Tag Archive | inspirational people

College Athlete Shortens Career to Donate Bone Marrow

April 23, 2013
Cameron Lyle

Cameron Lyle

Cameron Lyle, a Division I college athlete in New Hampshire, has decided to shorten his athletic career for a chance to save a life.

The University of New Hampshire senior will donate bone marrow Wednesday, a decision that abruptly ends his collegiate athletic career but one that he calls a “no brainer.”

Lyle, 21, had his mouth swabbed to join a bone marrow registry two years ago in the cafeteria at school. He didn’t think any more of it until a few months ago when he got a phone call that he might be a match. He took more tests and discovered a month later that he was a perfect match.

“When they first told me, I was like, ‘OK, cool. I’m definitely going to do it,'” Lyle said. “After that I kind of went to tell my coach and then I realized slowly that my season was over.”

Lyle’s main events are the shot put and the hammer throw.

“It’s just a sport,” he said. “Just because it’s Division I college level doesn’t make it any more important. Life is a lot more important than that, so it was pretty easy.”

Lyle competed in his last competition Saturday and said it was “kind of emotional.” His teammates rallied around him to cheer him on.

The man who needs his help is a 28-year-old suffering from acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Lyle was told that the man only has six months to live without the transplant.

Lyle of Plaistow, N.H., said he had been told there was a one in five million chance for a non-family match.

“It was kind of a no-brainer for a decent human,” Lyle said. “I couldn’t imagine just waiting. He could have been waiting for years for a match. I’d hope that someone would donate to me if I needed it.”

After he got the call, Lyle knew he needed to speak to his mom and his coach.

“My son and I have a pretty funny rapport together so when he tells me things, it’s usually in humor,” mom Chris Sciacca said. “He simply sent me a text that said, ‘So I guess I have a chance to save someone’s life.'”

The two sat down and talked through the decision, but Sciacca said it was ultimately a decision that “came from his heart.”

“We talked about in five or 10 years, is he going to look back and say, ‘Damn, I wish I went to that track conference,’ or is he going to say, ‘Damn, I saved someone’s life,” she said.

“I know my son very well and I know where his heart is and I knew that he would make the right decision.

“He made his decision. He gave up his college season to do this. He’s a gentle giant,” Sciacca said of her 6-foot-2-inch, 255-pound son. “He’ll do anything for anybody.”

What Lyle was most nervous about was telling Coach Jim Boulanger, who has been his coach for four years.

Boulanger said that a nervous Lyle came into his office, shut the door and told him he wouldn’t be able to throw next month at the America East Conference championship for which he had been training.

When Boulanger asked why, Lyle told him and found that his coach was completely supportive.

“Here’s the deal,” Boulanger told Lyle. “You go to the conference and take 12 throws or you could give a man three or four more years of life. I don’t think there’s a big question here. This is not a moral dilemma. There’s only one answer.”

Boulanger said he’s “very proud” of his athlete.

“He’s very approachable. He’s very funny,” Boulanger said. “I don’t have any doubt that he’s very compassionate and it was just a given that he’d do it.

“You can’t ask for any more out of a person than to help another person,” he said.

Lyle’s mother is just as proud.

“I am beyond words proud. He is my hero,” Sciacca said. “When your children inspire you to be better people, you know it’s come full circle and he’s inspired his mom to be a better circle.”

Lyle will make the bone marrow donation Wednesday morning at Boston’s Massachusetts General Hospital. A needle will be used to withdraw liquid bone marrow from his pelvic bone. After the surgery, he will not be allowed to lift more than 20 pounds over his head, which rules out all his athletic events.

Lyle and the man have to remain anonymous to each other for at least a year, but can then sign consent forms to release their identities if they want.

“I really want to meet him,” Lyle said, “and I hope he wants to meet me.”

source: http://abcnews.go.com/US/university-hampshire-athlete-shortens-career-donate-bone-marrow/story?id=19022049#.UXhzaavuWPU

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Paralyzed by ALS, Susan Spencer-Wendel Writes Memoir About the Beauty of Living

Spencer-Wendel with her family. (Photo: SusanSpencerWendel.com)

Spencer-Wendel with her family. (Photo: SusanSpencerWendel.com)

By Lylah M. Alphonse, Senior Editor, Yahoo Shine 

As her body succumbed to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as ALS or Lou Gehrig’s Disease, journalist Susan Spencer-Wendelwrote her life story. It took her three months to type it, letter by letter on her iPhone, using just her right thumb – all of her other fingers had stopped working by then.

“I cannot lift my arms to feed myself or hug my children,” the 45-year-old mother of three wrote in “Until I Say Goodbye: My Year of Living With Joy,” which will be published in March. By then, she says, she will probably no longer be able to speak clearly.

“My muscles are dying, and they cannot return. I will never again be able to move my tongue enough to clearly say, ‘I love you’,” she wrote. “Swiftly, surely, I am dying. But I am alive today.”

“Until I Say Goodbye” will become available in March 2013. (Image: SusanSpencerWendel.com)

“Until I Say Goodbye” will become available in March 2013. (Image: SusanSpencerWendel.com)

A former courts reporter for the Palm Beach Post newspaper in south Florida, Spencer-Wendel lives in Florida with her husband, John, and their children, Marina, 15, Aubrey, 11, and Wesley, 8. She was diagnosed with the disease during the summer of 2011, and swiftly decided to make every moment count.

Spencer-Wendel, who was adopted, met her birth mother in Northern California and journeyed to Cyprus to learn about her birth father. Before her body could fail her, she traveled to the Yukon to see the Northern Lights with her best friend, Nancy Maass Kinnally, in December 2011; her hands were so weak that Kinnally had to dress her in the heavy-duty cold-weather gear.

“Time to stop dreaming and start doing, I thought,” she wrote of her trip.

She and her daughter, then just 14, went to New York City to pick out Marina’s wedding dress at Kleinfeld’s Bridal, where the TLC reality show “Say Yes to the Dress” is set. Both mother and daughter are fans of the show; both know that Spencer-Wendel will not live to see her daughter walk down the aisle.

“As my beautiful daughter walks out of the dressing room in white silk, I will see her ten years in the future, in the back room right before her wedding, giddy and crying, overwhelmed by a moment I will never share,” she wrote. “When my only daughter thinks of me on her wedding day, as I hope she will, I want her to think of my smile when I say to her at Kleinfeld’s, ‘You are my beautiful’.”

She and her husband went to Budapest to celebrate their 20th wedding anniversary in May 2012. She wrote about her travels for the Palm Beach Post, where her stories caught the eye of editors at publishing giant HarperCollins. They offered her $2 million for her memoir; co-written with Bret Witter, “Until I Say Good-Bye” is expected to be translated into 25 languages. Universal Studios paid her another $2 million for the movie rights to her story.

But she knows that she doesn’t have much time left.

“My decline is speeding up: each day I lose more steps and words. I now choke at most every meal, episodes which leave people around me screaming ‘Should we call 911?’ Ergo, I don’t eat much anymore,” she wrote in a New Year’s email to The Palm Beach Post.

“I knew it would be this way. So for Thanksgiving we had our major holiday event. Our entire families-40 in all-came. Was wonderful. Hectic, but wonderful,” she continued. “Thus, Christmas is a time just for John and me and our children.”

They celebrated by giving money to their favorite charities, and special “forever” gifts for family members-scrapbooks for her children, jewelry that can be handed down to her future daughters-in-law and grandchildren, personal gifts for her husband and parents. But the most tangible part of her legacy is her book.

“I am writing about accepting, about living with joy and dying with joy and laughing a helluva lot in the process,” Spencer-Wendel wrote on her website. With her memoir, she’s crossing one last item off of her life’s to-do list: “To make people laugh and cry and hug their children and joke with their friends and dwell in how wonderful it is to be alive.”

source: http://shine.yahoo.com/secrets-to-your-success-20120120/paralyzed-als-susan-spencer-wendel-writes-memoir-beauty-194500854.html

I have received many responses to many of the posts on this blog, thus far. However, may I request that you please reply in the comment section of the blog  – as opposed to on Twitter, Facebook, emails, etc. – so that all responses will be together. Your comment may be helpful to others who come across something that they can relate to. You can comment anonymously.

Thank you and many blessings.


Homeless Boy Wins $130,000 Peace Prize

The obstacles seemed insurmountable for a 13-year-old Filipino street kid. Forced to scavenge for his survival from the age of 2, sleep in a coffin and run away to seek help after he was badly injured, Cris “Kesz” Valdez had every reason to merely look out for himself.

But at age 7, he started a foundation, the Championing Community Children charity, to help fellow homeless kids, and his selfless work has been recognized with the $130,000 Children’s Peace Prize.

You are wonderful,” Nobel Peace laureate Desmond Tutu told the young philanthropist at a ceremony at The Hague. According to the KidsRights Foundation, Cris has helped about 10,000 kids by distributing flip-flops, toys, sweets and clothes in Cavite City, just 18 miles south of the capital Manila.

“My message to children around the world is not to lose hope,” he said. Cris also wants to educate them on good hygiene and their rights.  The prize money will go to fund charities of his choosing. Cris would like to get an education and eventually become a doctor.

Cris’s plight is not unique in his country. About 246,000 street children in the Philippines are subjected to abuse, violence and child labor.

source: http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/lookout/homeless-boy-wins-130-000-peace-prize-142221812.html

I have received many responses to many of the posts on this blog, thus far. However, may I request that you please reply in the comment section of the blog  – as opposed to on Twitter, Facebook, emails, etc. – so that all responses will be together. Your comment may be helpful to others who come across something that they can relate to. You can comment anonymously.

Thank you and many blessings.

The Girl with the ‘Zebra Leg’

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Jean Nail has been judging cheerleaders longer than most current cheerleaders have been alive. She started as spirit coordinator for the University of Arkansas 30 years ago, and let’s just say her standards are as tough as her name.

So her heart didn’t immediately melt earlier this year when she saw the DVD application of a blonde Texarkana girl named Patience Beard. Nail knew thousands of people would go “wow” when they took one look at the girl, and not in the way most red-blooded males say “wow” when they look at a cheerleader.

Patience was different than any other applicant Nail had ever seen: She had a prosthetic left leg. Nail was sympathetic, but this incoming freshman would have to inspire more than concern to become one of 12 freshmen to cheer for the Razorbacks. The coach would offer “no special consideration” here. Beard would have to do all the stunts, and do them perfectly. There would be no charity for Patience.

When she was six months old, Patience Beard was diagnosed with Proximal Femoral Focal Deficiency (PFFD), a disease that affects bone growth. Put simply, her left leg would always be shorter than her right. And over the course of years, that would create all kinds of structural problems. So when she was nine months old, Beard’s parents allowed doctors to amputate their daughter’s left foot and ankle. She would be able to walk, but not without a prosthetic.

Beard’s mom and dad worried about their girl falling down. Patience, however, didn’t seem to have those concerns. When she was 3, her dad made her a bike with training wheels and a special sleeve that could accommodate her prosthetic leg. Patience demanded the training wheels be removed. Mom said no, but Dad relented. And off Patience went, riding along without training wheels.

There would be trying times, of course. Patience remembers going to the beach in fifth grade and feeling embarrassed when everyone around her started noticing her leg. “What happened to you?” they asked. Patience told her mom she wanted to wear pants. Her mom told her no.

“That’s who you are,” she told her daughter. “Don’t be ashamed. This is you.”

Over time, Patience became a little bit of a show-off. Not in an obnoxious or arrogant way, but in a proud way. Instead of hiding her disability – and that term should be used quite loosely here – she was happy to draw attention to what she could do. She started gymnastics at 4 and cheering in seventh grade. She learned to do pretty much every stunt imaginable, including running flips that look like something out of Gabrielle Douglas’  playbook.

In ninth grade, a time when girls are at their most self-conscious, Patience asked her doctors at the Scottish Rite Hospital for Children in Dallas to outfit her prosthetic leg with a zebra pattern. She kept thinking of new designs, the way most of us look for sleeves for our iPhones. One of her favorites is an M&Ms skin. She also had an American flag skin around the time of 9/11. Patience would win over her high school classmates so much that they named her homecoming queen.

It’s a long way from Texarkana to Division I football. Nail knew the cameras would be all over Patience, and some people watching at home would not be kind. Beard would not only have to master all of the difficult moves the squad executes during a 60-minute football game, she’d have to withstand the glare of the spotlight, too.

But she’s been fine with that. Beard laughs when told some people in Northwest Arkansas are already describing her as “the girl with the zebra leg.” She’s still “in shock” that she made Arkansas’ cheerleading squad and was deeply moved when a 4-year-old boy with a prosthetic right leg noticed her at a recent Hogs game and wanted to meet her. It was one of the proudest moments of Patience’s life.

“She’s the kind of person we want,” Nail says. “She’s a good role model. And she’s absolutely qualified.”

So qualified, in fact, that when the cheerleaders run laps around the edge of the football field for warm-ups each day, Patience has never come in last. Not once.

The challenges are mostly unseen. That’s the thing about cheering – it’s supposed to look effortless. You don’t see the pain Patience feels from jumping, running, even walking the hills around Fayetteville. All amputees feel it because no prosthetic feels completely comfortable. But you’ll never hear Patience mutter a word about that. No special consideration from her coach, no excuses from her.

There is a bit of a challenge, however, for Patience’s partner, Kevin Ellstrand. He’s the one who has to lift her, and he admits it’s a little bit tricky holding a girl up with one arm when a disproportionate amount of her weight is on one side. But Ellstrand and Beard haven’t had any issues in the three home games so far. They know the smile should remain even on a rainy Saturday when the team is losing 52-0 to Alabama.

“She’s the most positive person I’ve ever met,” says Ellstrand, 22. “I’m inspired every day.”

And soon he might be a little bit jealous, too. Patience is considering asking her Dallas hospital for a new prosthetic, in Razorbacks red. “How many people do you know who have an Arkansas leg?” she asks.

For now, she’s the one on the sidelines with the zebra leg. She explains she uses that one the most because it goes with just about every outfit she wears.

“You know,” she jokes, “I’m a girl.”

source: http://sports.yahoo.com/news/ncaaf–the-girl-with-the–zebra-leg–wows-hog-country.html

PUSH…for Positivity

PUSH GIRLS: Mia, Tiphany, Auti and Angela

There are a slew of reality programs currently on the air.  I truly understand that there is an audience for everything, and we all have our ‘guilty pleasure’  TV programs  – but, it’s disappointing that the numbers for reality programs which show women fighting, cursing at each other, backstabbing one another, bullying, talking behind one another’s back, etc. are through the roof.  When.. and why did this  become must-see TV?

Sadly, programs that empower women would most likely plummet in the ratings, if they garnered any noteworthy ratings to begin with, because they are considered too boring. I feel for anyone raising children these days – especially daughters,  if showing inspirational women in a ‘positive’ light on television is cause to grab the remote and change the channel.

A few weekends ago, by chance, I caught a marathon of ‘Push Girls’. It’s a reality show about four women who, through tragic circumstances, have been left paralyzed. The series shows their daily journey, as they at times struggle to overcome their limitations. But, in all honesty, as a viewer – their wheelchairs was NOT all the show was about to me. Yes – there is much talk of the obstacles they have had to overcome, due to needing to use a wheelchair; however, the strength of the program to me, is showing women, who are friends, helping one another with their struggles and issues, as opposed to creating issues for one another.

There are moments of frustration, as to be expected – but, they PUSH themselves past their limitations; they PUSH themselves towards personal goals; they come together, discuss their struggles, and assist one another with following their dreams.

Audi Angel, the dancer

In one episode, a teenage girl  harbored much resentment towards her situation and was ready to give up. Although the many issues she faced could not realistically be solved in a 60 minute program, with Audi’s help, and by listening to what the other women had to say about how they struggled in the beginning, she PUSHed herself to attain a personal goal. I say we need more programs on the air such as these, to show young girls that they can overcome obstacles by believing in themselves and with the help of others. There are already too many programs on TV showing women snatching hair, throwing drinks and calling each other derogatory names.

Let’s PUSH our young girls to do better. By the way, PUSH GIRLS was just renewed last week for a second season. Perhaps there is hope for positive female role models on Reality TV, after all. 🙂

If you would like to watch the first episode, click on this link: http://www.sundancechannel.com/push-girls/


I have received many responses to many of the posts on this blog, thus far. However, may I request that you please reply in the comment section of the blog  – as opposed to on Twitter, Facebook, emails, etc. – so that all responses will be together. Your comment may be helpful to others who come across something that they can relate to. You can comment anonymously.

Thank you and many blessings.

Here is a First Look of the series:

Free Money – Random Act of Kindness

By Lylah M. Alphonse, Senior Editor, Yahoo! Shine | Work + Money – Fri, Jul 13, 2012 1:44 PM EDT

Doug Eaton wanted to celebrate his birthday on June 11 in a big way, so he turned to his friends for ideas — ended up marking the day with random act of kindness, including handing out free money to people passing by.

“I asked a bunch of my friends on Facebook what should I do on my 65th and I got a whole long list of stuff,” he told KFOR-TV.” And one of my friends said, ‘Why don’t you do 65 random acts of kindness?'”

So that’s exactly what he did, spending 65 minutes standing on the corner of NW 39th Street and May Avenue in Oklahoma City, handing out $5 bills to people who passed by. He told his Facebook friends that he handed out more than $375, but the response — and the amount of good cheer he shared — was priceless.

From a distance, Eaton looked a bit like any other panhandler holding a sign at a street corner. But instead of a plea for money, his sign read: “I have a home… and a car… and a job. Do you need a few bucks for some coffee?”

Some people drove by several times, wondering if they read his sign correctly. Many people murmured “I can’t believe this” or “bless you” as he handed them the cash. Others were reluctant to take his money, and he had to tell them “It’s OK, it’s just a blessing” and explain that this was his way of celebrating his milestone birthday. “One obviously needy truck holding a family came around the second time after misunderstanding the first time, to give ME $2 just to bless ME for what I was doing,” he told his friends on Facebook.  “I took their money AND gave them a $5. We kind of traded blessings.”

“I think this is the craziest guy I have ever seen in my life and it’s fantastic!” one driver told KFOR. “I am enjoying the moment out here.”

“It’s just been fantastic,” Eaton told the TV station. “Some people who don’t take the money just say, ‘Man, I love what you are doing. I won’t take it but would you give it to someone who needs it’.

Eaton’s birthday inspiration echoes that of Robyn Bomar, who in 2010 celebrated her 38th birthday with 38 random acts of kindness and asked her family and friends to join in. “I planned out 38 things ahead of time, just in case, but really was praying for opportunities to present themselves throughout the day,” she wrote on her blog, Mix Mingle Glow. “My husband, three daughters, and my husband’s parents joined me in the most favorite birthday of my life!”

She was so moved by the outpouring of support that she started The Birthday Project, an online community of people who celebrate their special days by paying their good fortune forward.

The 65 minutes spent handing out money wasn’t Eaton’s only random act of kindness for the day. According to his notes, which he posted to Facebook, he also said “keep the change” when he paid $50 for his $12 haircut and $10 for his $1.09 cup of coffee, bought lunch for several diners at a local restaurant, and gave bus fare to a stranger and his daughter, among other things.

“This day has been one of the biggest blessings of my recent life,” he told his Facebook friends. “I don’t know if I can wait until another birthday to do this again. But what if it became a habit? Or what if everyone or a lot of people did their birthday number of random acts of kindness on their birthday? How good would that be?”

Copyright © 2012 Yahoo Inc.

source: http://shine.yahoo.com/work-money/man-celebrates-65th-birthday-giving-away-free-money-174400395.html

I have received many responses to many of the posts on this blog, thus far. However, may I request that you please reply in the comment section of the blog  – as opposed to on Twitter, Facebook, emails, etc. – so that all responses will be together. Your comment may be helpful to others who come across something that they can relate to. You can comment anonymously.

Thank you and many blessings.

Courage and Determination

If you’ve ever watched a personal video on YouTube, you more than likely have seen negative comments directed towards the person who has uploaded the video – or, even towards others who leave comments. Some of the things stated may, in fact, have absolutely nothing to do with the actual content of the video, and may even steer off into personal attacks, for the mere sake of doing so. Everyone has an opinion and everyone has a right to express their opinion. Over and above that, what point does initiating an attack on someone on the internet serve – especially, if the person you are attacking has no control over what you are attacking them for?

It takes little energy or thought to attack someone over the internet, however, with the safety of distance and anonymity, many choose to do so. However, how would you feel if a complete stranger took the time out of their day to upload a video to specifically make a personal attack on you?

Bullying is a serious situation in every part of the world and too often, some cannot handle the pressure; we have all seen the devastating toll it has taken on too many individuals. It doesn’t take much intellect or courage to attack others – especially, those who cannot defend themselves; however, it does take courage to ignore the negativity of others and move on, without the need for retribution.

Check out the touching video below and see how Lizzie Velasquez, a 23-year-old young woman, handled being bullied for her appearance due to an undiagnosed syndrome that she has had since childbirth. It is truly a remarkable testament to how far someone can go when they don’t let the negative comments of others hold them back.

I have received many responses to many of the posts on this blog, thus far. However, may I request that you please reply in the comment section of the blog  – as opposed to on Twitter, Facebook or emails – so, that all responses will be together. Your comment may be helpful to others who come across something that they can relate to. You can comment anonymously.

Thank you and many blessings.

For more of Lizzie’s inspirational videos, check out her official YouTube page:


Lizzie’s website http://www.aboutlizzie.com/