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


Mark Siedlecki Will Run A Fair, Efficient Assessor's Office

As a 21-year-old student, it might be easy for my elders to assume that I don’t pay much attention to politics. Most people my age don’t vote in even the presidential election, let alone local races. And as someone who is not originally from Chattanooga, it might also be easy to assume that I am less invested in this city. But all of that could be further from the truth. This election ... (click for more)

Why We're Voting For Kathy Lennon

Why would someone want to run for elected office in today’s highly abrasive political environment? Why would someone be willing to subject themselves to the possibility of personal attacks, smear campaigns and unbelievable distortions of the truth that we see on an unprecedented scale across all political spectrums?  In regards to Kathy Lennon, candidate for Hamilton County ... (click for more)

Baylor School Tennis Coach Charged With Buying Meth In Whitfield County, Ga.

A Baylor School tennis coach has been arrested on charges of buying meth in Whitfield County, Ga. Philip Johnson, 51, of Ooltewah, was taken into custody on Thursday and charged with attempt or conspiracy to violate the Georgia Controlled Substance Act, possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony, and use of a communication facilities during drug transactions. ... (click for more)

Chattanooga Whiskey Company To Construct Large Distillery At Former Site Of Newton Chevrolet

The Chattanooga Whiskey Company has begun construction on a larger production distillery in the former Newton Chevrolet property at the corner of MLK Boulevard and Riverfront Parkway near the Tennessee River. Once fully operational, the Riverfront Parkway facility will be capable of producing upwards of 14 (53-gallon) barrels per day, making it one of the largest craft bourbon ... (click for more)

Lookouts Snap Losing Streak With 8-4 Win Over Smokies

Homeruns by Edgar Corcino and Mitch Garver helped lead the Lookouts over the Tennessee Smokies by a score of 8-4. Tennessee jumped out to an early 3-1 lead against Lookouts starting pitcher Kohl Stewart.  Though his ERA went up a little bit to 3.38, Stewart improved to 5-4 on the season. The right-hander gave up three runs (two earned) on seven hits over five innings. He ... (click for more)

TSSAA Sets Future Division I, Division II Classifications

The Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association’s Board of Control has released the minutes from Wednesday’s meeting in Hermitage pertaining to football classification period for the 2017-18 and run through 2020-2021 1.  Roll Call 2.  Division I and Division II Classification The Board of Control voted the following for the classification period that ... (click for more)