That summer. No one could ever take it away from me. I was leaving second grade and entering third. I was making decisions that affected me for the rest of my life and just talking about that summer evokes magical images. It was a summer that I would first play a sport, Little League Baseball. It was the “Summer of 69.”

For the first time that summer I understood how important sports were in my family. My parents, both born prior to World War II, loved to work with kids. That year, as volleyball coaches, was one of their most successful seasons. The joy of being around a champion opened my eyes to what it would take to become one. Talent was just as important as working hard and becoming the best you can be. But the biggest lessons I've learned that summer, and reinforced in the years ahead, was perseverance.

During that summer I began the odyssey of choosing the teams that I would support throughout my life. While one of my cousins was choosing every champion from that year, I began to look at those sports teams that were known for their perseverance.

Indiana and Notre Dame, two local universities with rich traditions in basketball and football, were natural selections. Also, that summer, I was introduced to my hero, Harmon Killebrew, so from afar I rooted for the Minnesota Twins. And then there was this town a few miles to the west of us. They called it Chicago.

Since those magical days of that summer, I would cheer loudly and celebrate each time my team became a champion and there were quite a few: 1973, 1976, 1977, 1981, 1987, 1988, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1996, 1997, 1998, 2005, 2010, 2013, and 2015. Just when I thought that there were no more chances of collapse, a three run lead evaporated with four outs remaining. I thought that it was going to happen again.

I loved it when the Irish, Hoosiers, Bears, Twins, Bulls, Sox, and Blackhawks won their championships, don’t get me wrong. But this most recent championship was not special to me just because it was my team. It wasn’t because it was for Ronnie or Ernie or Harry or Jack or the countless stars and utility players that graced Cubby blue. This championship was special because the Cubbies never gave up no matter what obstacle came their way.

It was only fitting that the Cubs won after a rain delay in extra innings. It was only fitting that the Cubs persevered, especially when even I feared another collapse. It is only fitting that the Cubs and more importantly sports are a metaphor for life. It was only fitting that I learned perseverance starting that summer.

Each day living with Parkinson’s reminds me to persevere just like my Mom and Dad have living and dying with the Cubs. They have always believed that “This Year” will be the year. They instilled in me through their love of sports and the Cubbies to fight hard. To believe. To persevere. The Cubbies did last night…and I will today.