Where Are Today’s Heroes?

I grumble every time I hit the checkout at the grocery store.  You can’t help but notice the tabloids and magazines with their line-up of  “stars.”  Some are famous for being famous.  Some are has-beens.  Others are “sensations,” up and comers who are being promoted ad nauseam.

Once in a while someone from our area becomes one of these “sensations.”  Of course this requires hitting the road to attain bigger and better things.  The fascination with people who leave home and become famous has always mystified me.  The “hometown boy/girl makes good” only goes so far in my book.  Then the message becomes “if you want to be somebody, leave.”  Today’s heroes and role models are made in places like Hollywood, New York and Nashville.  And that’s too bad, because the real heroes often go unrecognized because they are too close to us.

Several years ago, I was a reporter for BerksMont newspapers, and I wrote about all kinds of people.  People who are our neighbors, our friends, and should be our heroes.  But you’ll probably never see their faces gazing at you over a 12-pack of Charmin.

Recently I was flipping through the stories I had written, and I was impressed all over again with the people who live and work here.  Their faces peered at me as I paged through my portfolio.  I remembered meeting every one of them:  a young mother, Donna Bartman, and Dehleana, her beautiful little girl with cerebral palsy, and their joy in taking the whole family on a Make A Wish trip to Florida …  Greg Herb’s trip to China where he helped the Chinese establish training for its Realtors as the nation ventured into the sale of real estate … Cat Angel Network, a no-kill animal shelter staffed by volunteers that finds homes for hundreds of stray cats a year and gives a lifetime of care to the cats that are unwanted … Rebecca Craik, a physical therapist with a global reputation for her research on strokes and stroke recovery … Amanda Boyer, a young woman diagnosed with Non-Hodgkins lymphoma, her fight for life, and her incredible spirit … Leroy Brendlinger, the one-of-a-kind educator whose long-ago dream to start a college became Montgomery County Community College.

I wrote about our Special Olympics athletes and countless residents who put their heart and soul into volunteer and fundraising efforts.  I wrote about business owners who stake their lives and their futures in our local communities.  I wrote about theatre groups, young artists and performers, people young and old who pursue their dreams and face life’s challenges with strength and dignity.

I don’t know what happened to the people I wrote about.  I can, however, tell you who the “stars” are dating, where they vacation, who’s cheating on whom, how much they earn, who’s had lipo, and on and on.  So the next time you ask, “Where are today’s heroes,” look around.  But don’t look too far.  The real heroes are right in our own backyard.

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