A Common Bond
On The Shoulders Of Giants With Andrew Curtis.
Over five years ago, my wife and I were walking in the historic Madison, Georgia cemetery on a beautiful, cold December day. This scenic, hilly walking trail has been a favorite place of ours since we started dating when we were just college kids at UGA. A short distance before the railroad tracks, which cut through the cemetery right by the unknown Civil War soldiers’ graves, I noticed a small headstone with balloons blowing quietly in the breeze.
As I approached, I could see that they were birthday balloons. A blue teddy bear sat next to the headstone in which two pictures were mounted. One picture showed a smiling young boy with a buck he had apparently killed, and another picture showed him proudly displaying a nice-sized bass. This boy obviously loved to hunt and fish! I instantly felt a connection. He was one of us.
I noticed that we had just missed his birthday on Dec. 8 and that he had died three years before. The family was celebrating this little boy as if he were still here on Earth. A lump grew in my throat. The whole experience hit me hard because my wife and I were expecting our first child, a boy, in the next few months.
Immediately, I searched my iPhone for information on this kid and came across the details of his journey. At the age of two, he was diagnosed with a very aggressive stage IV, high-risk neuroblastoma, which was in his abdomen, hip and bone marrow. The family was forced to embark on a terrifying medical journey—a 7-hour surgery, eight rounds of chemotherapy and 13 rounds of radiation, all in just over a year’s time. Can you even imagine? This little fella was only two years old.
The brave boy did not let his condition slow him down though. For several years, his dreaded disease left him alone, and he was able to do the activities he loved—hunting, fishing, swimming and even playing football and baseball. But then in December of 2012, just a few days after turning 8 years old, the cancer returned, this time in his sinus cavity. You think this courageous boy went down easily? Not a chance. He fought hard for another year and a half before passing away on July 1, 2014. It was noted that his optimism through all his misery was indescribable. Not even terminal cancer could take that fighting spirit from him. This amazing kid was seen playing in a baseball game just a couple of weeks before his death.
Why am I writing about this in GON? Because we are a community. We share a common bond. We all have a love for the outdoors, so we are all kin in that respect.
Hunting and fishing apparently meant the world to this boy. Think about how meaningful the outdoors is to us, to the GON Community. It’s what we do. It’s who we are. It’s a gift from God. Let’s do our best to share this gift with as many people as we can.
God bless you, boy.