Gene Zackerman shares a first-hand account of

how we can all make a difference

GUEST COLUMN: By Gene Zackerman

LOVELAND, OH (September 19, 2020) – Gene Zackerman is an avid marathon runner (currently recovering from knee surgery), may be the foremost expert on The Beatles, and resides in Loveland, Ohio with his wife Valerie. Loveland Beacon asked him to share this personal story with readers here:

Gene Zackerman, Loveland, Ohio (Provided)

It really doesn’t matter if we’re living in difficult times like now, or in times that we would describe as less challenging.  Here is a story about the little things we do that can make a difference in someone’s day, or even someone’s life.

I’m just an ordinary guy, certainly no better than anyone else.  I do have compassion though.  For several weeks now, I haven’t been able to run with my friends due to a recent surgical procedure.  I refuse to wallow in self-pity.  I still show up for group runs to support the team and engage in the camaraderie.  I usually bring a guitar to entertain myself while they are out on the road.  On Saturdays, I bring recovery drinks for them because it helps me to feel involved.

I have learned there are two known homeless guys in Blue Ash where we meet to train.  One of them has started dropping by the parking lot where I play while the runners are out doing their work. 

I realize a lot of people want to help the homeless.  I can’t be certain, but I sense that, just engaging in honest, simple conversation can be meaningful to someone in that situation.

This guy stops to see me most days when I am in the park.  We talk, just sincere conversations.  From my perspective, that is something I can do easily.  I don’t know if it helps, but there has been a general change in his demeanor, from what I had perceived as defensive posture to one of pleasant interchange.  Perhaps I don’t exhibit a judgmental attitude.  That’s not for me to say.

What I can say is that I wouldn’t have had these experiences if I hadn’t been injured and had surgery.  There will come a time when I have recovered and begin running again.  I pray that, by then, this gentleman will be able to reflect on our conversations as a light in his life.  The moral of this story is: you never know when you can be a positive influence on someone.  I will continue to be the best person I can be, and trust that God puts me in places and in times for a reason.