My world of silly "Did You Know" reports and features about wacked-out storm chasers was rocked a bit this past week. That's because the lives of three people whom I had the pleasure of meeting, reporting on or had gotten to know recently - even if for only an hour or so - took turns for the worse.
First, I learned that our buddy from Crescent, 106 year old Oliver ‘Bud' Smart had passed away just days after our report on him. We profiled Bud, not only because he had turned 106, but also because his doctor prescribed a beer for him to drink each morning at 10am sharp. I'm sure they'll have one waiting on him when he gets to those pearly gates, chilled, straight from the can.
Then came word that young Steffanie Collings of Noble had died. Physically, the last few years Steffanie had been battling a brain tumor. Heroically, she was leading the charge for new legislation that would, in at least cases similar to her's, allow insurance companies to pay for life-saving clinical trial procedures. Steffanie endured many clinical trials in an attempt to defeat her cancer, but she was met by numerous financial hurdles when her insurance company initially refused to pay. "Steff's Law" has cleared a couple of major legislative hurdles with one or two more to go.
Then, by chance, I learned former Major League pitcher and staunch Children's Center of Bethany supporter Rick Sutcliffe had been diagnosed with colon cancer. All I was doing was googling his last name to make sure I had spelled it write for an internet article I was writing - then it came up - a report written only hours before about his diagnosis. Rick caught it early and stands a good chance at recovery. Not sure if he'll be able to make it to Oklahoma City for the May 31st Mark Harmon Charity Baseball game benefiting the Children's Center, but I will NEVER forget the home run I hit off his ‘gimme' pitch he served up to me in last year's game. Thanks Rick.
Every time I go out and report on the ‘lighter side' of life in Oklahoma, it's easy for me to hide from the real fears, concerns and eventualities that life brings us. I'm just glad Bud and Steffanie made time for me in their lives. And Rick .. I need you to get better so I can hit another homer off of you.
Doug Warner can be reached at (405) 841-3671 or firstname.lastname@example.org