It’s hard to believe that a few days ago marked a year that had passed since my friend and mentor Allen Thornell left us. His time here on earth was too short, but it was definitely one that left an impact on so many of us.

I will never forget Allen asking me to run his campaign for the state legislature in 2006. I didn’t really know him, but I was ready to run a campaign and jumped at the opportunity after we met and discussed the campaign.

I had no idea what was in store for me. My time working for Allen opened so many doors for me. I met so many great, progressive people in our state, especially in metro Atlanta, learned what it meant to be proud of who you are and truly learned from one of the best when it comes to mastering the nuts and bolts of an effective campaign. I also was given so many opportunities to work for equality and progressive causes around the country because of Allen’s connections and his time training me to become, what I consider, a good campaigner.

But I write this blog today not to just remember Allen’s memorable campaign and his attempt to become the first openly gay and HIV positive member of the Georgia General Assembly. I today also write about my late friend because I want us to remember what Allen taught us.

Allen showed that with persistence, confidence and a love for people and life in general you could change the world one day at a time. He showed so many of us that it is important to stand up for what you believe, to believe in yourself and to believe in others. His courage and compassion motivated so many people to work hard for progressive issues like LGBT equality, empowering local communities and standing up for working families.

His determination was so inspiring. With all that life had dealt him, he never gave up and he never complained. Anytime I needed to be grounded or inspired, or reminded about how lucky I am to have been given certain talents and opportunities, I could turn to Allen and be given just the right advice.

Above all else, he showed us that persistence and passion are key to living a blessed life and that the sky is the limit. I miss him like crazy, but I know for certain that he is making miracles happen everyday now and that he is constantly with us and reminding us to enjoy life and whatever it may bring.

I hope that you will take the time to remember Allen’s time here on earth and the lasting impact his service to each of us meant. I also hope that you will build on his legacy of working for good causes and remember that we do have the power, both individually and collectively, to see real change happen each and every day and in communities throughout our state and country.


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