Mid December in 2013! What a very special time for me. What a group of classmates and oh what a night!!!
Just under 48 hours ago I attended a joint Kalamazoo Central High School/St. Augustine’s Elementary class reunion. It was an event that two people wanted to pull together. Two classmates of the 1988 8th Grade class from St. A’s reached out through Facebook, email, Linked In, to bridge the distance and time between us. I have to thank these two guys because, believe it not, they also created reunion with some folks from the 3rd Grade Class from Arcadia Elementary.
I really owe Doug Biro and Derek Jeter a very big THANK YOU!
As the group of us shared memories and found out about what we were doing, one thing kept coming up. This group of people from Kalamazoo is a group of people who are not afraid to follow their dreams. We all know the story of Derek Jeter. Originally from New Jersey, he grew up wanting to play baseball for the Yankees. He’s their captain now, having won a couple of World Series. He established the Jeter’s Leaders program helping young children become better people (my son Alex graduated from the program earlier this year).
But let me share with you a little my other classmates stories and how they’re changing the world in so many positive ways.
Doug Biro always had a knack of seeing the big picture. He loved the game of golf since elementary school and became a golf pro for a little bit. He was able to use is vision to see success during the recession and the real estate burst. I’ve not seen him since our days at St. A’s, although I’ve knocked on his parents doors a couple times during my last campaign for office.
Scott Rehburg, is the tallest guy I’ve known. Now he’s the biggest/tallest guy. He played in the National Football League for years as an offensive lineman for the Patriots, Browns, and Bengals. As big as he is, he’s one of the nicest people around.
Darcy Wilkins is one of the most creative people I know. She’s teaches art these days and on the side does a little singing with a band called The Cornfed Girls. You can check them out on New Years Eve at Kalamazoo’s State Theatre!
Kelli Dixon, grew up in the Arcadia neighborhood with me. She works with the State of Michigan today helping people get unempoyment/welfare benefits when they’re down on their luck.
Casey Roon an All-Star volleyball player who now runs the Sam Houston museum in Texas. She picked a good week to come back to Kalamazoo since we’re under a Winter Weather advisory (got about 5 inches at my house yesterday.
Abbey Jones always wanted to going into the medical field. She’s found a great hospital to work for in Phoenix.
John Sudeikis worked with me at the Kalamazoo Country Club and wanted to go into the food industry. He’s recently moved back home to work with Post in Battle Creek.
Michelle Neumann runs her own boarding kennel. She always had a love for animals (even when she went out on her first date with me) and now she’s making sure that our pets are treated well.
Sasha Hoyle always had a big heart growing up. She’s now a social worker helping others in our community.
Michelle Neel is a school counselor. She always has been courageous, running cross country throughout high school, and shown again as she’s starting on a new path by getting a new degree in business.
Dan Thorton one of the guys who taught me how to play Dungeons & Dragons back in the day. He also played basketball with me, Derek, and Doug. He’s now the Girls Varsity Basketball Coach at Kalamazoo Central, as well as providing athletic advising services for those folks who are looking at continuing their playing days in college.
Tyron Bennett is helping improve things on the Northside of town, where he grew up.
Justin LaTulippe & Chris Dooley were there as well, both doing amazing things!
And there were a couple of guys who were there in spirit, looking down on us from above, smiling at those of us who helped drink the Gatsby dry – Shanti Lai and Josephus Tucker.
There were 88 of us in the Hackett Class of ’92, about 10 times that at Kalamazoo Central and Loy Norrix, and for those who got to those high schools through Arcadia or St. A’s the impact that we’re having is unfathomable.
I’m proud to come from Kalamazoo. I can’t imagine any other place in the country where, from kindergarten on, we are taught and empowered to follow our dreams and to change the world!
Yes, it was quite a night!
Thanks again, Derek & Doug!!!