In the fall 2013, I was asked to speak at a university in the mid-west. Arriving the night before as usual, I had an evening to myself in my hotel room. That night, I made a phone to a close friend, who on many occasions in my life, counseled me on some of my monumental decisions. I had indicated to him, that after twenty years of speaking to thousands of people across the country, I had finally lost ‘the fire in my belly’ to continue my work. My friend’s advice was that it was time for me to walk away for awhile and if the ‘fire’ came back I’d know. Three years have passed, my close friend has left this life for a better one, and it seems like the ‘fire’ came back with a vengeance.
I started my journey way back in the fall of 1990. I remember my first talk at Lowell State College (now UMass Lowell), as if it was yesterday. I was nervous, wore a suit coat and tie, and spoke at a lectern. It was there I got my feet wet, and it helped to catapult me to eventually become an accomplished communicator. However, when I started my journey, I believed it was all about Dave Pallone. Yes, it was my story, but little did I know that my story was like so many others. Like the young college student from Massachusetts, who was so overwhelmed with emotion, she came up to me after an event hugged me and just started to cry. Or the pastor from NY, who just shook my hand , then eventually took the time to write me a thank you note for giving him the strength to know he can still serve the God he prays to and be the person he was meant to be. I still remember the young man from Alabama, who stood up in front of the entire audience to thank me for my story, but wished his sister had been able to hear it, though she took her life just 3 months prior. Then, there was the young man from Missouri, who waited patiently to tell me that my story convinced him not to take his life, and he had decided to keep fighting!!
Yes, it’s stories like these that kept me going for all those years, and I know there are still more stories to be heard. So, I want to do more. Instead of thinking about it, I want to do something about it. Yes, I’m older, and yes things are better, but the stories never change and as Ted Kennedy once said ‘and the dream will never die’. The dream of feeling ‘equal’ will never die, and I will continue fighting for that dream.
Thanks for reading and remember,
Never Strike Out!