Thank you to McDonald's restaurant owner - operators and RMHC for the honor bestowed in Erin’s memory. Thank you for this opportunity to speak and to help present the scholarship that bears her name. My son Kevin joins me tonight for this special annual occasion for our family.
Congratulations to all of you. I am honored to get to know a little about you and to be here with you and your families tonight. You are all winners. Your resumes are impressive; your future is bright; you have so much to give! You are WOW kids! For that you should be proud. I know your parents are proud of you. My daughter Erin was a Wow kid too. She was perched on the edge of a fantastic future, just like you. The whole world was before her, but her future turned out a little differently. I mention this not to make you sad but instead to share what has become to me a lesson of inspiration - one that I learned with Erin's help – while she was alive AND after her death - and one that I hope you will carry away with you tonight.
You’ve heard that Erin was a recipient of a similar scholar’s award in 2007. For 5 years she had been fighting a brain tumor. She had surgery, chemotherapy, two relapses, an autologous stem cell transplant and she lost her hair three times. But throughout Erin's fight with cancer amazingly we experienced many blessings. That may be hard to believe but it was so true. And perhaps the biggest blessing was how Erin and her story touched so many people in the five years she lived it and now through this wonderful scholarship bearing her name. On Erin's monument we had these words etched in stone "she touched us all". I share this with you so you will know that in all your accomplishments both past, present and yet to come; in all your awards; in all your community service, everyday meetings, in work, in play, and even in sorrow never forget the power you will have to touch and influence all those around you. The connections you will make will be what people will remember about you. You may be the life line for some despairing person or the voice who gives reassurance and guidance to a friend who needs it. You have the ability to be all of that and more to others. So as I love to hear of all your accomplishments, don’t forget the people around you and your effect on them. We all have a place in the world to fill, but we won’t fill it alone. We are all together.
I leave you with a favorite quote from William Paul Young, author of The Shack:
“Because you are important, everything you do is important. Every time you forgive the universe changes. Every time you reach out and touch a heart or a life, the world changes. With every kindness and service, seen or unseen, God’s purposes are accomplished, and nothing will ever be the same again.”
Congratulations again to all of you and especially to the winner of the 2013 Erin Crowley Scholarship, Rini Sinha.