A Defining Moment

   A death in the family is a tragedy that cannot he explained in words.
Experiencing one is the only way you can know the pain and suffering
one must go through. My uncle, Beamer Hughes, had Muscular Dystrophy (MD)
and we knew his slow painful death was inevitable. He had been wheelchair
ridden since I was about: fourteen years old. His disease took over his
body to a point where he was totally dependent on others care. Not a day
went by where he didn't smile or enjoy life to the fullest. He was one of
the best men I knew.

   My uncle started a Muscular Dystrophy foundation in his name called
The Beamer Hughes Foundation. There was an annual golf tournament to 
raise money and awareness for MD with the majority of the proceeds 
going to the kids in Rochester who have been struck with the 
devastating disease. He loved to support their family and give them 
electric wheelchairs and handicap accessible vans which made their 
families lives easier as well.

   My uncle Beam, as we all called him, was my fatherís best friend since 
their teenage years. He was not related to us by blood but I saw him as 
my uncle and I loved him just as much as any other family member. 
My uncle Beam played quarterback and he was number 12 
(this is relevant for a later part in my essay).  
I play quarterback as well and he came to every home game wheelchair 
in all. My school made way for him and gave him a place on the fence 
where he could see me preform. I never lost a game at home and for 
some reason I believe his presence and spirit 1ifted my play to a 
higher level. Whenever he was at my games I seemed to play better 
than ever. Spring of my sophomore year the day we all knew would come, 
indeed came.

   He passed in the spring of my sophomore year. My family hurt for a 
long time. We lost a member who brought joy, love and happiness to 
every family gathering. He may not have had his legs but be had his wit 
and his sense of humor. He is missed every day by everyone who was ever 
privileged enough to know him and fall in love with his charm. He was a big 
part of my life and I felt the need to honor him in some way even if no one 
knew but me. So before every football game, after the national anthem I would 
get on one knee and pray. I asked him for strength, speed, courage and the 
ability to lead my team to victory as well as keep me safe and healthy on and 
off the field. Then I would make a fist with my right hand and kiss it, 
then I would draw the number 12 in the grass with my index finger for him, 
then I'd kiss my fist again as I would stand up and point up while looking 
up to the heavens to show him I was looking for him. This was a gamely routine 
and it never failed to bring me a stellar performance even if we lost. After 
I started this tradition I didn't get injured on or off the field as well. 
I know he looked out for me and one time in particular sticks out in my mind.

  I will never forget this day; it was October 10th, 2008. We went to my rival
school on a brisk Friday night, ready for a battle. Gates-Chili was the number 
one raked team in New York State. We were not picked to give them a good game 
and we were supposed to get blown out. My younger cousin Dave was on my team and 
we were standing side by side waiting to be called out by each individual position 
by the announcer behind the end zone on the track. My legs were shaking and I felt 
nauseous as I knew the magnitude of the situation. I took a deep breath and looked 
up trying to calm myself as I saw the only star in the sky, the brightest most 
beautiful sight I have ever seen. It was a big bright magnificent star and it 
seemed like it was only shining on me and my cousin standing next to me. Instantly 
a rush of warmth shot from my toes to my head and I got the chills up and dawn my 
spine. I knew it was my uncle Beam looking down over my cousin and I. There was no 
way it was anyone or anything but him. My eyes welled up and I was filled with 
emotion and even writing this I begin to tear up. I grabbed my cousin and  
pointed up and didn't even say anything, he calmly said ''That's uncle Beam isn't it". 
I knew right there that he had felt the same thing and that my uncle Beamer was 
still very much alive and that he has always been looking over us. I embraced my 
cousin and we held each other knowing that there was no greater feeling then 
he one we were experiencing right then and their. After this there was no doubt 
in my mind that we wouldn't win the game.

   We battled for 48 minutes to come out victorious 42-32. After the game I didn't 
tell anyone because I was scared no one would believe me. This may be the first time 
someone has heard the whole story of what actually happened on October 10th 2008, 
and it feels as if I can close my eyes and be back in that very moment and every 
time I think about it I get goose bumps and the hair on the back of my neck stands 
on end. This was the most moving experience of my life and I felt it was the perfect 
way to write an essay with my personal passion and emotions. Some things cannot 
be explained and the feeling that came over me that night will be one that no one 
will ever know or understand, and thatís something I will cherish for as long as I live. 

Thank you for listening,

Duell Smith

This essay written by Duell Smith was read to many of us on Christmas Eve -12-24-10 
at our home.  Duell was an outstanding quarterback for Hilton High School.  
He is now a Freshman at Marist College where he wrote this essay and just completed 
his first football season there.  Duell is the son of Mitch and Joann Smith.  
Beam grew up with Mitch and the rest of Mitchís brothers Jeff and David.