My young friend, Patrick Ivison, graduated from high school a couple of weeks ago.
Big deal, right?
Well, yeah. It was a big deal! You see, Patrick was run over by a car when he was 14 months old, and was paralyzed from the neck down. But God gave Patrick a “Can Do!” spirit, and he has not let his injury keep him for doing what a lot of San Diego kids do: surf, play sports, drive, and date girls. (He was also blessed with good looks, which helps in the dating girls part.)
So, when Patrick was a freshman, he was interviewed by the TODAY Show because of his surfing activities. (And a dog who sometimes surfs the board with him.) In that interview, on national television, Patrick made this aspirational statement: “I want to walk across the stage at my high school graduation.”
His goal to walk across the stage at graduation kind of took everyone by surprise, and very few people actually thought that he had a chance to come back from such a devastating injury to even THINK about such a thing. So, he worked hard for the next four years. HARD. I’ve watched some of his “therapy” (I think “torture” would be a better word) sessions, and I can tell you that his effort makes me feel like a wuss.
My home church is also where Patrick’s family goes. That’s how I got to know him several years ago. But, he was never really involved in the ministry. I remember talking with him about Jesus a few times, and he was always polite and positive, but I never got the feeling that he was “in” – if you know what I mean. Then, a year ago, he came to a “Manly Man” night for the high school group – kind of a Lock-In for guys. He went home in the morning with rug burns, way too much pizza in his belly, and a new found relationship with Christ. A couple of months ago he was baptized.
We featured Patrick on this year’s ConGRADulations! DVD. His video generated a LOT of response – he tells me that he was hardly able to keep up with the emails from fellow seniors during the last part of the school year.
On Tuesday night, June 12th, I was sitting with his family in the arena when his name was called.
HE DID IT!
He actually walked across the stage to receive his diploma! The entire arena erupted in a standing ovation, and there wasn’t a dry eye in the place. Really. It was a monumentally-moving experience. (I actually just had to wipe tears out of my eyes to keep typing this post.)
The TODAY Show people were there from New York, with a bunch of cameras and mics. They shot the whole thing, and have spent two weeks editing it to present on television tomorrow morning.
So, set your DVR to record the TODAY Show tomorrow (Tuesday, June 26). I hope you’ll be encouraged, moved, and blessed!