The bracelet says "Lead By Example" and I made 100 of them about 2 years ago. I've given out less than 20. They aren't for sale, and I don't just give them out. I give them out to very specific people. The message behind it means a lot to me. It represents the awareness color of the lymphoma I was diagnosed with in 2012. If you look up the meaning of the color lime green you will find some truly amazing things that it represents (youthfulness, dedication, working hard and earning what you deserve, etc.). The people that have them have all been drawn to me in one way or another. Students, friends, family members, professional athletes, people from many different walks of life. Some I've known for many years, and some I've only met through their tweets or posts, but each one of them unique and special in their own way. I love them. I want people to see them and follow what they say and do. They are my Squad of Superheroes!
Yesterday I was on a flight home from my 4th Fuel Up To Play 60 Student Ambassador Summit. We were on this flight because our flight from the day before had been canceled due to bad weather. Entering the plane I was given a seat in row 16 next to one of my students. My other student was ticketed for a seat in row 24, the last row on the plane. This was only the 2nd time she had ever been on a plane and I wanted her to be comfortable so I switched seats with her. This was perfect, the girls would sit together, chat the entire flight, and be comfortable.
I was now seated next to an older black gentleman. His name is James Jones and he is 70 years old. He's originally from NJ but has lived in Indy for over 50 years. He was heading back to NJ to spend the week with one of his brothers. Over the next 90 minutes we talked about everything under the sun from sports, to politics, social issues, and everything in between. We learned a tremendous amount about one another in this short period of time. My favorite part of his story was about his wife of 33 years who passed away last year. He had only known her for 60 days when he proposed! He said he knew from day 1, that God put her in his life for a reason. 33 years of marriage, 8 children, 30 grandchildren, and 5 great grandchildren later, he was right.
At one point I told him about my seat change situation and he told me that it was all God's plan. The previous day flight cancellation, my seat change, it was meant for the two of us to meet. Just before leaving the plane I told him about my bracelet. What it meant to me, the few people who have them, and my special feelings about the people who have them. Then I took it off my right arm and handed it to him. I told him I would be honored if he wore this and remembered its true meaning. There was a tear in his eye (with mine as well) and he grabbed it and wrapped it around his wrist. He said it was the greatest gift anyone had ever given him and that he would never take it off and pray for me and my family every day. His reaction verified that I was correct in my selection. Actually, every bracelet I've given out has brought out very special emotions from each person. Some have jumped up and down and giggled, some have hugged me and cried with me.
I walked through the airport, found my beautiful family, and gave them the biggest hugs I could. James Jones has not left my mind since our encounter. A common name for a very uncommon man. That meeting was the epitome of what that bracelet stands for. I consider myself blessed for many reasons, meeting James Jones will now be added to that list.