Wednesday, August 27, 2008

COM: Derek Williams - Distinguished Olympia Alumnus

On August 23, 2008, Derek Williams, U.S. Navy recipient of the Bronze Star, was awarded Camp Olympia’s Outstanding Alumni Award. Derek, as a camper, was an incredible athlete, excelling in everything he attempted, from track to football to diving. But more than that he was the life of camp – never without a smile or some way to make others laugh. He returned as a counselor for several summers and made the same loving impact on the kids he worked with.

I returned to Camp Olympia this past weekend for an alumni reunion, and was ecstatic to see Derek’s parents and sister Bree there and to learn of what he’s been up to over the years. It never occurred to me to question why they were there – Bree is an alum, but not his parents. But i blissfully went on my way until this ceremony which followed an alumni organization presentation. I wasn’t aware there was to be an awards ceremony, and i was so oblivious to what was happening that i missed getting film of the actual presentation speech – and somehow even missed getting film of Derek’s dad (except in the background – i was busy taking still photos). Nevertheless, in Derek’s honor, and in hopes he can see this wherever he’s at, i wanted to post these small snippets.

Of the thousands of kids i have worked with over the years, Derek ranks tops for being most fun to be around, to see what he would do next, to his just making everyone feel like everything in life was worthwhile. I think we call that charisma, and his was boundless. His wonderful parents have written me over the years, and i’ve been able to glean bits of information about his mostly secret adventures overseas from the occasional camp contact, but i can say that whatever he is doing i could not be prouder of him for having found his place in life – in serving others. He is truly the most deserving person on the planet to be honored in all the ways he’s been singled out from this Alumni Award to the Bronze Star.

Special thanks to his parents Randy and Cheryl, his sister Bree, and her son D.J., friend Elizabeth Evans, and Torch presenters and Camp Olympia folks Leigh Walker, Amy Weinland Daughters and Tommy and Kathy Ferguson.

Update: Bree sent me this picture of him in action this afternoon!

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