The connection with Chad was all about the timing and the t-shirt. I was working with team Deswine Intervention on a beautiful Saturday afternoon during the Hogs for the Cause event in New Orleans. Hogs is an annual BBQ competition fundraiser for pediatric brain cancer. The weekend was a blast. Our booth was near the main entrance, a prime location for us to engage with attendees either leaving or entering the event. Thousands of people came and went through this entrance, however it was Chad’s purple Team Gleason shirt that caught my eye. I had never seen a purple Gleason shirt before. Steve Gleason played for the New Orleans Saints, and his blocked punt on the night the Superdome reopened for the first time after Hurricane Katrina is now legend. In 2011 he was diagnosed with ALS, and since then he has inspired people around the globe to live purposefully and thrive while having this terminal disease. The shirt says “No White Flags”, the Team Gleason mantra for not letting the disease limit life.
As Chad walked out, he glanced at our booth and I expressed that I loved his shirt. Chad stopped and we had a moment to connect. After I introduced myself and we conversed for a bit, Chad shared he would trade his shirt for my shirt and the set of glass beads I was wearing. Done and done. We stepped into the booth, swapped shirts, and the rest was history.
Many factors contributed to my powerful connection with Chad. I had to be quick and grab his attention before he could have sped off to his car. Otherwise our meeting, and this episode of The Magic Hour, might never have happened. The connection began when I shared I loved Chad’s shirt, though Chad could have easily acknowledged this and simply kept walking. But he didn’t, he took the time to connect. After learning about his story, it all makes sense. Chad is the Commanding Officer of Coast Guard Station New Orleans, and he embodies the word service. His career dedicated to serving our nation is not only admirable, but also inspiring. Out of the thousands of people at Hogs for the Cause that beautiful afternoon, it was no coincidence Chad and I met. I left that evening wearing a Team Gleason shirt, representing one of the most inspiring stories to ever come out of New Orleans. It’s this inspiration that definitely wakes you up to the magic of an ordinary connection.