While We Have Time, Let Us Do Good The Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Run in Columbia, SC

by Shannon Boatwright

image 1I had the honor of being a part of this most incredible event on September 20th, 2019.  My aunt Susan Vaughan McPherson, who is the Director of Public Policy & Military Affairs at the Columbia Chamber of Commerce, works with the Tunnel to Towers Foundation and helped to organize this event. She invited my family and me to participate last year, but due to a hurricane, they, unfortunately, had to cancel the event. So, this year, we really looked forward to being a part of this special event. And when I say special, goodness do I ever mean it! To understand the impact of this event, you really must be there in person.

A little info on the meaningful purpose behind this event…

The info below is taken from the Tunnel to Towers website.

image 4“Firefighter Stephen Gerard Siller was the youngest of seven children born to Mae and George Siller. At the age of eight, Stephen lost his father, and a year and a half later his mother passed away, leaving him an orphan to be raised by his older siblings. For a while, Stephen went through a period of struggle, but thanks to the love of his siblings, and the values instilled in him by his parents, he grew up to be an extraordinary individual and dedicated firefighter. More than most, he knew that time was precious and accomplished much in his 34 years.

On September 11, 2001, Stephen, who was assigned to Brooklyn’s Squad 1, had just finished his shift and was on his way to play golf with his brothers when he got word over his scanner of a plane hitting the North Tower of the World Trade Center. Upon hearing the news, Stephen called his wife Sally and asked her to tell his brothers he would catch up with them later. He returned to Squad 1 to get his gear.

Stephen drove his truck to the entrance of the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel, but it had already been closed for security purposes. Determined to carry out his duty, he strapped 60 lbs. of gear to his back and raced on foot through the tunnel to the Twin Towers, where he lost his life while saving others.

Stephen had everything to live for: a great wife, five wonderful children, a devoted extended family, and friends. Stephen’s parents were lay Franciscans and he grew up under the guiding philosophy of St. Francis of Assisi, whose encouraging and inspirational phrase, “while we have time, let us do good,” were words that Stephen lived by. Stephen’s life and heroic death serve as a reminder to us all to live life to the fullest and to spend our time here on earth doing good – this is his legacy.”

My daughter, Mina, who is on the cross-country team at her high school, ran the Tunnel to Towers for the first time this year. She ended up doing an amazing job, coming in 64th out of 1278 people total who ran and 11th out of all the women who ran, placing 2nd in her division. She had the priceless opportunity to run alongside our firemen and first responders. Words really cannot describe how inspiring and motivating it is to run for such a great cause and in memory of so many precious people.  To recognize and applaud the people who fight for our country and help to keep us safe, to run alongside and cheer on all the first responders, military and fellow supporters, well, to say it fills the heart is an understatement. Let’s just say, we plan to be a part of this truly special event every year and I encourage you all to do the same!

Stephen Livingston, Lexington Fire Department, Station 2, congratulating Mina, my daughter, on placing in her division.

 

Please do check out the website https://tunnel2towers.org/ and mark your calendars for next year’s run!

 

 

New Years’ Day is every day

By Janet Prince

Each year as one year comes to an end and the next begins we all set goals for ourselves…lose weight, exercise more, etc.  Then about a week into the new year, the goals are starting to fall by the wayside and we say we will try again next year.

Well, with each dawning morning comes the start of a new year whether its January 1st or April 30th.   Each day brings us new opportunities to be better and to do better with our lives.  Don’t look at your goals as a failure, look at them as another opportunity to try again to succeed.

This year I have decided to set goals for myself that are more inward focused instead outward for the world to see.  I have always enjoyed journaling and plan to return to that in 2019.  When my mother passed away in 2010, I journaled every night for three years.  Each night was a letter to her sharing about my day, asking for advice and letting her know how much I missed and needed her, as well as letting my tear drops fall freely.  Journaling provided me a way to heal my broken heart and it worked.  2018 was a very hard year for me emotionally and physically.  The physical will heal over time, but the emotional hurt I experienced will live with me forever.  Returning to journaling and writing a letter each night to my mother will help me heal in both.  The act of putting pen to paper and words that will live on far beyond me is sharing a roadmap of my life for my girls.  Although they have walked with me through the good and the bad times, they will be able to read how I truly felt inside about events that happened to me and to them.  If you have never journaled, I encourage you to try it.  You can journal everyday or once a week or even once a month.  Journaling is a place to share the hard times, but also the very happy times in your life.

booksAnother goal I am setting is to read more books.  Many enjoy reading on a Kindle or an I-pad or even their phone, but I’m old fashioned and love to hold a book in my hand and feel the pages.  I have a stack of books on my nightstand that I thought I would read while I was healing from my back surgery this past summer, but because it was so painful, I couldn’t concentrate.  Now that I’m six months into my 18-month recovery, reading brings me joy again!

As always, volunteering is a huge part of my life.  My club, the Woman’s Club of the Midlands, just made and donated a bookshelf filled with books and magazines to Lexington Medical Center Oncology.  The books and magazines are for the patients, as well as their caregivers, when they are receiving their treatments.  The books are there for them to borrow and will be added to each month.  This is a project that was so very simple but will bring such joy to so many.  I encourage you to find a place where you can volunteer so you can feel the joy that giving brings to your life.

2019 is beginning on a very happy note for our family as our oldest daughter is getting married on the 4th!  Fireworks will not only be fired off on New Year’s Eve, but also as we send her off to her happily ever after!

I wish you all a very happy 2019 and encourage you to set goals that make you happy and that are just for you!

What’s On Your Bucket List?

By Shannon Boatwright

img_0946So every New Year’s Eve, I encourage…ok, sometimes I have to force, …my family to reflect. Every year it’s something my sweet Hubby and I do. He sometimes may think it’s a pain, but I know deep down he’s always glad I got him to do it. Most years we answer questions about our year – our triumphs, our trials, what we took pride in from the year and what major lessons we learned, our successes, our memorable moments of gratefulness, etc. We reflect, which in turn allows us to look forward to what we want to become and accomplish in the new year.  The experience helps us to establish personal and family goals for the new year. It’s very special to me and I believe very worthwhile to reflect and gain a sense of peace in letting the past year go and embracing the new year we’re blessed to enter.

So this year, I did my usual search online for some good questions to use for our reflecting, but I couldn’t get something out of my head. A few days after Christmas, my man and I happened to catch the movie, “The Bucket List,” starring Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman. We actually caught it at the start of the movie and were able to watch the whole thing together while getting small tasks done.  It’s definitely a favorite movie of mine – a favorite because it really makes you stop and think about your life. So when the time came for my ritual New Year’s Eve reflection questions, I couldn’t get the idea of a bucket list out of my head.

If you know me, you know that my mantra is Carpe Diem. As Robin Williams once pointed out in a little iconic movie called “Dead Poets Society,” life is short and one day, someday, any day, we could be fertilizing daffodils, so we should seize the day and make our lives extraordinary!  I preach this, yet I admit, I’m not always the greatest at living it.  Watching “The Bucket List”  and hearing Morgan Freeman’s character tell Jack Nicholson’s character of the two questions asked of the dead by the gods at the entrance to heaven, “Have you found joy in your life? Has your life brought joy to others?”, well, it really got me thinking.

img_0945So this year, in addition to answering our New Year’s Eve reflection questions, I couldn’t resist the pressing urge to create my bucket list.  After the clock struck midnight on December 31st, 2018, my Hubby and I created our bucket lists, with the idea in mind – imagine we had 3 to 6 months to live, what things would we want to experience and accomplish before we die? It was certainly interesting and eye opening to share with each other the things on our lists. Most importantly, making yourself create a bucket list really gets you thinking.

Barbara Sher once said, “Whatever your dreams are, take them very, very seriously.” So I ask you, what are your dreams? What will you do to make them come true? What things would you want to experience and accomplish if you were given 6 months to live? Is it morbid to think like this? No. Life is short, if you don’t live it, truly live it, it will pass you by and you will certainly die with regrets.  Therefore, I encourage you to take the time to create your own bucket list. I’ll even offer a little extra help so that you can make it a heartfelt, meaningful bucket list. I came across this fabulous blog post by Sacha Strebe titled 12 Things That Arent on Your Bucket List – But Should Be. This is an excellent read that will surely help you really carpe that diem and make your life’s goals extraordinary.

Here’s to creating an amazing bucket list, checking things off of that list and living life to the fullest! Happy New Year!