Jennifer's Heroes: Ernie Deomampo and his 'Step Sisters'

By: Jennifer Black Email
By: Jennifer Black Email

April 1, 2010

A rare, life-threatening brain tumor wouldn't keep Ernie Deomampo from doing what he loved.

You need energy and vigor to get through a meticulous 45-minute workout. Deomampo made it through, and it surely didn't matter the time on the clock or the time he had left in life.

"Ernie just loved to move and he was all about turns and jumping, and it was very powerful, very energetic. You could just see the joy in his movement come out on the step," said step instructor, Christine Thalwitz.

Lifting legs, motivating music and smiling faces provide the perfect escape for Deomampo, whose challenges far exceed tricky over-the-top-and-back-again footwork.

"As he was beginning to have limitations, he wouldn't be able to do as much as fast. He used to do a lot of fast feet, and as the brain tumor spread, he couldn't do that as much," said Elly Tucker, a close friend.

Instead, Deomampo's 'step sisters' showed him a few modifications to his movements. However, after several years of battling the disease, Deomampo recently lost his fight with cancer. And in turn, it was his step instructor who learned a lesson.

"I think he taught us all what real courage is, and he was such a special part of our community," said Thalwitz.

Deomampo had this to say about himself: "I'm 38, I look 28, I think like I'm 18, but I act like I'm 8." It was this humor that gave him the ability to step up the spirits of everyone he knew.

"It's sad not having Ernie anymore, but it's good knowing he's not in pain anymore. Ernie is the type of person who will always be with us. When I think about him right now, I smile," added Tucker.

Deomampo's friends and family continue to be inspired by a blog he wrote while he was alive, called Where's Ernie's Head? His parents are collecting donations in their son's honor to build a pavilion at their church in the Philippines. They say it was his wish to continue to leave a lasting impression.

If you would like to donate, please make checks payable to:

Covenant Church of God
Memo: Batangas Philippines Ministry

Please send checks to:

Ernelita Lindsey
116 Conselyea Street
Apt 4-B
Brooklyn, NY 11211

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