Samuel Avery Woodruff was born May 4, 1998 and died August 10, 2013. His untimely passing has turned the entire Moab community upside down as he was known and beloved by so many people in our town.
Sam didn’t live an easy life as he was raised by a single mother with modest means and bullied from an early age for being different. However, he never let his circumstances change who he was as a person. He was kind, funny and friendly – he would do anything for anyone close to him.
In his eulogy to Sam, auto shop teacher Kenny Windsor offered a list, written by Sam, of his fears. Sam’s fears included things like fire and tornadoes, but it appears one thing he wasn’t afraid of was trying new things. If he wanted to know how to do something or how something worked, he would find out. He wasn’t embarrassed to ask or afraid of being judged for not knowing.
When he started out playing football, he wasn’t athletic like the other guys and didn’t know what they knew about the sport, but he didn’t let that stop him from doing everything he could to catch up to the pack. He went from not knowing how to lift a weight to being able to bench press 225 pounds and became an accepted and beloved member of the team. Being a member of the Red Devil football team was one of the most important things in Sam’s life and brought him much happiness as by his mother Merry Woodruff’s account, he was always smiling right before and after football practice.
I can think of many examples in my own life where I could have taken a page from Sam’s book. I share two of Sam’s most passionate interests – football and cars – but I never lived up to my potential in football, in part because I was embarrassed to go to the weight room where my teammates would see that I couldn’t lift as much as them, so I shied away. It was the same way with cars – by the time I took an interest in knowing about cars and car repair, many of my peers already knew, so I shied away. If I couldn’t do a task and do it relatively well right from the beginning, I ran from it so as not to be judged for not being one of the best. Hearing accounts of how Sam lived his life should teach us all that we can’t succeed if we’re afraid to try.
Whether it be on the football field, in the auto shop or in any aspect of life, If we haven’t tried, we’ve already failed and you can’t truly call anything a failure until you’ve given up. Sam was inspiring in life and in death. His untimely passing has brought an entire community together. The football team, which he worked so hard for and was so proud to be a part of, dedicated the 2013 season to his honor. If we all let go of our fears of failure and fears of judgment the way Sam did, we can all inspire others and inspire ourselves.