Posted: April 7, 2007 in Uncategorized

There were a couple of significant things that happened today: One, we finished our deck (I’ll have to take a picture tomorrow); and two, Hillary and I had a great visit to Caboose Cones in downtown Ocean Springs where we met the owner and even got a personal tour of the caboose (you can read about Caboose Cones HERE).

But those significant things seem awfully insignificant today.

I saw a link on John Dobbs’ blog today about a ten-year-old boy who tragically died while heroically saving his friends’ lives in Gulfport this past Tuesday night. He and his friends were in a mini-van whose brakes went out after dark on Highway 49 and endured a horrible wreck. Chad Lee, Jr., got out of the van, then went back in to rescue his buddies. They got out, but before Chad could get out again, he was struck by another car, and he did not survive.

Not long after reading this heart-wrenching story, my wife called me to tell me about the same story but added that Chad Lee, Jr. was a student in the same grade and at the same school as our Hillary.

Hillary was not a close friend of Chad’s, and she wasn’t in his specific class, but she still knew him. And it still wasn’t much fun to tell a 4th grader that a classmate was killed on their spring break. Not much fun at all. And I cannot even imagine how hard it has been for others to do the same with Chad’s close friends and family.

Mrs. Hubbard’s class won 4th grade field day last Friday (the one where Hillary sang the national anthem). When they won, I snapped a couple of pictures of their celebration, and in the one above you will see the boy on the right in the blue shorts – that’s Chad Lee, Jr., on his last day of school. Ever. He would die a tragic, heroic death just four days later.

How do you explain to a little girl why ten-year-old’s have to die? Pardon my arrogance, but I don’t really want your advice. I said all the right things, but they still sound like crap.

But we get to go on with our lives. And make something out of them.

A little boy went on spring break last Friday with no clue that his clock was ticking at just four days. But when the time came, he performed heroically, fulfilling (according to Jesus) the highest of all callings, “to lay down his life for his friends.”

May we all live as heroically as that ten-year-old boy, even if the loss makes absolutely no sense.

  1. JD says:

    You’re so right Al … of course I had no idea of the connection to Hillary … it’s simply tragic. I can’t imagine what the family must be going through. But I expect they will always have a part of their heart that is filled with pride at the way he moved to save his friends. That in no way lightens the loss, though.

  2. Rob says:

    Hey Al,

    I am so pumped to come across your blog. It has been a long time since we have been in contact. I’m having a blast reading your words.

    You were a great teacher and friend to me. Boy we had a lot of fun scoring all those points, and I believe I have some videos that belong to you.

    Man, I know that was only thirteen years ago, but it seems a lifetime ago to me. As a kid I just didn’t realize the incredible journey this life offers us. I don’t know if you were ever aware of some my experiences. Anyway, I was diagnosed with stage IV bone cancer
    a few years ago. The cancer had metastasized and spread to my lungs. Without going into much detail, I was not given great odds and the treatment I went through was incredibly powerful.

    Thankfully and prayerfully, I had a wonderful response and am doing great (I’m even doing marathons and half-marathons now, I really was never that good of a sprinter). It(cancer) is definitely a fearful and painful experience from a physical point of view, but has also been the greatest experience of my life. I often tell my friends that “my food just tastes better now”. I am so thankful for every breath, and strive to draw closer to our Creator with each one.

    I can’t wait to read your books, and continue to follow your blog. I would love stay in contact. I hope all is well with your family. My dad is not in great health, but is still riding the high from our Cardinals. Who knew that groundballs back to the pitcher were so effective.

    Let’s stay in touch!
    Love to you and your family,
    Rob Shaver

  3. Rob says:

    Al, your post is touching. I am thinking of Chad Lee Jr., and his family. What an act of courage and selflessness. We all can learn from this young man. I am saddened by his loss.

  4. Al Sturgeon says:

    Thanks, John. I continue to discover the world through reading your blog.

    I can’t believe it. Rob Shaver! I was just talking about track the other day, reliving the old state championship run, and telling stories from the distance medley at the Germantown Relays!!! Those days were a lot of fun, and it is so good to hear from you, Rob!!!

    We’re all doing good, but now that you’ve made contact, you are required to make a trip to the Gulf Coast and see us. We have a room waiting for you!

    I had heard about some of your health situations, but I never knew how to get in touch with you. I feel horrible that I didn’t find a way, but it is so encouraging to hear how you’re doing now. In no way does this relate to cancer, but we lost all (well, most of) our “stuff” to Hurricane Katrina. I say that only to say that I know a little of what you mean when you refer to what sounds like devastating times turning into life positive times.

    We’ve got to catch up, Rob. Seriously, come and see us! Maybe we’ll buy Hillary a sassy bicycle just so you can help us put it together – just like old times!

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