Roy Exum: He’s Still My Hero

Sunday, October 03, 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


Send Your Opinions To Chattanoogan.com

We welcome your opinions at Chattanoogan.com. Email to news@chattanoogan.com . We require your real first and last name and contact information. There is no word limit, but if your article is too long you may lose your reader. Please focus more on issues than personal attacks. (click for more)

Supporting Dr. Mary Headrick

I had the pleasure of meeting Dr. Mary Headrick two years ago when she first ran for Congress. I was convinced then and am even more convinced now that she is the best choice for the 3rd Congressional District. Dr. Headrick has degrees in math and computer science, which shows she has a brain and in medicine, which shows she has a heart. She is superbly qualified to serve our ... (click for more)

Architect/Contractor Selected By Erlanger For New Children's/Women's Hospital

HKS has been selected as the architect and McCarthy as the construction manager for a new Children’s and Women’s Hospital at the Erlanger campus on East Third Street. The Atlanta team competed against another Atlanta group for the major construction project. Erlanger officials announced Monday that $11.5 million is being set aside in a debt restructuring for the new $30 ... (click for more)

Westfield Charged In Burning, Torture Of Kitten At Cleveland

An arrest has been made in the case of a kitten who was burned and tortured in Cleveland, Tn. At 12:50 p.m. on Tuesday, Gary A. Westfield, 31, of Cleveland, was placed in custody on a warrant obtained by Lt. Robert Harbison and Detective Matt Jenkins of the Criminal Investigations Division. Westfield was charged with aggravated cruelty to animals, which is a Class E felony. ... (click for more)

Mihaescu, March Win Region 3-A/AA Cross Country Titles

The weather wasn't quite as nice as it was last week, but it was still sunny and warm on Tuesday afternoon for the Region 3-A/AA cross country championships, which were held on a flat course at Camp Jordan in East Ridge. Sequoyah senior Danielle March was the female winner as she toured the 5K course in 21 minutes, 46 seconds to win by almost a minute over KiAnna Queener, ... (click for more)

Boyd-Buchanan Defeats East Ridge 7-1 In Soccer Semi

The Boyd-Buchanan girls’ soccer team has already made history this season, but coach Todd Ledbetter’s Lady Bucs are hungry for more. After winning the school’s first district title last week, they moved a step closer to another championship with a Region 3-A/AA semifinal victory at home on Tuesday. Boyd-Buchanan, the 5-A/AA champion, defeated District 6 runner-up ... (click for more)