Legacies define the way in which we’ll be remembered.
Every so often, I’m fortunate enough to meet someone whose charisma, spirit and passion for the game and life itself leave a lasting impression on those around them.
I met one such player for the first time three years ago. As I walked onto the diamond at The Out-of-Door Academy, I watched Taylor Emmons interact with his teammates. And when he learned he had been selected as the East County Observer’s Athlete of the Week, he truly was touched.
But throughout the interview, Taylor made it a point to always revert back to his teammates, noting it was because of them that he had found success on the mound.
It was in that interview and those that followed in the weeks to come, as the Thunder made its regional playoff run, that I realized Taylor had a unique gift. He was more than a player or a teammate or a high school student — he was an inspiration.
He had already created a legacy for himself — he just didn’t know it at the time.
Eight months later, I received a call that Taylor had been killed in an accident while attending the University of Miami. I was shocked and grieved for the ODA family, but even then, I knew it was only a matter of time before Taylor’s spirit and passion for helping others resurfaced.
It didn’t take long.
In the months following the accident, the Emmons family and ODA created the Taylor Emmons Scholarship Fund, which provides annual scholarships to socio-economically diverse students, allowing them to attend ODA’s Upper School, in his honor.
Since then, the fund has received more than $150,000 in donations.
This past summer, the fund handed out its first scholarship and a second recipient will be awarded for the upcoming school year.
This weekend, family and friends will raise money for Taylor’s fund while enjoying two of Taylor’s favorite activities — golf and poker — on the weekend of his 21st birthday.
And, although he may not be there trying to notch a birdie on the 365-yard No. 5 of King’s Dunes or winning his parents’ money in one hand of poker, Taylor most certainly will be there in spirit, reminding everyone that life isn’t about a series accomplishments and accolades.
It’s about the people you touch and the legacy you leave behind.
IF YOU GO
Charity Golf Classic
WHEN: 10:30 a.m. Jan. 28 (registration and box lunch); noon (shotgun start)
WHERE: King’s Dunes Golf Course at the Lakewood Ranch Golf & Country Club, 7650 Legacy Blvd.
COST: $150 per individual player or $125 per player when registering a foursome; a buffet dinner will be provided to all golfers
WHEN: 6 p.m. Jan. 28 (buffet); 7 p.m. (Ante Up)
WHERE: The Lake Club, 8307 Lake Club Blvd., Lakewood Ranch
COST: $125 per player; $50 for those not playing in the tournament but who wish to attend the dinner buffet