Saturday, December 29, 2007


Earl Hipp is a friend of mine. He is also a well-respected author, accomplished speaker and prolific blogger; but maybe his most important title is that of a mentor. According to Earl's latest book's website "Man Making is a practical and inspirational guidebook for men. It shows them how to awaken and apply their instinctive man-making skills. In this book, every man, regardless of his level of commitment to this work, will find something he can do to support a boy or boys on the journey to manhood."

Earl is very passionate about helping men help boys in their respective journeys. His latest blog entry highlighted Mustafa Mahdi, the spiritual force behind The Rising Son, Inc. in Jonesboro, Georgia.

Earl writes, "The Rising Son Young Men's Development Center is providing after school daycare, tutoring, mentoring, rites of passage events, a small summer camp, field trips, and lots of positive attention to many boys." Learn more about them by clicking here.

On their website, you will find this page of troubling statistics that show the negative effects of boys being raised without fathers. Some of the numbers are fifteen to twenty years old now; but, I don't believe they are dramatically different today. If anything, some of them may be worse.

After reading these numbers, it reminded me of a statement Michael Resnick, Ph.D., the assistant director at the Adolescent Health Program at the University of Minnesota made in my video series entitled TOUGH DECISIONS: A Teenage Dilemma published way back in 1991, when he stated, "Young people need to be connected to at least one caring, competent adult. The good news is, it doesn't necessarily have to be their mom or dad. But, it is essential for young people to feel a connection to a responsible adult."

After reading those numbers, it's glaringly obvious, especially for boys, to have a connection to a positive male role model. I believe that is one reason why we are seeing such a surge of mentoring programs all across the country.

Something needs to happen to get these numbers down, and that something starts with each and every one of us. Maybe one of your New Year's resolutions could be to become a mentor to one or more young boys and pledge to help him, or them, on their journey to manhood.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Not All Steroids Are Bad

In my last post, I discussed Kevin Everett's story and the controversial treatment for his spinal cord injury. The controversial part is the hypothermia treatment they used to drop his body temperature down to about 92 degrees. That, along with the not-so-controversial part of his treatment, which is infusing large doses of Solumedrol, an anti-inflammatory steroid, kept the swelling down in the affected area of his neck, the 3rd, 4th and 5th cervical vertebrae.

That is what kept him from being paralyzed. The medical community has mixed feelings about the induced hypothermia because of the potential side effects. There haven't been any scientific studies done on this new procedure; but after seeing how it worked on Kevin Everett, I wish it would have been available when I had my accident. I'm guessing in the not-to-distant future it will become a common practice. That's very exciting for me to think about.

Dr. Barth Green, MD, the Miami Project's president and co-founder, has done some pre-clinical research on the subject. You can read more about this story by clicking here.

On the other end of the steroid spectrum are the anabolic steroids we've been hearing about for years and the illegal use among athletes to enhance their performance. With the release of the Mitchell Report last Thursday, it has come front and center again in the sports world.

In October, Marion Jones admitted to using steroids and had to return her five Olympic medals. Last week the International Olympic Committee (IOC) officially striped her, and her relay teammates of their records and Olympic accomplishments.

It's nice to see good news about drugs and an athlete these days. It's especially exciting for me to see new treatments, used in conjunction with proven treatments, like using Solumedrol to keep accident victims with potentially life-threatening spinal cord injuries have new hope that they, like Kevin Everett, may not have to take the same journey people with spinal cord injuries like mine have had to travel.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Kevin Everett, Three Months Later

It's only been three months since Kevin Everett broke his neck on the kick-off that started the second half of the first game of the NFL season for the Buffalo Bills, but a lot has happened to him since then.

I just got my new edition of Sports Illustrated and anxiously read Tim Layden's excellent article on Everett's controversial treatment, amazing recovery and prognosis for the future.

The Road Back chronicles his accident, early treatment and recovery in great detail and gave me a tremendous insight into this fantastic story.

It's long, but very informative. If you haven't read it yet, I encourage you to do so. If you have a spinal cord injury, or know someone who does, I believe it will give you a lift just like it did for me.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

"Lunch Lady Land"

Last Thursday, I was in Northern Minnesota, in the heart of the Iron Range, in tiny Aurora, a community of about 1,700 residents, speaking to the secondary students at Mesabi East High School. We did an assembly and then I spent the rest of the day in four classrooms. In one of the classrooms, a student came in with his electric guitar and small amplifier. He asked if he could sing a song for me. He wanted to play "The Lunch Lady Land" song. It was the song he played in their annual talent show.

I said, "Sure, let's hear it."

He started to sing this song and it practically brought me to tears because the lyrics were so funny! In fact, he had to stop a couple of times, because, he too, was laughing as he sang.

When he finished, he told me it was an old Adam Sandler song from Sandler's days on Saturday Night Live.

When, I got home, I looked on YouTube and found the music video with Chris Farley playing the part of the Lunch Lady. It's from 1993 and I think you'll agree with me it's very funny. I think it's especially funny if you have memories like I do of your days in school eating school lunches.

Check it out and see if you agree with me:

I think the main reason this struck me as being so funny is because several years ago I gave a two-hour keynote address to the Minnesota School Food Service Association's annual conference; then, spent about two hours in the exhibit area testing the food vendors wares, and talking to many lunch ladies. It remains my all-time favorite conference, and I believe always will!

There were about 800 women and maybe twelve men in the audience who were the most unassuming, compassionate, caring group of people I have ever addressed! It was a great group of people who loved what they do and love to take care of your children.

The people who run the hot lunch programs around the country are one of the most maligned group you can imagine. And, from my experience, they take it all in stride. Yet, with all of the complaining we do about how bad our lunches are, I rarely get a bad school lunch whenever I visit a school! In fact, that day in Aurora, I had a GREAT lunch and the lunch ladies took wonderful care of me! They always do.

If you're still in school, remember to thank the lunch ladies every now and then. I thank them after every meal they serve me.