Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Exercise, Good Health, Moderation

I never ever saw my mother run.

Or my father for that matter.

In their day it was eat steak, drink whiskey, and smoke cigarettes. Both of my parents smoked, both stopped. How many people do you know who smoke cigarettes now? I know some but I used to know a lot of them.


I'll bet you people who did that back then were considered oddballs or at the very least, different. I remember when jogging began. Now you see runners all the time. Early in the morning. Late at night. In the heat, in the cold.

Even in the rain.

It's hard enough to hail a cab in the rain much less run in it. But they do. And 'they' covers both sexes, the young and the old.

Back in the day I read that a jogger looked like he'd just robbed a bank and was leaving the scene of the crime. Running from the scene actually. We didn't know then what the rest of the world already knew. Exercise, moving, is a big help as far as all kinds of things are concerned. Weight, good health, sleeping, helping to clear your mind, keeping you looking younger longer. Those are just a few of the many benefits.

Let's talk about this looking younger thing.

When I was a kid 40 was ancient.  Now, at 40, you're just getting started. In fact, looking fantastic at 50, 60, 70, and beyond is now normal. Go to a gym. You'll see people who were once considered old, working up a sweat. Every day. And when you see them in real clothes they look great.

Exercise, exercise equipment, exercise apparel, all are big business. Where a beer belly was once just the way it went, it's frowned upon now.

Eating healthy.

I wonder if healthy cookbooks and diet books were in the book stores and on the best seller lists in the 20s, the 30s, the 40s. It seems like there are a ton of them now and more coming out every day.

There is salt and sugar and preservatives in, it feels like, everything. We used to not care. Now it's a big deal. Huge. Watch the ads on tv, read the labels in the super market. Fat free, sugar free, no additives, low cal, and on and on.

Even McDonald's offers apple slices in Happy Meals and has oatmeal on the menu.

We eat more poultry and fish than ever before and everyone is counting calories and paying attention to what they're eating. That used to not be the case.

It is now.

Oh I still have cookies, cakes, and pies, just not like I used to. I still eat pizza and nachos, just not like I used to. I could go on.

Everything in moderation.

How does that old song lyric go?

I wish that I knew what I know now when I was younger.

I do.

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Wednesday, August 24, 2016

North Carolina

This was originally written for the Ben and Jerry's website. Something changed. First the story then the change.

It was a Monday in May and I found myself in the Orlando airport waiting to board my flight to Raleigh.

Why North Carolina?

I was a guest of my good friend, Sean Greenwood, who is the head of PR for Ben and Jerry's ice cream. I was heading there to watch them in action, launching a new flavor of ice cream and showing their support for minority voter registration. It was called Democracy In Your Hands. The state of North Carolina was making it more difficult for minorities to register to vote.

That sound you hear is the sound of the bugle blowing as the cavalry comes to help save the day. Who knew that cavalry would be coming from Vermont?

Can I say upfront that I love Ben and Jerry's? I do. And not just because they make the best ice cream out there, but then again, you can't easily dismiss that. It's also their want to do the right thing.

Great combo.

Let me tell you a bit about me.

I spent almost 16 years at CBS, on their national morning program, The Early Show. CBS' answer to the Today show and Good Morning America. I was the weatherman, did entertainment news, and also anchored. At CBS I was taught to be impartial, to hold your cards close to your vest, so this was my first foray into being a part of something like this.

CBS was how I met Sean. We both were much younger then but through the show, and our chance meeting, a friendship blossomed. Years later he asked me to come to North Carolina Central University to watch and help out with the campaign.

And that's how I found myself about to board a flight heading north.

Sean met me as I got off the plane. We had a great time catching up and that evening had dee-licious barbecue with his gang. Truth was, the gang were all great people. Funny and smart.

Okay, the next day, May 17th.

The reason the date was selected, it was on that day, in 1957, that Dr. Martin Luther King made his pilgrimage to Washington delivering the "Give Us the Ballot" speech to demand voting rights. It was the first major African American march on DC.

A special day.

In 2016, May 17 was a special day that rained.

But, you know what? It was fun watching the Ben & Jerry's crew set up as the rain came down harder and harder. The stage, the mics, the smiles on the faces. Rain stopped none of that.

The speakers.

First up was Jeff Furman the chair of the B & J Board of Directors. He spoke about justice, about why he was there. Why it was important to Ben and Jerry's and to him to not just let the hardship of minority voter registration go unnoticed.

That was the first but not the last time I got goose bumps.

The head of the North Carolina NAACP, Reverend Dr. William Barber, spoke. Man, he was electric. He spoke eloquently about the many struggles he had faced and how grateful he was to Ben and Jerry's to have come to Durham to help him with this one.

Goose bumps again.

There were other speakers and then Ben and Jerry spoke.
Not at the same time but each powerful in their own way. I'll say this, it was so good for me to hear their message of hope, their message of helping their fellow man. I stood there listening and watching the crowd and imagined what they were thinking.

North Carolina was making registering to vote a rat maze for minorities and these guys, this company, said enough is enough. That's why they were there. I imagined people eating Ben and Jerry's for, like, forever.

Which leads to the launch.

The new flavor was called Empower Mint. Great play on words. After the speeches, after the rain, there was a crowd, me included, enjoying top notch ice cream. The folks I met were top notch folks. The cause was a great one and Empower Mint was the cherry on the...well you get the idea.

Freddy Greene Street Genie, a local NC based jazz band performed. There was a Ben and Jerry's ice cream truck which doubled as a place you could get cream and a place where the main players could conduct interviews and also stay dry.

What might have sounded solemn on paper turned out to be a festive occasion. There I was, in the middle of things, watching how the good hearts worked.

After it was over I had a thought.

For the guys from Ben and Jerry's, it's what they do.

Doing the right thing.

For me?

A day I would never forget.


A Federal Court of Appeals ruling struck down voting restrictions in North Carolina. The unanimous decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit was seen as an overwhelming victory for the Justice Department and civil rights groups.

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Friday, August 19, 2016

The Scott Coopersmith Stroke Awareness Foundation

Her name is Deanna Coopersmith Marquez.

And she is special.

Her husband, Scott, suffered a stroke on July 15, 2009, and passed away. What made it even sadder is he left behind a young son, Tyler, not yet two.

Lots of crying. Lots of grieving.

Let me tell you a bit about stroke. It's not like picking a car or a house or a dress or a suit. Ask survivors and caretakers. Stroke picks you.

All of a sudden you're in the club and the questions begin. "How'd I get here?," is a good first one.

What Deanna did next is why I think she's so special. She could have just gone away but she didn't do that.

Stroke awareness was near and dear to her heart so she began with her first event, a charity golf tournament, that not only helped with that awareness but raised $10,000 for the National Stroke Association.

That's pretty cool.

It was held in July and if you've ever been in Orlando then... She jokes that the next one will be in the winter.

That was just the beginning.

Here came the Scott Coopersmith Stroke Awareness Foundation, here came the Galas. The first one was a small but excellent affair.  I know, I was there. Here's how it happened. I was at my local grocery store, Publix, and as I was checking out a friend of mine told me about Deanna's upcoming event. I showed up and the rest as they say is history.

That was in 2011.

Boy, it sure has grown.

The latest Gala was held last month in a ballroom filled with about a zillion people. Included was a silent auction and a live auction.  All the funds were donated to help in the raising of stroke awareness. You know me, one of my favorite sayings is the more you know, the more you know.
Scott Coopersmith

In between there is almost too much to mention.

A family waiting room at Florida Hospital South. A healing location for families of stroke patients being treated by the Neuro Critical Care Unit. Here's the thing, when stroke hits, life can be so hectic, so unworldly, that a safe place, a quiet place, is a good place.

The Foundation knows that.

In that same vein the SCSAF is partnering with the Aphasia House at the University of Central Florida to help with counseling for caretakers. All of a sudden you're a caretaker, wringing your hands and deeply worried, dealing with a stroke will do that to you. They offer help.

Recognizing stroke symptoms is important and with that in mind SCSAF participates in community events like 'Train Orlando.' Held on World Stroke Day Deanna, along with Mayor Buddy Dyer and Florida Hospital, helped to educate the public on what to be on the alert for.

And on and on.

In the meantime Deanna remarried to the wonderful Lucas Marquez and they had a cute, punkin daughter, Olivia, to add to their family.

Look on Deanna's Facebook page and you'll see this quote, "We cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the hand."

Her name is Deanna Coopersmith Marquez.

And she is special.

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Wednesday, August 17, 2016

My Sons

I write a lot about my twins and for that I apologize. But. They are a constant source of entertainment and joy and I figure why not.

First up, how many parents know of and deal with Pokemon Go?

Well wouldja look at all the hands.

It's a game, I mean a sensation. I have to admit I'm a bit late in acknowledging it, it's been on the evening news and written about, it seems like everywhere. But I'm speaking of it from the view point that it's in my house and my kids are on the front line.

And not just my twelve year old twins.

We were at 7-11, I was treating my boys to Slurpies and goodies to celebrate the first day of school. In the parking lot Miles, looking down at his phone, began to squeal because, "There's a rare Pokemon figure here," and he captured it. He had bigger smiles for that than the booty gotten at the 7-11.

I thought that was it.

We got home, they went upstairs and I heard a commotion. Turns out my step daughter Jenna (who is nineteen) plays Pokemon Go and knew how rare that character was so out the door they went in a flash back to the 7-11. She didn't get it but that's a normal occurrence in my house.

One other thing. I walk our dog, a lot, usually by myself. One day, as I'm leaving, all of a sudden I have two boys who volunteer, volunteer, to go with me. I think it's because they love their dad and want to spend some quality time together. Nope. Turns out the Pokemon characters were outside the house and because of that, they wanted to go along.

As the saying goes, "What Ever."


When I was younger my mother made dinner for us. She served what she made, we were glad to get it, and that was dinner. There was no discussion about what was on the plates. These days?  My wife asks our kids what they would like to eat.

It turns into the night of a thousand dinners.

Mac and cheese for one, hot dogs for another. Did you say Hamburger Helper?

Again, not in my house.

And last but not least, deodorant.

I've raised a daughter and that wasn't an issue. With boys? It's an issue.

Every morning I say the same thing, "Remember to brush your teeth and put on deodorant." We're making headway with the teeth brushing thing. Actually, Miles does well with both.

It's Griffin.

He always has to be reminded. Now you might wonder what's the big deal? Parents who have boys know what the big deal is. At first I thought it was me. It wasn't. It was my beloved stinky sons. Do I have to tell you again that we live in the always hot state of Florida?

The car smelled like someone had been shootin' hoops in it.

And while we're talking, the wearing of the same T-shirt from Friday to Sunday is yet another thing that the boys have no problem with.

Don't forget sneakers with no socks. Guess what they smell like?

I love them bunches. I always have to remind myself of that.

Said with a smile.

And so it goes.

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Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Going Back To My Old High School

I just got back from Maryland. I saw family and friends, my goddaughter, and one other special person.

The song goes like this...I was driving down the highway, on my way to see my Dad, when I saw the exit for my old high school. On a whim, on a lark, I took it and proceeded to go down memory lane.

First stop Arundel Junior High, I went to 7th Grade there. It's now Arundel Middle School, my how times have changed. One other change is today is the first day of 7th grade for my twins. My how times have really changed.

Next stop was my alma mater, Arundel Senior High. It's up the hill from the first school and I rode through the parking lot around to the gym, my old stomping grounds. You know how sometimes you hear music from a movie in your head? I heard the theme from Rocky as I pulled up. A custodian was coming out and I said,"Can I go inside? I went to school here."

Well lo and behold he let me in and it was like manna from heaven.

When I was 17 and on my way to graduation, there was a rumble going on in my school. Our wrestling team was on it's way to it's first County and District championships, and along with it, we had our first state champion, Jerry Nieves.

I was a captain on that team.

The picture you see here was taken after the County Championships. You'll notice that the back row is all Arundel Wildcats. That's Jerry, back row third from the right, and I have no idea who the big guy with the Afro is.

Someone had to coach that team and here is where the story gets really good.

Buddy Hepfer was that guy.

You will not find a more decent person, a better coach, a greater father. He was someone we would all have run through a brick wall for.

Back in the present at my old high school, I talked a bit, I saw what I came to see, and was off. On another lark, I didn't recall Buddy's exact address, but I remembered the road Buddy lived on and drove there.

When I turned down his street, I didn't know quite what to expect, maybe him, maybe his name on a mailbox. Turned out it was neither. I turned the car around and on my way out I saw a woman gardening next to a house. I pulled up and said, "Excuse me, do you know where Buddy Hepfer's house," brief pause, "Your husband is?!"

It was his wife, Irene aka Renee.

Talk about your stroke of luck. Hugs and smiles and more hugs. It was great. Turned out Buddy had gone grocery shopping and would be back in an hour or two. I left my number, remember I was on my way to see my Dad, and told Renee to have him call me.

Long story short, he did, and the plans we made brought me to his house the next day. Those hugs were hard and a lot of back slapping came with them. We both said the same thing, "I thought I'd never see you again!"

Here's the deal, when I had my stroke my sweet wife changed carriers for my cell phone, to have us both on the same plan, which gave me a new number. Unbeknown to me, when you called the old number it did not include, "the new number is," and I lost all the folks who had that previous number.

Buddy was one of them.

After we cleared that up, we went out back, the three of us, sipped iced tea, and just talked. I've lived a long time and had many special moments but our time together was magical.