In Remembrance of Grandpa: An Everyday Hero

If you google Don Hahn, chances are, you will get search results for the famous Disney producer and not for my grandpa. Although, while he didn’t create any major motion pictures and probably wouldn’t be an overly googled figure, I considered him to be an everyday hero.

My grandpa was the type of person who made a point to really know everyone, learn their story, and find a way to connect with them and make them feel special. I can remember numerous occasions when I’d be out on grocery shopping trips with Grandpa, even only for a few items sometimes, and he would start chatting with a random stranger in the store, find a commonality (usually sports teams alliances), and before you knew it an hour had passed and the family back at the house wondered where we’d disappeared to. Grandpa taught me to really treat people well and be kind to them; this is something I try to do in my everyday life as well as sport. One thing that always excites me is to see people of all ages and backgrounds competing in triathlon, not knowing the obstacles or hardships they may have had to overcome to get to that race. I love hearing these stories and that is definitely one of the things I love about my profession: the way the human spirit is most always brought out in some way through triathlon.

Another love that Grandpa and I shared was the love of sport. Although he was a kind soul, he was a very competitive person when it came to golf, basketball, card games, you name it. He also created a family tournament for both the college bowl games and the basketball March Madness so he’d have more things to compete in (winner gets a plaque with their name on it!). From an outsider’s point of view, this tournament may have looked like a joke since even all the pets were allowed to have brackets, but those inside the family know just how competitive it can get :). Speaking of family, probably the greatest gift that Grandpa gave to my family was that he placed an importance on our family seeing each other multiple times a year, even if we lived thousands of miles away. I’ll always remember family vacations and holidays with my grandparents, parents, sister, aunts, uncles, and cousins as a magical time; something not all people can relate to.

In addition, Grandpa always supported me in whatever I did, from gymnastics when I was little to club swimming, and later triathlon. Good or bad race, he always let me know that he was proud of me. As he approached ninety, he wasn’t able to play golf as much as he wanted to, but still kept up a workout routine in the gym at his retirement home. To try and pique the interest in different sports of his fellow residents, he worked with the fitness coordinators at his retirement home to create the “Windsor Olympics.” He encouraged everyone to participate, and even created events such as the marshmallow toss to ensure the level of participation would be high. I recently learned that in his memory, his retirement community is naming those Olympics after him this year to honor his hard work in bringing this event into fruition. What a great way to honor such a special man.

When my grandpa passed on March 28th, I felt like I’d lost a grandpa, a fan, and most importantly, a friend. Although he hadn’t seen me race in person in about 5 years, Grandpa was always the first to check for results after my races and was eager to read my blog and see what I’d have to say. It’s been about a month since he’s been gone and when checking my website traffic the other day, I noticed I had a couple of visitors from an “unknown” location. I have no doubt that this means that while my grandpa is probably staying very busy in heaven, he is still finding time to check my blog as well… very sneaky Grandpa, I’m not surprised.

I can never repay my grandpa for the love and dedication he’s given to me, but as a small token of my appreciation, I’d like to dedicate my 2013 triathlon season to him. Good race or bad race, you can be sure I’ll be giving it my all. Praise be to God for giving me such an amazing grandpa and I can only hope that I’m able to share as much love with the world and have as much impact as he did.


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