June 25, 2023

A tribute to Richard Hopkins #CancerSucks

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This world lost another good soul to cancer. My dear friend Richard Hopkins heard the dreaded diagnosis in late January then left us just 3 months later. He was 60, but brought the energy and enthusiasm of a 16 yro and wisdom of a 116 yro to everything he touched. The consummate project manager, he planned his celebration of life, but underestimated attendees. He anticipated 50, maybe 75 people would come out. Last week over 175 turned out and many more wanted to be there.

I met Richard in 2003. We were both volunteers at the Jimmy V Celebrity Golf Classic. In the span of 20 years the golf tournament raised over $13 million for The V Foundation for Cancer Research. While numerous celebrities from Charles Barkley, Michael Jordan, Arnold Palmer, Dick Vitale, Coach K, Kevin Costner and an array of other sports and entertainment greats (Meatloaf!) brought the star power, the sponsors brought the donations. Richard and I were a member of the sponsor host team. Prepping and catering to sponsors was a lot of work - for good cause, but a lot of fun - the whole event was brimming with positive vibes. Richard was a natural fit. 

Over the years the regulars formed a tight knit group. We closed the winter holiday season with our annual White Elephant Potluck party hosted at his house a couple weeks before he started having health issues. 

That's the way Richard was - always in the middle, beaming with positive energy. Few people's words are backed so strongly by their actions and deeds as Richard. The man was genuine. He walked is walk.

The V Foundation and golf tournament combined Richard's love for NC State, passion for sports and drive to serve (though several years Richard was responsible for driving the Hooters girls around the golf course - that may have been a factor! it was certainly one volunteer duty he didn't want to shed).

The V Foundation awarded many cancer research grants in honor of notable people involved in the cause. They began extending this honor to one standout volunteer each year. Richard received that honor in 2010. On that occasion 13 years ago he put that love, passion and drive of his into a poem he wrote and read at the annual Jimmy V Volunteer party. It was his tribute to Jim Valvano. 

At Richard's celebration of life Terry Grayson spoke about his V work and I had the honor of sharing his poem. As a tribute to Richard, I'd like to share it again... 

They Said He Couldn’t Win 
Marching onto the court as he strode through life
Passionate about hoops, his team, his daughters and wife 
Learning all that he could and talking non-stop! 
Unafraid of a challenge, always taking the last shot 

But, they said he couldn’t win 
“When Elephants drive” and if ever “Pigs fly” 
The critics cried out, but Coach V knew why 
They wrote with fervor, “They don’t have a chance!” 
But "The Pack" played with HEART, straight through the ‘Big Dance‘ 

But, they said he couldn’t win
Not Jordan, not Sampson, not Hakeem ‘The Dream’, 
Could restrain the Essence and Will of his team 
Plotting X’s and O’s, “Don’t Give Up!” his cry 
As the last shot went up, those Elephants drove by! 

But, they said he couldn’t win 
His legend grew on his spirit of hope 
Climbing each mountain, riding each slope 
He instilled his drive and his will to win 
He made us ALL champions, especially within! 

But, they said he couldn’t win 
Cancer, his foe, it would be the game of his life 
Fearless he fought, playing hard and with might 
Refusing to quit, our Coach showed great courage 
With his mind, heart, and soul, never discouraged 

They said he wouldn't win 
Though life called ‘timeout’, he gave us his all 
He fought the good fight and always stood tall, 
Living each moment with a focused determination 
God bless Coach V, you’re one in a million! 

They said he wouldn't live 
His legacy lives on, touching the souls of many 
We carry the sword in his loving memory 
From top to bottom of each volunteer’s heart 
We know we’ll succeed, Coach V did his part! 

They said we wouldn’t win 
He gave us all hope and the will to fight 
For again be the day when “Pigs will take flight” 
We continue to battle, our feet dug in the sand 
V is for Victory, and Cancer’s defeat is at hand! 

Richard C. Hopkins Jr

Rest in peace my dear friend.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I’m so sad to learn about Richard’s passing. He was such a kind man. I wish I would have known about his diagnosis. This is heartbreaking.