I remember with distinct certainty the worst birthday of my entire life. It was 2009, and I was in school at Auburn. I was on the way home from school on the Tiger Transit, when my Mom called me in tears. She told me that our family friend, Todd, was not expected to make it much longer. Todd was diagnosed a few months previously with a rare disease called amyloidosis, which I have since learned is an abnormal protein that can deposit itself in various organs of the body. I remember trying to hold back the tears running down my face on the bus. I was in utter shock and disbelief. I told a friend of mine not long ago that the last time I can remember ugly crying was on that day. Todd Hawthorne was a special man to many. He was the President of the Athletic Club...a husband to a beautiful wife and a father to two sweet daughters...a friend...a leader in our community. More than anything, though, I could see how much respect my Dad had for Todd. My Dad always told me, "If I had to pick two men to say were my best friends and would never let me down, I'd say Allen Weeks and Todd Hawthorne". We all thought so highly of Todd, and he always seemed to have a genuine interest in the things going on in our lives. He was also one of the most hard working men I've ever known. He poured hours upon hours into the atheltic programs at our high school, often working multiple nights a week in the concession stand and traveling to the away games to show his support before he was diagnosed. Then, on October 4, 2009, Todd was relieved of his suffering, as amyloidosis took his life. But...I am certain that Todd is watching down on all of us now, he's probably up there bringing smiles to the faces of others, just as he did while he was here. Todd was a big Alabama fan, and the next January, as Alabama won the national championship, I remember thinking to myself that a little piece of that had to be Todd up there, willing Bama to victory.
I often find myself asking why bad things happen to good people. What is the incentive to be up, if life is just going to make every attempt to knock you down? I like to think that God chooses His very best to be examples to others. He picks the influential people...the people He knows will take this burden and use it for the greater good. If Todd has taught me anything, it is to take life by the horns. Live every day like it's your last. Appreciate the time you have here. Love on the people you care about. Live life with no regrets over things you should have done. And about all, be a good person and everything else will fall into place. We love you Todd. We miss you...and we can't wait to see you again someday.