August 15th is a very special day for me and my family because Christina is getting married on that day. Who is Christina? She is an extraordinary and beautiful young woman who has taught me more about attitude, gratitude and perspective than anyone I know.
We met Christina when she was eleven years old. She and our daughter Jenica went to middle school together and quickly became best friends. Always a welcome guest in our house, we included her in our family activities whenever possible. She was, and still is one of my 'favorites'.
Christina's mother died when she was only five years old. Less than two years later, her younger sister died. Then, before turning fifteen, her father died. They all died of AIDS. In other words, Christina had no one to call family.
We knew Steven, her father, well and everyone, including Christina, knew how much he loved her. Before passing he made arrangements for her to have a guardian, Ronna, who watched over and guided her as she continued to grow and blossom and that she did.
From a young age she had to make choices of and on her own. What choices did she make? Life affirming choices. She chose to wake up and be happy every day of her life. She chose to be grateful and express gratitude for every little thing. She chose to make a difference in this world and she does.
How easy and understandable it would have been for Christina to have made different choices. But she didn't. Not having two parents for most of her life and having only one parent to see her reach her teens, could easily have been her handicap in life. But it isn't. Instead, it has been a positive, driving force for her.
After her father's death, she chose to join the "Fight Against AIDS." At seventeen, as soon as she was old enough, she joined and completed the AIDS Bike Ride, a seven day, 500 mile bike ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles. Her father, like several others, had joined the ride, but was too sick to make it to the finish line. Later she finished it for him. The ride triggered the making of a documentary, "No Distance Too Far" featuring our very own Christina.
After doing the AIDS Ride, Christina began speaking at middle and high schools and colleges, too. She talked about her own life and AIDS prevention. Later she volunteered and spent several months providing AIDS education to workers in small towns throughout Ghana. Christina continues her fight against AIDS today and works as a Marketing & Prevention Associate for the Colorado AIDS Project.
Today, on her wedding day, Christina, her husband to be and several friends are doing the AIDS Walk in Denver. Their team is called “Ball and Chain.” (http://aidswalkcolorado.kintera.org/faf/search/searchTeamPart.asp?ievent=305922&lis=1&kntae305922=28ECA339159C4DFB875732F71EABD6E0&supId=0&team=3419358&cj=Y )
Christina makes a difference in the world. I know because of the difference she has made in my life. She is marrying Sean today, a great young man. What I like most about him is that he "gets" all of what is so special about her. He is a lucky man. She is lucky to have someone who values her so.
Christina and Sean,
May you blessed throughout your years together. May you both continue to make a difference in the world and to each other. May your hearts always remain as filled with the love and gratitude you feel for one another as they are today.
Love you both,
Participate. Make a difference. Live a life that matters.