Sitting in front of my computer, filled with emotion and searching for the right words to say, I realise this is the most difficult article that I have ever had to write.
In most people's life, at some stage, a special type of person comes along. Someone who is loved and respected, someone who is believed in, committed to making a difference and almost a modern day type hero.
I have been very fortunate to know such a person, Robert Hoey.
Robert, at the age of 21, founded the World Youth Foundation here in Australia. His vision was to make the world a better place for all, to add value and to inspire young people to go 100% for what is important in their own lives.
Through his commitment and the support of many people who also believed in his vision, Robert was then able to establish World Youth in the Soviet Union (Russia). Organising sponsored bike rides from Melbourne - Sydney, Sydney - Melbourne and Adelaide - Melbourne, enough money was raised to sponsor Russian students out to Australia for two consecutive years. Robert also gained permission from the Soviet Union to take Australian and New Zealand students and staff on an Exchange Program to their country. This was the first time permission had ever been given for this type of a program with 96 people participating. All of a sudden the barriers which had been formed for many years between the East and West had begun to crumble and Robert's vision was becoming a reality.
The following year new countries were added, China, Nepal and Kenya. Robert's work was spreading. Leadership programs were being held in different countries with the teenagers being inspired to go out into the villages and add value to the lives of other people. Through Robert's determination and guidance, World Youth International now operates in 12 countries around the world running both teenage and adult programs.
Robert has also worked with thousands of students over the years running leadership programs for many schools and more recently with the Burnside and Marion City Councils in Adelaide. Young people have begun to accept responsibility for themselves, have cast their fears aside, finding the strength and having the courage to believe in themselves and their own ability. Robert had become their mentor.
Sadly, Robert un-expectantly passed away on February llth. He was returning home from America after completing our two month teenage program.
Even as I sit here and write this, it is still hard to comprehend. A young man at the age of 28, gone. From here on earth is doesn't make sense but maybe at another level there is a reason for it. Maybe his work at World Youth International is now complete with it being set up and truly established. Maybe it is time for him to move on to something bigger, an even greater challenge.
Robert came into this world in the arms of his mother and left the same way. Ann held him as he passed away and knowing the love Robert had for her, it would have been the way he wanted to depart this earth.
His work will continue through the dedication of many people who still share his vision and his inspiration, teachings and beliefs remaining in everyone he has ever worked with.
Don't think of Robert as gone his journey has just begun life holds so many facets this earth is only one. Think of him as living in the hearts of those he touched for nothing loved is ever lost and he was loved so much.
Robert, you will remain in my thoughts and memories and always have a special place in my heart. Love Dad.