Profiles in courage take on many forms.
Some happen in a fleeting instant—like our New York City hero, Wesley Autrey, who decided to jump into a subway track to rescue a 19-year-old film student from an oncoming train.
Other selfless acts of valor happen over a lifetime—and yes, we have examples of courage right here at RIT.
As a steering committee member of RIT’s United Way Campaign, my responsibility is to interview the “poster” families who decide to share their stories. It’s probably one of the few times during my job at University News where I get to write something “up close and personal” and it always leads to a personal evaluation.
Am I doing enough? Giving enough?
What strikes me each and every year is the spirit and determination these RIT families have in dealing with their individual crisis. They don’t throw in the towel and say, “Poor me.” There are no regrets at what life has thrown in their path—just an ongoing sense of relentless optimism.
And yet, look what they have to deal with.
How do you handle a newborn dying at birth? A child facing a lifetime of disabilities? A teenage son or daughter diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis? A family member suffering from alcoholism and drug dependency? A stroke or a reoccurrence of cancer?
And what’s truly unbelievable, a common thread I’ve heard over and over again is that these families consider themselves “lucky.”
Lucky to have local United Way agency funded programs to offer information and support. Lucky to have family and friends at their side. Lucky to have bosses and co-workers who care.
Lucky to have complete strangers offer help without asking for anything back. Strangers—just like Wesley Autrey—who says he jumped on the tracks of the subway to save a life.
He did—now it’s our turn.