Heroes Of The Week!

Manny Machado, Fernando Tatis Jr. opened dugout to protect fans | Yardbarker

In this week’s “Four Letter Beasts and Where to Find Them”, I mentioned the heroic exploits of the San Diego Padres. And here’s why. Because when all manner of really bad shit was going down outside Nationals Park in Washington D.C., which resulted in three people being shot, the visiting team was making certain that every fan inside the stadium would make it home.

One minute, the details of a baseball game were all that mattered and the next, people were running for their lives. So Padres stars Manny Machado and Fernando Tatis led them into the visitors dugout, where they would find shelter from an attack.

“The situation changed immediately,” Tatis told reporters. “There’s no longer players, fans. Everybody’s just people, just human beings out there.”

Padres manager Jayce Tingler says he couldn’t be any more proud of his guys, and with good reason. Because while it’s really easy to whittle these athletes down until they achieve the dimension of a baseball card, humanity still counts most of all. And in the darkest of moments, they weren’t playing a baseball game thousands of miles from home.

They were home.

As with many great ideas, when Finnish and Norwegian artists Riitta Ikonen and Karoline Hjorth collaborated on a conceptual photography project, they had no blessed clue as to the path it would lead them on. Titled “Eyes as Big as Plates”, it was to be an intepretation of traditional Nordic folklore.

What had begun as a way of fleshing out regional mythology soon turned into something much bolder and far reaching than that. To quote the American philosopher Yogi Berra, when they hit the fork in the road, they took it.

The project is going on ten years now, and it has taken the artists from the United States to Japan, and all points in between. They work with seniors- farmers, artists, plumbers, academics, opera singers, housewives and zoologists-, “dressing” them as sculptural elements of nature. They work with the elderly in order to show us how our cultures have pushed them aside, to our detriment.

It is an immersive exploration that merges fantasy with reality, creating magical translations in the landscapes. The intent is to highlight how vital our living histories are to future generations, and that we shouldn’t dismiss the lessons we can learn. And the fact that they transform theย earth into a rendering whose celebration is knee-high to a grasshopper’s moon walk? That’s just bonus round.

Giannis Antetokounmpo wins NBA Finals MVP, dubbed 'new king of the NBA' | Fox News

All this talk about heart and home ain’t gonna be complete until I give a shout out to the Milwaukee Bucks and the other worldly Giannis Antetokounmpo. Their Game 6 win on Tuesday night over the Phoenix Suns clinched the city’s first NBA title in fifty years. It also vindicated a decision Giannis made last year when he re-signed with the team that drafted him. In an age where superstars go ring chasing from one zip code to the next, Giannis declared his loyalty to the team that believed in him from the get, and it paid off in the dream scenario. And so while this Miami Heat fan will always wonder what the big guy would’ve looked like on South Beach, I gotta admit, this story is better. Good for him.

Cyclist donates kidney to complete stranger

Have you heard the one about two guys walking into a bar? Complete strangers, these two, the one guy confides that he’s on dialysis ten hours a night after he went into kidney failure. And get this, the guy he confides in? Offers him a kidney.

Thing is, this isn’t a joke . . it actually happened when Mark Scotch, 64, paid a visit to Natchitoches, Louisiana. That’s where he crossed paths with Hugh Smith, 56, and learned of Smith’s plight. And yes, Scotch let this total stranger know he was all in. But that wasn’t that because after the two men were tested, it turned out they were only a thirty percent match.

Tell you what, happy endings ain’t easy. But as these two would prove, they’re worth chasing, and so the question became, how did Scotch plan on seeing this good deed through? Well, by paying it forward, of course. And so he decided he would donate his kidney to a stranger . . another stranger. Through something called the “Voucher Donor” program, this moved Hugh to the top of the transplant waiting list. And this past February, he got his new kidney. To celebrate, Mark just completed a 1,500 mile bike ride from his home in Madison, Wisconsin to Louisiana in what he dubbed “The Organ Trail”. And at the end of that ride, those same two guys met up in that same bar.

And get this, they’re the best of friends now.

WATCH NOW: Getting brighter - Blood drive held in honor of Columbus girl  battling leukemia | Local | columbustelegram.com

I struggled with this last story, mightily. Because it’s incredibly heart wrenching to read about a six-year old girl who is in the fight of her life, and then you find yourself scrolling through images and you’re crying without even knowing it. But of course you are, because it doesn’t make a damn bit of sense. And so you keep reading, because you have to connect with those smiles . . you have to understand the hope they carry with them, and why.

Violet Jackson is six-years old and she has the kind of smile that could talk the sun into working overtime. Just last month she was diagnosed with B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia. She has been undergoing treatments at Omaha’s Children’s Hospital, where she receives blood and platelets to feed her body since the chemotherapy stunts her blood cell production.

Her sister needed blood and platelet donations to survive. It inspired this  teen to launch a blood drive - CBS News

“I was thankful the blood was available for Violet when she needed it,” said Violet’s mother, Wendy. “And I wanted to pay that gift forward, so I scheduled my blood donation.”

This inspired Violet’s sister Eden to organize a blood drive, and the timing couldn’t have been more vital, seeing as how blood banks across the country have been running on empty since the pandemic. It wasn’t long before big sister had reached goal .ย  and then kept right on going.

WATCH NOW: Getting brighter - Blood drive held in honor of Columbus girl  battling leukemia | Local | columbustelegram.com

When you come to the end of the story, you pray there is a new beginning and that all those smiles will have been prelude to a dinner table in the distant future; all those same faces, having written chapters of a book that just keeps getting better with time. Their smiles the only evidence of the fight they once shared. Their lives a passage from the long ago pen of Dylan Thomas, come to life once more.

They caught and sang the sun in flight.ย 

25 thoughts on “Heroes Of The Week!

  1. Awesome heros…one and all this week! Everyone single one of them. But that last story was a real gut punch. So for this weekend’s platelet donation I’ll do it in honor of Violet. I’ve been donating platelets regularly since my mom passed away in April; the blood bank tells me there is a universal shortage in the area.
    Stay well and keep smiling. Have a superb weekend, Marc.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It was a solid week, I gotta admit. I loved all these stories and I knew where I was going with it right away.

      Bless you Monika, you’re a beautiful person and I’m glad to know you. Hugs coming your way. And have a superb weekend as well.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. We need heroes in our lives. We need to know that the world is good and it’s full of good people. It’s so easy to look around and see only negativity but every Friday I know I will be amused, entertained and touched by your words.

    Liked by 1 person

    • We sure do, Pam.

      And I think we do know that, for the most part. The people who drag everything down seem to be the loudest, but they are temporary. The good will keep on keeping on.

      Thank you for being so lovely, Pam.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. B,

    This week is something else, tell you what. I can’t believe this shooting barely got a nod in the news. How nonchalant, it’s all become. However, the Padres so deserve your shout-out for what they did. I love that (sorry) at the end of the day, people are people…

    I remember seeing this image of this beautiful elderly lady – look at that face! I can’t believe this wonderful project is going on ten years. Wow. And using the older generation is perfection. Beautiful.

    I love reading about athletes like Giannis who choose integrity and loyalty over big bucks. What does he get for this? NBA title. Karma can be a beautiful thing.

    I am blown away by the Smith/Scotch story. Voucher Donor – what a crazy/beautiful programme. Best of friends for sure!!

    That sweet little Violet and her beautiful sister Eden, oh my goodness. That hit me right in the feels mostly because you wrote it so damn beautifully. Having a sick child is the worst thing ever. You feel powerless. Having your other child come in and do what she did for her little sister, and a whole bunch more because of her enthusiasm is beyond amazing.

    Perfect song for this wonderful edition of Heroes.


    Liked by 1 person

    • Q

      Yanno, you’re right . . now that I think about it, the story was carried as if it had been a part of the game being played. Damn, it’s true.

      I loved that story. These photographers will travel the world, and when they get to talking with someone who intrigues them, they ask if they would be interested in taking part in the project. It’s just amazing.

      He didn’t wait for his loyalty to pay off, he worked his butt off to make sure it would. And if he would have gone to LA or Miami or New York, the ring still would’ve been great, but I don’t think it would have been special. Not like this.

      I had no idea there was such a thing, but I love it.

      The more I learned about this amazing family the more humbled I became. And then, that image of that little lady . . sorry but my eyes weren’t going to be dry.

      I had forgotten all about this song. And as often happens, I found it early on and plugged it in there thinking I would find something else. Nope.


      Liked by 1 person

      • Sad state of affairs…

        I love that it is the elders they seek out. It so many cultures put them aside so this is beautiful all the more.

        No, he didn’t and that ring has to be all the sweeter for it.

        Same here. What a generous thing to do. I don’t know that I could do such a thing, myself.

        Seriously. I had me a serious lump in my throat. I am so impressed by Eden and the work she did to help her little sister. I felt a pinch in my heart for that one. Obviously, this story could not in any way leave me cold.

        I can’t remember the last time I heard it so way to go ๐Ÿ™‚

        Liked by 1 person

        • Very sad.

          The elders do have so much value, and good for the artists to feature them in this project, that keeps on going and going by the way.

          I imagine he wouldn’t have had it any other way.

          It’s a hell of a thing, and to do so without hesitation, all the more wow.

          It’s a sadness that I felt, but there was hope underlying, thanks to the strength and will of this family.


          Liked by 1 person

          • The elders do. Some cultures realise it more than others (think Asian countries).

            I imagine you are right.

            Yes! My goodness.

            It’s almost hard to feel sad with all the optimism in this family. So beautiful.


            Liked by 1 person

          • Yes this is true, and good for them.



            It’s their belief that made me choose this story to end the episode. They do believe that Violet is going to win. And so do I.



  4. This Giants fans struggles with liking anything related to the Padres. Or the Dodgers. Particularly the Dodgers. I mean, really, the Dodgers. So, I’ll let this Padres tidbit go and say good on them.

    Meanwhile, I hope that the Bucks won it all this year can slow down the never-ending search for a superteam in the NBA. I was thrilled when the Nets were kicked out, and when the Lakers dropped like flies. Let’s hope that next yeare’s NBA champion is another small market team with players who want to play there.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The Padres have a history of mostly forgettable, and hey, their skipper from back in the day became your skipper for the title years, so there’s that. ๐Ÿ˜‰

      I don’t think this title for the Bucks slows the ring chasing down at all. But that said, I think it becomes a playbook that others can use going forward. Like Zion in New Orleans . . all the young pups in OKC . . .

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Hi
    That art project sounds amazing and ten years going strong? Very cool

    Violet is a trooper and the man who donated a kidney for stranger is a hero for sure
    So many lives are saved from donations – Organs and blood
    And did you know that I had a student who was rejected from donating blood because her iron was too low
    – she ate spinach for a week – bowl
    Of it for lunch – and went back about 10 days later and I guess her iron was so high they were shocked – and M
    I sometimes dismissed the value of salad or spinach leaves but a little goes a long way for our health

    Liked by 1 person

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