On Saturday night, a drunk driver hit a 2004 Ford Explorer being driven by Shenendehowa High School senior football player, Chris Stewart. Stewart, along with classmate Deanna Rivers, died in the crash. Stewart’s girlfriend, Baily Wind (Shaker High) and Rivers boyfriend, Matt Hardy, survived, but were seriously injured.
Last night on Twitter thousands of people were tweeting #tebowcallmatt and #missycallbailey in an attempt to connect the Jets quarterback and Olympic swimmer with two fans who deserved much better than what they’re going through.
Thanks to everyone who got #TebowCallMatt trending & helped connect us. Matt truly inspired me. God bless y’all
— Tim Tebow (@TimTebow) December 4, 2012
Good stuff. For a brief moment at least.
These kids are from my neck of the woods. They were coming from a Siena – University at Albany basketball game. They were driving up the Northway from Albany on their way to Clifton Park on a road I’ve driven regularly since I got my license. One of my best friends went to Shen. My wife went to Shaker. That should be close enough to home, but the timing of the accident has made this difficult.
On Thursday it will have been 14 years since I lost a friend unexpectedly. Every year in the beginning of December I think back to that Sunday when my parents went to get a Christmas tree and I stayed home to work on a Spanish project. The entire day is still clear in my mind. I got a phone call from my basketball coach who told me Grant had died and the team was going to have a meeting at school that night to talk about it. It didn’t hit me at first. It was just… nothingness I guess. Sitting there, blankly looking at the television. I guess my brain shut down at that point and it didn’t turn on again until I got to school to see my teammates with tears in their eyes. That night some of my best friends and I sat in the school cafeteria with my friends late that night telling stories as we tried to laugh instead of cry.
The next day was worse as teachers and friends and everyone tried to go about their usual routines while we just fucking cried. It was eerily quiet. And I go through it briefly every December when I see that date and think about it. Whenever I see these pictures of these poor kids’ poor classmates outside their school I just lose it. And it’s not as bad as it was when it happened, obviously. It’s not as bad as the first anniversary of Grant’s death. But it sucks. My heart breaks for me and for my friends and Grant’s family all over again. I know how I felt and I can only imagine that these kids are going through the same damn thing, but multiplied by I don’t know how much.
I still think about some of the goofy shit that he did. Grant was a viral video sensation without YouTube. Man he was funny. And these kids will remember both for a long time. They will remember the good and they will remember this awful shit that they are dealing with right now. It’s a part of them forever. And when some senseless thing happens they go through it all over again. Just like I have.
So thank you, Tim Tebow. And thank you, Missy Franklin. Just a few minutes of two athletes’ time gave this community something to smile about. It doesn’t make up for what happened and it is not going to make the healing process any easier, but it’s something. It will be part of that smile and cry moment 14 or so years from now.