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


Silence From Rhonda Thurman

I find it deplorable that Rhonda Thurman is, once again, voicing her opinions so quickly and so vehemently.  She seems to be the one school board member that wants media and/or press coverage every time the opportunity avails itself.  However, when it comes to responding to personal emails sent directly to her…she zips her lips. I, as all of the citizens of Hamilton ... (click for more)

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)

City Administrator Lurone Jennings Suspended For Misallocation Of Funds

Rev. Lurone Jennings, administrator of City Youth and Family Development, has been suspended for one week for misallocation of funds. He also is to be issued a letter of reprimand and will undergo ethics training. The action came after a critical audit report from City Auditor Stan Sewell. It says Mr. Jennings transferred $18,500 of funds to a program, Journey Educational ... (click for more)

New Walker County Commissioner Whitfield To Move Public Meetings To Evenings And To Larger Venue; Will Also Be Listening Sessions

Walker County Sole Commissioner-Elect Shannon Whitfield said there will be a new arrangement for holding of public commissioner sessions when he takes place at the start of January. Current Commissioner Bebe Heiskell has held Thursday meetings at 3:30 p.m. from time to time in a conference room at her office near the Walker County Courthouse in LaFayette. Mr. Whitfield said those ... (click for more)

Hixson's Courtney Jones Headed To Hiwassee

Courtney Jones is almost finished with one important segment of her life and she's not wasting any time getting on with the next part. Jones is currently a senior at Hixson High School, but she will graduate next week and heading to Madisonville where she will be playing volleyball at the college level for the Hiwassee Lady Tigers. Jones has been an integral part of Hixson's ... (click for more)

Walker Valley, Soddy Daisy Big Mat Winners

The Walker Valley Mustangs recorded pins in the first five matches and never looked back as they beat host Ooltewah in a prep wrestling match Thursday evening by a resounding 61-12 final. The match began at 120 pounds and James Jur put his team ahead with a first-period pin.  Cameron Dwyer, Ethan West, Dillon Clark and Zeth Haynie followed with pins and it never got any ... (click for more)