Friday Photo Flashback

This is a “feature” I started a couple weeks ago with a Daily Writing Prompt. It’s been fun to find a photo to write about each week. I stumbled on a picture this week I didn’t know I had. It was one that I hadn’t scanned yet and it features one of the bravest and strongest young men I have ever met.

The photo above was taken during our first St. Jude Radiothon at B95. The young man on the right is Kyle. If I had to guess he is about 10 years old here. We are in center court of our local mall raising money for kids with cancer.

The St. Jude Radiothon was one of the most emotional and satisfying things I have ever done. I loved having the station out in public broadcasting live. Today, they do this all from the studio, but back then it was something really special.

The hardest thing for me was listening to the various pre-recorded stories of families who had both happy and sad outcomes connected to their visit to St. Jude. Not crying in public was quite difficult at times, but the radiothon was a rollercoaster of smiles and tears.

Our St. Jude reps would connect us to families in the area that had been to St. Jude to share their stories of hope. Knowing that local people were helped by St. Jude helped us raise money for our cause. I was happy to interview Kyle and his mother Vicky during my shift during that first radiothon all those years ago.

We’d meet other children, too, from year to year, but Kyle was the first one I met and holds a special place in my heart. His mother shared the story of how they discovered Kyle was sick as an infant. His first surgery was at 6 months old. He has since had at least 15 surgeries. She shared their story and stories of the people that helped them at St. Jude.

As I look at this picture it seems that I am listening to Vicky, who is obviously not in the picture. She is probably right across from me. Looking at the photo, it is easy to get distracted by the equipment in it. The microphones and microphone stands were obviously lifted right out of the on air studios. One thing I noticed that I am wearing glasses. I had Lasik surgery around 2000, so I’m guessing the photo is from 1999 or early 2000.

I see the three ring binder which played a very important part of the radiothon. Each day had a folder. In the folder were all of the cue sheets for the recorded pieces we’d be playing on air. The basket the folder is sitting on is what our reps would put notes in. Those notes could be pledges (Bill from Flint is a Partner in Hope, Bob from Burton gave $500, and Flint Police have raised $3000), challenges (Steve from Saginaw will match all donations for the next 20 minutes, Nick has challenged all parents with baseball players to make a pledge), and notes about things that needed to be promoted or upcoming guests, or hourly tallies.

This photo brings back so many memories of a time when radio was fun to do. This was an event that made a difference and I was proud to be a part of it. I don’t recall how much money we raised that year, but knowing that it would help with research to find a cure for childhood cancer, it meant a lot to all of us.

Over the years, I have been lucky enough to still be in contact with Vicky and Kyle. As I have already stated, Kyle is one of the bravest and strongest young men I know. He’s had chemo, radiation and more! He’s had so many surgeries – as a matter of fact, he is currently recovering from another recent surgery and doing well. He’ll have another one coming up in a few months.

Knowing that the picture above is over 20 years old, it shouldn’t surprise me that Kyle will be turning 33 this year, he’s not the young boy in the photo anymore. This is really amazing, especially since they didn’t expect him to live long as a baby. He is a hero to me – a true hero. Knowing Kyle and his family has been a blessing for me.

A lot of time has passed since that radiothon. A lot of money has been raised, and many breakthroughs and treatments have been discovered and created to help kids with cancer. Somewhere in my pile of photos, I have a picture with our entire radio staff and Kyle holding a guitar from our final tally that day. I will have to find it and add it to this post in the future, or maybe I should just do another Friday Photo Flashback.