David Pisarra

“Live a life you are proud of.” Well Claire Wineland certainly did. The young woman with the infectious laugh, indomitable spirit and open heart left her mark on the world in a way that few others ever will.

It’s not easy to write about someone else’s life, we never truly know how another has gone through trials and tribulations. We get mere glimpses into the true character of someone when they are at a crisis point, or have just come out of one. Oftentimes we can see the petty, childish, angry, hurt, scared person inside as they confront the harsh realities of life.

Other times the trials have been like a cleansing fire that burns of the facades and leaves only the true structure behind to build upon.

In the case of Claire Wineland her trials were with Cystic Fibrosis, the genetic lung condition that makes breathing difficult. She spent far too many years in hospitals and having enormous physical challenges. So much so that it would be easy to understand if she was a bitter, angry, depressed person.

But that’s not who she was. She found moments of joy, ways to live and be an inspiration to others. She brought light and insight so that she could “Live a life you are proud of.”

It was after a medically induced coma at 13 that she decided to start a non-profit to help others. Her ClairesPlaceFoundation.org raises money and helps families who are facing the same sort of daily battle she faced. This past Saturday the front drive of the Fairmont Miramar was taken over for a gala fundraiser to showcase the good works that ClairesPlace does.

The event was blessed with a glorious night of balmy weather as the more than 200 attendees were treated to a delightful meal and had the chance to reunite after we’ve all been cooped up due to the pandemic. Being the first gala I’ve attend in almost 2 years, I had a wonderful time and felt the joy of associating again, getting dressed up and it felt like life has returned to some semblance of normal.

Claire’s parents, Melissa Yeager and John Wineland were there to lead the way through a night of remembrance, while setting a vision for the future. I’ve known John for years and watched his family on this journey behave with grace, dignity, and bravery. The crucible they went though has clearly made all of them extraordinary people.

I don’t know Melissa well, but her leadership has been demonstrated with the continued growth of ClairesPlaceFoundation. John’s growth as a man over the 20 years that I’ve known him has been nothing less than monumental. Today he is a leader of other men on the journey to a new manhood and connection with themselves and their partners.

Claire passed away in 2018 but her influence and inspiration continues on through her TEDx Talks, her YouTube videos and the impact she has had on others. I spoke with Rich Litvin, the author of The Prosperous Coach and a man who is in no small measure a tremendous inspiration to others. As a coach Litvin sets huge goals for himself and inspires others to reach and achieve far greater goals. “Claire was one of the most inspiring people I’ve ever met. She had a global impact in her life and when she says, ‘live a life you can be proud of’ she did” he told me.

We are all here for a short time. The difference we make in others is our true legacy. I know that no matter how much money I leave my college or how many buildings are named after the famous, it’s the impact we have on people that matters.

Claire Wineland was an amazing woman who still inspires today as she reminds us to “Live a life you are proud of.”

David Pisarra is a Los Angeles Divorce and Child Custody Lawyer specializing in Father’s and Men’s Rights with the Santa Monica firm of Pisarra & Grist. He welcomes your questions and comments. He can be reached at dpisarra@pisarra.com or 310/664-9969. You can follow him on Twitter @davidpisarra