Today I met Ronan Tynan... well, actually I just shook his hand and quickly took a picture with him. I went to see his forum address in the Marriott Center at BYU, but I didn't have time to get a camera before it started. After it ended, I walked back to my office on the other end of campus, retrieved a digital camera, and walked all the way back just in time to quickly snap a photo with him before he left. 'Twas the luck o' th' Irish that granted me this opportunity!
If you are now wondering who Ronan Tynan is or why I care, let me share a short story.
During the summer of 2002, I had recently returned from my freshman year of college and was looking ahead to serving a mission for the LDS church. My birthday was not until November, so I had plenty of time to prepare... but, suffice it to say, I lacked much to prepare myself mentally and spiritually for a two year mission. My older brother, Chris (Alma), had returned from his mission not more than a year before, and he was not blind to nor silent about my needs.
That summer, there were several occasions in which Chris and I would be alone in the house or driving somewhere. In an effort to improve our thoughts, words, actions, and attitudes we would refrain from listening to questionable and distracting music. Rather, we would pop in a CD that my parents had purchased some months before, Ellis Island by the Irish Tenors. One song in particular, Isle of Hope (Isle of Tears), was our favorite for the great story, emotion, and power which it held; we loved singing along for the fun as well as the innocence of it all. I will never forget that time in my life, a time in which I drew closer to God in sobriety and humility.
If you aren't aware or haven't guessed by now, Ronan Tynan was one of the Irish Tenors. I was greatly pleased and somewhat moved to see him stand and, even before addressing the audience, hear him sing Isle of Hope (Isle of Fears).
Though being a world-class singer is as grand an achievement as any might hope to attain in life, Ronan Tynan has done so much more than this... all with a physically impaired set of legs. I was previously not even aware that he wears prosthetics from the knees down. Yet after having both legs amputated, he won sixteen gold medals and set fourteen world records as a paralympian in the '80s. Later, he became a doctor and practitioner of medicine. And even later still, already in his thirties, he sought to develop his singing talent. Since then, the world has come to recognize him as one of the three Irish Tenors, and recently, as a solo effort which has been highly successful.
What a great example of effort and desire resulting in great talent! And all of us, the onlookers, reap the rewards...