Today…I wanted to take a moment and write a blog about the importance of celebrating others and their lives. I’ve shared why being involved with others is important for referrals, but today’s blog isn’t referrals or business at all. It’s about celebrating others.

I had the unfortunate experience of losing a friend a couple of months ago.

David Pepka was a great guy. Larger than life! Literally and figuratively. David was a 1992 graduate of Milton Hershey School. While I don’t remember much of our early years together I do remember David always being a champion of me and my multiple businesses.

In November 2018, I had the pleasure of speaking at Milton Hershey School for their Leadership Conference. I was so honored to be back home. I put the word out on Facebook and David messaged me. He moved some things in his schedule and we spent 4 hours together at the Hershey Lodge that night. We reminisced, we laughed, we joked, and we enjoyed a few adult beverages. Well…I should say David watched me enjoy adult beverages because he didn’t drink.

David Pepka and Matt Ward


Insert selfie here that you take with your friends when you are having a great time!

David played the trombone, was a magician, and a really good one at that, and he served his community volunteering at numerous organizations. David was a down to earth guy, someone that could walk into a room, make strangers laugh and then make them immediate friends. He cared for others in a way I rarely if ever have seen others do. When you talked to David, it was rarely about him, it was always about the person he was talking to! David lived a life of caring.

After David passed away I waited for the announcement of a service. A few days after the sad news of his passing it was announced that David didn’t want a service but rather a celebration of life. David had battled Lymphoma a few times and had conversations with his closest friends that he did not want a memorial service. He wanted Magicians, Musicians, and a Celebration.

Not A Shocker!

David celebrated life!

So today, I write this sitting at Gate A10 at BWI Airport on my way home to Boston, having just attended the celebration…and a great one it was.

Many stories were shared about David, and how he was larger than life, cared about everyone, knew everyone, and connected with everyone.

David set the bar for how to live life, and how to celebrate someone’s life after they pass.
Today, we celebrated David! And I mean Celebrated.
There were photos for sure, stories for sure, there was Donuts! DJ’s. High School Friends. Lymphoma Foundation Friends. Magicians. The Milton Hershey School Alumni Jazz Band, and even a full-on Marching Band (No Last Call).

Today, I want you to go celebrate someone you are connected to. Show them you care. Listen. Do it for David. Do it for me. Do it for you. Or better yet…Do it for the person you show the care for! That’s what David would want!

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