Written by Release Board Member & Mentor Rick Bell

The passing of Larry Shannon on July 31st 2019 affected me in ways that I continue to struggle with today. To say that Larry and I were best friends would be an understatement. 

Larry and his Release mentee, Nathan, had formed a strong bond in the short time that they had been matched. Larry, Nathan, my mentee and I had gone to several Creighton basketball games, had breakfast numerous times. I was not aware how truly close Larry and Nathan’s relationship had become, until I saw how extremely emotional Nathan was at Larry’s passing. At Larry’s service I was automatically drawn to trying to console Nathan while at the same time trying to control my own emotions. This is when I knew I had to be matched with Nathan, Larry’s mentee.

I realized at that moment I could not in clear conscience not be there for this young man at a time that he needed someone the most. I’m constantly in awe of how God can turn difficult moments in our lives into some of the most rewarding experiences. That’s exactly what has happened for Nathan and I.  At the time my Release mentee was away at a facility some distance from Omaha. I wasn’t really sure what to do other than to just be there for this young man during one of the most difficult times in his young life. I wasn’t sure Nathan would even want me as his mentor, I just knew I couldn’t walk away from him. Since that time Nathan and I have grown pretty close. I attended many of his club football games, had breakfast numerous times and just hung out together.

As I mentioned earlier Larry and I were far more than just best friends, we had been friends for about 15 years. We and our wives did virtually everything together. We’ve been on cruises, golf trips, family reunions, and vacations. Larry and I lived very similar lives, we both attended the same church, were Deacons in training, sang in the Men’s choir, Usher Ministry, Military & Veteran’s Ministry. We both were Adjunct instructors at Metropolitan Community College. 

We convinced each other to become part of Release Ministries mentoring program as the same time. If there was anything that one was doing, we would convince the other to do as well. We were asked if we were actual brothers so many times that we stop questioning it. Both his sister and my grandson have mistaken us for each other. So though I continue to struggle with no longer having my best friend, him having given me Nathan has made it bearable. Thank you for listening.

Rick Bell