After a wonderful, long weekend in Chicago with my lovely daughter, I’m now playing catch up, big time. More about that trip later in the week.
Right now, I want to remind you that this Saturday, October 25th, is National 2008 Make a Difference Day, and I’ve got just the story to motivate you to get involved.
Before I left for Chitown, I had the pleasure of interviewing Jon Thomas Robertson, a terrific 12-year-old young man from Cuba, New York, who’s making a big difference in the lives of those with special needs through his relentless pursuit of wheelchair accessibility on New York’s historic Arcade & Attica Railroad. I first blogged about Jon’s impressive efforts on October 1st (Real-Life Hero Alert!).
As a writer, I’ve been fortunate to interview countless individuals from all walks of life, including celebrities like Mattie Stepanek, the young poet and peacemaker with Muscular Dystrophy, who captured Oprah’s heart (and millions of others) on live television, then went on to become a New York Times best-selling author before passing away in 2004, just weeks before his fourteenth birthday.
Every so often, a really exceptional young person comes along and renews my hope for the world and reminds me why I love being a non-fiction writer able to share their stories. Mattie Stepanek was one such individual, and so is Jon Thomas Robertson.
My interviews with Jon Thomas (aka ‘JT’) and his devoted mom, Monica Simons, were surprisingly similar to those I conducted with Mattie and Jenny Stepanek. Both young men were/are unselfishly committed to changing the world at a young age, while still managing to enjoy regular childhood activities and family, thanks in large part to the love and great parenting of their gutsy, single moms. Both kids prefer(red) to stay out of the spotlight, but embrace(d) it anyway to bring attention to their deserving causes. Each face(d) big challenges in their own lives, and both are two of the nicest young men with whom I’ve ever had the pleasure to speak.
The next post is from my talk with JT about his 2008 Make a Difference Day Express train ride, an effort that first took root in early on with the simple gift of a model train and has since blossomed into impressive advocacy. This remarkable preteen reminds us that one person can indeed make a difference in the world. I hope you take something of value from JT’s humbling example and then ask yourself this question: What can I do this Saturday, and beyond to soothe a weary world sorely in need? As JT explains, you don’t have to do much to impact others in positive ways. Well said, JT.
My interview with Monica Simons will follow in the next couple of days. We can learn from her insightful parenting example, too.
(Photos courtesy of Matt Williamson/ Matt Williamson Photography 2008. Used with permission. All rights reserved).