October 9, 1988 is the day I learned that anything is possible.
When I was in 8th grade I was enthralled with politics. At that point in my life I wanted to be a politician because I wanted to help people and make a difference in their lives.
Who did I support? Well you know how the old saying goes, if you are under 30 and not a Democrat you don’t have a heart. And if you are over 30 and not a Republican then you don’t have a brain. Considering in 8th grade I was a staunch Conservative Republican supporting George Bush and over time have moved a bit more toward the middle on the political spectrum – I guess you can say I am the perfect combination of the Tin Man and the Scarecrow from the Wizard of Oz.
As the Iowa Caucuses began, I had decided that I was going to get to meet George Bush some how, some way, at some point during that 1988 presidential campaign. I was so sure of it that I went out and purchased his autobiography, Looking Forward, with my grass cutting money so I could get his autograph when I met him.
My friends all thought I was crazy and told me it would never happen. But I had faith and confidence that it would.
To support my choice for President, I did everything I possibly could. I joined the local Republican organization. I put in long hours. I stuffed envelopes, made phone calls, passed out flyers, hung signs and went door to door all summer long. The only thing I couldn’t do for the man was actually vote for him because I was 14 and did not live within the city limits of Chicago, which is the only place in the U.S. that a 14 year old or a dead man can vote for the President of the United States.
As the Fall came we found out that George Bush was going to be making a campaign stop at the Hoby Day parade in Berwyn, IL. As soon as I heard it, I knew this was my chance to meet him.
I decided I would go to the parade with two campaign signs and my copy of the book and I would follow him through the whole parade. Well my Dad, ever the encourager and supporter of me, dropped me off at the beginning of the parade, wished me luck and said he would be waiting for me at the end of it.
The parade begins. Float after float passes by. Band after band continues down the parade route. Finally the last float begins to approach and there is George Bush on it with one of the two Governors from the State of Illinois, who will someday be incarcerated, George Ryan.
George Ryan is on a loud speaker and announces, "Let’s give a warm Hoby Day welcome to our Vice President, and the next President of the United States, George Bush." To which I scream, "Geoooooooooorge!"
The float continues down the street and I sprint to the back of the crowd so I can follow him. With the signs and book in my hand I notice that three adults are also following him, but with Dukakis signs. At this point I make it my personal mission to ensure that my signs are always in front of those jerks so the cameras won’t see them. I box these guys out, push and shove, knowing that the last thing they want to do is get bad press for beating up some little 8th grader.
As block after block goes by and I continue to respond to George Ryan’s announcement with a loud and obnoxious "Geoooooorge!" the Vice President notices me. He smiles and gives me a thumbs up. A few more blocks go by and he looks back over at me to see me getting my signs in front of the Dukakis ones. He smiles again and mouths the words “thank you”. This continues for about 3/4s of the parade when I decide that now is my chance to get him to sign the book.
As he looks back over to me again, I hold up the book, jump up and down, yelling, “Can you sign this, can you sign this?” He gets a big smile on his face, nods yes and turns around to find a pen.
At this point let me stop and give you some advice. Advice that I encourage you to tell your family, friends, and anyone else you care about. Do not ever, ever sprint from the back of a crowd, into the street headed straight toward the Vice President with an unidentified object in your hand. To this day I thank God it was 1988 and not 2018 because today, more than likely I would have been taken out by a secret service sniper.
After my sprint through the crowd I take one step into the street and my scrawny 90 lbs. body of bone and flesh is scooped up, with one arm mind you, by a 250 lbs. secret service agent who is nothing but muscle. As he scoops me up he simply says, “I don’t think so kid.” He carries me to the back of the crowd as my feet are kicking in the air and I am screaming “But he wants to sign my book! He wants to sign my book!”
He places me at the back of the crowd and returns to his post following the Vice President’s float.
By this time George Bush has found his pen, turns around and scans the crowd for me. He can’t find me so he shouts to the secret service agents, “The kid with the book, get the kid with the book.” I am overjoyed at this point and begin my sprint to the float but quickly stop myself. I look over at the secret service agent who tackled me and he simply smiles and waves me over.
I hand the book up to the Vice President, he opens it, signs it and then…..
I remember this moment clearer than just about any other moment in my life. As George Bush tossed me the book, it flipped end over end and I caught it in my arms in the middle of the street. At that moment time stopped for me, I realized that if I set a goal, I worked hard and put in the hours to achieve that goal, if I was willing to be a little aggressive and even willing to be taken out by a sniper then…
Anything is Possible
Wishing you success in all aspects of life,
Founder and President
Smart Health Wellness and Performance