My family's birthdays and my wedding anniversary have always been the days of the year I always try to remember to celebrate.
But this year, I have two other dates that stand out as pretty special to me.
The first of those is this Friday. It will mark 30 years since I began working at The News. The second of those will come on Dec. 15. That will mark the tenth anniversary of when I was told that I had leukemia.
It's funny how those two anniversaries have become intertwined through these years. When I left home for college, I'd always hoped to find a place where I could make a positive impact in the community. At college, I had first intended to farm, so I figured I'd probably run for school board or something like that when I got older.
When I decided I wasn't going to farm, I was at a loss on what I was going to do with my life. One of my college frat brothers said he thought it was obvious, that I had two loves, writing and sports. It was that simple. And so the journey began.
Getting the chance to attend several sports events every week has been an unending treat. I've covered thousands of events through the years since I made that decision. And I've witnessed thousands of young men and women who have put their best efforts into every game.
I've always thought it was important to recognize that it wasn't just the star players who deserved the recognition. The biggest story from a game might be the last player on the bench playing their best game, or providing the pivotal moment.
That's one of the reasons I enjoy covering sports so much. It is very personal to everyone involved. Everyone, the coaches, starters, bench players, family and fans all have a personal stake in each and every game. There is no meaningless game. I try to treat every game with that respect.
While I am quite proud of lasting 30 years in this job, there is another anniversary coming up that holds even more meaning for me. On Dec. 15 ten years ago, I was told I had leukemia.
It was the most bone-jarring moment of my life. But it also taught me things. It has made me more of a fighter. More importantly, I think it has made me view things with a more positive perspective. There are enough people who see everything negatively. I'm not going to be one of them. I try to be honest in my coverage, but when someone deserves recognition, I'm not afraid to provide it.
There are almost daily mixed feelings for me as a cancer survivor. The hardest part is when I see another person with cancer lose their battle. Cancer is an all-for-one battle, like a fraternity you never want to join. But when you are a member, you feel a kinship to everyone else fighting the fight. For me, there's a bit of guilt when I see someone pass from cancer, not understanding why I've been spared, when a good person who was fighting with all their might was not able to survive.
I've tried to view it that I've been spared for a reason. Maybe it was to get more time with my family or to see my grandsons grow. But I've also tried to take it as a responsibility. I've had people ask why I didn't find a different job, one that involves more steady hours and less running around to make deadlines. If I am still here, I must be here to contribute where I can. And I think I can contribute best by telling the stories of people trying to do their best, whether it's in the sports world or anywhere else I can find a story.