Good News Friday: Obama finally shows some cojones on immigration reform. The NFL player who gave it all up to become a farmer. And a sick boy in Connecticut lives his dream

Well, I sure wish he had done this before the recent elections, and it would’ve been nice if he got around to it about three or four years ago, but hey, better late than never, right?

Six years into his Presidency, Barack Obama has finally done what he long promised to do: He took bold action on immigration reform. He announced in a speech Thursday night that his record pace of deportations (faster and more numerous than ANY other President, by the way) would not be his sole legacy on this issue.
His executive action will allow 4.3 million undocumented immigrants protection from deportation; these are people who are mostly contributing to our society, working manual labor jobs for menial pay. Obama also announced the U.S. will be speeding up the visa process for recent grads of American colleges.

It’s not a path to citizenship, it’s not some ridiculous “amnesty” which the GOP will surely call it, and it might not even be as good as the bipartisan bill signed last year that the GOP right-wingers in the House refused to pass.

It was the kind of executive action that W. used all the time, and nobody on the right screamed about him overstepping his legal authority, there. It’s estimated that allowing these 4.3 million immigrants to stay, if they register and begin paying taxes should lead to almost $3 billion in new payroll tax revenue (that’s something the Republicans ought to support, more money, right?).

It’s an excellent first step, long needed.

**Next up, this was a highly unusual story that I loved, courtesy of the always-excellent “CBS Sunday Morning.” Jason Brown, a former offensive lineman for the St. Louis Rams, retired after a 7-year career in 2012, throwing away future millions.
He didn’t quit because he was sick or injured, he quit for a much better reason: He wanted to become a farmer, grow food, and feed the hungry.

If it sounds like the plot of a bizarre Hollywood movie, that’s what I thought too. But watch this three-minute video (above) and see what a special man Jason Brown is. He owns 1,000 acres of land in North Carolina, where this year he grew more than 10,000 pounds of cucumbers and 100,000 pounds of sweet potatoes, and gave them away to food banks in the state.

For one day, forget about the Ray Rices and Adrian Petersons of the NFL, and appreciate the quiet greatness of Jason Brown, a great human being.

(And oh yeah, this week he delivered his own child after a midwife couldn’t get there on time.)

dante-chiappetta-yale.jpg

**Finally today, a beautiful story of hope and friendship from Sports Illustrated’s Steve Rushin, as good a sportswriter as there is. When he was merely three months old, Dante Chiappetta was declared legally blind.

By age one, Dante was diagnosed with cerebral palsy but also found to have something called cortical visual impairment: His eyes were otherwise healthy but lacked critical connections from the optic nerve to the brain’s occipital lobe.

As Dante grew and learned to love sports, his family teamed up with an organization called Team Impact, which pairs sick children with college teams. (Team Impact is very similar to Friends of Jaclyn, an incredible organziation I support as a volunteer).
Dante’s team is the Yale football squad, and they’ve adopted him completely.

From Rushin’s story: “Dante attends weekday practices. On Saturdays he roars in anticipation of the afternoon ahead, with its blazing leaves and glinting sousaphones. Said Joe, “I’ve never seen him this happy.”

It’s a wonderful column, with great quotes from the Yale players about what Dante has brought to them.

Now at this Saturday’s Yale-Harvard game, I’ll be sure to watch and see if I can find Dante on the sidelines. I’m sure he’ll be the guy smiling the biggest.

 

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