For folks that read this blog regularly, you know that my assignments typically don’t have me rubbing elbows with public figure types. But one of the organizations that I’ve had the opportunity to work with the past few years is Oregon Special Olympics (SOOR). And as a near life-time Trail Blazers fan (there – I said it ) – I think it’s great that the Blazers have a strong relationship with SOOR.
This last summer while I was at the Oregon Summer Games, former Trail Blazer Jerome Kersey was in attendance, spoke at the awards ceremony, and was on hand to pose for photos.
Last week, Jerome Kersey passed away suddenly from a blood clot at the age of 52. Those who knew him well, speak much of his warmth and his infectious personality. Those who played with him speak of his tenacity and hard work. I didn’t know him personally, but one thing that impressed me in my very few short minutes with Jerome was his genuineness with everybody around him. Not once did he seem distracted or if there was somewhere else he’d rather be. Heck, I’m not even sure if he ever stopped smiling.
Prior to the ceremony, I was asked if I could get a photo of Jerome with the Olympic torch. So, after the ceremony, I introduced myself and we tried to cross the fifty feet from the stage, down the steps, and to the torch for a photo or two. And as he was surrounded by athletes and coaches – Jerome stopped for every hug, handshake, high five, and photo that he possibly could. By the time we made it to the torch, it was quickly evident that we weren’t going to the get the photo we’d set out to make. Just a quick bit of eye contact, a smile and small shrug, and we got the photo below. A quick nod of thanks (as the crowd rushed in – we weren’t going to get our parting handshake) and Jerome got back to the hugs and autographs. Looking back – I’m glad that we missed on the initial photo idea. I’m pretty sure this one is much better.