Tuesday, July 29, 2008

A Ripple of Heroes

Randy Pausch died on Friday. I didn't find out until today through a bizarre series of events that illustrate the ripple effect heroes have on and through our lives.

It started last Wednesday afternoon when I stumbled across a reminder that Liz & Allison were hosting a happy hour fundraiser for their NYCDC ride. I met Liz & Allison on ESAR last year - their first fundraising ride. The happy hour was in Manhattan, I happened to be nearby on business, so I showed up to support their repeat effort to fight AIDS!

Shortly after arriving, in walked Annie, another newbie cycler in 2007 and member of our ESAR P.S. Breakthrough Riders team. The bug had also hooked Annie, who explained that this summer she'd switched to another new challenge for her - swimming. Two miles to be precise and in the Chesapeake Bay no less! All it took was a friend with a good cause - pancreatic cancer - and Annie stepped in to help.

Annie's stories of the effect of this horrible cancer on the lives of her friends caused me to ask if she'd heard "The Last Lecture", the Professor Pausch lecture on achieving your dreams. That lecture, first presented to his Carnegie-Mellon students shortly after being told he had three-six months to live, has since spread through the internet, daytime and primetime TV, and was an instant best-seller in book form this spring. Annie hadn't heard of Randy until Wednesday. Today she told me she'd gained new inspiration from him on Thursday and Randy Pausch died on Friday.

"If you lead your life the right way, the karma will take care of itself," Pausch said. "The dreams will come to you."

I am blessed by the heroes who inspire, motivate and drift in and out of my life, sometimes when least expected.

Footnote: My senior year at Oakland Mills High, Bret was a junior and Tammie a freshman. Randy Pausch was a sophomore. I knew his older sister Tammy but admit I needed the yearbook to show me Randy, who I did not know personally. In his lecture, Randy admits to being a nerd and while that fact is apparent in the yearbook pictures of chess team, student government and lacrosse, he was lucky to have been part of those formative OMHS classes at a time when individuality & experimentation - indeed dreaming - were nurtured. And the seeds grew...

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