Ed's Ramblings: Connections

The views of this guest column are those of Ed Boehmke only.

On April 27, a lone gunman walked into a synagogue in Poway, California, outside of San Diego and started shooting at people.  He did this because of a hatred he has for Jewish people; he personally knew none of the people in the church, did not know anything of their families, their friends or their jobs.  He just started shooting because he does not like Jews.  I do not understand this - never have and never will.  How could someone hate so much and take the lives of those he has never even talked or interacted with their lives

This has happened before and the results were much worse that this shooting in Poway.  These senseless acts touch us all in some way.  A few years back we lost a beloved track coach in the Charleston church shooting.  Sharonda Singleton was the head coach of the girls' track and field and a speech/ language pathologist at Goose Creek High School. "Mrs. Singleton was a true professional at Goose Creek High School. She cared about her students and was an advocate for them, always willing to listen to and talk with them. She was always there with a smile and ready to help," said Goose Creek Principal Jimmy Huskey to the Charleston Post and Courier.   Her life touched hundreds of students, athletes, parents and coaches in the lower part of our state, especially in the Charleston and Goose Creek area.  Her life taken by someone she never knew just because of the color of her skin.  Our coaches association honors her life and legacy with a scholarship given to a track athlete each year.

Then why does the shooting in California become the subject of this article?  This shooting, with just one fatality, is far removed from us here in the track family of South Carolina.  Some people come into our lives and make a tremendous impact on our lives - a coach, teacher, mentor, friend, spouse - and we remember those people and our relationships to them all of our lives.  Their life is crucial to yours.  Nevertheless, sometimes, we just do not know the connections of one person's life with so many others, those thousands that we may never meet, never know what they do or even know their name.   That connection may be small and what they did for you is a very small part of your life, but it is a part of your life.  The significance is miniscule, but this someone did do something that is indirectly important to your life, if even for a brief moment - something that made you happy or proud.  And that makes their life important to you.  Their name and their life is not just another name in the news that we hear and soon forget because they had no importance to us.  But do they?

This brings me to April 27, 2019.  A young man with such a hatred to Jewish people, that he walked into that synagogue and started shooting.  Luckily his gun jammed or the death toll would have been much higher than one.  But that one threw herself in front of the rabbi of the church to protect him, saving his life, but losing hers.  Her name was Lori Kaye.

Lori worked for Pro Specialties Group, Inc., (PSG) based in San Diego.  Her job was as a representative for promotional items around the country.  She is remembered as one who thought of others before herself, for her kindness, sensitivity, enthusiasm and generosity and as a pillar her community.  Her energy and attention to detail that made her truly unique.

I had the privilege of working with Lori as my representative with PSG, for ordering of medals for track and cross-country meets.  I would send her an idea for a design and through her work would send me a graphic of some great looking medals.  She was always going full blast.  It was hard for me to get a word in sometimes, but she would listen until I could get my point across.  She would make recommendations; show me the changes, work hard to get me a good price and make sure that I had my medals in time for the meet.  Sometimes she was frustrated with deadlines because she was always dealing with the Chinese New Year celebration in China where the medals are produced and shipped.  She was proud of the product and never hesitated to make changes for me.  She constantly wanted verifications for designs or quantities.  She gave me her personal cell phone number so that I could communicate with her when she was away.  Lori was enthusiastic and loved her job.  You could feel the passion she had for her customers, their products and the success that the products brought to the events.  She was a true professional.   If her enthusiasm and love for her job is the same she had for her synagogue and people that attend it, then they have truly lost an outstanding member.

Eastside High has been fortunate to host many large track and cross-country meets.  These include the Greenville County Track and Field Championships, the Chick-fil-a Games, the Kevin Logan Memorial JV Meet, and the Greenville County Cross Country Championships.  All of these meets now present Lori Kaye (PSG) medals to the award winners (track - top 3 in each event, XC top 15 in each race).  Because of our success with these medals, other events have also ordered from Lori.  Eric Cummings at Riverside gives PSG medals for the Starlight Reservation Cross Country Meet.  Matt Feiling at Byrnes gives PSG medals for the Foothills Invitational Track Meet.  In addition, the SC Track and Cross Country Coaches Association have purchased medals for the Bob Jenkins Track and Cross Country Coaches Classic from PSG.

We all have connections to each, some very large, many, many others very small.  Regardless, those connections are a part of us.  Let us treat each other so that those connections to can beneficial to all of us.   Behave to acknowledge all of our differences and appreciate that we have the right to disagree, that we can learn from each other, grow in compassion and love each other regardless of our color, ethnicity or religious beliefs.   I hope that many years from now, when you pull out your old treasure box from high school that you look down at those medals and remember, not the race that you won, but the people behind it that made you win possible.