My wife and I spoke to the student body of Riverton High School (in Utah) who has chosen Mitchell’s Journey as the charity they’re going to support this December. Natalie, who doesn’t enjoy public speaking, bravely shared her heart-felt gratitude to these remarkable students for the good they’re about to do. I admire this woman more than she knows. She is stronger than I am. Braver than I could hope to be. Every single day, she makes me a better me.

Speaking to this group of students was humbling. There were two assemblies back-to-back: each time the auditorium was filled to capacity with students anxious to support a good cause. There was a spirit of goodness in that High School; one I will not soon forget. I remember what it was like to be in high school – and I don’t remember anything like what I witnessed. This is a new generation of youth anxious to be about a cause bigger than themselves. They are noble, hungry to help, and filled with compassion.

For the next 18 days these students will sacrifice their time and energy during the holiday season to hold a variety of fundraising activities aimed at helping Mitchell’s Journey. Their student body president, Hannah Kartchner, reminded the students “Remember, it’s not about the money, it’s about the change.” At least to me, her words carried deep and profound meaning. She reminded me of the principle that it isn’t enough to go through the motions, but rather to let those motions go through us and change us from the inside out. This high school is enlightened because they know in the very act of giving they receive. They know that when they give from the heart, their hearts change for the better.

When it was my turn to speak, I felt as though I were already among friends … kindred souls who just want to help. I shared with the students what Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy does to children and its catastrophic outcomes; I then outlined how we plan to support PPMD, MDA and some local families with the money we raise. Finally, I shifted attention to the story of my little boy’s life and death. There were times it was hard to keep my composure. I miss Mitch and sometimes it is difficult to talk about him without getting emotional. He wanted so much to live … yet here I am, very much alive and hurting to have him back in my arms. I vowed the day I lost him, and I vow again today, to make his life and loss matter. I promised my fallen son to not waste another day of my life. Instead I promised to offer my heart and meager talents in the service of others. 

Mitchell’s Journey is not only about reflections on the past, it’s about the future, too. To take grief and sorrow and see what good it can do. I don’t know much, but this thing I know: when we enlist serve others our hearts will change and they will surely grow.