Thursday, November 20, 2008

An inspirational night

I went to the Springfield Country Club last night expecting to pick up an award for the newspaper.

I left with something else.

An inspiration.

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.

18 Comments:

Anonymous Donna Myers said...

I'm a big fan of 6abc. And a big fan of Gary Papa. Gary, you're in my thoughts and prayers, in a big way! As I'm sure you are to the rest of the viewers of 6abc! Gary, you Will beat this! YOU are Philly"s inspiration!!

January 5, 2009 at 6:09 PM 
Blogger Debora said...

AWwww, Gary. How we LOVE YOU. You have been in our home EVERY night. Become our friend. We have watched, yes, the sports, but moreso YOU, as you FIGHT!! We hope, pray, this nasty thing will go away. A third time??? NO!!! We stand against it. It shall not have you.

How can you love someone from afar? Someone who doesn't even KNOW YOU?? But YOU are our inspiration. We hope for you. Pray for you. NO MORE of this!!

Might I suggest looking to Jesus? The author and finisher of our faith. NO ONE lives forever. We want you to LIVE LONG!! But the after can be a delight to our souls, what we WAIT and HOPE for. Call on Him. He is real. He knows your pain. He will answer.

We so love you. Always.

February 2, 2009 at 7:06 PM 
Anonymous logos200@gmail.com said...

Gary did 6pm sports today (2/2/09) and I had tears coming down my face. He lost a lot of weight and looked pale, even with makeup they use.

February 2, 2009 at 11:55 PM 
Anonymous Judy said...

Gary, We want you to know that not only all of Philly LOVE & PRAY for you bur all of Jersey do to.
You are one hell of a MAN!!
Thanks Gary for being you....

February 9, 2009 at 6:57 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Gary, Finally found a site to write to you. The entire newscast is not the same without your wit, and SMILE. Your little boy SMILE. Have no idea what your day is like, but do know that it has kept you away from YOUR seat at the desk as Sports Anchor. My husband and I enjoy your time on the air so much. You bring so much to SIX. God give you strength, and bring you back. A faithful couple in Bucks County, Barb and Chal Jablanofsky

February 16, 2009 at 1:37 PM 
Anonymous Carla Krochak said...

Gary - When I think of the ultimate sports anchor - it is YOU!! I am praying for you and KNOW you will beat this. You are an inspiration to me by your courage and strength. Keep the faith - because you will beat this!

Carla Krochak

March 6, 2009 at 6:31 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Gary,

One comment is not enough. We MISS YOU. Someone is sitting in YOUR chair. Look for you every night with anticipation. Have offered prayers for you, and your family, and all instrumental in your care. God we miss your million dollar smile. Trust you or your family read all of these comments when time permits, and know that there are many who feel as we do. We are rooting for you, and are in your corner. Barb Bucks County

March 10, 2009 at 3:49 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Gary, I pray that God touches your body and heals you. God bless you and your family.

March 14, 2009 at 7:33 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are in our home every night and we feel as if we know you. sounds strange but true. Keep fighting that cancer! You can beat it! And keep smiling!

March 17, 2009 at 6:36 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

GARY WE MISS YOU AND LOOK FOR YOU TO RETURN TO THE NEWS, YOUR BEAUTIFUL SMILE AND SENSE OF HUMOR, MAY GOD BLESS YOU AND HEAL YOU AND BRING YOU BACK TO ALL OF US LOVE YA, JOE AND CHERYL,PHILADELPHIA

March 28, 2009 at 8:33 PM 
Anonymous Chris said...

Gary, it is so true that we feel you are apart of our family. We have watched you for so long every night and watched you in your fight against that monster. We pray for you and your family and we can't wait to see you back as the wonderful sportscaster that you are. There is an empty spot at the news desk that no one else can fill. God bless you!

April 1, 2009 at 2:12 PM 
Anonymous Andrew and michelle turner said...

Dear Gary,
you are inour thoughts and prayers and we know you can beat this. Looking forward to seeing you back on the news.

April 5, 2009 at 7:53 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Gary..........as everyone has said over and over, you are greatly missed. We look for you every night and pray for your return. It's just not the same broadcast without you. Our thoughts and prayers are with you and your family too. May God bless you.

April 19, 2009 at 8:19 PM 
Blogger ROSE MARIE said...

DEAR GARY PAPA
I AM SURE YOU HAVE READ TIME AND TIME AGAIN ON HOW MUCH YOU ARE LOVED AND HOW MUCH WE ARE ALL PRAYING FOR YOU. THAT IS ALL VERY TRUE. SOME OF US SPENT MORE TIME WITH YOU THEN WITH OUR OWN FAMILIES. SOME OF US YOU HAVE TOUCHED SO VERY MUCH WITH YOUR CHARM AND YOUR SMILE. YOU HAVE NO IDEA HOW MUCH YOU GIVE US, THE VIEWERS. I THANK YOU SO VERY MUCH FOR THAT. I KNOW THE ROAD IS LONG AND YES VERY WINDING BUT, ALWAYS KNOW YOU ARE NOT TRAVELING IT ALONE. I KEEP YOU AND YOUR WIFE AND CHILDREN IN MY PRAYERS EVERY NIGHT. I ALSO PRAY FOR YOUR ABC FAMILY. I KNOW HOW YOU TOUCHED THE HEARTS OF ALL OF THE VIEWERS SO I CAN ONLY IMAGINE HOW YOU HAVE TOUCHED THE HEARTS OF THOSE WHOM YOU KNOW PERSONALLY. WHAT A WONDERFUL GIFT WE HAVE ALL BEEN GIVEN. JIM GARDNER IS MISSING THAT LITTLE SPARKLE WHEN YOU ARE NOT THERE. I WATCH THE NEWS AT 6:00PM EVERY EVENING LOOKING FOR YOU. UNTIL I SEE YOU AGAIN MY FRIEND. LOVE TO YOU AND YOURS.
ROSE MARIE

April 20, 2009 at 7:15 PM 
Blogger Judy said...

Dear Gary: Every night my husband Ramon and I watch the news on 6abc looking and praying that you will be there. I know you have heard this thousands of times, but keep the faith. My mom was diagnosed with breast cancer, and she wasn't given a very long time. She fought and won her battle for 20 years. I hope that G-d gives you all the time in the world to enjoy your loving wife and children as well as your extended 6abc news family. We love you Gary and pray for your recovery. Until we see you again on 6abc my friend, you will be in my thoughts and prayers.
Judy Baker

June 8, 2009 at 1:34 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

RIP!!

June 19, 2009 at 4:22 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

May the God Lord Greet You. You where the best of the best in your work. Thanks for all you did. You were a fighter.

June 19, 2009 at 6:29 PM 
Blogger MUTHONI said...

Gary - you welcomed me to your home your life while I was a foreign student at Eastern University. You and your wife made my experience in the USA memorable. Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to allow me to spend time with you and your son on my last day at what was then known as Keystone Bank and my final days in PA. That was nine years ago but that kind gesture was imprinted in my heart and I will always cherish the memory. RIP

Noni

June 21, 2009 at 11:15 AM 

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