This summer I was “elected” as the director of youth hockey in Lakeville, Minn. At the time, I ran unopposed. I viewed this as a resounding endorsement for my vision for the future of our early development program.
I was greeted with several congratulatory remarks. However, it was one dad’s reaction in particular that ebbed its way deep into my subconscious.
“Good luck, Marcus.”
That was it. Three simple words offered the majority of the time to convey goodwill – key word being “majority.”
It wasn’t until several months later that I learned exactly what this dad meant. While preparing to coach my son’s team one weekend in October, I was approached by the opposing team’s head coach. He informed me his son was the top rated skater for his age group in the state of Minnesota. I asked him how old his son was.
“He’s 6-years old,” the head coach replied.
I responded in typical Marcus fashion when forced to endure parents and their Immaculate Conception offspring.
“Really, well my 6-year-old son just won a color-by-number competition at our local grocery store, making him the top-rated colorer in Scott County.”
He wasn’t amused.
Looking back, I should have seen it coming. Running a youth hockey program in the State of Hockey is like volunteering to test the effectiveness of a new, chum scented shark repellant off the coast of Cape Town, South Africa. I now fear hockey parents more than bad corn trades.
I guess this begs the question, “Why do it?”
Meet Michael Peterson. Michael is a 9-year-old and one of the top young skaters in the Lakeville Hockey Association. However, it’s not what he does on the ice that makes him one of the most incredible kids I have ever met.
When Michael was 8 ½ months old he was diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis, an inherited, chronic disease that affects the lungs and digestive system of approximately 30,000 children in the United States. If left untreated it can result in life-threatening lung infections and serious digestive problems. CF also has the unfortunate distinction of being an “Orphan disease,” receiving no federal funding or major pharmaceutical investment.
Every single night Michael goes to bed knowing tomorrow will be yet another battle in a long, drawn out war against a progressive adversary that does not rest or take vacation days. And every single night I now go to bed thanking God for the opportunity and privilege of meeting kids like Michael Peterson, whose courage and strength has shown me that real heroes still do exist.
Why do it? Isn’t it obvious?
And here’s the hard truth I discovered through this experience. At times, I too have struggled with my own, self-inflicted progressive disease. My condition has been referred to as callousness or reoccurring self-pity, defined primarily by my ability to lose sight of all the blessings in my life at a moment’s notice when things don’t go my way. Michael saved me from me, and he can save you too.
Get involved, risk diving into potentially shark-infested waters, and prepare to have your entire world view transformed. Find Your Michael.
Marcus Ludtke graduated from the University of St. Thomas, St. Paul, Minn., in 2001 and started working for POET Risk Management in May of that year. His primary responsibilities include managing POET’s corn position and market research.