Tag: hero

Love Your Dad? Ditch the Tie

Last night my son, Nathan, took me to a ballgame.  He bought my ticket and we enjoyed a victory by IMG_0303the Cleveland Indians.  We shared the moment just like we did when I took him to his first ballgame when he was five. It was a great night… but not because of the Indian’s victory and it wasn’t great because it was “dollar dog night” or because there were fireworks after the game.

Father’s Day is here again. If you haven’t already, you’ll be spending a day running to the mall in search of the perfect present.

On behalf of all fathers, I’d like to deliver a message to anyone who has a Dad or is married to one. It might be the thought that counts, but you can’t wrap thought up in a box.

So let me give you some advice… if you are looking for the perfect gift and you find yourself in the tie department at Macy’s, hating yourself along with the rest of tie-giving children of  father’s like me. It’s time to realize it’s too late, futile and time to give up.

Your father doesn’t want another tie.

If he wants to read a book, he’ll buy it.  He doesn’t need another shirt, but if he did, he’d go get one. There’s not much he wants that he can’t get on his own.  But there’s one gift he longs for that you alone and only you can give – and you won’t find it at Brookstone.

Let me let you in on a little secret…

Inside the heart of your father and almost every man you know is a young boy who once wrapped a Super Hero Cape 2towel around his neck and pretended he was Superman.  He wears that cape proudly because it makes him believe he can fly. It makes him believe that all things are possible and it makes him believe that he can be a hero that can make a difference in this world.  Then one day this young boy grows older and abandons his dreams to fly, but he never quite loses the hope that he can save the day. He spends his whole life chasing his moment of glory, trying to build something bigger than himself, something that will leave a mark on the world that he couldn’t.

Then one day, hopefully sooner than later, if  you’re lucky, you will come to realize that the mark that he wanted to leave in this world …was you. You are his legacy. You are his reason why. You’re directly tied to his purpose…and therefore, his self-worth as a father.

So you won’t find what he wants at the mall.

Want to make this the best Father’s Day ever?

Tell your Dad you love him. Don’t write it down. Just tell him directly, with your own voice and not through a  Hallmark card.  Speak from the heart.  Make a moment of it. Thank him for the work he’s done and the sacrifices he’s made for your sake. Thank him for the best of what he’s planted in you however smSUPERMAN_LOGO_all or big that may be.  And maybe once again in his life he can feel the cape of Superman around his neck.

I am no different from these other fathers.   Along with my wife, I have raised four children and if the walls of our home could speak they would tell a story of the struggle of a blended family trying to make it work.  It wasn’t perfect and I made mistakes and there were times when life was hard on all of us.

But I have a special gift that I carry with me everyday and that gift is clearer in my memory on each and every Father’s Day.  That special gift is the memory of when my children have used their own words and looked me in the eye and told me they loved me.28 (2)

So last night, after the game, when I dropped my son off at his apartment just outside of Cleveland.  He looked me in the eye and told me he loved me… I received the best gift I could ever receive for Father’s Day. He gave me a gift only he could give…one that did me a kind of good I can’t even fully explain. Words fall short but for the moment I could feel the cape around my neck once again.

Love your Dad?

Ditch the tie.

This year, give the Dad in your life something they can’t give themselves. Tell him you love him…with words you’ve never used before.

On behalf of all fathers, I can assure you, there’s no greater gift than to give him another opportunity to wear the cape once again.

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Through the Eyes of a Child

On a hot July night in 2012, I witnessed the passing of a torch. 

There wasn’t a ceremony and no one from the local newspaper was there to take a picture to document the event, but make no mistake, what happened that night was something magical.

As I made my way through the crowd along the dimly lit back stretch of Fremont Speedway, trying to get to Brian Smith’s pit stall.  I could not help but notice that the people who passed by the “Grace Car” that night were not aware of the magic that was taking place right in front of their eyes.  

But I did.

As the adults and race fans were getting the opportunity to see the “Grace Car” up close, Brian Smith, then a 26 year veteran sprint car racer from Fremont was kneeling down talking to a young boy.  I could see the eyes of this young boy as Brian bent down and talked to him.                                                                     

The look in this young boy ‘s eyes initially was a look of awe.  I am sure the boy was amazed that he was actually talking to a real life race car driver and I immediately noticed the look of awe begin to sparkle in the eyes of this young boy as the transformation had begun.  The torch was passed on to another generation. 

No one noticed that Brian had just performed magic. He just transformed a young child into a lifelong race fan.  He just made a young fan believe in heroes. One that is not found in the comic book store or on the movie screen. 

Through the eyes of a child was a real life hero… living right here in Fremont, Ohio.

While some drivers lined up their race cars to get them on the trailer and get out of there.  Brian was still there… no hurry… sleep could wait… there was more important business to do.

Brian isn’t the only driver doing this. There are others. 

They all realize that the most important aspect of building a fan base sometimes takes place before and after the race itself.

Heroes emerge sometimes from the most unlikely of sources.  

It is no secret that I am a racing fan.  I have a special place in my heart for sprint car racing and it was instilled in me at a young age.  

I know this to be true… because my hero found me more than 40 years earlier at the same little dirt race track in Fremont, Ohio.

His name was Harold “Mac” MHaroldMcGiltoncGilton.

For those that don’t remember him, Harold may be just another name in the record books, just another plaque on the wall.  To those of us that remember him, he’s a legend, a hometown hero, a sprint car racer and a cherished memory.

I first met Harold McGilton in the early 1970’s. I think I was about 11 or 12 years old at the time. It was a chance meeting and though it was a long time ago…I remember it like yesterday.  I watched him drive his sprint car full speed into the corners of that wonderful dirt track in Fremont, Ohio and slide through the turn and then fly down the straight-a-way passing cars  and winning races.  In my mind, Harold never lost a race… there were just times he didn’t win.  However, when  Harold would win his race.. he  just didn’t win, he beat the other drivers. 

Har carAs a young boy, when I rode my bicycle, I imagined that I was Harold making the heroic and dangerous pass on that final turn to win the race.  And when I played with my “Matchbox” cars…I had a special car that was “Harold’s” car.  It NEVER lost a race. I am sure there were times when in my mind, I was more Harold McGilton than the real deal.  I am also sure that his family had a different perspective of Harold and his life as a hero.  After all he was human… just not in my eyes.

Harold McGilton
Harold McGilton

Harold McGilton had no way of knowing that when he stopped what he was doing after a race all those years ago and took the time shake my hand  on that July evening, at the Fremont Speedway, he would have had such an influence on a young boy from Oak Harbor, Ohio.

Harold never knew my name, nor did we ever talk to each other since that first night I met him.  However, Harold “Mac Attack” McGilton had a tremendous influence on me during those early years. He just never knew it.   He was larger than life to me and I idolized him and when he passed away a few years ago, I cried.

Tonight as I sit at my desk, I imagine I hear the roar of the engines of the sprint cars as they fly around the track just a few blocks from my home.  As I imagine each lap as the cars go around, I wonder if there is another young fan in the stands watching their favorite driver take their car into a 100 MPH slide through the corners of the Fremont Speedway.  Much like I was in the early ’70’s,  I came to the track one night a young fan of the races and little did I know that I would leave a few hours later with a hero in my life that I would carry with me for the rest of my life.

Brian Smith understands this… he too has heroes. He was influenced by many drivers over the years and shows honor and respect for those he looked up to all those years ago. In addition, his grandfather and father were racers that planted a seed in him that he passes on each week to each child he talks to.

I have said this many times, in my life, I have traveled around the world. I have met a number a professional athletes, politicians and famous people over the years. I have even had the honor of meeting two U.S. Presidents and shaking their hands.  All of these people would be considered heroes for many people, but not for me.  I did not have to travel all around the world to find a hero.   He found me at a little dirt track in Fremont, Ohio.

For those of you that say that there are no real heroes in life. 

I say you just don’t know where to look.

Come out and bring your children to Fremont Speedway on a Saturday night and I know where you just might find one.