2012 Elite Series - All-Star Semi-final Lake Shelbyville - Decatur, IL, Sep 20 - 21, 2012

The 13th All-Star

About the author

Don Barone

Don Barone

db has been in the reporting biz for over 30 years, won some Emmys and other awards, but is proudest of his four-decade marriage, his two kids and the fact he founded Tackle The Storm Foundation to help children.

“Why did you come

if you can't stay forever…”

Dateline: The Decal

Amongst us walk All-Stars,

who never take the stage.

Amongst us are names only whispered, unheard through the shouts of society.

Amongst us flicker beacons of light sent, I believe, to help illuminate our way.

I was late to this belief party though, until that is, I sat in an empty New Orleans restaurant and looked into the eyes of a Waukegan firefighter, Kevin Oldham.    

While Kevin’s body was failing him, wracked by cancer, his eyes, were alive, with spirit, with faith, with hope.


Hope that I now believe, now am convinced, was meant…for me.

It was February 2011, and Kevin and I sat and talked. I took notes, I listened, I asked questions, answered some…heard about cancer from the inside…from someone who was fighting to stay alive, but who I believe, knew what the future held.

To be honest, it was one of the hardest interviews of my life, one of the hardest stories of my life to write.

It flat out knocked the snot out of me.

The last time I ever saw Kevin alive, we hugged and as we did he whispered into my ear, exactly this, “Embrace life, man, embrace life.”

And then his eyes full of life, of hope, looked directly into mine, and weirdly, I felt a sense of peace, didn’t know why…just weird.

Five months later, I was told I had cancer.

Prostate cancer.

Found very early, I had no symptoms. A PSA test lead to a biopsy, and the biopsy confirmed it…The Big C…in me.

I think…no I BELIEVE… that Kevin knew it…knew it before I did.