May 9, 2003, was a day that will forever leave scars in my memory. That was the day I lost my teacher, my friend, and my biggest role model in this world. But it was also the day I began to believe that each person must truly live each and every day to the fullest.
Bobby was a world baton champion. He competed in a sport that was primarily dominated by females, but his athleticism and constant work made him quite the entertainer. He was teased and tormented throughout school for being a male baton twirler, but he never let that get in the way of pursuing his dreams. And after becoming world champion at age 12, Bobby knew he could overcome the criticism he was going to take. Bobby was also a motivational speaker. He would use his three batons for each of his three main points: setting goals, believing in yourself, and never giving up. He traveled far and wide to get these messages across to audiences (young and old) everywhere.
Bobby was my teacher and coach for 10 years prior to his death. Not only did we work together at group lessons, he was also my individual coach, helping me to become a national three-baton champion. Bobby taught me to never waste a practice and always show up with the attitude that you need to work hard each and everyday to improve. Wasting a practice was wasting time that you would never get back and that you should enjoy pushing yourself and your teammates to get better. I know Bobby always wanted me to get better.
Going to Bobby’s funeral was the hardest thing I have ever had to do in my short life. Here was this 23 year old stud, who just the Saturday before was doing toss back flips and toss handsprings at a baton rehearsal at Memorial Stadium, laying in a casket, with makeup and molds on his face to cover the scars. That moment, I realized one thing that will haunt me forever. I never got to say goodbye to Bobby. I rushed out the door of practice, and his life, to go do something more important. That moment made me realize that nothing in life is certain and there are so many things we can’t control. One thing we can control, however, is how we live our lives. And Bobby’s life (and tragic death) made me believe in living mine each day to the fullest.
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