Archive for May, 2007

May 25, 2007

I don’t know about you, but this Memorial Day was different than so many. I would say ,”Have a great Holiday,” then stop and qualify that by saying that it really wasn’t about holidays and vacations, it was about death, war, and sacrifice. I think that was the tenor of the day so many places, even at picnics and backyard barbecues. Did you see the photo in the PG–the young man, crouched over his brother’s grave, and 3400 pair of shoes surrounding him–shoes representing all the troops killed in Iraq? Yes, it is an unpopular war, even a controversial one. But those men and women who died, and those who continue on over there, deserve our respect, and our prayers. I hope most of us in this country are in agreement on at least that.

Turning to remembering a different kind of hero. I want to go back to Mother’s Day and the Race For A Cure. What an amazing day! Everywhere you turned, there was a survivor, someone recently diagnosed, or someone walking/running for someone lost. I walked for a dear friend of mine–one of my surrogate mothers. She had battled breast cancer in her late 30’s, and had remained cancer free for years. She is now 77, and about a year and a half ago, it came back. Doctors told me that when the cancer is pre-menopausal, that is not uncommon. Madlyn Arthurs is one of the bravest women I know, and she continues to march off to chemo, and get up each morning with hope in her heart. God Bless her. And all those who blanketed Flagstaff Hill that day. Michelle Wright, Andrew Stockey, and Mike Clark did a fabulous job on stage, and below are just some of the people who inspired me.
Teresa Varley, who helped write Jerome Bettis’ recent Super Bowl book, is a nine year survivor. She is an editor for Steelers Digest, and the players adore her. She was there with a bunch of Steelers staff, all sporting special shirts with the pink ribbons and the 75 year anniversary logo.

This is Chloe, and it was her idea to walk with her mother, for her mothers cousin.They were from Beaver County, and the cousin passed away at the age of 30.

This woman literally wore her battle on her breasts. I may have her name wrong, so if you know her, please email me and correct me, because I tried to write down the names in my Treo–without my glasses–I think it is Kaice Ferrari. Whatever, I am sure of one thing–She was a hoot. (Just read her email–the name is Janice–not Kaice)

Again, I think this is Mandy , a 43- year old, one year survivor, who recently had a lumpectomy. She emailed me two weeks ago, asking when I was going to post these, so I hope she sees this.

Now, get out there and get that mammogram. And while you are at it, make sure your husbands, brothers, fathers, and significant others get the prostate blood test. My brother-in-law’s cousin just got a scare, in part because he skipped a yearly check-up. Guys were at the Race, handing out pamphlets, and Robin Cole, a cancer survivor, has been in the forefront of that awareness campaign locally. How lucky we are to have people willing to give back, after their own struggles.


May 18, 2007

Training dogs, recognizing colleagues, and a special film festival right here in Pittsburgh.

First, I want to address the piece I did with Val Porter and the dog she and her boyfriend, Tim adopted from a shelter outside of Allegheny County. I am sure some trainers saw the piece and felt that Jeff Woods of Misty Pines overly agitated Geno. Mea Culpa, Mea Culpa. We needed to see what Geno had been like his first visit last week, and the piece, which was originally intended for the 5 pm news, which allows for a longer format, was moved to 11 . When I first wrote it, I had several places where Geno did exactly what he was supposed to, remained calm when Jeff hit the table with his hand, and kept eating his treats. They took too long, and I had to edit them. I also had edited out the stupid barking I was doing, but I was encouraged to return it to the story. I am the one who requested Jeff do the pizza man delivery. But , in fairness to me, throwing a lot of different stimuli at the dog showed that he had multiple problems–both dominance and fear.

Jeff Woods is one of the most respected trainers in the area, and the shelter people often send problem dogs to him. It was a shelter director who recommended him to Val and Tim. MIsty Pine’s use of agility work with these dogs is genius, and I have decided to take my one dog, who is getting a little bored, to some of his classes. By the way, Geno is doing great, learning fast, and on the road to being a great dog, the dog he should have been—except for the thoughtless people in his life before Val and Tim..

This week, one of our own at WTAE walked away from the Golden Quill Awards with an armful of awards. Bob Mayo is a class act, and so deserved all the kudos he received . He is brilliiant, unflappable, and full of integrity. Not only did he win for spot news with the Passing of Power (the swearing in of Mayor Ravenstahl), but he won for another piece about the late Bob O’conner riding around with Pittsburgh cabbies.

These are his two photographers for the pieces, John Hoffman and John McKee. Then he won the Best In Show award–The Ed King Memorial Award, and finally- The Servivce to Journalism Award. We at WTAE couldn’t have been prouder and more thankful that he is on our team!!!

And a suggestion. If you are looking for some interesting films, check out the Harris, Regent Square , and the Melwood Theatre for the Silkscreen Film Festival. These are photos from the Gala last week-end kicking off the festival that lasts thru May 20. They are Asian films, and the festival is in its second year.

The gala included fabulous Asian entertainers, like this koto group I am introducing with festival organizer Katie Jones.

And thanks to the man who helped begin it all last year, Harish Saluja, He is the man in white on the left of this photo of all the principals. Last year, the Wall Street Journal recognized Silkscreen as one of the speciality film festivals worth checking out around the country. Just another example of Pittsburgh’s diversity…go check it out at

May 9, 2007

Some catching up to do as sweeps begin to wind down. I wanted to mention some recent events that work to make our area a kinder, more welcoming place. Thank you to Janelle Hall and Andrew Stockey for coming out and walking the dogs, literally, on the runway for the Humane Society fashion show, put on by Stein Mart. Janelle is just as beautiful inside as out, and has a gorgeous Weimaraner at home..She had the easiet job carrying this puppy.

Andrew Stockey was so kind to come out on a sunny weekend day, when he could be playing golf. But he loves dogs, and it was so funny when he took this big guy down the runway. The dog decided to drop to his haunches and tried to rub his gentle leader off. Guess he figured it wasn’t so gentle.

And in the same week, Hunter, standing near the kitchen of Bossa Nova, was part of the Paws and Prints auction for The Animal Rescue League. Some pretty good stuff was available. a Sidney Crosby jersey went for several thousand…By the way, later, after I took Hunter’s picture, he saw me across the street and decided he wanted to come over and say hi. Ever seen that Pedigree commercial? The one that has the dog say,”I just want to go home.” Everyone who sees it says they end up sobbing. Just reinforces the need to spay and neuter, and have responsible owners.

Talk about responsibility. The people at the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy, led by Meg Cheever, have made it their mission to make sure the glorious parks we have in this city are the best they can be for the public. The Spring Hat Luncheon, which was at Riverview Park this year, may seem frivolous, but it is anything but. The people who support it, have raised both money and awareness for these regional assets. Talk about going “green!” I actually like to wear hats, if they didn’t make my head ache, and leave you with bad hair when you take them off. I guess the point is, don’t take them off. Coincidentally, or not so coincidentally, The Luncheon, which was on the same day as the Kentucky Derby, with all of its fabulous chapeaus–including the Queen’s! But I digress (as usual).
Of course, the Mayor and his wife, Erin were on hand, and she looked quite stylish. Dan Onorato and his wife,Shelley were also there.

Also one of the great philanthropists our region, and a proud mother this day–Elsie Hillman, sitting with legislator, Don Walko and his daughter. He was showing Elsie how to use a Blackberry, and then I showed her my Treo, and she was actually considering jumping into the thick of new technology–She is ageless!

Her daughter,Audrey Hillman Fisher her husband Tim, who has been at every Hat Luncheon the past ten years, were there. Audrey and Ritchie Scaife started this and are still the Honorary Chairs. Audrey had on the most amazing hat, and you couldn’t get to close to her, lest she poke you in the eye. I loved it, frankly, but my head is way too big to wear that. They are seated with another wonderfully giving figure in the Pittsburgh non-profit landscape,and one of the chairs of the event,Ranny Ferguson. Ranny, Lynne Davenport, Dr. Helene Blodgett, and Nadine Bognar took over for Audrey and Ritchie as chairs, and now they are passing the torch. This time, the group includes women who live some distance from the city, like the North Hills and Sewickley. A message that these parks are a treasure, not just for the city, but the region. One of the new chairs is Lynn Swann’s wife, Charena,.who has barely had time to breathe, since the election, before taking on another project. And she has a doctorate, to boot. I once told Lynn that he out-kicked his coverage. He agreed.

May 3, 2007

I promised some more about Tony Dungy, and now I am being scolded by thepittsburghchannel for not doing it sooner. I had never been to a Mel Blount Roast benefiting his Youth Home, but wanted to attend this year, since I did a story about the home, and his cutting horses, last November. It is such a great cause, and Mel and his wife, Tianda are deeply passionate about giving these young boys a chance to turn their lives around .

I didn’t realize Coach Dungy was one of the roasters for Lynn Swann until I got there. When Tony was introduced and walked to the dais, the place erupted. I don’t know whether it is because he was a former Super Bowl Steeler player, a Steeler assistant , or just that he is one of the most respected men in pro sports.

Lynn was so funny when he finally issued his rebuttal to the roasters. He said he had had to wait 9 years to be roasted and, wouldn’t you know it, but the beloved Tony Dungy would show up just several months after winning the Super Bowl and steal his thunder. Tony was very funny, recounting time after time that Lynn, as teammate, would say one thing, then do another. He ended his roast by saying, ” Now I know, after 30 years, what he was doing. He was just preparing for a career in politics.” The timing was just perfect, and the place broke up.

I have said before, that he was so kind the eve of the Monday Night Football game we played in Indianapolis during the 2005 season. He granted a one-on-one interview, which Billy Hillgrove said is unheard of so close to the game. I think he did it because of his fondness for Pittsburgh. Thinking back, it was only a week before he lost his son. Someone told me they had heard he has a book coming out soon about how his faith and family have enabled him to persevere through times like that. But I digress. I went over and congratulated him at the roast, and told him how much I liked the Motorola commercial where he tells the player what to do when the player is on a date. You remember the one–the player is dressed in a uniform with a silly helmet on and whacks the date in the head. Tony said he was just being himself…but I think he’s got future in cameos, if nothing else.

After the dinner was over, Lynn and Mel were talking about how much Tony had done to help African-American coaches. As they both put it, a lot of people rise to the top, and forget to help those coming behind them. Tony, on the other hand, made sure he placed the ladder there and elevated others like Herman Edwards, Lovey Smith……Mike Tomlin

Speaking of Tomlin, I have seen and heard so many mixed reviews on him and Kevin Colbert’s draft. One rated it a B-. I don’t have a problem with the tight end or punter. But I wish they would have drafted an offensive lineman in an earlier round. Can’t say that I was disappointed about the defensive tackle/linebacker, Woodley. Go Blue!!! And going back to Dungy and the Colts–they drafted three Buckeyes!!! Including wide receiver Antonio Gonzalez in the first round. One pundit gave them an A and another analysis I read said no better than a C. Who the heck knows anyway?

One last connection to Tony Dungy. This past week-end was the Carson Scholars Fund Awards Luncheon. The Fund was started in 1994 by renowned pediatric neurosurgeon, Dr. Ben Carson, and is wife, Candy. It recognizes students, grade 4-12, for both academic,humanitarian and civic activities. There were 80 kids from Allegheny County this year, and one of them just happened to be the daughter of County Executive Dan Onorato. The Pittsburgh Chapter was started several years ago by Dr. Alfonso Costa, who is a great friend of Jerome Bettis. Jerome is now on the national board, and so is Tony Dungy. As well as Cal Ripken, Jr., Colin Powell, and some Fortune 500 CEO’s. Now there are chapters all over the country, awarding $1000 scholarships to students like Aaron Horne from St Bartholomew’s in Penn Hills, shown here, with Dr. Carson.

I am honored to be a part of the local chapter, and to have emceed the event the last two years. The only disappointment was Jerome couldn’t make it, because he is now the proud father of a baby boy, born just a few weeks ago.Congratulations!!! It is a Mini-Bus!!