This world is full of disheartening stories. With wars, oil spills, drunken driving, there are days when it seems as if there is nothing but bad news coming at us.
But there are good stories out there. There are heroes in our midst. One of Missoula's heroes inspired me, and while Missoulians are familiar with his name, it isn't possible to offer enough homage or thanks to Bob Heinle, or to his wife, Lisa. Officer Heinle was shot and paralyzed in service to our community 11 years ago, and tragically died this past February. On the day of his funeral, I decided to take on the project Lisa had been working toward - raising money for the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation, which has spearheaded research in spinal cord injury rehabilitation.
On that day in February, I dedicated myself to training for the Missoula Marathon (See Missoulian story, May 6). The following paragraphs are taken from a post on my blog, on which I chronicle my progress towards that goal. Perhaps there might be some good news that comes from my project of "Walking for Bob."
When I am out training, I walk with Superman. I mean this literally. If you can't see him there beside me, it is because you aren't looking through my eyes ... I see him as clearly as I see my own feet. Superman himself strides with me each step of each walk. It isn't just Superman and me, though. We have another walking companion, too, one who also will always be a hero - and it is because of him that I started this project. His name was Bob Heinle.
When my motivation to get out in the cold spring rain flags, I call on these two walking companions to pull me out the door. They never fail me. Do you need a little inspiration right at this moment? Take a few minutes and go to the Christopher and Dana Reeve website. You might read about people who are gardening from their wheelchairs. You might read about a young man who had been told that he might just have the use of his left bicep only, who is now walking. These stories change by the week, but you can always read the biographies of Christopher Reeve, Superman himself, and of his beautiful wife, Dana, who did not ever let the change in their circumstances change their love. Inspirational? Oh, my. It makes my heart race. And it is exactly how Lisa Heinle showed her own bravery, devotion and love.
Here is the mission statement of the Reeve Foundation: The Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation is dedicated to curing spinal cord injury by funding innovative research, and improving the quality of life for people living with paralysis through grants, information and advocacy. In other words, they help care and they are searching for cure. I can't think of a better cause to support than that.
You can access my blog at http://run4spinalresearch.wordpress.com/. There is a secure site on which you can donate directly to the Reeve Foundation, linked on my site. Or, if you prefer, you can mail a check to: Leigh Alspach, Team Reeve Manager; 636 Morris Turnpike, Suite 3A; Short Hills, NJ 07078.
Please put my name on the memo line, so that it will go to the right place. Every donor will receive a tax-deductible receipt from the Reeve Foundation.
I recently watched Christopher Reeve in the movie "Superman." There is a scene where he is saving Lois Lane after she has fallen from a helicopter. He tells her, "Don't worry. I've got you." She yells, "You've got me? Who's got you?" Well, when you see me out on my training walks, you might just see me by myself. But I am not alone. Who's got me? I'm walking with Bob and Superman.
Kimberly Dredger, a retired teacher, lives in Missoula.