Another week, another half dozen candidates trimmed from a democratic primary season that is beginning to look a lot like a Poirot whodunit. You can imagine my surprise when I received a call from DNC chairman Tom Perez informing me that I should drop out of the race . . since I wasn’t even aware I was in the race. On the bright side, I nabbed thirty five thousand votes, which placed me fourth.
And now your Heroes . . . .
Do the Math- Remember as a kid when you used to rail on about how useless math was going to be when you got out in the real world? And then you got out in the real world and there were stock options and mortgage payments and kids allowances to consider? Well, a family owned Bronx deli is actually bringing the fun back to math (for the first time) with a little game they play with their customers. Solve a math problem and you have five seconds to grab anything in the shop . . . free of charge.
Ahmed Alwan has been working at Lucky Candy since he was thirteen years old. Now twenty and studying at Bronx Community College, he wants to be a pharmacist some day. He came up with the math quiz and began broadcasting it on Tik Tok and Instagram, where it has since gone viral. He pays for everything out of his own pocket, which is nothing new to the kid. He’s been known to give his customers food and house supplies on credit, and he’ll bring coffee and muffins to the homeless. His goal is to “inspire others to be kindhearted”.
He’s living his best life, and passing it on.
Bringing koala to a gray world- The 9th Brigade of the Australian Army has been putting in the yeoman’s work on the other side of the world in fighting the brush fires that have laid waste to New South Wales for more than half a year. With heavy rainfall helping to extinguish the ongoing fires, these peeps ain’t resting just yet.
They have proven every bit as unrelenting as the firestorm they’ve been fighting since last summer: clearing debris, hosting benefits cleaning up residential properties and just listening to their affected neighbors. And with their ‘down time’, they’ve taken to bottle feeding koalas at the Cleland Wildlife Park in the Adelaide Hills.
No rest for the mighty, and they wouldn’t have it any other way.
A Super save- If there is one thing I truly abhor, it’s the criminally insane amount of food that goes wasted in this country. There’s no excuse for such a thing to happen in such a forward thinking place as ours. According to the US Department of Agriculture, we waste more than $160 billion dollars in food every year.
NFL Green, in partnership with Centerplate and Food Rescue US made certain that the Super Bowl would be different. These organizations took part in a massive collaborative goodwill mission to make sure all that big game haste did not go to waste. Thanks to these folks, more than 30,000 pounds of unused food was donated to local shelters throughout Southern Florida, helping to feed more than 20,000 people.
There’s a lot of things we may never solve, but this is proof that hunger shouldn’t be one of them.
Game Winner- Inside the time of Howard Cosell and the Wide World of Sports, the Harlem Globetrotters were once considered the Elvis five of the hardwood. And I know I’m dating myself with those references, but hell . . doing good is a timeless thing, and the Globetrotters showed us they still got plenty of game recently when they helped bring a military mama and her family together. Sergeant DeAndrea Proctor has been deployed in Kuwait for the past seven months. And then an invitation to take a picture with the sultans of slam turned into a family reunion. (Check out the video here).
Still winning after all these years.
There’s no kitschy headline for this last story, because it’s the story of our country’s failed war on drugs. Kevin Simmers knows the brutal truths of this epic fail in the most deeply personal way. A decorated narcotics officer in Hagerstown, Maryland, he once took great pride in locking up drug offenders. “If they just had a pipe—fine,” he said. “At the end of the night, I wanted to have an arrest . . .”
An Air Force veteran and self proclaimed hard ass, Simmers was all in on the Reagan era philosophy of meting out harsh punishment to drug offenders. And then came the day when his teenage daughter Brooke told him she was addicted to opioid pain pills and had taken to selling her body in order to feed her habit. One year and six failed rehabs later, Simmers took a drastic step and had his daughter arrested. It is a decision he still regrets.
On April 4th, 2015, Brooke Simmers was released from incarceration. She was nineteen years old with a new lease on life. The bright light she had shone so brightly while serving her time provided the hope that her father had been seeking since that fateful morning two years earlier. She talked about opening a sober-living house for women and her father made her a deal; on the one year anniversary of her sobriety, they would do just that, together. Sadly, that day would never come because a little more than a week later on April 14th, Brooke’s lifeless body was found in a church parking lot in the backseat of her red Volkswagen Beetle.
For the next few years, Simmers tried turning back time on himself while in the throes of overwhelming grief. He knew his role and he owned it, and if not for his daughter’s dream, he might very well have followed her out of this world. But he stayed put, and in 2018 he opened Brooke’s House- a sober-living house in Hagerstown, Maryland.
Brooke Simmers never got to see the lives that will be impacted in a positive way by the house her father built. But her lesson will prove far mightier than a failed political slogan out of another era. Two simple words that every parent must heed.