In the intermission between the West Florida High and Pine Forest High School graduations, a young man came by the green room to meet with the school board and to say hello. Immediately it became apparent that this young man had some disabilities that he was confronting; however, his personality and demeanor were upbeat as he proceeded to work the room and pose for photographs with the assembled district personnel.
My colleague Gerald Boone gave me the back story on Cody—he was supposed to graduate last year with his fraternal twin in the class of 2011—however brain cancer and the treatments he had been receiving for this condition led to his graduation being postponed a year. Cody had overcome some tough family circumstances as well, and he was a promising athlete in his freshman year.
Emotions became difficult for Mr. Boone to contain as he showed me a picture of Cody playing tennis in ninth grade—a happy and smiling ninth grader!
But then came the Brain cancer diagnosis. And athletics fell by the wayside. And next came the doctor’s prognosis that Cody would not walk again and may not live to see his own high school graduation.
Cody did not give up though-- he worked through and fought back against his medical condition. His school family at Pine Forest rallied around him—electing him homecoming king by an overwhelming majority vote!
Cody channeled this support and his own inner-strength and proved those doctors wrong yesterday and not only lived to see his graduation—he walked across the stage unassisted to a huge standing ovation! It was an awe-inspiring moment that left me numb.
Meeting inspiring young people like Cody make me feel fortunate and thankful for the things I have and for the life I lead. Most peoples’ lives (mine especially) are a cake walk compared to what Cody has to deal with—and yet there he is, smiling and living his life to his fullest!
Many of us could take a life lesson from Cody’s example.
Meeting this young man yesterday and hearing his story made the day one I won’t soon forget.