I was honored to receive AG Bell’s 2018 Lifetime Achievement Award along with my incredible wife, Tani, recently. As I stood on stage to accept the award, I couldn’t help but think about how I got there. I realized, I am where I am today because of the caring and compassion of a stranger many generations ago.
At just 5-years-old, my great grandfather was orphaned during the Civil War. A Union captain found him and got him help. When my great grandfather turned 15, that captain passed away and left his land to my great grandfather. His caring and compassion gave my great grandfather an opportunity. He used the land to become a successful farmer. When my grandfather was young, a family moved in down the road from my great grandfather’s farm. As soon as he heard they couldn’t afford their own cow, my great grandfather told my grandfather to take our best cow down to the family. When my grandfather asked why, my great grandfather told him they would need the milk to feed their children. In that moment, he passed on the caring and compassion shown to him to my grandfather. And so it went.
I learned about caring and compassion for strangers from the act of one soldier more than a century ago. It is a lesson I carry close to my heart. I am passionate about giving the gift of hearing because of that story. Each and every day, I have the opportunity to show caring and compassion to strangers.
When I hear Lifetime Achievement Award, it seems like my work is done. That couldn’t be further from the truth. There are still so many people who need the gift of hearing around the world so they have the opportunity to pursue their passions. For Tani and me, our work is far from over. But we are so blessed. Our job is to be that Union soldier, to show people they matter and we care.