Finding Purpose: Custodio Recalls Miraculous Recovery, Believes ‘God Put Him in a Position for a Reason’
Isaiah Custodio, a student in the Anderson University College of Arts and Sciences, lives with a sense of purpose and an upbeat outlook on life. He loves AU and stays active in campus life.
“I’ve been an Alpha leader. I'm also currently a peer mentor for diversity and inclusion. I just started being part of the PRSSA (Public Relations Student Society of America) club,” Isaiah said. For him, helping others is a priority.
What does Isaiah love about Anderson?
“My favorite thing is to be out with the community, just walking through and how people greet you and say ‘Oh, I want to get a meal with you’ and stuff like that. It's really great,” he said.
A Media Communication major with a concentration in Public Relations from Greenville, Isaiah got his first taste of Anderson University when he was a Palmetto Boys State participant. He recalled taking part in the high energy weeklong camp for rising high school seniors devoted to leadership, saying that being on the Anderson University campus was “amazing.” He felt he could be a student there someday. A later visit to a friend on campus confirmed those feelings.
Initially Isaiah wanted to major in Kinesiology, hoping that one day he could help others in the way he was helped through physical therapy—for more about that, read on.
“I said, ‘Oh, yeah, I would love to do this’ and sophomore year I went through chemistry and had so much information put in on me, I was like, ‘Wow, I don't think I'll be able to do this’,” he said. “I switched to communication because so many people told me that I have a great voice to do radio or news, so I got kind of interested.”
This summer Isaiah has been interning at Fox Carolina News. He enjoys the challenges of going out to cover a news story, then writing and editing those stories for the station’s daily newscasts.
Isaiah is grateful for every day and thanks God for how far he has come since an injury at age 13 rocked his life.
“When I was in football practice, and we weren't hitting or anything, but I strangely got a headache. I really just tried to shake it off, but it kept on coming stronger and stronger. I screamed when I was out there and I was crying. I asked my coach if I could get some water, so I jogged to the fence and as soon as I got there I fell over and started screaming and crying, not knowing what was happening,” Isaiah recalls. “They called my mom and said that I'm not well and I need to go home. Mom came. Mom thought I was dramatic, because I’ve done plays before. But when I got up, she knew that it was serious. So she took me to the hospital and I blacked out there. I woke up in the ICU. And when I first started talking, I thought I was saying words, but I actually wasn't. I was only saying ‘when.’ That was the only word I could say at the time. But yeah, it was definitely strange. And I couldn’t see correctly even and there's a lot of nights I cried like a baby, to be honest.”
Isaiah was experiencing a brain arteriovenous malformation (AVM), basically a rupture of many blood vessels. He underwent brain surgery as his family and others gathered in the hospital and prayed. The surgery was followed by a long hospital stay and many hours of physical therapy. A scar on his head is a constant reminder of the surgery that saved his life.
Looking back on a long road of recovery and entering college, he said, “I'm very thankful to be alive. I'm a very positive type of guy. Before my brain injury, I was very positive. ‘Hey, I'm going to do better. I know it'll take time.’ And, you know, I'm thankful and I'm alive and that God put me in this position because I have a purpose and I have something to do.”
Considering how far he’s come, Isaiah feels that God is guiding his future.
“My favorite verse is Philippians 4:13—‘I can do all things through Christ, He gives me strength.’ There's going to be hard times in your life that you have to push through,” he said. “I would always say, ‘Hey, this is a hard time and you can imagine how much greater it’s going to be because God puts you in a position for a reason—always for a reason.”
As Isaiah was in the hospital, his mother, Christina Custodio, was encouraged to start a Facebook page to give updates on her son’s progress. People started following her page and sharing with others. To her amazement, before long there were thousands of people following the page.
“It was really amazing to me and people kept saying ‘You should write a book.’ I rejected that for a long time. And I think God was really speaking to me through people because had people tell me what a difference our story made in their lives,” she said. “There were things that I would talk about… maybe they were going through a tough marriage or something else that was unrelated to what we were going through… Somehow, they were helped through what I was sharing. And so I thought, ‘Okay, well, that would be God doing that and if that's what he's doing through our story, then I can reach more people through a book and see what he has to say.’ So that is why I decided to write a book.”
Christina’s book, When God Changed His Mind, is available through Amazon and other outlets.
Christina continues to be amazed at how God healed Isaiah.
”He was always a wonderful, joyful kid growing up, and he's always been just a very tender hearted human. And I'm very grateful that did not change. In fact he probably is more joyful and more tender now than before, which is not typical of people with brain injuries. They very often go through big personality changes where they're angry and frustrated and suffer with depression and all of that,” she said. “So I'm very grateful that that is not him and I know that's God.”