Driving in to work today I tuned into ESPN radio about halfway through the Jimmy Valvano speech from the 1993 ESPY awards. They were playing it because today is the 20th anniversary of the Jimmy V Foundation's annual drive to raise money for cancer research. The speech itself is one of the most inspiring collections of words ever spoken.
I'd be lying if I told you I didn't get a little misty listening to the speech this morning. I always do. It's very much the same feeling I get when I listen to the speech Bill Stewart gave to the team before the Fiesta Bowl. I don't know how to describe it any better than being completely locked in. Focused on every word and the context that gave the words so much meaning.
It truly is a remarkable thing when you think about it. Speeches are given every day. Volumes of articles are written every day. So much so that if words had weight, the Earth would have surely sunk by now. But so few of them have any meaning beyond the day they were written or uttered. Jim's speech echoes through eternity. Bill Stewart's resonates with every Mountaineer.
Neither Jim Valvano nor Bill Stewart were great men. At least not in the sense that they would be mentioned in the same breath with the likes of George Washington, Winston Churchill, or Abraham Lincoln. History won't remember them that way. But they should be remembered, because both were leaders in the truest sense. In the face of insurmountable odds, neither man flinched. In fact, they both showed us how to keep going. They remind us of what is truly important in life. It's not the amenities we try to fill our homes with or the overtime we work to afford the vacation of our dreams. It's something much simpler. It's the people around us. It's how we inspire those around us to be more than what they were yesterday. And lastly, how to enjoy life.
It's not my goal to get you to donate to the Jimmy V Foundation. If you do, that's great. It's something much simpler. I felt joy and inspiration listening to Jim Valvano's speech this morning. I was reminded that it isn't money, power, or glory that makes a person great. It's the human spirit and how we nurture it in ourselves and in others that makes us great. I feel like if I give one other person that feeling, even by using someone else's words, then I did my job.