The Power Of Togetherness

Posted: April 13, 2014 in Uncategorized

Chelsi and April

Although I missed being with all the Marathon Coalition runners at our last official training run, it was such an inspirational weekend.  I was honored to officiate the Spiritual Union of my niece and her partner.  Chelsi an April organized such a meaningful and empowering ceremony.

I have always loved weddings, witnessing two people express their love for one another and committing to sharing a lifetime together is such a powerful experience.  Being an integral part of that commitment was exponentially more powerful.  As I stood beside April watching  Chelsi walk down the aisle, my emotions were like a runaway train I had absolutely no control of.  But I knew I had to maintain some semblance of control because I wanted this to be such a special ceremony.

I had a lifetime of memories racing through my mind at the moment.  Chelsi was 4 years old when I gave her my motocross boots, helmet and riding gear.  When she stood in them they came to the top of her hips.  Little did I know she would become one of the top female motocross racers in the country.  More recently, she entered the male  dominated world of flat track racing and, once again, dominated this genre of racing where you’re seldom on the brakes and flat our flying while sliding sideways through the turns.  This is an arena where old white guys simply aren’t accustomed to being beaten by such a young female and displayed an immeasurable degree of aggression.  I’m so proud of her for NEVER backing down from this challenge.  You cannot imagine the surprise on their faces when the young upstart schooled them in her first race and removed her helmet…the shock on their faces was palpable.

I will never forget what happened in the aftermath of losing my mom to leukemia in 1996.  Immediately after mom’s funeral, we traveled from Illinois to Hurricane Mills, Tennessee for the Amateur National Motocross Championships at Loretta Lynn’s Ranch.  As we were all grieving the loss of mom, this was a welcome distraction and an opportunity for our family to grieve together.  That was the first time I saw Chelsi race and was completely amazed at how fast and fearless she was.  I simply couldn’t believe this was my tiny niece taking on the big boys of the sport.  Ironically, she wore a crash test dummy fastened to the back of her chest protector as a way to distinguish herself from her competitors.  She crashed during this race and flew over her handlebars while going for the win…breaking her collarbone.  She is undoubtedly the fiercest competitor in our family.

In 2004, Chelsi was hit head-on by a drunk driver in a truck while riding her motorcycle .  She fought for her life with the same determination she has displayed during her competitive career…she was only 19 years old.  She has endured more surgeries in the past 10 years than her current age of 29.  She emerged from this life-threatening ordeal a more grateful and appreciative person.

Despite all of her impressive accomplishments, I’m most proud of Chelsi for her compassion.  She has had the biggest impact on all her nieces and nephews and has given immeasurable amounts of time to all of them.  For someone so young, I have never seen anyone earn the respect and love of so many.  I always feel like I’m with a celebrity when I spend time with her while attending national races in Indianapolis.

One of life’s greatest gifts is meeting and falling in love with someone who brings out the best in us and appreciates our uniqueness.  April has clearly been the greatest gift Chelsi has received.  As one of the best basketball players in the nation, she also shares a competitive spirit.  But she has channeled that energy into having a significant impact in the world and on the lives of others.  I’m always inspired by people who commit themselves to making such a difference in the world.  April’s example of selflessness continues to be a source of inspiration.  We are blessed to have her in our family.

The union of Chelsi and April is further proof that we are stronger and more compelling together than we are alone!

 

Comments
  1. Chris B says:

    Coach Rick,
    I had to smile when I read that your niece is courageous, compassionate, and — competitive. Does that sound like someone else we know? 🙂

  2. Bob Winter says:

    Wow.

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