In the fall of 2003, Justin Perkins had just completed his junior football season when he was diagnosed with stomach cancer. Despite having to go through chemotherapy, he was determined to play football again. With fortitude and a positive attitude, Justin began helping other patients going through similar treatment and battling cancer alongside of him. He eventually became healthy enough to play in the final three games of his senior year and inspired his school and the community.

Justin’s wish all along was “I want to help people after I’m gone.” Sadly he lost his fight with cancer in October of 2008.

Through the efforts of a loving family and a couple of local businessmen, the Justin Perkins Sandlot Award was created in 2009 “to recognize individuals for selfless, ongoing community service and encourage their efforts” (symbolizing Justin’s character) given to distinguished graduating seniors of Monta Vista High School in Cupertino, CA and neighboring schools.

None of the recipients contributed their time to encourage the underprivileged, serve the elderly, raise $100,000 for an African village or help cancer patients for the notoriety or for a reward. They did it because “it just needed to be done.” This honor does not only support and assist students to continue to help others, but it also carries on Justin’s legacy and wish.

From this award the website www.sandlothero.com was born, which has become a source and breeding ground for people throughout the country to share inspirational stories and opportunities of ways to impact others through selfless acts of kindness and servanthood.

Isn’t that what Jesus told us we should do—love others as ourselves? (Mark 12:31).

Like Justin and all of the recipients of his namesake award, we can make a huge difference if we put our own needs and desires aside to serve others. And the greatest achievement we can realize is to help someone who doesn’t even know who we are.

As I concluded my walk around the National Cemetery, one thing that stuck out in my mind was the number of markers simply labeled as “Unknown.” On each of those grave stones someone had left a single yellow mum, almost to say, “I haven’t forgotten you or what you did for us,” and neither has God. 

Be a hero known only to God today.

The man who was healed had no idea who it was, for Jesus had slipped away into the crowd that was there (John 5:13).


 

Cliff Young is a contributing writer to Sandlot Stories (ARose Books), as well as the monthly column, "He Said-She Said," in Crosswalk.com's Singles Channel.  An architect and former youth worker, he now works with Christian musicians and consults for a number of Christian ministries. Got feedback?  Send your comments and questions to cydmg@yahoo.com.