Tuesday, June 1, 2021

My Friend, Gregg Kochakji

Gregg Kochakji


I’m so sad to share that my friend Gregg Kochakji passed away this morning. He’s been fighting ALS for some time now and succumbed to pneumonia.

Gregg has and will always be an inspiration to me. From his strength in high school, to his time in Troy, NY when he was just a stones-throw away from me in Amherst, MA as we used to visit each other…Gregg has always been the consummate human being. 

I’m so grateful to have had Gregg in my life for some of these most important times. 

One of my favorite memories of Gregg was being at the beach in NJ with him and we saw Mike Burke. Mike was telling Gregg how he was at UNCW playing rugby and that Gregg should come down there and goto UNCW. Gregg did exactly that and it was the best thing that could happen to him. 

He started a life there, met a nice girl in Kat Kochakji, and started a life giving back to people, specifically kids, with a career teaching the kids who need the most help. During his early years in Wilmington, NC, I’d make it down every so often for a visit and as you’d expect from Gregg, nothing changed with the relationship. It was as if we had missed a few months versus years. I was lucky enough to be at his wedding, coming down from my then Boston home. We’d stay close through the early 2000’s through our mutual interested in CAA sports for many years. 

In 2018, I was in Raleigh for a week for work and Gregg drove up from Wilmington to meet up with me. Despite the ALS, it again was as if nothing had changed between us. When you love and connect with someone like Gregg, you quickly adapt. You learn to understand parts of what he was trying to say and you commit to trying versus communicating only via text, as speaking was difficult for him. 

That night in November 2018 was the last time we would see each other. He took the photo or us below. I like to think that despite being so far away in Chile, that Gregg knew I was always right there with him, just a quick text or video call away for when he needed a distraction.

Seeing Greggs strength these past years has had a tremendous impact on my life. There are so many times when I feel so defeated in my own life and think I should give up on what I’m fighting for. But the second the sadness comes in, I think of Gregg and his fight….and I roll up my sleeves and fight harder. Gregg did that to me.

I love you Gregg and am so grateful that you’ve played such an important part in my life. Thank you for that!

Rest In Peace, my friend.


 

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