Wednesday, July 22, 2009


As many of you know, with the downsizing of my station, my duties as meteorologist have been expanded into shooting video and reporting as well. While I usually shoot at least 4 stories a week, it's not very often that one resonates with me. They usually are about a speaker visiting a school or a ground breaking for a non-profit. However, today's story made me realize that cancer hasn't only affected the Roberts and friends of Nancy, it affects everyone.

As I left 100 Gold Circle Dr. (KMEG) this morning, I was headed to the Mary Treglia Community house, a non for profit organization that helps impoverished kids, teaches ESL, and even aids with immigrants becoming citizens of the United States. I was given the press release before I left and I was going to shoot video of a kid name Michael. Michael was attempting to become an Eagle Scout and had completely remodeled and re-built the preschool room for this community house. I was never a boy scout, nor did I ever want to be. However, I know of the significance and honor of becoming an eagle scout so I expected something pretty impressive.

When I arrived, I walked into an open house full of boy scouts and business owners who had help fund the project. The director took me back to the room and it was outstanding. The once barren, gray cinder-blocked, windowless room had been transformed into a fairytale castle. Murals of wildlife, seasons, and animals covered the walls and lots of new furniture had been built. I started chatting with Michael's mom as I was setting up the interview, chatting about what her son had accomplished. I asked her basic questions. Why he chose to do this. How much longer he had before becoming an eagle scout. The importance of her son becoming an eagle scout. As she began to answer my questions, I noticed her pause and a tear began to run down her face. Her husband had been diagnosed with cancer and only had 6 months to live. Neither of her two sons had reached eagle scout and Michael desperately wanted to do so before his father passed away. I stopped then, not trying to pry any further. This wasn't even the part of the story I was shooting. I was just there to cover the impressive efforts of a boy trying to improve his community. And yet this complete stranger had opened up to me telling me about her dying husband. Once it came time for the interview, Michael reiterated the same point, letting me know that his dad had cancer and was dying and was hoping he would become an eagle scout before then. Chills ran through my body because I knew exactly what this family was about to go through.

This isn't the only time I have covered a story that dealt with this. Around the holidays, there was a boy named Armstrong Zortman who couldn't have been older than 5 years old. He had been diagnosed with brain cancer early in his life and his family was raising money to pay for surgeries their insurance wouldn't cover and they couldn't afford. I become close with the grandfather while shooting and had explained to them I was right there with them, dealing with my mom's own struggle with cancer. The Zortmans were extremely grateful for us helping them and the next morning when I arrived at work I had a gift waiting for me at my desk. It was a shirt they had printed that said "Cancer Sucks" with a note from Mr. Zortman. It was a shirt they were selling to help raise money, but he wanted me to have knowing that we soldiers in the same fight. Once again, a complete stranger opening up as we shared the same battle for life.

It's situations like these that make you grateful for what you have. I was young when my mom died, only 23. But Michael will most likely be fatherless by the age of 14. About two weeks after my interview with the Armstrong family, I received an email from the grandfather saying he received a text from his daughter early that morning saying "Armstrong has his wings". Armstrong had died before they were able to get him to surgery. His parents will never get to experience things my mom was able to experience with not just me, but four children.

This fight against cancer seems to bring people together in the most amazing ways. It seems like everyone somehow is connected to someone who has won, lost, or is fighting cancer. It's this that connects all of us, and is why it's important to find a cure.

I'm not just running and raising money for my mom. It's for everyone who has to go through or watch someone battle through cancer. Hopefully the money Lauren and I are able to raise will one day make these situations much more positive. Hopefully in 10, 20, or 30 years down the road, children like Armstrong and men like Michael's father will be able to fight their terminal cancer and live to tell the tale. It's stories like these and the memories of my mom that keep me going every day. Saturday will be my longest run yet--12 miles. BRING IT ON!

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing your stories Alex, this was a great post!