The ITEN Wired planning team is comprised of volunteers who believe in the potential of the tech/innovation sector and entrepreneurial community of the Gulf Coast. Each year when the summit wraps up, someone always asks me if I will be back to lead the planning for the following year. There is no hesitation in getting a resounding “yes” to come out of my mouth. The reasons are many, but being able to work with this crew is at the top of the list. It has been amazing to watch a special bond form within the team over the years as the summit “grows up” right before our eyes. The time and dedication the ITEN Wired family gives in the months leading up to October is immeasurable and I cannot sing their praises enough.
But ITEN Wired ’16 will be a bittersweet chapter in this story. On September 16th, the ITEN family lost one of its own. Charles McCown, a long-time member of our sponsorship committee, passed away after a courageous battle with cancer. He was 43.
Charles and I became friends several years ago and from the very beginning, I knew he was a kind and giving soul. I can never recall a time where he was without a smile or not willing to step in and help wherever he was needed. Everyone one I met who knew Charles would say the same, so I knew my perception of him was spot on.
Earlier this year, Charles broke the news to me that he was having to deal with some medical issues and that he was going to have to step down for a while. True to form, he had a positive feeling about the situation and had me convinced that he would be back in the saddle in no time.
I followed Charles’ progress over the last six months on a Facebook page he set up specifically to document his fight. The page title? “Pure Joy in Fighting Cancer.” That was Charles in a nutshell. No matter what the circumstances. No matter how adverse the situation. Nothing was going to keep him from being a positive example to the rest of us. Every entry made is one of hope and gratitude for what he had. It is my wish that the page remains active so it will serve as a reminder for those who have read it and an inspiration to those who have yet to discover it.
On September 14th Charles made his last entry. It ended with this statement.
I was speaking to our neighbor via Facebook Messenger. We were talking about friends and she said: “It’s true what they say… friends are like diamonds… precious, but rare…” this makes me a rich man.
Please keep Charles’s family and friends in your thoughts and prayers as they deal with this unexpected loss. ITEN Wired ’16 will not be the same because we will not see him wandering the floor, sharing a smile with the rest of us as we watch the summit unfold. But I am sure we will still feel his presence and a sense of comfort for being blessed to have him as one of our own during his short time here.
Rest in peace, Charles,
September 19, 2016
March 20, 1973 – September 16, 2016
Please consider making a donation to the college scholarship fund that has been set up for Charles’ children, Alexandra and Victoria, at Pen Air Federal Credit Union.