The Packer Sweep

As many of you know I am a big Green Bay Packer fan. Being born in that city means it is in your blood. I recently watched a documentary on Vince Lombardi who many believe is the greatest coach and motivator who ever lived. His players would follow him anywhere. One of the bread and butter plays of those teams was the sweep. Pulling linemen from one side to the other side to provide more blocking and creating a bigger hole for the runners to go through. Even though the defense knew it was coming they couldn’t stop it because of the precision of eleven men doing their job.
It got me thinking of who I have followed in my life. As life comes at me who is creating the holes to go through and leading me to a greater good. Obviously for me the person providing the greatest opportunity to follow is God. Then I think of all the people who have led and motivated me.
My parents guided me for many years growing up and still are to this day. My mom is always there to lend an ear, and although my father has passed, his lessons and presence still resonate. I learned many business and sales techniques from the different bosses I have had. When I was diagnosed with ALS I had my faith, family, and friends to lean on but still something was missing. I had no one to relate to, no mentor to guide and lead me through this process. That all changed with one phone call from New Orleans a few years ago. Whether he wanted it or not, on that day Steve Gleason became my “pulling guard” leading me through the hole and showing me how to continue to lead a full life. I thought I was but see someone going through the same fight in the matter Steve did was very motivating. Trust me, there are many days it is easier to quit or give up but then I think of him and I push on. I don’t know how he feels about this role in his life but I’m not the only who feels this way about him.
I have since met other ALS patients who motivate me by their actions and I’ve been told the same by many others. It is like a relationship, when one is down the other is there to pick them up. We all need people to help lead us through life and if my life is any example I’ve had many people fill that role. Like the Packer Sweep it takes a team effort to find the greatest success. We can’t do it alone. And like Vince Lombardi was to those Packer teams, Steve Gleason is a leader to many of us fighting ALS.
 
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Playing Catch

One thing many of you don’t know about me is how much I am like my father and how much my life is mimicking his. Some of the big similarities is that we were both in sales, loved talking to others, etc but we both faced a major neurological medical situation at about the age of forty. My father started losing feeling and strength in his hands and limbs having to retire from work in his fifties. I don’t have any memories of playing sports with my dad as a youth. I remember him struggling to shoot a basketball as that was my main sport as a kid. My memories are of him sitting on a lawn chair watching me practice and going to my games always supporting me in that way. I felt bad for him but I never felt “cheated”. Although I’m sure he felt bad as a parent he couldn’t do those things with me.

I bring this up because I often wonder what my kids think about as we go down our journey. I really watch my ten year old son Evan and listen to what he says. Recently we were talking about cures for ALS. He is convinced they will find one soon and when they do all he wants to do is play catch with me. Although he did say I get 30 days to get in shape. Thanks son. Of course my heart sank as I know without a miracle that won’t happen. So I asked him what others things would he rather do and he said “nothing I just want to play catch with you”. So I decided to ask the older boys and they said the same darn thing. It made me realize that a bond between a father and a son can be as simple as playing catch. I also know that despite wanting to do this they will never feel cheated later in life. My experience gives me comfort because seeing that disappointment in his eyes is tough.

 
 
 
 
So enjoy the simples pleasures with your kids. The trips and toys are great but if my childhood proves anything and my kids are any proof, a simple game of playing catch will impact them and create a lifelong bond.

The Front Line

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How can you really appreciate a battle without going to the front line? There often is a disconnect that occurs. This can often happen in corporations. As a field rep, we would often get our direction from corporate and oftentimes felt that they didn’t really understand our needs or issues. The good leaders would travel… Read more.

Reverse Inspiration

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It is very humbling when someone tells you that you inspire them. Through my public speaking engagements I’m often told how I inspire others to live a better,fuller, and more inspired life. That makes me feel empowered to continue my efforts to share my story with others. What they don’t know is that I am… Read more.

Heroism and Suffering

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Life continues to amaze me. Every time you get content or feel sorry for yourself, something happens that wakes you up. Problem is we don’t always see it. In this case, it was very easy to see.   Today is Veterans Day. On the 11th day of the 11th month at the 11th hour, the… Read more.

Birchwood Days

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A tradition came to an end this Labor Day as our family spent its final vacation in Birchwood. Birchwood meant many things to my family. For my wife, it was the only place where I saw her truly release the stresses of work and home life and really relax. For me, I relaxed as well… Read more.

Into The Mystic

Yesterday marked the ninth anniversary of my father’s passing. While it is very difficult to lose a loved one, time as well as healing of the soul makes each year a little bit easier. I still find it hard to believe it has been nine years since I received the phone call from my brother-in-law… Read more.

Love of the Game

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  Hockey has been a part of my life since my 1st time on skates on the Milwaukee River in Thiensville. Having never played youth or High School hockey my interest really began to grow when I went to school in Madison and went to my first Badger Hockey game. Chris Chelios actually tossed his stick… Read more.

A Man, a Meal, and a Mission

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  A little event took place in March for the 20th consecutive year called the Evening of Hope. Jeff Kaufman founded this event with the hopes of making a difference for patients and families affected by ALS. I would have to believe Jeff would be proud the way his family and the chapter have carried… Read more.

Tears of Perspective

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  Every once in a while something occurs that makes you pause, reflect, and put things in perspective. One of these events happened while I was flying back home from North Carolina last week. As I was waiting at the gate I noticed four Marines walking up in formation. There were also two highly decorated… Read more.