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To my son:
Your courage as you travel through your days is an inspiration to me. I knew you were made of true grit but the determination by which you live just proves attitude can make a difference; you truly make me proud to call you my son.
Throughout time poets have written about true love and devotion…I now understand them. Justin is my husband. He is infinitely strong in mind and soul. His intelligence far surpasses anything I can grasp; yet he belittles no one. He is a champion for the underdog and befriends those without any. He feels other peoples pain uniquely and it makes him compassionate. He is patient…well not really-hehe.
He has smiling eyes that make me gush. We still laugh and act silly like we were ten years old. Although I cannot feel the hugs anymore, the memory of how big they always were carries me. I love him like no other.
My fondest memories of Justin always involve a good party. His trip to University of Colorado where I was attending at the time, and when he was at the Air Force Academy stands out! All I can say is too much tequilla, too much tequilla , too much tequilla. To this day, I cannot drink the stuff! I always think of a good time, good humor, and good music with Justin. His laugh and his smile are unforgettable. He is the type of person you can not see for a few years and run into and it is like yesterday. O NE OF A KIND to be sure!
Love ya Justin
As you know well, it is so difficult to find accurate words to describe Justin. The brilliant smile, and the endearing personality are certainly part of it, but I believe the part that shines the brightest is the startling affect he has on all of us. Rarely can a person transmit such happiness and positive energy to those around him. His sense of adventure is contagious, and his outlook on life - inspiring!
Best wishes & love,
I have tons to say about Justin! For starters…thank you…for so many things including many of you all! I was new to Austin when I met Justin at FADOs :) Juddy became a good friend to me…sort of took me under his wing... showed me the way of Austin (FADO…Touché... Hula Hut... Carlos and Charlies;). He also introduced me to many amazing people…whom are now some of my dearest friends in this crazy, wonderful world.
Here are some highlights of a few of the best memories I have... Fado... OUR CORNER AT FADO…THE DECK AT FADO. If you were there during that time you remember how magical it was…remember people taking pictures of us "because we were having so much fun"... imagine having to take pictures of people having fun! Also, that ledge that we used to dance on…oh the corner! Of course it was all who visited the corner that made it so amazing…if youwere there, Justin certainly wanted to make sure you enjoyed it... I remember seeing tabs so high they were worthy of framing or at least posting on the fridge! Also, I remember Lukenbach, Texas for Willies Picnic and drinking Lonestar off cowboy hats... rugby boat party (or getting left behind at Carlos and Charlies, which was not so bad either)... Dallas... etc. Did I mention our corner at FADO? Justin, thank you for your friendship, for all the wonderful friends you shared with me, for the light you bring to any room you are in and for your sincere and loving big heart!
Justin has always been gifted athletically. As a child he played many sports and excelled at each one of them. He was the pitcher for his little league baseball team. He played select soccer from the time he was 5 until he was a sophomore in high school. In fact when we lived in Maryland he was on two different select teams, as well as his school team, all at the same time. While in Maryland, he took up skateboarding and built a half-pipe in the field across the street from our house. He played volleyball in Junior High school. Justin was an excellent bowler and swimmer. When we moved back to Texas he went out for the varsity football team, never having played the game before. On the varsity team, he played linebacker, safety and field goal kicker. Following that, he went out for track and went to district in the pole vault. He learned to snow ski when he was about 8 and quickly became an expert as he barreled down the mountain. In college he took up snowboarding. He found his real love at the Air Force Academy when he began to play rugby. For those familiar with rugby, Justin liked to play fly half. After leaving the academy he continued to play rugby in Colorado, Arlington, and Austin.
One of my favorite recollections was when we moved back to Texas we joined Trophy Club Country Club and Justin took up golf. After playing for several months, he made a hole in one. He called me all excited and I thought he was putting me on. Shortly after that he gave up golf and took up tennis. He said golf was too slow. I always felt like he gave it up because he thought it was too easy. The biggest problem Justin ever had was choosing any one sport or activity to devote himself to because he liked them all so much.
I am friends with Justin because of his father who happens to be one of my dear friends. I met Justin many years ago after playing golf with Randy. It just happened that Justin knew my son and daughter prior to my meeting him. He was a very well mannered young man, nice looking and had a very strong hand shake. It was a pleasure to meet him. Afterwards, we played golf together a few times and I had to watch Justin,one of those young flat bellies, hit the ball a mile past mine. He was just one of those young men that you knew was going to make it. He had everything going for him. Justin and my son, Brad happen to be the same age. They also happen to have amazing personalities, the kind that is supposed to take them through long and successful lives. They are supposed to grow old together and have the same kind of shi**y friends that Randy and I have. The kind you love to hate and hate to love.
Then, all of a sudden, out of nowhere, ALS shows up and screws everything. I happened to be on a golf trip with Randy when he found out that Justin had been diagnosed with this crippling disease. I was standing there when Randy checked his phone messages and found out. I have never felt so out of place in my whole life. I was in the wrong place at the wrong time. The conversation that I over heard hit hard. I walked outside and sat on the curband cried. My son is the same age. All I wanted to do was go home and hug my son. This disease can hit anywhere at any time. It doesnt seem to pick on the old guys as much as it does the young ones. I will be 50 years old tomorrow. Why do I getto live to be fifty and Justin doesnt? Some things in life are just not fair, ALS is one of them. Even though donations will only help to make Justin more comfortable they may also help to find a cure for this damned disease. Please send donations. Any kind of donations will help. Randy probably knows better than anybody that I aint running in a race. He also knows, probably better than anybody that I will pay someone to run in a race for me. Does anyone need a sponsor? For anyone reading this letter, Justin is the kid next door. Hes the kid you watched grow up. Hes the kid that mowed your lawn. Hes the kid that made you laugh. Hesthe kid that made you shake your head in amazement. Because of ALS, you are still shaking your head in amazement. Justin could be one of our kids. Please help. May the road rise up to meet you.
would love to share something for the website – so here it goes – feel free to edit :), I am going to list it all – just so Justin knows what I think of him more than anything – pick and choose and summarize because I am sure it will be a small epistle when I am through, hahha — When I think about Justin Whitehead – I smile – because he has not only been a part of my life for the past ten years, but he has shaped and impacted who I am. He has taught me a great deal about alot of things… I could go on about Justins accomplishments, his giving spirit, his quest for truth and knowledge, how his smile and laugh can light up a room, and his mere presence makes any place more fun and alive…but mostly I wish I could express how incredible his soul is – but there are no words that do him justice. Where do you begin to describe someone who has lived his life to the fullest -something we all hope to achieve… This I can say – my life has been blessed because he is in it, and all the stories in my head could fill so many books, but even after all these years – the good and the bad, I can never thank him enough for being my friend. I have been on so many ventures with him, like many of his close friends, he has a way of taking you along for the ride and whether its scary or tame (which it never really is tame) you are so glad you got invited – he makes memories that stand out for always...
— Just a few things that come to mind about Justin and some of what he has taught me….- ski trip to Colorado – lets see, he drove in the snow with only boxers on and ski goggles to get pizza in the middle of the night, got stuck in a ditch, threw his beer in the snow, and the cop helped him get home – not to many have that ability... ..hahhaha- how to cook without recipes and drink good wine- you helped me learn matrices and derivatives when we were in college together (because of you I got an A in calculus instead of failing),- you have to take risks in life (like stripping on the roof of a Texaco Station on the way to the Guadalupe, haha), – follow your heart and not just your head – it makes for a better ride, – forgiving and forgetting unconditionally is part of what being a friend is (that includes — sending my chihuahua off to sea– in a laundry basket in the pool – amongst other things – I forgive you, hahhaha), – how to raft down the river naked with an inter-tube in the middle of the night and still not get arrested,- how to communicate even when you are afraid of what the person might say or not say, its better to tell how it is – than to leave them guessing – what a — Man– really is – Justin you have set the benchmark pretty high(which is why I am still looking, Tory is still not there yet, hahaha), – what it means to have character, charm, class, depth, and integrity and how to recognize it in a person (especially when its not there – we wont mention names, hahahha), – that hard work pays-off, you have always been successful- how to play and have the time of your life – in all that you do, – that going to extremes is good and bad,- what courage really is….Justin, you are the epitome of courage,- that strength is inside of you…Justin, you define strong,- that riding on a Harley is freedom,- that there is no fair on Greenville, only the — FARE– , (you and Scottie still suck for that one, haha)- what it means to feel alive – and to love, Justin loves all his friends and family, I have never met a man who is so selective and has such great taste in people, especially his wife – I love ya Lynda!- that you can do anything you set your mind to, and believe in,- what it means to have compassion (Justin is a true friend – when my family was in turmoil – he was always there to — set me straight– and be the shoulder to lean on when I needed it – and buy the beer when it was the only solution for the moment, hahaha)- how to have mercy – and when to seek revenge (poor Tory, little does he know that his — sneak attack– pool-side that shall remain unknown – will still have consequences to come, even after 7 years, hmmmmmm)- what it means to be thoughtful, the day of your wedding, I will never forget the table you had made for Lynda, something so unique, so special, so original, its that sort of thing you do that makes you so unique- the way you love your nieces, and even watching you hang out with my sister and her kids, thanks for loving them – and looking after Jamie – even from afar – I appreciate it-your ability to recall details that other people take for granted, it makes us all feel loved
Whenever Id see Justin, hed greet me with a huge smile, Hey, McIlquham (my crazy maiden name!), and a hug so big hed lift me off of the ground. Ill never forget that! Full of energy, hilarious, and kind. Whats not to love about him?!!
Stacey Dane, friend of Lynda and Justin
We have lots of stories about Justin but Im not for sure he would want us to tell some of them! Don & I have known Justin since he was about 14 so we have seen him mature from a boy to a man and he has the same wonderful smile now as he did then. He just lights up a room when entering. He has always made everyone around him feel comfortable and you just had to smile and laugh with him. When Justin was playing sports in high school and there was trouble on the field or someone was hurt – well, you just knew Justin was involved somehow – whether he was creating the "disturbance" or was the one hurt – you just never knew.
Justin always gave it his all for his teammates and was liked by all of them. He was a "fighter" then as he is now. Weve been very fortunate to know Justin all these years and he has given us lots of laughs. There isnt a day that goes by that we dont think of you, Justin, and say a prayer for you. You are one of the most courageous men we know. We are so happy you have such a loving and caring wife and family. God Bless.
Justin is my big brother. My only brother -Thank God!- I dont know if I could have handled two like him. He was always beating me up, suffocating me with pillows... you know, the usual! I will never forget the time we took the mattress off the bed to play taxi down the stairs. – Sorry Mom!
One of the best things about my brother is that he has always loved me and supported me, and he knows how to have a great time! Now he is the uncle of three little girls that adore him. And he loves them to pieces too. If you know my brother or have met him, you know that he lights up a room and is unforgettable. I love him and I thank everyone for your love and support.
I met Justin through my brother, Chris Lewis. From the first time I met Justin, he has treated me like a brother of his own. He always has a bright outlook on life and his infectuous laugh instigates everyone to laugh along.
I knew Justin and I would get along because he is as much of a trouble maker as I am :). I could tell some great stories, but I really just want to thank you for having such a postive influence on me. You rock Justin!
A funny moment to share about Justin…last time I was in Austin, Texas with Justin, we were waiting for a handicap taxi in downtown Austin at 2:30AM. He was in his wheelchair. Of course, the taxis with thewheelchair accessibility were few and far between. Justin offered forall of us to take a ride home on his wheelchair (I think there were over10 of us). Then as we were waiting around for the taxis, Justin starteddriving down the street in his wheelchair. He was cracking jokes abouthow he was going to drive home in his wheelchair.
Justin is Justin andhis humor has not been impaired. He made us all laugh and feel more atease with his unique sense of humor. He has not let ALS damper his sense of humor. I look forward to many more wacky evenings with Justin Whithead I just hope I get to ride shotgun next time.
Love, Kelley Buck
here can one start when talking about the adventures of Juddy. Is it the bowling at empty bottles with fruit in my hallway, or floating the river and having to take care of a few river rats, or him laughing as he runs down the pitch, refusing to pass, as he goes in for his fourth try on the day, to win the year long try scoring title by one (bastard).
Who knows, there are so many good times that I have had with Justin that it is hard to really know where to start, all I know is that every time that I have been around Juddy my stomach muscles ( and liver) hurt the next day. So Juddy heres to many more aching muscles and sore livers. F*&kin Strong. Love you man. We are like family, oh wait........... .we are!!!!!!!!!!!!
To Justin, whom I think of as family, I remember meeting you on the Hobie beach in Dallas – we were both youngsters – even though I was 20 years older. Your mom and dad and I became the best of friends. We spent many weekends camping, sailing and jumping fires. Oh yes, and your dad exhaustingly hippity-hopping every Easter laying Easter eggs in the middle of the night. You played with Tim & Heather (other special people in my life) on the beach and in the water. Most scary, was the day you got bit by a dog as you splashed in the water. You had numerous painful surgeries on your face and had to invent stories so kids would not be too cruel to you each time you changed schools. I do not even notice your scars anymore. They are a part of you, which has grown into a handsome, self assured man.
You were less than a block from work at the twin towers when they came down. I wonder if the trauma of running for your life had anything to do with your muscle deterioration. I am truly sorry God choose this path for you. But since he has, I know you will make the most of life, as you always have. I hope to share many more adventures with you in this life and others.
See you in San Deigo, Love, Michelle.
There are no words to describe to you the way I feel right now. It is such an overwhelming feeling to listen to how you feel and you have not even met him yet. Thank you so much for your kind words. It is exactly things like this that make Justin stronger and able to handle what he has been given. I can’t wait to meet you and give you a huge hug. Thank you for everthing you are doing. Lynda
Lynda, it is you who I want thank for showing me and others by example what unconditional love REALLY means. I hope I get as lucky as Justin in finding someone like you who will stand by me no matter what.
I wish there were more I can do... not just for Justin but for you as well. See you both soon.
Good morning, I hope you had a great Easter weekend.
No, I won't be running the Rock & Roll Marathon. Unfortunately, I’ll be out of town during that time. I have to travel back east with work for a few weeks. I would have enjoyed being a part of that!! Although, if Justin is with us next year, God willing, it can be ran again in his honor. I’m sure there are plenty of people in his situation where a race can be run in their honor.
I wish there were more I can do... not just for Justin but for you as well. See you both soon.
…When I heard you crying I got a big lump in my throat and had to turn it off. I don’t know what to say except that you were inspiring...
That was great!! I almost cried for Christ's sake!!!!! That Pony Keg idea was pretty funny, I bet that would motivate anyone to finish strong...
It went a little something like this....
My name is Angela and I want to start by saying that even though we haven’t met, you have deeply inspired me and touched my heart.
A few months ago, our mutual friend Phil Lewis and I were discussing running and thought what a great idea it would be if we trained together for the San Diego Rock-N-Roll Marathon in June of this year. We started off by simply running together on few occasions but there was something missing. I was not able to prepare myself for what I was about to do and found myself overwhelmed in the whole training process. During the early course of our training, he briefly told me about a friend of his back in Texas. He went on to describe who I later found out was you. He told me that you had ALS, otherwise known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. Phil told me that he decided to run the marathon in your honor, and soon asked me if I would be interested in running it for you as well. I accepted his invitation without hesitation knowing I had nothing to lose... little did I know that I had so much to gain.
You see Justin, not only do I NOT know you, I don’t even know anyone with ALS. All I could think about was that you are only 29, just a year older than I, and are living with an incurable disease. I wanted to commemorate my first marathon by doing something special and purposeful.
It’s been a few months now and lead by Phil and the ongoing effort of its members; we have founded Team Justin to show you people care. We want to make a difference. I admire your strength, courage, and determination. You inspire me to live life to the fullest by reminding me to be thankful for everything I have including my health, my family, and great friends. You have taught me a very important lesson that if we desire, ask, and believe, we receive.
Every day I think about you and how rapidly the disease has progressed in your body how ALS makes it difficult for you to do simple things such as eating, dressing, and now, even swallowing. I was happy to learn from Phil that you still find humor in the things you do day to day. He said you purchased a wheelchair and described how much he enjoyed watching you playfully run over people with it. In a few months, I have discovered that ALS does not discriminate anyone. And as I sit here talking with you with this idea swirling in my head. I can’t even imagine what life is like for you. Except that you continue to be brave and put a smile on your face. You make people proud to call you a husband, a son, and a friend.
Justin, you motivate me so much so that this past Sunday, a handful of Team Justin members and I did a 12-mile run…and for every ache, pain and soreness my body felt this week, I was sincerely grateful simply knowing that you don’t even have that choice. I don’t live near you and can’t help with your daily care. Our goal with Team Justin is to raise money to help pay for your medical expenses. As I run my first marathon, I will think of you as my inspiration to cross the finish line. You have made many friends here in San Diego and we are all looking forward to meeting you.
Just One Of Your New Friends,