Slade Russo was a handsome, talented, passionate 13-year-old boy. Scott Dorsett is a handsome, talented, passionate 58-year-old man. I didn’t know Slade personally and Scott is one of my closest friends. Both have, and are, changing lives.

Unless any one of us has been through the anguish of losing a child, we can’t possibly know what it’s like. I know I can’t. Matter of fact, the mere thought of my 12-year-old experiencing any sort of pain is almost unbearable. To imagine any sort of tragedy, unfathomable. I’m reminded of the often cited truism that we don’t actually know how strong we are until being strong is the only choice we have. I’m guessing there isn’t a stronger set of parents out there than the Russo’s yet it’s hard to grasp just how much strength is needed to withstand the loss of a child – of Slade.

The ‘I Play for Slade’ event stands alone as one that celebrates the life of a young boy by bringing other young boys to do the celebrating. It was just two years ago that Slade was set to play in a similar kind of tournament, but due to rain, was canceled. It was a day later, on a sunny Sunday, that Slade lost his life in a terrible ATV accident. Oh if it had only rained on Sunday …

Last August, on a hot humid Wednesday night, Scott Dorsett went for his nightly run. At 9 p.m., that run ended when, for reasons we may never know, Scott was hit by a Ford F-150 on a darkened two-lane road. Our natural instinct here was to call Scott to the scene. Since Scott rarely failed to respond to any call, we knew something was wrong when he didn’t. And, we were right. Now, after nearly nine months of a lengthy hospital stay followed by all kinds of intense therapy at a specialized therapy center in Irving, Scott continues his march back to what will be a new, different kind of life.

Starting this evening, the lives of both Slade and Scott will be honored at the I Play for Slade Memorial baseball tournament. Slade will be remembered for the remarkable boy he was and Scott for the extraordinary man he is. Scott covered this event last year and, as a result, captured the emotion and energy of so many who were there to honor Slade. Scott will be there again, but in a role, he, nor any of us, ever thought possible. And, along with Slade’s memory, will be the reason for the emotion and energy this time around.

There will always be a wish that what happened on May 17, 2015 and Aug. 24, 2016 didn’t. And, God’s ways, until we see Him face to face, will always leave us wanting to know more. Here’s what we do know though – God gave Slade Russo to his family and community for 13 years and, because of that, lives have been changed. God has also given Scott Dorsett to his family and community for going on 59 years and even more lives have been changed.

One life was cut short. One life was saved. Both are lives we should never forget and there will be a whole lot of folks this weekend who make sure of that.

I hope you’re one of them.