Thursday, April 5, 2012

The last 365 days...

It was about ten minutes of quiet observance, as Gates and I reminisced, before my angel-faced, two-year-old daughter reached out her little hand and touched Gates’ sock covered toe; locking eyes with him as her finger made contact with his rested foot. 

“Hi Cutie.” Gates said as she cautiously backed away as gracefully as she approached. 

I can’t pretend to know what she was trying to communicate; however I’ve thought several times since about that experience and the symbolic meaning of “to be touched.” 

One year ago today, April 5th, Gates’ made “one last run” down the snow packed hill of a frosty Utah Canyon.  Referring to an earlier post, all of us can remember where we were, what we felt and how we were touched when we heard the news. 

“If we have faith in Jesus Christ, the hardest as well as the easiest times in life can be a blessing…  We never need to feel that we are alone or unloved…  because we never are. We can feel the love of God. The Savior has promised angels on our left and our right to bear us up. And He always keeps His word.” – President Henry B. Eyring

Over the last 365 days, we have been touched, not only by the attitude and endurance of this admirable young man, but by the demonstrations of generosity, love, sacrifice and service of countless others.  And it continues…

Later this month one of Gates’ friends, Ben Smith, is longboarding across Utah raising money to help Gates continue his independence.

Gates’ pursuit of independence has touched me as I watch him surpass milestones and overcome obstacles including mastering his balance, gaining control of his arms, opening doors by himself and just enjoying life! 

I caught him cruising Bountiful Boulevard with his buddies not long ago, he’s been to a Jazz game, hit up several local concerts and even gets out on the golf course with the guys. 

It doesn’t stop there!  He plans to go skydiving again this summer telling me, “Nothings changed; I’m still the same guy.”

Just as importantly, Gates shared, “My health is on an upward swing.” And he’s looking forward to one of his other passions, getting back in the water, another demonstration of his physical progression.

This Sunday we celebrate and remember the resurrection of our Savior, Jesus Christ.  It is because of Him, we have the hope and eternal perspective we do.  It’s through His light we can be touched by others to do better, to be better.

“As part of His infinite atonement, Jesus knows ‘according to the flesh’ all that through which we pass.  He has borne the sins, griefs, sorrows, and … pains of every man, woman, and child.” - Elder Neal A. Maxwell

In response to the one year anniversary of Gates’ accident, his Facebook status says it all:  “year one. claim.”

Please take a moment and share, with Gates, how he’s touched you, the last 365 days:


  1. Gates, here’s just one other way you’ve touched me… On the same visit, where Tessa touched your toe, I asked if you’d had any contact with another young person who suffered a similar injury. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve thought about your response, “I’ve reached out but haven’t heard back. I’m worried about him. I can tell he’s pretty bummed and I just want him to know it gets better.” Thanks for thinking of others... and helping me to remember to do the same.

  2. Gates keep up the good work brother!!
    Keep pushing forward..
    Brandon Sulser

  3. You may or may not remember me. I was one of your nurses Gates in the Shock/Trauma ICU. We still remember you and you were an inspiration to all around us. Thanks so much for your example. I remember one night shampooing your hair and I told you that I could make you laugh if I started immediately started laughing and singing...your attitude along with your family's is something I will never forget. Keep up the fight, young man!!!!

  4. Hey Gates I remember when you lived next door to my grandma and grandpa Russell in the "circle" in Centerville (that was forever ago!)
    When I heard about your accident I freaked out I was like Why him? But now I know why you, because no one else could go through that and make it out like you did all the while teaching so many people. You got called on one mission and were sent on a different one and you've done great!

  5. Hi Gates. You don't know me or my family, but we have been praying for you every day since we learned about your accident. I don't know what it would be like to be in your shoes, but I do know that you are surrounded by love, and I am grateful you have that. You and your family are not forgotten. I hope you continue to heal, physically and emotionally. We're all in this together Gates. Take care.
    The Reeve Family

  6. Hi Gates--you don't know me or my son but your story has brought the deepest of emotions. My son is a snowboarder/skateboarder too. I as a mom couldn't get him off his snowboard or out of the canyons either before his mission call and so when you were on your board the night before the MTC it touched my emotions immensly because I know the love you boys have for the snow & mtns and those boards. My son finally traded in his board for the Elder name-tag. Your life, your experience and who you are is profound though. Warmest Blessings!

  7. Gates, you definitely don't know me, but I just thought I'd inform you that I am so impressed by you. Your attitude and perseverance are such an example to me and I wanted you to know that I am really grateful for you. Thanks for making my day better and reminding me that we really can be happy no matter our situation. I know that you are serving an incredibly important mission, and that many people are better because you have touched their lives. You and your family are all in my prayers and I'm wishing you the best. Stay Strong and Rock On Gates :)

    -Becca H.