Chris Althoff

Yea, I know that I am nothing; as to my strength I am weak; therefore I will not boast of myself, but I will boast of my God, for in his strength I can do all things; yea, behold, many mighty miracles we have wrought in this land, for which we will praise his name forever.

-Alma 26:12, The Book of Mormon

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The more time I spend writing about the people I admire, the more admirable qualities I find in people. It has become somewhat addicting looking at the great qualities people posses. This has lead to some amazing, unexpected friendships, friendships that go deeper than I imagined possible.

Chris has become one of those unexpected friends. I always knew he was an amazing person, he just gives off that vibe, but I didn’t expect him to be such a profound person.

If I were asked to explain who he is in as few words as possible, I would not hesitate to insist that he is the epitome of “quiet dignity.”

I started the interview asking Chris if there are any experiences or people that he feels has shaped his life. Chris responded with respect in his voice, “if I thought about all the people who shaped my life, we would be here all night.”

He then narrowed it down to a few specific people. The first person he described was is father. Chris explained how is father is a quiet, light-hearted man. He is a good leader, has several great qualities and his presence demands respect. Chris remembered the time when he noticed what kind of man his dad is, “we always joked with dad, but when I saw him interact with other people, I saw how much the other guys respected him. I learned to respect my dad for his good qualities.”

Chris then spoke fondly of his brother. He described how his brother always gave 110% and how that became the example in his own life, “He is the reason I started working hard at athletics, I wanted to emulate him.” Chris is an avid runner, he frequently runs two times a day.

After speaking of his brother, Chris went on to talk about several church leaders. Chris specifically spoke of his Sunday School teacher from when he was six years old. “He was a leader and always had a part in my life. He would look at my sketches and praise them. He was supportive of my life.” While on a recent visit home, Chris had the opportunity to sit in on a church class for adults, the same man was teaching. The lesson hadn’t changed much, he still taught, ”heroes, that is what we are looking for.” Chris explained how it has been inspirational watching this teacher progress in life as he has helped others progress as well.

Chris then described his former scout leader. Chris admired how this mentor had “an immense capacity to love others and make everyone feel like they were special.” This leader always shared stories about his youth and about growing up in the slums. He would detail his childhood and explain how his mom would work hard to keep her children in the church and around good people despite the harshness of their lives. Chris’s scout leader helped him to appreciate his family and the things they have done for him.

The final mentor Chris spoke of is one of his current church leaders. They spend several hours a week together running and talking about life. Chris had previously explained to me that he enjoys “having people he can spend alone time with and just talk about life. [Adults] have life experiences, even just talking and joking teaches me about life.” I have frequently heard Chris speak highly of his mentor, he explains how he has learned the type of husband he wants to be, the type of father he wants to be, and the person he wants to be all because of this one person.

Our conversation about the influential people who shape our lives went on for quite a while. I then asked Chris what caused him to want to be a mentor, his answer was humble, “I never thought of myself as a role model. At times I have refrained from doing things because I knew people were watching and I didn’t want to give them a reason to do it; friends can be followers. I was the Mormon kid, and I had to be an example because everyone knew I had standards. I never tried to influence people, but I did recognize that people looked up to me. I realized my standards were habits at that point, so I didn’t have to worry about acting foolishly because it just wasn’t who I was.”

Chris is still undecided about what he wants from his future, he knows that running will be a lifetime habit and wants to develop other habits as well. He has a deep appreciation for art, writing and music. He enjoys learning, and performs well in school. He looks forward to having a family one-day too.

Chris recognizes the importance of having passion in life, he said that if he could give one piece of advice to the world, it would be, “Learn to love, that is the most important thing you can do in life. Not necessarily to love people, but to also learn to love the things that you do. It is easy to coast through life, but when you learn to love it, that is when you are happy.”

Chris is a great person, and I’m not the only one that thinks so, I have heard several others talk about the friendship that he has offered them. Chris is always available to listen and to give advice. Chris is the epitome of quiet dignity, and an example of who I aspire to be.

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