Who do you see when you look in the mirror? Do you just see
yourself, or do you see all of the people who have helped you become you?
As Kevin Brown told the Destinations International audience
on Thursday, July 15, during the Closing Session, our lives “are decorated by
the people that have helped you become you.”
He spoke about once being asked to deliver a speech on what
it means to be a hero, which he didn’t have, and had three months to prepare.
As a result, one question has dominated his life: what does a hero look like?
Brown said he’s heard every answer imaginable, from veterans and first
responders to sports stars.
But he concluded that “heroes are extraordinary people who
choose not to be ordinary.”
Over the course of his presentation, the audience heard
stories about Brown’s son, Josh. Diagnosed with autism at an early age, Brown
and his wife were told to lower their expectations for their son. As Brown sat
and had a small pity party for himself, he and his wife decided right then and
there that together they would rewrite their son’s story.
They had been told that Josh would graduate from high school
with a special needs diploma. Instead, he graduated with honors, and proceeded
to be the first in his family to graduate college, something his father did not
At age seven, Brown explained that Josh became obsessed with
Walt Disney World. A few years later, the family planned a trip to the theme
park. Arriving in Orlando with a spreadsheet to map out their trip, they headed
to breakfast at the hotel.
What would be a routine meal for anyone else ended up being
anything but for Josh. After the family was seated, his mother explained to the
waitress that Josh had some dietary restrictions. The waitress immediately
stopped the conversation and said that the chef would be out to speak with
The chef, Bea, then came out to the table, spoke with the
family, and learned that Josh’s favorite was apple pancakes, but unfortunately
the restaurant did not have the ingredients, so the chef, who Josh immediately
took a liking to, offered the little boy bacon and eggs, and he was thrilled.
The next morning, Josh wanted to go see “Aunt Bea.” Again,
the server had the chef come out, and Bea asked Josh what he wanted for
breakfast, and he again asked for apple pancakes, and she said coming right up.
Brown was shocked and asked how it was possible to fulfill
his son’s request. Bea simply explained that she stopped at the grocery store
on her way home to pick up the ingredients for the pancakes.
What started as a simple meal had led to a life-long
friendship. Josh and Bea kept in touch, and upon graduation, his parents asked
him what he wanted to do, and he said “go see Aunt Bea.”
So off the family went, and during their reunion, they
learned just how much meeting Josh impacted Bea. She explained that after
meeting Josh, she then began learning about how the importance of nutrition and
special diets, and that the restaurant now had a special needs diet.
“One moment in time can change everything,” said Brown.
For the Brown family, that meant moving to Orlando in July
2019, after Josh graduated college, so that he could be closer to Aunt Bea.
But Josh was not the only family member to rewrite his
Brown spoke of his own personal experiences as a troubled
teenager, and how he was given a chance to change his story and turn his life
around by an individual that became a second father to him.
As we may think about what’s next in our lives, Brown asked,
“do you see the faces of the people who made you better? If you can see those
faces, thank one of them before you can’t.”
And, to counter that question, “who looks in the mirror and
sees your face? Who is better because you smiled at them?” ■