I would say that one of (if not) the most asked question that we get due to this job is “who is the coolest person you have met”. It is quite obvious that the person is asking about a “celebrity”. I understand it. Celebrities are like these unicorns that you actually get to see from time to time, if you are lucky. With our job, we get to see them all the time, but while meeting them can be a cool experience, its just that… an experience. You meet them, say hello, tell them you like their work, and *poof* they are gone. I’ll see the celebrity on TV or hear their song and I think that it’s pretty cool that I got to meet them.
But if I am answering that question honestly, I am not going to give you a name you may recognize because of fame. I will probably give you the name of people you may not recognize like Bray Reed. We met him last year, and at 15 years old had raised $25k for Kidd’s Kids… and he is a kid who has been battling in the hospital his whole life and had over 50 surgeries at the time that we met him. I would say Rowan Windham, who is a Kidd’s Kid and has continued to raise thousands of dollars every single year since he went on the trip, so that other kids can experience what he got to experience. Rowan has spent most of the last couple of years in a hospital… fighting. Or Thomas, who we flew in from Germany to meet Katie face to face for the first time. He donated his bone marrow and saved her life.
I can add another person to that list: John Paine. I watched his movie last night, The Luckiest Man, after we interviewed him and his family. He is battling ALS, and has been doing so for 15 years. From what I have learned, that is a feat. They told him he had 2-5 years. He taught me not to focus on the future. He is a man who was all about planning, and using his time wisely, and this disease taught him that there is not point in living in the future or the past. The present is what is most important. Enjoying your loved ones, taking in the small things, because those small things you don’t really think about day to day, can be taken away from you in an instant. From picking up a cup of coffee… to being able to hug your kids. His positivity and his faith in God, during these times are what make him stand out. I feel that I would crumble in his situation, but he didn’t. He rose up. This is why Mr. John Paine is one of the coolest people that I have met. He was one of those people who changed my outlook on life, by having him appear into my life. He is the type of role model I hope my children look up to one day.
Speaking of the screening of The Luckiest Man, shout out to Big Al, who overslept and then showed up in his jeans and hoodie… while everyone else was wearing suits. He even mentioned that he didn’t know about the dress code, but White Cheddar had a full on conversation with us about wearing something nice to this event. Even if he had not, the email had it in big bold letters: “Attire is Cocktail or Business”. Haha. That is our Big Al Mack for ya. In the end, its not what you wore to the event, its what you took from it, and Mr. Paine gave us plenty!