Heroes Of The Week!

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So this new old fashioned way of doing Heroes, it works so well that I feel as if the very idea of incorporating a buzzkill into the proceedings is anathema. Now. But I must confess it took me a while to get to here, and I trashed a ton of James Dolan stories in the process. Sooooo, it turns out that using this WP force for good rather than evil has cut down on redundancy by twenty eight percent!

And now your heroes . . .

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This kid got left in my green room for a couple weeks, but that’s alright because he’s still doing his thing and making people’s days just a little bit better. Jeremiah Murrill goes to work every day, doing the thing he was born to do; connecting with people. He is the official drive-thru greeter at a Wilmington, North Carolina Chick-fil-A, and to his way of thinking, there are no numbers . . . only people. Over the last couple years, the twenty year old has learned the names and favorite meals of the thousands of customers that roll on through. Not to mention the fact he’s been deputized and video of him making someone’s day has gone viral as well. Leaping tall buildings and out-locoing locomotives is all well and good, but sometimes heroism comes in the prosperity you gift others with a quaint little thing called human kindness.

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Charles Barkley was the ‘Round Mound of Rebound’ in his playing days, and he has been the mouth that roars as a sports commentator since then. But in his personal life, he refrains from all that high profile jazz. Charles is a philanthropist who recently made a one million dollar donation to Miles College; the largest donation in the school’s 122 year history. He has made it his mission to donate to historically black colleges and universities since his playing days came to an end. And it’s not something you hear much about, because Charles is content to put his money where his mouth usually is.

Image result for kevin etsch and latonya young

Until recently, Latonya Young was trying to keep her dream of scoring a college degree alive- working as hairstylist by day and Uber driver by night. A high school dropout, the forty three year old was determined to not just get back, but to get ahead. But times are tough and an outstanding seven hundred dollar balance was proving even tougher. Until Kevin Esch stepped into her Uber one night and changed that. When he learned that Young wasn’t returning to school because she owed that money? Yep, he paid it. This past December, Latonya graduated with an associate degree in criminal justice. Kevin was in the audience, cheering her on.

To Molly, a two year old Labrador Retriever, life really is a beach. And since she was nine weeks old, this beautiful lady has been making certain that her beach in Scarborough, North Yorkshire is a clean one. Her dog mama, Fliss Cater, combs the beach with Molly on the daily to lose all the litter they come across.

“I taught her different commands to keep her safe, because there’ll be things on the beach that could harm her,” says Cater. “There are needles and sharp objects or just things you wouldn’t expect, so I wouldn’t let her go and pick anything up on her own.”

Except for the sense to know right from wrong, and the ability to do something about it.

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Firstly comes a hat tip to the lovely Dale over at A Dalectable Life for this capper. . . .

Linda Herring of Johnson County, Iowa is a Guiness Book of World Records superstar. Even if you’ll never read of her accomplishments in this year’s edition, or last year’s . . or the year before that. Because what Herring does so very well, it doesn’t tend to make the kind of headlines that OBJ gets just for handing out cash. Even though, what Herring does would make Wonder Woman have to take a year long holiday in some remote locale that specializes in sun and sand.

This mother of eight (five biological as well as three adopted kids) has been a foster mother for more than five decades. She did all that on top of running a home daycare and working nights as a custodian. And because I need you to try and wrap your head around this, because I still haven’t . . . she has fostered more than six hundred children over the last five decades. Tell me when you’ve caught your breath and I’ll continue.

“Linda mostly fostered young children and children with special medical needs and kept bins of clothes in her garage, stacked to the ceiling, labeled by size and gender,” read a statement from Johnson County officials. “No one had to worry about a child going without clothes at Linda’s, even if they arrived with nothing but what they were wearing.”

Health concerns led to her decision to step away from her role as a foster mother in October. To honor Herring for an amazing life’s work, the Johnson County Board of Supervisors and Department of Human Services commemorated her with a resolution of appreciation this week. And hopefully their next order of business is dialing up that remote locale and finding her a bungalow right next to Wonder Woman.

 

 

 

Heroes Of The Week!

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In this week’s episode, I delved into great catches, life changing tips, Hollywood giving and, get this . .  the federal government doing some good for a change. I know, it sounds like a work of fiction but it’s true. I mean, I wouldn’t get used to that kind of behavior in Washington. But it’s nice to know that our elected officials have it in them.

And now, your heroes . . .

Image result for Kyle Rudolph game winning catch

A purple haze hung over the New Orleans Superdome last Sunday after Kyle Rudolph came down with a rainbow pass from Kirk Cousins in the back of the end zone that ended the Saints season while keeping his team’s hopes very much alive. After catching the OT game winner, Rudolph gave his game worn gloves to a ‘media member’, autographing them first. So when the dude turned around and sold the gloves on eBay for a few hundred bucks, Rudolph was a little bummed out. Until Jason King tweeted the Vikings wide receiver, informing him he was the purchaser of the gloves and that he would donate them to the charity of Rudolph’s choice. That’s called putting your money where your heart is.

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Danielle Franzoni is a recovering addict who wakes up every day with three reasons to stay clean. The mother of three is a server at Thunder Bay River Restaurant in Alpena, Michigan, and as the new year approached, she received a message letting her know she’s doing things the right way. This message came in the form of a tip from a couple she’d been serving. In keeping with the year to come, they left her a $2,020.00 tip. She says “Things like this don’t happen to people like me,”. But lemme tell you, when people like Danielle happen to things like this? It’s like the world is singing in perfect harmony.

Image result for hemsworth donation to bushfire relief

Chris Hemsworth ain’t just another pretty face. The actor known as Thor to Marvel fans just so happens to be a superhero in real life as well. After watching fires sweep through Australia, Hemsworth and his family have announced they will be donating one million dollars to their native country. Other celebs have taken note of what’s happening on his Instagram page. Elton John will also be donating a million dollars, while Margot Robbie, Selena Gomez, Hugh Jackman, Nicole Kidman, Keith Urban and Pink are doing their part as well. Hollywood can be so much more than a Ricky Gervais monologue when it wants to be.

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And another lampooned entity- our very own federal government- is getting involved in the relief efforts in Australia as well. More than one hundred American firefighters have already been deployed, with a few dozen more volunteer firefighters set to head down under. And to show they are about way more than just NBA titles, Canada has sent eighty seven of its own volunteers to assist in the relief efforts as well. Isn’t it kind of refreshing to see our federal government putting out fires rather than starting them?

Image result for Ryan Smith returns to Millersville

In a perfect world, Ryan Smith would be the starting power forward for the East Stroudsburg University Warriors. A sophomore, he would be improving on a star that has been shining brightly since his days at Lampeter Strasburg High School in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.

But there are no perfect worlds where cancer is concerned as Smith came to learn last summer. He noticed he was getting more fatigued during his workout regimen, which led to a battery of tests. A full blood panel at Lehigh Valley Hospital-Pocono revealed the sum of all fears: Acute Myeloid Leukemia. So far he’s undergone a few rounds of chemo while taking up residence at University of Pennsylvania Hospital in Philadelphia.

This past Monday, Millersville University teamed up with East Stroudsburg during a PSAC Mens/Womens doubleheader. All proceeds from tickets sales of the games to be donated to the Smith family through a fund established by East Stroudsburg. And for the first time in almost a year, Ryan Smith stepped foot inside Pucillo Gymnasium on the campus of Millersville to watch the game he has been in love with his entire life. He received a hero’s welcome as he sat in the stands of a rival arena that was intent on giving him a home court advantage as he battles on.

Ryan has a much bigger victory in mind.

 

 

 

Heroes Of The Week! (2020 Edition)

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With a new year comes a new meme. We are already three days into a new decade, so trash that crash diet, ditch the money pit matchmaking sites and make sustainable resolutions that actually pay you back instead. A top five list from yours truly? Sure why not . . .

My 2020 . . . Umm . . . Resolutions

-Swear smarter
-No Speedos
-Sign any petitions involving the dissolution of the Hallmark Channel
-No kale
-No Chick-fil-A

That’s how you resolution, kids. And now your heroes . . .

The Palm Beach County Sheriff’s deputies who made Christmas possible for a little boy and his mother when they learned the two have been going through some hard times. The deputies showed up with lights flashing. They gifted mother and son a Christmas tree, shoes, clothes, toys and some gift cards. They were delivered straight from the North Pole, of course. Straight from the heart? Absolutely.

US Army veteran Jamie Willis has been raising cane since 2016 when he started Canes For Veterans Central TexasThe dude served eight years before becoming permanently disabled and unable to work. The cane Veterans Affairs gave him wasn’t doing the job, so he reached out to the Florida organization Free Canes For VeteransThe founder- Oscar Morris- told Willis they had run out of canes, but he taught him how to make his own. An idea was born.

“I do this so I don’t sit home all day feeling sorry for myself,” Willis says. “This is all out of kindness. I do everything out of pocket and from donations.”

Willis recycles donated Christmas trees, and so far he’s delivered more than two hundred canes to veterans around the world. Home Depot donated more than four hundred trees to his effort, with another hundred coming from the community at large. It really is the gift that keeps on giving.

Needless to say, incarceration isn’t exactly a resume builder. So what to do if you’re a former felon who wants a job and a normal life but can’t find it? Greg Boylea Jesuit priest out of Los Angeles, set out to provide an answer to that question. In 1988, with the help of his parish as well as community members, Boyle started Jobs For A Future. The hope was to provide a bridge to a better life for young people who had gotten caught up in the gang culture that dominated the landscape.

Thirty years later, Homeboy Industries is a global force; hailed as the most successful gang rehabilitation and re-entry program in the world. It provides help for more than ten thousand men and women looking to pick up the pieces and start anew. Jacques Deval once wrote of how man’s love of birds led him to build cages. Whereas God’s love of birds led to the invention of trees. (Thank you to Frank for this story).

The restaurant biz is crazy enough without being left to run the place yourself. Especially if your gig is at Waffle House . . at some time past midnight . . with a restaurant full of hungry patrons looking to get their waffle on. Which is what happened recently to a kid we’ll call Ben- because that’s his name.

Thanks to a scheduling gaffe, Ben was left to run the place all by his lonesome. Now, I don’t know about you but if you ask me to make a waffle, Imma be preoccupied with doing that and only that. Which doesn’t include waiting tables, making coffee or running register. So the kid was in a panic, and can you blame him?

And then a customer grabbed an apron and began helping with orders. And then another customer began making coffee and waiting tables. And before you know it, the place was fully staffed. A crisis was averted and Ben was gifted a moment he’ll not soon forget. The moral of the story is that when your patience is wearing thin, make waffles. (Thank you to the lovely Q for this story).

Pixie Adams believes in healthy competition; the kind to which you bust it every day in a race to win the day. But ‘healthy’ means mindful . . as per the context of real life issues that transcend bottom lines. Adams runs the Moonlight Coffee Cafe in Oak Grove Portland, and when she learned the plight of one of her competitors, she went to work. For them.

Dave McAdams runs The Local Coffee Company with his wife Tina. At least until he was diagnosed with cancer for the third time. It’s inoperable and it’s terminal and now he will be put into hospice to live out the remainder of his days. So Pixie donned an apron and kept the place going while Tina tends to her husband, because she didn’t want her to lose the business.

“It’s supposed to be friendship over business, community over competition,” Pixie Adams says. “I am here supporting them, trying to generate attention for their business to help make sure that after Dave is gone, they still have the ability to keep the coffee place open.”

For some people, winning doesn’t preclude humanity. It welcomes it.

Heroes Of The Week!

Unbreakable

Merry Friday after Christmas, kids. I’ve somehow come up with yet another loving spoonful of good vibrations inside this holiday week. And while I contemplated adding a single lump of coal to one of my entries in honor of Ebenezer Scrooge, I thought better of it.

And now our heroes . . .

Daniel van Amstel doesn’t see his parents through the lens of some tired old description of what parents are supposed to look like. He sees his parents for what they supply, and how they teach and what they mean. To him.

In November, Daniel’s fifth grade class at Deerfield Elementary in Cedar Hills, Utah was asked what they were thankful for and when the 11 year old remarked that he was thankful for his adoptive dads, his substitute teacher decided it was a good time for a homophobic rant. She proceeded to bully the kid until three girls in his class let the teacher know she had crossed a line, after which they marched out of the classroom to tell the principal. The teacher was promptly escorted from the building and later fired.

Those girls have more compassion in their size four sneakers than you’ll find in the entire West Wing. And maybe the kids table is the right place to begin anew, because Lord knows there are too many adults out there who simply don’t have a clue. (Big thank you to Frank for this story).

Katelynn Hardee says she got the idea for a fundraising bake sale after overhearing a parent of one of the students at Breeze Hill Elementary School in Vista, California talking about how she was unable to afford an after-school program for her child. Katelynn runs a lemonade stand in the summer, so she decided to expand her business venture into the late fall in order to help some kids out. In the span of three hours, she raised enough money to pay off the lunch debt for 123 students at Breeze Hill.

A businesswoman and philanthropist, Katelynn is all of five years old. And this dynamo of a kindergartner ain’t done yet. Now she’s planning out ways to pay off the outstanding lunch debts of her entire school district. From the minds of babes . . .

Brenegan McNulty is no stranger to hard work. As a single mother of a one year old boy, the Canadian born waitress works two jobs in the hopes that someday soon she will be able to afford a place of her own. So working over the holidays goes part and parcel with this dream of hers.

Her weekend shift at Yellowknife’s Nova Hotel restaurant in the Northwest Territories was starting to look like the stuff that migraines are made of, on account of the fact they were short staffed for the evening. And then a party of ten came bustling in- a birthday party, Brenegan assumed, by the way the women were passing a greeting card around the table for all to sign. And then they presented her with the card, in which they had tucked $1,100.00 in cash. Turns out, “They wanted to do something nice for someone who was working hard during the holiday season,”.

Eat your heart out, Ellen DeGeneres. 🙂

Seamus is a nine year old pit bull mix who has spent more than half of his life at the Fresno Bully Rescue- a breed specific no-kill rescue in Fresno California. This lovable dude has earned an extra soft landing in the hearts of everyone at the shelter.

“As Seamus has been aging, he hasn’t been able to handle the weather as well, we were really hoping that he would be able to finally be in a warm home this winter season — and escape the heat of the summers. Sometimes we worried that he would be with us for the duration of his life,” Says Bridgette Booth, the shelter director.

On December 21, Seamus found his forever home. Booth considers the timing of this adoption to be a “Christmas miracle,”. His new parents are just thankful Seamus chose them.

April Doster is a nurse whose profit lies in the positive difference she tucks inside the desperate hours of people’s worst case scenarios. In 2016, that worst case scenario came calling on her. Doster was the nurse on duty the day J.T. Weyant- then six years old- was admitted to Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center in Hershey, Pennsylvania.

J.T., along with his sisters Savannah and Hailey (four and five years old at the time), had been the victims of one of the most horrific abuse cases in state annals. Their parents Josh and Brandi of Halifax, Pa were arrested and charged with multiple counts of aggravated assault, conspiracy, false imprisonment, unlawful restraint and endangering the welfare of children. They were later convicted and sentenced to thirty years in a state prison.

When the children were found by law enforcement officials inside their home, their hair was matted with feces and urine. Their core body temperatures were 94 degrees and they appeared as if they had “just walked out of a concentration camp,”

Doster was heartbroken when she learned that the children would have little to no chance of being adopted together, so she spoke with her husband Rubin about changing that. Three years have passed since the day those three children walked out of hell and into a brand new life. And now they are a family of five; April and Rubin, J.T., Savannah and Hailey. April says the kids are thriving in school and at home.

Merriam Webster considers spirit to be a preternatural dynamic; as some supernatural being or essence which provides life to physical organisms. And somewhere in Central PA, a supernatural being wears her lanyard and blue scrubs to work every day.

They call her Mom.

 

Heroes Of The Week!

Rogue

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.

Busker

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!

Goalies

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.

Chloe

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.

Heroes Of The Week! (YouTube Edition)

Gambit

Last week’s zero-free episode of Heroes was such a resounding success, even Joe Pesci gave it a great review. “I haven’t had that much fun since I borrowed a couple cases of Chivas off the back of a truck in Hoboken!”.

So Frank was right, going with the plus side of the equation on Fridays can be fun. Leave it to a boy from the Midwest to school me on the advantages of a glass half full philosophy, which you’d think I was rather adept at by now, but evidently not. So Imma keep on with the positive by dealing up a fistful of sunrise.

And now my Heroes of the week . . .

Million Dollar Baby- Georgina Addison of Harrogate, England was born with severe deafness. Her parents- Paul and Louise- have been searching for answers ever since, and with the help of an audiologist, their prayers were answered. Thanks to the National Health Service, Georgina was fitted with hearing aids last month. Now four months old, baby girl provides her folks with their daily vitamins every morning when they turn on her newfound ears. Louise gives thanks to the people who make it their life’s work to bring moments like this to life. Oh baby!

Safe at home- Sgt. Michael Leone wins our Mascot of the Year award just by showing up. The way he’s been showing up to serve and protect us since enlisting. The way he showed up last week at R. Stewart Esten Elementary School in Rockland, Massachusetts. A member of the 181st Infantry Regiment of the Massachusetts Army National Guard, Leone had been deployed to the Djibouti-Somalia border since February. He donned a Bulldogs costume in order to surprise his three sons- ranging in age from 5 to 8 years old- in what was supposed to be a “routine assembly”. Routine . . until he removed the head and his boys realized that Dad was home. For good. Best. Assembly. Ever.

Angels among us- The Olguin family is that house. You know the one, where a Christmas display in the front yard attracts people from miles around. And this year, that radius is certain to grow much wider seeing as how they’ve dedicated their annual labor of love to the twenty two victims of the Walmart shooting in El Paso.

“We kept thinking about how there will be 22 families who won’t have their loved ones together,” Olguin told CNN on Friday. “We felt we wanted to do something to show our respect to honor the victims of the shooting here at Walmart.”

Twenty two angels. Twenty two Christmas trees. Twenty two red bows. Twenty two candy canes. El Paso remains strong thanks to people like the Olguins.

Dancing is your soul, smiling- Kathy Ouma of Middleton, Delaware loves to give back to those hard working peeps who bring the holidays to her doorstep. She leaves a basket of water, soda, crackers and cookies on her front porch as her way of saying thanks. Amazon employee Karim Ahmad-Reed was overjoyed to find the treats waiting for him when he delivered up some packages recently. He’d forgotten his lunch, and he was a little bit parched to boot. So Ouma delivered, for him. And he doubled down with a dance that went viral, and thank you to Susannah for mentioning this one because it’s . . . wait for it . . . prime time stuff.

“She’s a jewel and great human being. I am grateful to have brought her some happiness, as she has to me,” Reid said. “The world needs more love.”

You know what I love most of all about this video? That nothing matters more inside this simple moment, where a random act of kindness opened up a world of better ideas. And to this, Ahmad-Reed borrowed from Samuel Beckett’s belief that the natural order of things is to dance first and think later. Just that, in the quiet; where dreams are not simply born. They’re brought to life.

Lori Wood

This last story comes from the heart, literally.

Jonathan Pinkard was staring at his own mortality in 2018. The twenty seven year old homeless man, diagnosed as autistic, was taken off the transplant list because he did not have a support system in place. Not having someone to care for him made him a bad risk, on account of all the aftercare that’s needed on the other side of a heart transplant.

And then Lori Wood showed up; whose name rightly belongs in the definition of what a guardian angel is supposed to look like. Wood is an ICU nurse at Piedmont Newnan Hospital who was assigned to Pinkard in December of 2018. A couple days after their first meeting, she asked him if she could become his legal guardian.

“I had to help him. It was a no-brainer,” Wood revealed. “He would have died without the transplant.”

They bonded quickly over Family Feud and football games, and Pinkard considers himself truly blessed to have met “Mama” when he did. He received a heart transplant in August and is now going back to work as an office clerk because he wants to be able to live independently some day. He will always have a home with Lori, who came into his life when all seemed lost. She answered his prayers and introduced him to that most wonderful place.

Tomorrow.

 

 

Heroes Of The Week! (Thanksgiving Edition)

Trust your heart if the seas catch fire, live by love though the stars walk backward
-E.E. Cummings

Nope, your calendar ain’t broken. Imma change things up by posting my Heroes on a Tuesday for this holiday week. I’ll be back and better than Ezra in December with the heroes and the zeroes tucked back into their regularly scheduled Friday edition.

And now, the heroes . . .

Serenity Now- A stray German Shepherd was collected from the side of the road in Chatham-Kent Ontario recently, after passersby contacted a nearby shelter. When an animal control officer responded to the report, he found the pretty lady keeping five little kittens safe and warm. The kittens are in the express lane to adoption ready while Serenity’s phone has been blowing up ever since. She’s estimated to be about two years old, and she’ll be ready for her forever home next week.

 

 

Lord knows I love to make fun of Kristen “My life is soooo perfect” Bell, but I gotta give props this week. Bell took her Instagram page- 12 million followers strong- and turned it into a way to help teachers with school supplies. Her project is called #FeatureTeacherFriday. Girl got game.

Yes He Cam- Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton is muddling through a pretty forgettable year on the field. But he’s being his usual All-Pro self off of it as he readies himself for the eighth annual “Cam’s Thanksgiving Jam”, where he’s gonna help feed more than 1,000 underprivileged kids. When it comes to the Charlotte community, Newton is a rock star. He also heads up celebrity kickball and 7 on 7 youth football tournaments as well as healthy day of service events. The dude is the antidote to TMZ.

Bagels 101 manager Vinnie Proscia is proof that not all crazy bagel shop guys are created equal. A customer dialed him up recently to ask if she’d left her electronic key fob there. Diana Chong was that customer, and she was in a bind since she’d arrived at her destination and was unable to turn the car back on without it. So Vinnie delivered them, from his bagel shop in Long Island to where Chong was staying . . in Pennsylvania. Funny how his crazy didn’t have a chance of going viral.

Tyler Stallings in 2046!- Tyler Stallings was four years old when he first learned about homeless veterans. So for the last four years (One term in the oval office . . oh by the way) the kid has been doing his small part, with big results. He makes “Hero Bags” which are essentially grooming kits with all the essentials. For the winter, the bags will also include a blanket, hat, gloves and lip balm. He’s handed out over 3,000 bags while bringing in more than $50,000 dollars and raising awareness. And I did mention he was eight years old . . right?

The Bay Village Police department in Ohio is asking for canned food donations in lieu of parking ticket fines. They aren’t the first department to do so, but it’s an idea that is catching on across the country. Partnering up with Bay Food Ministry, the police department collected 47,392 pounds of food last year alone.

The Real Santa Clause- When Mike Howard lost his battle with cancer last year, the folks in Harlan County Kentucky lost their real life Santa. For forty two years, Howard had dressed up as Santa, delivering thousands of gifts to the community’s poorest families. But there must have been some magic in that old silk hat Mike wore, because his son will be taking up the reins this season. Jordan Howard will don the red suit and carry on the tradition of “Mountain Santa”. He’s been busy in his workshop for over a month now and will have about about 4,000 presents to deliver by mid December. Peeps like these are why I will always believe in Santa Claus.

This last story is the best case scenario to an epidemic that’s had this country in a choke hold for more than two decades. It’s yet another story about a kid living on the fringe, until his feelings of isolation become too much. It’s yet another story about guns. But this story, which happened all the way back in May, has a much different ending than so many others.

Keanon Lowe was busy living the life he had imagined in January of 2017. The Gresham Oregon native was working as an offensive analyst for the San Francisco 49ers when he got a phone call that would change his life forever. Taylor Martinek, his best friend since their days at Jesuit High School, had died of an overdose after taking a lethal dose of fentanyl.

Shattered by the news, Lowe picked up the pieces by moving forward. He returned home and took a job at Parkrose High School coaching football and track and field. Last year, he became the school’s security guard as well. He was a living legend in his home state, having played wide receiver for the Oregon Ducks, but that’s not what brought him home.

Lowe saw a community in need, and this mattered more than a peach NFL gig ever could. To him. Because with some people, status is all about living right.

And so it was that Lowe was preparing his team for a district track meet when Angel Granados-Diaz walked into a fourth period government class; wearing a trench coat and carrying a shotgun. Lowe never missed a beat as he brought the student into a clench while wrestling the shot gun away from him. And then he hugged the kid, who is getting the help he needs now, instead of being immortalized as a monster.

“I told him I was there to save him . . I was there for a reason . . and that this is a life worth living . .”

It’s easy to lose our better angels to the hopeless depths of indifference and division. And then the fates bring us someone like Keanon Lowe, who turned a tragic ending into a lifetime of new beginnings. The right person in the right place so that the wrong time would never have a chance. And for one blessed day, flowers were given to the living instead of to the dead.

When faced with the prospect of just another day happening all over again, that hug was busy speaking a different language altogether. It spoke kindly to the wicked fates, two simple words uttered in the silence of a heroic embrace.

Not today.