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
September 18, 2017
Everything we touch today comes with a filter. From our pictures and videos, to what we say and the feedback we get, all the way to how we see ourselves and how we let the world see us. Some are societal, and some are self-inflicted, but more and more we are choosing to ignore the reality in favor of the filter. The problem with the filter, however, is that it doesn’t really change anything, it just strains out what you don’t want to see, be seen, or in some cases, deal with.
You can’t change what you aren’t willing to accept, and you can’t accept what you aren’t willing to see. At some point, the disparity between the filter and the reality becomes so big, that all you are left with is fiction. Remember that progress is rooted in reality, so if you are scared, ashamed, embarrassed, or nervous about what’s behind that filter, realize that whatever it is that makes you feel that way is going to stay right there until you are ready to take the filter off, and stare all that is real square in the face.
Every once in a while, we need a reminder that filters actually exist to highlight or enhance what is good as opposed to covering up what is bad. If everything looks great on the outside, but you are still in unfulfilled turmoil on the inside, try living life unfiltered for a while. It may be humbling, discouraging, or downright depressing at first, but soon enough those feelings will be overtaken by progress, and the only thing left to be filtered will be the haters, the naysayers, and the doubters. – CPT Ryan