Whenever I see Charlevoix resident, and former county commissioner, Bob Drebenstedt, I love to ask him how his two boys and daughter are doing.
His eyes light up and he starts a constant chuckle as he tells about their latest adventures and how proud he is of them. I agree that Bob has a lot to be proud of with those kids. His oldest, Troy, 29, is a veteran with several tours under his belt and currently undergoing treatment for injuries sustained in Afghanistan, his other boy, Reagan, 26, is a military nurse at the very hospital that Troy is recuperating at and his daughter, Danaé, 28, is embarking on a successful business career.
Each of the Drebenstedts also share the inability to ever give up. I could see this when they joined me in the Highland Games, particularly in Troy.
Troy, while being very strong and in shape, is not a large man and he looked smaller when on the field competing against athletes well over 6 feet tall and more than 300 pounds. But, it never fazed him.
This was on full display about seven or so years ago when he competed in the boulder carry. The boulder carry is a simple event. An athlete just has to pick up a large rock and carry it longer than any of the other athletes. However, the rock in question weights about 350 pounds.
Troy walked up to the boulder, smiled, and quickly hoisted it up to his shoulder. After walking more than 300 feet with the boulder, his legs began to buckle, but he kept going. At this point, every other athlete on that field was screaming in support for him.
Troy kept walking.
After 400 feet, his body could finally no longer keep up with his spirit and he had to drop the rock. He fell to the ground in exhaustion as every athlete on that field jumped to their feet and ran over to congratulate him on this monster feat.
This same “never quit” attitude popped up in his military career. I lost count in the number of tours he did in Iraq and Afghanistan, but remember him telling me each time before he was heading over that he felt he had to do it, for his military brothers. And three times he left those tours with a war injury, each time vowing to be back on the battlefield after he recovered.
The last injury was the result of an IED exploding basically under his feet. It was the type of incident that would have killed a man instantly, and did kill some of his fellow soldiers. But, not Troy. He lived and is in recovery in Texas.
Bob brought me up-to-date with Troy’s recovery a few weeks ago. In addition to telling me just how stubborn his boy is, he mentioned an organization called the Wounded Warrior Project that was helping Troy with his recovery. Bob raved about the organization and how much it helps injured troops.
This caught my attention because I had just returned from a highland game competition, where two athletes competed against each other in a special event and used the opportunity to raise money for this organization. The athletes in question were familiar with Troy and his injuries and were delighted to find out later that Troy was being helped by the Wounded Warrior Project. In a way, the athletes felt they were helping Troy — a fellow highland athlete — when they raised money.
And now I get my chance to help too.
This Saturday I will be competing in the Gaylord Highland Games. I have been challenged by another athlete to a caber competition, to determine who is the better caber tosser between the two of us. (For those of you who are unfamiliar with the caber, the caber is a 20-foot-long log — sort of like a telephone pole — that is picked up by a competitor and tossed end-over-end.) As part of this challenge we are raising money for the Wounded Warrior Project.
So basically, I am going to throw a tree for Troy and military members whose bravery far exceeds any that I could dream of having. It will be a great honor for me to do so and to raise money for this organization that helps someone I know and respect so greatly.
Plus, beating this other athlete that challenged me will be fun. And trust me, I will beat him.
Please come and join us from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, across from the Otsego County Sportsplex, and help us raise money for the Wounded Warrior Project, while cheering on my victory.
I look forward to hearing more stories from Bob about his sons and daughter. And I hope the Wounded Warrior Project helps Troy recover even faster from his injuries and give him more adventures for Bob to talk about.
Jeremy McBain is executive editor of the News-Review. Email him at email@example.com.