The following was an anonymous submission.
“Way back in 1996 I was a sophomore at Skyline. I was far from a good student, had mediocre grades, and cheated my way through almost every class I had ever had, was a regular visitor to the principal’s office, a class clown, and was essentially THAT student that every teacher hoped they would not get. Mr. Lambourne happened to be the math teacher who drew the short straw that year and I felt like I needed to “break him in” right off the bat. Within five minutes of being in his class, I had disrupted, annoyed, and then finally threw (and hit him) with a wadded up piece of paper. I knew he was going to unleash the dogs on me, and he did. I do not remember my punishment or much of what else happened that school year, but I do remember that scenario very well. I tell you this because what happened after that really changed things.
The next day he asked me to stay after class, and I thought to myself, “Oh great, here we go again.” However, it was not what I was expecting. He just wanted to get to know me, which was weird. We hit it off right away, and by the end of the conversation, he had offered me a job mowing lawns with his Lawn Care crew that he ran after school to make ends meet. I accepted, because I was a lazy butt that could not get a job anywhere else (I did not really try, to be honest), and because I thought it might be fun.
I was wrong about the “fun” part – oh baby, I was so wrong. The work sucked, if I may be so blunt; hot, sweaty, stinky, and man, it was not easy. I stuck with Rocky throughout that season and made decent money, got in shape, and most importantly, stayed out of trouble. It was not a surprise to me that when Spring popped up my Junior year, I found myself riding shotgun in his old blue work truck, slaving away behind that mower for another season. What is a surprise is that I spent the next eleven summers working with him.
Not only was Rocky a good friend, but I loved him like a brother. He was there for me in ways that neither my parents, nor my three older brothers, ever could have been. He was there with advice when I started dating, he was there for me when I was 19 and found out my girlfriend was pregnant. He was there for me when I converted to the Mormon faith. He was a shoulder to cry on when at age 26 when I lost my first baby to still birth. He was there for me through all the ups and downs of my marriage – always ready to laugh, poke fun, and/or give advice. He has been my best friend for over 20 years, and in that time, he and his amazing wife Robin always made sure that, my family was part of theirs. We have laughed, yelled, argued, made jokes, and shed tears together on so many occasions that it is almost hard to believe.
The reason I am sending this letter to you is because Rocky also saved my life – twice. Not only did he take a bad kid, who had zero respect for anything or anybody, and give him a chance, he also befriended me and showed me that there is so much more to life than what I was wasting. Without him, I believe in my heart that I would be dead, in jail, or living a miserable existence somewhere.
I mentioned that he saved my life twice, and the second time was very recently. In April of this year, I discovered that my wife of 13 years had fallen into a rough crowd at work, and had been having multiple affairs. Of course, I was/am unbelievably devastated. Words cannot describe where I was at mentally, spiritually, and even physically. It was horrible. I remember sitting at the grave of my oldest daughter, crying my eyes out, apologizing to her and begging her forgiveness for what I had planned to do later that night, which was take my own life.
That is when Rocky and Robin saved my life. Later that day I was in a burger joint with both of them, letting it all out. The peace, comfort, and confidence that they gave me was enough to keep me standing that day. Enough to not give up. Enough to fight.
Nobody has cared about my family, my future, and me more than Rocky Lambourne. I’m talking about a guy who could have (and probably should have) written me off as just another loser kid with no future and let me fall through the cracks 22 years ago, but he didn’t. I am reminded of that every time I see him or his family, or recount how blessed I have been in my life.
If there was ever a teacher who deserved to be recognized, it’s Rocky Lambourne; a man who has devoted his entire life to being a friend, helping others, coaching, teaching, leading, and being a champion for those kids who couldn’t do it on their own. I owe my life and all of the happiness that it brings me, to him and his wife.
I am sorry for the jumbled mess that this letter is; I am in a parking lot, sobbing, and have never done anything like this before. I felt impressed to tell you about my friend, and so here, it is. Thank you for doing this program, I think it is fantastic.”
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