This isn't going to be a sappy Christmas installment like all our favorite shows are doing before they break for the Golden Globes. This blog is a reflection on the, "Journey of Kris." Rosie, Cate, and Kamm recently visited to share pictures that never made it to Facebook that encapsulated epic experiences we've shared over the years. These pictures mixed with the question I get a lot, "did you complete your bucket list?" inspired me to list some of the awesome and influential shit I've experienced in my lifetime.
I've seen Bruce Springsteen from third row on my Dad's shoulders at 12 years old. I've heard Bon Iver's eclectic voice at the Chicago Theater with Kurt. I've won numerous athletic competitions in nearly every sport. I have driven fast and expensive cars at stupid speeds. I've camped in the wilderness with nothing more than a flint. I've scaled bluffs, traversed valleys and streams, climbed monstrous trees. I've kayaked the treacherous waters of Death's Door. I've asked out dozens of women, some enjoyed the advances, others put me in the friend zone. I've taken abuse from the police for having the wrong color friends. I've lost great friends and managed to wrangle in others. I became a well-respected special education teacher, influencing the lives of hundreds of individuals with disabilities. I've been in fist fights and always came out the victor. I've had a shot of whiskey with breakfast. I caught an eight inch trout with my bare hands. I've golfed nine holes in nothing but my swim trunks. I've trespassed to see views that should belong to no man other than God. I told Matt Damon he was a dick to his face when he autographed my shirt without permission. I've thrown epic parties that are still talked about to this day. The most beautiful woman on the planet married me. I've swam with barracuda and octopus. I've been hypnotized to act like a fool. I've held my precious nieces and nephews in my arms. I kept a beta fish alive far past his expiration. I've grown as a man with Michelle by my side. We added the best dog a man could have to our family. I've seen sunsets that have given me glimpses of Heaven. These are only a few items I've checked of the "Bucket List", I've checked many more, but these alone leave me satisfied, content and proud.
ALS put a major kink in my adventurous and spontaneous self. It would be hard, if not impossible to complete any of these adventures in the state I'm in today. Legs, arms, hands and core don't work for shit. I need help dressing, eating, turning things on, etc. Does that mean ALS has won? Do I cave and just call it quits? Hell no.
My adventures have changed drastically but I've accomplished a whole hell of a lot even with ALS. The Gronk's Grace Army has raised nearly $100,000 to date to help numerous ALS organizations. Michelle and I had our hands in the push that made the 21st Centuries Care Act pass into law, advancing ALS research and support systems for years to come. Gronk's Grace has been all over the news in our community raising awareness and making a significant impact on children, who very likely will be the generation to find a cure. I won the Courage Award from ALSA for advocacy work and supporting others with ALS. I met the 2005 World Series Champion White Sox, drank beers with them, stood on the field and watched a game from the Skybox. Most importantly, I've grown in my relationship with Jesus Christ and used that relationship to disciple to friends and family, bringing them closer to God. I've seen sunsets giving glimpses of Heaven. Jesus dying on the cross guaranteed my spot in Heaven. All I've got left on the "Bucket List" is to ensure those people who were there for the wild and crazy adventures are there for the next ones in Heaven one day.