2/15/21: Brooks West

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To my FOTO fam, 

This one may be a long one, but I promise you, you’ll want to listen up – so don’t pull out your phone whenever whoever reads this inevitably butchers words and dreads reading a long one, cause you may hang on to some of the words I say – I was an English major for a reason. (And Paxton if you’re reading this, I swear to God you better be enthusiastic.)

 

If we’re going by permanently putting ink on your body, I think I may be the most dedicated FOTO member of all time. Me and FOTO were really about that life. In all reality, no matter how many hours I put in w/ being on the board for three years, dancing in THON, and being president – FOTO has given me a lot more than I’ve given it. It had this amazing way of giving you more than what you put in. My wedding will most likely be filled with half former FOTO members and (hopefully) I’ll be saying I do to another FOTO alumni. The relationships you form, even if you get friend zoned by half the girls in FOTO (keep fighting my brothers you get out eventually) – the relationships are real. As real as it gets, take advantage of that and find your people in FOTO because they’re some of the most amazing people in the world. 

 

But the reason you’re all on zoom, the reason you’re locked in and ready for THON, the reason you’re all in FOTO is for the kids. My favorite memory about the kids in FOTO came with Logan and Matty (not to downplay Megan – she’s literally a goat and the Queen of FOTO). But before I got in FOTO, when my older sister was in it, Logan was going through chemo and cancer. You see him not as a ninja warrior and almost forget he went through a lot of the worst days of his life with FOTO. But when Logan was on his last day of chemo. He beat cancer. He was in tears, crying to his mom, and asked her “Does this mean I won’t get to see FOTO anymore because I don’t have cancer?” In his darkest days he made it out alive and was more worried about seeing FOTO. When someone asks you why you THON, why you’re in FOTO – think of that, think of just how much you all mean to all three of our families.  When Matty was also going through chemo when I was in FOTO and very involved, I remember being at the trammels in their basement – utter chaos. Running around, toys everywhere, screaming, nerf bullets whizzing all around. Matty calmly said hold on. Went to the bathroom. Threw up. Washed his hands and came back to play. In that moment it made me realize just how strong those kids were. No matter what was going on in my life, the stress of college, an exam – that little kid was going through cancer and doing it with a smile on his face. The strength of our FOTO families are remarkable and we should all try to live our lives with that bravery. Think of that if you’re tired during THON, next year when your feet hurt in the stands, when you’re just having a bad day – think of their incredible strength. 

 

Last year in the stands, when we saw our total. I cried. The tears flowed like a baby. Because all of the work (in a year I thought there was immense change, nothing compared to you guys now) but all of the hard work shows in that moment. You see the total and you should all feel something. You should feel proud. Know your efforts and the money you raised makes a difference. Make friends, laugh and cry with FOTO, love the families, and just have fun those 4 years you get it. Cause like me now, I miss it so fucking much. I love all of you guys even the ones I haven’t met cause you’re carrying on a legacy that means the world to me. Good luck, I’m proud of you, and fucking smash it at THON.

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©2021 FOTO

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