Meet the 9-Year-Old Who’s Made His Bed Every Day Since Watching the McRaven Speech

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Last spring, Chris Fitzpatrick was listening to the radio in her car when she caught a snippet of audio about a popular commencement speech at UT-Austin. Although her brother attended UT, Fitzpatrick isn’t a Longhorn herself: She graduated from Stephen F. Austin State University and now lives in Alpharetta, Georgia, where she owns a banking and office supply company. But something about the speech piqued her attention, and when she got home, she Googled it.

Up popped the YouTube video of the now-famous May 2014 UT commencement speech by Admiral Bill McRaven, now UT chancellor. She was riveted.

“I had goosebumps,” she says. “I loved the simplicity of the message. He just nailed it.”

Not long after that, she played the speech for her 9-year-old son, Maccoy. Perhaps surprisingly, it resonated with him, too.

“I played it for him during a 30-minute car ride,” Chris recalls, “and I didn’t hear a peep! For a 9-year-old boy who loves to talk, that’s really something. He listened to the whole thing, and then we talked about it.”

One of the parts of the speech that Maccoy enjoyed most was when McRaven told the graduates not to be afraid to ask for help when they need it: “To truly get from your starting point to your destination takes friends, colleagues, the good will of strangers, and a strong coxswain to guide them.”

That part reminded Maccoy of the time his toy airplane got stuck on the roof and he had to ask for help getting it down, Chris says. “We talked about how the advice was relevant to things in our lives,” she says. “We’ve actually listened to it several times.”

The admiral told graduates, “If you want to change the world, start by making your bed … If you can’t do the little things right, you will never do the big things right.”

And Maccoy appears to have taken that advice to heart. He’s made his bed perfectly every day since he heard the speech, Chris says. “He was pretty good about doing it before,” she says proudly, “but now I never have to remind him.”

Photo courtesy Chris Fitzpatrick


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