Fun Facilitating Community Builder
Bob Downing is passionate about being a fun facilitator and a community builder.
Please welcome Bob to the Giggle On! Spotlight.
I respect and admire people like Bob Downing who spend their time spreading the Don’t Give Up! Giggle On! message of resiliency, laughter and playfulness.
Two weeks ago, I had lunch with Bob (or Bobby D as some call him) and his wife Amy at the Washington Street Ale House in Wilmington. We spoke about coping with loss, honoring the memory of our loves ones and creating loving and fun-filled playful communities.
Bringing people together and providing them an outlet to exercise, socialize and relieve stress is the gift Bob brings to the world. And what a great gift that is!
Fun is a state of mind. We can decide we live in a fun place or we can decide we live in a boring place. It is all about choice. – Bob Downing
Bob is the President of the Delaware Sports League.
DSL is a co-ed non-competitive adult sports league whose main purpose is to spread playfulness to the over 21 year old crowd in Delaware. Remember all the fun you had as a kid playing dodgeball, Wiffle Ball and kickball? You can choose to grab that playful spirit again as an adult.
I got in on the action and joined the Washington Street Ale House kickball team. We played our first game tonight. We didn’t win the game (we got our butts handed to us by the other side) but we all played with a winning spirit! It was a lot of fun. Come join us!
When I first met Bob in the winter of 2008, it was in the gym of Highlands Elementary School.
From the first time I heard Bob’s raspy voice greet the crowd of eager dodgeball players, I knew this enthusiastic guy loved people. My friend convinced me to join the Sweet 16 Dodgeball team (see photo – I am in the front row looking like Annette Funicello). I had a great time playing with this group. DSL is a blast!
Honoring his father’s life through play
Bob’s outlook on life and his inspiration to create DSL stemmed from a traumatic loss when he was a young boy. When Bob was 4 years old, his father, Richard “Rick” E. Downing died of cancer at the age of 27. Rick Downing was a roofer by trade and in his spare time he played, fished, hung out with his friends and enjoyed being a father.
Even though Bob didn’t have the chance to spend a lot of time with his father, Rick Downing left a legacy of love, playfulness and a zest for life with his son. Bob considers himself to be a personification of his dad. DSL is Bob’s way of honoring his dad’s life through play. (and I just love that, don’t you?)
Losing his dad was the most traumatic experience of Bob’s life. In the years after his dad’s passing Bob lost other loved ones – so many in fact he called himself an “old hand at death”. For a while he found himself in a state of numbness surrounded by the shock of death. When he lost his high school friend Gretchen, he was “devastated”. The death of someone his own age made him think about his own mortality. I can relate completely.
Keep Going and Enjoy Life
Bob still talks to his dad. He still talks to the other friends and loved ones he lost. Bob is a self-proclaimed “non religious guy”. Whether there is a heaven or hell or afterlife or God is “irrelevant”, says Downing.
Bob’s philosophy about coping with loss is simple and very wise.
If talking to your loved one, memorializing them through play, planting a tree in their honor or installing a memorial bench makes you feel good, “Do It!”
I completely agree with Bob. Make a choice to feel good. Find the way that works for you. Giggle On!
We’ll all find out what’s true and not true when we die. Until that time, do what you need to in order to keep going and enjoy life. – Bob Downing
Bob Downing’s Tips for the World: Dealing with Loss and Living Life
- Honor your loved one’s memory by doing what they would have loved. Go out and take that piece of them you love and keep it alive. For Bob, he honors his father’s life though play.
- Remember the funny things about them. Remember the good times.
- “Giving Up is not an option.” Loss is a part of life. It is something you have to deal with no matter who you are. When you experience loss, Bob says, you can choose to do drugs, drink alcohol and engage in a variety of unhealthy ways. You can also choose to embrace life. You can choose to be good. You can choose to be happy. You have choices.
- Love never dies. Bob believes he still has a connection with all the people he has lost. He says, “I am a sum of all the parts of the most amazing people in my life, alive and dead.”
- Have Courage. More forward in spite of your fear and your pain.
For more information about joining DSL, visit Delaware Sports League or check them out on Facebook. For more news about Bob Downing and DSL, check out the recent Delaware online article. “If you can dodge a wrench, you can dodge a ball” and watch Bob in a recent interview on YouTube.
Related posts at Giggle On: