An inspirational night
I left with something else.
I was there on behalf of the Daily Times to accept an award from the Delaware County Community Foundation for the newspaper’s support of philanthropic efforts in the county. Both the Daily Times and our sister publication, the News of Delaware County, were so honored.
I never miss an opportunity to get into a room filled with several hundred people who have nice things to say about the newspaper. It doesn’t happen all that often. Usually the comments I hear directed at the newspaper fall on the other side of the spectrum.
The Delaware County Community Foundation is one of those organizations that embody that single word in their name: Community. They, and a multitude of others such as the Salvation Army, Community Action Agency, and CityTeam Ministries, are the glue that holds our increasingly frazzled community together.
In accepting the award, I offered a few thoughts about what I believe the newspaper’s role in the community is, and how it is my hope that organizations such as the Foundation take full advantage of us to get their word out to the people.
We are preparing to enter the season of thanks, and the season of need. This year the need is greater than ever. Organizations like the Foundation are there to fill that need. It is a daunting task.
To help them out, they turn to men like Thomas Bruder. If that name sounds familiar, it should. I used the term icon in addressing the audience last night, and I think the word certainly fits in considering Tom Bruder.
You might know him better by his initials. Not actually his, but the company he founded and ran for years. MAB. That’s right. That “B” stands for Bruder.
Last night Bruder was named as the recipient of the 2008 Award for Leadership in Philanthropy by the Foundation. The Bruder name has basically become synonymous with fund-raising, charitable giving, and community service.
It was quite a night, but I still was not prepared for what came next.
I don’t know if you have ever had the opportunity to meet Gary Papa. He’s one of the most familiar faces in the Delaware Valley.
Unlike me, who toils for the most part in the anonymity of the newspaper, Papa’s face comes into our homes every night as the sports anchor on the top-rated Channel 6 Action News broadcast.
The truth is I’ve never been all that big a fan of the way sports is handled on local TV. They give it too little time, and have a tendency to “cheer” a bit too much.
Last night I got a different glimpse of Gary Papa, one I’m not sure that many people get a chance to see, or are even aware of. If that’s the case, let me assure you that you don’t know Gary Papa.
I don’t know him either. But I left that room last night inspired because of him.
For the past couple of years, Papa has been battling prostate cancer. It’s a tough fight. He’s been through several bouts with chemotherapy and radiation, and is doing so again now.
But Papa stood in front of that room last night and told them how much he was in awe of them, of the work they do, of the positive aspects they promote in the community.
He was electric. Maybe it was the chemo. Papa held the room in his hand. Choking back tears, he offered a view of life – and the battle to hang on to it – that more of us should adopt.
He admitted to having been through the wringer, to how tough the fight against cancer has been, the effects on his body, and then astounded the audience by saying he was drawing inspiration from them.
“And you look great,” a voice in the crowd boomed a couple of times. He was right. Papa still has that youthful look he first demonstrated when he came into our homes so long ago.
Papa, a Delco resident, is now a leader in the fight against cancer.
The truth is Gary Papa is in the fight of life. Last night he added a lot of people to his corner.
He told them he was in awe of them, that he was drawing strength and inspiration from them.
I assure you the feeling is mutual, Gary.