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BY JEFF FALK

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The challenges God places before us are directly proportional to our abilities to handle them. If in fact that is true, then God picked a good one in Rob Bare.

In true Rob Bare fashion, Cedar Crest’s head track and field coach has turned the greatest tragedy in his life into a positive. Bare recently published his first book ‘Braving Your Adversity’, which was inspired by – but not necessarily the life story of – his late wife Tiff Bare.

The book intertwines the Bares’ 15 years of struggles with Tiff’s cancer, Rob’s positivity, and inspirational quotes and lessons from the world of sports. Not only does ‘Braving Your Adversity’ honor Tiff’s life, the Bares’ lives together and allow their shared positivity to reach even more people, it has also provided a certain level of comfort and therapy for Rob.

“When I was getting ready to write the book one of the companies I was working with told me you should not write a book for therapeutic reasons,” said Bare. “They said that’s what counseling is for. But for me, I’m telling you, it’s the most therapeutic thing I could’ve done.

“There’s a quote about a storm that I always refer to,” continued Bare. “Fate whispered to the warrior, ‘You can’t handle the storm’. And the warrior whispered back, ‘I am the storm’. When you go through the storm, it’s going to change you, and if you allow it to, it’ll change you for the better. I thought I was going to be married to Tiff for the rest of my life. The adversity we went through can change you for the better. I think it allowed me to have a better relationship with God.”

To say that Bare made the best of his time during the lockdown caused by the Coronavirus pandemic would be an understatement. With the help of a writing coach, an editor and a printer, Bare produced the 214 pages and 47,000 words for ‘Braving Your Adversity’ amazingly in four months, from June of 2020 to October of 2020.

“A year ago, when COVID-19 hit, I was trying to motivate myself as much as possible,” said Bare. “People were saying to me, ‘You should write a book.’ I had all this time last spring, and I had to get my mind off track (not having a season) and get over Tiff’s loss. The whole month of May I spent doing an outline.

“Beginning June 1, I think I wrote a chapter every week, except for maybe one or two,” added Bare. “I’d write Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, my writing coach would read over it and I’d talk to him on Friday. Then I’d be fired up to go again on Monday. The first chapter is about the last couple months of Tiff’s life, when we knew she was terminal and we called in hospice. The second chapter is how we met. In the hardest chapters, there was a lot of anger there, a lot of frustration. The last chapter is about me figuring out that it was God’s plan and not my plan.”

Bare spent a considerable amount of money having ‘Braving Your Adversity’ published, and he’s hoping to recoup some of those funds by selling his books for $24.95. He will be conducting a book signing event at his church Fairland Brethren in Christ, 529 West Penn Avenue in Cleona, on Thursday, March 25 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m..

“I’m not worried about that,” said Bare of recouping the funds. “At the end of the day, the most important thing is getting the message of Tiff’s life out there and helping other people. I just hope people enjoy it. I really tried to teach something in every chapter of the book.

“It is Tiff’s story, it’s our story together, but more importantly the purpose of the book is to encourage people to brave their adversity, whatever that might mean to them,” Bare added. “It’s to help the reader understand how they can beat their adversity, brave their adversity. My writing coach said the book could’ve been doom and gloom throughout, but that I tried to provide perspective and positivity. I’m hoping it’ll touch all types of readers. It’s a self-help book.”

Tiff Bare passed away in March of 2019, following a long, off-and-on battle with cancer. Originally diagnosed with breast cancer in 2004, she was cancer-free for the next five years, before being diagnosed with brain cancer in 2010, lung cancer in 2011 and finally liver cancer in 2014.

The Bares were married in 2001.

“In a way for Tiff and I, it was a tough nine or ten years,” said Bare. “But we were so blessed that she wasn’t here and gone tomorrow. Tiff and I had so many chances to talk about things that almost no one gets a chance to talk about. I think the grieving process started then. It’s so important to have conversations with people. I’ve never experienced anything like it. Now, I can go three or four weeks and I’m fine, and then I’ll have two or three days where the tears won’t stop running down my face. Grief is the price of love.

“From 2004 to 2010, things were good,” added Bare. “We got through that first hurdle. Then on June 26, 2010, Tiff had a ridiculous headache and they found a mass on her brain. Then we had a couple of years – 2012, 2013 – which were pretty good. We went to Chicago and they just hammered her with chemo. From 2017 and halfway through 2018, she was stable.”

Genuine, humble and always trying to find the good in things and people, Rob Bare, 52, is the most positive person you will ever meet, bar none. He makes Richard Simmons look like a grouch.

Quite simply, Bare is one of the greatest coaches in the history of Lebanon County sports because of his ability to pass on that positivity to his student-athletes and affect their lives on and off the fields of competition.

“There are a lot of reasons for that,” said Bare, who’s been the Falcons’ head track and field coach for 27 seasons. “First and foremost is my faith. I’ve been blessed in so many ways. At the end of the day, what matters most is your spiritual relationship with God, and the question ‘Was I a difference maker that day?’ I want kids to feel I’m the same Rob Bare every day. The other part of that is the upbringing we had. My dad worked us, and my mom taught us the importance of prayer, kindness and caring.

“I’ve got a great life, and two wonderful sons,” continued Bare. “The thing I miss about Tiff most is being able to look at her and tell her, ‘You are the toughest person I’ve ever met’. She was a battler. She would’ve given anything to spend another month on earth. I just miss how she made me feel. She was the most incredible coach’s spouse. Whenever we would do something amazing (in track and field), she would be there with us.”

Through his book, Bare has accelerated the grieving process. But that doesn’t mean his fond memories of Tiff will ever abandon him.

“Tiff was kind. She was caring,” said Bare. “Anybody who would have a cancer-related ailment would come to her and get advice, and she would always ask, ‘How are you? How are you feeling?’ She always put other people first. She loved being a mom and a step-mom. She loved her time with her sons. Her love language was quality time.

“Our plan was to ride off into the sunset together,” concluded Bare. “If I could pinpoint it, it’s about three big words. No matter the adversity you are facing, if you can hope, if you can have faith, if you can have courage, you can win the day. The message is, ‘Just be a difference maker’.”

Just like Tiff Bare.

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