becoming your own - real live hero....

my personal inventory...


if you're thinking this is a bunch of crap....
read on & this time, leave your pride behind you!

try to bend over backwards....
volunteer to be someone elses' hero!
when you're feeling blue.... be somebody's hero

Talk With Your Preschooler About Caring

  • Young children can relate caring best to issues in their daily lives. You can nurture the development of caring kids by asking simple questions.

  • "The playground's dirty, what can we do to clean it up?"

  • "Marion, Josh & John all want to play different games. How can we solve this problem so everyone feels good?"

  • "Barbara hurt her knee. What can we do to help her feel better?"

try to bend over backwards....
volunteer - become someone's hero!
help someone in need - become an everyday hero!

Bride holds charity event after fiancé cheats

Woman calls off relationship, turns would-be wedding reception into benefit

Updated: 1:50 p.m. ET Sept 9, 2006

VERGENNES, Vt. - A woman who learned 6 weeks before her wedding that her fiancé was cheating on her is turning her would-be reception into a charity benefit.

“I’m really just trying to turn it around & make something positive out of it,” said Kyle Paxman.

Paxman, 29, had planned to celebrate her nuptials at the Basin Harbor Club on Lake Champlain on Saturday. When she found out about her fiancé, she called off the 180-guest wedding & the 4 year relationship.

She & her mother canceled the band, photographer & florist, but learned they wouldn't be reimbursed for the reception & block of rooms they'd reserved. So they turned the reception into a benefit for the Vermont Children’s Aid Society & CARE USA, an international relief organization that aims to combat poverty by empowering women.

They sent out invitations to 125 women for drinks & a gourmet 4 course dinner. In exchange, they hope the guests will make donations to the charities.

© 2006 The Associated Press.

try to bend over backwards....

Respect What Your School-Age Child Cares About

  • Help your school age children take action on issues important to them.

  • If she cares about helping animals, suggest she volunteer at an animal shelter, or make a donation to a wildlife organization.

  • If he is concerned about hunger, volunteer together to serve a meal in a soup kitchen.

  • If she cares about the environment; help her organize a block-wide street clean up & pick an organization that does environmental action.

try to bend over backwards....

‘It just adds salt to a wound’

Death benefit rejected for ‘hero’ who rushed to save lives at WTC on 9/11

Updated: 5:56 p.m. ET Sept 22, 2006

NEW YORK - Glenn Winuk was found in the ashes of the World Trade Center with surgical gloves on his hands & a medic's bag at his side. A card in his wallet identified him as a volunteer firefighter.

The discovery confirmed what friends already knew. As the towers burned, the 40-year-old lawyer had rushed from his nearby office to offer help as a veteran EMT.

"He died a hero," said his brother, Jay.

Yet, in the eyes of the federal government, he didn't die in the line of duty.

In a decision sent to Winuk's parents days before the 5th anniversary of his death, the Justice Dept. rejected their application for a $250,000 benefit for public safety officers killed on the job.

Its reasoning was apologetically bureaucratic; while Winuk was an associate member of the Jericho Fire Department on Long Island, he hadn't been on active duty since 1998.

"I recognize the decedent's heroism that day & readily acknowledge & salute his bravery: Glenn J. Winuk gave unstintingly of himself, under the most dreadful circumstances & gave unto death itself," wrote Domingo S. Herraiz, director of the Bureau of Justice Assistance.

"The law doesn't entrust me, however, with authority to distribute federal benefits in recognition of the ultimate sacrifice paid by good Samaritans, no matter how deserving," he added.

Disputes arise regularly
The denial is one of several difficult rulings the bureau has made while administering the Public Safety Officers' Benefits Act, a 30-year-old program that provides a one-time payment to the families of slain police, firefighters and government rescue workers.

Since the program's inception, disputes have arisen regularly about deaths due to medical conditions, self-inflicted gunshots or auto wrecks.

There has been debate, too, over precisely who counts as a public safety officer.

In July, a federal judge overturned a decision to deny benefits to a civilian pilot killed battling a wildfire near Hopland, Calif. Although the program excludes contractors, the court said the aviator qualified because of his actions for the state's Department of Forestry & Fire Protection.

In March, a judge said the benefit was wrongly withheld from a 14-year-old junior firefighter hit by a car while answering an alarm on his bicycle. Christopher Kangas of Brookhaven, Pa., was a volunteer apprentice whose duties were limited to drills and firehouse chores.

Jay Winuk said his family also plans to appeal the ruling on his brother, who was on active duty for 19 years before switching to associate status.

"It just adds salt to a wound that's about the biggest wound you could have," he said. "It's like they're trying to find every which way not to honor this guy."

An even thornier decision may lie ahead — whether payments should go to rescue workers who inhaled trade center dust & were later diagnosed with fatal lung ailments.

An attorney for the family of New York police detective James Zadroga, who died in January, said Thursday that he plans to seek a payment under the program. Doctors blamed the 34-year-old's fatal lung problems on his work at ground zero.

"This guy deserves it," said attorney Michael Barasch. "He's no different than a cop who got shot in the chest, lingers for a year & then dies."

The Public Safety Officers' Benefits Act prohibits claims for long-term, job-related illness, but guidelines published this year said payments can be made if a death is directly caused by exposure to chemicals while on duty.

The Justice Department said it has so far paid 435 claims following the terror assault, almost all to full-time police & firefighters. That's nearly double the claims usually paid annually.

The department didn't respond to repeated requests for information about how many Sept. 11 claims it denied.

A Justice Dept. spokeswoman said that, on average, about 10% of those who apply each year are ineligible.

After the attacks, Congress passed legislation speeding payments to terrorism victims. It also expanded the program to cover fire & police chaplains.

Officials lobby for claim
The denial of Winuk's claim came despite lobbying by high-profile officials, including former New York Fire Commissioner Thomas Von Essen, commander of the department on Sept. 11.

"I can assure you that true firemen don't care about their 'membership status' when life is at stake & every indication is that Glenn Winuk was a true fireman," Von Essen wrote in a letter to the Justice Dept.

New York's legislature passed a law, signed by Gov. George Pataki last year, declaring that Winuk died in the line of duty. A Justice Dept. hearing officer also concluded he should receive the benefit, but his recommendation was overruled.

U.S. Rep. Peter King, a Long Island Republican, urged the department to reconsider.

"How or why you would deny this person is beyond me," he said. "To me, if there's any ambiguity ... you give the benefit of the doubt to the rescue worker."

© 2006 The Associated Press.

try to bend over backwards....

Tiny New York apartment became a refuge

Martin Wolk tracks down a man who helped him and many others on 9/11

By Martin Wolk
Business editor
Updated: 9:26 a.m. ET Sept 8, 2006

Maybe in a small Kansas town, what John Roccosalva did would not have been a big deal. But in New York City on Sept. 11, 2001, it seemed extraordinary.

What Roccosalva did that day was invite people in to his Greenwich Village apartment to use the telephone — dozens of people, maybe 100, people who otherwise would have had no way to get in touch with their loved ones and let them know they were safe. Cell phone service was spotty at best. Long lines snaked away from the few available pay phones.

And Roccosalva kept going downstairs & asking more people to come inside & use the apartment, located about 2 miles north of the spot that came to be known as Ground Zero.

I was one of those people & having lived in New York for 5 years it went against my every instinct to follow a stranger into his apartment building. But once I got inside & sat down to have a glass of water, I began to comprehend the enormity of what had happened to me, having just escaped from the ground floor of the World Trade Center 2 hours earlier. I also felt the deep warmth of human kindness.

Looking around at others who found themselves in the 2nd-floor apartment, I suddenly felt I was a part of a community of refugees & Roccosalva’s generosity began to turn things around for me, helping to restore my faith in humanity.

It was a little gesture, but I guess in its own way it made a difference for some people,” he said when I interviewed him last month, nearly 5 years later.

No television or radio
To say the apartment was small is being extravagant. In the flat's single room was barely enough space for a twin-size bed, a table with 3 chairs, a tiny stove & a dorm-sized refrigerator. The walls were white & virtually bare except for a few shelves of books. No television, not even a radio.

Yet the plank floors were impeccable, the bed spare & clean. The whole room had a calming effect of a monk’s quiet retreat.

I could have had Rembrandts on the wall. The fact that I didn’t have anything like that didn’t make a difference,” said Roccosalva, 55, a Cleveland native who has lived in the space for most of the past 30 years. “What I did have to offer was just a safe place to be for a few minutes, for people to touch base with people that they lost touch with."

Opening his apartment to the masses also was therapeutic for Roccosalva. Early in the morning he'd seen the first plane “sticking out of” the north tower, as he put it & he didn't know what to do, or even think. At first, he & a friend told each other that it must be a scene being filmed for a movie.

Then they went to breakfast & Roccosalva overheard someone frantically trying to use the telephone. “I live right around here,” said Roccosalva. “Why don’t you come over & use my phone?”

At the time, Roccosalva was unemployed, having been laid off from his job of arranging window displays.

Part of it was I didn't know what to do with myself & it gave me a project. It gave me something to kind of not think about what I'd just seen. I was able to give people something & they were able to give me company. ... I felt very alone. So it did benefit me as well.”

A huge phone bill is paid
It was only late in the day, when large groups began coming in to use his phone, that he realized he would face a huge phone bill. To this day, he doesn’t remember how big it was, but it was big enough that relatives decided to pitch in & pay it for him.

Today Roccosalva, who declined to be photographed, is working as a florist. He still has no television or radio, but he pays a bit more attention to world events.

"I always thought of New York City as being the center of the universe," he said. "It still may be the center of the universe, but the universe is somewhat smaller than it was before that happened."

And 5 years later, Roccosalva has never gone back to the site of the former World Trade Center. And on the few occasions when he has driven by in a friend’s car, he has looked the other way.

Part of it may be denial, I don’t know. But I also didn’t feel like I needed anything as a reminder because I knew I'd never forget & I haven't forgotten. The experience is pretty vivid for me right now.”

Martin Wolk is MSNBC.com's business editor.

try to bend over backwards....

'Superman' star
Reeve dead at 52

Actor, paralyzed in 1995, became renowned spinal cord advocate

Updated: 5:18 p.m. ET Oct 11, 2004

MOUNT KISCO, N.Y. - Christopher Reeve, the chiseled, strapping “Superman” of celluloid who became another kind of hero as a force for spinal cord research after a devastating horse-riding accident, has died at 52.

Reeve, a quadriplegic for the last 9 years of his life who vowed that he would one day walk again, died Sunday of complications from an infection caused by a bedsore.

His wife, actress Dana Reeve, issued a statement thanking “the millions of fans from around the world who have supported & loved my husband over the years.” His mother, Barbara Johnson, told the syndicated TV show “The Insider”: “I’m glad that he is free of all those tubes.”

The world has lost a tremendous activist & artist & an inspiration for people worldwide. I have lost a great friend,” said actor & comedian Robin Williams.

After winning worldwide fame as Superman in 4 films from 1978 to 1987 & struggling to “escape the cape” with later roles, Reeve suddenly became the face of spinal cord injury after his May 1995 riding accident.

The injury left him without the use of his arms or legs; he couldn't breathe without a ventilator. He was still dealing with the horror of his injury 6 months later when he decided how he would spend the rest of his life.

No one was specifically saying, ‘You could lead the charge on spinal cord disorders,’ but hearing from certain people helped me formulate the idea,”’ Reeve wrote in his 1998 memoir, “Still Me.” “I have the opportunity now to make sense of this accident. I believe that it’s what you do after a disaster that can give it meaning.”

He used his Hollywood fame to win attention & funding for scientific study of disabilities like his & to lobby for looser restrictions on stem-cell research.

“I consider myself a spokesman for people who can’t call the president or a senator or testify before Congress,” Reeve said in a 1998 interview with The Associated Press.

Maggie Goldberg, spokeswoman for the Christopher Reeve Paralysis Foundation, said: “Christopher took his celebrity & turned it into a legacy.”

A lasting legacy
“I’m only sorry that he won’t be around anymore to benefit from it,” said Henry Steifel, 39, of New York City, a quadriplegic since a car accident at 17. “He wasn’t there just to lend a name; he was there to lead, to step out & challenge the accepted dogma of the time that a paralysis cure was unattainable.”

In 2000, Reeve gained the ability to move his index finger & a specialized workout regimen made his legs & arms stronger. Repeated electrical stimulation of the muscles gave him sporadic sensation in other parts of his body.

He did walk once - in a TV ad, set in the future, shown during the 2000 Super Bowl. Some were fooled by the special effects into thinking Reeve had been cured. Reeve insisted the scene was “something that can actually happen.”

He may have known that his stated goal of walking was fading for him, however. In the current issue of Reader’s Digest, he said, “I’m beginning to fight issues of aging as well as long-term paralysis.”

Reeve, born in New York City in 1952, landed a part on the soap opera “Love of Life” in 1974. His first Broadway role was as Katharine Hepburn’s grandson in “A Matter of Gravity,” & his first movie role was in the 1978 submarine movie “Gray Lady Down.”

Then came “Superman,” fame & wealth.

After the sequels, the 6 foot 4 inch Reeve played a crippled Vietnam veteran in “Fifth of July” on Broadway, a lovestruck time-traveler in the movie “Somewhere in Time” & an aspiring playwright in the thriller “Deathtrap.”

In 1993 he appeared with Anthony Hopkins & Emma Thompson in the critically praised “The Remains of the Day.”

I felt the best opportunities of my career still lay ahead,” Reeve wrote.

Brief thoughts of suicide
But then came the accident in Culpeper, Va. He considered suicide, he wrote, but his wife told him: “I’ll be with you for the long haul, no matter what. You’re still you. And I love you.”

3 years later, he said he didn’t “go nuts” thinking about his once-active life.

On a breezy day I’ll look at the wind in the trees & realize what a great day it would be to be sailing in Maine,” he told The AP as he looked out a window of his home. “Or I look at the puffy clouds & think, ‘I’d love to be gliding again.’ And sometimes I’ll say that to somebody nearby. ... And then I’ll let it go.”

Reeve did some directing & even returned to acting in a 1998 production of “Rear Window,” an update of the Hitchcock thriller. He won a Screen Actors Guild award for best actor in a TV movie or miniseries.

Recently, Reeve returned to the comic-book story that made him famous. He made several guest appearances on the WB series “Smallville” as Dr. Swann, a scientist who gave the teenage Clark Kent insight into his future as Superman.

Besides his wife, Reeve is survived by their son, Will, 12; 2 children from a relationship with Gae Exton, Matthew, 25 & Alexandra, 21; his mother; his father, Franklin Reeve & a brother, Benjamin Reeve.

Funeral plans weren't complete. His foundation said there were plans for a small family service & then a big gathering in New York City sometime in the next 2 weeks.

© 2006 The Associated Press.


Media Watch

  • Watching TV or interacting with video or online games containing violent, anti-social, teasing and bullying behaviors can encourage kids to adopt an "I don't care" attitude. Recent studies show that exposure to media violence may actually stimulate anti-social behavior in children.
  • "There are several measurable effects on children exposed to [media] violence, including using violence as an acceptable way to settle conflict ... and having a higher tendency for violent and aggressive behavior later in life than other children."
    The American Medical Association, 09/2004


October 1, 2006: Hero Nurtures Babies While Mothers Recover From Addictions

DENVER -- 7Everyday Hero Kathy Winn cares for infants and helps their mothers get their lives back on track.

Fort Logan Baby Haven is a program for women who are hooked on drugs, have spent time in prison and are pregnant.

The program helps the moms become productive citizens, nurtures the babies, and ultimately saves taxpayers money.

Winn is among the volunteers who steps in to care for the babies at a time when both they and their mothers really need it.

"She loves our babies. Whenever she's here, the moment I come in I hand her my baby," said new mother Kristine.

Winn volunteers to take care of babies at the day care a couple times a week.

"And that's fun. I enjoy that," said Winn.

Fort Logan Baby Haven is hardly an ordinary day care.

"It's a residential treatment center where moms and babies can live together and recover from their addictions," said Haven program director Dr. Julie Miller. "Many of them come from jail or prison. Others are homeless or they're referred through the department of Social Services."

While Winn is caring for the infants, the babies' moms take classes to get their lives back on track.

"It's a gift, definitely, from God," said new mom Amy.

"The haven is changing my life," said Kristine.

"I think we should support this program because it's so successful," said Winn.

"They go on to get their own apartments and they have jobs and they become productive members of the community," said Miller. "They volunteer, they work, and they pay taxes."

When Winn says she simply "takes care of babies," she's really nurturing many lives at once.

"She's very giving, very caring, very humble," said Miller.


The Ultimate Sacrifice

Even as Americans celebrate the victories in Iraq, they are reminded of the costs

By Dirk Johnson
Newsweek Web Exclusive

March 22 - The son & grandson of pilots, Jay Thomas Aubin was just 5 years old when he first flew an airplane.

“We’d put cushions beneath him so he’d be able to see,” says his dad, Tom Aubin.

He joined the U.S. Marines Corps after graduating from Skowhegan High School in Maine, where he'd been named the Student of the Year.

By 36, Aubin had become a Major in the Marines, stationed in Yuma, Ariz. & the father of 2 small children. He called home last month with important news: he was being sent to Kuwait.

He knew it was serious,” says his aunt, Rella Collins. “But he believed in what he was doing. He believed that Saddam had to be taken out.”

Doing his duty, Aubin made the ultimate sacrifice on Thursday-along with 3 of his countrymen & 8 British soldiers. They were the first American & British soldiers killed in the Iraq war when their helicopter crashed in Kuwait.

At least 10 American soldiers were believed to have died in action by late Saturday: a tragic reality that even when a nation is winning a war - Pentagon officials say American-led forces are achieving stunning advances - horrible grief visits families of the victors, too.

Two other Marines were killed in ground combat on Friday: Lance Cpl. Jose Gutierrez, 22, of Los Angeles & Second Lt. Therrel Childers, 30, of Harrison County, Miss.

4 Americans were reported killed early Saturday, including the first U.S. Navy officer to die in the war in Iraq, a San Diego native serving as a liaison officer with the British Royal Navy, according to the Dept. of Defense.

Lt. Thomas Mullen Adams, 27, of La Mesa (near San Diego), was killed when 2 British Royal Navy Sea King helicopters collided over the Persian Gulf.

Adams & 6 British Royal Marines died. The helicopters crashed about 4:30 a.m., just after taking off from a ship in the Gulf, officials said. The cause is under investigation.

The helicopter crash on Thursday, which claimed the lives of Aubin & 11 others, has been blamed on mechanical failure. The DH-46E Seat Knight crashed into the desert near the Iraqi border.

The 3 other Americans in the doomed chopper were Cpl. Brian Kennedy, 25, of Houston; Staff Sgt. Kendall Damon Watersbey, 29, of Baltimore & Capt. Ryan Anthony Beaupre, 30, of Bloomington , Ill.

Beaupre had been working for State Farm insurance until 3 years ago, when he decided he wanted more adventure & purpose in life. So he joined the Marines.

“He’d always wanted to be a pilot,” said his grandmother, Eleanor Bieber. When he learned he was being sent to Kuwait, Beaupre wrote home & told his family “he was there because he wanted to be,” his grandmother said.

At 3 a.m. on Friday, a Marine delegation appeared at the Beaupre family’s brick home with the horrible news that he had been killed in the chopper crash in Kuwait.

“This is when the war hits home,” said family friend Patricia Gould, “when an all-American family loses someone like Ryan.”

A track star at Bishop McNamara High School who went on to run cross country at Illinois Wesleyan University, Beaupre seemed to be admired by everyone.

“He’s the kind of kid you want your daughter to marry,” said Gould. “He’s the kind of person you want your son to be.”

Just hours after news that Beaupre had been killed, a mass was said in his honor at St. Anne’s Catholic Church.

Watersbey, an African-American who became a Muslim at age 11, had served in the first Gulf War. With the Marines, he had traveled to Saudi Arabia, Italy & Thailand.

He had joined the service because he was driven to excel, said his father, Michael Watersbey. “He had no enemies,” his dad said, adding that his son never talked much about politics. Watersbey had called home last week trying to talk to his mother, but couldn't reach her.

He leaves behind a 10 year-old son, Kenneth, who spoke sadly, but proudly, of his late father’s sacrifice. “He had to do what he had to do for our country,” said the boy. “I was proud of him. He’s going to stay my hero.” In the little boy’s words, there was a reminder of the pain of war-a sadness that'll last long after the last battles end.

With additional reporting from Jamie Reno, Sarah Downey, Ken Shulman and Donatella Lorch 

© 2006 Newsweek, Inc.


October 8, 2006: Hero Delivers Flowers From The Heart

POSTED: 2:49 pm MDT October 8, 2006
UPDATED: 7:08 pm MDT October 9, 2006

BOULDER, Colo. - It's hard to miss 7Everyday Hero Mary Jane Dickson's love for others as she arrives at the Mesa Vista of Boulder every Thursday with gifts from the heart.

Dickson delivers flowers to the residents of Mesa Vista, a long-term care facility every Thursday.

"I get lots of smiles and lots of hugs," she said.

"When you see Mary Jane you see joy," said Lynne Lindstrom.

"Puts a good feeling right here," said one woman as she points to her heart.

Dickson started delivering flowers in 1994 when she visited a friend at Mesa Vista.

"Well, you know you're not in a vacuum," said Dickson. "You see all these people in the hallway and their eyes light up -- flowers, flowers!"

All the flowers are donated by a Boulder-area King Soopers store.

"Our god is a god of life. He's given us these to enjoy you know?" said Dickson.

"The love from the flowers and the beauty is the inner-beauty that she brings to us," said Lindstrom.

"It's just an exchange of love," said Dickson. "It really is. It's wonderful."

Sept. 24, 2006: Hero Goes Extra Mile For Canine Companions

Joe Turcotte Competes In Triathlons To Raise Money

POSTED: 2:51 pm MDT September 24, 2006
UPDATED: 3:09 pm MDT September 25, 2006

DENVER -- For those with disabilities, the letters CCI can mean freedom, mobility, and empowerment.

CCI stands for Canine Companions for Independence.

7Everyday Hero Joe Turcotte is running five triathlons this year to raise money for the program that provides assistance dogs for the disabled.

Training the dogs requires lots of time, talent, and money, something Turcotte is going the extra mile to make happen.

Assistance dogs have to be ready for just about anything.

With a little help from West Metro fire, the pups are in training. The hope is that despite all the distractions in this world, each dog can learn to stay focused on their future partner, someone with a disability.

"It's a sense of independence, like a journey to independence for anyone who gets one of these dogs," said CCI trainer Amy Olschner.

Canine Companions for Independence provides these highly trained assistance dogs at no cost. However, CCI gets no government assistance and it relies solely on donations.

"Right now I'm just a fundraiser," said Turcotte.

That would be an understatement.

When Turcotte is not snapping photos for CCI, he is raising lots of money for the group by competing.

"He doesn't just go out and do a little run," said friend Taryn Archer. "He does Pikes Peak 16 times or he does these Ironmen."

"I heard there were five sanctioned Ironmen races so last year I signed up for all five of them," said Turcotte.

That is five Ironman triathlons in one year.

"I raised over $5,000 before the gun went off for the first race and I'm currently up to $14,000 and I still have two races to go," said Turcotte.

All that money goes to CCI.

"He has just a huge heart and a huge commitment and obviously is willing to dedicate a lot of hours and a lot of sweat and tears to get this done," said Archer.

If you would like to learn more about Canine Companions for Independence, visit www.caninecompanions.org.

Mission of Mercy

How three homeschool moms and a nurse made an impact on Katrina victims.
by Sarah Pavlik

After sharing a pot of Starbucks coffee, Shari Crooks, Cathy Young, Jeanette Lawson, and I pulled away from Shari's Huntsville, Alabama home on September 9, 2005 Shelter from the Storm

Web Exclusive:
Offering Hope Overseas

After sharing a pot of Starbucks coffee, Shari Crooks, Cathy Young, Jeanette Lawson, and I pulled away from Shari's Huntsville, Alabama home on September 9, 2005—three homeschool moms and a nurse on a mission to a hurricane-devastated town we'd never heard of to help a community we didn't know.

September 5
Our adventure began four days earlier as I watched a mother trapped at the Superdome in New Orleans cradling her wailing baby and screaming desperately into the news camera, "Get us out of here!" I wanted to hijack a big rig, fill it with supplies, and head up my own one-woman rescue mission to the hurricane-ravaged Gulf Coast.

But what would I do with my three boys (Josiah, nine, Eric, six, and Cameron, three)? Where would I get supplies? With so many people needing help, where would I start? I decided God would have to use someone better suited for such a mission. I'd just write a check and be done with it.

But the images kept haunting me even after I turned off my television: a message scrawled on a roof, "diabetic, need insulin or will die"; a grown man tearfully describing how Katrina's violent flood waters stole his wife away.

But what could I, a busy, financially strapped mother, do? In Galatians 6:10, the apostle Paul said, "As we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers." I began to pray for an opportunity to help.

September 6
I awoke the next day to find a message in my e-mail in-box from Shari Crooks and Cathy Young—two moms from my homeschool support group. They wanted me to go with them to deliver desperately needed supplies to the people of Perkinston, Mississippi, 25 miles north of the Coast. Cathy heard about the community through Gene Daniels, a Southern Baptist pastor she found through an Internet search on Gulf Coast churches. He told her of his town's plight: The military food rations FEMA provided were too hard for the older people to chew and too salty for toddlers, they didn't have enough water or cleaning supplies to begin restoring their broken homes, and some people had been wearing the same underwear for more than a week. He said it was even worse farther south in Gulfport. As I finished reading the e-mail, James 1:27 came to mind: "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress."

I started packing that evening and sent out an army of e-mails imploring others to help. Huntsville Hospital donated 23 boxes of linens and hospital gowns; the Church at Hampton Cove let us dig through donations they'd already collected. Jeanette Lawson, a nurse from the hospital that donated the linens, joined our team.

September 9
We spent the morning loading boxes into a borrowed 25-foot camper, drank our coffee, then headed out.

The landscape changed abruptly as we crossed the state line from Alabama into Mississippi. Debris lined the road—pine trees had fallen on each other like pick-up sticks; a single chair sat in the middle of an empty field. In Hattiesburg, several trees looked like they'd been skinned; in the countryside, Katrina's winds had ripped up big patches of grass.

When we finally pulled into the Perkinston Volunteer Fire Department eight hours after we left Huntsville, it appeared the whole town had gathered to greet us. The city's two ancient fire trucks had been moved outside so the garage could be used to receive, organize, and store donations. By the time we arrived, boxes were piled five-high and spilling out into the driveway.

They hugged us as though we were long-lost kin and gratefully unloaded our small haul. Just a few minutes after we pulled in, an 18-wheeler, much like the one I'd envisioned hijacking a couple days before, rolled in. To my surprise, it was filled with donations from my home state of Iowa. As I helped unload boxes marked "Iowa loves you, Mississippi," Cathy leaned over and whispered that God was winking at me.

He couldn't have been clearer; I was exactly where he wanted me—doing my best to be his hands and feet, serving those who'd lost so much.

After spending the remainder of the evening listening to the volunteer fire fighters and their families share how difficult the days following Katrina had been, we finally retired to our camper. We had a big day ahead of us in Gulfport.

September 10
With one mission completed, we were ready to take on the shelters of Gulfport. Pastor Daniels had asked us to bring toys for the children in the shelters and as many Bibles as we could. "People need God's Word now more than ever," he told us.

Shari, Cathy, Jeanette, and I inched our way down the main highway leading into Gulfport, the damage worsening with every mile. A Kmart parking lot was littered with clothing from one end to the other. Desperate families rummaged through the mess, trying to collect enough clothes to get by for a few days. A giant plywood sign in front of a Home Depot announced "free ice, given in Jesus' name." Some parking lots had been transformed into what looked like Third-World shantytowns—with tarps hung haphazardly over cots and sleeping bags, and laundry strung up between light poles.

It took us more than an hour to cover 20 miles because of downed power lines and broken traffic lights, but we finally arrived at our destination—an elementary school that had been turned into a temporary shelter by the Red Cross.

Anxious to get to the children, we grabbed boxes and headed inside. But a Red Cross worker met us at the door and curtly asked us to leave the items so they could distribute them later.

I felt like a deflated balloon. I came all the way from Huntsville to bless somebody. How dare they mess with my plans? I sulked self-righteously.

As we walked back to the truck, a young mother and her freckle-faced little girl approached us. Jeanette, still aching to bless a child, grabbed a porcelain doll out of my box and gave it to the girl we came to know as Leah.

We listened as the young mother, Senica, explained why she'd come to the school. Katrina ripped the roof off her low-income apartment, allowing torrential rain to pour in. They were sleeping on the one bed that hadn't succumbed to the deadly black mold that grows in the aftermath of hurricanes. For days they had no water, so they had to bathe in a creek and brush their teeth with Diet Coke. She couldn't collect her last paycheck because the hurricane had destroyed the daycare center where she worked. And to make matters worse, her mother couldn't wire her money because the banks had temporarily suspended transfers.

"All I want," Senica told me as she nervously snapped and unsnapped the clasp on her overalls, "is to get enough money to go back to Illinois, crawl into my mother's bed, and forget about all this."

The FEMA agent inside the building behind us was her last hope. As I looked into Senica's brave yet frightened eyes, Shari's early morning prayer came to mind: "Use us in any capacity you desire, Lord. Whether it be to help 1 person or 100, you know the need." I realized Senica was the one for whom Shari had prayed.

Suddenly we were following Senica to her apartment. We were sure once we got her back to Huntsville, we could collect enough money to get her the rest of the way home.

In less than an hour, we salvaged what little we could from her apartment and jammed it into her minivan. As I loaded Senica's beloved dishes into the last available spot in the van, Proverbs 16:9 popped into my head: "In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps."

How grateful I was that God got in the way of my plans. Senica spent three days with me in Huntsville before heading home. We cooked spaghetti together, took our kids hiking, and chatted into the wee hours of the morning. We spoke easily of God, and Senica recognized how he'd taken care of her after the hurricane. She'd been influenced by numerous religions as a child and wasn't certain what she believed. But she was sick of drifting and ready to find out. She hasn't surrendered her life to him yet, but I'm confident it's only a matter of time. Like she said, "God is all over me."

The day she left, I started humming a song that echoes Isaiah 61:3, "He gives beauty for ashes, strength for fear." Just before the hurricane hit, Senica went through a painful divorce that left her struggling to make ends meet. "I should have gone home then," she admitted during one of our late-night chats. "But I wanted to prove to everyone I could make it on my own."

Although Katrina brought pain to so many, some like Senica learned to call it a "blessing." "Had the hurricane never hit, I'd still be stuck in Mississippi," she said as we parted. "But now I see how God used it to give me the kick I needed."

Senica and I talked a few days after she returned to her hometown in Illinois. Leah was already thriving in her new first-grade class, and Senica enrolled in medical transcription school where she'll graduate this May. A local church heard she was a hurricane survivor and invited her to services. She loves it there and attends every week.

I marvel at how God used three stay-at-home moms and a nurse to accomplish so much. But there are still thousands of others like Senica scratching out an existence in rotting apartments and overcrowded shelters. Though it's tempting to push the disaster to the back of our minds, they need our prayers, donations, and help now as much as ever.

Sarah Pavlik, a freelance writer, lives in Alabama. Read the full, regularly updated account of her trip at www.mis siontoperkinston.blogspot.com.


Hospital honoring 'Everyday Heroes'


How To Raise A Kid Who Cares


As parents, we want our children to grow up to be caring people, who can do good deeds for others. But when we see our children tease or get teased & push, pull & grab, we often wonder how they'll ever grow up to be caring, productive members of society.

"Growing up & becoming a caring person is dependent on the kinds of experiences we have when we're young. Children aren't born with the ability to care fully formed; they develop into caring individuals by how we work with them, how we model our behavior, what we teach them & what we do together," says Diane Levin, Ph.D. author of Remote Control Childhood and Senior Advisor to this Web guide.

Teaching children how to take responsible action is a process that develops gradually over time. From preschool to high school, it's a process of working together to solve problems directly connected to your children's immediate experience. It's important to discuss factors that may impede the development of caring such as violent media & a commercial culture that makes wanting more important than doing.

Raising children who care may be one of the most important things you can do as a parent. This guide provides strategies & ideas to help you find your way.

The Caring Continuum:
How Caring for Others Develops

A child who cares is someone who learns how to help other people. This child feels he can make a difference, has ideas of what actions to take that can make a difference & feels motivated to do them.

Children aren't born with a fully-formed ability to care. This sensibility develops gradually & the experiences children have can build or undermine its development.

As parents, it can at times be frustrating watching our children "not care" or "not care enough." Learning how caring develops can help us foster their caring impulses. The insights below offer a picture of how this process develops over time.

The ability to care starts with infancy. When young babies are held, fed, comforted, smiled at & played with, they feel cared for & develop positive caring attitudes towards their environment. An early sign of caring is when a baby coos towards a mother, father, or caregiver.

Gradually young children learn to do things in caring ways. Between the ages of 1 & 2, children begin to express caring thru their actions. When they hug Mommy & Daddy & get a response, they're learning things they can do to make others happy & feel good. They play-act caring by hugging a baby doll or stuffed animal & becoming its caregiver.

Preschoolers start by caring mostly about themselves & only gradually gain awareness of the needs of others. Predominantly egocentric, they often can't understand the point of view of another person, who is upset. But they begin to understand when guided by caring parents & teachers.

Thru discussions they can begin to see "win-win" solutions to problems and how helping one another makes everyone feel good, because everyone's needs are met.

School-age children begin to balance caring for themselves with caring for others. While still egocentric, they begin to realize that it can feel good to help others & start to see the positive effect they can have.

Being a caring child doesn't mean caring all the time. It does not mean that your caring child will never hate his sister, never grab the candy, or will be "good" all the time.

Instead, a caring child will take caring actions & experience caring feelings integrated within a larger range of feelings & responses.


Why do some kids seem to care & others may not?

Numerous forces can undermine the development of children into positive social beings. While none of these might be considered harmful in moderation, too much of them, especially without discussion, may lead to kids who don't care.

These challenges include:

Our "Buy Me That" Culture

Our "buy me that" culture promotes consumerism over activism. This can turn the focus of children's behavior from "I can do it" to "I want it." "Acquiring things as a source of happiness can permeate a child's sense of herself," says Nancy Carlsson-Paige, Ed.D., author of Best Day of the Week & a professor at Lesley University.

"A child may begin to identify herself by what she has, wears & plays with, rather than what she accomplishes from using her internal resources. Identification with merchandise can cause some children to tune out the needs of others & define well-being as what they get instead of what they do."

Too Much Screen Time

Over-exposure to passive media such as TV, video games & movies, can take children away from actively participating in their lives. While media in moderation is fun, fine & expected, over-consumption can lead to kids who don't care.

"When children watch TV, they're interacting only indirectly with their world," comments Levin. "They're having 2nd-hand experience where they passively observe the actions & ideas of others."

Imitative Play

If children are primarily engaging in passive play, where they imitate what they see on TV, they're less likely to be stimulated & take creative action on their own.

"Highly-structured toys that are linked to TV programs & movies can make kids play look more like a TV script than an innovative play experience," notes Levin.

Violent Programming

TV, video & online games containing violent, anti-social, teasing & bullying behaviors can inhibit the development of caring. It also undermines children's ability to feel powerful & effective from their own actions.

"Children who watch media with a lot of mean-spirited behavior, both in words & actions, can learn that hurting others is a regular & normal thing people do to solve their problems.

In addition, a vicious cycle can be set up whereby children need media, media violence & media-related toys to feel strong, instead of finding strength in their own creative & positive actions," states Carlsson-Paige.


Practical Ways to Nurture Caring Kids

When you're encouraging kids to care, the goal isn't to show children one "right" way to think about or respond to a problem.

Instead, help them come up with strategies that make sense to them.

Here are some ideas:

Help children take actions that grow out of their own concerns. Talk about what could be done to help solve problems. No matter how well-intentioned you are, don't tell your child what he must do.

Strategize tangible ways kids can make a difference.

  • Contribute a portion of their allowance or make a holiday gift to a cause they can understand. Look thru your mail together from nonprofits & let them choose.
  • Gather old toys & clothing to give to a local charity.
  • Volunteer at local organizations that help those in need.
  • Give a gift of "service" to a parent, friend or grandparent.


Show children there are many ways to care. Children can demonstrate caring by doing household chores, by getting homework done & getting to bed on time, by finding ways to help neighborhood friends or schoolmates in need & even by being a good sport when you lose a game.

Help kids deal with problems in inclusive ways. Don't expect children to always feel generous & try not to make them feel guilty about it. Comments like "you need to be nice" or "share with your brother" may promote more feelings of anger & resentment than caring. Instead, ask questions that inspire kids to think of solutions, such as:

 "What can we do if you both want the ball?"

Make sure children know it's the job of adults to make the world a safe place. They shouldn't think that their own sense of safety & well-being is dependent on their own actions. "To reassure them & give perspective, you might discuss the fact that adults will always keep them safe, as everyone does their part in making a difference," advises Carlsson-Paige.

As children get older, talk about the causes of problems, not just the solutions. Discuss why a problem came about, what others are doing to try to solve it & ask them to come up with their own solutions.

Allow your kids to ask questions. "Research shows that children who do community service often discontinue unless they learn what caused a particular problem or condition," advises Levin.

Some materials for this article were adapted from works by Diane Levin, including Remote Control Childhood, published by NAEYC. and the article, "From 'I Want It!' to 'I Can Do It!' Promoting Healthy Development in the Conusmer Culture," Exchange Magazine.

try to bend over backwards....

War in Iraq creates an unlikely hero 

12-year-old, with parents in military in Iraq, saves a life at home

By Mark Potter
NBC News
Updated: 7:37 p.m. ET Oct 15, 2004

FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. - Shortly before heading off to war in Iraq last year, Master Sgt. Albert Brown had one last family matter to attend to, a quiet heart-to-heart talk with his then 12 year-old stepson, Ty Kenney.

"He said I have to take responsibility & be the man of the house," Kenney said.

His mother, Staff Sgt. Octavia Brown, had already deployed overseas with the 101st Airborne Division - also bound for Iraq.

With both parents gone, Kenney & his 2 younger sisters were left in the care of their maternal grandmother, Joan Swinson.

Soon, however, a life-threatening situation developed that would test the strength & character of any adult - let alone a 12-year-old.

Swinson, a diabetic, began having problems with her sugar levels & her health deteriorated. Sometimes she became listless, or her speech was slurred. More than once she fell into a diabetic coma.

It was then that young Ty Kenney took control. "I feel I had to take all the responsibility," he said.

‘This kid is amazing’
Concerned that his grandmother needed immediate medical attention, Kenney called 911 more than 20 times, according to officials at Blanchfield Army Hospital at Fort Campbell.

Paramedics made repeated trips to the house & always found the boy waiting by the door.

"He was always very calm, very cool, never panicked," said paramedic Teresa Herndon. "This kid is amazing. He was a grown-up in a kid's body."

What surprised medics most was Kenney's level of knowledge about diabetes & his hands-on involvement in caring for his grandmother.

"The kid's selflessness was so sincere.... You couldn't help looking at this kid & go, are you for real?" Herndon said. "I wanted him to be my son."

Before heading off to Iraq, Kenney's parents had taught him how to test Swinson's blood sugar levels & to give her medicine, juice or sweets to moderate her condition.

But, Kenney also learned more on his own. "I didn't like my kiddie books or nothing, so sometimes I would read Grandma's diabetic books," said Ty.

Whenever paramedics arrived at the home, Kenney was ready with his grandmother's latest sugar readings & even her weekly & monthly averages. He also had mastered her glucose-testing machine, the same one used by the paramedics.

"And he's there pushing buttons, making this machine do things I didn't even know our machines did," Herndon said.

While overseas, Kenney's stepfather would call home whenever he could. He worried about his children & Swinson's medical condition, but during one call found himself being reassured by a 7th grader. "Ty said, ‘hey Dad, she's in good hands. I'll let you know if we need you.’"

Helped save a life
Kenney, meanwhile, said he always worried about his parents' safety in Iraq, but over time became more comfortable watching over his grandmother & her diabetes while they were gone.

"At first I'd wish they were there to help me, but then as I started to learn the stuff better I knew that I was able to do it on my own & I didn't need help every single time," he said.

Kenney is now widely credited for saving his grandmother's life more than once.

"He helped save a life, mine, my life, yes indeed," said Swinson, who is now recovered & back to work at the base commissary.

"I believe, seeing Grandma today, that he was the difference between life & death," said his proud stepfather. "Thank God he was there for us."

Life-saving award
After being away for months, both parents finally returned home to Fort Campbell. "It took a couple hundred pounds off my shoulders," Kenney said. His mother, however, has already been re-deployed to Korea.

Master Sgt. Brown, the stepfather, said he regrets Kenney had to carry such a heavy burden, adding, "He went from a boy to a man," that year.

He also promised he would never put Kenney in that position again, even if re-deployed to defend the country.

"I really feel bad if I have taken his childhood away by growing him up so fast," said Brown.

For his calm under fire on the home front, Ty Kenney received the first-annual life-saving award from the paramedics at Fort Campbell.

When they were considering whom to honor during National Emergency Medical Services Week, the decision was easy.

"I know on our shift when he talked about it, we were like, 'It's gotta go to Ty,'" Herndon said. "There wasn't even a runner-up."

The award was presented at Kenney's school. For him, his parents & his grandmother it was a big surprise. Brown said he had no idea why they'd all been summoned. "Usually when the school principal calls, you're thinking, oh, what did he do this time?"

After his name was announced, Kenney walked to the front of the assembly to receive his award, as his grandmother beamed. "I was there. Tears came to my eyes. I was very pleased that he got that."

"Oh, I was happier than he was," his stepfather said.

With rescue squad members standing behind him, Kenney gave a brief speech & had his picture taken.

"I feel proud of myself, that I did the right thing," he said of the award. "It all turned out for the best & my grandma is still here with us."

Mark Potter is an NBC News correspondent.

Sept. 17, 2006: Heroes Build Affordable Homes For Those In Need

POSTED: 4:52 pm MDT September 17, 2006
UPDATED: 4:23 pm MDT September 18, 2006

BROOMFIELD, Colo. - Although we may not see it everyday, nearly 36 million Americans live in poverty & an estimated 95 million Americans face housing problems.

But there's a solution that, not surprisingly, involves volunteers.

7 Everyday Heroes from Habitat For Humanity have put in more than 5,000 hours to make Colorado a better place.

Eliminating poverty housing one nail at a time is the goal of Habitat For Humanity. It's a nonprofit organization that builds simple, affordable homes for those in need.

This is no hand-out - Habitat home owners must be willing to help build their homes. It's called sweat equity. The homes are sold to qualified buyers at no profit, with zero interest loans.

There are Habitat groups the world over. The 7Everyday Heroes volunteer to work with the Flatirons chapter covering Boulder & Broomfield. This particular group is special. They're called the Wednesday Crew.

The Wednesday Crew has been getting together nearly every Wednesday for 13 years to help build habitat houses.

They've since built 40 houses.

Once you meet a homeowner, you'll understand why the Wednesday Crew has done this for so long.

The joy of family stability & the joy of true home ownership is what the Wednesday Crew & Habitat For Humanity provide communities every week.

If you would like to learn more about Habitat For Humanity, click here.

Problem-Solving Deficit Disorder

  • "Children who spend a lot of time passively watching media, playing with highly structured toys or focusing on buying things may not be learning how to find & solve problems that arise from their own direct experience.

As a result, they may not be learning how to be active agents who can affect their world. I call this 'problem-solving deficit disorder.'

  • "On the other hand, 'pro-active solution developers' think of themselves as problem finders & problem solvers, who can have a positive impact on their world. It we want to raise children who care, this is what we need to help our children to grow up to become."

Diane E. Levin, Ph.D.

Pre-Social Security plan: Rob bank, go to prison

Discouraged job-hunter asks for 3-year sentence to last till golden years

Updated: 9:01 p.m. ET Oct 12, 2006

COLUMBUS, Ohio - A man who couldn't find steady work came up with a plan to make it through the next few years until he could collect Social Security: He robbed a bank, then handed the money to a guard and waited for police.

On Wednesday, Timothy J. Bowers told a judge a three-year prison sentence would suit him, and the judge obliged.

"At my age, the jobs available to me are minimum-wage jobs. There is age discrimination out there," Bowers, who turns 63 in a few weeks, told Judge Angela White.

The judge told him: "It's unfortunate you feel this is the only way to deal with the situation."

Bowers said he had been able to find only odd jobs after the drug wholesaler he made deliveries for closed in 2003. He walked to a bank and handed a teller a note demanding cash in an envelope. The teller gave him four $20 bills and pushed a silent alarm.

Bowers handed the money to a security guard standing in the lobby and told him it was his day to be a hero.

He pleaded guilty to robbery, and a court-ordered psychological exam found him competent.

"It's a pretty sad story when someone feels that's their only alternative," said defense attorney Jeremy W. Dodgion, who described Bowers as "a charming old man."

Prosecutors had considered arguing against putting Bowers in prison at taxpayer expense, but they worried he would do something more reckless to be put behind bars.

"It's not the financial plan I would choose, but it's a financial plan," prosecutor Dan Cable said.

© 2006 The Associated Press.

Patriot Guard Riders honor fallen soldiers

Turning out for funerals across the country, mourners support families

By Mike Taibbi
NBC News
Updated: 8:09 p.m. ET Oct 6, 2006
NEW YORK - At the funeral of Marine Nick Whyte of Brooklyn, his family was in agony.

More than 40 other mourners shared their grief, and provided a motorcycle escort for the funeral procession. Mourners like veteran Bill Connelly, who didn't know Nick Whyte in life, but who asked the family's permission to be here.

"I didn't know the soldier, but I'm a Marine, and it's my brother who dies there today," says Connelly.

They are the Patriot Guard Riders — perhaps 40,000 nationwide — organized originally to shield grieving families from a fringe church group that was picketing soldiers' funerals to promote the group's extremist views.

But now, they simply support those soldiers and the loved ones they leave behind.

They're mostly blue-collar, and mostly veterans, some Vietnam war vets who in this sympathetic role have found a way to finally talk about their own unpopular war.

"To bring it out and pour out a lot of emotion that's been deep inside for a very long time," Connelly says.

Other riders like George Meyer aren't veterans but are parents of soldiers, and say the funerals connect them to the gallantry and fearfulness of their own children's' service.

"It's so important to try and understand as best you can what they're experiencing," Meyer says. "They can't always tell you."

Carlos Gonzalez joined because after his son was killed in Iraq, instead of a funeral with a handful of mourners, there was a hero's goodbye.

"It was an honor that they were there, paying their respects to my son," Gonzalez said.

That's the simple theme.

"I know you guys understand the sacrifice," says Nick Whyte's father, Andre, to the Patriots. "I tried to thank you as I was passing the flags you were holding up. I hope you saw me."

In this war, when only the friends and family of those who serve have to care about it, the family is bigger because these volunteer mourners make it so.

© 2006 MSNBC Interactive

'Unlikeliest Hero' buried with 21-gun salute

Conscientious objector served as World War II medic without a gun

Updated: 2:12 p.m. ET April 4, 2006

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. - The only conscientious objector to receive a Medal of Honor in World War II has been buried at a national cemetery with a 21-gun salute, although he refused to carry a weapon while serving as an Army medic.

Desmond T. Doss Sr., 87, died March 23 in Piedmont, Ala., where he and his wife, Frances, had been living with family.

A horse-drawn hearse delivered the flag-covered casket to the grave site Monday in the Chattanooga National Cemetery. Military helicopters flew overhead in a tribute formation.

Doss had endured ridicule for his beliefs but “remained true to his convictions even when it was not the most popular thing to do,” said Patti Parks, a retired Navy commander and director of the Medal of Honor Museum in Chattanooga.

Doss, who refused to carry a weapon during his wartime service in the Pacific, was the subject of a book, “The Unlikeliest Hero,” and a 2004 documentary, “The Conscientious Objector.”

Medal of Honor Society records show he was among 3,461 recipients of the nation’s highest military honor.

While under enemy fire on the island of Okinawa, Doss carried 75 wounded soldiers to the edge of a 400-foot cliff and lowered them to safety, according to his citation.

During a later attack, he was seriously wounded in the legs by a grenade. According to the citation, as he was being carried to safety, he saw a more critically injured man and crawled off his stretcher, directing the medics to help the other wounded man.

He wanted to serve. He just didn’t want to kill anybody,” said a veteran who attended the service, Fred Headrick, 85. “Most all of them (Medal of Honor recipients) received their medal for killing someone. He received his by saving lives.”

© 2006 The Associated Press.

Ex-NFL star Tillman makes ‘ultimate sacrifice’

Safety, who gave up big salary to join Army, killed in Afghanistan

NBC, MSNBC and news services
Updated: 3:39 a.m. ET April 26, 2004

WASHINGTON - Pat Tillman, who gave up the glamorous life of a professional football star to join the Army Rangers, was remembered as a role model of courage & patriotism Friday after military officials said he had been killed in action in Afghanistan.

Pat Tillman was an inspiration on & off the football field, as with all who have made the ultimate sacrifice in the war on terror. His family is in the thoughts & prayers of President & Mrs. Bush,” Taylor Gross, a spokesman for the White House, said in a statement.

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., the author of a recent book about courage, said he was “heartbroken” & raised the prospect that “the tragic loss of this extraordinary young man” could be a “heavy blow to our nation’s morale, as it's surely a grievous injury to his loved ones.”

Tillman, 27, was a member of the 2nd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, based at Fort Lewis, Wash. The battalion was involved in Operation Mountain Storm in southeastern Afghanistan, part of the U.S. campaign against fighters of the al-Qaida terror network & the former Taliban government along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, military officials told NBC News.

U.S. military spokesman Lt. Col. Matthew Beevers said Saturday that Tillman was killed Thursday night in a firefight at about 7 p.m. on a road near Sperah, about 25 miles southwest of a U.S. base at Khost.

After coming under fire, Tillman’s patrol got out of their vehicles & gave chase, moving toward the spot of the ambush. Beevers said the fighting was “sustained” & lasted 15-20 minutes.

Beevers said Tillman was killed by enemy fire, but he had no information about what type of weapons were involved in the assault, or whether he died instantly.

An Afghan militiaman fighting alongside Tillman also was killed & 2 other U.S. soldiers were wounded.

A local Afghan commander, Gen. Khial Bas, told The Associated Press that 9 enemy fighters were killed in the confrontation.

Bas said 6 other enemy fighters were believed to have escaped. Beevers said he had no information about any enemy fighters killed.

Overall, 110 U.S. soldiers have died, 39 of them in combat, during Operation Enduring Freedom, which began in Afghanistan in late 2001.

Spokesmen at the Defense Dept. & the Army wouldn't comment Friday, in keeping with a policy that no U.S. casualties of war be identified for at least 24 hours. But Tillman’s death was confirmed by the House Armed Services Committee, whose members were notified by the Defense Dept., The Arizona Republic reported on its Web site.

‘Pat knew his purpose in life’
Tillman turned down a 3 year, $3.6 million contract with the Arizona Cardinals of the National Football League to enlist in the Army in May 2002 in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, which killed about 3,000 people in New York, Washington & Pennsylvania.

My great grandfather was at Pearl Harbor & a lot of my family has ... gone & fought in wars & I really haven’t done a damn thing as far as laying myself on the line like that,” Tillman told NBC News in an interview the day after the attacks.

Tillman had played four seasons with the Cardinals, winning league-wide respect as a smart & hard-hitting, if somewhat small & slow, defensive safety before he enlisted with his younger brother Kevin.

Pat & Kevin Tillman - who also is a highly regarded athlete, having once been a minor league baseball prospect in the Cleveland Indians’ organization - denied requests for media coverage of their basic training & ultimate deployments. Army officials said at the time that they wanted no special treatment or attention but wanted to be considered soldiers doing their duty.

The brothers both successfully completed training for the Rangers, the Army’s elite infantry regiment. Pat Tillman was first deployed to Iraq in March 2003; it wasn't immediately clear when he was sent to Afghanistan, where he served in the same unit with his brother.

Pat knew his purpose in life,” said Dave McGinnis, Tillman’s former coach with the Cardinals. “He proudly walked away from a career in football to a greater calling.”

McGinnis said he felt both overwhelming sorrow & tremendous pride in Tillman, who he said “represented all that was good in sports.”

Tillman’s agent, Frank Bauer, once called him a deep & clear thinker who never valued material things. In 2001, his client turned down a $9 million, 5 year offer sheet from the Super Bowl champions, the St. Louis Rams, out of loyalty to the Cardinals & by joining the Army, he passed on millions of dollars more from the team.

He is a hero,” said Michael Bidwill, vice president of the Cardinals. “He was a brave man. There are very few people who have the courage to do what he did, the courage to walk away from a professional sports career & make the ultimate sacrifice.”

The Republic reported that prominent Arizonans were calling on the Cardinals to name the team’s new stadium, which is under construction in Glendale, near Phoenix, in Tillman’s honor.

Intelligence, toughness
Tillman, who at 5 feet 11 inches tall & 200 pounds was considered undersized for his position, nevertheless distinguished himself by his intelligence & appetite for rugged play.

As a linebacker at Arizona State University, he was the Pacific 10 Conference’s defensive player of the year in 1997. He graduated summa cum laude in 3˝ academic years, earning a degree in marketing. Flags were being flown at half-staff at the college Friday.

Tillman set a Cardinals record with 224 tackles in 2000 & warmed up for last year’s training camp by competing in a 70.2-mile triathlon in June.

You don’t find guys that have that combination of being as bright & as tough as him,” Phil Snow, who coached Tillman as Arizona State’s defensive coordinator, said in 2002. “This guy could go live in a foxhole for a year by himself with no food.”

The Tillman brothers last year shared the Arthur Ashe Courage award at the 11th annual ESPY Awards, a television program that aired on the ESPN cable sports network.

Denver quarterback Jake Plummer was a teammate of Tillman for 7 years, 3 at Arizona State & 4 with the Cardinals.

We lost a unique individual that touched the lives of many with his love for life, his toughness, his intellect,” Plummer said in a statement released by the Broncos. “Pat Tillman lived life to the fullest & will be remembered forever in my heart & mind.”

The Cardinals said they will retire Tillman’s No. 40 & name the plaza surrounding the new stadium under construction in suburban Glendale the “Pat Tillman Freedom Plaza.”

Arizona State will retire Tillman’s No. 42 jersey during a Nov. 13 game & place his name on the honor ring at Sun Devil Stadium. The university & the Cardinals also are collaborating on a scholarship fund in Tillman’s name.

NBC’s George Lewis in Phoenix & Jim Miklaszewski in Washington, MSNBC.com’s Alex Johnson, The Associated Press & Reuters contributed to this report.

Too Much TV Leads to Bullying

  • "The more television 4-year-old children watch, the more likely they are to become bullies later on in school ... Limiting television watching in the early years of development might reduce children's subsequent risk of becoming bullies."
    The University of Washington, 05/2005

Posted on Sun, Jun. 18, 2006
Everyday Heroes
George "Frank" Massey

Volunteer and corresponding secretary, A Few Good Men.

MOTTO: "Leave the world a better place than you found it."

AGE: 58.

HOMETOWN: Lifelong Monroe resident.

HIS WORK: Massey is one of 17 members of A Few Good Men, a black male community service organization whose mission is to have a positive influence on young people. The organization holds fundraiser football trips and awards annual need-based scholarships to deserving seniors. Massey also serves as vice-chairman of the Monroe Board of Adjustment; advisory board member of BB&T (Union County); a member of the Monroe 13, a citizens' emergency response team; a board member of Love Square after-school mentoring program; an American Red Cross volunteer; and chairman of the steward board at Langford Chapel CME Church in Monroe. He has also served on the boards of the United Way, Hospice of Union County and Carolinas Medical Center-Union. Massey is a senior research and development technologist at Goulston Technologies and is a North Carolina-certified emergency medical technician. He is married to Nancy, has three grown children and four grandchildren.

WHY HE DOES IT: "Many students fall through the cracks. Our work helps make a difference for students who have a need. It's our way of giving back to the community," Massey said.

WHAT OTHERS SAY: "George is the consummate gentleman. He speaks with great intelligence and great wisdom. It's a pleasure to have George as a colleague and friend." said Charles Norwood, who served with Massey on the CMC-Union and BB&T boards.

Monday, March 01, 2004
Parents as everyday heroes
By Orlando P. Carvajal
Uncut gems

WEBSTER’S dictionary defines a hero as a man or woman who is the central personage that “takes an admirable part in a remarkable action or event.” In the case of our national heroes, they qualify as heroes because they were central personages in the remarkable event of the country’s fight for independence. And, yes, they also performed their roles, their parts in the struggle admirably.

Parenting, too, is a remarkable event especially the non-biological aspect of it. Parents, normally, are the central personages in this event. Depending therefore on whether or not they do their part admirably well, they can become heroes in the strict sense of the term.

The biological aspect of creating a child is a straightforward function governed by physical laws. One’s biology is a gift of nature and no one can take credit for his or her biological integrity. This is the easy part therefore of parenting, bringing about the physical human form. Of course, in many cases especially in a poor country like ours, the basic challenge for parents of feeding, clothing, and protecting the child from any physical harm can also reach heroic proportions. Parents can become heroes just meeting the challenge of the survival of the human form.

But parenting is not just the biological creation of an offspring. Neither is parenting bringing up or developing a biological entity. The more remarkable event about parenting is the creation of a child of God.

More than developing the physical form of a man-child, parents are responsible for developing the child into a full human being. The challenge of the parent-hero is how to put the child on the path to discovery of his divinity, which is his real essence. The challenge, and I cannot overemphasize this, is how to teach the child to love, understand and care for all men because of our oneness in God, the cosmic intelligence, the Father of all.

It is not hard to see that this is difficult to do when one is tied down to the business of physical survival. Tied down or not this is very hard to do if the parents themselves are not in touch with their own real essence.

If the parents themselves relate to the world from their false ego and not from their inner sacred self, they would not be able to communicate love and tolerance and understanding and care to their children. If the parents themselves are not struggling to discover their divinity, they could only relate with negative thoughts and emotions and actions. Negative thoughts such as fear of rejection. Negative emotions such as jealousy and anger. And negative actions such as cruelty and manipulation.

Parents are heroes when they take an admirable central role in the remarkable event that is the bringing up of a child of God. Doing this is doubly admirable and remarkable against the backdrop of the very materialistic culture of the present generation. To teach a child to be, when everybody else teaches the child how to have and to possess, is truly heroic.

(March 1, 2004 issue)

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