Heroes Of The Week!


Less than a week till Christmas, and I got a very late start on this week’s episode whilst trying to put myself in the proper frame of mind. It’s nay impossible for yours truly to find his Christmas spirit unless it rhymes with eighty proof. On the plus side, I had much help from fellow bloggers Dale and Frank on three . . count em three! . . of my stories, so I literally could’ve fallen out of bed and finished this one up. Tis? Meet the season!

And now our Heroes . . .

Mail Box

Aleem Chaudhry is being good for goodness sake. The San Antonio, Texas deli owner bought a small, decorative Christmas mailbox last year that he planned to put up as a decoration in his home. “But my wife was like, take it to the store,”

They received over four hundred letters last year. Kids ask for electronic gadgets and toys, but many keep it simple; asking that their parents spend more time at home with them. In addition to lists, the kids ask questions like “Do your reindeers like cookies too?”, and “Why do you come down the chimney when you can just use the door?” The youngest kids just draw pictures, and their parents fill out address sheets.

Because get this . . . Chaudhry writes back to the kids. Every single one of them. He and his wife have received over five hundred letters so far this year and he estimates it might reach a thousand. They’ve ditched holiday parties in order to reply to every last letter, and they wouldn’t have it any other way.

Joe Burrow

When LSU quarterback Joe Burrow won the Heisman Trophy last weekend in New York City, it capped a magical season for the senior. And whatever happens in next month’s College Football Playoffs, the kid’s already a champion in our book.

During his acceptance speech last Saturday, the Ohio native made mention of his hometown of Athens.

“Coming from southeast Ohio, it’s a very, very impoverished area. The poverty rate is almost two times the national average,” Burrow said. “There are so many people there that don’t have a lot, and I’m up here for all those kids in Athens and Athens County that go home to not a lot of food on the table, hungry after school. You guys can be up here, too.”

The mention inspired an online fundraising campaign for the Athens County Food Pantry. Donations have poured in from all across the country to the tune of almost 500,000 dollars thus far. Joe Cool took the Golden Rule . . to school. (Thank you to Frank for the 411 on this story).

The next two stories are a double dose of my pal Dale, who delivered up not one, but two stories for this Heroes episode. I don’t care what they say, those Canadians are pretty friendly peeps.


I’d never heard the term ‘busker’ until I checked this piece out, and all I can say is . . what a way to learn the word. Buskers are street performers, like Mo Guzman of Toronto, who do their thing while depending on the kindness of passersby. And recently, those kindnesses were delivered in bunches when a “Cash Mob” tossed hundreds of dollars in his guitar case. The mob was orchestrated by a Toronto marketing company called Zulu Alpha Kilo, who got their employees to pose as regular strap hangers.

The timing couldn’t have been better, since Guzman is the proud papa of a three month old baby girl. “I feel like years of working on the subway and making people smile is starting to pay off in its own way,” Guzman said in the video. “I feel so fortunate.”

Busk yeah!


To paraphrase Ernest L. Thayer, it was looking rather bleak for the St. Stephen Spartans five after losing their goaltender to injury prior to a home game against the Southern Victoria High School Vikings. Senior defense man Davan Cloney gamely volunteered to sub for his goalie. No small task considering the position is one of the toughest in sports. If you don’t believe me, try standing on your window sill . . whilst attempting to block a vulcanized rubber disk hurtling towards your body at speeds in excess of one hundred miles per hour.

Vikings goalie T.J. Sullivan gets it, in more ways than the one. Which is why he skated down to meet with Davan at the end of the first period. He gave his opponent some pointers on how to tend goal and told him to hang in there. From that point on, every time Cloney made a save, Sullivan slapped his stick against the ice in celebration.

The final score had the Vikings winning handily, but something tells me the box score isn’t going to be the story those kids will be talking about when they look back on this game.


It was June of 2018 when Shawn Cress’s whole world fell apart.

His twelve year old daughter Chloe needed some physical therapy for a limp, or so they all thought. The limp became a back pain and then a fever, after which lab tests revealed something much more serious. The Kingsport, Tennessee family was then referred to a children’s hospital forty five minutes away where Chloe underwent a CT scan.

Doctors found a giant tumor near her heart. It had spread to her esophagus and into some of her vertebrae. She was diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer- alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma, which is cancer in the skeletal muscles. From there she was flown to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, where the family would spend the next eighteen months as their daughter would fight for her life.

“You just break down,” Shawn said. “It just scares the life out of you . . . you just think, ‘I’m gonna lose my kid.’ And it’s really helpless, because there’s nothing you can do.”

Through it all, Chloe was selfless. She worried what her sickness would mean to her family; if it would lead to money problems since they had to uproot their home base eight hours from Kingsport and were spending more than fourteen hours a day by her side. She missed her dogs, Buu and Rollie, who she calls her “emotional link”.

Eighteen months is a lifetime when a parent is forced to consider the mortality of a child; it’s the kind of reality that runs counter to everything we believe. But inside that new reality, belief remained. The belief that Chloe would fight, and that she would walk out of St Jude one day with her family. Together.

On Tuesday, doctors informed the family that Chloe’s cancer was in remission. On December 21st, they will be heading home for the first time in eighteen months. She’ll have followup appointments every three months and she will most likely be bedridden for the rest of the school year. But all that’s on Chloe’s mind right now is being home with Buu and Rollie. And maybe adopting another dog, that too. And life as they knew it before that fateful June day, will never be the same again.

It will be better.

52 thoughts on “Heroes Of The Week!

  1. A wonderful collection for my early Friday morning – and then topped off with a fitting song by Faith Hill. tough to pick my fav of the stories because all are special, yet different. Thanks for the props!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you for the Burrow story, it’s been a popular story in the news this week. I think I probably would have overlooked it, because my mind is constantly geared to the zeroes even now.

      And oh by the way, the Reds are inquiring about Lindor. Seems like they are plenty serious about contending next season.


  2. It’s great you have story “stringers” out there. Your pals came up with some good ones. That goalie story shows the best side of sportsmanship. That kid’s parents ought to be very proud. St. Jude’s is a wonderful place. So glad Chloe got the care to make a difference. The busker story reminds us there are businesses out there who care to make a difference. I’ve been to Athens, Ohio, and Joe is dead on. So glad just a few words made folks jump into action. Thanks for the stories this week Pilgrim.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. B,

    I look forward to these all week. I know what you mean about getting into the spirit… At least YOUR tree is up… And, needless to say, I am always happy to help when needed (re stories, of course…)

    What a wonderful thing the Chaudhrys are doing by answering the letters! Such small acts of kindness – well I guess when you’ve answered 500-1000 of them, it’s not so small, is it?

    I bet Joe Burrow had no idea his mentioning that even kids from Athens, Ohio can make it would create such a fantastic wave of help for his community. It’s all the more beautiful because it was simply given from the heart, not following a request.

    We Canadians definitely can be friendly 😉 And I am ever so glad you felt my stories were Hero worthy!

    When you hear in the Guzman video “Whoa, what is happening right now” – doesn’t that just get you in the feels? And I learned ya a new word! I thought “busker” was a universal term for peeps like Mo…

    Just the fact that Davan Cloney offered to play goalie with zero experience was hero-worthy. But that T.J. Sullivan of the Vikings skated over, took a knee (see? it’s good to take a knee sometimes) and gave Davan pointers? Well, don’t that just beat all. Can you imagine the pride of his parents? No matter how much you treat them about treating their fellow man right, you can’t expect such a fabulous thing.

    Oh man… Chloe Cress’ story is crazy scary. When your child is in danger of drying there is nothing you won’t do for them. And, being in the States, the bill must be heartstopping, itself. I am so glad she is in remission and will send my good vibes as, will everyone who has read her story, that she remains so.

    Wonderful week, B. You know how to dish ’em up, wrapped up in wonderful words for us to unwrap and savour.

    And Faith Hill. Ya can’t go wrong with her.


    Liked by 1 person

    • Q,

      The Heroes has become a Friday fixture at the blog. And to think, I don’t even know how it all started.

      The kids put the tree up, I provided the spirits. Check that, I drank em.

      They answer all of the letters, which is crazy. but that’s why they don’t have time for the holiday parties anymore. And I wonder where they got that mailbox.

      Burrow is a good kid who deserves way better than to be chosen by the Bengals with the first pick. As Frank could attest, it’ a fate worse than purgatory.

      Those stories rocked the good will, are you kidding? 😉

      I had no blessed idea what busker meant. I never would have guessed it meant street performer. Ever.

      The hockey world is just a little different. In a good way. The kids are coached up differently and it shows. It’s funny how hockey is associated with violence and mayhem, and yet you don’t see those brawls at junior hockey games the way you see parents brawling at little league baseball games. Hockey has it all over the other sports when it comes to sportsmanship.

      The Chloe story strikes at the core of every parent’s worst nightmare. It was a Godsend that St. Jude’s stepped in to help this family.

      Thank you. And like I said, three out of five don’t lie. 🙂

      This is a classic Christmas song too.


      Liked by 1 person

      • Who cares how? The important thing is it is.

        If I wait for mine, I’ll have no tree at all. So, methinks I’ll be doing that later today. Or tomorrow. Or by Sunday.

        It is crazy that they answer them all! I wonder if he regrets finding it 😉

        Has he been chosen by the Bengals or was that just a joke?

        I am still pleased they made your roster 😉

        That’s so funny… You know, I just checked to make sure it wasn’t a Canadian term… it isn’t – so now you have a new word in your vocab!

        Hockey does. And where once upon a time a game in the NHL meant blood on the ice, I am so very glad it no longer does. I never got the where the pleasure was had to watch ’em duke it out. Watch boxing if you want to see fighters. This is good sportsmanship at the next level.

        So, St. Jude’s stepped in? I thought she was just sent there for the next phase in her treatment. Either way, thank God.

        Three outta five ain’t nuthin’ to be scoffed at.

        It is.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Oh, I cared how. It was tasty!

          It’s never too late to convert to Judaism. Just saying . . .

          I’m guessing that mailbox set them back 150 to 200 dollars. I only wonder if they got it on Amazon.

          He probably doesn’t regret it one bit. But his kids will when they’re roped in to helping reply to these letters.

          Come next spring, he will be chosen by the Bengals if the draft positions do not change.

          So is everyone!

          I would have guessed it was a tool used to remove the husks from corn. A busker.

          The blood lust came from places like Philly, who never met a bar fight they couldn’t join in.

          The youth hockey leagues preach sportsmanship. You don’t see the antics you do in other sports leagues.

          Yeah really. They provided the answers to the family’s prayers.

          At all.

          Yeah huh.

          Liked by 1 person

  4. Oh man, I wish I could have been there at the bell ringing ceremony for Chloe. Just thinking about it brings a tear of holiday joy to my eyes. Hopefully the Big C will stay where it belongs…in remission. Permanently.

    As for the story on the substitute goalie, you forgot to add: on ice [try standing on your window sill . . whilst attempting to block a vulcanized rubber disk hurtling towards your body at speeds in excess of one hundred miles per hour]. Well done. Now back to the eighty proof. 🥃Here’s to a fine Christmas.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Every time John calls you Pilgrim, I see you in one of those hats chasing a turkey.

    Chloe…how humbled am I. We take so much of our health for granted. I just went running. I took the stars instead of the elevator. I’m physically sound except for my hearing loss…her story has made me take pause as the gratitude lifts off the page.

    The runner up is the mailbox and how all those poignant missives of innocence will get answered since, we should always answer anyone who writes to us, decorum, a dying art.

    I so look forward to your weekly picks. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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