Thursday, October 1, 2009

The Story Of Moj

Moj at Red Wing

Coming out of High School I was a pimply faced insecure little kid that wasn't comfortable in my own skin. I overanalyzed what I thought people would say about me and even though I said I didn't care what people thought, I did. I had zero self esteem and even less confidence.

I was a sad little kid that didn't want to go away to college. It sucked.

My parents drove me up to Menomonie and got me all set. My roommate, it turned out, actually owned a harness and we went down to the schools climbing gym.

At that point climbing wasn't the life force that it is now but it was still something that I enjoyed and I always wanted to do more of it. When we arrived at the gym my roommate started fumbling around with his harness and abruptly told me he'd forgotten how to put it on. How, I'm not sure, but I quickly started scanning the room for new partners and left my roommate to deal with the tangled mess of webbing on his own.

Out of sheer luck and good fortune I met 3 other guys who'd just decided to take up climbing. Tony, who would later turn out to be one of my best friends, Drew, who was just funny and cynical, and Christian 'Moj' Ward. Where the Moj came from I'm not sure but it seemed to suit the air of mystique surrounding him perfectly.

These three grew into the first 'real' group of friends I ever had. Whenever I got the chance I walked the 20 minutes to their dorm floor and hung out for hours on end. We'd do absolutely nothing and loved it. The entire floor grew into some of the best friends I've ever had and it was such a happy time for me. They treated me like family.

Out of everyone there was one man who stood out from everyone, if even just a little bit. The Moj was an incredible person. I'd never met someone so comfortable in his own skin and he seemed so happy for it. He was fine when people gave him crap for owning well over 30 different Star Wars books. He wore sandals year round and would go into a snowball fight with a full body snowsuit, bare feet and sunglasses. He also seemed to have no problem with any of the things that anyone else would be massively self conscious about. He had incredibly strong ethics for someone his age and I was impressed by all of this.

Without him ever knowing it he changed my life. Like clockwork I started to change little by little. My confidence went up and I started caring less and less what others thought of me. I tried more to be happy with who I was, 'cause it's not going to change. If anything, I'm just going to get more dorky as time goes on.

Over the years I spent less and less time at Stout but still kept in contact with most of my friends from 4th floor Wigen Hall, but our contact definitely slowed down.

Then on January 31st 2007 I got a call from Tony while I was at Boulders. It went to voicemail and I listened to it when I got home. Tony just told me to check my e-mail and then the message ended. His voice sounded different and sad but I figured it wasn't anything major and waited till morning to check anything.

Moj had died.

I broke down after reading the e-mail from Drew and only remember that sickening feeling that we've all experienced. I didn't understand. I still don't and I never will. While close family members had died, I'd never had a close friend die and I didn't know how to deal with it. It was one of the worst things I've ever experienced. He meant so much to me without even knowing it.

He died in his apartment on January 31st 2007 at the age of 23. I never once told him what he meant to me or how he changed me and I regret it every single time I think about him. He changed who I was without trying at all. By just being himself he made me a better, happier person.

It destroys me that he never knew. He was hands down one of the greatest people I've ever had the pleasure to spend time with and I consider myself lucky to be able to say that.

Such a beautiful person.

Moj touched more lives and changed more people than I even care to guess. I'm one of many and it was clear at his funeral that he was a very special man who did incredible things with his time here.

My life is what it is, in large part, due to Moj. Thank the people that are close to you and tell them that you love them. Tell your friends how happy you are to know them and make sure they understand how important they are to you.

We miss you and love you bud. Rest In Peace.

Go here to read more about the man.


  1. I figured there was a good story behind the name. Well done Steve. Very sorry to hear about your friend, but hopefully this will help people remember him a bit more and think about living their own lives in a similar fashion.

  2. Well put.
    He was given a rare gift that few people have these days.
    I could write pages about how he impacted my life and there isn't a day that goes by that I don't think about him and miss him deeply.

  3. Thanks for reading Laura. It was really hard to boil him down to such a small bit. It's so hard to express what he did for so many people.

    I've been wanting to write the story for a while now but it was so hard to put together and get across what kind of a person he was.

    I'm glad there's a somewhat fitting monument to him now.

  4. Very cool Steve. Sorry to hear about Moj, he sounded like a great character and friend. The boulder problem is a good tribute, thanks for the story.

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