Last Friday we had the great pleasure of watching Casmir Thornberry leave the hospital for just a few hours to give his long-awaited commencement speech as the senior class president at Dixie Heights High School. Three members of our Transport Team accompanied him to the graduation ceremony – which he thought he was going to miss because he was in the hospital – but dozens more employees had a part in helping make his big night a reality. With so many people knowing how special this speech was to Casmir, we all wondered just what exactly was he going to say to his fellow senior classmates that he had been working on for so long?
So we asked him. And what he shared with us was a message that was perfected for his class, but words that everyone should hear:
“As your senior class president, I am one voice representing all student voices including: fantastic singers, literal magicians, dancers, and trombone players. I am also the voice tonight for the students with part-time jobs every day after school. Students that aren’t part of an academic or athletic elite…”
The speech was years in the making. Casmir spent his youth getting to know each of his classmates. He spent senior year perfecting his speech. He stood in front of all 350 of his closest friends, one last time, and reminded the Class of 2015 that they did have a voice.
“This is a call to action for all types of leadership within our class. All too often you may feel as if your voice or opinion doesn’t matter or is not valued. The easiest way to solve this problem is to speak up. Make your voice heard!”
Casmir was in the hospital because his left lung spontaneously collapsed and he needed surgery to repair it. HIs hospital stay was longer than he hoped. Casmir missed his friends, he missed out on participating in his end-of-year senior class activities, and it looked like he was going to miss graduation, too.
“You are more than a photo-op or a standardized test score. You deserve to be listened to and your advice, as students and as members of society, must be taken into account. Whether you are the class valedictorian, class president, class clown, or you simply feel alone… You. Matter.”
But his care team recognized how much the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity mattered to him, his family and his school community. So, with three volunteers from the Transport Team by his side, Casmir crossed the stage last Friday evening, stood at the podium and delivered.
“You see, my friends, what you were or were not recognized for the past four years does not define you. Whether you won or lost, whether you passed or failed, whether you were accepted or rejected – it is you that defines your future, and who you truly are… Each of you is in charge of your own destiny.”
Exactly one week later, yesterday afternoon, Casmir was released from Cincinnati Children’s care to go home – ready to take charge of his destiny again and follow his dreams with his classmates.
“Find those worthy dreams, as so many of you already have, Class of 2015, and chase them… Join me in moving your tassel from right to left to signify that we are now high school graduates and to symbolize the beginning of our new journey.”
Hats off to you, Casmir! We hope you continue to make your unique voice heard on life’s next journey, just as you so eloquently encouraged your fellow classmates and all of us to do.
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