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Gone but Never Forgotten: Jeff Slack and Stuart Scott

Article by Jamie Valvano

Precious lives continue to be lost as a result of the disease the world knows as cancer. I will forever miss two friends that became members of our Valvano family. One man was quiet and reserved, yet he quickly became a hero to anyone fortunate enough to meet him. The other man became famous for his humor, talent and charisma on and off television. Our hearts are broken by their deaths, and we grieve with the families of Jeff Slack and Stuart Scott.

Year after year, Jeff and Karen Slack volunteered for The Jimmy V Celebrity Golf Classic. Their commitment to fund cancer research was unshakeable. I was fully aware that Jeff was battling cancer, but somehow that became a very small part of his story. He was an example of courage and faith in action. He taught me how to live in abundance, even when the thing we fear the most never leaves our side.

Stuart Scott became a member of our family long before he was diagnosed with cancer. After my father, Jim Valvano, died, Stuart was one of many individuals from the world of sports who adopted our cause. I personally had a soft spot for this beautiful man. I fell in love with him all over again as he publicly shared his private pain in order to bring hope to others. As a fellow cancer patient, there was an unspoken moment we shared whenever I had the privilege to see him. I would look into his eyes, and with a quick nod, he communicated that I was not alone.

During his ESPY speech, Stuart suggested that when we get tired, “Lay down and rest, and let someone else fight for you.” Selfishly, I want the Jim Valvanos, Jeff Slacks and Stuart Scotts of the world to be our guides. Luckily, we still have their powerful words and larger-than-life spirits that will never vanish. The brightness of 2015 has been dimmed without them in my life, but I smile as I think of the pep talks they would give to me. I will not give up! Who will join me?

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