Something that means so much to me, more than my dad even knows, is this picture of me with my grandma. It was taken when I was a few hours old. It hangs above our TV in our living room. It’s the only photo our family has of the two of us. Grandma died of pancreatic cancer not long after I was born. Seven years later, the same disease also took my “Papa,” my grandpa. My dad told me when I was younger that, “If our house was burning down and I could grab only one thing in our house, it would be that picture.”
After my grandpa’s death, our family attended his memorial at Turkey Creek Golf Course in Lincoln. Some of our friends and family suggested that we get together every year to remember him, and Grandma. Sure enough, we did. And have continued to do so, by hosting a golf tournament in their honor while raising awareness and funds for the Hirshberg Foundation for Pancreatic Cancer Research.
Every year, the Dal Bon Memorial tournament is one of my favorite days because all my family and friends come and support a great cause, and best of all enjoy the day together. This year, the ninth annual, is going to be one of the most special tournaments, because I am taking on the organization of the tournament as my senior project. It’s not every day that I get to see all of my family, so I take in every moment of it. It would be even better this year to see members of our community out there golfing next Sunday, not only supporting me and my family, but also supporting a good cause.
According to the Hirshberg Foundation, in 2017, an estimated 53,670 Americans will be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in the U.S., and over 43,090 will die. It is the third-leading cause of cancer-related death in the United States, surpassing breast cancer. It is expected to become the second-leading cause of cancer-related death in the U.S. by the year 2020, surpassing colorectal cancer.
All of our proceeds from our annual tournament go to the Hirshberg Foundation. To date, we have raised close to $43,000.
I didn’t really know either of my grandparents, but I knew my Papa a little more because he was around until I was seven years old. He was such a big sports fan, but all he really got to see me do was bunch up with a bunch of little kids and play recreation league soccer and take my cuts in T-ball. Yet he came to every game and supported me. I can’t even imagine what it would be like to have him watching today. Our football team this year has been putting in so much work this offseason, and really since we were freshmen. It is now our final year as a unit, and a family, to show everyone what the Nevada Union Miners are really made of.
I wish my Papa would’ve seen how much heart and passion I have put in since my first football game four years ago. All those Friday night lights, all those midweek basketball games, and hot, painstakingly long track meets. He would have been my biggest fan, but none of that ever got to come true — and that’s something I think about whenever I step onto the field, court, or track.
I remember going to his house in Granite Bay and jumping off a rock they had on the side of the swimming pool. I also remember celebrating Easter there every year and searching for eggs with all my cousins. It was my favorite place to be.
My relationship with Grandma is a little bit of a different story, because she passed away when I was exactly three months old. So, sadly, I have zero recollection of her. But anytime my dad talks about her, I wish I could have had the chance to truly meet her. Seeing photos of her is weird, because when I look at those beautiful pictures of her all I see is potential and what could’ve been.
My dad told me when I was younger that, “If our house was burning down and I could grab only one thing in our house, it would be that picture.”
It’s the only one in the world of the two of us.
Help fund research that will hopefully someday be able to help families like mine.
*Owen Dal Bon is a Nevada Union High School senior, who looks forward to teeing off in the 2017 Dal Bon Memorial Tournament and to kicking off his final season as quarterback of the Miners football team.