As we go through life and meet new people, you can never guess the types of people that you will meet. These people can have many different types of impacts on your life. They can love you, leave you, hurt you or help you. The most special kind of people though, are the ones that inspire you. These people come in all different colors, sizes, and ages but that is not important. Color is nothing but a skin tone, size is nothing but a measurement and age is nothing but a number. I believe that no matter what, everyone you meet can inspire you.
When I was growing up, basketball was my sport. I became obsessed with it in first grade and never stopped. I first met Matty, my Coach’s youngest son the first day of basketball practice in fourth grade. In the beginning he was just the skinny little pale kid with a runny nose running hard, up and down the courts to keep up with us during practices. As the years went on he would become the bravest kid I would ever meet.
I found out a few years later that Matty had leukemia, the most common form of cancer in younger children today. He battled it once, and went into remission, which means the cancer was free from his body. He became an icon in our community and ran the victory lap at the Relay for Life festival held at our high school. He became my hero in many ways because even when he was sickest, he ran like hell so he wouldn’t be left behind.
Matty kept on running and eventually everyone forgot about his past and his cancer. He was still recognized for beating the odds but he lived life like every fourth grader ought too. He wrestled, went to school, and managed to come to every practice and every game as our good luck charm and mascot. Unfortunately this didn’t last. My freshman year of high school, Matty came out of remission and the cancer began to invade his tiny body once again. He fought harder than he did before but this time his little body just couldn’t run far enough, and cancer took his life.
The short amount of time that Matty was on Earth he taught me a lot of things. He taught me how to spit sunflower seeds through the holes in the fence guarding the softball bench, he taught me that as long as you have friends that love you, you will always be remembered, and he taught me that you can’t live by life’s rules, you have to make up your own rules as you go along. Most importantly he taught me to live your life to the fullest, and live it for yourself not to make other people happy, live your life and love it because sometimes you don’t have a lot of time to live it. Because of Matty I believe that anyone can be an inspiration.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.