by Heather Durenberger, Tastemaker in Residence
Twelve Sunday afternoons a year, a large group of volunteers in our community gather together and host basketball skills clinics for children with physical and cognitive disabilities to learn how to play basketball. But that is only part of this story.
Each athlete is paired with a buddy. One of the greatest benefits of this program is that children and adults meet to play basketball with someone who is different than they are. The founder is Julie Hagen, an amazing Mom whose son Lucas has Downs Syndrome.
Her vision is “you give two kids who don’t know each other a basketball and all of a sudden they have a common language.”
I can attest than not a Sunday goes by without coming home with an aching face from smiling so much. It is so beautiful to see children and adults becoming friends in a world where their paths might never otherwise cross or connect. And that what was how I met Coach David.
You see, David lost his eldest son Bryan to Duchenne Diasease a few years back. Rather than becoming bitter or turning inward, dear David found the courage and strength to turn his sorrow and loss into a passionate, positive energy that helped others. He spent his days doing what mattered. He made a difference even though all of us would have understood if he couldn’t get out of bed.
I remember the last time I saw David he said, “Heather I would give you a hug but I have a basketball hoop in my hands.” To Coach David, his wife Carla and son Allan, I send my respect, admiration and blessings for finding courage within the loss and ability to help others in a world that aches with a need for the compassionate spirit.
This past week we lost Coach David, at the age of 50. In addition to being a coach, David was a father, community leader, and philanthropist. Coach David reminds each of us that life is a gift, and what we do today and tomorrow matters, so make it count.