The Back Story

People Who Inspire Us: Marianita Garcia

You may not see them, the team members working behind the scenes, getting their hands dirty, so your organization functions. Or just maybe you do know their names, as you walk by them daily, on the frontline, building relationships with your players. They take pride in their work, no matter the job. Your casino’s guests are their guests.

They’re the team members, the supervisors, the managers that don’t falter in their integrity; there are no two sets of standards for co-workers and guests. They’re not cajoled into giving, volunteering or helping out. They’ve figured out that the secret to happiness is through helping others.

Life happens, challenges come our way, yet some people find it in themselves to show up every day, to give the best of themselves, despite, well, life. What’s their back story?

Let me tell you about one such person. Marianita Garcia. She’s been a cage cashier for the last three years at Kickapoo Lucky Eagle Casino Hotel, located in Eagle Pass, Texas, owned and operated by the Kickapoo Traditional Tribe of Texas.

Since starting at the casino, Marianita always has a gallon zip lock bag of hard candy or chocolate kisses to share with her teammates and her guests who visit her at the cage. She loves interacting with her guests and understands that they very well may have just lost money. She says, “When I see a guest coming up to my window, I always get this big smile. I ask myself what is this person really like? What is he doing here? Where is he coming from? I wonder how their time has been with us. Before they leave my window, I want to make sure that he or she leaves happy. You know, give them a different experience; I like to talk to them about different things, not just if they won or lost.”

Marianita is all about keeping a positive attitude, no matter what life throws her way. She says, “One of my best friends told me, that life is all about perception. You decide how you’re going to handle that day. It’s your choice whether to be happy or be sad. So, I choose every day to get up and do the best I can and make at least one person smile.”

About a little over a year into her career at Kickapoo, in October 2017, she was sent home ill from work. She was diagnosed with breast cancer and started chemo the following March. Incredibly, she didn’t take any extra time off during treatments and took minimum time off after surgery, coming back as early as she could.

Sandra Maldonado, Training Specialist II, for Kickapoo adds, “She’s one of the moving forces of our guest service program MAD (Make a Difference) in our cage department. She is always recognizing her team members that go above and beyond. Even though she is going through a rough time in her life, she still manages to put on a smile and inspires other team members to make a difference.”

In the fall of last year, her mother fell ill and died shortly thereafter. Marianita is 39 with four children, two of whom are still at home. Since her mom’s passing, she goes over to her dad’s house every day before work to help with her sister who has Cerebral Palsy.

When I ask her about sending in a picture for the article, which I wondered afterward if that was appropriate, she teases, “I don’t have any hair. I’m bald. I have a little turban if you don’t mind that.” I laugh and say I don’t mind. See, her hair is gone again because this past year in March, she was re-diagnosed with cancer and she’s still undergoing chemo.

Her voice is energetic and positive and youthful, while my voice breaks asking her more questions. She’s well-spoken and sincere and I’m thinking to myself, “How can she sound so damn positive?” Instead, I ask if coming to work every day has helped, and she says, “It’s been tough, but I’m blessed to have the guests that I have now, along with the team members. I wouldn’t be able to do it without their support.”

We talk a bit about how she’s impacted her fellow team members. She laughs and shares,  “I have a team member who has been here for a while. When I started going through chemo last year he comes up to me, and says, ‘You know what? You’ve just raised the bar.’ And I’m like, ‘What are you talking about?’ And he says, ‘I mean, we can’t call in for a headache now because look at you. You’re just going through something major and you’re still showing up to work!’”

She’ll be done with her final chemo at the end of August and by the time this magazine is printed, at the end of September, she’ll go in for a full pet scan and she adds, “I’m praying and hoping that in September I get good news.”

When I asked what message she’d like to share, she said, “Just never give up.”

We won’t give up on you Marianita! Thanks for sharing your story and inspiring us to “show up” every day.

 To share words of encouragement to Marianita, you can email madleague@klecasino.com – which is the Kickapoo Lucky Eagle’s MAD League. To send in your ideas for the next Back Story and people who are inspiring at your Tribal casino, email chris@tgandh.com.

Christine Faria
Christine Faria 24 Articles