A television commercial I enjoy at Christmastime shows two neighbors in a friendly competition with each other to see who can spread the most Christmas cheer. Each keeps an eye on the other as he decorates his house and trees with lights. Then each upgrades his own property to look better than the other’s. They then start competing over who can give the most extravagantly to other neighbors, running around cheerfully sharing gifts.
Every March, the Iditarod Trail Race is held in Alaska. Sled dogs and their drivers, called “mushers,” race across a 1,049-mile route from Anchorage to Nome. The competing teams cover this great distance in anywhere from 8 to 15 days. In 2011, a record time was set by musher John Baker who covered the entire route in 8 days, 19 hours, 46 minutes, and 39 seconds. The teamwork between dogs and driver is remarkable, and those who compete are tenacious in their efforts to win. The first-place winner receives a cash prize and a new pickup truck. But after so much perseverance in extreme weather conditions, the accolades and prizes may seem insignificant and transient.
It’s been several decades since a high school event devastated me. Playing sports was hugely important to me. I zeroed in on basketball and spent hundreds of hours practicing my game. So when I didn’t make the varsity team in my last year after being on the team since junior high, I was crushed.
The Masters Tournament is one of the most prestigious in professional golf. In 2009, Kenny Perry placed second after leading during the final round. Writing in The New York Times, Bill Pennington described Perry as “disappointed but not despondent” after the loss. “I’ll look back on it occasionally and wonder what I might have done differently, but I won’t dwell on it,” Perry said. “If this is the worst thing that happens in my life, I’ve got it pretty good. I won’t let it dog me. There are so many other things in life that matter more . . . . I’ll go home tonight with my family and we’ll have fun.”
Jean Driscoll is a remarkable athlete. She has won the Boston Marathon eight times. She has also participated in four Paralympic Games and won five gold medals. Born with spina bifida, Jean competes in a wheelchair.
At the 2009 Kansas high school state track championship, an unusual thing happened. The team that won the girls 3,200-meter relay was disqualified. But what happened next was even more unusual. The team that was awarded the state championship by default turned right around and gave their medals to the team that had been disqualified.
Judy was an active young woman, preparing for college and ready to take on the next stage of her life when a tragic accident left her a quadriplegic and seemingly brought her dreams to an end. Discover how God fulfilled Judy’s dreams in an unexpected way.
We would like to thank KFNW Radio in Fargo, North Dakota for partnering with us on this week’s story.