36 years ago today, in the wee hours of the morning, our family lost this fine, young man. He was only 24 years old at the time, the same age that my daughter is now. I was only 21.
I looked up to Steve. He was my older cousin who I was very proud of.
Steve accomplished a lot in his short life. At the time of his death, he was certainly already a legend. I am proud of all of his achievements as a runner, but also for his activism and outspokenness.
He was never too busy to call or visit his family, or to sign autographs, especially if it was for a child.
I love what he wrote on this "Norman Rockwell-like" photo:
"Rocky, Thank you for holding my string. Maybe someday, I'll be holding the string for you.
Your Friend Always, Steve Prefontaine"
Steve had lots of string holders! This photo, circa "the 70's" is a snapshot in time, of another era. He is wearing Nike shoes, the first athlete ever to do so.
Although Steve is gone from us, his spirit lives on. Young athletes who were born years after his death, look to him for inspiration. Steve's sister Linda wrote this tribute:
"It is very hard to describe. We are so used to the physical body that so many times we forget what truly is the heart and soul of an individual. It is his spirit. We spend so much time worrying about our appearance, our physical bodies, and yet that’s not what lasts for eternity. It is the spirit that lives forever. You are the perfect example of the power of the spirit. Your body perished in a moment. The world was no longer privileged to watch your artistry. but your spirit survived and continues to thrive, and grow, and you leave your mark on someone, somewhere, every day. Although your body was limited to time and space and boundaries, your spirit knows them not. From the West Coast to the East, from Canada to Mexico, Germany, France, Italy and places afar, you touched the souls of many."