"Today Is Gonna Be a Big Day": A Tribute to Our Founder
If you are lucky, you will maybe meet a handful of people in your life that you can say truly made a lasting impact on your life. That designation is held for those truly special people on this planet. The Pro Athlete Family was privileged to know one of those special people, our founder, Wes Hedrick. Since Wes and his wife, Judi, started a little sporting goods store in Kansas City called Pro Athlete Sporting Goods back in 1987, there have been over 400 people employed at Pro Athlete. There were countless vendors, partners and fans that worked with us over the years and who can forget the millions of kids around the country that received bats and gloves.
Two weeks ago, Wes passed away surrounded by family. In true Wes fashion, he was upbeat and positive throughout his entire battle with cancer. Even on his last day, Wes told his nurse that “today is gonna be a big day”. He knew his time had come and he was ready to embrace it. He lived his whole life like that. He always took the high road and taught his family to do the same. Go figure that taking the high road is a common practice used at Pro Athlete, too. On Wes and Judi’s Hall of Fame plaque in our lobby the name “The Foundation” graces the top. While his passing put a crack in that foundation, the kind of person he was and the impact he had on all of us and our company will only get stronger thanks to him.
Wes will be remembered as an amazing father, husband, grandfather, businessman, friend and Royals fan. He loved attending his grandkids’ activities and was always paying attention to the weather no matter where he was. He and Judi loved to travel around the world together, and it’s no surprise that they always made a lot of new friends on the trips they took.
We can never thank Wes and Judi enough for what they have done for all of us who have been a part of the Pro Athlete Family. We were told that Wes enjoyed a nice cold Schlitz in his day. A week after his passing, we were proud to tap a keg of Schlitz in the bar at our office and the day before his funeral a number of employees met in the bar to honor Wes with a Schlitz. Over 50 Pro Athlete employees and alumni members attended the service for Wes. Within a second of arriving, we saw the parking lot was full- that truly tells you everything you need to know about the kind of person Wes was. The first thing we saw when we walked inside was the letter jacket that Wes was given as being part of the Hall of Fame Class of 2016. The jacket is an iconic symbol of why Wes and Judi started Pro Athlete 30+ years ago.
On behalf of everyone associated with Pro Athlete, we want to thank you, Wes, for giving us a life full of amazing memories and experiences. It’s safe to say that one of the biggest honors of working at Pro Athlete was getting to learn from you. We thank you for building the foundation you did for all of us and our families and hope we can carry it on in a way that would make you proud. It was an honor!