Natural toughness is inspiring to see but takes time to sink in

December 3, 2013

Delayed inspirations - I am inspired and impressed by all kinds of people as I do my funny walk through life, but I’m usually on a day's delay. Incredible toughness exists in such a natural sort of way that you barely notice it as being way out beyond the lifeguard, treading softly inside the gulf stream of warm feelings. Last Saturday morning before the crowded and cold Pumpkin Pie 5K in Rehoboth I noticed two young men in wheelchairs, and one was being hooked into the back of the other like Lionel trains at Christmas. I just walked over asking what was up and announced I intended to take some pictures. Anthony Green, 23, told me his buddy Patrick Mish, 21, was a student at Howard T. Ennis where Anthony worked. Patrick had mentioned he’d like to do the 5K so Anthony said, "Let's go for it.” Enos Benbow and Heidi Helou ran alongside the tandem, making sure the path stayed clear and all turns could be negotiated. I am so smart I’m stupid half of the time, so I figured Anthony was a non-wheelchaired person who was showing support by also rolling a 5K and helping to power a student. During the post-race gazebo banana nubs and pumpkin pie time, I saw Patrick and Anthony after they had completed the 5K in 27:14, and both were still in their chairs. It slowly dawned on me that both men were wheelchair athletes. Anthony was injured in a motorcycle accident about six years ago. Patrick is a sports fan, especially the Eagles. I posted their photo on Facebook and the “likes” started to pile up, which came as no surprise to me as we are all receptive to inspiration, divine and human.

Quadraphonic - Laura Zwiebel is a Sussex Tech senior cross country runner who is an invaluable help to coach Tim Bamforth at the finish line of Seashore Striders races. Mostly she’s inside the trailer disseminating computer-generated data, entering missing names and printing lists so runners can get immediate feedback on times and age-group placement. On Dec. 1 at the Turkey Trot 5K the winner came through the chute as I tried to write down his number while taking photos. Laura grabbed my reporter's book, got the name and number and where he went to high school; she did the same for the first woman, who was the first guy’s girlfriend from the same high school, but who knew? I asked Laura where she was going to college. She said she was accepted at a few places but because she was a quad she would attend Del Tech to save her family money. I considered that most quads aren’t walking around, so I asked Laura, "A quad what?" "A quadruplet,” she said. "Two brothers and a sister; we’re all fraternal, and yes, we were a surprise.” Then she said she always worked and gave the money to her parents just to help out. Now I’m starting to get inspired, so I asked her, "OK, so what’s wrong with you?” She of course had no idea what I was talking about but that’s the joke I always run on the super nice and smart and hardworking. Members of Laura’s Quad Pod are Laura, Maggie, Colin and Mathew.

Snippets - Hodgson and Salesianum are the DIAA Division II and I football state champions. Sallies also won the state title in Division I soccer and cross country. Not a bad start to the school year for the Catholic boys' school. Wesley College football will play Mt. Union Dec. 7 in the quarterfinals of the Division III tournament. The FCS football tournament continues Dec. 7 with New Hampshire at Maine and Fordham at Towson. Coastal Carolina is alive at Montana. The Cape Crusaders basketball club is doing its annual Christmas drive for clothes, toys and canned food. Sunday, Dec. 8 is a free workout at Cape for grades K through eight if they bring a slightly used toy, usable article of clothing or canned good. The items will be given away from 3 to 5 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 14. This program was a raging success last year so be a community player, interact, help out and play a little basketball. Alexis Groce, former Milford academic-athletic all star, just completed a successful freshman cross country season at Elizabethtown College. Thirty years from now a big old Jim Bob in Alabama will get into a bar fight when he’s identified as being on the field for the 2013 Iron Bowl loss to Auburn. Go on now, git!

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