Monday, July 22, 2013

Godby High School Reunion Designated Driver Program

Association of Godby Graduates (AGG) President Roger Day and I attend as many class reunions as we can each year to help with the reunions in any way we can, and to talk about our alumni organization.

It was at the Friday night social at the downtown Tallahassee Center for the Class of 1982 last year that I met one of the reunion attendees for the first time, and no one would see him alive again after the party. Saturday's main reunion event began quite somberly the next day, and shortly afterward, I began hearing from many people who wished that they had been there to provide a safe ride home.

This year, we began the Reunion Designated Driver Program. Alumni volunteers from various class years, not at all necessarily from each particular reunion year, stand ready throughout the evening in case they are needed to guarantee a safe ride home to those who need it.

We are not a taxi service, and we are not there for people who intend to party heartily and then get a free ride home. We serve to ensure that a preventable tragedy associated with Godby High School and its precious alumni does not happen to someone who should have limited their consumption earlier in the evening. We also hope to serve as a deterrent to those who do not wish to unduly impose on their fellow alumni because of their own irresponsible drinking.

It is with that last hour or so of the reunion event evening we are most concerned, because responsible partiers typically make arrangements with sober drivers or public transportation earlier. We recognize that the time could have slipped by or taxi service might be less accessible later in the evening, so we stand by to prevent the worst of occurrences.

Whenever we can, we encourage planners to make their class reunions as inclusive as possible, because the Designated Driver Program does not discriminate against dissimilar graduation years, and neither do we.

Thanks to all who have volunteered to be reunion designated drivers. Your service is greatly appreciated by the Association of Godby Graduates and Family.

Roger Day, Class of 1980
Mitch Gans, Class of 1981
Mitch Gans, Roger Day at the Class of 1983 Reunion, July 20, 2013

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Summer: Save the Children

Summer has been my favorite season since I was 13.

When I was 12 and living in New Jersey, my parents sent me away from home for the first time, to be the youngest kid in a summer camp for twelve- to eighteen-year-olds -- for a month. That miserable summer is the one against which all my summers have been compared, and every other summer topped the one I spent away from family and friends in Minnesota.

That summer's experience was not without some benefits realized many years later. I played softball one afternoon at camp, and a couple of years ago, I reconnected with Brian, the only friend I made that summer.

With the exception of one summer in high school when I took Physical Education and had the time of my life swimming and playing dodge ball and softball with Keith, Kelly, Eric, Rob, Carla and others, summer meant freedom from school and many responsibilities, and afforded more hours of daylight to enjoy each and every day. Summer gets hot where I live, and I still play softball in it. Season 21 begins tomorrow.

Every summer, we read about three or four kids whose lives are ended in a hot car while negligent parents and caregivers conduct their business elsewhere. I have noticed that never more than a few such stories make the major news publications every year, and I was curious as to how often this actually happens.

There have been ten child heatstroke deaths in vehicles in America in the past month, with an average of 38 such deaths per year for the past 15 years.*

Why aren't these events reported more frequently?

Would many continue to subscribe to news media that feature a child dying in a hot car every three days?

Even if the Fourth Estate isn't willing to report it, perhaps enough of us can prevent it from happening.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Silver Anniversary 2013

All that I am and hold dear are largely the result of this photo twenty-five years ago today:

Dave the Cat, Sen. Bob Graham and Mitch lead the 1988 Springtime Tallahassee Parade
Photo by Jamie Butcher
Story here

I found a courage inside myself I had not known before that inspired me to do many things.

Today, we are March on the 2013 Leon County Humane Society calendar.

I am very grateful to those who made it all possible and worthwhile:

Dave the Cat (1987-2004);
Dr. Hall and the Westwood Animal Hospital, Dave's lifelong healthcare provider;
My wife Donna, and my friend Charlie, who have always supported my endeavors;
My children, Heather and son-in-law Dave, and grandchildren, Alicia, Dylan, Gabriel and Caleb;
Jamie Butcher, The Photographer;
Karl Filsinger, for being there that day, and attending many of our parades;
Allison Davis and Kelly Rigsby, who brought me Tigger and Elliott;
Peter Holtmann, who brought me Dave the Cat;
Our biographers:
    Julianne Hare, "Tallahassee: A Capital City History", 2002;
    Jan Annino, "Florida's Famous Animals", 2008;
The Museum of Florida History, "Pets in America", 2008;
Springtime Tallahassee,
and the hundreds of thousands of people we met along the way.

Thank you.