Author. Singer. Actor. Runner. Athlete. Friend. Brother. Christian. Inspiration. Hero. Thinker. Lover. Fighter.
Dylan Bonds is many things. Above all, though, he is someone I know as a brother.
When I first met you, you seemed like the kind of person who I could see myself hanging out with in 50 years–for real. Something that strikes me as special to this day was the powerful bond we made early on in our friendship that has remained even in times when we may not get to see each other often. Truly, you are the person who I have laughed, cried, and lived my life alongside all through high school, and I’m going to miss you a lot in Oklahoma.
Fighter. Dylan, I know most people don’t think of you as a fighter, but I remember you as the single biggest inspiration to me as an athlete I’ve ever had. It was the 2013 Cross Country State Championship. Your leg was bad and you hadn’t run for two weeks. You arrived on the course heavily bandaged and limping. During our warm-up run, you obviously were struggling; the pain lingered on your face. Coach pulled you aside and told you that you didn’t have to run–that it would be okay, you had still had a great season. Then, you turned to us. You had this confidence that radiated from you–a confidence I can only hope to emulate. You looked each of us in the eye, man to man, and said, “There is no way in the world that I’d miss state and let my brothers down. I’m running.” Whenever I’m feeling tired or sore, whenever I’m down, I think of what you said to me then and I can promise you that someday you are going to be front row at the Olympics and I want you to take my victory lap with me, you inspired me so much. You fought and let your body suffer to stand beside us. That is what a fighter, a brother, does.
Brother. You are like the brother that always gives wise counsel in a time of need. Whenever I need help or support, you are there to listen. It’s been a ride of twists and turns, yes, but through it all I know that whatever happens, you can see me for who I am. Not as a far-away entity, but as Ben Butler, the person. You bring me back down to earth when I need to be humbled, and you encourage me when I need to be brought up.
Inspiration. You inspired me to be in Beauty and the Beast. You’ve given me the perspective to simply go out and enjoy life, taking time to make memories with the ones you care about most. And so you’ve been the person who I can only try to copy, you’re so talented.
You’re a true hero to me. If there’s anyone I wish I could be more like, it would be you.
And who could forget the infamous day of cross country team pictures. It was a windy day, cold, when a small lady of Indian heritage called out your name: Doylan Bond. I now join you as But Benler, ready to take on the world.
Thanks for everything,