My Five Favorite Moments of 2011

Today is the last day of 2011 and like many bloggers, I am concluding the year with a recap of my favorite moments of 2011. It was my first year living in St. Louis since 1996, as well as the first year I was able to attend the HFA Symposium, an Inhibitor Summit and the NHF Annual Meeting all in the same year. My alma mater won the NIT Championship (basketball). A documentary I helped to produce made its debut on KPTS in May. My family descended upon Wichita to attend my graduation ceremony at Wichita State University (graduated in Dec, but the ceremony was in May). I started a long project of collecting the oral histories of many great men who served in the USMC Purple Foxes during the Vietnam War. The St. Louis Cardinals won the World Series. I won the championship in my fantasy baseball league and am playing in the championship game of two of my three fantasy football leagues (I finished third in my other one). Amber and I took the kids to see Monet's Water Lilies at the St. Louis Art Museum. The only thing that I wish didn't happen is the passing of my friend and professor, Les Anderson. I will miss him greatly.

My Five Favorite Moments of 2011

1. Wichita State University Commencement Ceremony
The reason this ranks as my favorite moment is because it was a celebration for my entire family. I worked hard to complete my degree, but I couldn't have done it without the support of my family. My parents worked hard to pay for the first few years of tuition after high school. They invested in me completing a degree and had to wait 18 years to see the fruit of their labor. It was important to me to show my appreciation by celebrating with them. Amber and the kids made many sacrifices throughout the last two years... financial, time spent together... and it was important to share the accomplishment with them. I hope our children will always remember the value we place on education and I pray they understand we did it all to give them a better future.

2. Documentary debut on KPTS
Although most of the work was actually completed in 2010, the documentary I helped to produce about the Symphony in the Flint Hills made its debut on KPTS in May. I wish I could have been in Wichita to see it broadcast, but I am still proud to have worked with Amy DeVault, Les Anderson, Steven Ludlow, Fletcher Powell and Corin Breña on this project. It is always nice to see others appreciate your creation.

3. Purple Foxes Reunion
At the end of September, I flew to Nevada to shoot interviews with Vietnam veterans from the USMC Purple Foxes, a helicopter squadron that my uncle served in during the war. My uncle was unable to attend due to unexpected health issues, but I went and did my best to honor him and his fellow Marines by collecting video of these guys telling their stories. I feel honored to have met and talked with these gentlemen. I left with a greater appreciation of their service, their honor, their courage and their commitment to the USMC, the United States and to each other. I look forward to seeing them again soon.

4. The National Hemophilia Foundation's 2011 Annual Meeting in Chicago
Most of my work this year has been committed to the hemophilia community. In the absence of a strong local community, Amber and I have relied upon the National Hemophilia Foundation and the friends we have made through social media, most of which live far away from us and one another. Many of us were finally able to connect at this year's Annual Meeting in Chicago. Not only did we attend educational events and expand our knowledge and understanding of bleeding disorders, but we also socialized and had fun hanging out together. It felt less like meeting online friends, and more like a family reunion (of a family that loves one another and enjoys one another). I feel more connected to those people now than ever before and I look forward to seeing them next year.

5. Monet's Water Lilies at the St. Louis Art Museum
It has been thirty years since the three panels of the Agapanthus Triptych have been assembled together, the way Monet intended for them to be viewed. Although one of the panels resides at the St. Louis Art Museum, the other two are located in Kansas City and Cleveland. Not wanting to wait another thirty years to see Monet's masterpiece, I took Amber and the kids to see it earlier this month. It is absolutely beautiful. I felt humbled before it. I loved it so much, I will be taking my great-aunt to see it next month before the exhibition closes.

Homes and cars can be bought and replaced, but experiences are paid for in time. Time cannot be bought or replaced. I am grateful for the thousands of memories 2011 has brought, which I now share with family and friends. I look forward to the great experiences 2012 has to offer. Happy New Year!!!