His name is Eric McLean. His name on Twitter is @Bucket_List_Guy. But his name to many, including me, is hero.
I just did the math.
In my 12 year career as a broadcast journalist, I've done on average 3,000 stories. Give or take, I've interviewed two people per story. So that means I've interviewed roughly 6,000 people (some of whom I've interviewed multiple times, but you get the point). I've had the pleasure of interviewing presidential candidates, celebrities, etc. But of all those people, one has deeply impacted my life more than the rest and it's why I kept going back to “the well” to do more stories with him over the years. You would too if you found out that “well” was filled to the brim with life lessons. I just couldn't pass that up.
The person I’m talking about is 28-year old Eric McLean. Some may know his story, others may not. But for those who know him because of the stories he and I did together, I am humbled by that more than you know.
Eric’s story is about so many things, but for me I learned through him that you never give up, you never stop believing, and no matter how high the mountain, be grateful that you’re climbing it.
Recently, Eric told us he’s dying. He did so in what’s being described by people all over the world as a heart-wrenching, yet heart-warming video blog. It’s a blog I still haven’t had the courage to watch. Yet courage is spilling out of Eric like flood waters over a river’s bank.
Since I’ve known him, Eric has endured an emotional roller coaster ride that seems to go so high at one point, and so very low at the next. But through it all, he’s faced it with courage, honesty, and grace. Most of us don’t display those characteristics when life is at its best.
The last time I spoke to Eric in person he was just about to get married to his beautiful bride, Cari. I had already done a couple stories with Eric at that point. I remember meeting Cari for the first time when they saw me on TV doing a live report from a grocery store. It wasn’t too far from their house so they came down to the store to simply say hello. There are some people who make you feel welcomed from the moment your eyes connect and these two do that in spades. Heck, Eric’s entire family does that, at least the ones that I've met. They are wonderful people who do not deserve what’s happening to them, but who does, I guess.
Perhaps I’m writing this more for me than for anyone else, but I wanted you all to know Eric’s story. Although I’ve only had the privilege of knowing it for the past few years, it will impact me for the rest of my life.
In hopes you'll understand him better I put a link to his website below. Through everything he has been through he's raised thousands of dollars for cancer research. There you can find more stories about him and ways to help others like him.
In the meantime Eric, you have taught me to face my life, no matter what’s in front of me, with honesty and courage, being grateful for every ounce you get, and above all smiling when you get it.
So while your doctors say you don’t have much longer, the lessons you continue to teach me will live forever. And I thank God you allowed me to be in your life.