This story is not about fish, but rather those that pursue them. This past year, I have been blessed with several new friends, this is a story about two. The first I met at the 2014 Bassmaster Central Regional. I thought I was there for me, an opportunity to shine. I was not, I was there for him. We (my wife and I) met Brad and his wife Kim and immediately, something clicked. They are special, they are real.
We weren't alone. Our team, some spouses and even some children were brought together for a week. Each day we prepared, practiced, competed, and every evening we gathered to reflect on the day. We came together as acquaintances, oblivious to the battle raging in Brad. We left as friends, bonded by the experience, forever changed by our new friend. You see, Brad has cancer.
Life's not always fair, it's not always certain, but it's always constant. There's always a start and always an end, but the journey defines who we are.
He never complained, there was no excuse. Every day Brad competed, grinding it out. Every evening, he laughed, he sang, he visited. His attitude is infectious, his outlook is inspiring, his faith is eternal. He embodies the traits we hold precious, persistent and dedicated. Though his body is broken and will eventually succumb, his spirit, his soul will never relent.
Brad is not a part of Bass Nation, Brad is Bass Nation.
Even though he is weak, even though it's progressed, he still desires to compete. Brad is entered in this years state tournament. Defiant, his drive is still there. My hope above all hope is that he rallies and we are blessed with his presence next month. Either way, his legacy will remain, he will always be remembered. Brad will forever be the Nation.
As the Sun sets, surely another must Rise.
Michael's family contacted our state chapter for assistance. They needed help organizing a benefit tournament. Unsure where to start, they asked if someone would be willing to help guide them through the process. In doing so, I've had the pleasure to meet a young boy with a very large passion for bass fishing.
In 2010, Michael was diagnosed with a rare, life threatening lung disease. His condition, a form of Children's Interstitial & Diffuse Lung Disease (or chiLD as it's more commonly known), prevents him from participating in many activities we take for granted. In this, he found fishing, specifically bass fishing. Though he's dependent upon oxygen, Michael can still function normally with a rod and reel. Michael is becoming an expert fisherman, complete with a growing desire to compete in bass tournaments. Though too young to compete in high school bass tournaments, he wants to in the future. In doing so, his desire is to bring awareness to and raise funds for the chiLD Foundation to support research towards a cure.
When life delivers lemons, make lemonade.
Michael is an energetic, growing boy with a large appetite for life. Undeterred by his condition, he has found a way to 'Live'. Which path has he chosen? The Nation, a path rife with challenge in the pursuit of a quarry that remains ever elusive.
Our legacy in not in the gifts we give nor the gifts we have, but rather in how the gifts we have are used to impact the lives of those we meet.
To learn more about Michael you can visit www.facebook.com/MichaelsNextBreath
To learn more about the chILD Foundation go to www.child-foundation.com
This is a video about Michael and his Fish-A-Thon event from last year:http://www.wowt.com/home/headlines/Boy-With-Rare-Lung-Disease-Is-Fishing-For-A-Cause-266956831.html