The Atlanta Falcons First Down For Fighters event took place on October 15, 2019 in Atlanta, GA. The team converted their locker room into an event space, and served drinks, desserts, and a dinner throughout the course of the evening. Presented by the Grady Health System, this inaugural event was centered around eight individuals currently fighting cancer. Around 100 people were in attendance, many of whom had overcome cancer in the past. Also present were seven current and four former players for the Atlanta Falcons who presented the honorees with custom jerseys throughout the night.
I served as the host for the event and facilitated the interactive portions between the honorees and the players. I am proud to have been a part of such a special evening, and I was inspired by the stories of the people in attendance as well as the service of the players.
The event ultimately resulted in a successful outreach from the team to the community. The entire event centered around the honorees and featured a unique atmosphere, being hosted in the Falcons locker room. It was the first event of its kind, but I believe it created a lasting impact and brought the community together in a special way.
Key Takeaway: Overcoming
The incredible testimonies of the individuals at the First Down For Fighters event inspired me to consider the idea of overcoming obstacles. Being in a room full of people who had survived cancer or are currently battling it, brought to the surface what I think so many of us know to be true. Life is full of obstacles.
Although we can’t all relate to battling cancer, we all know what it’s like to fight for something in our lives. We all have the desire to overcome.
But the idea of overcoming is irrelevant if there is nothing to overcome.
Seems obvious, doesn’t it?
But I think the idea of overcoming strikes such a chord in all of us, because we have all had to overcome something in our lives, or maybe even now we are overcoming. Sometimes that fight is actually for our lives, other times it’s for our relationships, our income, or even our sanity. Aside from simply reminding me of the difficult situations that some people go through, this event also inspired me to believe that we all have the potential to overcome the obstacles we face.
Overcoming is about making a choice
Whether you’re fighting cancer, looking for a new job, or struggling in a relationship, the first part of overcoming is simply making a decision. Sometimes these decisions are tangible choices, steps that take you one direction or the other – whether you’ll seek treatment, apply for that job, file for divorce. These big decisions are so important in determining the direction of our lives.
But I believe there are other choices that are equally, if not even more, important. These decisions are ongoing choices that we make within ourselves. Decisions like whether or not we will let our present situation define us. Because although the things we go through often become an integral part of who we are, they do not have to define us. There is a crucial difference.
But what if there’s nothing we can do about it at all? Sometimes the entire crisis is out of our hands, and in my opinion, these are the most difficult trials to navigate, because we simply feel stuck. That brings me to my next point:
Overcoming is about your attitude
At this event, I was inspired by the remarkable spirit of the people who had been through some unimaginable situations. One individual in particular was a five year old boy named Ryder, who is currently fighting cancer. Despite his circumstances, I was continually blown away by the joy that he possessed throughout the entirety of the event. Here was a kid who has struggled more in the first five years of life than many people experience in the first 50.
It reminded me of the simple idea that a difficult situation should never steal your joy.
Don’t give it that kind of power. There will always be things in our lives that we want to overcome. But if we let our emotions fluctuate with each difficulty we face, joy will always be unattainable.
That’s why it’s so important to remember that our attitude matters. Our perspective matters.
The truth is, most of us are so much stronger than we think we are. We just have to continually remind ourselves of that. And we must never, ever forget to be thankful for the things we do have.
Regardless of the obstacles we face, no one can take away our choice to decide whether or not our problem will define us. And the way we don’t let it define us? We change our attitude toward the situation. Even when there’s nothing we can do about it. Especially when there’s nothing we can do about it.
Overcoming is about others
As we navigate the obstacles in our lives, it is so easy to put our entire focus on ourselves. After all, we’re the ones suffering.
But in reality, we aren’t alone in the obstacles we face. There are plenty of other people who have the same (or even worse) struggles than we do.
The great part about overcoming obstacles, when they are finally overcome, is that you have even more to offer to the world once you reach the other side.
You have the opportunity to inspire others more than anyone else.
Think about it. The people we are most inspired by have overcome things that we can relate to. Things that other people can’t ever really understand.
At the First Down For Fighters event, the members of the community demonstrated that firsthand, reminding me just how powerful a strong community can be. People who had experienced cancer but lived to tell about it, did not only comfort those who were currently overcoming it, but knew exactly what they were going through.
There is something powerful that happens when communities come together to encourage one another. It lets us know we are not alone. Because we all face obstacles. But they can be overcome.
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