Saturday, January 31, 2004

Five honored as models of courage

By Kevin Aldridge
The Cincinnati Enquirer

UNIVERSITY HEIGHTS - Ricky Hunter, a sophomore at Princeton High School, has been battling diabetes since the age of five.

On Father's Day 2002, Ricky went into a diabetic coma and his family thought they had lost him.

"He actually died and the doctors revived him," recalled Dorron Hunter, his great-uncle.

Ricky suffered no long-term harm from the episode, but life as a diabetic remains a daily challenge. He has faced it courageously while continuing to pursue his dreams.

He is active in basketball, football and baseball. Ricky carries a 4.0 grade point average and has been honored for contributions outside of the classroom.

Last year, he received an insulin pump that helps maintain and control his blood glucose level. Ricky unhooks the pump while playing in sporting events and reconnects himself to it in between quarters of the games.

"I look up to him," said Dorron Hunter. "He has been through a lot even as a young man. Ricky has really learned to take care of himself."

Ricky was one of five Greater Cincinnatians honored Thursday at the University of Cincinnati's Russell C. Meyers Alumni Center.

Hunter, Oprah Crooks, Pastor H. Jean McEntire, Lanita McGee and Charles Wiley were recognized as part of "Profiles in Courage," a program that recognizes African-Americans who have inspired by overcoming adversity.

The 3-year-old program is a partnership among the Urban League of Greater Cincinnati, Fifth Third Bank and WCPO-TV (Channel 9).

"There are so many people in our community who deserve this special recognition," said Jordan A. Miller, vice president and director of Fifth Third Securities. "Without a doubt, all of the nominees reflect the essence of Profiles In Courage."

Vignettes about the award recipients will air on Channel 9 throughout February.

Charles Wiley, an author, entrepreneur and family man, survived poverty, several near-fatal accidents and alleged racial profiling to achieve success. His autobiography, To God Be the Glory, We Must Never Give Up, is a testimony to how he has overcome his challenges through faith in God. Wiley is using his life to teach young people to learn from their mistakes and trust in God.

The Rev. H. Jean McEntire has endured poverty, unemployment, a heart attack and getting hit by a truck. It was her strong faith in God that brought her through those trials and called her into the ministry at the age of 50. McEntire gave up her job as a corporate vice president and is now pastor of Word Alive Christian Fellowship.

Lanita McGee had just graduated from college and was facing a bright future when her health took a turn for the worse. Six major surgeries saved her life, but medical complications left her deaf in one ear and nearly paralyzed on the right side.

McGee had to learn to walk, sit, stand and coordinate hand-eye movements again. But she fought through the adversity to regain her health, advance her career and own a home.

Oprah Crooks' love for learning has inspired her to embrace hard work and service to the community. She has had the courage to endure as she cared for elderly and dying family members, raised her own family and battled breast cancer.

Crooks received a bachelor's degree from the College of Mount St. Joseph in 2001 after years of persistent study. She now inspires others to learn as she supervises children at Kilgour School.



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