Stephen Derbis: Why I Run for Adam

In the weeks ahead the folks that knew Adam the closest will share their reasons as an answer for the very simple question, Why I run for Adam Ward?

My name is Stephen Derbis and I’ll try to keep this shorter than one of his typical stories. I met Adam in the 7th grade. We were in band class together and soon a group of friends were formed over similar shared interests.

We found ourselves over the high school years spending practically every weekend together playing video games, paintball, cards, battling with nerf guns and generally just enjoying the camaraderie and friendship. My interest in computers was really fanned by spending time with Adam and playing games over a LAN or playing over dial-up. I still can remember that feeling of being in different rooms or houses but being able to text each other.

We bonded over science fiction and spoke often of the “future” and the things we’d hope to see in our lives.

As we went on to college and careers, months and sometimes years would go by without seeing each other. It never mattered the distance or the time between visits. All it took was a simple question, “what have you been up to?” and you were back into a familiar and comforting exchange with him.

In the immediate aftermath of losing him, I found comfort in reading the stories or seeing the pictures of the many tributes that poured in. He touched so many lives in so many different ways. I would consider myself one of Adam’s closest friends and yet when you read or hear the stories from others, they all felt the same way. Adam had that impact with someone and every interaction was genuine.

I’m really not sure how he was able to do it and have all these truly unique relationships with people. 

Need help moving? Adam has a truck and will show up first, ready to start lifting furniture. Need someone to lend an ear? Adam would call and listen for as long as you needed to talk.

Need someone to make a recommendation of new music? Just kidding, you didn’t even need to ask, he just always was willing to share new music that he thought you’d like and send you numerous YouTube clips with song recommendations. 

I’d give anything for just one more recommendation.

Adam cared. He cared about the people in his life and he cared about the people in this world. In a world that is increasingly gray and cold, he was a warm and kind soul that provided color.

To steal a phrase from a tribute I read on his Facebook wall, Adam was a better friend than any of us deserved. I think I would change the initial question from why I run, to how could I not run? How could I not run for him?

Life is short. 

You hear that phrase all your life and it really isn’t until you get older do you really start to realize how true it is. As you focus more on your career, your family and planning for future days, you also find yourself thinking about your legacy. What type of impact will I leave on this world? For some, that legacy comes in the form of children. 

Adam was robbed of that opportunity, but in some ways his students and lacrosse players he coached were his kids. The impact he had on them was immense and illustrates the power one person can have on this world.

I can’t ever pay back his friendship, but I can honor his memory and ensure his legacy of helping others endures. 

Join me — join us — we start a new mission. That mission is to impact the lives of many through cancer research to battle this terrible disease. Adam is a constant reminder of the impact that one person can have on this world.

With your help, that impact will be larger. What could be more ReWarding than that?

One Response

  • Hey Derbis,
    Thanks for your story. I don’t do Facebook so in a way I’ve missed out on so many things over the years. I’d say I’m still OK with that except when it comes to my “Little Brother”. He was so very humble, only boasting about others and never himself. I wish I could see all the wonderful posts about him from his friends, students, and players but I can’t. He was a great brother and I miss him every single day. The only problem is if I saw everything everyone says about him I’d never stop crying like I am right now. Thank you for sharing your story and please keep in touch.
    I can’t imagine the impact he would have had on the world if he was able to continue being “That Guy”, “Coach Ward”, or Adam. I do know it would have been profound. I hope that everyone that knew him will honor him by spreading his love to others. One of the amazing things is, he touch everyone differently. I just ask everyone to think of what he did for you or meant to you individually and pay it forward. Thanks, Jason.

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