Approximately 10 years ago, I flew to Key West Florida to conduct a fundraising auction to benefit Camp Boggy Creek. General Norman Schwarzkopf, co-founder of Camp Boggy Creek, attended this auction and was a large presence at this event.
Camp Boggy Creek, located in Eustis Florida, is for seriously ill children who don’t qualify for any other camp programs. This is a place where these children can fish, swim, dance, shoot arrows, ride horses, and enjoy the outdoors.
As the evening progressed, it was almost time to begin the live auction. The emcee for the evening thanked everyone for attending and introduced General Schwarzkopf who was to go onstage and provide brief inspiring remarks to motivate the bidders. Immediately following his remarks the emcee was to introduce me as the auctioneer. Simple, right?
On the side of the stage, hidden by large curtains, I was waiting at the foot of the steps leading up to the stage. General Schwarzkopf concluded his speech and I awaited my cue to run up the four steps and enter the stage full of energy and crank up the live auction. As General Schwarzkopf left the podium he walked over to these steps. When he was on the second step his left knee buckled. Somehow, he managed to turn 180 degrees as he fell down the remaining steps.
Reflexes and instinct took over and I quickly moved to my left in an attempt to catch this 6’3 230 lb physically fit war hero. While I could not hold him up, I did manage to slow his fall and get my hand under his head which avoided him from cracking his skull on the concrete floor. People rushed over quickly to lend aid and check him medically. He was fine. He winked and said his knee did this to him on occasion.
The auction went on without incident and by the 3rd item; General Schwarzkopf had walked back into the room and sat down at his table. The crowd gave him a standing ovation and everyone was relieved he was not injured.
When the auction concluded, I walked off stage and into the crowd to thank the bidders and congratulate the winning buyers. I walked over to where the General was sitting and thanked him for his participation in the event. I also explained that I was sorry that I was unable to fully catch him when he fell. He reached over and gave me a hard smack on my butt and said “Son, you don’t have a big enough ass to catch me when I fall”. We both laughed heartily, shook hands, had our picture taken, and I left for the airport.
While I never had the opportunity to work with the General again, this memory will stay with me for a lifetime.
Rest in peace my friend. Thank you for everything you did for our country, our soldiers, and the kids from Boggy Creek.
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