My daughter Harmony attended Central Catholic High here in Portland. She graduated back in 2004. I bring that up for 2 reasons. The first is that she realized her love for running there, on the Cross Country track team, which is something that enriches her life now. The other, is that one of her fellow alums inspired me to write this post.
His name is Hayward Demison, and he was a running back on the Central Catholic Rams football team in 2010, 6 years after Harmony's departure. Yesterday I saw a story about him on ESPN, which I found to be both timely and inspiring. I knew by the time it was done that I needed to write about it on my blog.
In September, 2010, Hayward was a Junior in high school. His #1 football dream had always been to win a game for his team on the last play of the game. He saw that dream become reality when Central beat Canby by the score of 28 to 24, with Hayward running in the winning touchdown as time expired. Before he could celebrate the completion of his dream, he began to feel intense pain in his chest. Hayward had a major heart attack, which left him lifeless on the field of play.
Fortunately, he didn't "stay dead". He came back to life at the hospital, where they found he could either have a triple bypass, never to play football again, or he could have a risky open heart surgery that "might" allow him to play again in the future. He bravely opted for choice number 2, knowing that without the game he loved he'd have more regret than he wanted to handle. He made it through the surgery like the champion he is.
By his senior year he was back on the field, running the ball into the end zone. He played well enough to make it onto the all state team after leading his team into the playoffs with a 10-3 record! He accepted a scholarship from Southern Oregon University, and is now playing football on the college level.
The reasons I feel this story is timely and inspiring, is that just last week I wrote about the heart attack I had 19 years ago. I wrote that for the next 9 years I was waiting for the other shoe to drop, hypersensitive to any abnormal feelings in my body. Hayward's story inspires me because he was able to just move forward, whether or not he had the same fears as me. I feel it's safe to say he learned quickly what it took me 9 years to learn. Cast your fears to the side and live NOW.