Veterans can fly for free through VAC

Day by Day
Veterans can fly for free through VAC

By LIZ THOMPSON

Nov 5, 2018

This Week Community News

Veterans Airlift Command provides free air transportation to post-9/11 combat wounded and their families for medical and compassionate purposes through a network of volunteer aircraft owners and pilots.

Tim Fyda, 61, of Columbus is president and CEO of Fyda Freightliner.

He attended the Air Force Academy and received his pilot wings in the U.S. Air Force. He served for eight years as a pilot.

“In 2007, I saw a Newsweek magazine cover with a wounded female Army veteran,” Fyda said. “She happened to be an amputee. I said to my wife, ‘I wish we could do something to help our wounded warriors as they return from Afghanistan and Iraq.’

“The next day I opened Transport Topics — a truck transportation industry publication — and saw an article about Veterans Airlift Command. I went to the VAC website and saw that two guys I had served with in the Air Force were advisory board members. I called one of them and have been hooked ever since. I flew my first mission soon after and became a board member, as well.”

Fyda said he wants wounded warriors to know they have the love and support of their country. He wants to ease the burden on veterans and their families as they navigate the complex world of rehabilitation.

“As much as I know our mission helps our veterans, I assure you it helps me more than them,” he said. “I have met the most inspiring young Americans you can imagine. I ask many of them to fly up front with me if they are able to get to the seat.

“As one young Marine sat next to me on a long flight, he said he would do it all again, knowing the consequences, just in order to support his brothers in arms. That is dedication.

“Another young Army lieutenant platoon leader was rehabbing in St. Paul after almost losing his life in combat. His first order of business as soon as he could travel was to fly to Massachusetts to meet and comfort the families of two of his fallen soldiers.

“I learned more about leadership that day from that young lieutenant than in the 12 years I had served.”

U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Matthew H., 30, along with his wife, Heather, and 10-month-old son, Noah, once were Fyda’s passengers. He flew them from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Washington, D.C., to his home.

A Green Beret, Matthew — whose last name was withheld by Army officials due to the sensitivity of his job — has served in multiple deployments to North Africa and Afghanistan.

“We train, advise and assist foreign militaries in unconventional warfare,” Matthew said.

He said his Special Forces team was tasked with clearing a city of enemy combatants in Afghanistan. On the morning of Jan. 24 his team came under enemy fire.

“During the exchange, I was struck with AK rounds to my right elbow, right ankle and left thigh. I was also struck by an IED shortly thereafter,” he said.

“I have extensive soft-tissue damage to my left thigh and lost my right leg below the knee. I have spent eight months in rehabilitation at Walter Reed National Military Medical (Center) to learn how to walk again.”

Matthew said he has used the VAC service several times.

“Tim has flown me just one time. He brought me home to see my family,” he said. “I have used the service two other times for similar reasons.”

Due to the swelling in his right leg, he is unable to bend his leg to or near a 90-degree angle.

“I could have never fit my leg and new prosthetic in the small sections of commercial airplanes … traveling through an airport with a wheelchair, 10-month-old and luggage would be impossible.

“Without the VAC, I would have not been able to return home.”

Matthew will return to the Special Forces community once he is healed completely.

“We always need more volunteer pilots at VAC. They can contact us through our website,” Fyda said. “We have a very lean organization and staff.”

For more information on Veterans Airlift Command, visit its website, veteransairlift.org; email info@veteransairlift.org; or call 952-582-2911.

 

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Heart songs recovered via new keyboard

Heart songs recovered via new keyboard

By LIZ THOMPSON

October 8, 2018

This Week Community News

It was a birthday surprise. But more than that, it was a chance to try again.

Would my fingers and eyes coordinate after nearly 20 years absent from any kind of piano keyboard?

After my husband finished the task of putting the stand together, he firmly placed the full-sized keyboard on top and fastened it in place. We moved it close to the wall, and I placed the old hymnal on the music holder.

The inscription in the front of the Methodist hymnal read: “To Elizabeth Ann, from Mother and Dad, Christmas 1968.”

I was a senior in high school and had been in school and church choirs since first grade. Even though I gave most of my sheet music to my grandchildren, I had kept this gift.

You might ask why I write about music so often. Music was a comfort and a major part of my identity through my first 40-plus years — singing, playing guitar and piano, and writing music. It was my second language — one I learned from my mother and grandmother and various teachers and directors through these same years.

It was my main choice for praising God and sharing my faith. Those same songs wrapped me in warmth and safety when my life became turbulent.

I know I took this gift for granted and never expected the day would come when music was completely silenced. Even as my hearing faded, music remained a part of me.

When my deafness arrived, the music played on in my mind and heart. A new comfort: ” … I will sing praise with my spirit, but I will sing with my mind also.” (1 Corinthians 14:15)

Earlier last summer, on a trek with my daughter to exchange her harp for a larger one, I stepped into a piano store. I felt surrounded by old friends made new and shiny. A young woman was playing one of the pianos, and I listened.

Over time, my perception of music with my cochlear implants has improved. I have determined to simply enjoy whatever I could. Instrumentals especially sound good.

The woman stopped playing, and my daughter was making her purchase. I took one of her harp-music sheets and played it on one of the beautiful baby-grand pianos. It was a melody with single notes, no chords.

The piano keys felt good to my skin, and I remembered what notes to play. It transported me to the old upright I learned to play on.

Before we left the store, I asked for advice on keyboard purchases. I was hoping to touch one to see if it felt like a piano.

The next room, which we’d missed somehow, housed several keyboards. Never had I set piano music to memory, so I played a scale. It felt very close to the piano I had played moments before.

“Someday,” I mused.

Days later, I searched the Sweetwater website, from which we had purchased drum accessories for our youngest grandson.

There was “my” keyboard. The price was lower than the Columbus store, so I sent the link to my husband stating it was the keyboard I had told him about.

I didn’t know he saved the link. Nor did I know that, months later, he would order it for me after talking with our daughter.

Throughout the summer, I brought up the idea of purchasing the keyboard to Bob, and he said I should order it. I hesitated time and again. Would I remember how to play chords and more than a single line of notes with one hand? Was it like riding a bicycle?

More than that, would I play? My singing voice is all but gone, and I used to play more as an accompaniment for my voice.

So when I placed my hands on the new keyboard, my fingers worked to remember their old friends. My eye-hand coordination was tested.

I just didn’t expect the tears of joy when I realized I still could do this.

It is a gift I will never take lightly as I play my favorite hymns and show tunes and hum along.

 

Guest Post

Recently I joined American Christian Fiction Writers online. (See link to the left if you are interested in learning more about ACFW.) I wanted to learn more about fiction writing. In the process, I have met some interesting people doing so many different things with their writing.

One such person is Patti Shene. She hosts a radio show and has this website to spotlight writers. This section is Over 50 Writers and I qualified.

Please take a moment and check out the link below and check out the other writers she has spotlighted.

http://www.pattishene.com/theover50writer/572-WELCOME-AUTHOR-ELIZABETH-LIZ-THOMPSON?sel=1-

Early lessons live on even as memories fade

Day by Day
Early lessons live on even as memories fade

By LIZ THOMPSON

September 2018
This Week News

In September 1956, I stepped into the basement of the Masonic Temple in Westerville. (Ohio) Most likely I was wearing a dress my mother made, with saddle shoes and a bow in my hair.

Here, I would begin my public education. Mrs. Sleeper was my teacher. Years later, she would see me as an adult and call me by name. She said I had not changed.

My guess is Mrs. Sleeper followed many of her students’ lives and could call us each by name, even years later.

My black-and-white photo shows four rows of tables with eight children at each table.

Mrs. Sleeper handled all of us mostly by herself. We became members of our first club here — the Bow Knot Club — when we tied our shoes by ourselves. My next club membership was the Mickey Mouse Club with a photo membership card.

Many of these same classmates would see Westerville grow from a village to a city. We would see the farmland surrounding our city disappear.

We would walk side by side at graduation at the single high school 13 years later.

I remember the names of all my elementary teachers: Whipkey, Camel, Freeman, McGlish, Sweazy, Clapham. Once we began seventh grade, we had a teacher for each subject. No more recess; the only break came in walking to each class.

Remembering all those teachers’ names now from middle and high school is based on what happened in the classroom, both positive and negative memories.

Mr. Franklin was my seventh-grade geography teacher. His thick gray hair represented knowledge to me. I loved his class for what and how he taught. Here, we had our first real homework. I don’t recall the topic for my assignment, but I used an encyclopedia to get information.

Mr. Franklin called me forward when he passed out our graded assignments. The conversation went something like this:

“Elizabeth, where did you get your information?”

“The encyclopedia.”

“You do know you are not supposed to copy word for word, but read and tell me what you learned.”

How did he know? He must have seen my confusion.

“There is a hyphen in this word.”

I remember looking at my paper and knowing I was caught. I had copied a word that was only hyphenated because it fell at the end of the column and continued on the next line.

“That is called plagiarism, Elizabeth. Cheating. Using someone else’s words.”

He was not angry; he was teaching. I learned and never did that again.

In a small town like Westerville was in those days, sometimes the teachers or principals were neighbors or members of your church.

Recently, my church’s school at Beautiful Savior in Grove City installed a new first- and second-grade teacher. I mentioned to her that I still remember my early teacher’s names. I said the early years of school are uniquely important, setting the base for all learning.

Her enthusiasm was contagious. It gave me assurance that one day her students might remember her, much like I remember mine. That is the type of legacy we all long for.

Schools continue to teach English, mathematics, science, language, art and music. History, government and geography are called social studies. Hopefully, physical education remains a class, but sports have become a type of replacement.

Encyclopedias are not a temptation for students to copy from anymore — the internet has entered the picture. In my day, we did not have word processing or computers. We hand-wrote, in cursive, all of our work. Since cursive is no longer required, that probably sounds antiquated to today’s students.

The edge of Westerville is no longer farmland and the district has three high schools.

I no longer wear saddle shoes and most definitely have changed since 1956. But when I look in the mirror, I still wear my hair similar to when I was 5. No bow. No longer red, but white — sort of like Mr. Franklin’s was. My hope is I have passed on some wisdom I learned from my teachers.

Memories certainly are fogged with time. I choose to cling to the good ones.

Mrs. Sleeper’s 1956 Kindergarten class

Symposium will provide chance to bone up on osteoporosis

Day by Day

Symposium will provide chance to bone up on osteoporosis

By LIZ THOMPSON
August 13, 2018

This Week Community News

As we age, our bodies don’t let us pretend we are teens or young adults anymore. We have more odd aches and pains, and for some of us, just setting out for a walk takes planning, if it can be done at all.

Many of us take our vitamins, eat as healthfully as possible and stay active. After retirement, we have more time for hobbies and special interests that keep us socially involved and physically on the move.

Aches and pains we didn’t have years ago, and the fact we seem to be getting shorter, can be warnings we should not ignore. Osteoporosis, which causes bones to become weak and brittle, is a condition that can worsen as we age.

“Your bones are in a constant state of renewal – new bone is made and old bone is broken down,” according to the Mayo Clinic. “When you’re young, your body makes new bone faster than it breaks down old bone and your bone mass increases. As people age, bone mass is lost faster than it’s created.”

“A fracture (broken bone) as a child is not uncommon,” says Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center orthopedic surgeon Dr. Carmen Quatman. “Playing hard and taking some risks can sometimes lead to a colorful cast and a few weeks of ‘slowing down’ to recover.

“As an older adult, however, a fracture can result from a low-energy event, take longer to recover from and could be an important sign to recognize for further evaluation on your overall bone health.

“Osteoporosis is often unnoticed and untreated in people over the age of 65 until after a fracture, and even then, many patients are not aware that wrist, shoulder, ankle and hip fractures could be warning signs of osteoporosis.”

By 25, our bone mass and strength is at it optimum level. From there, our bodies begin a slow trend down in size and strength.

“Even though you may not be at your peak bone health, there are still things to do to preserve the bone you have,” Quatman said. “Screening labs such as calcium, Vitamin D levels, and DEXA (bone-density screenings) can be performed to help determine fracture risk and provide data to the patient to encourage bone-health initiatives. Prevention and early intervention of osteoporosis can lead to a significant impact on fracture risks in older adults.”

Preventing the loss of bone is something that begins in our youth. How active we are, our diet, medications we use and lifestyle choices we make throughout our life can affect our bone mass when we are older.

Quatman is working on a study involving falls prevention by studying records from the Upper Arlington Fire Division on the runs it makes that involve accidental falls.

Some medical conditions, such as celiac disease, kidney or liver disease, cancer, lupus, multiple myeloma and rheumatoid arthritis, may cause a higher risk for osteoporosis.

It is more likely in women, especially postmenopausal women and those who are Caucasian or of Asian descent.

There are some things we cannot change, but making healthful lifestyle choices and being aware of prevention and risk factors serve to set us on a path to better health.

Each year, the Upper Arlington Commission on Aging offers a senior symposium for those who want to learn more about topics of interest.

This fifth symposium takes place from 9 a.m. to noon Sept. 19 at Upper Arlington Lutheran Church, 2300 Lytham Road. (Ohio)

The topic is osteoporosis and bone health. Quatman will speak, along with endocrinologist Dr. Laura Ryan with the Center for Women’s Health at the Ohio State.

Topics include non-pharmacologic treatments, such as healthful diet and weight-bearing exercise, and management of the disease.

There is no cost, but registration is required. Call 614-583-5326 to register no later than Sept. 14.

Education is never a waste of time – especially when it improves our lives.

 

Hearts, not honors, drive volunteers

Day by Day: Hearts, not honors, drive volunteers

By LIZ THOMPSON

July 16, 2018

This Week Community News

They build, repair, clean up, train and rescue. They knit. They quilt. They stock food-pantry shelves. They work in thrift shops to earn money for cancer research. They plan church potlucks or vacation Bible school. They do odd jobs around their community.

You know these people; you might see one in the mirror.

They are volunteers.

Some receive awards for their hours of selfless labor. Most do not.

The Jefferson Award Foundation is a national recognition system honoring community and public volunteerism in America.

The mission of the foundation is “to power others to have maximum impact on the things they care about most. Through celebration, we inspire action. Our programs and partnerships drive Americans to change their communities and the world.”

When I received the phone call from Angela Pace, WBNS-10 TV director of community affairs, about my nomination, I said, “What did I do?” She chuckled.

The day of the award ceremony, my curiosity led me to talk to other nominees. The one consistent comment was, “I didn’t do this for awards.”

We were all stunned and honored to be there.

Almost 10 years has passed with many more awardees. I asked Angela for her take on why people volunteer.

“We’re looking for that person who saw a need, a problem, a void, and, instead of saying, ‘Someone should do something about that,’ says, ‘I think I’m going to do something about that.’

“For most of our nominees, their volunteer project is very personal and stems from an event, a situation that hits home. They do what they do to try to keep the bad that has happened to them from happening to others. They do what they do to help chip away at, in their small way, a much bigger problem. They do what they do to fill a void, to honor a lost loved one, to bring peace and quiet and hope and beauty and smiles to those who need it.

“Something in their gut tells them … this means something to me … this is something I have to do. And they do it. And they’re not looking for recognition or reward. I can tell that when I call to let them know they’ve been nominated for a Jefferson Award.

“I hear the disbelief in their voices … then the humility and the genuine gratitude,” Pace said. “And I know then that my judges have made the right choice. It makes my day.”

Volunteers spend countless hours helping make their corner of the world a little better, never looking over their shoulder to make sure someone records their actions.

The man who clears snow and ice from the sidewalks and driveways for those who cannot just hopes for a hot cup of coffee when he gets home.

The women who make lap quilts for cancer patients to use during chemo treatments pick the colors and pray over the finished work.

Knitters and crocheters who make hats and scarves for the destitute and fleece blankets, hats and scarves for homeless and veterans in the Stand Down program hope for the day the need disappears.

Children and adults take part in food drives for those in need.

People spend hours cutting and crocheting grocery bags to make plastic mats for the homeless. Why do they do it? Why spend hours working for strangers or for no reward or recognition?

There is no one pat answer — and there is a reward, though it is not tangible.

The reward is making a difference — and likely not being aware at the time. The reward is helping another, doing the right thing for the right reasons and hoping for the best and for an improved future.

Those who weave the yarn, plastic and threads, donate food, help their neighbors in a myriad of ways, lend a hand and use their gifts to benefit others don’t expect awards.

A smile will do, and maybe a hug. Better yet, the reward will come when their example inspires someone else to take action.

A simple, “How can I help?” is a good start.

 

Music sparks boundless joy, even as ears fail

Day by Day: Music sparks boundless joy, even as ears fail

By LIZ THOMPSON

Jun 18, 2018
This Week Community News

Tevye was singing the opening song for the musical “Fiddler on the Roof,” doing his dance down the dirt road. As I watched, my insides did a dance, too. I broke out in a huge grin and almost giggled. I sang along.

My singing voice has long since gone the way of my hearing, but at that moment, I didn’t care. I was overflowing with joy and a delicious sense of well-being.

I had a similar reaction when I watched “My Fair Lady” with my granddaughter, Elizabeth. My memory of music, playing and singing these songs years ago, was simply delightful.

My ears now are deaf. I perceive all sounds through my cochlear implant’s voice processors. My memory of sound, including music, is important for that perception to be more understandable.

If I know what song is being played or sung, and it’s one I knew before my deafness, I can “hear” it. Visuals such as Tevye dancing or Eliza Doolittle singing while she wrapped violets help me remember.

After my first implant in my right ear in 2002, speech was so clear, I spent a lot of time listening and learning to trust what I heard. In 2009, my second implant was in my left ear.

With the second implant, understanding music was better. In time, even without visual cues, sometimes I could distinguish a song I knew before deafness. Since then, I learned we process speech with our right ear/left brain and music with our left ear/right brain. I enjoy some music that is new to me, especially instrumental.

Music was a major part of worship for me — praising God, thanking him with songs such as “For the Beauty of the Earth” and “Amazing Grace.”

Familiar hymns often transport me to the days of singing in choirs or while my grandmother played the piano and my mom and I sang.

By high school, my hearing loss must have been moderate, affecting my speech comprehension. My grades plummeted. These were the days of teachers writing on blackboards while talking away from the class — no technology visuals.

Since I had no clue what I was missing, I seldom asked for help.

But music — choir, small groups and musicals — got me through high school. An hour of singing brought my self-esteem back to normal.

I thank God for Ron Kenreich, who started as my music director in 1968, my senior year at Westerville (South) High School (Ohio). He was patient but kept his expectations high so we had something to reach for. He made music fun while teaching us its complexities and giving us new opportunities.

“The students welcomed me and their desire to perform beautiful music inspired me,” Kenreich said. “I can’t imagine my life without music. I still enjoy accompanying students at music contests and recitals.” Those students are fortunate.

“In some choirs,” Kenreich said, “members can even have similar heartbeats. Music memory can last a lifetime. It is possible for nursing-home residents to sing along with old hymns when they are unable to recall anything else.”

Music is everywhere: in nature, lullabies, the ABCs song, at weddings, funerals, sporting events and dances. We sing “Happy Birthday to You,” and our children and grandchildren learn Bible verses set to music.

Our granddaughter is studying music in college and is a wonderful pianist and violinist. This year was her first chorus experience. She said she now understands why I loved singing. When I told her about my recent emotions with music, in particular the Tevye moment, she told me that listening to music affects the brain and releases serotonin and dopamine, which are called “happiness hormones.”

Twenty-five years after my 1969 graduation, I walked into a church where Kenreich played the organ and his wife, Beth, directed the choir. I joined. That was my last choir experience, with a double Kenreich blessing.

“Music has filled my life with unimaginable joy,” Kenreich said.

Me, too, Ron. In part, thanks to you.