by Brett Nicol
In light of the scandals surrounding Congressman Anthony Weiner, former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and International Monetary Fund Managing Director Dominque Strauss-Kahn, let’s instead share three unheralded stories of famous, wealthy and powerful men using their celebrity for the better this week.
Cinderella For A Night
The Bears' rookie linebacker J.T. Thomas is a superhero - certainly in the eyes of Joslyn Levell and many of the people who heard his story from last weekend.
Thomas' 7-year-old brother rides a Morgantown, W.Va., school bus with Joslyn, an 8th grader with spina bifida who uses a wheelchair. Joslyn, a Bears fan, got to know Thomas, and told him of her rough week - all the boys she'd asked to the end-of-year dance turned her down. Thomas consoled Joslyn, giving her a hug and telling her everything would work out. He saw to that. After Thomas' stepmother got permission from the school, he asked her to the dance, she accepted.
Thomas explained, "I was nervous that by the time I reached out, she might have had a date and would have to turn me down." He then acted like the most chivalrous of gentlemen. He rented a black Chrysler, bought her flowers and a corsage, matched his tie to her dress and escorted her to the ball through a crowd of her awestruck classmates. "This was Joslyn's night," Thomas said. "It wasn't about me."
Joslyn later called it the best night of her life. They made a connection. "She's not just my friend for that one night," Thomas said.
Connor Echols, an Ohio teenager, didn’t expect anything to happen when he tweeted one of his favorite baseball players an invite to his recent little league game. Little did he know that he was going to get the surprise of a lifetime when Cincinnati Reds’ all-star second basemen Brandon Phillips actually showed up!
Phillips, a prolific tweeter, happened to have an off day and was dining at a new restaurant nearby. Echols’ game was at 6:15. Phillips explained, “When I got finished eating, it was like 6:10 and I thought, well shoot, I'm going to go to his game. Let me go out and support the little man.”
The second basemen made it to the game at the top of the second inning. The visiting team was at bat and Echols was sitting in the dugout. It was Echols’ parents who noticed the baseball star first. Once Echols was back at his third base position he saw Phillips and did everything he could to contain himself. “I don’t really get nervous a lot, but that’s the most I ever had butterflies in my stomach in my life. I just didn’t want to embarrass myself,” Echols said.
Fortunately, Echols had nothing to worry about. At his next turn at bat, Echols hit a double. In between signing autographs for fans and interacting with parents and players, Phillips kept a close eye on Echols and tweeted updates to his followers. “I went out there and he had a great game. I met all his teammates. I met everybody in the park. It was fun. I had a great time," Phillips told the Cincinnati Enquirer.
"Never in a thousand years did I think he would come," Echols told the paper. "It meant a lot to me. I've always been a big fan of Brandon. I have always wanted to see him in person. He's been one of my big idols." Echols did not disappoint in front of his idol, finishing the game 3-5.
The Rock Star
San Francisco Giants World Champion pitcher Brian Wilson and outfielder Cody Ross know how to have fun. So does Keenan Cahill, the lip-syncing YouTube sensation who suffers from a rare genetic disorder known as Maroteaux Lamy Syndrome. Together they’ve teamed up to perform “Dynamite” to raise money to fight the disorder that causes sufferers to develop a dwarf-like appearance that grows more severe with age. In addition to the video that debuted last month, the Giants also hosted “Cody and Keenan” night at the Ballpark last night to raise money and awareness.