Are You Prepared?

By David Bailey, General Manager

March 2023

We spend a lot of time in the electric industry planning for every contingency. We prepare for growth and for weather events, even though there are always some storms that throw us a curveball that’s beyond our control.

But today I find myself thinking about a more personal kind of preparation. Back in December, I lost a good friend in Donnie Snipes. His older brother, Michael, and I graduated high school together, but our friendship went back to the third grade.

Donnie fought hard in his battle against the coward called cancer. To anyone who knew him that was hardly a surprise. Back when he graduated high school in 1979, the economy made it difficult for young people to find jobs, so Donnie enlisted in the military and went off to basic training.

While coming back from the firing range one day he and his troop stopped for a break. Weapons are always supposed to be unloaded before leaving the range, but on that day someone hadn’t done their due diligence. Donnie heard a pop and the next thing he knew a bullet had gone into his knee and exited the back of his leg.

He spent the next six months recovering in a military hospital in South Carolina. When he returned home, the athletic body he’d once possessed was hardly more than skin and bones. The military had deemed him 100% disabled, but the first thing he wanted to do was get back in the gym.

By the time we were in college, he had worked his way back to being fit for duty. But that wasn’t enough for Donnie. As he saw it, if he was fit for duty he might as well head back to basic. He excelled, completing his come-back from 100% disabled to active military. 

That fighting spirit was always a part of Donnie and he pushed the people around him, too. I remember him joining me on a trip to Washington, D.C., for a facial surgery I needed. When I came out, I looked like I had gone 15 rounds with George Foreman. I wanted to take it easy and recover, but Donnie wouldn’t let me. We were in D.C., he said, we needed to see this.

He never wanted anyone to be complacent about anything, and he fought cancer the same way. In recent months, as his illness worsened, I visited him and he told me how much better that time together made him feel. You could see hope in his eyes as he started to feel like he could really win that fight.

But Donnie wasn’t just prepared physically. He was, however, prepared spiritually. He always had a prayer journal at his bedside to write down his prayers for all the people in his life. That’s what I call being ready for anything.

The last time I saw Donnie was the day he passed. I told him I was going to miss him and found myself thinking back to all the times he had asked me to race in our younger days. I was never foolish enough to take him up on the challenge because I knew he’d blow me away. But I always got the impression he wasn’t trying to show off. He wanted me to race because it would make me better.

So on that last visit, I told him that I never did race him on Earth but promised I would race him when we both get to heaven. A few hours later he went on to be with his Lord.

It was a reminder that preparedness isn’t just about winterizing our system or building out more electric infrastructure. That work is important, and you can count on us to keep doing it. But ask yourself if you’re prepared physically and spiritually for everything else life might throw at you. I know Donnie was.