“The Man Behind the Song”
I initially learned about Luke becoming a guest and being honored on the Today Show through my vision support group and I shared his story last week. I posted videos of various parts of the show then, including the song written for him Here’s a look back on that post. He agreed to share a little bit more about himself when he had more time this week since he was still savoring the experience when I contacted him. Here is his story.
- Luke, what was your life like growing up?
I grew up in the small town of Cloquet, MN. I enjoyed playing sports (even though I’m not sure that was the safest thing for me but I survived). I loved camping and fishing with my grandparents.I spent a lot of time with them, and I honestly owe much of who I am today to them. They introduced me to Christ at a very young age and it’s this faith that has carried me through all good and bad times. I was bullied as a child quite a bit and my parents were too concerned with their own addictions to really help me with this.So like anyone else, I just buried the feelings and the hurt then let God know how much it hurt and He offered me solace. The highlight from my youth was probably when I got my drivers license. Yes…once upon a time I could drive!
- What kind of jobs have you worked at?
I started my working life at a fast food restaurant (Hardee’s). However, when I joined the Air Force I went into Satellite Communications. That was a fun job, but not much of a career field when I came home to be with my aging grandparents. So to support myself, I started working as a short order cook (not a great choice when you are visually impaired). Currently I am a supervisor at St. Luke’s Hospital in Duluth, MN. Mostly our team is there for customer service. I love dealing with people and helping them solve their problems. That is my primary job. I also work 6-8 hours per week for a company called Duluth Pack. I also do customer service there. I am a lucky person to have found jobs with such wonderful supportive people.
- How and when did you meet your wife? Can you talk a little bit about your relationship, what drew you to each other?
I met my wife online on Yahoo personals. I’m not sure Michelle knows this but the first thing that attracted me to her was this statement she made to me early on. “I send my children to Sunday school because I think it gives them a good foundation.” At that moment, I knew I found a Christian woman and that was something I needed in my life at that time.Then on one of our first dates we went to a Minnesota Twins double header. Both games went into extra innings and she stayed through both of the games and didn’t want to leave at all. I tell all my friends to this day that at that moment I knew I had found “the one.”
I tell all my friends to this day that at that moment, I knew I’d found ‘the one.'”
I think the biggest value we share is our love of family, and our love of Jesus. Our faith is a big part of our lives. Another thing I have learned along the way without knowing about Michelle originally is that her mother went blind when she was a child and she watched how her father took care of her mother. It’s like God made this woman just for me!
- Being open and talking about what you need and don’t need is so important. How do you handle this with each other and your child, who also faces this struggle?
This can be a bit difficult because I try not to need anything so when I do it’s hard to ask. Fortunately, Michelle seems to pick up on these things naturally and is just simply there for me when I need her. If anything we just tend to be open and honest with one another. Then we hope that our daughter Sadie simply picks up on it and does the same.
- What role does faith play in your optimism?
Faith is the entire reason for my optimism. Jesus is my everything. When I have needed him he’s been there. Therefore, I also place all my hope in him. I may in my lifetime never realize a cure for myself (though I am becoming more and more confident that I will) I know that God is looking out for me. One of my favorite verses, and one that kept coming to mind during my trip to New York was Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. (NIV) I could talk about God’s love all day really!
Faith is the entire reason for my optimism.”
- What are some of your accomplishments and goals?
For accomplishments, I can’t really think of any one thing. I guess that I’m a father (and I think I’m pretty good at it). I am also currently going to school full time and hope to finish my degree next year in August. I guess it’s an accomplishment that I haven’t given up on my dream to have a bachelors degree. For future goals I would like to continue my career in the hospital but as a clinic manager. If that is not possible, I believe I can use the work I have done for Duluth Pack to move up their ladder.
- Dealing with RP isn’t easy. What do you do to consciously model positive living and “life with a smile,” to your daughter?
Sure life with RP is not easy, but it’s not a death sentence either. So with my daughter, I encourage her to just be herself. We act silly together, we laugh together, the father-daughter ball is a big deal for us. I try to enjoy every aspect of life from owning pets to listening to birds. We started a garden for the first time this year. Again, plants are living things. Then I try to take this appreciation for life and nature and bring them all back to God’s creation. It’s a “look how good God is to us” thing. Then I also try to let her know that she is also God’s creation. “And he don’t make no junk even if your eyes are bad.”
- How did your interview come about on the Today show? What was your experience like? Your daughter was a doll! What was the best thing about it for her? Your wife?
The interview came about because Michelle wrote a letter entering a contest called “Everyone has a story.” I still cannot believe we won a trip to a city I have always wanted to see yet didn’t want to have to pay for. My experience was absolutely incredible! We got to do all the touristy things that New York offers. Yet, my favorite things were those “once in a lifetime opportunities.” Being on the Today show, and being on a Broadway stage. Also a great part of the experience was that all the people at NBC were so nice. That and the Broadway performer (Kevin Kern) was just absolutely a fantastic person.**
Yet, there are things we didn’t do that I want to go back for like the Museum of Modern Art (still on my bucket list).One experience I know my wife liked was the carriage ride through Central Park. For Sadie I think she liked it all. From the food to the hotel to the Statue of Liberty (that was an emotional moment for me). All in all though I would have to say she loved getting her make-up done by a professional and being treated like a princess! Kathy Lee and Hoda really treated her very well and were just fantastic to Sadie. I just asked her and she said “I liked it all.”
- What advice do you have for others in helping them to cope with RP?
My advice would be to enjoy life to it’s fullest. I know that RP sucks and it’s not the life any of us would choose to live. However, you cannot let it get you down so far that you miss out on the rest that life has to offer. That and hold on…there’s a cure coming. I have faith in that. Most importantly I would say that people need to know that God loves them and if they could only understand that depth of that love they would be able to find the comfort that surpasses understanding. And that with God anything is possible!
Hold on…there’s a cure coming. I have faith in that.”
Luke is a 43 year-old loving husband and father to a beautiful 8 year-old girl. He holds down a full time job at St. Luke’s Hospital in Duluth, MN and also works 6 hours/week for Duluth Pack, along with attending school (online) full time at the College of St. Scholastica. He also plays for a local pool team (thankfully they put up with his inability to play well). He enjoys watching sports (all Minnesota professional teams). Luke and his wife enjoy going to the theater as well. He believes there’s nothing like live theater. He and his wife are also die-hard Minnesota Twins fans.
You have just read, “Friday Friends: Spotlight on Luke Gamble, The Man Behind the Song” by Amy Bovaird. Copyright June 20,2015.
Luke puts his faith both in God and science, believing a cure can come at any time. How much do you share in his philosophy? What illness would you like to see a cure for and do you think it will come in your lifetime?