Office of the Governor Rick Perry

Gov. Rick Perry's Remarks at the Fred "Mitchie" Mitchell Eulogy

*Note - Gov. Perry frequently departs from prepared remarks.
Friday, February 02, 2007  •  Speech

I have met people who have lived longer than Mitchie, but I have never met anyone who lived more fully. To his mother Joyce, and his devoted family members and friends- I want to tell you I am one of many who shares your grief, even if not as deeply as you possibly can. I also share your joy for the difference Mitchie made during his brief time on this earth. There is a scripture in the book of Romans chapter 8, that says, “We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.” It can be hard to know how God can use the paralysis of an innocent three-old boy for good. But to have known Mitchie is to have known the truth of that statement.

I remember meeting him in 1999. Here was this courageous young man confined to a wheel chair, the victim of a drunk driving tragedy, coming to the seat of state government, the Texas Capitol, and using his own misfortune to prevent something similar happening to others. That day, as he sat in a wheelchair, he stood taller than anyone in the room. Everyone who met him that day knew passing a lower blood alcohol limit was the right thing to do, as they knew it was to pass tougher penalties and stronger license revocation laws for drunk drivers when he testified on those issues too. One time, when he spoke on the House floor, that usually rambunctious chamber came to a complete silence. They were all listening intently as little Mitchie spoke profound words in a child’s voice. He said, “children shouldn’t be in a wheelchair because people drink and drive.” Mitchie not only could grab the attention of an entire room, he could light up a room. Everyone knew he was special, not because of the severe disability he lived with, but because of the warmth he exuded, the great spirit he lived with.

Sometimes God sends us special messengers in the places where we would never think to look. Not the powerful nor the strong nor the well-heeled. But instead the meek among us. And from them comes a wisdom no scholar could ever express. One piece of wisdom is this: a full life is not the product of comfort, but courage. Mitchie was courageous, not just in dealing with debilitating injuries, but ‘til the very end as he fought a disease that attacked his central nervous system. I’m here to tell you though that Mitchie lives on, not just because we are all eternal beings, but because he lives in the many hearts he touched. He didn’t merely live a successful life, he lived a significant life. God blessed us with each of his 21 years, and He will bless us for many more with his delightful memory. May He rest in peace, and in the arms of God. God bless you all.

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