The Kidd here...
I know, I know... things have been incredibly busy, and you've been incredibly patient wanting to know whether or not you were one of the 10 whose personal tales of what makes each new day worth the fight got me in the right place to wind up with a Combo Pack of THE GREY. There's no excuse for me not getting around to this sooner, so I won't try to make one nor will I waste any more of your time with stories of what I've been doing in the meantime or of what's been keeping me from finally make 10 hard decisions.
Here are your winners:
- Mark Athridge
Simply put, for the better part of my late twenties and early thirties, I was a fuck up. I had moved to New York to pursue my dream of acting and writing in the big city. It was all going well for awhile, but I became too enamored with big city life and, suddenly, partying and drinking until the late hours became my only priority.
Naturally, this led to my eventual collapse and having to move back to Florida. I felt like a complete failure, a wash up. I didn't feel like i deserved much of anything because of how I had completely fucked my life over by drinking away my late twenties/early thirties. I found myself on the wrong end of 32 with no college degree, I couldn't have a relationship which lasted over six months, and my drinking eventually led to a DUI.
Then, i met my fiance.
Ironically enough, she was once my boss at a restaurant I used to work at in NYC. There was no real connection then (save a mutual love of the Boston Red Sox) but we reconnected once I moved back over Facebook and became friends. In July of last year we met up to talk. I was in the midst of recompence for my DUI and she lended a friendly and helpful ear. We began a relationship which involved (involves) a lot of driving on our end (I live in Orlando, she's in Sarasota), but we make it work week after week. A few months later, we got engaged and are in the process of planning an amazing wedding. She's my rock and my true north compass, inspiring me to go back to school and tie in my passion with a possible career. She makes me feel like I can get back the drive and passion I once thrived on, and, at the risk of sounding melodramatic, she's saved me. Day after day she makes me want to be a better man and look for a cause beyond myself. I would fight through anything if it meant she were waiting for me at the finish line.
- Gavin Bechtold
Each year, I take the day of my birthday off of work and go to see a movie by myself. This year I went to see The Grey.
I sat there in the dark, one of only about five or six people in the theater, and settled in to this movie, expecting to see 90 minutes of Liam Neeson ass-kickery akin to what I saw in Taken. I was surprised, though, by what turned out to be an existential exploration of mortality. When I walked out of that theater, I had a head full of thoughts about what my life is worth, what makes my life worth living, and what is worth fighting for.
A few years ago, I would have given a completely different answer than the one I'm writing about today. I was living the life of a single guy, drinking my weekends away, spending my time playing video games and watching movies. This year, though, I thought only of my wife and son, who was about a year old at the time of the release of The Grey. I was very emotional as I drove home to my quiet house that afternoon, replaying the events that had unfolded as I watched that movie. I thought about the cold of their winter, and their trek through the snow, and what each man was fighting for. And what I would fight for.
And, again, my thoughts drifted back to my wife and son. My wife had suffered through a very difficult pregnancy, with complications all throughout, including horrible vomiting and kidney stones. Her labor was as difficult as the pregnancy, ultimately ending up with an infection, an emergency c-section delivery and my son being carted off to the NICU (natal intensive care unit). I sat with him, watching the nurses work on his tiny, minute-old body, trying to find a vein where they could insert the needle for a tiny IV for them to run (they ultimately had to run a line into a vein in his head). And I watched him fight. He fought as soon as he came into the world, and he put up with more shit in the first few days of his life than many people do for their first years.
While my son fought, my wife was fighting the complications that had set in, serious issues with her blood pressure and liver function, issues that are frequently fatal.
She fought, and my son fought, and I could only sit by and watch. They made it through, because they are both full of fight, and they are happy and thriving today because they continue to fight, every day.
This is what I thought about as I drove home after seeing The Grey. And I realized that they are what's worth fighting for. I'd fight through the snow of a wolf-riddled tundra if it meant being able to see them again.
I realize there are lots of men out there who have it tougher than I do; soldiers in the sands thousands of miles from home, men who are out of work and struggling to keep their families fed. I'm sure you'll get many submissions with similar types of stories, lots of people saying their loved ones are worth fighting for. And it'll be true for each and every one one of them. I just hope I'm lucky enough to have my name drawn so, when he's old enough, I can sit down with my son, share this movie with him, and ask him what he would fight for.
- Steven Chambers
There is no question that if I crash landed in the middle of the Alaskan wilds, what would keep me going in Rebecca Lynn Larsen. That is my fiance, and after a few years of me gaining about 30 pounds since we first met and the fact I bring in way less money then she eventually will, she still said yes to me when I asked her to marry me. On top of that she knows the words to about 80% of Bob Dylan's catalog and when we first met we realized we both had tattoos referencing the band Black Heart Procession. She is the kindest person I've ever met and is always making sure that everyone is taken care of (So it makes sense she is in nursing school) She is the only girl my Mom ever approved o, she teaches me not to be rude when i am about to and keep my temper in check and to not waste my anger on shit that isn't worth getting mad about. She knows how to cook and can make great Bacon Pancakes (hence the above mention weight gain). She loves dogs as much if not more then I do. She is kind of my life mate. I'd kill 1,000 wolves with my bare hands in order to taste those Bacon pancakes one last time.
She also managed to meet Tom Waits and get his autograph while he was shopping for hair care products for his wife. And she has a great pair of breasts.
- Ben Dale
My reason is Karen. I am marrying her this Sunday, May 20th. Karen and I met 3 years ago on July 1st. We were friends for exactly 6 months, until a New Years Eve party. I chickened out kissing her at midnight, so I just awkwardly hugged her. Three hours later I was drunk, in the bathroom of the bar talking to myself in the mirror. "Just walk up to her, take her in your arms, and kiss her," I told myself.I had been wanting to kiss her for a while, but for a long time wanted to spare her the mess that was my life. I had just gotten out of a messy break up and moved to Brooklyn. It had been one of those break ups of endless fighting where you end it questioning your own worth and your place in the world. I had even had dreams about kissing Karen. As I moved in to kiss her, she would pull away in horror. "We're only friends, but now you've ruined everything," Karen had told me in one particularly vivid dream I had while I slept on her couch after a party. After it my new circle of Brooklyn friends all laughed at me and I woke up in a cold sweat just to see the her walking around her apartment cleaning up.Now it was 3 hours into the New Year and I was sick of rejecting myself. I walked out of the bathroom and she was standing alone near the bar. I walked over to her and didn't say a world, softly grabbed her waist and kissed her. It was great but brief. I pulled back and looked into her eyes to see if I had "ruined everything."She looked back at me and said "It's about time!"It really was. Now we're getting married and I can honestly say I've never felt better in my entire life. Karen's always there with positive energy. She is a silly girl who likes to dance when she does the dishes. She loves Doctor Who and Spider-man. We play Minecraft together. She has encouraged me to pursue my dreams of being a comic artist, supported me as I've done it and at the end of the summer I will be finishing my first graphic novel. She's not scared of the financial uncertainty of a career like that. She doesn't just make me happy, she supports me making myself happy.She gave me the greatest gift of all. She showed me I could believe in me, and now I know I can do anything. And anything is what I will do for her for the rest of our lives.
- Chris Drew
In February, my 1-year-old daughter was diagnosed with Autosomal Recessive Polycystic Kidney Disease (ARPKD). (Don't worry if you've never heard of it. I hadn't until February.) In a nutshell, this means that she has a genetic mutation that causes her kidney and liver cells to slowly convert from healthy, functioning cells to non-functioning cysts over the first decade of her life. By adolescence (at the latest), her kidneys will stop functioning and she'll need a transplant. Liver shutdown is slower, but could require a transplant by early adulthood. When my wife and I received the diagnosis, it's not a stretch to say that I felt a bit like Ottway at the beginning of The Grey. Life had given me something wonderful, only to slowly take it away while I watched helplessly.
As we began a long string of medical consultations, we eventually made contact with a doctor at Children's Hospital of Wisconsin, who just happened to be the leading expert on ARPKD in the entire world. We made an appointment for our daughter in his monthly PKD clinic, and met with him in early April. He went through the whole rigamarole with us, examined our daughter, and said that she should be healthy for at least five or six more years before her condition begins to worsen. Okay, we thought. We've got some time before things get crazy and awful.
And if that had been the extent of what we found out, I would have left feeling a little better than I did going in. But then the doctor got around to telling us about the clinical trials he’s been working on. When he started explaining things with, “You should really stop reading information about this condition on the internet and in journals, because it’s all going to be irrelevant in a couple of years,” he got our attention. In a nutshell, he has developed a PKD treatment which has already been conducted for several years in animals and is just starting trials in human adults. This treatment has effectively stopped the growth of liver and kidney cysts in the clinical trials. (And he wasn’t much interested in qualifying that statement. In my experience, doctors tend to use the words “maybe,” “might,” and “could” a lot when discussing treatment possibilities that are uncertain. There wasn't any of this. In fact, he used the phrase “virtual certainty” at least once.) His hope is to have this treatment available in 2-3 years. When the treatment begins, my daughter's liver and kidneys will stop forming cysts and begin forming healthy cells. Basically, the condition would stop progressing entirely, as if a genetic reset button had been hit. The original cysts wouldn’t go away, but since she would begin this treatment around age five or six, as her kidneys and liver continued to grow, the ratio of bad cells to good would shift dramatically toward the good. By the time she reached adulthood, not only would symptoms not worsen, but they would actually decrease. As the doctor put it, “After she’s been on the therapy for a couple of years, you could sit her on a bench with five other healthy kids, and I wouldn’t be able to tell the difference.” No kidney transplant, no liver transplant. Wow.
Because this treatment is coming, my wife and I are starting to let ourselves believe that our job as parents now, our fight, is to keep her kidneys and liver as healthy as we can for as long as we can, so that when the time comes to hand things off to this new treatment, we’re handing off fairly healthy organs that will only get healthier. Now, I’m Midwestern enough not to accept any of this as a certainty, even with uncharacteristically confident doctors. There’s many a slip ‘twixt the cup and the lip, after all. The idea that this treatment has to be approved by the government before our daughter can receive it, for example, is kind of terrifying. And certainly, there’s no guarantee that there won’t be complications, side effects, etc. Still, compared to where we were before, I’m having a hard time processing just how amazing this development is. I told my wife (a fellow geek) when we received the original, grim diagnosis that I wish current medicine was like that scene in Star Trek IV with the old lady on the hospital gurney. Dr. McCoy asks her what’s wrong, and when she replies “dialysis,” he gives her a pill. Later, we see her being rolled down the hall, shouting “Doctor gave me a pill and grew a new kidney!” Now it looks like, in a few years, the doctor might give our daughter a pill (or a few pills, everyday), and she’ll grow new kidney (cells) to take over for the old, broken stuff. For her to have been born twenty minutes from where this is happening, just a few years before it happens, in time to get her treated before serious complications begin…well, I think that’s kind of miraculous.
And more importantly, it's worth fighting for. Fighting apathetic doctors to keep our daughter healthy. Fighting infections, sicknesses, and other conditions that could accelerate cyst formation. Fighting to keep my focus on my daughter, her appointments, her medications, at the cost of anything else. Fighting to stay healthy and active so that I can promise her I'll be there to see her to the finish line of this treatment, even if it's late in arriving. Fighting to keep myself from sinking into depression over the whole fucked-up situation. Fighting to make sure our daughter lives a perfectly normal life before, during, and after this therapy arrives, making sure she never sees herself as sick or weak. In other words, teaching her to fight, too. Every single day. If this is the last good fight I'll ever know, that's fine by me. Bring it on.
- Jason Ferris
What be worth getting back to?
Two words....my kids.
Yeah yeah there's probably 100 entries that say that.
I have 3 of them. They'll be 8 in November. Yes. All of them. Triplets. Yup. Hands Full.
Chloe's my Tomboy. She's tough and has little interest in anything pink or princess like. She loves horses and legos and playing Minecraft. She loves digging in the dirt and finding bugs to freak mom out and Transformers. Her room features a huge wall sized mural of galloping horses. She's my feral little warrior girl.
Gwynne's my Princess. She's everything that Chloe is not. The two of them are as polar opposite in every possible way. Where Chloe's hair is straight, Gwynne's hair is curly. Where Chloe likes Hot Wheels, Gwynne likes dolls. Gwynne is all about everything pink. She's the princess in the tower and the family fashionista. She loves to sing country at the top of her lungs in our car and bats her eyelashes when asking daddy for something she wants.
Connor's my boy. He's got a special super power and should be technically classified as a super hero. I'm thinking of sending him to Xavier's school. He has Cerebral Palsy and although he's 8 he's developmentally about a 9 month old. Yet he has this ability to make ANYONE...and I do mean anyone smile. He just has that aura. No matter how bad of a day I've had when I see him when I get home in the evening, it all melts away. When you see him you cant help but smile.
So I have 3 VERY important reasons I'd fight to get back to them. I'd even duct tape glass to my fists if I had to.
- Ben Jones
If I was stranded in the middle of nowhere and had to pick something to try and get back to, the first thing that popped into my mind would be my 11 year old daughter. I was raised by a single mother and, all the time I was growing up, I probably spent, literally, a grand total of 24 hours with my father. As such, when I found out that my ex-wife was pregnant with our daughter was pregnant back in 2000, I was happy but a part of me was so scared because I didn’t want to be the father that my father was. Once she arrived, though, I was determined to be the best father that I could be and to break that cycle that my father had started.
I got divorced in 2005 and, at first, the custody arrangements were okay; we split the time 50/50. That all changed when I got a new woman (my current wife) in my life. Once that happened my ex-wife took me to court and it’s now set up where I only get to see my daughter every other weekend. I fought so hard in court just to get things back to the way that they had been but my appeal fell on deaf ears. That hurt me so much and the first time that I dropped her back off at her mother’s house after the new custody arrangements I cried all the way home. My daughter means everything to me; she’s the only child I’ll ever have and she’s the greatest work of art (I’m a writer) that I can ever hope to produce.
My daughter Kennedy is definitely worth the fight to get back to.
- David Kracov
Well, here is my story. What's worth the fight? Simply put, my life.
On July 17, 1987 I was involved in an accident and had both legs severed below the knees. I was home for the summer after finishing my Freshman year at Rhode Island School Of Design. I took a summer job with a landscaping company. It was my first day on the job. When we arrived to the location of a farm property where the owner had sold the land to develop homes, my job was to walk with a barrel and load the tall grass that was being cut down by four people using bush whackers. A bush whacker is similar to a weed whacker, but much larger, and instead of plastic twine, there is a 24" circular blade on the end. From what was explained to me, one of the workers was not paying attention to where he was walking and walked into me. He ended up swinging the bush whacker into me seven times, not realizing I was there. Since we were all wearing mufflers on our ears, the machines sounded the same from ten feet or 100 feet away, so I never heard him behind me.I instantly felt cold, but no pain, when I turned around to see what had happened I saw the kid covered in blood and screaming. My first thought was he hurt himself, so I turned around to help him, and that's when I fell to the ground and saw my legs were no longer attached. There were a total of eleven workers on the scene and everyone told the exact same story that I tore off my shirt and created a tourniquet on my legs. I don't remember doing this, but everyone there, including the police who arrived within ten minutes of the accident, said they saw me make the tourniquet.
Within 20 minutes the EMT had arrived, put my legs on ice, and rushed me to the nearest hospital. I had already lost 5 pints of blood and could hear the doctors tell the police in the hospital to guard the door to the emergency room to keep my parents out when they arrived because they didn't think I was going to make it. The fact that the blades burned my legs as they were cut caused the areas to be cauterized, which the doctors told me helped save me from losing all my blood.
I remember my mother showing up with my sister and three police being unable to keep her from getting into the room. My mother is 5' 1" and Jewish, so 'nuff said.
After 19 hours of surgery, both legs were reattached. I spent one year learning how to walk again, and another four years of reconstructive surgeries. I attached a photo taken of me one year later, after my third surgery. I never allowed people to take photos of me after the accident
In two months it will mark my 25th anniversary of the accident, and I have already run 3 full marathons (Los Angeles), and 18 half-marathons. I hike 10 miles a day with my dogs, and push my 13 year old bulldog in a jogger straight up Mulholland Drive for 3 1/2 of the 10 miles, and carry my basset hound two miles up Runyon Canyon. I do this seven days a week.
- Vito Luis Ramos
What's worth the fight for me is my Mother having peace of mind. Peace of mind that she can afford rent and groceries without struggling, that she can take the road trips she's always wanted, visit France, have her own little bakery in a warm location and know that she is going to be all right, no matter what I will be providing for her. And it's cost me. It's cost me two relationships and being neck high debt, but I'm getting there regardless.
You see 3 years ago, I was a waiter, at work and daydreaming of the films I want to make and the stories I want to tell. I'm talkative, and it just so happens I was talking around the right customers. When they heard me discussing my plans to apply for film school with a work mate and how I was applying for the New York Film Academy, they called me over to the table and asked if I would like to just skip that and apply for a job working for a small time but upcoming producer they know. The answer was yes, and quickly got to writing an honest resume for my would be boss. Things aren't always THAT easy....and I got the response I expected, none at all. So my hope faded a little but I kept plugging away at writing, and applying for grants and scholarships wherever I could. Now for most people it might have been a bit more simple, but I was a D average student in High School. The only classes I ever got an A in were Film Studies, and Drama. That didn't amount to much of a grade point average. Something that comes back to bite you when applying for Colleges.
See, the plan I had in my head was simple, apply for film school, go to film school, make things that are amazing, become a world class director, spoil my Mother and two sisters for the rest of my life. Things dont work that way......but maybe they do? About a month after applying for that job I mentioned, I wrote a letter to the producer explaining that I understood completely WHY she would never respond to a resume where the guy has NO experience whatsoever with anything film related. Shit, I mean....look at it. Resume: "Stone Mason, Carpenter, Front Desk, Concierge, Waiter". Who the hell wants to hire someone like that in this business? I didn't blame her, but I did ask her to kindly attend one of my film open houses once I make my first student film. The week before, I had received a letter from the New York Film Academy that I had not only been accepted, but I won their biggest grant, something bestowed upon a select few who wrote a compelling enough letter and had the financial status to qualify. I was ready to go!
I got a reply back....meet her at her office in NY for an interview. I was there in a heart beat, and the next day I was hired as an intern, and quickly moved up to being a personal assistant, and having the absolute honor of being a PA on TV shows such as "Brick City" and "American Masters." The other PA's I noticed would complain and make a fuss over being asked to do "menial" tasks (such as escort the amazingly humble Malcolm Gladwell up to the right floor). I could see that I was the right man for any of the jobs, because in my mind this is where I want to be, no matter what. If I'm the coffee guy on a film set for now, so be it, and be it gladly because this is like a dream, this is those first few steps in the direction I have always wanted to steer into, but never had the traction.
Ultimately, I want to progress in any and all ways possible, and prove to myself that the fight was worth it. I've lost friends moving to the city, I've lost the girlfriends because of refusing to leave, refusing to give up even when it gets rough going. And it is rough going, making 10-12 dollars an hour depending on the week, having to deal with the ridiculous subway prices, groceries, credit debt, the list goes on. But my attitude has been that of Rambo from Rambo 3. After rescuing the Colonel, Rambo is faced with army of tanks, helicopters and soldiers, all coming barreling down on the two of them. The colonel turns to Rambo and says "What do we do now?" Rambo stares straight ahead, lifts his gun and says, "Fuck 'em".
I fight on because Fuck em. You dont think I can make it? Fuck em. You don't think it's possible? Fuck em. They said it'll never happen....Fuck em. I will wake up knowing it was all worth it, worth every second of the fight to get here. See you on the other side and.......
- Marco Tanzi
Although there’s a myriad of reasons that are running through my mind as I’m writing this, the single reason or person that comes to my mind is my beloved father.You see I’ve lived in his shadows all my life (not necessarily a bad thing in my case). He’s a family man, lived through WWII, is loved by all, strong as a bull and has always been there for family and me. To me, my father is the strongest influence in my life, growing up he taught me how to be a “real man” so to speak,---always earn peoples respect, give respect, never cry, stand strong, seize the moment and face the tough challenges ahead!In a way he reminds me of Ottway from The Grey. All my life I’ve been proving myself to him as a man of worth. I think I’ve done a good job so far, but my work is far from over in his eyes --he’s my rock, the person who I live for, love and will continue to love after he passes.Recently my respect and love for my father has grown even more if that’s possible. He’s in the twilight of his life, 80 years old, is a diabetic, an open heart surgery survivor (sixtuple bypass to be exact), has kidney disease and also lost his leg last summer at the age of 79. He struggles every day, but never complains, he does his rehab every day and never complains, doesn’t want the assistance of anybody and absolutely hates it when the wheelchair comes out. I know in my heart he will fight to survive until his last breathe. So who am I to just GIVE UP!!!It’s his DNA that’s in me as well, I would do anything to fight to see him one last time. ANYTHING! My first reason obviously is to be there for him since he was there for my whole life. Secondly (and this might be a selfish one) is to show him that I’m just as strong and worthy as he is and have just as much fight in me as well.As I’m getting older myself (the big 4-0 next year) I’m realizing that life is soo precious, all we have are each other, in my case family is what makes me tick. Father and son relationships are so intense and can be complex at times, but my father has given me the greatest gift….he believes in me and who am I to let him down.
That's it. That's your ten.
Some of you shared some really incredible stories with me. Keep fighting the good fight, and thanks for participating.
Congrats to the winners, and thanks again to Universal Studios Home Entertainment for this opportunity.
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