Monday, December 27, 2004

Thank You Otis

Last week on my poker blog, I blogged My Christmas Wish. I didn't get much of a response via comments or emails... but I knew that people took my entry to heart. I didn't think anything about it until I read Otis' blog Rapid Eye Reality. Here's what he wrote yesterday in an entry called Pauly's wish, a community's reality. Here's a bit:
I met this guy a few weeks ago. Actually, I knew who Pauly was already. I'd been reading his blog for quite a while. But, I met him face to face a few weeks ago. When I finally shook his hand, slapped his back, and shared a few hours with him, I realized his was as real as his blog might have you believe. That was refreshing. I don't know how many people are just as cool in person as they might seem on their blog.

In the final days before Christmas, Pauly blogged a wish. He wanted 50 people in his blogging community and 50 blog readers to go buy a gift for a sick kid for the holidays. One hundred gifts for 100 sick kids. Not a bad idea.

So, I decided I was going to do it. Even if I was the only one who helped Pauly along, at least one kid would be a little happier. I sat back and tried to decide what I was going to buy, where I was going to take it, and when I'd actually find the time to do it.

And then I had an idea.

Those who know me know that I work in television news. More often than not, I spend my days dealing with dead people and politicians. While I always try to do something that benefits my community, more often than not, I'm reporting bad news. Ugly news. Dregs of humanity kinds of news.

This time of year, the office works on a skeleton crew, which means if I'm not covering the dead people, no one is. Still, I had to pitch the idea to the bosses. And they bought it.

Rather than simply buy a gift, I decided to encourage everyone who watches TV every night around here to go out and donate. That could've been accomplished in a couple minutes on one night by simply making the appeal. However, I thought that was a cheap cop out. Instead, I wanted to spend four days introducing everybody around here to some people they might not have known otherwise.

Funny worked. And as I understand it, Pauly got more than his wish. So, nice job Pauly.

And those people I met? Well, they were more of an inspiration than the dead people I tend to deal with. And their stories are worth repeating.



There are a lot of sick kids out there. All of their stories are hard to take. I met Kelsey last Tuesday. The doctor put her in the hospital a week before Christmas. Her only worry: That her hospitalization would ruin the holiday for her siblings. When I asked her what her Christmas wish was, she said it was to get out of the hospital in time for the holiday. And what if she doesn't get out in time? That was easy for her. All she wanted was for all the other sick kids to have a nice Christmas.

I've been inordiniately sappy recently, I'll admit. But that probably would've brought tears to my eyes anyway.


Allen was hooked on coke and hated himself for it. More than that, he was tired. He was tired of being up all night, in his words, "wondering where I was." Although, I didn't ask, I'm pretty sure he was speaking both figuratively and literally.

Finally, in one ultimate moment of fatigue, he wrote two letters, one to his mom and one to his kids. He apologized for being a father and son in absentia. He laid one letter on his right and one on his left. His roommate had an appointment and Allen knew he would be alone long enough. He opened a bottle and took 32 sleeping pills. He said the moments as he fell unconscious were the most peaceful he'd had in as long as he could remember.

As it turned out, his friend's appointment was canceled and she showed up to find Allen near death. She got him to the hospital, where doctors saved his life. Now, he's just a couple months away from graduating from a six-month rehab lock-up program. The problem, because he and the 50 other men in the program are restricted from doing anything but getting clean, they couldn't work to buy gifts for their kids.

Fortunately, 24 hours after Allen told his story, two truckloads of gifts showed up and no kid went without.


The other stories are nice, too. Bubba the dog saved a family froom dying but couldn't save their home. Mom had grown senile and forgot to pay the insurance premium. As such, not only was there little in the way of Christmas, but there was little in the ay of a home.

And then there was the mother of four who fell so far into addiction, she watched social services come and take her youngest. Now, she's two weeks from graduatinng from her rehab program and thanks to the public, has some gifts to give the kids she hopes to be with again soon.


Those were the poeple I just don't get to meet everyday. That is, they are people who have seen the end and doubled back to find the beginning again. You can judge those folks, but it doesn't do anybody any good. All you can do is respect them, hope your life doesn't take such a turn, and hope you have the strength to overcome if it does.

Thanks, Pauly for the idea.
I'm humbled that my words affected you and more importantly people in your community. Otis, you are a true gentleman. Thanks for inspiring me.

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