Sunday, September 10, 2017

Special Friendships

Sunday September 10, 2017

I can safely say I have friends all over this great state of Florida. Many from schools, but there's one particular friendship that's like no other. Samantha Zullo is her name.

I graduated high school in 1994 and there was never a doubt that I would attend FSU. I auditioned for and became a member of "The World Renowned Florida State University Marching Chiefs." It was grueling and I worked hard to be part of the band. I quickly made a very good friend in Gary Zullo.
Edi Gay, me and Gary Zullo 1994 Prism Concert
Me and David 3 weeks
before we got married. 

Gary and I dated for a few years and we definitely were an immediate family and have remained friends for life. 

We continued to be friends after we dated. Gary married Samantha and I married David. Sadly, I never actually met Sam (in person) until at Gary's funeral in 2010. They had one son together, Mikey, and I love him like a nephew.

Dr. D. Plack 1/1/10
I remember like yesterday, when I received the call that Gary had passed away. Michael Staden actually called me as I was searching for my Chiefs family at the Jacksonville Jaguar stadium. Gary's passing wasn't expected - - not that day anyway. He was only 33. I searched for family,  and I found Dr. Dunnigan and Dr. Plack who invited me to sit with the band.
Dr. P. Dunnigan

So, some people think I'm a little crazy for FSU. Well,  I am. These people are my family, they've taken care of me in tough times and good times. Marching Chiefs was the first family that took me in when I moved from home in Winter Springs, FL. 

What's this have to do with Hurricane Irma?

Me and Samantha Zullo
Sam lives in South Florida with her son,  Mikey,  and now her fiancĂ©,  Brad. She is one of the strongest women that I know. I'm proud to call her my friend. I hate the circumstances which made us closer, but I know Gary must have planned it.

Samantha and Michael Zullo
While Gary may no longer be with us physically, he was a stubborn guy and I'm proud he was my friend. I've been praying like crazy for my friends in Florida. I know the Zullos lost power this afternoon. I keep in touch because I know that Gary would want that. Our Chiefs family comes together in good times and bad.

Gary on Bourbon St. 12/31/96

I never want to be a downer so I'll leave this post with smiles. The last bowl game I attended as a (student) Chief was Sugar Bowl 1996 (actually,  1/2/97 was the date of the bowl game). Gary and I were not 21 (but New Orleans doesn't care). We were there with many Gators, settling a tied game from regular season. That said, ties haven't happened in college football since then.

Me and officer who held Gary's beer 
The police still protected us and a cop even held Gary's beer so he could take my picture. New Year's Eve has both some good memories and some bad. What's funniest about these 2 pictures is we're actually both wearing our Chief's "official" ponchos. We were working with a 35mm camera and limited film, so selfies weren't really a thing.

Please be safe,  Florida friends. Stay positive and make memories and maybe a few new friends.

Grant and Mikey

The Crazy Doctors
Family is Forever!

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