Hello. My name is Gina Buehner and I am the mother of two amazing boys, I am the director of Cole’s Hope Foundation, a non-profit 501c3 and I am also an assistant principal at a local high school.
I would first like to say thank you for taking the time to read this message. I am always honored and humbled to be able to share my journey through tragedy, as well as other messages about my son’s passion to save others and my journey through faith.
There was a time when I didn’t know if I could salvage my own existence, but it was then that God stepped in, and I found true faith, and a reason to live. Reading this will share with you a message that I had recently given to my graduating senior class. I hope that you too, may find meaning in this message as I believe it applies to us all, young and old.
While typical speeches are about imparting life lessons,
I am not going to impart on you the lessons that I have learned in life, but I am going to share with you a few life changing lessons that I have learned through loss.
I shared this message with a group of students who are very special to me, and always will be. As their principal, it was just two months into their freshman year on Oct. 21, 2014 that my 17 year old son, Cole, was killed in a horrific motorcycle crash less than a quarter mile from my home when another driver failed to yield.
My husband and I were one of the first few on scene, before first responders had even arrived.
As we pulled up to the intersection, I could see glass and car debris scattered across the pavement. I saw the mangled, riderless, motorcycle lying in the middle of the intersection….. In the midst of the chaos, silence began to deafen my ears and as I exited our truck and began running towards the crash scene, it was then that I saw my son, lying lifeless in the middle of the road. I ran up to him and fell to my knees beside him. I prayed, I cried, and I pleaded for my son’s life.
I begged God to take me instead. I argued, that it was MY life that should be taken, not his.
I did not win that argument with God that day. But I did not walk away with nothing. It took me some time, but I realized a very important lesson in life. I realized that I was given a gift. In the midst of tragedy, through this journey of indescribable sorrow, I have been given an incredible gift.
We have ALL been given a gift. YOU have been given a gift. Within our hearts, we ALL have the gift….to LOVE. The gift to LOVE LIFE, to LOVE our family, our friends and those we care about. The gift to LOVE giving to others, to love helping others, and to love making a difference in the world.
This gift can also be spelled T I M E… Time. What a precious gift. I was gifted 17 beautiful years of treasured memories with my son. Our time is fragile, it’s vulnerable, but it’s also invaluable and should never be wasted. Because the most important things in life, aren’t THINGS. They are LOVE and TIME and the GIVING of your heart.
I understand, I KNOW, that the human heart really can break, and unfortunately, it’s possible that so do several of you. And we know that each broken piece carries a load of indescribable pain. But with LOVE, these pieces CAN, and DO mend.
Although our heart may never look the same, it will have cracks and crevices, lines and scars, it’s those imperfections that MAKE us who we are. They become and always remain, a part of us. What’s amazing about the human heart, is that as it mends, as it heals, it begins to love even deeper, find greater joy in everyday living, and it gives life an entirely new meaning. LOVE can heal when nothing else can.
So when you face adversity, as you will in life, and when your heart may be hurting, it is what you do from that moment on that defines you. You see, it is our response to these circumstances that renews our faith and strengthens our meaning of life. We discover HOPE, and we push forward. We GET UP; and put one foot in front of the other. We find deeper meaning in life, and we LOVE even more. When we choose to RISE, when we choose HOPE during life’s trials, we are making a conscious choice to allow ourselves to learn, to grow and most of all, to love. To LOVE LIFE. To LOVE those around us. And to LOVE living.
We are warriors, and warriors RISE by lifting others. When we lift others up, we inspire. And inspiration can literally give life where all hope has been lost.
This gift of love also encompasses humility. It’s humility that reveals our true character, who we are when no one is watching. Humility embraces selflessness.
Do not judge others, for we know nothing about their story, what they’ve been through, or what they’re going through right now. Everyone in this room, every single person here today, has a story. And for some, that story is filled with fear, with adversity, with struggles and with pain. But they are also stories of triumph, of perseverance, of resiliency and GRIT.
For that person who we think is stuck up because they don’t talk, who we think doesn’t care because they didn’t show up, or who we think is angry because they never smile….their story wouldn’t make us mad, but it might just make us cry. So reach out. Be humble. Change the world by your example, not your opinion. Make others feel needed, feel important, and feel loved.
Bring others up, because YOU are also a warrior. And I’m not just talking about being a Fox Warrior, I’m talking about being a warrior of life. YOU, Warriors of life, persevere, you have grit, and you don’t give up.
You see, it is the hard days, life’s tests, adversity, and the days that challenge us to our very core that will determine who we are. These times reveal our true character, our grit and our passion for life.
So go out and Be a warrior of life. Change lives, bring others up, and make a difference along the way. Your character defines you, it shapes you and it shapes those around you. Your character will be your legacy, which is not what is carved into a stone or monument, but what you have intrinsically woven into the lives of others. There is no greater intrinsic reward than doing something for others who can do nothing for you in return.
In conclusion, I hope that as you leave here today, you feel that heart beating in your chest and KNOW that you have been given the greatest gift of all, to LOVE. I hope that you discover that inspiring others will not only change the world around you; but allow you to be the best human being you can be. And I hope that through humility, you find the beauty in everything and everyone around you, every.. single.. day. Sometimes the most important thing we can do is just let each other know we’re here, reminding each of us that we’re a part of a larger self. (Jim Carrey)
You are warriors of life. Among you sit some of the most extraordinary and remarkable men and women you will ever know. I am honored and blessed to speak to you today, and may each of you, with love in your heart and time on your side, go out today and make a difference.
- Gina Buehner