Pa­trick Blake “The Phoenix” Shar­rock

His light shines on

The Catoosa County News - - COMMENTARY - By Ta­mara Wolk

Pa­trick Shar­rock, dressed for the oc­ca­sion.

“There’s a lit­tle flame in­side us all, Some shine bright, some shine small ...”

On Sept. 15, 2017, pos­si­bly the bright­est light in North­west Geor­gia, one that shone quite large, left this earth to il­lu­mi­nate an­other place.

“May you live each day with no re­gret, Make the most of ev­ery chance you get ...”

Pa­trick Blake “The Phoenix” Shar­rock was the em­bod­i­ment of these lyrics. “Pa­trick un­der­stood the word ‘oth­ers,’” says Pas­tor Brent James, who of­fi­ci­ated, along with Pas­tor Billy Chris­tol, at Pa­trick’s fu­neral. “He was an amaz­ing and bril­liant young man, al­ways ready with a joke, al­ways smil­ing, al­ways find­ing a way to make some­one else’s life bet­ter.”

“One day there will be no more pain, And we will fi­nally see Je­sus’ face ...”

James first met Pa­trick through the Whit­field County Mir­a­cle League, where he vol­un­teers and where Pa­trick played ball. “Pa­trick is in a bet­ter place now, where there is no suf­fer­ing, but Heaven is also a bet­ter place with Pa­trick there.”

“This lit­tle light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine…”*

“Pa­trick was al­ways pos­i­tive, even when things were go­ing bad,” his school friend James Wil­liams says. “Pa­trick taught me that even if you aren’t feel­ing happy, you can make some­one else happy and that will make you feel bet­ter.”

Haven Travis met Pa­trick when the two were in sev­enth grade, and they struck up a per­ma­nent friend­ship. “Pa­trick could al­ways tell if I was up­set and he would make me laugh. He never talked about any­thing neg­a­tive.”

Pa­trick Shar­rock suf­fered from a con­di­tion called os­teo­ge­n­e­sis im­per­fecta, some­times called brit­tle bone dis­ease, though it con­sists of far more prob­lems than bones that break eas­ily. Pa­trick faced a lion’s share of the is­sues as­so­ci­ated with the dis­ease but, says James, that didn’t stop him from liv­ing large. “Pa­trick was our first ath­lete to hit a ball from a wheel­chair. Noth­ing stood in his way.”

Sammy Sil­vers was Pa­trick’s coach at Mir­a­cle League for a year. “Pa­trick was the life of the party,” he says. “He drove his wheel­chair like a bi­cy­cle, even do­ing wheel­ies. He was so gen­uine. Kids like Pa­trick come straight from God.”

Pa­trick and his fam­ily gained na­tional fame in 2011 when “Ex­treme Makeover Home Edi­tion” built them a house es­pe­cially suited to their needs, but as was the case through­out Pa­trick’s life, for ev­ery­thing some­one did for him, he found end­less ways to pay it for­ward.

“The last time he was in the hospi­tal

with pneu­mo­nia,” says James, “as soon as he got out, he or­ga­nized a blood drive. That was Pa­trick’s way. He vol­un­teered any­where he saw a need and was able to help.”

“One thing a lot of peo­ple don’t know about Pa­trick,” James says, “is how much he loved an­i­mals. He loved the Chat­tanooga Zoo. He was wor­ried be­cause the el­e­va­tor peo­ple could go up in to feed the red panda was bro­ken.” At Pa­trick’s memo­rial ser­vice, James is­sued a chal­lenge on be­half of the young an­i­mal lover: please help get the panda’s el­e­va­tor fixed.

Pa­trick’s pas­sion for oth­ers cov­ered a wide spec­trum. He helped form the Mir­a­cle League of Chat­tanooga, he vol­un­teered with the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure and with the Shrine Circus. He could be found help­ing at the zoo, the Cre­ative Dis­cov­ery Mu­seum and the River­bend Fes­ti­val. And al­ways, his in­fec­tious joy lifted the spir­its of ev­ery­one who came into con­tact with him.

“He was just self­less,” says James.

But Pa­trick was also smart and mis­chievous, say his friends. He served as pres­i­dent of his sopho­more class at Lake­viewFort Oglethorpe High School. In spite of miss­ing a lot of school due to bro­ken bones and ill­ness, he was in hon­ors and gifted classes and man­aged to keep up his grades.

“Last year, Pa­trick missed eight weeks of school,” says Haven. “Sally Boyd, who helped him get around at school, would come to class and take notes for him and take my notes for him to study. He never fell be­hind.”

Haven says Pa­trick was “a geek, like the rest of us. He ruled the Geek Squad at school. I would call him up and he’d help me set up games on my com­puter.” Pa­trick knew his stuff – he was, in ad­di­tion to ev­ery­thing else, a pro­gram­ming intern with video game de­vel­oper Mo­jang, work­ing on their Minecraft game.

Pa­trick had a strong dose of imp in him, too. “I met Pa­trick last year at school,” says James Wil­liams. “One time he gave me a card with the Dwar­ven al­pha­bet on it and said we could use it to write notes and cheat be­cause no one would know what it said.”

Pa­trick was a fan of Lord of the Rings (thus the Dwar­ven al­pha­bet), Su­per­heroes, Star Wars, and all man­ner of re­lated things. He even in­vented his own per­sonal su­per­hero, who went by the name of Dr. Scorcher.

The day be­fore Pa­trick passed away, he rode in his school’s home­com­ing pa­rade, in the thick of things as al­ways. “Af­ter­wards,” says Haven, “we had a pep rally and a bon­fire. Pa­trick and his dad were there. Pa­trick was run­ning around in his wheel­chair hav­ing fun. I think that’s how he would have wanted to spend his last day.”

Some peo­ple are Pa­trick Shar­rock play­ing ball with the Whit­field County Mir­a­cle League. Pa­trick Shar­rock was the first Whit­field Mir­a­cle League player to bat from a wheel­chair; coach Sammy Sil­vers is pitch­ing. given many decades to work out the mean­ing of their lives. Pa­trick had only one-and-ahalf, but he fig­ured things out early on. “Pa­trick’s par­ents are in­cred­i­ble, and that’s where he learned about giv­ing,” says James. “They taught him and en­abled him to live out­side him­self, to be happy and to pass that hap­pi­ness on to oth­ers.”

Maybe Pa­trick’s life is best summed up in a pas­sage his mother, Cindy, shared with friends on Face­book: “Ev­ery per­son pass­ing through this life will un­know­ingly leave some­thing and take some­thing away. Most of this ‘some­thing’ can­not be seen or heard or num­bered or sci­en­tif­i­cally de­tected or counted. It’s what we leave in the minds of other peo­ple and what they leave in ours. Mem­ory. The cen­sus doesn’t count it. Noth­ing counts with­out it.” – Robert Ful­ghum, “All I Re­ally Need to Know I Learned in Kinder­garten”

Pa­trick’s light may be shin­ing in a new place, but it’s also burn­ing brightly in the mem­o­ries of the thou­sands who were im­pacted by his love of life and peo­ple.

Au­thor’s Note: I met Pa­trick when he was nine or ten years old and at­tend­ing a cruise-in with his par­ents in Fort Oglethorpe. Putting words to Pa­trick’s per­son­al­ity is not easy. His de­light in the world around him was elec­tric. It ex­uded not only from his eyes but his en­tire be­ing – his smile, his voice, his ges­tures. There was a dance about Pa­trick’s life that said, “I’m lov­ing it all, love it all with me!” His gift to the world was him­self – it’s what he had to give and he gave it with un­abashed aban­don.

Pa­trick the Su­per­hero, with his par­ents, Cindy and Michael Shar­rock.

Pa­trick Shar­rock with Pas­tor Brent James.

James Wil­liams and Haven Travis, two of Pa­trick’s friends from school.

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