Friday, August 29, 2014

TWF 250: A Fond Farewell to Gerson Sobel

Hello, Freeport,

As many of you know, I've been a lifeguard at the Freeport Recreation Center since the age of 16.  I'm about to turn 30, so you do the math!  During my many years, I've come across a lot of interesting patrons.  One of them, however, stood out beyond the others:  Gerson Sobel, a man who reached the astounding age of 104 before, earlier this year, passing away.

Gerson wasn't always the easiest patron for us lifeguards; he had a habit of swimming however he wanted to, sometimes against traffic!  However, he was always a kind-hearted individual.  I never got to know him too well, but I knew he was incredibly generous.  More to the point, I knew he was an exceedingly strong soul.  He swam competitively in the US Masters Swimming program well past the age of 100.  In 2005, at the age of 95, he swam a 50 yard freestyle in 1:01.  He was inducted into his team's hall-of-fame in 2012.  He was a competitor, and he competed mostly against himself - my favorite kind of competition, in fact!

I don't want to sit here and say I knew the man so well, and that I could sing all of his praises.  I certainly didn't, and I certainly can't.  However, as much as I knew he could not live forever, he was a staple of the rec center for a long time.  It felt like he'd always be there.  When I heard of his passing, it made me pause to reflect.  It made me consider just how much of an impact someone like him had on the world.

And it made me consider just how benevolent impact it was!

Farewell, Gerse.

Jesse Pohlman is the editor of The Weekly Freeporter, now celebrating it's 250th article!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

TWF 249: The Ice Bucket Challenge Hits Freeport!

Hello, Freeport,

So, you've probably heard of this Ice Bucket Challenge thing, by now.  In case you haven't, click the link!  It's the latest internet fad to sweep both Freeport and the rest of the nation, and it's kind of a good thing!  I was challenged ("Nominated") by two people; my college friend, Dave Fuller, and FHS Graduate and former swim team member Darin Frank.  Thanks, guys!  To see who I nominate, either watch my video or read the rest of this article!

Basically, the challenge is to fill a bucket with ice and water, then somehow dump it on your head.  You can have help; you can have others dump it on you; you can lay down in a bath tub; you can even lay underneath a flat-bed truck!  The how-and-where is your call!  The purpose of this self-flagellation is to raise awareness and/or money for charity; the "challenge" is to either douse yourself, or donate to your preferred cause to get out of it - a 21st century weregild, if you will.  I'm poor for reasons I'll get into briefly, however, so here's my after-lifeguarding bath!

The most popular "brand" of Ice Bucket Challenge benefits the ALS Association, and they claim to have raised over $20,000,000 from donors like you!  Twenty million bucks, friends.  That's a lot!  And it's true that ALS has taken a toll on Freeport.  As I mentioned in my video, and I hope I have everyone's names and/or facts right, Freeporters Jack Lundergan, Michael Byrne, and Lou DiGiacomo all suffer from ALS!  It is, indeed, a worthy cause for our community to contribute to.

However, the Ice Bucket Challenge existed before the world-at-large settled on making donations out to ALS.  According to multiple sources, it's been used to raise money for cancer research and "general charity," which I presume includes charities focused on liver disease.  My father, who you can see in the video, is awaiting a liver transplant.  I miss a lot of work as a result, so I haven't got any money around to donate - hence the bath!  But for those of you who can spare some change, I'd like to encourage you to come out.

As to my nominees:  First of all, I nominated Andrew Hardwick, the former Mayor of Freeport.  Second of all, I nominated Robert Kennedy, the current Mayor of Freeport.  During the chaos of filming, I forgot who my third nominee was.  I deftly nominated Rick Perry, Governor of Texas, who is infamous for forgetting "the third thing," however I remember who my nominee would have been, now.  Thus, my unofficial fourth nominee is my former partner-in-crime here at The Weekly Freeporter, Jay C.  Bass!

Enjoy, gentlemen!

Notice the label:  It used to be a bucket of ice-melt!