2 years ago, Brendan Burke died, shortly after my nephew was born.
There's a bit of a connection there, as my wife had driven up to Indianapolis to be there for the birth, and help her sister through those first few days after delivery. With a massive snow & ice storm on the way, however, her mom advised her to drive back to Nashville before the roads got nasty, rather than stick around. She made it back in time, but the next day, we saw the news that Brendan Burke, son of Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Brian Burke, died in a weather-related accident on one of central Indiana's many two-lane state roads, one which my wife & I had traveled many times while we lived there.
Brendan Burke was more than just the son of an NHL executive, or a typical student-manager of his college's hockey team, however. This, from a remembrance over at Maple Leafs Hot Stove:
On December 2nd, 2009, Brendan Burke showed the world just what it is to have courage, to have heart. In an article penned by John Buccigross of ESPN, Mr. Burke discussed his life as a closeted homosexual within the closed community of sport, the acceptance of his sexuality by his family and his team, and the hope he had for the breaking down of barriers within the machismo-dominated and homophobic culture of team athletics.
...We all leave behind a legacy, something for which we are remembered long beyond our time. Brendan Burke will be remembered for opening a door which few had the courage to even acknowledge existed, and to not just hold it open but walk right through it and show us there was nothing to be afraid of on the other side, offering hope that we, too, can do the same. Brian Burke has continued to carry his legacy forward, using his celebrity and position of influence to bring greater attention to the flawed manner in which so many segments of society evaluate a human being's worth.
On this second anniversary of Burke's passing, the guys at Maple Leafs Hot Stove are coordinating donations to the Miami University Brendan Burke Memorial Scholarship Fund. You can find all the details right here.