Count me among those who were moved by Everett McKinney’s speech to the crowd during halftime of Friday night’s Yuma Catholic High School football game.

And not just by what he had to say.

I photographed an emotional Everett as he struggled, at times, to speak that night. Then I photographed him as he started his slow exit from the field.

Finally, I put my camera down, shook his hand and gave him a hug. It was then that this courageous young man’s message became painfully clear, when I realized that all there was underneath that loose fitting T-shirt was a thin, frail frame, a stark contrast from the athletic football star I watched two years earlier. With partially amputated fingers also a reminder of Everett’s battle to stay alive, I fully understood the scope of what he had been through.

And I thought to myself, I only hope I can be a fraction as strong if I ever have to face a dilemma such as what Everett McKinney has been through.

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