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Volunteers gathered in Chicago’s West Side neighborhood to help clean and beautify the YMCA Child Care Community Center

I’ll bet that at my most upbeat, I land pretty much in the middle of the spectrum of upbeatness. But there are always a few days every so often where I jump up the scale−− a few days where I feel like I’m where I’m supposed to be, I’m with the people I’m supposed to be with, and I’m better than average as a result. And I think that on the Saturday where hundreds of caring friends and family were out doing something good for the community in Tyler’s name, everyone was having one of those days. During Amanda’s opening speech at the beginning of our day cleaning up the YMCA for CommuniTyler Chicago, she emphasized something along the lines of “Have fun, meet people, and be like Ty”. Even though that could have meant thousands of different things to the dozens of people there who knew Tyler through so many facets of life, it was a simple assignment, and flashing memories in everyone’s minds reaffirmed exactly what she was talking about. I spent the day cleaning up a few cluttered classrooms, covered on every surface with construction paper, the ribbon and rubber remnants of popped balloons, and enough crayola products to make a Macy’s float. Throughout the day, I caught glimpses of silent smiles everywhere I looked, people grinning inwardly, remembering any of the billions of times Ty made somebody laugh. Near the end, I walked around to a room where people were painting beautiful signs, a grimy basement that had been totally reorganized by a few workers wearing animal bibs, and a dance party to a different radio station in each classroom. When our cleanup ended, the spaces were looking great, and I’d met a few new people who I really enjoyed learning about.

Since graduating from Northwestern and moving into Chicago, it’s exceedingly rare to see so many people I love in the same place. And if CommuniTyler happens every year in so many places across the country, I know that wherever I am I’ll have that opportunity. At the end of the day, I was listing all of the amazing friends who I’d seen at that day to a friend on gchat, who quickly added, “Don’t forget Ty. He was there too”.

−Justin Cohler

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