Hope and Heroes in hard times

Back in June, I wrote a post more or less defending Lance Armstrong. I will be the first to tell you I was #TeamLance all day. Innocent until proven guilty and all that. Now that the 1,000-page truth has been published, a small part of me feels drawn to write a follow up piece. But honestly, what more is there to be said on the subject? Lance Armstrong’s integrity failed because he is human and flawed. But while his success turned out to be a lie, the causes he fought for are very real. The success of his foundation and the hope and help it gives are things we must keep sight of, even as the legend behind them fades away.

Still it’s hard not to believe in heroes.

Last Friday, I had a follow up meeting with the Director of the DC Paralympic Sport Club at the National Rehabilitation Hospital. Inklings of superstorm Sandy were in the air, but it was early and the direction not quite determined. As Joan led me through the hospital, however, she told me about hospital’s emergency plans. During a natural disaster, essential staff must remain at the hospital around the clock during a natural disaster. While everyone around them holes up at home with dry food and Netflix, the employees of the National Rehabilitation Hospital head to work asap, not quite sure when they will see their own homes again. Joan showed me the hallways where doctors, nurses, PTs and more set up cots and empty hospital beds. She told me how people still look exhausted regardless because no one can really sleep on a cot in a hospital hallway. She told me about how instead they plan all-night movie marathons and rec activities to distract the patients, especially the kids, as the storm rages around them. Everyone stays. Everyone helps.

This morning as I checked my Twitter feed, I was reminded of these sacrifices when I read about the evacuation of NYU Tisch Hospital after the backup generator failed.

“Four newborns were on respirators that were breathing for them, and when the power went out, each baby was carried down nine flights of stairs while a nurse manually squeezed a bag to deliver air to the baby’s lungs.”

As one hero falls, countless others rise, and I am reminded of why we must continue to believe in them. The athletes I met this summer, para and able-bodied. The team I work with now to combat veteran and military spouse unemployment in America. The nurses that carried sick babies down nine flights of darkened stairs to safety in the midst of a hurricane. All of this reminds me that there are heroes all around us, and when the time comes, within us. We’re all in this together, folks, and anyone who says otherwise, doesn’t see the shoulders upon which they stand.


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