suffered a third aneurism during that time. In August 2011, Steelo was transferred to a private room at CareMeridian Oxnard. As a result of his disability, he was left with severe impediments to his speech and motor skills. With his wife Penni by his side every moment of the day, Steelo slowly improved. “He received wonderful care at CareMeridian,” she says. “CareMeridian staff really went out of their way to accommodate my needs as well. They even cleared a space for me in their refrigerator so I wouldn’t have to leave the facility.”
Thanks to intensive care and therapy, Steelo is learning to eat, speak, walk and care for his son. Steelo is now home with his family in Studio City and, according to his wife, improving every day with continued rehabilitation at a nearby facility. Penni says, “Instead of grieving the injury, we are celebrating the process of recovery.”