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What is most important to us?

October 13th, 2008

I recently came across the story of Bill Havens. The name is not a familiar one, but he is a hero to me.

In 1924, Bill was set to go to the Olympic games in Paris to compete in the newly added sport canoeing. He was in fact favored to win the gold for the United States.

At about the same time, Bill’s wife was about to give birth to their first child. In those days before jet planes, traveling on slow ocean ships would not allow Bill to come back in time to be at his wife’s side at the birth.

He had a decision to make. Should he withdraw from the Olympics? His wife insisted he go on this once-in-a-liftetime opportunity.

Bill surprised everyone and stayed home. On August 1, 1924, Bill was there to greet his baby son, Frank.

People might have thought Bill foolish. How could he give up such a dream? But Bill said he had no regrets. He chose what was most important to him. His family came first above all else.

The story doesn’t end here.

Little son Frank grew up (above picture) with a passion in canoeing like his father.  In 1952, Frank was invited to the Olympics in Helsinki, Finland to compete in the grueling 10,000-meter Canadian single-blade race.

The day after the canoeing competition, Bill received a telegram from his son that read, “Dad, I am bringing home the gold medal that you should have won.” He proudly presented the gold to his father, thanking him for being there when he was born.

Frank went on to earning the rare distinction of being a four-time Olympian.

I’ll just let you sit on that a while…let this inspire you to make good choices today.

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