I met someone last week that changed me.
How often can you say that in your life? Her name is Amy O’Rourke, the wife of Patrick O’Rourke and mother to four wonderful children.
Patrick was a police officer here in West Bloomfield, Michigan who died in the line of duty last month.
I didn’t know Pat, but when I saw the story that week I felt compelled to do something. Over my 20 year radio career I’ve been part of some amazing events to help out charities and people all over the country. This one felt different.
Maybe it was seeing Amy with her children at the funeral and thinking about my family. Perhaps it was because he was a police officer, and the unnecessary nature of his death. I can’t explain.
So the station put together a wonderful concert to raise money for the O’Rourke Family Trust – and I watched as a group of very determined people pulled everything off. There was a passion behind this event that you don’t see very often. Everyone had a sense of purpose, and it was all about that family.
We had Amy on the air the week before the show – and she had such a genuine tone of appreciation for everything and everyone behind the concert. But beneath it all you could hear the hurt in her voice. The raw emotion of dealing with something that changed her life forever left us in tears.
Amy brought her family to the concert – and I had the honor of speaking with most of them. They were so supportive and protective, it was inspiring.
But at the end of the day it was Amy – she came up on stage and spoke from the heart about Pat and how much he’d love this concert (I believe that he was there that night looking down on us). She met everyone to say thanks and gave hugs – not the “pat on the back” gesture, but a genuine expression of appreciation.
We raised over $26,000 that night for her family. Amazing. People who couldn’t come to the show stopped in the street and handed me money.
And the next morning there was Amy calling the station – saying thank you to all the listeners. Wow.
I’m sure that over time the fundraisers will fade, and we’ll move on with our lives. But Amy O’Rourke will be in my thoughts and prayers for a long time. It’s a tough, tough reminder:
Life is a precious gift. Appreciate what you’ve got. It’s that simple.
I can’t imagine the range of emotions Amy is going through right now, and the tough days that lie ahead. But I witnessed her faith that night and felt comfort in knowing those kids are blessed with an amazing Mom.
It’s so easy to be negative in this world. When you look at your life today, reconsider it through the filter of Amy O’Rourke and suddenly the crap that we obsess about doesn’t mean much, does it?
I’m so fortunate to have a loving wife and two great kids (even if my 15 year old is a knucklehead).
This is normally where I wrap up with some deep thought of funny comment. Instead I’m wrapping up with a picture – say a prayer for Amy O’Rourke.