In Memory of a Courageous Athlete

Keaton

My heart is breaking at the death of a young man I never met.  Over forty-five years ago, my parents were newlyweds living in a small town in south Georgia.  They met lifelong friends who had two small children.  When my parents moved three hours away, the friendship continued.  Doris and my mom wrote letters to each other back when that still happened.  Their family visited our family.  We visited them.  Braves games and Six Flags and just hanging out are some of the memories I have. Since my mother passed away, Doris has continued this lifelong friendship.  Reaching out and supporting me through both happy and difficult times.

The grandson of this wonderful family passed away yesterday.  When he was a junior in high school, Keaton was diagnosed with brain cancer.  Even through his treatment, which included surgeries and chemotherapy, he played football.  For the past two years, I’ve been following his story on Facebook via his mom and grandmother.  Watching with amazement at this courageous young man who didn’t let brain cancer keep him from enjoying high school to the fullest.  Football games, homework, high school dances.  He did it all.

Since learning of his death, I’ve been searching for the perfect picture book to honor him.  I thought maybe a story about football.  But I couldn’t find one I liked.  Through a web search using the words picture books and courage, I found one.

WilmaUnlimited

Wilma, Unlimited: How Wilma Rudolph Became The World’s Fastest Woman by Kathleen Krull and illustrated by David Diaz – A biography of the African-American woman who overcame crippling polio to become the first woman to win three gold medals in track in a single Olympics.

Just like Wilma Rudolph, Keaton plowed through showing others what one can do with determination and pure grit.  A few weeks ago he was chosen as Georgia’s Male Positive Athlete of The Year.  No one deserves this honor more.

7 comments

  1. So sorry to hear about your loss! Your friend sounds like a truly amazing person. I was also saddened to hear of the passing of Wilma. I read her story to my daughter this year for Black History Month. What a truly inspiring woman.

  2. I am saddened to learn of the loss of what was clearly an amazing young man. What an honor for him to receive that award. I hope his story inspires many – certainly inspires me to continue to make the most of each day. We never really know when it will be our last. My prayers with his family, friends and loved ones in this time of grief.

  3. This is so sad! I can’t imagine what this family must be going through. I’m the mom of three teenagers, one being a Junior in High School and I would lose it! My thoughts and prayers are with you all in this difficult time. It’s great to know that he didn’t let his diagnosis define how he continued to live his life and was able to push trough until the end.

  4. I can never reconcile someone young dying. It is just so hard. Prayers and thoughts are going out to you and his family as you go through this difficult time. He sounds like an amazing young man!

  5. I’m so sorry to hear this. I can’t imagine what the family is going through. I’m sorry for their loss, for your loss, despite not knowing him. Knowing of him and what he meant to his loved ones – it’s enough to lead you to grieve. (hugs)

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