I talked to kids at a local high school career day this morning about being a photographer. It was a small group of kids brought together by Middle Earth, run by Dan Puntillo, who I went with on the bicycle ride across America. The other speakers were a nurse, radiologist, police officer, attorney and dancer, who performed with Up With People for five years in the 1980’s. I only knew she was a performing artist when started talking but I was amazed by her pep and positive nature. It was easy to believe she was touring the globe with Up With People that long. She now works for the YMCA and does dance and music programs for kids. I wish I made a picture of her, she’s all smiles. It was a good group, it hit me that they all had jobs that make a difference in other people’s lives every day. Even the lawyer.
From there I went to Trenton with my boss. We were honored by the New Jersey Council on Developmental Disabilities for the newspaper’s annual Wish Book project that tells the story of people in need and then we raise money to purchase the items. I got the Wish Book going 20 years ago and it has raised nearly $1 million. I was humbled by the other honorees and the difference they make daily. These people are in there fighting for people who can’t. We sat with a group of high school kids with developmental challenges who started a club that anyone could join, whether they were challenged or not. For most of them it was the first time they had been to a large banquet or luncheon. They were proud to get their award.