The Burn: #BestDayEver
SIDNEY - I was going through the breakfast line at the Sidney Elk's Lodge during their monthly breakfast fundraiser on Sunday.
With steam rising through the bright light in the buffet warming station and several Sidney residents enjoying a nice meal before or after church, I loaded up a container with hot eggs, bacon, hash browns and french toast to take home to my fiance, Avery Mika, who was home with our newborn daughter, Olivia.
While packing up a pair of cinnamon rolls for me, Elk's Lodge member and volunteer, Erin Huddleston, asked me, "How are you?"
I instinctively said, "Best day ever."
It's amazing how much an educator can impact your life from when you start school in kindergarten all the way through high school and college. Becky Sager, Jane Holecheck, Mark Yoakam, Tyler Shaw and Bill Wilburn to shout out a few of the educators and advisers who impacted, and continue to impact, my life.
Brent Jeffers was my principal at South Elementary. Back then, kindergarten through third grade were held at both South and North Elementary. Jeffers was the principal from 1991-2016. During his tenure, he served as principal at North and South Elementary, Lorenzo, District 77, and Central Elementary. He received the Distinguished Principal of the Year award from the Region 5 Elementary Principals Association in 2008-09.
Mr. Jeffers was actively involved in the community, serving on various committees and boards. I had the fortunate opportunity to serve on a few of those boards with him when I returned to Sidney in 2019.
He loved God and he loved people. He shared this love with his great sense of humor and upbeat, positive personality.
We lost Mr. Jeffers earlier this year. Despite his battle with ALS, he chose to live everyday as a blessing. It was one morning, while enjoying another breakfast, this time at Dudes Steakhouse in Sidney, when I saw Mr. Jeffers with his wife of 48 years, Patty, and son Jonathon.
I asked him, "Mr. Jeffers, how are you, sir?" His response was a three-word mantra he carried with him each day, "Best Day Ever." Whoa. Here's a man who easily could've had every excuse to be mad and upset with life, but instead chose to live every day of his life as the best day ever.
Back at the Elk's Lodge on Sunday, Erin's reply to me was, "Are you going to carry that on for Mr. Jeffers?"
I bring this up, because my talk with Erin at the Elk's Lodge was the first of two interactions this week about Mr. Jeffers' mantra, "Best Day Ever."
On Tuesday, a friend of 987 The Big Boy, Ed, of Kimball, dropped by the studios in downtown Sidney. He presented me with two packages of muffins (my go-to early morning snack), a gift card to KISST Organics and a new picture frame he found while shopping. Scripted on the wooden picture frame was three words: Best. Day. Ever.
Standing in the front window of the studios, sun shining bright on a western Nebraska morning, Ed told me he instantly thought of me, the station and the story of why I started using "Best Day Ever" on-air. He says there was one morning where he wasn't having the best of days. He was feeling down and just didn't want to deal with life that day. With a tremble in his voice, he said until I heard "best day ever" on the radio.
I imagine the feeling Ed had on that morning, hearing those three words on the radio, was similar to the feeling I had watching Mr. Jeffers ride his wheelchair out of Dudes with "Best Day Ever" strung over the back of the chair. Little did I know that would be my last interaction with one of the best PEOPLE ever.
To answer Erin's question. I would like to carry-on Mr. Jeffers' mantra. I can sure try. We can sure try. Live everyday as the "best day ever," a tribute to a man who impacted so many lives through education, volunteering and driving bus for Sidney schools. And, wouldn't you know it, a tribute to a friend who continues to impact lives today.
To this day, Mr. Jeffers was the only principal to ever give me "in-school suspension." It was deserved. To young to understand the gimmick, I did the "diaper joke" to one of my teachers. Holding my hands together, leaving one finger loose in my palms, I told my teacher, "open the diaper." You can picture why I was immediately sent to Mr. Jeffers' office.
Somehow, even though devastated in I.S.S. and wondering what my punishment at home from mom and dad would be, Mr. Jeffers still made it the....Best Day Ever.