If you haven’t heard about Danny Keefe, you are truly missing out on one of the best stories of 2013. Danny is a remarkable young boy with a speech disorder who wears a suit and tie to kindergarten every day. As the “official water coach” on his town’s pee-wee football team (comprised of fifth graders), Danny is loved by all who know him. After finding out about some recess bullying, Danny’s teammates banded together and made the decision to don their own suits and ties to school to support their teammate and put an end to the bullying.
As we get older, the purity and naiveté that this six-year-old has tends to disappear. Sometimes it takes people like Danny and his football team to remind us how to really be—not only to others, but to ourselves. Here are seven things you as a college-bound student can learn from this amazing story, because going back to the basics is sometimes all we need to succeed.
- Be true to yourself. Hey, if you want to wear a suit and tie to school every day, you do it. College is the best time to reinvent yourself and throw away all of those constraints you put on yourself in high school.
- Surround yourself with good people. Use good instincts and find people your freshman year who will raise you up, not tear you down. The right ones will be there for years to come, and really, if they aren’t willing to stand up for you in a suit and tie, they aren’t worth it.
- Embrace your differences and don’t let them hold you back. Danny has a speech disorder that differentiates him from his classmates, but he doesn’t let that define him. His differences make him who he is: a loveable, kind young boy whom everyone wants to be friends with. Fun fact: we’re all a little weird and quirky. Don’t use your differences or disabilities as a reason to hide from people.
- Be confident. Our confidence seems to drop over the years as we all go through failures, losses, and mistakes. Walk into college with your head held high. You can do this, and you will do it.
- Choose to be happy. Always. The act of being negative takes way too much energy. Danny chooses to be happy because he knows nothing else. Be happy and excited about this new phase of your life. If you are open and welcome to this change, good things will come.
- Don’t take the easy way out. Danny’s friends could have easily either participated in the bullying or just pretended that the bullying never happened. They chose, however, to take a stand and actually do something about it. If you find yourself in a pickle whether it’s something as small as not doing your homework, getting a bad grade, or if you get in a fight with someone, don’t take the easy way out. Take responsibility and do what you can to make it right.
- Look out for the younger crowd. Remember: you’re a freshman now. Next year, you’re out from the bottom of the totem pole. Watch out for the next generation following in your footsteps. Some of them might need you like Danny needed his teammates.