03/25/2010 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Ride Like the Wind

You never know who you're going to sit next to when you move to Los Angeles.

I arrived from Logan airport to the City of Angels at the same time
they hosted the Olympic Games in 1984.

Like many who gravitate here, I had big dreams and didn't know a soul.
In a town where so many can so easily forget what they really came
for, I found myself on that fateful day, sitting next to someone who
clearly knew his own heart, and had every intention of sharing it with
the world...

He would go on to get the part. The film was Dirty Dancing. The man was Patrick Swayze.

I never forgot the kindness with which he greeted me, and years later,
when fate would again bring us together, sitting next to each other at
a dinner party in Los Angeles, I reminded him of when we had
originally met and how in his actions he had taught me that it didn't
matter whether you got the part at an audition -- what really mattered
was acknowledging those who were seated with and beside you.

When he and his wife Lisa made their labor of love film, they asked me
to sing a song they had written and it amazed me how even as a
house-hold name, he was as kind, gracious and humble as that young man
I had sat next to years before.

A couple of months ago, Lisa invited me to their ranch and i got to see
Patrick once again. He was obviously going through the battle of his
life and even in this painful stage, he still possessed a bright and
beautiful light.

My brother Donnie, who always has a camera with him, was also there,
and although at first i hesitated, i decided to ask Patrick if we
could take a photo together before we left the ranch.

He graciously agreed, and as we hugged I thanked him again for all he
had so freely given, knowing very well I might not ever see him again.

Most of us may never know the heights of the great successes Patrick
sailed in, but in this brief and fleeting life, I am grateful I got a
glimpse of a star that shined so bright even before his dreams came
true, and managed to shine even brighter long after they had passed.

Sometimes, it"s not where we go that matters, it's who we make smile
along the way that really counts, and I believe that the millions of
people whom Patrick made smile will keep forever the memory of that
beautiful heart he came to share, and his spirit will now ride like
the wind...for eternity.