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Blue Ridge Outdoors President Blake DeMaso Delivers Commencement Address at Lees-McRae College

first_imgWith adventure comes failure. It’s natural that if you are taking a risk, you aren’t always going to succeed. The key to failure is to not let it beat you, and most importantly, don’t panic. Take the time to understand what you need to do differently, why that failure occurred, and then get up and try again. DeMaso’s speech focused on finding adventure, which was especially appropriate for Lees-McRae graduates. Life is like that sometimes. Your adventures aren’t always going to be successful. Sometimes, just when you think that everything is going great, you say something dumb and end up with three broken ribs. You have to respect the adventure, have fun, enjoy it, don’t get too cocky, and don’t get too comfortable. Life will throw you a curveball or a pointy rock right when you least expect it, and you are going to have no choice but to not let it defeat you, brush yourself off, and continue on. The diverse curriculum embodies the way that you as graduates and the school have embraced adventure. Classes that cover topics like outdoor recreation management, nursing, and pre-veterinarian are not for the faint of heart. Saving a wild animal’s life, much less a human’s, requires guts. Adventure runs deep at this school and translates into your athletics programs. Both traditional and non-traditional sports are enjoyed at this school. Congratulations to all of you who have participated in any of the sporting programs, and a special congratulations to the softball team for winning the Conference Carolina Championships! “The key to failure is to not let it beat you, “ DeMaso said. “Life will throw you a curveball or a pointy rock right when you least expect it. Take the time to understand what you need to do differently, why that failure occurred, and then get up and try again.” “Adventure isn’t just about doing things like rock climbing, skiing, or hiking,” DeMaso told the graduates. “Life is one big adventure. Adventure is getting that first apartment, first job, or first love.” Honestly, I have not been on a downhill mountain bike again since then, and I can say with confidence that I have no plans for that activity in the future. But what I did learn is to be careful of overconfidence. Life, similar to When I visited Lees-McRae back in early April, I was blown away by the students, staff, and administration. When I first saw the school motto pulling into campus— Well, no I didn’t. “Being bold and putting yourself in uncomfortable and sometimes risky situations is the formula for success. Those calculated risks are what separates the people who are just going through the paces of life from the people who pioneer new businesses, help causes, and change their communities. They influence people and ultimately change the world.” I am sure many of you are ready, excited, and yes, nervous about moving on to your next adventure. You might be ready to put Lees-McRae and Banner Elk in your rearview mirror and move on. I would be willing to bet that almost all of you will later look back on your time here as special and long to be back in the safety of these mountains. Just remember that your adventures began here, and you are well equipped to take what you have learned here and go out into the world and make yourself, your families, and this school, proud. Entering into this relationship is a leap of faith for all parties involved. Figuring out how to navigate life’s adventures together is the key to success. I caution you to never stop taking calculated risks and caring for one another, just as this school has taught you to do with your friends, classmates, and professors. Foster these relationships, but do not get complacent. Keep embarking on those bold and sometimes risky undertakings, but love and So I decided to focus on what I know the best: the outdoors. “Daaaad, don’t you know that the show The Bachelor ruined the word ‘Journey?’” Being bold and putting yourself in uncomfortable and sometimes risky situations is the formula for success. In his speech, DeMaso recounted a downhill mountain bike ride that went horribly wrong; he ended up landing on a ”perfectly placed pointy rock” and breaking three ribs. “The opening of my speech!” In the Mountains, Of the Mountains, For the Mountains—I felt right at home. What other school has a beautiful mountain stream running right through the middle of campus? Those calculated risks are what separates the people who are just going through the paces of life from the people who pioneer new businesses, help causes and change their communities. They influence people and ultimately change the world. adventure, can take a turn at any moment, and you have to be prepared. Careful preparation, concentration, and attention to detail are critical parts of any adventure as well as your lifelong pursuits. There will likely be a point in your life that you choose to change paths and enter into an adventure with a partner. These partners could be mentors, co-workers, business partners, loved ones, or family of your own. Those adventures alongside those partners will change the entire dynamic. You can no longer make decisions independent of anyone else. You are now forced to make decisions that are in the best interest for the group. This is where things get tough. Now, my wife and kids couldn’t be prouder of their dad and the opportunity to give a commencement address to this incredible group of graduates. They jumped at the chance to hear what I had come up with. Two years ago, Lees-McRae won the top adventure school award given to them as voted on by the readers of Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine. With over a half million votes, you guys beat out state universities like West Virginia University, Virginia Tech, and University of Tennessee. You guys were the first small school to ever take the title of Top Adventure School in its 8 year history. The mountains have embraced this community and this school. It’s a safe haven for outdoor adventure, learning, and friendships. These mountains are your protector. They provide an amazing place for learning and growing into adulthood. Most of you will probably leave this safe haven and embark on one of the most important adventures of your life. Take what you have learned here, go out on your own, create the life that you have worked hard for, and know “you got this.” I am not sure about you…but I call that life. As I went around the first turn, the front tire got caught up on a rock, and I went straight over the handlebars, flying down the side of the mountain through the air. In the air, I reflected on how dumb it was to exclaim something like that to my co-workers and how I probably deserved my fate. I landed on my side in the only place there was no body armor on this splendidly chiseled pointy rock that was placed perfectly in my landing zone. It knocked the wind out of me, and as I laid there in the middle of I launched into the opening of the speech, proclaiming with pride, that the title was “The Journey.” I got two sentences in and looked up to expect tears in their eyes, so blown away about the words that I had pieced together. As I looked over them, I was taken back. My wife was slightly shaking her head, and my 17-year-old daughter was rolling her eyes. I said, “What? What is the matter?” Adventure isn’t just about doing things like rock climbing, skiing, or hiking. Life is one big adventure. Adventure is getting that first apartment, first job, or first love. Adventure is leaving friends and family and starting in a new town where you don’t know anyone. And the adventures never stop. They continue through life creating relationships and family. Thank you. I went back to my bathroom defeated, with my tail between my legs. For days it was reported that I was walking around looking down and shaking my head, mumbling about how some dumb reality TV show just ruined my speech. I looked up the definition of adventure, and I have to say, I had a really good laugh. The definition of adventure is an exciting experience that is typically a bold, sometimes risky, undertaking. What I witnessed while visiting, and coming back here this weekend, is amazing: a dog-friendly, environmentally conscious school, with a wide curriculum, that attracts students from all over the country, not to mention your wildlife rehabilitation center on campus, as well as a diverse mix of on-campus activities and athletic programs. Lees-McRae is truly a special place embraced in these beautiful mountains. Adventure is at the core of this school, and it is now part of you. Embrace those risky undertakings and bold experiences. And yes, they are exciting but also scary. The title of the speech was “The Journey.” Oh, I was going to blow all of you away with this speech. Beaming with pride, I entered the kitchen where my wife and two teenage daughters were, and I proclaimed, “I’ve got it.” It requires compromise and patience. For the adventurous souls that are used to taking risks, this can be tricky. The full text of his speech appears below, along with photos from the commencement address and graduation. Congratulations to this year’s Lees-McRae graduates and all of the 2019 graduates across the region. Never stop taking chances. This was not smart. I worked tirelessly on what I was going to say and then one day it came to me while I was outside knee-deep in my favorite trout stream. I made a beeline back home and locked myself in my bathroom—my only getaway spot in our busy house—and wrote the opening paragraph. I looked back over it, and it was the most profound thing that I have ever written. nowhere, with no medical attention around, with three broken ribs, I reflected on this failed adventure. I had no choice but to get up, dust myself off, and finish the painful ride down the mountain. As graduates here today, you are already in a great position for whatever your future holds, because as a school, you have embraced adventure. There is nothing that is safe in life. Going out on your own requires you to be bold and take risks every day. Yes, it can be scary, but the rewards are big. He encouraged graduates to take risks every day. Find Your Adventure Congratulations, graduates. There was this one time, as a fairly new business owner, that some of my co-workers at the magazine and I were invited to go on this epic downhill mountain biking course. Now downhill bikes are completely different than your average mountain bike. It is basically a motorcycle with no engine where you hurl yourself straight down a mountain, through the woods, narrowly missing trees, while going over jumps and around berms. This is not your everyday bike ride. DeMaso first began pondering lofty speech themes while knee-deep in his favorite trout stream. But when he ran his ideas by his teenage daughters, they weren’t impressed. So he decided to stick with what he knew best: the outdoors. “What, dad?” care for the people in your life. They come first now, and you will have to navigate these adventures together. Yes, some of these relationships will fail, and again, you will have to learn from your mistakes, pick yourself up, and try again. Lees-McRae College won last year’s Top Adventure Schools Contest, and it has a well-earned reputation for being a leader in outdoor learning and adventure. This year, they asked Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine president Blake DeMaso to deliver the keynote address. DeMaso spoke last Saturday in Banner Elk, N.c., to the Lees McRae College’s class of 2019 graduates. What? Accept failure, embrace learning, and go on to that next adventure. As we were gearing up with full helmets and body armor, I reminded the guide that while, yes, we are outdoorsy people from an outdoorsy magazine, none of us have ever done this before. See, when we go out on these trips, the guides always want to take us on the biggest adventure, wanting to give us the “real experience.” So we take off, and I was gripping the handle bars for dear life. As time went on, I embraced it, and I was feeling good about my abilities on the course while my co-workers about 10 years younger than me were struggling. We came to a stop so everyone could catch up, and when we pushed off again, I rode second behind the guide, looking back to my friends and exclaiming, “Hate that an old man like me has to show you guys up!” I know you are all wondering: Blake, have you since mastered downhill mountain biking? Did you not let that failed adventure get the best of you? Did you brush yourself off and get back on that bike after you healed? I am very honored to be here. I have been extremely excited for this day and I started preparations for this speech from the moment I received the invitation to speak. last_img read more

Larry Ellison donates $200 million to USC for cancer research

first_imgLarry Ellison, founder of Oracle Corporation and USC’s 2016 commencement speaker, has donated $200 million to the University in order to fund a cancer research center in West Los Angeles, the University announced on Wednesday.The Lawrence J. Ellison Institute for Transformative Medicine of USC will be led by David Agus, a professor of engineering and medicine at USC and the current director of the Center for Applied Molecular Medicine and USC Westside Cancer Center.“It is an honor and a privilege to team up with Larry Ellison in the fight against cancer,” Agus told USC News. “Larry understands the need for transformation in cancer care. His gift will enable us to change our very approach on cancer research, treatment and prevention.”Ellison, who in 2015 was named the world’s second richest man in the tech industry by Forbes, announced the donation at the USC Center for Applied Molecular Medicine’s Rebels with a Cause fundraising gala.“The new institute will invite mathematicians, physicists and other scientists to collaborate with cancer researchers from the traditional disciplines of medicine and biology,” Ellison said, according to USC News. “We believe the interdisciplinary approach will yield up new insights currently hidden in existing patient data.”Ellison had previously planned a similar $115 million donation to Harvard University in 2006 for cancer research, but reneged on the gift due to concerns about how the money would be handled after the University’s then-president stepped down, according to the Los Angeles Times.Ellison’s gift matches the largest single donation ever given to the school. In 2011, David and Dana Dornsife donated $200 million to the College of Letters, Arts and Sciences, now known as the Dana and David Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences. More recently, the University announced in March that it had raised $5 billion of a $6 billion fundraising campaign that was launched in 2011.According to the Los Angeles Times, Ellison and Agus are already well acquainted, and Ellison has been discussing this donation with President C.L. Max Nikias for the past 15 months.“This investment by Larry Ellison in USC is as inspirational as it is momentous, and it will serve as a dynamic force for change in how we approach cancer treatment and prevention,” Nikias told USC News. “It is a concrete endorsement of USC’s vision to invest in the promise and potential of new technologies, and to support a bold push forward in how we achieve wellness.”last_img read more

Bolt to Miss Charity Match at Old Trafford

first_imgThe Jamaican – the world record holder in both the 100m and 200m – has had further scans on the injury, which showed the damage to be worse than anticipated.Bolt, who also won 11 world titles, has now retired from sprinting.Former United players Edwin van der Sar, Paul Scholes, Denis Irwin, Dwight Yorke, Phil Neville, Ronny Johnsen, Louis Saha, Mikael Silvestre, Jesper Blomqvist, Quinton Fortune and Dion Dublin are all expected to take part in the charity game.Bolt tweeted an image of his muscle tear and said the injury will require three months of rehabilitation.The Jamaican could only manage bronze in his penultimate race – the men’s 100m at London 2017 – before pulling up injured just as he began to hit top speed in his final event, the 4x100m relay, last Saturday.It meant the 19-time global champion, recently described by Lord Coe, the president of athletics’ governing body the IAAF, as “a genius” akin to boxing legend Muhammad Ali, bowed out being helped off the track by his team-mates, barely able to stand upright.“I don’t usually release my medical report to the public but sadly I have sat and listened to people questioning if I was really injured,” Bolt said on social media, before later deleting the posts.“I have never been one to cheat my fans in any way and my entire desire at the championship was run one last time for my fans.”Share this:FacebookRedditTwitterPrintPinterestEmailWhatsAppSkypeLinkedInTumblrPocketTelegram Eight-time Olympic gold medallist Usain Bolt will not be able to play in Manchester United Legends’ game against Barcelona at Old Trafford on September 2 due to injury.It had been planned for the 30-year-old sprinting great, a lifelong United fan, to play in the fixture, which will raise money for the Manchester United Foundation.However, Bolt suffered a hamstring injury as he ran the final leg of the 4x100m relay at the World Athletics Championships in London on Saturday.last_img read more