This is a sports column.

Every week, I write about sports and the people who play them.

Every week, that is, except this one.

Oh, sure, you could take these words and apply them in the world of sports. You could also use them for businesses and corporations, churches and non-profit organizations, and everyday personal relationships.

I met a young man about 5 years ago. His name was Drake, and he’d just been diagnosed with a brain tumor.

He was in the fourth grade at Lincoln Elementary when that happened. That’s the same school and grade as my wife teaches. Because of their concern for him, his story came home with her.

Drake Price became a name on the lips of a lot of people in town. As his fight continued, we all followed. We cheered for him. We cried for him. We marveled at how a boy who was so young seemed to be handling the worst possible circumstances with such grace.

Drake’s battle is over, now. He slipped away from us quietly during the night of January 7.

As I was standing next to him last Tuesday at the funeral home, I thanked him for how he had dealt with all of this. I thanked him for sharing the fight with us. I thanked him for letting us tell his story.  

And then, as I said my final ‘goodbye’, I patted the edge of his casket I thanked him for everything he had taught us all.

Here are the things we should learn from Drake Price.

Attitude is everything.

Drake Price reminded us that the discovery of his tumor started him down a different road, but he was still true to who he was in his heart.

Yes, it’s true that he spent a lot more time in hospitals than on playgrounds. But his constant quest was to live his life as normally as possible. He just wanted to be a regular kid. I wonder if he understood just how special he really was.

Dr. Chuck Swindoll says “life is 10-percent what happens to you and 90-percent how you react to it.”

If that’s true (and I believe it is), Drake rocked the most important part of the last five years.

Remember what he told us: “If you aren’t smiling, you aren’t doing it right.”

Courage comes in all shapes and sizes.

Drake showed us what it means to be brave. He stared death in the face over and over again and he never blinked—not even once.  

Police officers know what bravery looks like.

It’s why police stations from all over the country reached out to Drake and his family during his illness. Drake’s wish had been to be in law enforcement and emergency services, so Warsaw PD made him an honorary officer. He got the badge, and they set him up with a full uniform and everything.

He was wearing it at the funeral home. Seeing him in it uncorked my tears.

Word quickly spread, and honorary badges started pouring in from all over the place—dozens and dozens of them.

And, like they would any fellow officer, his brethren in blue took care of Drake to the last.

Get a chance, and don’t miss it.

Drake was a Riley Champion. He was well-spoken, and good at sharing his story with young and old alike. He never seemed shy about coming on the radio station and updating us on what was happening with him.

We sat in awe at how matter-of-factly he told us of the last surgery he’d had and what the next one was going to be like.

Drake didn’t miss too many chances.

And finally, never assume you have no impact.

Most kids don’t bring communities together the way Drake did. All of these things he taught us, he taught us because we were paying attention to him. Most fourth graders don’t get that kind of voice. Unfortunately, it took an unusual illness to shine that light his way.

As I reminded his mom, Drake may be no longer be with us, but his message of courage and positivity lives on. It lives on in all of us who had a connection to him. We all now carry the torch of smiling to prove we are doing it right.

That’s a legacy most adults never achieve.

Thanks Miles and Charity for sharing him with us.

Thanks Drake, for giving us hope in the face of darkness.

See you again…soon.