Heroes Of The Week- You Edition

This week is yours. When all the reading and the love you give to this spot comes hurtling back at you in the form of a well deserved hug. Pick up this hug, and know that you made it possible. Gracias.

Now for the Heroes you brought to Friday . . .

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Mark over at markpaxson.com decided that Rand Paul probably isn’t going to be worthy of any humanitarian awards in the near or distant future, and he’s probably spot on in this assessment. So when I was doing my casting call, he left a comment in which he said he would get back to me. Erudite chap that he is, he got back to me in no time flat with, as he put it, “Somebody doing something about a frequently forgotten segment of our society…”

It’s a story about the La La Land Kind Cafe in Dallas Texas. The owner, Francois Reihani, hires young people who have aged out of the foster care system. So far, he’s employed nine of these kids. Because Reihani believes it’s about kindness every bit as much as it’s about coffee.

Those are some cool beans they’re brewing.

Monika at Tails Around The Ranch contributed a beauty from her neck of the woods. It’s about some local distillers (She’s quick to point out other states are doing it as well). who have retrofitted their equipment in order to . . . get this all you hand sanitizer hoarders and price gougers . . give the stuff away to firefighters and other first responders. And since I totally plagiarized her comment, I’ll let her tell you why it matters, because she does a wonderful job of bringing it all home.

The state fast tracked approval to make the switch on the equipment. This story really touched me since a few years ago the Town of Lyons flooded and resulting in being completely cut off from in-or-out access to any surrounding areas/towns. They lost their water/sewer plant. It took months for the state to rebuild roads in to repair/replace damaged homes/buildings. To be able to come back and give to their community makes them big-time heros in my book.

Could not have said it better myself, Monika.

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Dale over at A Dalectable Life ain’t just a lovely connoisseur of photography and great eats. She dresses up the written word in sunshine on the regular as well. And she is a voracious hunter and gatherer of feel good news pieces, as evidenced by her many contributions to this Friday edition over the last year and change.

She chimed in with this story about how Cuba recently sent a 52 doctor brigade to Italy in response to the devastating wake of the virus. The communist country has already done the same in a half dozen other countries, as its emergency preparedness is proving to be a model of effectiveness- at home and abroad. According to Graciliano Díaz, the Cuban contingent is committed to this ‘honorable task, based on the principle of solidarity.

It would be nice if every country put its politics aside and followed suit.

John at Fiction Favorites sent me a video to share with you for this Friday edition. It’s Matthew McConaughey dishing up some much needed love for Austin, Texas . . and for all of us. It’s only a couple minutes long, but it’s a virtual hug and “We Got This” that is much appreciated inside these trying times. The dude is quirky, and you know that? That’s plenty fine with me, because underneath all that quirkiness resides a heart the size of the place he calls home.

Alls I gotta say is Alright! Alright! Alright!

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And for my last story, I paid a virtual visit to Bay View Wisconsin. It’s a throwback neighborhood sewn into the shores of Lake Michigan. The ancestral lineage of this town speaks to laborers and the community they dreamed for their children inside lifetimes so long removed from here.

That future love paradise came calling recently when the residents of Bay View got together for a parade. But not just any parade, since we’re . .  yanno, living inside the operative social precepts of a moment in time where keeping your distance has taken on a literal form.

So this parade, it took all of these things into consideration in a most prehistoric fashion sense. Their solution was to dress up like dinosaurs and march together, at six foot intervals, through the place they call home. As a way of saying that it’s okay not to be okay with all of this. But it’s never going to be okay to lose our sense of humor, or our ability to figure a way back.

Imma finish this episode off by saying thank you to all my contributors, and to let you know that this idea will become yet another new feature going forward. Because you guys are always telling me how much you look forward to this Friday post, and I ain’t gonna lie. I never saw it coming.

You did.

 

Casting Call For Heroes Fans

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If you’re a regular to this joint, then you’ve probably happened upon the Heroes episodes we dish up every Friday for your viewing feel good. You kept things going when I thought maybe it was just a phase. And by you, I mean anyone who looks forward to this little corner of the world when the end of the week comes calling.

You made Heroes a place worth coming to. I simply captained the thing into harbor thanks to your earnest chimes, which behave very much like gold on the dollar when it comes to the keeping on. So . . I don’t do this kind of thing but I figured maybe one or two or three of you might be down with it.

Send me a story that hits you in the feel good and I’ll post it on Friday. You can simply provide the link in your comment and I’ll make sure it gets pub love. Worst case scenario is nobody contributes and Heroes still shows up in the regularly scheduled programming. Best case scenario is I get all the stories I need through you for this week, and if it’s more than five? Well . . I ain’t presumptuous like that, but a boy is allowed to dream.

As for writing, I was practicing my short game this morning. I hope you like.

He remembered back to those nights inside the dusty wings of a very forgettable March. Back into the hopeless design of bad news gone caterwaul in episodic bonfires that left Caesar’s ghost to hemorrhage in its eternal playpen.  The days painted themselves in a haphazard chaste whose vicious prongs were sinking empires across the globe. And so he peddled elixirs in the recitations of Angelou, Wilde, Cummings, Morrison and his personal favorite, Kinsella.

The spoken verses were akin to candles in a church, sacred vows left behind by masters and mistresses of the written word for the sake of prayer. Each syllable a testimonial to the peaceful resistance of words inside a chaotic world. The stories were plush to his fractured brain, and the sound of each word tasted like fruit as it trespassed his lips. And he went on like this, plucking a snippet here and a paragraph there and joining them together in a brilliant quilt whose song redeemed the shadowy fates.

It went like this from March into April and then with May came the first idea that life would begin to take its traditional place setting back. Only now, he had ashes to confer to the winds of change. The world, his world, would prove to be extraordinarily different with each step into whatever came next. Oh sure, it was easy to promise such a thing when the end of the world had seemed an abject patent. All the same, he was aligned to a different star from here on out. And he knew it was impossibly difficult to comprehend, but he had seen the beginning inside the merciless clench of the end.

So it was that a June day found him tucked into a box seat along the third base line, holding to a foot long as his beer lost its froth. The sun shone down like a promise from Jay Gatsby, full of a million different promises. The field was a stained glass portrait of emerald fusing with ivory and caramel. How could he have ever taken such a beautiful thing as an early summer day at the ballpark for granted?

He cried at the thought.

Heroes Of The Week!- Super Bowl Edition

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I was behind on my news munch this week so I had to run a hurry up offense in order to get this episode nestled onto its Friday morning doorstep. You could say I winged it, and that’s no guac. But I figured out a way to make this a Super edition by including a member of both the Niners and the Chiefs in my lineup. Yanno, in the name of fairness and world pizza.

And now your heroes . . .

Heart of Gold- Richard Sherman is going to be a first ballot Hall of Famer whenever he decides to hang up his cleats, but in the game of life he is already there.

In November, Sherman wrote out a check for almost $7,500 to the Cabrillo Middle School in Santa Clara, California that wiped out all lunch debt owed to the cafeteria. A month prior to that, he wrote a check for over $20,000 to the Tacoma Public Schools in Tacoma Washington to clear all lunch debt there as well. Since 2013, Sherman’s organizations- The Richard Sherman Family Foundation and Blanket Coverage Foundation- have raised more than $1.5 million dollars to provide students in low income communities with school supplies and clothing.

This dude is already super.

A real Life Saver- For all I know, this might have been Timothy Prather‘s first rodeo. But you’d never have known it from the way the nine year old sprang into action to save his little cousin. Timothy was enjoying a night out at the rodeo when his three year old cousin Connor began to choke. Welp, Timothy knew exactly what to do thanks to a first aid poster he’d taken notice of in the cafeteria at Ramer Elementary School in Tennessee. He applied the Heimlich and dislodged the candy from Connor’s throat. This story had me wondering how many adults know how to apply this life saving move.

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Take this job and shovel it- Remember kids, my heroes run the gamut. They don’t need to score the real world headlines to make mine. They just need to show me some kind of wonderful, and when they do it in the quiet? That’s butter. Fed Ex driver Melvin J. Marlett of Manistique, Michigan supplied the flavor recently when he was delivering a package to Jodi LaFreniere. The kindergarten teacher wasn’t home but the motion sensor on her security camera resulted in a notification text, and when she checked out the video footage, there was Marlett . . shoveling her front stoop. Of all the random acts perpetrated in this crazy world, kindness always works best.

 

Commander and Chief- Derrick Nnadi was a hotshot Florida State prospect a couple years back until a forgettable workout at the league Combine left his pro career in doubt. But the defensive tackle worked his ass off to overcome that blip, and now he finds himself sixty minutes away from a Super Bowl ring.

Nnadi’s hard work on the field is in keeping with the great good work he’s doing off of it. The league honored him as the Kansas City Chiefs Community MVP of the Week back in September for providing a shopping spree to the family of one of the victims of the Virginia Beach mass shooting. That’s his hometown, and it’s where his heart will always reside. He’s pretty good at dishing up these shopping sprees to school kids, having done it last summer in his adopted hometown of Kansas City as well.

“As my father says . . we don’t receive . . we give . .”

When the universe listens- Seven years ago, Georgina Laurie had just lost her husband Dennis and life no longer seemed worth living. She slipped into a depression from which it seemed she might not return.

“A year prior to that, I’d had a stroke, so my whole life completely changed and I couldn’t cope with that,” recalls Laurie. “I got really depressed, really down and I really couldn’t see there was a way forward in life for me.

It was on the night when she began thinking about the end of her life that she was able to find a new beginning. She noticed the card for a suicide prevention hotline called Samaritans by her bedside cabinet and gave them a call. She had no intention of being talked down from the ledge her life was balancing on, but that is exactly what happened. So inspired was she, that this grandmother from the UK later made the decision to become a volunteer for the organization. So it was that Georgina overheard a conversation her fellow volunteer Des McCarthy was having with someone who called into the hotline recently. Des was comforting the person on the other end of the line and the words . . well, they brought Georgina all the way back to that fateful night. And that’s when Georgina realized that Des- her mentor and fellow volunteer for the last four years- had been the voice that talked her down from that ledge once upon a time.

There are no coincidences.

 

 

 

 

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.

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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 . . .

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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.

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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?

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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!

Super Man

Imma try something new this week with my Heroes entry by giving y’all briefs on my heroes and zeros rather than prattling on. I got the idea after reading an article which claimed that readers tend to lose interest if they have to read more than a few paragraphs on a given topic. I forget what the rest of the article said, but I was duly inspired to exercise brevity. I’m sure there will be instances where I will prattle on. Take this explanation, for instance . . .

Mother Nature- The balls on this chick. There was snow in New England this week. Not the movie set Styrofoam shit either. As Lou Gramm opined, head games . . I can’t take it anymore!

Favorite headline from the Globe, or The National Examiner- “It’s not Harry’s Baby!”. Personally, I would have gone with Royal Flush! or Check Mated! But whatevs.

Wise beyond her years- I’ve been a critic of Team Process in Philadelphia, because I think any professional organization that soaks its fans for half a decade and then dresses it up in analytics should be brought up on charges. But the Sixers are fun, and Joel Embiid crying on the court after losing to Toronto touched me, okay?

Leave it to a nine year old Sixers fan named Olivia to sum things up best of all.

Readers ain’t writers (Spoiler Alert)- Palenty of Game of Thrones fans went carazy over how last week’s episode went down, so lemme simplify for the simpletons. Jaime proved you never outrun your past. Dany predicted how this was going to go down ages ago. And all those innocents? Picked the wrong kingdom to buy a house in. War ain’t tidy, kingdoms are won on equal parts guile and brutality and if you want a happy ending, go to Friendly’s. That is all.

A long time coming- Pete Sabedra waited a long time to earn his high school diploma. More than seventy years, in fact. When Pete was in the eighth grade, he had to drop out of high school to support his family. After serving in WW2, he received his GED.

Fast forward to now, where the 92 year old Sabedra was presented with a diploma during the awards ceremony in which his grandson Kace received his diploma. He was named an honorary member of the class of 2019. The moral is, it’s never too late.

Favorite headline from the the National Examiner, or The Globe-
“Betty White’s Wild Life!- Cocktails, Close Friends and Hot Dogs” My God, what a hedonist she was!

When jokes go South(west)- During an hours long maintenance delay on a recent Southwest flight, a passenger’s innocent joke got serious. Quickly. As attendants were handing out water, a passenger remarked “They should be handing out vodka, we’ve been waiting so long,”. Rather than let the joke die a cornhole death, an attendant shot back at the passenger and then informed authorities of an unruly passenger.

The plane did a u-turn and the passenger was removed from the flight, to the protests of all the passengers who had witnessed the exchange. Hopefully, this attendant will visit the website peoplewhoareeasilyoffendedbythestupidestshit.com.

Uncommon strength- Journalist Jayson Greene has written a book Once More We Saw Stars. It’s a memoir which details the anguish of losing a child. Greene and his wife Stacy lost their two year old daughter Greta in 2015 when a brick fell from an eighth story windowsill and struck her in the head. She died the next day.

Greene’s book is filled with painful, sobering images. But it also speaks to the crumbling infrastructure of New York City, and the desperate need for action so that this does not happen to someone else. It always amazes me to find people like this, who contribute to humanity in the face of unspeakable loss. God bless them.

Boycott Alabama- Of course, I ain’t ever visiting the place to begin with. And I don’t know too many folks who are. But it’s time to strike back at legislators who recently signed an abortion bill into law that truly belongs in the dark ages. Shameful.

Favorite headline of the week from the New York Post- “Here Cons The Bride”- ‘Husband’ sues car heiress for faking their wedding

All heroism is local- One minute Duana Owens was sitting outside a Wells Fargo branch minding his own business, and the next he’s getting a Sorryless mention.

Owens watched a man enter and then rapidly exit the bank, brandishing a hatchet on the flip side no less. Undeterred, Owens sprang into action. He ordered the culprit to lower his weapon and to get on the ground. After a few tense moments, he did as Owens had instructed. “(Police) said they really couldn’t find too many citizens like me,” Owens said proudly. No kidding.

Welp, that’s a wrap for this week. Apologies to those who never made it out of the green room, like . . . NYC Mayor DiBlasio turned Presidential candidate #714, the troll who wished cancer on talk show host James Corden’s kid and as always . . Chancellor Trump.