Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Heido Ho

I received several requests from people visiting my blog to explain why I end many of my blogs with "Heidi Ho." Here is the story...

I started using the Heidi Ho salutation kind of like Carol Burnett with her earlobe touch or like Red Skelton with his "And may God Bless" at the end of each show. The reason I use Heido Ho is based on a young female gymnast that I coached for several years in our gymnastics training center. Heidi was the epitome of a perfect gym daughter. She was focused, made changes when asked and was trustworthy. She was a very responsible and mature young adult. Many times, as a coach, I called on Heidi to be the role model and lead the rest of the team gymnasts even though she was much younger than some of the other gymnasts. I could always depend on Heidi. What shined most in her life was her attitude. She always looked for the bright side of things.

As if it was a prophetic thing, one night in May several years ago now, Heidi was not looking like her normal self and I asked what was wrong. Trying to hide her tears, Heidi told me that she had lost the only Track and Field hurdle race she had ever lost on the previous day. In fact as a Sophomore in High School, Heidi was ranked 3rd in the State in High Hurdles. I put my arm around her shoulder and encouraged her. She finally told me that it was ok, and she would have another chance to win the next race against the gal that had beaten her. I then changed the subject and teased her on why she hadn't asked me (her Gym Dad) if she could go to the prom the week before. Furthermore, I told her the least she could do was bring me pictures of her and her date. She said she would. As Heidi went out the door of the gym that night, I remember distinctly telling her to be careful driving. Heidi responded back that she was always careful.

Those were the last words I ever spoke to Heidi, as she died in a head-on car crash the very next day while driving to gymnastics practice. She never arrived for gym practice. I even asked my wife during practice if Heidi had called. She hadn't called. That was not like Heidi at all. After practice ended that night and we were at home, someone phoned us to say that Heidi had died instantly in a car crash enroute to gymnastics practice. After that, I remember someone shared with me that when they looked into the car , Heidi's prom pictures were scattered about. Evidently, she was going to share those pictures with her Gym Dad as I had teased her about.

So, today I still miss Heidi, but I want her strong character to live on. She can still be that leader and mentor, because even today I still see the younger gymnasts (who never knew Heidi) look at her picture on the Wall of Champions and read about her. Heidi was a Champion of Life.

And in some small way, by ending my seminars and blogs with "Heidi Ho," I remind myself and others of the fact that life is fragile and is a journey. We need to remember that life is a gift and we should be sharing a great attitude with those around us that are on their journey in life as well. Until the next blog...."Heidi Ho!"

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