The Record: ‘For families that lose a child’

It’s been an honor keeping Lee Weisbrod‘s memory alive. It’s also an honor to be recognized for a hobby that continues to touch so many people…be sure to read today’s front page news story, “For families that lose a child, ‘a part of you dies’,” in The Record…you may see someone you know featured. 😉

And, a special hello to my new visitors…whether you found me through The Record article or some other avenue, I’m glad you’re here. Be sure to stay awhile, learn something and, of course, say hello!

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What I’m Reading

No matter what news source I’m reading, my brain and eyes immediately register “lightning strike.” It’s without fail the first click I make with my mouse. Today, I stumbled upon an article titled “Edwards County man struck by lightning while sleeping” featured on KSAT.com, which was featured CNN U.S.‘s homepage.

Apparently, Cheval Silva was struck by lightning while soundly sleeping in his house. The article reads, “A bolt of lightning had come through the roof and struck his shoulder and exited his foot, catching both him and his favorite chair on fire.”

Luckily for Silva, and his granddaughter who was sleeping nearby and unharmed, he only sustained some nerve damage.

Articles such as this have been featured on the blog from time to time. They always get me thinking why some live while others die from a lightning strike. There’s no rhyme or reason…the only comfort I’ve received, to this day, is to think those who have died from a lightning strike had bigger plans in store “upstairs.” Yup, I’m going with that.

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It’s Too Early For This…

Before every “thunderstorm season,” I have to prepare myself. Silly, perhaps, because it is out of my control but it allows me to mentally prepare for all the memories and feelings thunderstorms (more specifically, lightning) conjure up. So, when I saw the weather report for today, I wasn’t ready to see this…

…scattered thunderstorms.

I also wasn’t ready for the rumble of thunder and the crack of lightning that occurred a short while ago.

Moral of the story: It’s time to get ready!

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Record Low for Lightning Deaths in 2011

According to an article published by The Washington Post entitled “Record low for lightning deaths in 2011 but tornado deaths third highest; why the disparity?,”

lightning deaths were lowest in the 71-years of record keeping. Just 26 people were killed by lightning in 2011, which is amazing considering the frequency of violent severe weather outbreaks across the U.S. By comparison, 551 people were killed by tornadoes in 2011, the most since 1950 and third highest on record according to NOAA.”

Why so few lightning deaths?

The article credits “a successful public education campaign,” as stated by John Jensenius, the National Weather Service‘s lightning expert.

“In large part, the reduction in lightning fatalities is due to the efforts of many people and organizations who help educate the public on the dangers of lightning and make the public more aware of our lightning safety recommendations,” he said.

When I started this blog in September of 2008, I wrote, “It is in this weblog that I plan to show North Jersey’s progression of installing the lightning detection as well as promoting awareness.” Today, in January of 2012, I am proud to say that I have had a hand in changing the lightning death statistics. I’d like to think that this blog – despite its small stature compared to the vast Internet world, has made a difference.

I’d also like to thank you, the reader, because without you reading (and learning), those statistics wouldn’t have changed.

And, of course, I’d like to thank Lee Weisbrod. This new finding further proves that his death was not in vain.

Here’s to keeping lightning deaths at a minimum…

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In Memory of Ryan Snutch

In Memory of Ryan Snutch
Dec. 22, 1984 – Sept. 4, 2011

It’s not everyday that this blogger gets contacted by a “fan.” Most recently, I was contacted by Kayla Jane, the sister of Ryan Snutch. In speaking back and forth with Kayla Jane, I came to hear the unfortunate and heartbreaking story of her older brother. For lack of the inability to write Snutch‘s story better than Macleans Magazine, a Canadian publication, has done. I am providing it, with credit, below.

I thank Kayla Jane for seeking me out and allowing me the opportunity to honor a man that I can truly say I wish I had the chance to meet. Kayla Jane, please keep in touch. We’re connected now… R.I.P. Ryan Snutch, may your legacy live on.

Ryan Snutch

He was selfless, always helping others. As a child he never pressured his parents for toys, even when all his friends had Nintendo.
by Alex Ballingall on Wednesday, October 5, 2011 10:40am

Ryan Snutch was born in Ottawa on Dec. 22, 1984, six weeks sooner than expected. In the early hours of the morning, Ryan’s mother Kitty went into labour and was whisked off to the hospital by her husband, Don, leaving their house full of family and friends. After all, it was three days before Christmas.

Born at that moment of happy togetherness, Ryan carried this sentiment to others in the early years of his life. As a baby, when it was time for bed, he couldn’t fall asleep without holding onto one of his parent’s fingers. “You had to sit there with your hand through the crib,” recalls Don. When his little sister Kayla was learning to speak, Ryan would “translate” on her behalf, telling Kitty and Don that he could understand her because he still knew “baby talk.”

A few years later, when Ryan was in Grade 3, Don showed up at Ryan’s school for a volunteer appreciation day. He was approached by a woman who vigorously shook his hand and thanked him “for raising such a good boy.” Apparently, the woman’s son, who was in kindergarten, was dejectedly playing by himself one day. Defying all playground conventions of cool, Ryan veered away from his own friends to go join him. It was something that regularly happened as Ryan grew older: his parents learned much about Ryan’s good nature from the stories people would tell of his caring generosity. “People constantly come up to us and compliment us on our son,” says Don.

Ryan was also never one to press his parents for money or toys. When every other kid they knew had a Nintendo, Ryan never hassled his parents to get him one. “His needs weren’t great,” Don says, emphasizing that, even at a young age, Ryan appreciated the simple things in life—like quality time with loved ones. “He was very mature,” says Don. “Ryan was never ashamed to come up to his mother and give her a kiss and say ‘I love you.’ ”

At 15, Ryan became the first teenager to join the adult dart league, which was organized by his father. He was a natural. At dart tournaments, Don says Ryan was the only person who would pick a 57-year-old mentally challenged person to be on his team—every time. The two of them even won darts championships together. “This guy worshipped Ryan,” says Don.

Ryan was quick to make friends and easy to talk to. As his father puts it, “he could have made a great bartender.” Perhaps because of this, two of his friends from high school chose him to be the godfather of their respective children. Don says Ryan worked exceedingly hard to spend time with them every week—especially for Tristan, diagnosed early on with autism. Before he got his driver’s licence, Ryan would walk or take the bus—sometimes for over an hour—to see his godchildren.

In the summer of 2005, Ryan went to a music festival at the Whispering Pines campground, about 70 km east of Ottawa. That’s where he met RoseAnn Garde, whose parents ran the place. They were introduced by some mutual friends. “It was pretty much love at first sight,” RoseAnn remembers. And so Ryan started coming back regularly. Soon enough, they were going steady, and Ryan was heading out there almost every weekend, driving from work in the city.

On Jan. 25, 2010, Ryan and RoseAnn had a baby. They named him Julian. “They look so much alike—his laugh, his giggle, even his smile,” says RoseAnn. Everyone could tell that Julian meant the world to his father. RoseAnn’s mom Eileen remembers Julian scampering through the woods at the campground, screaming “Daddy!” when Ryan would turn up after a brief absence. “It was so beautiful,” she says.

This Labour Day weekend, Ryan, RoseAnn and Julian spent the holiday with family and friends at Whispering Pines. Early that Sunday, storm clouds dragged across the morning sky, bringing thunder and rain as the three of them slept in a tent nestled within a grove of evergreen trees. In that moment of togetherness, a bolt of lightning flashed into their tent, entering Ryan’s body with a deafening crack. Instinctively, Ryan pushed RoseAnn to get her away from danger. With electricity coursing through him, his hand left a burned imprint on her back—the shadow of his last act of love. Ryan was rushed to hospital, where he died soon thereafter. He was 26.

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Congratulations, Mark Berkey-Gerard

A special congratulations goes out to my former Journalism Professor Mark Berkey-Gerard of Rowan University. Berkey-Gerard was recently honored for his innovative teaching by receiving the University’s Frances S. Johnson Junior Faculty Innovative Teaching Award. Berkey-Gerard, better known by his students as MBG, couldn’t be any more deserving. Congratulations, MBG!

That being said, this blog is a result of MBG’s “innovative teaching.” You can read the full article featured in Rowan Today here.

Be sure to read paragraph #11!! I’m featured. 🙂

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5 years.

“When you lose someone, it stays with you
always reminding you how it is to get hurt…”

Today marks 5 years (1,825 days) without Lee Weisbrod. How unfortunate that statement is for the world as a whole. As I grow older alongside my best friends (that I am blessed to have since I was in the fifth grade), I can’t help but notice the transformations we have made in our lives. I often find myself wondering where Lee would be – how his personality may have changed, where he’d be living (Miami, still?), where he’d be working, if he’d be happy…the list goes on and on.

Every year on the anniversary of Lee’s death, I write him a letter and leave it at the cemetery. The letter never addresses what is going on in my life at this very moment and it’s never a recap of the last year – there’s no need for that because while he may not be here physically…he’s still here. Oddly enough it’s usually whatever flows out of my mind and onto paper. I won’t share with you the letter; however, I will share with you the poem I accompanied with it because it is powerful.

For Grief
by John O’Donohue Continue reading

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