Active Columns - Good News...For A Change

- by Peter and Barbara Hewitt

"Good News....For A Change"is about ordinary people doing extraordinary deeds. A place where a person can smile and share in the joy of an accomplishment-a place which reinforces the better side within all of us.

On December 3, 2001, People Magazine held a celebration ceremony to pay tribute to the courage and leadership of ordinary people of, "Heroes Among Us" - extraordinary individuals who put others before themselves, which is the basic premise behind Good News…..For A Change. While we tell several of the stories below, we are also listing the names and the deeds of these individuals. Their complete stories can be found at (then search for Heroes Among Us). Thanks to People for telling their stories, and thanks to the heroes, themselves, for doing what they have done.

Amanda Valance- The young teen braved a swamp to save her best friend from an alligator's jaws.
Norina Bentzel- The school principal risked her life to protect her students from a machete-wielding attacker.
Brian Schrimpf- The air-controller kept his cool- and the skies safe- during an earthquake.
Chris Wright- He's only in seventh grade, but his driving skills may have saved his father's life.
Brenda Krause Eheart- She created a community in Rantoul, Illinois, that matches lonely seniors with needy kids.
Stephanie Zepeda- The 15-year-old has bravely come to terms with an illness medicine has yet to defeat.
Rafe Esquith- The award-winning teacher thinks performing Shakespeare is elementary.
Father Ralph Beiting- He's done more for his region in his 76 years than most could do in five lifetimes.
Ryan Belanger- Without a second thought, he rescued a complete stranger from a burning car.
Kelly Bennett- The college student's quick thinking may have saved a bloodbath.
Jay Wilson & Phillip Clay- They saved an unconscious driver by using a maneuver they'd seen on a TV cop show.
Joanna Glick- skates in memory of her brother Jeremy, a hero of Sept. 11.
Shane Osborn- A navy pilot enjoys a hero's welcome for saving his plane and crew.
Station 10 Firefighters- The firefighters at Station 10 in Tacoma, Washington are all women, and no nonsense.
Phil Romano- Restaurant magnate Phil Romano delivers upscale eats to Dallas's down-and-out.
Autumn Alexander Skeen- After losing her son in a car accident, a mom helped pass a booster seat law.

Congratulations to all the recipients!

Rafe Esquith, 46, successfully leads inner-city 10-year-olds from immigrant Central American and Korean families in mastering Shakespeare's major works. His class studies one play in depth each year - currently it's King Lear - and then performs it at Shakespeare festivals across the United States.

Justice Clarence Thomas was so moved by what he had just heard at the U.S. Supreme Court that he led a standing ovation, then tearfully declared, "This may be one of the most significant things that has ever happened in this building." It wasn't the oral arguments of high-priced lawyers that had touched the normally stoic Thomas. It was the stirring readings given by a group of fourth and fifth graders on the responsibilities of living in a free society. The 45 children were students at Hobart Boulevard Elementary School in Central Los Angeles.

Happy Times - Copyright © 2002