Who are your role models?
Everyone needs a role model. Who are yours? A parent? A teacher? A police officer? Maybe an athlete or music artist? If we are truly lucky, we gain new role models as we move through life. We were lucky enough to recently add two new role models to our list of people we look up to and aspire to be like. Who are these people?
Let me introduce you to Rick and Jean.
How we first met our role models:
We were riding our bikes down a trail in the Dragoons when we met up with a group of hikers. The group was composed of 7 soldiers from other countries on temporary assignment here in the United States. They were being guided by a former Army helicopter pilot, now retired, and hosting soldiers in a variety of activities. That helicopter pilot was Rick.
Let me tell you about Rick:
I often joke about how reserved and quite Rick is, as it is definitely a joke. Rick is one of the most gregarious and friendly people I know. He immediately introduced himself and the soldiers. He asked us about ourselves, found out we were climbers, and asked us if we’d be willing to teach international soldiers how to climb. All in the span of about 30 minutes.
About those International Soldiers:
The soldiers that Rick and Jean host are mostly from European and African countries and come here with limited resources and no transportation. Because they are generally here for 3 to 6 months, Jean and Rick have taken it upon themselves to act as hosts for these soldiers and provide as many activities for them as they can. They do all this at their own expense or with as little cost to the soldiers as possible. They’ve even arranged trips to the Grand Canyon; something many of the soldiers have said was the hi-lite of their stay here in the U.S.
And, speaking of Jean:
From that first meeting a friendship developed with Rick. We eventually got to meet Jean, Rick’s wonderful counterpart. A retired Army nurse, Jean is more reserved and quiet than Rick, but just as full of energy and life. Between the two of them, they have hosted 100’s of international soldiers. They’ve taken them on trips, opened their home to them, fed them holiday meals, showed them the beauty of Arizona through hikes and bike rides, and rounded-up other folks (us included) to introduce the soldiers to a variety of activities.
And a friendship grew:
That first meeting with Rick was almost 5 years ago and through those years we’ve developed a friendship with Rick and Jean that goes well beyond hosting soldiers. We’ve celebrated birthdays, graduations, promotions, and new friends together. We were even blessed and honored to help Rick celebrate his 70th birthday by hiking to the bottom of the Grand Canyon with him and Jean. (Yup, 70th! That was not a typo!)
If you’d like to read about our adventure, check out our blog posts on our Grand Canyon adventure:
Making New Friends
Thanks to Rick, we have now climbed with soldiers from over 30 countries. We’ve had many many days enjoying the comradery, fun, and laughter that goes with teaching folks to climb. And we have made friends from countries we had never even heard of.
We even have a map in our office where we keep track of all the countries and states that the soldiers have come from.
What makes Jean and Rick role models for us?
Soooo many things make us admire these two individuals! The ones that stand out the most include the fact that they are still healthy and going strong well into their 60’s and 70’s – something we also hope to be doing.
Other reasons they are our role models:
- We admire their generosity in all that they are doing for these soldiers while asking nothing in return.
- We applaud the life-long friendships they have made with these soldiers .
- We appreciate the opportunity they’ve provided us to make friends with so many wonderful people.
- We especially marvel at Rick’s sense of adventure by learning to rock climb at the young age of 68.
- All and all, we aspire to be as healthy, active, and generous as Rick and Jean. We are so proud to be among their friends and look forward to many many more years of celebrating life with them.
And maybe, just maybe, if we can be like them, we might be someone’s role model when we are more mature. (wink).