Saturday, August 16, 2008

1 degree from an Olympian

My daughter Casey had the most awesome 4th grade teacher. Her name is Frances Greenhalgh and the kids used to call her "Miss Greenhouse." She was optimistic, fun loving, and made each child feel special. And the feeling was mutual.

The year that Casey was in the 4th grade, Mrs. Greenhalgh's son was in a serious accident. Through his treatment he became involved with Lakeshore Rehabilitation. Being like his mother, Tommy never asked others to feel sorry for him. Instead, he threw himself into finding his highest potential and became a Para-Olympian in sharp shooting. He also became involved in para-rugby. This sport is grueling and rough. One of his team mates, Bryan Kirkland, was at a hugh disadvantage because he didn't own a sports wheelchair.

Casey's class got into action and began a campaign called "Pennies from Heaven" that was designed to get the funding Bryan needed to get the right chair. Children from all over the school emptied their piggy banks and their parents' checkbooks to raise the funds. It was a rousing success and the money poured in. The goal was met in three short weeks. Bryan came to the school and I will never forget his reaction. But the kids got more than they gave. The Lakeshore team showed up to play a game of rugby at the school and they got to see players who gave it their all.

Last night, Bryan was on television for a news spot. Turns out he is going to the Olympics!! I couldn't have been more proud. He is now working at Home Depot (a great supporter of employees who participant in the Games) and he spoke briefly about his upcoming trip.

Wow. I am so proud to think that my daughter and her class invested in this young man who will now be on a world stage. He has already struck gold in our hearts. USA! USA! USA!

Thursday, August 14, 2008


I absolutely love the fact that every two years there is this huge celebration where cool, fit people come together and share the gifts of their hard work for the last four years. Wow. I wish I was half that disciplined and I wish I could burn calories for watching the Olympics.

True Story: Several years ago, NBC decided to broadcast the Olympic Opening Ceremonies on MSNBC. Big problem for us because at that time we didn’t get that channel. I contacted Charter Cable and through persistence and people on the other end who were eager to pass me on to someone else higher on the food chain. I finally found a guy there who listened to me as I made my case for this long-time family tradition of gathering and watching every moment of the opening ceremonies. Turns out the cable station was going to get MSNBC the following week. Poor guy, I bugged him every single day the week of the opening ceremonies. He called New York and they agreed to give us the channel a week earlier than planned. The cable guy called me on Thursday to let me know that Friday I would get my wish. Way cool!!! Yes, I have that Jones gene factor in me that won’t let me take “no” for an answer.

Oh, yes!! I should mention that we have gotten to visit Athens, Atlanta, and Salt Lake City, all Olympic hosting sites. We got to see the original fields where the real Olympics were started. All with nude men. Now I am going to spend my time campaigning for that!