Birthdays are a beautiful thing. They are such a meaningful celebration of making it through another year, gaining 365 days’ worth of experience and lessons, and looking to what the now “one year older” version of you has to offer. They get a little harder as you get older though, and even more so after you lose someone.
So when I think about honoring my father, Paul Newman, on what would have been his 92nd birthday, I try to think about it as a celebration of another year helping fulfill his vision, 365 days’ worth of lessons about life and love, and looking forward to how this new year gives us so many opportunities to make amazing, life-changing things happen in this world – just as he would have done.
My Pop had a lot of love in his life. Certainly his love for my mother and our family, love for his friends, and he truly loved giving back. One of the things he loved most was shedding his “actor” image and heading out to camp to just be Paul, everyone’s favorite “big kid” and of course, the guy who makes their favorite lemonade. And while he allowed me and my sisters to discover our own passions – the things that made us want to try a little harder and be a little better – giving back was always at the core of it. The point was, discover your passion so you can truly love everything you do in life and hopefully help others love life a little more too.
So while my passion has always been horses (as you can see, and he was pretty passionate about being at all of my shows), what I love doing is keeping his vision and his passion for giving back alive. Working with SeriousFun Children’s Network, our camps, campers, families, staff, volunteers and partners is a sort of a gift that my Pop gave me – one that allows me to truly feel like we are together every day. So on what would have been his 92nd birthday, my gift to him is a promise – a promise that as long as we are still receiving children with serious illnesses and their families at camp totally free of charge, Paul the “big kid” will always have a seat at the table.
Happy birthday Pop!
One of the newest SeriousFun camps, North Star Reach in Michigan, wanted to honor Paul Newman with a place at their table alongside their growing camp family. The chair is located in their main dining hall and travels from table to table during each camp session.