Wednesday, November 28, 2012

"Don't Give Up...Don't Ever Give Up!"

It's Jimmy V Week on ESPN, dedicated to the memory and inspiration of the late college basketball coach Jim Valvano, who led North Carolina State to an amazing last-second victory in the 1983 NCAA Tournament. He was well-known for running up and down the court following NC State's win, looking for someone to hug.

Valvano died of cancer in 1993, shortly after starting The V Foundation for Cancer Research, which ESPN has embraced as its leading charity over the years, and it recently committed a $1 million donation.

Jim Valvano was a man of great courage and strength, and perhaps he is best known for the emotional and inspirational speech he delivered at the 1993 ESPY Awards, when he was presented with the Arthur Ashe Courage and Humanitarian Award. I saw it again on ESPN last night and, as always, it made me cry, it made me think, and it made me grateful.
"To me, there are three things we all should do every day. We should do this every day of our lives. Number one is laugh. You should laugh every day. Number two is think. You should spend some time in thought. And number three is, you should have your emotions moved to tears, could be happiness or joy. But think about it. If you laugh, you think, and you cry, that's a full day. That's a heck of a day. You do that seven days a week, you're going to have something special."
He closed his speech with the words,
"Cancer can take away all of my physical abilities. It cannot touch my mind, it cannot touch my heart, and it cannot touch my soul. And those three things are going to carry on forever. I thank you and God bless you all."
As I think about Valvano's words, I think of all the people that have been lost to cancer in my life, those struggling with the disease right now, those fortunate enough to survive their fight and live to teach others, and all of those whose lives have been touched by this disease. Following Jimmy V's example is never easy, especially in times of struggle, but I promise you, it can be done.

If you are looking for a good cry, here's his speech. I send my strength and prayers and hope to those currently struggling with this disease, and send my love to those who are worried, who are grieving, and those we've lost.

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