It's no wonder why David Aguirre carries a handkerchief with him. During a 45-minute interview, overcome with emotion, Aguirre used it to wipe his eyes four times.
"I leak," said Aguirre, who at age 53 has been battling cancer for five years.
Aguirre, a financial planner for New York Life Insurance Company, has a youthful appearance about him. His skin looks weathered, but his eyes are clear blue, which punctuate his poignant stories.
Aguirre works for the betterment of the youths in the community. Whether coaching high school football, serving as a Young Men's president or working as a Scoutmaster for an inner-city ward, he and the youths seem to be magnetic.
"The energy is there (with the youths)," Aguirre said. "If you want to have an impact for good there's not a better place to be. That's where I think the growth is."
The Salt Lake Exchange Club asked Aguirre to be the Scoutmaster for at-risk youth for six months while they found a replacement. Aguirre served in that position for 23 years while working at New York Life and serving in a bishopric.
"They always gave him their best and never gave him any trouble," said Mary, Aguirre's wife. "He believes kids will be just what you tell them they are so he always tells them they're great."
Aguirre has served as the stake Young Men's president for the past 10 years. Among the many ways he uses to help them "understand who they really are" is the "Be the Miracle" basketball tournament.
The game is like no other played in LDS gymnasiums. At the end of each quarter, the boys gather around the scorekeeper's table for a mini-fireside. Music is played and inspirational words are given. Aguirre takes this time to teach an object lesson, or share a personal experience, all focused on being the miracle in someone else's life.
Throughout the game, a buzzer will occasionally go off and the boys will have to answer questions, such as, "What is the stake president's wife's name?" Or, they could be asked to "make a human pyramid, climb to the top and recite the Scout oath." Correct responses lead to foul shots. The winner of the game receives a trophy that consists of a tomato soup can with a polar bear glued on top of it.
"It's to get kids focused on service and being the miracle in someone else's life," said Aguirre, describing how once he gave out marbles to the boys with the world painted on them to carry with them in their pockets. "If you're the miracle in someone's life, it can affect the whole world."
The players also know what to expect if they exhibit any poor sportsmanship during a game.
"We'll have a mini-fireside if there's a problem," Aguirre said. "We've stopped a region senior game ... If we stop twice we'll have to forfeit (both teams). But we've never had to do that."
Aguirre has helped these countless boys obtain Eagle Scouts and Duty to God awards while battling cancer. He was diagnosed five years ago with prostate cancer. The disease persists, despite numerous surgeries and radiation.
"I could be a White Sox fan, that would be worse," joked Aguirre, a father of seven and grandfather of 23.
Two years ago, the youths went on a pioneer trek, planned right in the middle of Aguirre's radiation therapy. He felt weak and without energy, but wanted to participate. After praying about it, he and Mary decided he would go.
"I went and it was great," Aguirre said. "I had energy and no pain ... It all came back when we went home. I found out (later) that a whole ward (from the Midvale East Stake) fasted for me."
Along with his stake calling, Aguirre was recently asked to serve as district chair for the Scout district in the Sandy and Midvale areas.
He has simple advice for those working with the youths.
"Get out of the way of the youth," Aguirre said. "Love your kids, get them started, then get out of the way. Let them lead, let them mess up. We act as bumper guards to keep them on the path."
He added that no one will have as easy a time as he in facing challenges because "I don't think anybody has the wife I have.""You don't meet very many of those kinds of people in your lifetime," said Elana Barrow, one of Aguirre's neighbors. "He's made a difference in so many people's lives, the young men especially."
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