Since 9/11 it seemed our country had found a renewed sense of Patriotism. People across the nation agreed with us that words simply were not enough. They too felt the urgency to be a part of something. As we approached people with our crazy idea, it was so reassuring to not only hear their words of encouragement, but to see it! It was the teary eyed handshakes and hugs they told us we were on the right path.
It seemed so effortless, things just started falling together. We found a way to fund the idea so that people could help us make this happen and have the opportunity to win something in return. We worked out all the details and had the preliminary drawing all set….when suddenly we began to question ourselves. Would the Apache helicopter be a fitting tribute or a hurtful reminder of their loss?
We had to find a contact that could reach out to the family and get their reaction. Months went by with no success. We had wanted it to be a surprise, but felt we had to be sure. It did not feel appropriate to reach out to his wife, so we searched for the phone number to his parents.
There it was….right in front of us…..we must of stared at it for an hour trying to get the courage up to call. What were we going to say? How many other crazy calls had they received? Would they even answer? It was the hardest call we have ever made….we had to get this right! We had no reputation, we had no resume, all we had was a desire to do something special for a young man….their son….who gave his life for our freedoms.
Finally, we mustered the courage to call……it was so quiet, you could hear the ringing in the phone…and then a female voice answered. It was Chris’ mother Doreen Thibodeau. We introduced ourselves, and began explaining our idea and why we were calling. She choked up, and said what a wonderful thing we were doing. Then it was time for the really hard question, how did she feel about the rocker being an Apache helicopter. We talked for nearly an hour, as she explained how fitting it would be. She told us of Chris’ lifelong dream to be a pilot. Flying an Apache wasn’t what Chris did, it was who he was! She continued to tell us that shortly after he had found out he was to become a father that he had told her he wanted to build his baby a rocker. The conversation was chilling! The Apache helicopter was a perfect fit! Tears flowed long after the conversation ended.
What began as a quest to do something nice for a stranger was now quite personal. One of this young man’s final thoughts was to build his child a rocker. We were now fulfilling his wish. It was definitely personal!