I simply cannot express how much your team has lifted me this day.
AL WAZLAK, VIRGINIA BEACH
Mallory grew up in White Salmon, a no-stoplight town on the Columbia River Gorge in Oregon. The Holtmans lived in a neighborhood called Pucker Huddle, across the river from Mount Hood. Mallory was the baby of the family, five years younger than Amanda; 12 years younger than her brother, Gabriel; much too young to be anyone's rival. For Gabriel and his friends, she was something of a mascot. It helped that she was, in his words, "freakishly coordinated." She could ride a bike by age three.
When Mallory was six, Gabriel took her snowboarding on Mount Hood, down slopes with names like Daisy and Buttercup, but those didn't sound tough enough for Mallory. For her benefit he renamed them Deathblow and Frontside Intimidator.
When she was eight he took her windsurfing on the Columbia River, through white spray and 15-foot swells, and sometimes he stole her out of school so they could go cliff jumping into the deep green lakes along the Columbia. Gabriel was a muscular 6'4", with a black belt in taekwondo. When she was with him, nothing could touch her.
One day on the school bus, a teenage boy said something despicable to Mallory, something no one should ever say to an eight-year-old girl, and she mentioned it that night at the dinner table. Unfortunately for the boy, Mallory knew his name. "I know where he lives," Amanda said.
Gabriel went and took care of it. Nobody bothered Mallory again.
Will you marry me?
Just kidding; I'm 74, happily married, and a grandfather. But I am one of countless people across the country, and probably across the world, who truly love you for what you and Liz Wallace did for Sara Tucholsky on April 26. How could we not?