2017: Sunrise

Ray’s birthday was coming up. But he wouldn’t be there. Just a few months after he had passed away, our family was facing one of its first big landmarks without the man who loved big, shared freely, and taught us that wisdom and kindness are inherently intertwined. Landmarks have a way of bringing out the bitterness of loss. But Ray had a way of bringing out the brightness within us. 

He still does.

On the morning of August 18, 2017 – that fateful landmark – we got up and set out to transform our grief into action. We had a mind to make the day stand for something greater, to put something positive into the world. We were so excited. We were motivated. We were new at this.

We hadn’t planned every stop. But the sun kept shining so we kept going. Each passing hour, every action, and all the people we met along the way began to reshape a painful reminder, a landmark, into something truly dear – a legacy.

While many were touched that day, we came home brimming with gratitude. For community. For hope. And for a chance to be Ray for a day. Whether we knew it then or realized it over time, this would be the first annual RayDay – and August 18th would always stand for something bright.