Our City: ‘The City With Spirit’ keeps making a difference
by Tom Rowland
Mar 13, 2014 | 648 views | 0 0 comments | 29 29 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Cleveland, Tennessee’s “spirit” could be seen in several news stories in the pages of the Cleveland Daily Banner in recent days. That “spirit” is certainly having an impact around town and around the country.

Preparations are underway now for one of those newsworthy events which begins about a month from now. On April 12, the Run Now Relay leaves Cleveland on a 1,000-mile journey through eight states and the District of Columbia, bound for Boston.

The mission is to raise money for two Boston area charities. The Dream Big Foundation helps low-income homeless girls in the Boston area. The One Step Ahead Foundation aids Boston area children with physical disabilities.

Inspired by the tragedy that struck the Boston Marathon last year, the goal is to turn a negative into a positive and inspire others to do the same. It honors those killed and those who lost limbs due to the bombings that hit on that day. The 26 runners will cover the long distance in eight days, raising money for the charities, sharing solidarity and hope in the wake of last year's bombing tragedy, and arriving on Patriots Day when the Boston Marathon is held.

You can learn more about the 26 local runners, their local sponsors and the mission at runnowrelay.org.

Just this month, we learned that Cleveland is one of three American cities recognized this year for “Make a Difference Day” activities. Sponsored by USA WEEKEND magazine and Points Of Light, and supported by Newman’s Own, Make a Difference Day is the nation's biggest single day of community activities aimed at helping others.

We learned of the event years ago by reading The Banner’s weekly USA WEEKEND magazine insert, and we began asking people and organizations to plan events that would “make a difference” in our community. The participation these past 20-plus years has been awesome, and though we have never won an award, our city has felt the impact of the worthy projects done over the years.

Organizations reached out into the community and helped elderly or disabled neighbors with home repairs, yard work and more. They cleaned neighborhoods, packed snack packs for children, and so much more. This year, our very own Cleveland hometown is one of three American cities being awarded.

Here in our city, countless volunteers take part each October in a great variety of activities on Make a Difference Day. Some of the organizations involved then are also taking part this year in the Run Now Relay. An awards presentation and a reception will take place in April in Washington, D.C., for this year's Make a Difference Day honorees, including our city. It will be an honor for me to take our “spirit” to that event and share what a difference we make every day in Cleveland.

Another special program that is “making a difference” was staged last weekend when I witnessed two special events in this community that will have an impact on some of our youth for generations to come. On Saturday, a special event at our new Cleveland Regional Jetport showcased airplanes from yesteryear and brought in students from surrounding areas to meet and hear Wilbur Mason, one of the legendary Tuskegee Airmen (often referred to as the Red Tails). He was an inspiration to young and old alike, and a rare opportunity for young people to meet and see a hero from World War II.

That evening, our community’s 100 Black Men of Bradley County Inc. hosted its annual banquet and young people walked across the stage to express their hopes and dreams for the future. Scholarships were awarded and Ron Hill, a gifted pastor and educator, gave the audience an inspiring message. It’s another event that is making a difference now in our youth and community, and will definitely have an impact on future generations.

On the CSCC campus last weekend, youngsters gathered to celebrate during Dr. Seuss Week which inspires young readers and keeps a legendary character alive. It was part of CSCC’s Early Childhood Education program and it featured the Dr. Seuss book series.

Since 1904, Dr. Seuss has entertained generations with his lively, colorful and educational books. CSCC was filled with hundreds of youngsters, entertaining them, giving them free books and encouraging them to read and learn. It was the 11th event at CSCC. And it was one of the first big campus events witnessed by new CSCC President Dr. Bill Seymour and his wife, Katherine. They both were impressed with the community participation and the excitement this event brings to the campus. It was a great beginning for a new presidency.

Clevelanders are always seeking ways to make a difference, a positive difference, in our community and in the lives of others, wherever they may be.

You can turn through the pages of this newspaper on just about any day and there will be news about individuals or groups that are “making a difference” somewhere, somehow.

As warm weather returns, there will be many new opportunities to pitch in and help out. Watch for the announcements and choose an activity or special event that fits your time and talents. As many already know, “Making a Difference” has its own rewards.