While preparing to give his speech at an award ceremony, an eighteen-year-old senior monitor at Christchurch Boys’ high school was told he had an aggressive form of cancer. But the New Zealand schoolboy who is in his final year at school has delivered the most emotional valedictory speech ever, despite doctors warning him that intensive chemotherapy meant he would most likely be unable to attend.
Jake Bailey was diagnosed with Burkitt lymphoma and had to be in a wheelchair to commence his speech. He said, “I wrote this before I knew I had cancer, and now I have a whole new spin on it…Here’s the thing, none of us get out of life alive. So be gallant, be great, be gracious and be grateful for the opportunities that you have.”
The young man’s insight is impeccable. He went on, “Forget about long-term dreams. Let’s be passionately dedicated to the pursuit of short-term goals. Work with passion and pride on what is in front of us. We don’t know where we might end up or when it might end up.”
Bailey’s classmates responded with loud applause, a rendition of the school song, and a Haka dance was performed in his honor. Bailey quietly uttered “thank you” to his school friends. Nic Hill, the school’s headmaster, said the global response to the speech has overwhelmed him.
His profound speech is inspiring asking other to rethink our life’s strategy. As Bailey said, “My challenge to each of you and to myself is to continue to grow and develop for the better. The future is truly in our hands.”
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