Do you think of celebrities as role models?
Many people do and if you’re one of them I’d like to share a story with you.
Sports Illustrated (6/12/06) did a cover story about 24 year old basketball player Dwyane Wade, apparently describing what a fine young man he is.
Then In their July 3rd issue they featured a letter about that story from Mr. Charles Johnson who wrote, “…it only gives us hope and reminds us there is an ideal role model for young people.”
Tired of the common perception of celebrities as role models, I emailed to Sports Illustrated Mr. Johnson’s quote and said, “I suggest an alternative role model.
“How about one’s parents, the people who provide unconditional love, pay the bills and offer kind words of encouragement and insight.
“How about the local Doctor who works long hours caring for his/her patients and then volunteers time at the free clinic or makes unofficial house calls.
“How about the person who volunteers at homeless shelters, senior citizen centers and meals on wheels programs. This person goes everywhere there are lonely people in need.
“None of these individuals is likely to ever have a multi-million dollar contract or heavy media coverage but each one unselfishly works to make this a little nicer world.” And I signed it.
Publicity machines create public images for celebrities in order to sell products and so it is difficult for any of us to know the public image from the private person.
But we can get to know the people around us who do wonderful things.
I’m proud to know Dr. Beryl Averbook, an 86 year old retired vascular and tumor surgeon. Until he retired in 1997, Dr. Averbook treated over 20,000 patients.
If you had a serious health problem, he was caring and available to you at all hours.
Dr. Averbook’s typical day began with his first surgery at 7:30 am and ended in the hospital doing patient rounds at 10 or 11 pm. And he often worked weekend hours as well.
He was considered the surgeon’s surgeon and he said, “I would come in the middle of the night or any time they would call me.”
He and his wife Gloria have been married 51 years and raised two sons, Bruce and Allen, both of whom are surgeons.
Is Dr. Averbook perfect? No he’s not. No more than you, me, Dwyane Wade, or anyone else. His devotion to his patients meant he was seldom with his family. Rarely were there family vacations, or time at ball-games or for other activities. So his family suffered from his absence.
But as thousands of patients can attest he made this a little nicer world for them. And in Torrance, CA at Little Company of Mary hospital, a surgical room is named in his honor.
There are people like Dr. Averbook in your life that you could use as fine examples of those who make a beneficial difference.
I respect organizations such as the Make-A-Wish Foundation who offer sick and dying children a chance to meet their heroes. And when our sons were kids, like millions of others they put photos of their heroes on their walls.
Ten year old brain cancer patient Jake Field was battling for his life. Being an Oakland A’s fan his hero was their catcher, Jason Kendall. Kendall surprised this little boy by coming to his L.A. home and personally presenting a team jersey.
“It was the first time Jake laughed and smiled since this whole episode began,” his father Jorge said. “Kendall sat with Jake for more than an hour talking baseball and asking for advice on how to throw out runners.”
When the A’s learned the severity of Jake’s condition, they immediately invited him and his family to Oakland to attend a baseball game, and Kendall provided his stadium suite for Jake’s comfort. Before the game, he brought Jake onto the field to meet other team members.
After the game, Kendall charted a private jet to fly the family home.
The family was deeply touched. Jorge said, “For Jake, it’s just a dream come true.”
Less than two weeks later, little Jake died.
What Jason Kendall did for this little boy in the final days of his life was very kind and it touched my heart as well as yours. It reminds us that given the circumstances there are Good Samaritans like Kendall ready to help.
But the best role model for your children is you for who has a stronger influence on them or cares more for them than you.
Your children need you to love them, to build their self-esteem, to help them solve their problems, to protect them from evil, to show them possibilities of what they could become and to teach them honesty, hard work and sacrifice, and compassion.
Their initial religious training will come from you and you are a major role model for how they will treat their marital partners and their children. It’s all quite a responsibility and the most important job you will ever have.
As for Sports Illustrated, ironically also in their July 3rd issue was this quote from former tennis champion Tracy Austin, who has three sons: “Being a mom is like tennis in that it’s hard work and takes a lot of energy if you want to do it right. But it’s the most fulfilling thing I’ve ever done.”
Success Tip of the Week:
You could also be a Big Brother or Big Sister for children in one or no parent households, or whose parents are so overwhelmed by their own problems, they give their children little attention.
Editor's Note: All quotes in the Jake Field/Jason Kendall story are from T.J. Simers’ column, Los Angeles Times, 7/25/06
In the next KazanToday:
The story of a homeless, alcoholic woman who hit rock bottom and how she turned her life around.