Two summers ago, I had the opportunity to attend the UNITY: Journalists of Color convention in the great city of Chicago. Everything I had ever heard about the city, whether it was true or false, fueled my curiosity even more, so I really had to visit it.
What I found amazed me. Not only is Chicago very beautiful, with its shiny skyscrapers, its artistic landmarks at nearly every corner, and the “beach” at Lake Michigan; Chicago is also friendly. Chicagoans are probably some of the friendliest people I have ever encountered, however briefly. They’re the kind of people who will recognize you as a tourist and, instead of ripping you off or scoffing at you, they’ll strike up a conversation and recommend a few sight-seeing must-dos.
So, it was of little surprise to me to hear that Mayor Daley is a pretty decent man. One detail, however, struck a chord with me. You see, I was doing some research on famous people who have a relative with spina bifida, when I stumbled upon the fact that Mayor Daley had a son with spina bifida. Encouraged by the fact that such a prominent person had a reason to relate to me, my mood changed immediately upon reading some more.
Mayor Daley’s son passed away in 1981, just two years and nine months after he was born, apparently from complications associated with spina bifida, although I did not find out what they were exactly. Spina bifida is a very complex condition that presents a host of secondary conditions. To treat the condition is to treat it indirectly– that is, by focusing treatment on those secondary conditions, such as bladder and bowel function, and hydrocephalus.
Mayor Daley didn’t let the grief of losing a child stop him from giving back– in fact, it inspired him. On March 28, 2006, Mayor Daley attended the groundbreaking ceremony of Anixter Village, a fully-accessible, 15-unit building specifically built as a residential community for people with spina bifida. The innovative venture was a collaborative effort on the part of two nonprofit organizations: The Village Foundation, which “is committed to enhancing the quality of life for young adults with chronic neurological disabilities by providing opportunities and habilitation services that foster independence; and the Anixter Center, which strives to assist “people with disabilities to live and work successfully in the community.”
Clearly, the personal success of individuals with spina bifida is an issue that is very close to the mayor’s heart, and so I look forward to writing to him very soon.
On a completely different subject, my allergies have been working overtime today! I was out-and-about at Valencia, and then went to Bar Louie with Mom and Dad, and my nose still insisted on bothering me there. (Oh yeah– word to the wise: Benadryl and martinis do not mix! I don’t care if it’s Happy Hour. I spent the better part of the evening in a half-drunken stupor after only one drink.)
Hopefully, they will get better. And speaking of getting better, I would like to ask all of you to please pray for my five-year old cousin, Nayomi. She is having an outpatient ear surgery tomorrow that will hopefully cure her persistent earaches. Te quiero mucho, Nayo…I’m praying for you!
And I’m off. Apparently my “drunken stupors” are inevitably followed by “productive highs.”
I would like to conclude my entry tonight with a quote I read from my friend, Kevin Olivas: “There is nothing more satisfying than helping others.” As for me, I take that to mean, “Don’t just ‘hold out’ for a hero– be one.”
On that note, let us be “heroes” for Haiti. To find out about bonafide organizations that you may contribute to, please visit http://www.cnn.com/impact.
Love & Blessings,