Dear Hugh O’Brian;
You changed my life, just like you changed the lives of thousands of individuals across the world; and thousands of hearts are heavy after receiving the news of your passing. Dr. Schweitzer told you, “The most important thing in education is to teach young people to think for themselves.” You took those fifteen words and created the Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership Organization: an organization that has changed the world through enthusiasm, love and service.
I think I speak on behalf of thousands of people when I say we will make it our mission to continue carrying out your vision for the world, because we have adapted the same vision. You did not teach us what to think, but you taught us how to think, and because of that the chain reaction you started will never end. A passion like yours does not wither away, but is instead an eternal flame which will live in every heart you touched. You cultivated leaders like no other, and your organization will continue to mold and empower these young people, because your legacy will live on.
The organization you created is anything but an ordinary leadership organization. HOBY has become a safe place for thousands of people, and that alone is an irreplaceable privilege. The environment one is immersed in at a HOBY seminar cannot be found anywhere else on Earth – it is a place full of enthusiasm and passion, hate does not exist, love is given freely and service is valued above all else. This is the environment you created, and this is what we will share with the rest of the world.
You believed in the most “controversial” group of people in the world: young people. You believed in us so much, you dedicated 58 years of your life to cultivating us into the leaders you knew we could be. Thank you for believing in us, investing in us and giving us wings to fly.
The amount of thanks you deserve is an incomprehensible number which I will never do justice, but I, like many others, owe so much of the life I live to you. Without you, so many of the people in my life whom I love unconditionally would be strangers, I would not have found the place I belong, I would not see the world through the beautiful lens of which I now experience life – I simply would not be anything like the person I am today without you, Hugh. I thank you with all my heart for changing my life in the best ways possible. I hope to make you proud by changing the lives of others in the ways you changed mine.
“I believe every person is created as the steward of his or her own destiny with great power for a specific purpose: to share with others, through service, a reverence for life in a spirit of love,”-Hugh O’Brian. This is the legacy we will continue, these are the words we will live by and you will always be our hero. God bless you, and may you rest in peace.
All my love and HOBY Hugs,
A passionate HOBY volunteer