In short, Danny was my childhood. And to think, even though we had known each other since we were each other’s first kiss in 6th grade… our story really all began with one particularly humiliating high school happening.
When I was 15, I got asked to the homecoming dance by one of Moeller High Schools studliest bachelors. I was thrilled. The day was getting closer and closer and I had the perfect dress, the perfect shoes, and the perfect stick-on hair crystals that made me feel like Princess Di. (I was that girl.) What wasn’t so perfect though, was my “dream date.” He wasn’t calling me to tell me the plans for the dance that was very rapidly approaching. I tried calling him a couple times to get some information and establish a friendship with him before the big day, since I didn’t know him very well. He never called me back. I brushed it off, dubbing my new beau to be as the elusive/spontaneous type.
The night before the dance, I still hadn’t heard from him. I went to a high school football game to take my mind off things. He was there. I saw a crowd of kids circling him- laughing at his jokes, trying to impress him with their wit, wishing they were him. I walked up to the crowd.
“Hey _______!” I called out. He turned my way, and upon seeing me, rolled his eyes to everyone else.
“Yeeeeah?” I froze. “What. Do. You. Want?”
“Are we still on for the dance tomorrow? Should I come to your house or are you coming to mine?” He took two steps in my direction.
“Jesus, just leave me alone, I’m with my friends!” Everyone laughed at me. I was humiliated and most probably spent the rest of the evening crying into a pillow.
The next day I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t even know if he was planning on me going with him or not. The dance was rapidly approaching and I was pacing back and forth the house in my party dress and slippers. I didn’t hear from him until a half hour before the dance.
“Yo, be here in 30. We have a limo.” Click.
I mean, SERIOUSLY?!
I screamed with rage and (naturally) exploded into a fit of tears. My mom came upstairs I dished about my entire situation. We both decided that I absolutely should not go because he was rude and disrespectful to me. I pretended to be brave rather than disappointed and terrified at what his reaction would be.
At 7:10 the phone rings again.
“Where are you? What do you mean you’re not coming? Screw you, you suck anyways. Going to be more fun with out you b----.” More tears. Hugs from Mom. The phone rings again.
“Hey Meg, it’s Danny O’keefe. I just wanted to make sure you’re okay.” Danny was in the limo with _______. It could have been so easy for him to ignore the situation since he wasn’t involved, but he cared about me enough to check on me. He apologized for his friend. He let me know that he thought I was a great person. That he cared about me. And he wished me to have a good night, despite everything.
I hung up the phone smiling. So much so that my mom made a comment about how I was bipolar. And that’s the power of a truly genuine and caring person, ladies and gentlemen- Danny O’Keefe.
We went on to become the most idyllic of high school sweethearts imaginable. Danny would throw clumps of mulch at my window just to talk to me from below. He set up a romantic dinner for me on our anniversary. On my birthday, he brought me a caramel frappuccino (my fave) and a cake before he went to school. He lit the candles with my parents and carried the cake up to my room singing while I was still sleeping. We kept each other out of trouble. Didn’t get into anything most high school kids get into because all we needed was each other’s company. We motivated each other to be the best we could be.
I remember studying for the SATs together in my living room. It was tough! But we were, and still are, determined to be huge successes in life. When I found out that my parents were getting divorced, Danny was one of the only people who could really understand how much this pained me. I have a couple other close friends who knew my family and were amazing. But nobody knew them like Danny did. They were his family too. He cried with me. He was angry with me. He was and still is always there for me. I was in Los Angeles at the time, but when Danny would see my mom out while she was going through the divorce, he’d give her a big hug, telling her that he loved her and was there for her.
He’s always been such a good man. And I’m honored to know him and have him in my life. Just the other day my grandma went to see him. It was her birthday and he gave her a present. Even with everything he’s going through in his life right now, he’s still thinking of others.
There are so many awesome stories that I have to tell about Danny, but I’m not going to go on and on because it will probably embarrass him. I know this already has. He can be a shy one!
I know Danny doesn’t want to be put on a pedestal, having people call him a hero all the time. He appreciates it, but he just wants to focus on improving. Not reliving what happened last year. Danny is an amazing person and he did an incredibly brave thing. But he did what he had to do- for his sister and for himself. Any person capable of the huge ability to love that Danny possesses would have done the same. More than anything, Danny wants and needs to get better. Nowish, if possible J.
He wants his life back to normal. He wants to be able to communicate everything he’s thinking. He wants to be able to move freely. Run again. Drum again. Practice law again. He wants a normal life. Marriage. Kids.
I know he will have this someday because he is determined, motivated, and optimistic. But until things are back to normal, every day is exhausting and he is incredibly frustrated. Every day is a struggle. How couldn’t it be- having to work so hard for things that used to be automatic for him and working his entire life to achieve a certain level of success, only to have some evil man try and take it away from him? Please help. Please donate whatever you can to help my friend get his life back to normal. No one deserves it more than him. He’s tops J.