Sunday, July 6, 2014

Pep Talk: "A Whole Bunch of Fun"

There are just moments in life that leave us bewildered, shocked, angry and whatever else applies, wondering, “What the heck is going on around here?”

I had one of those recently while hosting an event showcasing lots of courage, cars, wonderful music and food in honor of a special young man, Austin Williams.

He died in March of last year after battling cancer for three years. The young stud had just turned 17. I have two kids older than that. I can’t imagine the pain for the parents. But, I really love this, family and friends have decided to take that pain and honor a wish. Austin, toward the end of his battle with lung cancer, took a liking to classic cars. A 1972 Chevelle in particular.

One of the most popular Chevy’s ever built the Chevelle debuted in 1965 and was consider a classic. It became Austin’s dream car. KUSA-TV, the NBC affiliate in Denver - I worked there while co-hosting a show called “Colorado and Company” - had done a story on Austin receiving this cool-looking car. It was a wonderful story of a terminally ill warrior going through chemo. To pass the time he starts reading lots about classic cars. In addition, Austin’s about to turn of legal driving age and declares, “Ain’t no guarantees in life. Hey, I wanna drive a nice ride like that.”

The community says, “We like that kid’s attitude” and bingo, Austin had a special ride. It was parked front and center for the fourth DTC/Greenwood Village Chamber of Commerce “SummerFest.” It was the second year that proceeds from the fun day went to Rollin’ Dreams. That’s the non profit Austin’s family - led by mom Daelyn - at his dying request founded to help other teenage kids going through what Austin endeared before the battle went in his foe’s advantage.

I just can’t imagine losing a child. OMG.

But somehow, someway Austin’s mom, family and friends are doing a grand job of keeping his spirit alive and honored. The event featured a community coming together to honor a great kid, hear some awesome music from a stellar band, “The Boomers”, savor yummy food from restaurants, quenching - it was hot - brewskies from local purveyors and, well, just having a good time. For a good cause.

As I offered to the crowd, “This is wonderful, we’re out here having fun, never growing weary of doing good for others and nobody’s benefiting more than us. Way to go!” The classic cars were so cool, the folks generous and the mood festive. I hope Austin approves because a whole bunch of folks poured their hearts into remembering you and all the other kids who face such a lousy sentence with such valor. It’s the least we could do.

I also hope to be invited back again next year, hope the Boomers come back and play and that I sing a few songs with them. I love to sing but that’s another story for another time. The Pep Talk is this: It’s really amazing what can happen when you bring together folks who are united behind a good cause. Magic can happen.

I always think of the 1989 Colorado Buffaloes or 1974 season Ray-South Cardinals football teams when talking about the power of a collective spirit. Powered by a united front each team went through the regular season unbeaten before losing in disappointing fashion and dashing their title hopes. I witnessed each. The former as a sportscaster and latter as player.

There’s that kind of spirit around Rollin’ Dreams partnership with the DTC/Greenwood Village Chamber’s annual event. It was born from tragedy. What warms my marrow is to observe how Austin’s family, friends and supporters are rallying in his honor.

Maybe the message is this. We all know someone - I think of my old man - that, perhaps, for the next week we can keep that person’s great spirit alive. Yep. With my thoughts, words and actions I’m gonna honor ----- ? Fill in the blank.

It might be Austin. Marvin. Charles. Lyndi. Ann or anybody. Let’s try like heck to honor them since they’re no longer around. It’s the least we could do. Plus, honoring someone’s admirable legacy, if it’s anything like SummerFest 2014 benefitting Rollin’ Dreams, can be a whole bunch of fun too.

Have a good one!

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