Young boy’s wish to be a garbage man came true

Published: Fresh U. July 29, 2016. Viewable here.


 

  Hundreds of people recently gathered together for a worthy cause outside, on a week-day, in 105 degree heat purely out of the kindness of their hearts – an event heartening and reassuring in itself. But, even more so, is the focus of this event – a 6-year-old boy whose story has spread nationally and whose humble spirit inspired a city.

  On Sunday morning my mom showed me an ad in The Sacramento Bee for an event centered around granting the wish of a sick child. She had already made up her mind we were going after learning the story of Ethan Dean.

  18 days after his birth, Ethan was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis – an incurable and inherited disease which damages the lungs and causes breathing complications. Every morning Ethan begins his day by breathing through a nebulizer – a machine which creates mist – for 20 minutes before putting on a vibrating vest for another 20 minutes that helps to loosen mucus in his lungs.

  Ethan had his humble wish of being a garbage man come true thanks to the efforts of The Make A Wish foundation and with the help of the Sacramento city who learned about the event via radio stations and the aforementioned ad in The Bee which listed Ethan’s garbage pick-up route. Kept entirely secret from Ethan, his wish was made a reality on Tuesday, July 26 as he road around in a Waste Management truck escorted around the city by police, stopping to actually pick up garbage and recyclables.

  On Tuesday morning, Ethan was surprised at his elementary school with the event, running through a tunnel of his classmates and a celebratory banner before being presented with an actual garbage truck labeled “Ethan’s Garbage Truck Est. 2016.”

  Although the wish might seem simple, Ethan’s parents said they knew his wish would be garbage-man-themed and that he has always been infatuated with everything garbage truck and garbage man – playing with toys, watching the clean-up happen, etc.

 My mom works in Sacramento, and just after 10:00 a.m. she and I, along with her many co-workers, walked to a spot along Ethan’s route in between his pick-up stops. On Twitter, photos posted under #EthanCleansUp showed huge groups with balloons and signs waiting at each stop – because we did not gather at one of the designated stops, there were only few other supporters lined down this particular street of his route.

  A while after arriving and expectantly anticipating Ethan’s drive down the street in the garbage truck, a Make A Wish volunteer pulled to the side of the road to profusely thank us for our presence and asked us to wait just minutes more for Ethan to roll down the street. And suddenly flashing lights from the large police escort group in front of his garbage truck indicated his arrival – Ethan, wearing sunglasses, looked at our small group, cheering as wildly as we could, and smiled.

  Later in the day, at a few minutes before noon, my mom and I headed to the Sacramento Capitol, Ethan’s final stop on his route. Some news publications estimate that over 500 people gathered at the capitol, awaiting Ethan, in heat creeping towards 110 degrees.

  The police sirens sounded and the crowd, bursting with pride and sheer happiness, cheered madly. A green carpet, which was rolled out from the passenger door where Ethan got out to the side of a stage set up in front of the capitol building was thickly lined with supporters and a plethora of creative signs (my own was my mother’s creation, a print-out of Oscar the Grouch in a garbage can thanking Ethan).

  Ethan was propped up on his father’s shoulders and smiled as he was escorted through the crowd.

  “And to you, and to your mom and dad, and your family and to all the good people who helped put this together – but especially you – thank you for making us feel so good,” Sacramento Mayor-Elect Darrell Steinberg said to Ethan. “You’re a Sacramento hero.”

  And Ethan, at the end of his day, said “It’s been the best day ever.”

Advertisements

Memorial piece: Eric Seidman

Published: Granite Bay Gazette Vol. 19, Issue 7. Thursday, April 14, 2016. Can also be read here.


 

     The parking lot of Temple Or Rishon in Orangevale was overfilled, with cars and people spilling into the adjacent church. A line of people formed and snaked to the side of the building to even reach the doors of the Temple. Mary Seidman, Eric Seidman’s mother, stepped out into the warm April day to hug each and every guest.

 The inside of the Temple was filled to the brim; only on High Holy Days is the temple ever this crowded. The memorial, while somber, was jovial and humorous – a reflection of the joyous man it honored.

  Rachel Seidman, sister of Eric Seidman and a 2009 GBHS graduate, shared a light-hearted and touching tribute to her brother, which consisted of the top ten things she learned from him. Mark Seidman, father of Eric Seidman, also shared a moving speech – he spoke of his son as a determined, talented young man and shared remorse for those who did not have the pleasure of knowing him.

  Hundreds of people gathered to share memories to honor the life of Eric Seidman. A community gathered to reflect. In the words of Jenny Padgett, one of Seidman’s high school teachers, Seidman’s passing has been followed by “a communal mourning.”

 During his senior year at Granite Bay High School, Eric Seidman served as associated student body president. After graduating in 2008, he went on to graduate from the University of California, Santa Barbara in 2012, earning a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering.

  Seidman, an active rock climber, was climbing Gibraltar Rock outside Santa Barbara, where he lived, when he fell and sustained fatal injuries. He was 26 years old.

  Both Seidman’s high school friends and teachers remember his wonderful leadership as ASB president and his overall friendly and positive demeanor.

  2007 GBHS graduate Katie Lall served on the student government cabinet, the leaders of the class, with Seidman.

  “When I think of Eric, I can’t help but smile,” Lall said.  “He always made me laugh, and he was a person you looked forward to spending time with because you knew there would be lots of laughter involved. He was genuine and kind.

  “I don’t remember ever hearing him say something hurtful or mean or negative about anyone. I can honestly only think of positive memories of him. I knew I would always have a fun time if he were around because he made any situation fun and exciting with his sense of humor, goofy personality and genuine concern for those around him. I know I can speak for many about him truly being a one-of-a-kind guy.”

  Seidman was involved in the student government program his sophomore, junior and senior year. He was also junior class president his junior year.

  Activities director Tamara Givens grew very close to Seidman and remembers him for his kindness and warmth.

  “SG became his home,” Givens said. “He found (his niche) and he fell in love with it, and then he wanted to be ASB president. He was a fabulous leader.  One of the things I told his dad was, ’I adored Eric every day I had him in class.’ He was just so kind and loving. I still see him in front of the class being goofy.

  “One of the (graduates posted online, saying), ’He was the nicest boy in Granite Bay,’ and that’s true. He was just such a nice kid, (and) an incredible leader. He was everybody’s friend. He had a tremendously diverse friend group (and) was friends with so many different kinds of kids. He was that kid who just reached out.”

  Ted Marsden, a 2008 graduate, said he thinks everyone in the graduating class of 2008 felt Seidman perfectly fit his role as class president and was a “true leader.”

  Darrin Pagel, a GBHS precalculus teacher, spoke highly of Seidman’s impact on those around him and his involvement in student government.

  “Eric was that guy that everyone gravitated to,” Pagel said. “He had an infectious personality and was always so positive. He was a friend to all, never excluding people and made sure students hanging out on the fringes were included. I really enjoyed having the opportunity to work with Eric when he was in Student Government, he led well and was a servant leader … and I’m sure his impact on people extended beyond the walls of GBHS. He will be greatly missed.”

  Brandon Dell’Orto, the Advanced Placement United States History teacher who had Seidman as a student, said he remembers how Seidman always kept his activities balanced and had no problem leading his class. Additionally, Dell’Orto said he never remembers Seidman ever being upset or sad, “he was just full (of) energy, enjoying (the) challenges he had.”

  Many of those in Seidman’s graduating class of 2008 mentioned how he went above and beyond his title and truly led their class.

  Blaze Russo, a 2008 GBHS graduate, said he always saw Seidman as a key character in his high school years.

  “I’ve always seen him as the leader of our class of 2008,” Russo said. “He was always one to come alongside his classmates and inspire them. I think that’s one of the reasons this loss has been hard for us – at some point in our high school days, Eric came alongside each and every one of us and shared some encouragement and motivated us to be our best selves. I believe he did this in big ways and small (ways).”

   Aside from leading his classmates in Student Government, Seidman was also a leader in his extracurricular athletic activities. At GBHS, Seidman was on the track team.

  Pratik Shah, a 2008 graduate who was on the track team with Seidman, said he served as a motivational force even in physical education classes.

  “One of my strongest memories of Eric was actually in P.E. sophomore year,” Shah said. “Most people would complain (about) the mile runs. However, Eric and I and a couple of the other track kids would use it as a chance to see how we were progressing. I was just starting out with distance running, and Eric was way faster than I was. As the semester went on, I started getting to the point where I could kind of keep up. Instead of being competitive, he would slow down (and) help me push myself so I would run faster than I would have on my own. He was always encouraging the people around him to do better.”

  Givens said Seidman had “a very witty humor” and would do things just because he knew he would make her laugh. She also said he brought in and played Jewish rap music in the student government room and made the class a CD of songs.

  Seidman accompanied Givens on the Senior Europe trip in 2008 along with the entire SG cabinet.

  “We were fortunate enough to be in Europe during the Eurocup, so every night we would go and find a pub or somewhere to watch soccer,” Givens said. “European soccer fans are crazy about their soccer, and we were in Germany in a pub watching the game and the Germans said all of these chants … and Eric listened and learned them all. So he’s chanting them all and we’re saying them, but that wasn’t good enough for him. He went back and looked up everything on his phone and afterward he came and (told us) what we were all saying. He was so excited about learning those German chants. Most kids go to Europe to drink alcohol, but he was excited to learn German chants.”

   Padgett, who teaches International Baccalaureate Theory of Knowledge and Advanced Placement Literature at GBHS, said she knew Seidman through her daughter, Jenavieve Hatch, a 2008 GBHS graduate who knew Seidman in junior high as well as at GBHS and went to Sadie Hawkins with him as freshmen. Padgett also knew him as a student in her English class in his sophomore year.

  “Eric was a beautiful person,” Padgett said. “He was happy and radiated that. He liked to laugh, he liked to have fun, he wasn’t overly serious, but he was a hard worker and a good student. He liked to participate in class, he was one of those kids that would jump in and participate and talk. He would read poems, he would talk about literature, he loved to have those discussions. He was just truly memorable, you wouldn’t forget Eric if you had him in class because he left an impression.”

  Padgett also said that the conversations she has had about Seidman after his passing may sound cliché – his kindness, positivity and general characterization as a good person – but in his case, it’s all “just very true.” She also spoke of his friendliness.

  “Everyone says, ’Eric was my best friend,’ and they all felt that way,” Padgett said. “It’s because he made people feel that way. He made you feel like you were good friends and (that) everyone had a connection and a story. He stayed in touch with people. He was doing cool things.

  “He and my daughter spent some time together when (they were both) in London studying in college. He would stay in touch with you on the other side of the world – that was remarkable. That (2008) class stayed really close, and I think he’s a big part of that.”

  Katie Lall said she knows that, after high school,  he was the same kind person she remembered him as at GBHS.

   “Even though I haven’t seen him over the last few years, I know he was still the same Eric who loved people and made people feel loved,” Lall said. “I know so many are hurting over this tragic news, but I hope his family can find some peace and comfort knowing Eric made a lasting impression on me and so many others. His life is a true testimony (to) the importance of being a friend to everyone around you.”

  Marsden said he was with high school friends at the time he learned of Seidman’s passing.

  “We were just shocked,” Marsden said. “We each shared some memories we had of him, which then turned into laughter – which is exactly how I want to remember Eric. The small silver lining to this tragedy is that it’s brought friends and classmates together. He will be remembered as a great friend, a good leader and a beloved dude. He was the best of us.”

  Givens has been an activities director for 17 years, and Seidman is the first student government graduate who has died. One of the things Givens said she will miss about Seidman is his hugs.

  “One of the things (I remember) is he was the best hugger – he would hug you like he meant it,” Givens said. “He wasn’t afraid to hug people for a long time. He didn’t let go right away. That’s just something that was a great quality about him.

  “I’m just devastated. I can’t stay in touch with everybody – I’ve been teaching a long time and it’s getting harder and harder to stay in touch with people – but I know where my ASB presidents are. A lot of them have gotten married and had baby showers and just the fact that he’s gone and is not going to be part of that makes me very sad. I’m mostly really devastated for his family, they were very close. Every night I go to bed thinking about him and every day I wake up and I think ’Eric’s gone.’ We’ll see when that stops, but … that’s been hard. Just knowing he’s not here is sad.”

  Givens said she remembers Seidman telling her how much he loved living in Santa Barbara and how he wanted to live there forever.

  Padgett also said she hopes the community reaches out to take care of the Seidman family and one another during this somber time.

  Padgett said she thinks Seidman leaves a legacy of “joy.”

  “When I think of Eric, I think of joy,” Padgett said. “And what a huge thing to have everybody think about you. Let’s remember that – life is supposed to be something we’re all having a pretty good time doing, and I’m going to remember that.

  “In a way, none of us will ever quite be the same. It’s final and permanent and it happened and it’s a loss in every sense of the word. When someone that young and that beautiful and full of promise dies, I think we all reflect on our generosity of spirit. Eric was a model for living your life and being happy in the moment, and I hope people do that.”

Memorial piece: Jerry Bogard

Published: Granite Bay Gazette Vol. 19, Issue 7. Thursday, April 14, 2016. Can also be read here.


 

   After graduating from Granite Bay High School in 2008, Jerry Bogard went on to graduate from Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo with honors and a degree in Agricultural Business. He was hired straight out of college by Deloitte Consulting, which is where he worked until his passing.

  On Friday, March 4, Bogard ended his own life.

  “I can honestly say it was the worst day of my life,” Kim Nash, Bogard’s cousin, said. “I love this wonderful boy with all my heart. He had so much good in him (and) he wanted only the best for other people. He had demons haunting him that none of us are likely to understand, and he just couldn’t see what a wonderful and amazing person he truly was.”

  Since his passing, Bogard’s friends and family have reflected on his character and praised the warm and caring person he was.

  As a preteen, 2008 GBHS graduate Jenavieve Hatch said she was “hopelessly in love” with him for over a year and, at 13, had her first kiss with him. As a friend, she spoke highly of his open-mindedness.

  “I never felt like I couldn’t be at least a little insane around him, and that was why I loved him,” Hatch said. “Around Jerry, I did not care that I was more or less detached from reality and desperate for love and validation. Jerry was dark. I was dark. I could be dark around Jerry  – a rare find in one’s early teenage adolescent years.”

  Hatch said as freshmen she and Bogard were partners for one unit in French. On the day of a graded assessment, he was absent from school.

  “I was annoyed, but physically incapable of being angry with him because I knew that Jerry would never intentionally flake and also because I had just spent the last two years being obsessed with his every sentence,” Hatch said. “The next day, before first period started, I stood near the door to our French class chatting with a friend from my cross country team when Jerry panted over and interrupted the conversation. He put his hand on my shoulder and … said, ‘Jena, I am so, so sorry.’ That was Jerry – earnest at his core when earnestness was not the cool thing to be. He was never anything but kind to me.”

  Allison Eklund, a 2008 GBHS graduate who worked alongside Bogard at the Robeks owned by his cousin, Kim Nash, remembered his genuine care and concern for his friends.

  “From working together at Robeks, to going through high school heart breaks, he was a wonderful friend who I felt I could truly lean on in times of need, and also share some of the most wonderful and celebrated moments of high school (with),” Eklund said. “I remember being there for him during a difficult breakup, and he too was there for me when I had my heart crushed.

  “He challenged me to value myself more than I did as a teenage girl. He told me I deserved to be treated better (and) … although I didn’t want to hear that or address it at the time, I know that was a really powerful moment in my life. Deep down, I always knew Jerry meant this from a place of genuine care. He cared for his friends deeply, and he wasn’t afraid to say what needed to be said.”

   Eklund also said that Bogard was “a gentleman” who “understood how to treat women” – during their friendship, he made her feel physically and emotionally safe and cared for.

  Lauren Berkema, another 2008 GBHS graduate, said her friendship with Bogard was more accidental than purposeful, and because of this she cherished it even more.

  “It is impossible not to notice Jerry,” Berkema said. “Everything about him to me was so intentional – what he wore to school, what car he drove, his physique, his afterschool activities. What made our friendship so special to me is that he never intended on being friends with me. He actually wrote in my yearbook that he always thought I was weird and, after meeting me, he was right. But despite his best efforts and greatest intentions, I forced him to be my friend. His genuine annoyance with me became more of an endearing annoyance with me. I personally think it was because of all the flattery, I don’t think I went a day without reminding him about his muscles.

  “When I think of Jerry now, and when I look back on pictures of him, … what I really see is his smile. He radiates confidence, and entitlement and life. That is why losing him is so hard, because you look at his face and you see life.

  At GBHS, Bogard was an active athlete, playing for the school’s lacrosse team. 2006 GBHS graduate Kevin Sinor said that one thing he remembers about Bogard is him being “a really good lacrosse player.”

  Bogard’s cousin, Kyle Nash, a 2008 GBHS graduate who is the son of Kim Nash, Bogard’s aforementioned older cousin, also mentioned his strong athleticism.

  “Jerry was a great competitor and extremely loyal as a friend, family member and teammate,” Kyle Nash said. “I have many fond memories of Jerry, but his effort and enthusiasm on the lacrosse field will be something that sticks with me forever.”

  Aside from having connections to teammates, Bogard also grew close to a few teachers during his time at GBHS. Bogard was a teacher’s assistant for Jarrod Westberg, an Advanced Placement Government teacher who was struck by Bogard’s maturity as a junior.

  “He ended up being a TA during first period on my prep (period) so I got to know him really well,” Westberg said. “He had a lot of stuff going on in his life (and) was confiding in me. I usually don’t get at that level with my students too often, but he would ask a lot of very important questions about life (so) I got to know him really well.

  “He was just a very nice kid. Very mature – way, way beyond his years. I think his life experiences … made him grow up very fast.”

  Sinor also thought Bogard was “mature beyond his years” and Hatch said, at the time, he “seemed to have been alive longer than fourteen years.”

  Another teacher who Bogard grew close to was Advanced Placement United States History teacher Brandon Dell’Orto.

  “Jerry was such a great kid,” Dell’Orto said. “Boisterous, smiling all the time. He obviously was hiding a lot of stuff that he was dealing with. He and I had long talks about stuff, (just) trying to get through the crap part of life. But man, what a great kid.”

  After high school ended, many of Bogard’s friends said they failed to stay in contact with him and wish, in retrospect, they had.

  Sinor said he regrets not staying in contact with Bogard and other friends from high school.

  “I think my biggest regret would be not staying in contact with people I really cared about in high school. You never know when they need somebody,” Sinor said.

  Sinor said he will remember Bogard as “down to earth and full of life.”

  Lauren Berkema also said she regrettably did not keep in touch with many people after high school, including Bogard.

  “I have been torturing myself with thousands of ‘if onlys’ since I heard of his death,” Berkema said. “About a month before he passed, he added me on LinkedIn. I remember looking at his profile and thinking how successful he is now, how proud I am of him and how I should call him. It breaks my heart that I no longer have that opportunity.

  “I have learned that I would have never regretted calling. I have chosen to carry the lessons I have learned from my friendship with Jerry with me from now on. To be open to letting in those people who want to be in your life, and to hold on to the people you want to keep in your life. I wish I could tell him all of this now.”

  After graduation, Allison Eklund said she did keep in contact with Bogard.

  “I remember being so excited for him when he got accepted to Cal Poly SLO,” Eklund said. “Once we were both freshmen in college, I did visit him in SLO and I got to see a glimpse of his new college life – (it was) full of friends and life, and remembering this still puts a giant smile on my face. Even in college, Jerry was still the responsible and brotherly figure he’d always been in high school.”

  After graduating from Cal Poly, Kim Nash said Bogard loved his new job and was loved by his colleagues.

  “Jerry worked hard at college and got a degree in agribusiness from Cal Poly in four years,” Nash said. “He immediately got hired right out of college by Deloitte Consulting, a job he had until the day he passed.  They loved him there! I’ve heard so many stories this past month about what a character he was at work and how he brought ‘cool’ to the office. He had great opportunities to travel with his job and made lots of friends in several different cities around the United States, many of whom came to pay their respects and share their Jerry stories.

   “While Jerry’s job was based out of the Bay Area, he bought a house in Roseville 2.5 years ago and was able to work from here. He did this so he could be closer to family, and live where it was more affordable. He was active in his church, always enjoyed going to the gym and loved any outdoor activity … but he was particularly fond of fishing. Wherever you found Jerry, his big black lab, Diesel, was not far behind. He loved that big dog!”

 Bogard’s family wishes to state that “suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem” and strongly encourages those feeling low to reach out for help.

  Hatch said she believes in the words from the following quote from the book “A Little Life” by Hanya Yanagihara, which are said by the protagonist’s adoptive father about his son’s suicide, about Bogard’s death:

  “Or maybe he is closer still: maybe he is that gray cat that has begun to sit outside our neighbor’s house, purring when I reach out my hand to it; …  maybe he is that flower that suddenly bloomed on the rhododendron bush I thought had died long ago; maybe he is that cloud, that wave, that rain, that mist. It isn’t only that he died, or how he died; it is what he died believing. And so I try to be kind to everything I see, and in everything I see, I see him.”

***

If you or anyone you know has thought about or attempted suicide, please call the California Youth Crisis Line at 1-800-843-5200.

 

ONLINE: The slideshow shown at Jerry Bogard’s memorial service is viewable here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=40GUSsXGRc4