One of the most powerful stories in the history of the Olympic Games involved a canoeing specialist named Bill Havens. He was a shoe-in, I'm told, to win a gold medal in the 1924 Olympic Games in Paris. But a few months before the Games were held, he learned that his wife would likely give birth to their first child while he was away. She told him that she could make it on her own, but this was a milestone Bill just didn't want to miss. So he surprised everyone and stayed home. Bill greeted his infant son, Frank, into the world on August 1, 1924. Though he always wondered what might have been, he said he never regretted his decision.
Well, he poured his life into that little lad and shared with him a love for the rapids. Twenty-four years passed, and the Olympic Games were held in Helsinki, Finland. This time Frank Havens was chosen to compete in the canoeing event. The day after the competition, Bill received a telegram from his son that read:
"Dear Dad, Thanks for waiting around for me to be born in 1924. I'm coming home with the gold medal that you should have won." It was signed, "Your loving son, Frank."
Many would question Bill Haven's decision to miss his big opportunity in Paris, but he never wavered. He wanted his family to know that they always came first, no matter what. And that made him a hero to a little boy named Frank.