Roy Exum: He’s Still My Hero

Sunday, October 3, 2010 - by Roy Exum
Roy Exum
Roy Exum

It was a year ago when Jordan Thomas rocketed to fame, a dazzling kid who way before his 21st birthday captured our hearts by creating a foundation that would provide artificial limbs, or prosthetics, to kids who otherwise would have to do without.

This time last year Jordan, who lost a leg in a boating accident while a student at McCallie, was chosen as one of 10 CNN “Heroes of the Year” and tonight, at the annual “Low Country Boil” charity feast the Jordan Thomas Foundation holds each year in Chattanooga, a huge crowd will learn he is still very much exactly that - a hero.

His foundation, which he actually started in the hospital while mending from his own tragedy, has benefited a number of children who, in the growing stages of their lives, need increasingly larger prostheses to keep up with their growth; what fit at age 10 is too small at age 14.

So as we delight in our 2009 “Hero of the Year,” and eagerly await sharing in his laughter and his life tonight, let’s take a look at CNN’s 2010 class of heroes. On Thanksgiving night one will be chosen as the winner but that’s fallacy; here are 10 who have each made a difference.

The top 10 Heroes of 2010, in alphabetical order:

-- Guadalupe Arizpe De La Vega founded a hospital in Juarez, Mexico, that cares for about 900 people daily -- regardless of their ability to pay. Despite the escalating violence in the city, the 74-year-old travels there several times a week to make sure residents get the care they need.

-- Susan Burton was once caught in a cycle of addiction and incarceration. Today, her nonprofit A New Way of Life Reentry Project provides sober housing and other support services to formerly incarcerated women in California.

-- With her weight-loss challenge, Shape Up Vicksburg, Linda Fondren is helping her Mississippi hometown battle the bulge. Through free fitness activities and nutrition classes, residents have lost nearly 15,000 pounds to date.

-- Anuradha Koirala is fighting to prevent the trafficking and sexual exploitation of Nepal's women and girls. Since 1993, she and her group, Maiti Nepal, have helped rescue and rehabilitate more than 12,000 victims.

-- Narayanan Krishnan brings hot meals and dignity to India's homeless and destitute -- 365 days per year -- through his nonprofit Akshaya Trust. Since 2002, he has served more than 1.2 million meals.

-- Since 1992, Magnus MacFarlane-Barrow has dedicated his life to helping people in need. Today, his program, Mary's Meals -- run from a tin shed in the Scottish highlands -- provides free daily meals to more than 400,000 children around the world.

-- Harmon Parker is using his masonry skills to save lives. Since 1997 he has helped build 45 footbridges over perilous rivers in Kenya, protecting people from flash floods and predatory animals. The bridges also connect isolated villagers to valuable resources.

-- Aki Ra is helping to make his native Cambodia safer by clearing land mines -- many of which he planted years ago as a child soldier. Since 1993, he and his Cambodian Self Help Demining organization have cleared about 50,000 mines and unexploded weapons.

-- Evans Wadongo, 23, invented a way for rural families in Kenya to replace smoky kerosene and firelight with solar power. Through his Use Solar, Save Lives program, he's distributed an estimated 10,000 solar lanterns for free.

-- Since 2005, Texas home builder Dan Wallrath has given injured Iraq and Afghanistan veterans homes of their own - mortgage-free. He and his Operation Finally Home team have five new custom homes under construction.

royexum@aol.com


Democrats Should Change Name Of Fundraising Event To Ray Blanton Dinner

Once again our state Democrats display the abject hypocrisy for which they are famous. Only a few days after Rep. Jim Cooper called for the removal of the Nathan Bedford Forrest bust in the state Capitol he was the featured speaker at the state Jefferson-Jackson Day dinner which one Democrat described as a "vital" fundraising event" for the party. Since both Thomas Jefferson ... (click for more)

Lorri Wyatt Thanks The Community

Over the past 10 days, my life has been a whirlwind. My entire life changed in an instant. My husband, David Wyatt, was an incredible man, father and husband. He was funny, hardworking, honest, kind, loving and devoted to everyone in it. Everyone that knew David, loved him. He had a way of touching lives, without even knowing he was. On July 16, we lost him, and our lives will never ... (click for more)

Thousands Line Route For Funeral Procession Of Sailor Slain In Chattanooga Shooting; Wife Sings Song At Funeral She Was Singing When They Met

Thousands of people waving flags and signs again lined the streets and highways of Chattanooga for the second of two local funerals for military personnel slain by a gunman on July 16. And at the funeral service for Petty Officer 2nd Class Randall Scott Smith, his wife, Angie, sang the song she was singing the first time they met. She said she was singing "You say it best when ... (click for more)

Chattanooga Man Who Declared He Was "An Innocent Man" On Child Pornography Charges Gets Conviction, 24-Year Sentence Overturned

The Federal Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals has reversed the conviction of a Chattanooga man who claimed at his trial and sentencing that he was wrongfully convicted by a jury of possession and distribution of child pornography. James Paul Lowe had been sentenced in May to serve 24 years in federal prison. After the sentencing, he had bid his family goodbye and told them to ... (click for more)

2015 High School Football Tour Recap

  High School football officially began Monday as prep teams throughout the state donned helmets and pads for the first time with the season opening weekend 24 days away.   The sixth annual chattannogan.com tour of Hamilton County schools began with Howard just before 7 a.m. and ended at Silverdale a few minutes before 10 p.m. – 13 schools and 173 miles. ... (click for more)

Three Marion Players On 2A Preseason All-State Team

Marion County's Corey Tucker, Christian Stephens and Alex Kirkendoll have been voted to the Star Physical Therapy Class 2A preseason all-state team in Murphy Fair's Tennessee High School Football magazine. Other area players on the team are Tellico Plains' Ryan Bookout, Boyd-Buchanan's Eli Legg and Sweetwater's Bailey Byrum.  Marion County finished as state runner-up ... (click for more)