Sunday, December 17, 2017

Pep Talk: "Brandon and the Buffs"

A dapperly dressed man was recently standing before a judge in the La Plata (CO.) County courthouse. It had been nine months since the same woman had ordered the father of two darling girls to the Denver Rescue Mission’s New Life Program. Considering the serious drug and weapon charges, it was that or jail. A once, self proclaimed, “Strung out meth addict”  had transformed into a healthy and handsome dude. Everybody, especially the judge took notice. “Brandon. Things sure have changed.”

Sitting in the back of the courtroom with the 29-year-old’s family and another A Stronger Cord volunteer (“Mama Knucklehead” Marie Coleman) it was tough to hold back tears. The journey is far from complete but early returns are promising. While basking in the warmth of the celebration of probation and no jail time, the ol’ cranium kept recalling the judge’s words, “Things have changed.”

It was 1989. Your knucklehead scribe was a sports “TV guy” for CBS4 in Denver, Colorado. A primary beat was covering the University of Colorado athletic program. In particular, the football team then led by Hall of Fame football coach Bill McCartney. The young Buffs were rising in national prominence and, undefeated, heading for Norman, Oklahoma for a battle with the scandal-ridden but talented Sooners under first-year coach Gary Gibbs.

The Buffaloes had not won in Norman since 1965. Many national media pundits believed this test against Oklahoma, especially on the road where CU had not won in 25 years, would be a bubble-busting game. Because CBS4 was “Home of the Buffs” at the time, this ol’ jock was blessed to travel on the team plane. I’ll take to the grave the memory of boarding a charter for that much anticipated trip into enemy territory. As the Buffs’ players, coaches and staff boarded, it was impossible to miss. Each was wearing a shirt making a big and bold statement: “THINGS HAVE CHANGED.” They certainly had. A day later, the Buffs on the way to a “One Heart Beat” season and national title game, whipped OU 20-3. It wasn’t that close.

Things change, always do. What’s the ol’ saying, “The only thing constant is change?” Well, if we believe that’s true, when life’s unwanted and unexpected experiences create chaos? Will things become better or worse? Students or victims of life’s crap? Our choice, choose wisely.

A once troubled young man is blossoming with a new spirit and moving swiftly through the Mission’s excellent program. The athletic Durango native is also becoming a leader within this band of ASC Knuckleheads trying to unite communities with wellness. Things have changed. Same with the Buffs that magical year. They believed.

What about us? We know, there are challenges present. We all have our stuff. Where is it time to believe things can change in admirable ways? Home? Work? Elsewhere? Maybe it has absolutely nothing to do with the locale. Instead, perhaps, it’s the spirit we’re bringing to the party?

Learning and benefitting from life’s journey. It’s worked for Brandon and the Buffs. Why not us?

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