by Adam Lundquist
It was a hot, spring day – one that was hard to come by that year – and the eight of us walked across the football field to the opposite side of the track.
As I shook nervously at the thought of racing in our varsity league finals as a puny freshman, I looked about to find familiar faces: the two seniors from Healdsburg, who always seemed to know what was going on; the Sonoma duo who never cracked a smile, at least in my knowledge; and the Petaluma sophomore, who looked more relaxed than the oblivious teenagers in the grandstands beyond us.
The Trojan runner wore a Pittsburgh Pirates’ hat, adorned with a bright sticker on the underside of the bill. Every other runner wore only his racing outfit, but he continued to sport the matching black-and-yellow headpiece.
He oozed relaxation, experience, and tranquility in a time of mounting pressure; you couldn’t help but let your shoulders drop and laugh a little.
After the race, I shook his hand and he gave me a grin. He then bounced off and retrieved his hat, transitioning from runner to comedian in a single movement.
That would be the last time I ever raced Danny Cox, and one of the last times I would ever see him.
Danny Cox died August 7, 2011. He was 19. His death brought an overwhelming sorrow which blanketed the entire community—for tragedy should never occur to such a young person.
Danny, who was permanently bound to a wheelchair following a freak diving accident in Lake Tahoe just last year, was progressing in his recovery. After receiving two rounds of stem cell therapy and enduring months of grueling physical therapy, Danny Cox served as an inspiration to not only fellow citizens, but to his former competitors.
Each new day cannot and should not be taken for granted. As teenagers, we’re in a place in our lives when a single action, from doing our homework to asking that special someone to Prom, can lead to unimaginable results.
Every detail around us, details that fill our lives, is subject to change, but this does not mean that our ideals cannot be solid. It’s so simple that it seems worthless.
But, life is precious.
Teenagers believe they are indestructible. It’s easy to deny the assumption, but it’s hard to accept that we are not invincible.
We are like every other age group on this planet: human beings. And as human beings, we must accept the responsibility to make our lives worthwhile.
Danny’s death still resonates in this community, and it will for a long time. His memorial service, a tribute to his joyous spirit, reflected his effect over others, as more than one thousand people attended to celebrate his life.
And we should always celebrate our lives.