Occasionally, in our life, we have the opportunity to meet someone deemed important or famous; a celebrity of great renown, or a superstar with great ability or talent. My career as a pilot afforded me many such opportunities and sometimes I was impressed, but more often I was not. You never know who is going to show up on a flight. I usually made a note in my logbook when we had VIPs on board. Sometimes movie stars want to remain incognito, and other times they want to entertain the entire cabin. Burt Reynolds is a friendly guy and Jerry Clower, the country comedian, is always on no matter where he is. The late Leslie Nielsen was also a full time entertainer. Sometimes they’re not acting; it’s just who they are.
I can say that I have shared a cockpit with Astronauts Neil Armstrong and John Glenn. On separate occasions they were booked on my flights and both were kind enough to stop by the flight deck and introduce themselves. Classy people who didn’t want to talk about themselves; but were more interested in my airplane. Although, John Glenn was very enthusiastic about an Aero Commander he had just checked out in. An aviator through and through.
There is a long list of VIPs in my logbook, including President Jimmy Carter and First Lady Rosylyn Carter. This was after he left office, but they were accompanied by a contingent of Secret Service agents. The stack of gun toting permits with the flight plan was impressive. Few people know that a Secret Service agent is the only government official who has access to the cockpit at any time without prior notice.
After blathering for a few paragraphs, let me get to the point. Yesterday I met someone who truly impressed me. I had the honor and privilege to visit with an amazing young man named Cameron Horner. You might not know Cameron, but if you did you would be impressed too. Cameron represents everything that is good and everything that is right about American youth. As a Civil Air Patrol volunteer, Cameron serves with the Burlington, North Carolina Squadron and has attained the impressive rank of Cadet Captain and Squadron Commander. Grab a pencil and write down all the 18 year olds you know who are willing to devote so much of their time to community service. Didn’t take long, did it?
On August 11, Cameron suffered a diving accident that resulted in spinal injury. He was transported from his home in North Carolina to Shepherd Spinal Center in Atlanta where he remains to fight his battle with the support of his friends from a distance. His mom, Joanna has dropped everything to be by his side, while his dad juggles work schedules between visits. We all know that we will face adversity in our lives, but to see an 18 year old face a challenge with such strength and determination is a blessing I will long remember. Cameron is blessed with parents who have taught him to, “Do the right thing,” and that’s exactly what he’s doing. The smile on his face and the character and integrity that shines through, along with the strong Christian faith that guides his family, tells me that he will compete and he will win. Don’t talk to me about million dollar superstars. I’m talking about the real thing here. He will win.
I want to thank Cameron and his mom for allowing Diane and I to visit. I just spent a weekend standing at a book signing table and listening to people talk about themselves incessantly. That’s okay, occasionally it’s interesting. The refreshing thing about our time with Cameron was that he didn’t talk about himself. He asked about our family with true interest. If that reminds you of something you’ve read recently, you can back up a few paragraphs and refer to John Glenn and Neil Armstrong. I seldom meet anyone who reminds me of those gentlemen, but Cameron does. I bet John and Neil were influenced by wonderful parents also.
I wanted to share this with you because it is rare that I’m truly impressed by someone and it was an honor I will remember. Follow Cameron on Facebook at “Prayers for Cameron Horner.” You can also follow at http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/cameronhorner
You can click on Cameron’s name in my blogroll at the right to reach his page anytime.
Prayers are the only request by the Horner Family, but words of encouragement and other offerings of support can be sent to the following:
Attn: Cameron Horner Benefit Fund
PO Box 919
Graham, NC 27253
2020 Peachtree Rd. Northeast
Atlanta, Ga. 30309-1465