Tag Archives: hero story

The Power of Love

Love is a powerful force. It will drive you to soar and to crash, to elation and to despair, to push forward and to pull back.

It drove Joannie Rochette, the Canadian figure skater whose mother suddenly and unexpectedly died days before the Olympics, to compete to honor her mother and walk away with a bronze medal. It drove Edwin van Calker, the driver of the Dutch 4-man bobsled team, to withdraw from the Olympics, enraging his coach and dashing the Olympic hopes of his teammates.

Joannie is being hailed as a hero, a triumphant athlete who stood tall under tremendous adversity. Edwin is being branded a goat, a coward who has disappointed a nation.

This is unfair. Edwin watched the Georgian luger perish and saw 30 other competitors crash on that same track. He listened to commentators repeatedly expressing the view that this particular track was dangerous. He thought about himself, his wife, his kids, and he decided the competition wasn’t worth the risk.

Have you ever been in a near death experience? Have you ever witnessed a fatal accident?

Many winter sports have inherent dangers. The athletes who compete exhibit bravery every time they take to the snow or ice. Van Calker’s decision took a different kind of bravery.

So who is the real hero?

In their own ways, they are each heroic, for different reasons and for different people. Rochette is a hero to her family and her nation for her performance and achievement under adversity. Van Calker is a hero to his family for coming home to them safe and sound.

Canadians will honor Rochette everywhere she goes. That’s easy for them. How will the Dutch respond to van Calker? Will they lift him up? Will they honor him? Those who do are also heroes.

BTW, regarding yesterday’s post, the Leopard can stand tall, having beaten skiers from such snow producing countries as Sweden, Canada, USA, Switzerland, Russia, Norway, Italy, Finland, and Austria. Congratulations!


Heroic Revenge

The last two posts have been about everyday heroes – people who saw big problems in areas of safety and child support and worked to overcome them.

The essence of heroism is that you take action. You relentlessly believe you can influence a situation and you take actions based on that belief. But what happens when the influence you want is to tear someone down? What happens if what you really want is revenge?

Companies beware. This can happen too.

This is a cautionary tale for corporations and an inspiration for disgruntled customers. This video has received over 7 million views. United offered compensation once the video went viral, compensation that the musician refused and recommended that they give to charity. He is staying true to his promise to produce three videos about his experience of haggling unsuccessfully with the airline.

True, this experience hasn’t exactly hurt him financially. But before you view this as a quick cash grab, understand that he spent over 9 months trying to resolve this more amicably.

So yes, even revenge can be heroic, especially when it is authentic and tongue in cheek.

A Different Kind of Hero

Yesterday I wrote about someone I called a hero. I labeled him a hero because he took action to change something important. Armed with an idea he was welcomed by an organization he hadn’t previously known and created something beautiful that appears to be making a real difference.

Yet he also had experience as a director, know-how in movie making. What can you do if all you have is grit and determination?

Karen Silliter had just that. Her two kids were in college and her husband owed her years of unpaid child support, money she desperately needed. Meanwhile, he was living in a wealthy community in another state and had claimed to have no money.

So what did she do? I’ll give you the short story. Her efforts brought her to the DMV, real estate offices, voter registration, the tax office, the county registry of deeds, the Department of Revenue, newspapers, the DA’s office, banks, the courts, her Senator’s office, and more. There were warrants, letters, and faxes. There were dumb blonde routines (her words) and unexpected helpers. There were liens, subpoenas, and flight risks.

In the end she discovered that he had covered his own wealth by starting and running his business under his new wife’s name so he could maintain his unemployed status.

So what did she do then?

She changed the law. With a heroic effort she worked with attorneys and legislators to change the law so that anyone who conspires to help a delinquent parent hide their assets will be liable for the same fines and jail time as the delinquent parent.

They even had a signing ceremony with her, the Senator, and the Governor.

None of us needs any special talents to be heroic. We don’t need superpowers. Just find your grit and determination and that can be enough to take on the world.

A Beautiful Message

If you haven’t seen this, it’s well worth watching. Posted less than a month ago it has well over 1 million views.

A beautiful message, beautifully delivered. There’s also a hero story behind it.

The writer/director has no affiliation with the organization that sponsored this video. He doesn’t work for any traffic safety organization.

Daniel Cox simply had an idea and wanted to help. His concept turned out to be a good fit for what this organization wanted to do. This video is the result.

US Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis (for whom my alma mater was named) said, “Most of the things worth doing in this world had been declared impossible before they were done.”

Maybe no one told Daniel that this video was impossible, but he could easily have told himself that he was powerless to do anything about an issue as big as seatbelt use.

Instead, he chose the heroic path.

MCH Lesson #2: Play It Large

On Thursday I spoke at the annual planning meeting for the Miami Children’s Hospital (MCH). It was unbelievably moving. Yesterday I wrote about what I learned from from their mascot. Here’s my second day of lessons from MCH.

Lynnette was one of the employees honored at the event. While this is the first time she has been formally recognized by the hospital it is not her first time being recognized. Patient families regularly thank her and write letters to the hospital expressing their appreciation for how Lynnette has helped them through a difficult time. So what is her job?

Nurse? Doctor? Chaplain? Does she run the family care center? Is she the masseuse on staff?

No. Lynnette runs the checkout in the cafeteria. Her job description says her role is to ring up customers’ food and take their money. Provide change. That’s it.

But Lynnette doesn’t see herself as a checkout person. She sees herself as a member of a patient and family care system. Her job is to help families through the most difficult time of their lives. So she does something simple yet extraordinary.

Lynnette smiles and talks to people. When they show up in the cafeteria more than once she asks their names and the name of their child who is a patient at MCH. Then she remembers. The next time she sees them she greets them by name and asks about their child by name.

Lynnette’s cash register isn’t a location for food purchase transactions. It is a transformational space where welled-up emotions are released, where comfort and compassion are delivered, where what could be taken as a small part is turned into a powerful role.