With the "Second Thank You" contest coming to a close, I want to thank all of you for participating. There were some tremendous responses from my readers and I was so happy to read so many stories about the people that have made an impact on your lives.
With that, I just couldn't pick one favorite, so I've decided to split the $1000 charity contribution with two people. Congratulations to both Scott Talley and Marc Borne.
Scott wrote a Second Thank You to his young nephew about the importance of being a good uncle. This past year Scott ran the Detroit Free Press/Talmer Bank Marathon. He's quite an inspiration.
Marc wrote his Second Thank You for his grandfather, whom he called "the greatest man I have ever known." Marc detailed his grandfather's devotion to his family, god and country, work-ethic, brotherhood and charity. He taught Marc how to play sports, have a sense of humor and to be modest and humble.
Below you'll find both Scott and Marc's stories (Marc's story is an excerpt from a longer submission).
Also, congrats to Nick Waldow, Francis Treanor, Nancy Stefanik, Rich Stowe, Matt Stastny, Eric Haftel, Mike Geraghty, Tim Virgilio, Clint Day and Debbie Jones who will receive copies of my latest book, You Gotta Have Balls!
I know you are too young to fully understand this, but you have made a tremendous, silent impact on my life. During my brief experience working in a high school and later as a youth volunteer, I have always enjoyed working with young people, but as fulfilling as those experiences were, they were nothing like the unbelievable joy and purpose that I now feel with you in my life.
Picking up your after-school snack each day, picking you up from the after-school program and then taking you home to your Mommy, Grandmommy, and Grandfather for an evening of playtime and love means everything to me. It is all capped off when you come into what used to be my bedroom as a kid and say: “night, night Uncle Scott.”
As a younger man, I thought a successful adult was suppose to leave home and make his or her own life, like an employee leaving a company to make individual fame. Ever since you and your Mommy have come to share a beautiful home with your Grandmommy and Grandfather, you have made me understand the value of family like never before, and that is why I make it my business to be there whenever you are. Where you live is truly our family home again and I try to love and look after you, your mommy, and your grandmommy and your grandfather as best as I can because you have taught me to love to the fullest again.
With love, comes a greater sense of responsibility and discipline as well, and I try my best to apply these qualities to everything I do. I want to be respected to the fullest in all of my business dealings because I am somebody—Tre’s uncle, Rick and Delores Talley’s son, and Malaika Pryor’s brother. Being so close to all of you reminds me of my self worth and I must carry that out into the world with me. You also are the reason that I run and train for the marathon, and have worn “Uncle Scott” on my marathon bib the past three years. Running connects me to my mind and spirit and puts me in touch with my higher self, which is where I always want to be to give you and everyone I encounter everything I have.
As your sixth birthday approaches please know how much you mean to Uncle Scott and that is why you are uncle’s best friend and why I love you more than anything in the whole wide world. You give me a higher purpose to live and that impacts everything I do.
Greetings young fella! The reason for this epistle is to thank you for having had such a vital, impactful and longstanding influence on my life. You were (for 33 years on the planet) and remain (for 54 years to the present) the greatest man I have ever known. It is via your love, giving of quality-time, words and actions that I have learned the meaning of the following list of attributes: devotion to family, God and country, work-ethic, brotherhood, charity, how to play a sport, contest or game, sense-of-humor, modesty/humility and character.
It is virtually impossible to single-out a particular positive instance for swaying my life because there have been so dizzyingly many. Concomitantly, such is the task to describe the silent forces with which my childhood and adulthood have grown and evolved stemming from your interaction with me. Observably, your gifts to me have been both direct and indirect; both immediate and of long duration (akin the modernity of a time-release pill); both loud and clear; and, resoundingly subtle and silent.
I used to call you Grampa before I learned there was the letter d and the inherent word g-r-a-n-d inside Grandpa. Readily and vividly, I can recall the summers, family reunions and holiday gatherings mostly spent out on eastern Long Island in Mattituck. You called me boy and would often put your arm around me as we walked, played and worked in the yard. Growing up without a father, believe me when I tell you that I absorbed every tangible and intangible moment we spent together. Though I was the fifth grandchild, I strived to be the best. Grandma always said she loved all of her children and grandchildren the same; though from her long embraces, kiss goodbye on the mouth, and eye contact that melted like snow; I chose to feel differently. You always made me feel special. I believe I spent more time with you than the other grandchildren but that was not the dealmaker by itself. We both took our bond seriously- affording me much comfort- but privately, I hoped that I was your favorite. Though never actually spoken…the endearing relationship was palpable. LOVE and FAMILY...
...With an exemplary grandfather for a model, I am proud to report an immediate family of two sons (adult children) who say they want to be more like me (as I did you) and who say that they are far behind when it comes to character. I work conscientiously at any task I assume. I still do a little bit more. I have experienced much brotherhood. I am rich in friends. I support the American Adoption Congress and the most reputable transitional Jewish shelter in the U.S. I took my sons at ages 1 and 3 to their first baseball game (Cubs) as you took me (Mets) in 1966. I took them to the first night game at Wrigley Field (8/8/88), and to the last game at Comiskey Park. Baseball is Zachary’s favorite sport and he took after Uncle Henry. I live modestly. I am humble. I laugh every day.
Tom Brokaw, NBC News Correspondent and Author, coined the term “The Greatest Generation” to describe those who grew up in the United States during the deprivation of the Great Depression, and then went on to fight in World War II. Well, Grandpa, you are the progenitor of that generation. I salute you! I love you. I thank you a second time.
Your grandson, Marc