News & Updates
March 5, 2018
When you are losing faith, and coming to the end of your rope…look around. When you have tried everything you can to make your vision a reality, but you just can’t seem to get anything to work…look around. When the pep talks, the speeches, and the motivational social media posts lose all their luster and meaning, and you feel like you just can’t find the spark in anything anymore…look around. And when you are just done, tapped out, given up, and all you want is a way out of the suck…look around.Look around and you will see the faces of the people who don’t just believe in what your capable of, they know what you are capable of. They believe in everything about you. They have your back, they have sacrificed for you, they have walked through fire for you, and they would follow you to the depths of hell, all just so you could succeed. No different what you feel, and would do, for them. Just look around. You know these people are there, even if you don’t want to admit it.When you have lost the will to do it for you, look around, and do it for them. Be the person they see in you. Be the person they have invested their time, love, and compassion in. It can’t always be about everyone else, or for everyone else, but until you can do it for you again, do it for them. Behind every success is a low point, a point of seemingly no return shrouded by the darkest of days. But if you can just look beyond yourself for a second, and see the people behind you, there you will find the grit to keep going, because you better believe they would do the same for you.
January 8, 2018
Who Not What
On January 7th in the year 2000, at a small gymnasium in Sumter, South Carolina, the students of Thomas Sumter Academy had gathered on a Friday afternoon to have a pep rally for their winter sports teams. In one of the final acts, a few of the school’s basketball players stole the show with a skit where they posed as highly unskilled cheerleaders, drawing laughter and applause from the raucous crowd of teenagers in the bleachers. This was nothing new for this trio of players, most notably a 17 year old Air Force brat by the name of Josh Peck. In the chaos of the pep rally, and the thunder of school spirit, nobody in that gymnasium had any idea Josh was about to change their world forever.Josh had grown up all over the world and back, as he and his mom went wherever the Air Force sent them. In his travels, he developed not only a trademark sense of quick witted humor, but also a deep sense of compassion for others. As Josh grew, he honed those skills to the point where every interaction with him would become memorable for the other person. Even the innocent fast food workers weren’t immune from Josh’s infectious sense of humor, where he would scheme up some sort of act in their brief time together that would leave them laughing, and with a story to tell.Although never the star athlete, he loved sports and was a beloved teammate, who could often be found donating his free time to coaching little kids. He would no doubt have them in hysterics, all while honing their fundamentals, and developing the same love for athletics he had. He cared deeply about those around him. That caring nature not only drove him to start bagging groceries at the local Winn Dixie just so he could pick up the tab when he and his friends went out to eat, but to also become the first line of defense in his mother’s dating life in the years following her divorce, where more than a couple potential suitors would fall victim to his exceptional quick wittedness as he attempted to scare them off.Maya Angelou once said “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” In the moments following that trademark skit, suddenly the world would be forced to reflect upon those feelings Josh had evoked in them over the years. As the gymnasium roared with the sound of the school’s fight song, Josh collapsed on the gymnasium floor, and in an instant, he would lose a battle he never knew he was fighting to begin with. Unbeknownst to him and his family, Josh suffered from an undiagnosed case of Marfan Syndrome, and the same enlarged heart which endeared him to all he came in contact with, would also take his life.Josh was my cousin. And I don’t tell his story for the sympathy, the fanfare, or the all too predictable “Life is short” speech. The message I want everyone to take from Josh’s story is that anyone, regardless of success, fame, or fortune, can forever change the world not because of what you are, but because of who you are. In Josh’s short 17 years on this planet, he used humor, compassion, and love, to make every interaction count. Close to a thousand people showed up to his funeral in the following days, and the family was overwhelmed with support, and stories of Josh’s kindness and humor. Josh’s compassion became a model for students at Thomas Sumter Academy, where his jersey, bearing number 14, hangs in that very gymnasium to this day. And his mother Randi, my aunt, would lead the charge in the months and years following, to have lifesaving defibrillators placed in as many schools as possible to help prevent such tragedies in the future.As for me, I have spent my life still trying to live up to that 17 year old kid. I live everyday chasing the principles he embodied, and trying to place the needs of others over that of my own, forever thankful I was able to see that even a teenager from Dalzell, South Carolina, can change the world. So remember, you are significant, you are meaningful, and although nobody has the power to change the entire world, everybody has the ability to change their world because of who they are, not what they are…even if it’s one life at a time.To learn more about Josh, go to http://joshpeckfoundation.org/-CPT Ryan
October 9, 2017
Out Of The Darkness
No different than the night sky reveals the stars, the moon, and the wonders of the universe, the dark times you encounter in your life will reveal a side of you which you never knew existed. We fear the dark. We fear what it represents, we fear what it shrouds, and we fear the blindness that comes with it. Conversely, we love the light because for its predictability, normalcy, and far reaching sight. When it comes down to it, darkness exposes a vulnerability which we are extremely uncomfortable with, but in reality it exposes so much more.
The light shrouds from us what we are truly capable of. It hides our strength, our will, our determination, and even our compassion for others. You are going to go through dark times whether you like it or not, whether you’re prepared or not, and whether or not it’s convenient for you. You can hide from it, ignore it, try to get your friends to face it with you, but in the end it’s on you to walk into the darkness and search for what lies beyond its veil. It is there, far from the comforting rays of light, where you will find what you are actually made of.
You were not built just to merely exist, you were literally born to survive, adapt, overcome, and repeat. Whatever dark times you may be going through right now, or will go through in the future, do just that…go through them. Don’t get caught just staring into the darkness, because it’s all you will ever see. Go through it. There will always be growth, there will always be lessons, and there will always be light on the other side, but you have to be willing to go through it…albeit one small step at a time.
September 25, 2017
Be Someone Who
Starting today, don’t just be someone…be someone who. Don’t just be someone aimlessly wandering through life, taking it as it comes, lost in a revolving door going to nowhere. Be someone who is unwaveringly guided by a set of core values, sticking to them through thick and thin, no matter the odds or adversity. Don’t just be someone standing idly by, simply watching life happen, taking it as it come. Be someone who takes action. Someone who steps up when everyone else is afraid, or nobody else is willing to, and starts the movement against the odds and impossibility.Starting today, don’t just be someone sitting in silence, being told this or told that, mindlessly obeying orders without your best interest in mind. Be someone who speaks up. Be the one who tells the world what you want from it, voices your ideas about positive change and growth, and speaks up for others when they can’t speak for themselves. Furthermore, be someone who is a protector. Be someone who is not only willing to fight their own battles, but also fearlessly goes to war in defense of others, with a greater hunger for victory than if it was merely fighting for yourself.And starting today, don’t just be someone with a cold shoulder and a blank stare, who rattles the earth with confidence, fire, and action. Be someone who also walks with gentle compassion, a knowing empathy, and a sincere kindness. Be someone who people are excited to see walk in the room. Be someone who everyone wants to watch their back, who everyone wants by their side, and who everyone knows will lead from the front when the time is right. Starting today, make just being someone a thing of the past, and start being someone who leaves a legacy that will last.