Sunday, May 5, 2013

The Journey of Life

It was one year ago that we were in the middle of the Kona Inspired campaign.  Anyone who was a part of this surely remembers the all day voting sessions, shaved ice campaign and anticipation that came with the push to represent RODS Racing in the Ironman World Championship.  During this campaign there were many other videos that we were competing for the coveted Kona Slots.  It wasn't uncommon for me to have a fair amount of contact with other contestants as the voting momentum grew.  Through this I met a lot of good people.  There stories are all different but inspirational in their own special way.  I'd like to share with you one of these individuals stories tonight.

I received an email from Travis Hess right as the final rounds of voting were taking place.  We had both made it to the finals.  I was in the first round and he was in the second round.  His email was very kind as he gave me encouragement and said that he thought I should be one of the contestants to race in Kona.  After a few emails I had the chance to visit with Travis on the phone.  Just like in his  emails, he was a non assuming and pleasant individual.  Humble and gracious.  Travis had been through a lot and I found myself feeling undeserving of the Kona Slot after hearing what he has experienced. 

Cancer has been a part of Travis' family for many years.  He had battled cancer on and off for the previous 20 years.  His father and his brother had died of cancer.  He also experienced something I have a hard time even trying to fathom in 2000 when he lost a daughter to cancer.  Travis could have done what most of us would have done which is give up after such a traumatic loss.  Rather than give up however, Travis decided to take this difficult time and channel that energy to create something positive.  He founded the Hess Cancer Foundation.  The purpose of this foundation is to raise funding for families who have lost a child to cancer.  This funding helps offset the costs that weigh so heavily after a battle is lost. 

Travis raised much of his funding through racing Ironman Triathlons.  In 2010, he took on Ironman Coeur d’alene.  In speaking with him in 2012, his dream was to race in Kona at the Ironman World Championship.  He knew this would be a tremendous opportunity to help create awareness to drive his cause.

When the dust finally settled with all of the voting, Travis was not chosen to race in Kona.  He was one of the first individuals to congratulate me.  He was already starting to talk about 2013 and how he was going to enter again.  I promised to offer my support and help in any way I could when that time came.  We emailed off and on over the last year and even had a lunch scheduled in Salt Lake City where we would get to meet in person.  Regrettably I had to reschedule and the lunch never took place.

A few weeks ago I was perusing through the videos for the 2013 Kona Inspired campaign.  I didn't see Travis' video there so I made a mental note to follow up to see how the preparation was coming.  A few days had gone by and I received my quarterly edition the Huntsman School of Business' magazine.  The air was taken out of me to see that Travis had passed away a few weeks ago after another bout with cancer. 

I know that we all have an appointed time when we pass on to the other side.  I know that this time has come for Travis.  Even with that knowledge I can't help but wonder what might have been had we been able to toe the line in Kona together both fighting for our causes that we feel so passionate about.  I think about Travis' family and how difficult it must be for his wife and children. 

I am thankful that I was able to cross paths with Travis.  He had a positive influence on me as I'm sure he did on so many other people.  I'm humbled and reminded that our time here is so precious.  I'm thankful for the memories that I have with my loved ones.  I am committed to making the most out of each day, leaving it all on the field and having no regrets when the final day comes.  Until we meet again my friend...


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