Wednesday, December 31, 2003

Cincinnatians continue giving back

Good Things Happening

Allen Howard

In a year that saw local soldiers being called to war, a surge in homicides in Cincinnati, an unsteady economy and tragedies that grabbed headlines and broke hearts, there still were countless reasons to celebrate in our neighborhoods, schools and hometowns.

Today, we spotlight some of the good deeds turned in by those who call Greater Cincinnati home.

3,278 miles on bikes

A father-daughter team from Finneytown who trained and rode bikes 3,278 miles cross country to raise money for juvenile arthritis drew national attention in 2003.

Joe Statt, 55, a corporate trainer, didn't have any problems getting in shape. His daughter Megan, 22, a graduate of Miami University, Oxford, with a degree in public administration, decided to join him.

Statt said they raised about $7,500. He decided to embark on the bike ride because his grandson, Jacob, 7, was diagnosed with the disease.

Contributions can still be made to Grandpa's Ride, care of the Arthritis Foundation, 9158 Peachblossom Court, Cincinnati, OH, 45231.

Young professionals help

Young professionals coming together in an organization known as Give Back Cincinnati spent more than a thousand volunteer hours painting schools and homes, conducting fund-raising festivals and spending a day with homeless kids.

Anita Comarata, a White Oak mother and part-time teacher, led school kids to spruce up a retirement center and gather items for soldiers in Iraq.

Comarata - who is referred to by her friend, Lorna Wall, as an earth angel - started a volunteer program for seventh-graders at St. James School because she wanted to emphasize to students the importance of giving back.

Passing on knowledge

Wilson Stone, 85, and Percy Marshall, 90, two local African-American golfers who played at Avon Field in North Avondale in the early 1940s, were inducted into the National Black Golfers Hall of Fame during a golf tournament in Charlotte, N.C., earlier this year.

Stone became an expert on the putting green and often passed on his techniques, finesse and style to younger players.

Marshall, known widely as a storyteller, uses that knowledge to teach kids about golf. He collects and hands out golf clubs to kids who cannot afford them.

Helping in Guam

Bruce Goldstein, a three-year disaster volunteer with the local chapter of the American Red Cross, spent last New Year's Eve in Guam, helping victims of the super typhoon Pongsona. Goldstein of Blue Ash died in September at age 53.

Learning how to give

The Rev. Chris Marshall, campus pastor at the Cincinnati Christian School in Fairfield, started off 2003 by taking 22 students and five teachers to spend the holiday with needy families in Over-the-Rhine.

Dancing pays off

Four local teen dancers who specialize in hip-hop danced their way to the Apollo Theater television show on Show Time Harlem. Gwendolyn White, 14, Ayris Colvin and Brittany Cook, 15, and Shawnkia Pettis, 13, are members of a dance group known as Phaz 3.

Brian Marrero, a youth care worker at the Lighthouse Youth Crisis Center in Walnut Hills, was given the employee of the year award for working with more than 19,000 young people during his 20-year career with the agency.

Saving lives

Two Boy Scouts, Brendan McWilliams, 11, and Robbie Roberts, 12, were honored by their schools for helping to save a man's life in the Whitewater River. Brian attends Dater Montessori and Robbie attends Grace Lutheran Church school.

Three Jane Hoop Elementary School students - Kevin Ferguson, 12, and brothers Ryan Owens, 11, and Tyler Owens, 8 - were honored by the Mount Healthy Fire Department for helping save the life of an elderly woman who had fallen in her apartment.

Rochelle Harrison, 14, and Amanda Norris, 13, two Conner Middle School students who helped save the life of a bus driver, were honored by the Kentucky Senate.

Cat comes back

People weren't the only subject of plaudits throughout the year. Four clocks and a cat named Buddy received their share of attention.

The clocks, used to set the time for this region, were returned to the Cincinnati Observatory Center in October after restoration.

Buddy, the stealthy feline and object of affection at the Price Hill Community Center, returned after a year's absence. His fans have built a cat tower at the center to keep him home.

Contributors: Karen Vance, Janinne Thompson, Cindy Kranz, Sue Kiesewetter, Jennifer Edwards, Janice Morse, David Hofmeister

Expect to see plenty more of the Good Things Happening in Greater Cincinnati in 2004. We invite you to share your stories of those making a difference in our region. Contact Allen Howard at 768-8362 or send him an e-mail at

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