And a Happy Friday, y’all. It’s October, which means at some point the weather will get cool (it was 90 degrees here on Wednesday and 55 on Thursday so Ma Nature is having one hell of a fun time with us all), the Oakland A’s will blow a playoff game (thanks for visiting, A’s!) and I’ll be happier than a 3-year-old in a LEGO factory because hockey is back!
Yes hockey, that sport I love so much that despite what the NHL officials try to do, I keep on loving. My Rangers are off to a 1-0 start, but I want to start Good News Friday with a little bit of a bow being placed on a most amazing present and story from last season.
You might remember my writing about Laila Anderson last spring while the St. Louis Blues were on their improbable run to the Stanley Cup championship, the first in franchise history. From a blog post last June., from a story in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:
Laila is a Missouri kid who suffers from a rare disease called HLH, a systemic inflammatory syndrome that can be fatal. Last Halloween, Laila attended a trick-or-treat event with the Blues and Children’s Hospital. She met Colton Parayko, one of her favorite players on her favorite team.
“He was 100-percent committed to her, took her around trick-or-treating,” Heather Parayko, Laila’s Mom, said. “I said, ‘It’s OK,’ and he said, ‘I’ve got her – I’m going to hold her bag, I’m going to hold her drink, I’m going to do everything.’ He’s all in with her – they just have this bond. Ever since then, he’s come to visit her in the hospital. Stayed a ridiculously long time. They actually communicate once or twice a week. He just checks on her. It’s a genuine friendship.”
Laila and the Blues’ bond was incredible, and the team flew her to Boston for Game 7 of the Cup Finals, and when they won she got to kiss the Stanley Cup.
But if you thought that was the end of an incredibly sweet story, well… there was one more amazing chapter.
This week, the Blues were due to receive their Stanley Cup rings. Two players made a special delivery to give one ring to their No. 1 fan. Watch and enjoy…
**Next up today, something that should not cause a stir at all anymore, the sexual orientation of a human being, sometimes still does, so it’s nice to see when an area known for intolerance shows quite a lot of it.
A gay high school senior in Memphis, Tenn. was crowned as part of the Homecoming Court last week during the football game, while wearing a dress.
From NBC News: “White Station High School in Memphis, Tennessee, posted a photo Friday congratulating Brandon Allen, 17, on his victory.
The image, which has been liked and shared thousands of times on Facebook and Twitter, showed Allen covering his mouth in shock and wearing a gold sequin off-the-shoulder gown, diamante tiara and holding a floral bouquet awarded to members of the royal court, a gender neutral title that the school introduced this year in place of the traditional Homecoming King and Queen titles.
“Thank you to everyone who has contributed to me becoming queen,” Allen, who identifies as gay, wrote on his Instagram profile. “You guys truly looked stunningly beautiful and I am so honored to have been able to walk with you guys!!”
Junior Emmett Campbell, 16, who shot the photo and identifies as transgender, told NBC News: “It was such an incredible thing to witness. It was a moment of acceptance and validation for the LGBT+ community from our entire school.”
Very nicely done. Individuality, especially in a peer-pressure packed place like high school, should be celebrated as much as possible.
**Finally today, this is one of those stories where I debated using it in “Good News Friday” because it’s about a serious problem in our country: the almost-complete lack of medical care in large swaths of America, as there are so few doctors in rural communities serving so many.
But I decided it was worth including for two reasons: One, it’s written by the Washington Post’s Eli Saslow, who for my money is the best newspaper feature writer in America right now, and two, it features a truly heroic doctor. A man named Ed Garner is the only physician in a 100-mile radius in the remote town of Van Horn, Texas, and Saslow follows him through his daily work and finds a man doing Herculean things to try to help people.
A brief snippet of this fantastic tale by Saslow. God bless Ed Garner.
He lit a cigarette and rolled down the window as he drove by the dusty ranches and dry lakebeds of West Texas. He’d started smoking to cope with the stress of medical school, but now he’d been practicing rural family medicine for 41 years as the stresses continued to mount. He was the only working doctor left to care for three remote counties east of El Paso, an area similar in size to the entire state of Maryland, home to far-flung oil encampments, a desolate stretch of interstate, communities of drifters living off the electric grid, and highway towns made up of truck stops and budget motels. “A wild place of last resort,” was how Garner described parts of his territory, and for every person in every kind of medical trouble, the true last resort was him.
Now his phone rang and he answered. “How bad is it?” he asked, and a nurse told him the ambulance was on its way back to the hospital with a truck driver who had collapsed at a gas station and couldn’t move his legs.
“Just give me a minute,” Garner said. “I’ll be there as quick as I can.”