Opinion: A year in review

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I’d like to celebrate some of the special people I interviewed while doing my weekend segments on WISH-TV in 2019.

Gregg Bell is 90 and still practices dentistry and is director of that department at Logansport State Hospital. But wait, there’s more! In 1953, Bell won the Olympic gold medal in long jumping in Melbourne, Australia. When I interviewed him, I asked him to show me the 26-foot, 5.2-inch distance that won him first place. He eyeballed the floor and walked it off within a quarter of an inch.

At the age of 18, Carmel resident Ashton Gleckman wrote, filmed, edited and produced an incredible documentary about Holocaust survivors that was featured this year at the Heartland Film Festival. He learned to do all this from YouTube videos. Not to brag, but I learned from YouTube how to use dental floss to get a stuck ring off my stubby finger.

Senior pickleball player Ralph Fowler is the star of the Monon Center pickleball league, and I was there with TV cameras to surprise him for his 90th birthday. He plays every bit as well as people half his age. He beat me in a game. I’m sure I could have beaten him if there had been a rematch, but I was too tired to play again.

Lonnie Bedwell lost his vision in 1997 when his best friend accidentally shot him during a hunting trip. The story of his adventures while blind include kayaking down the Colorado River, climbing to the top of Mt. Kilimanjaro and skiing down the world’s most challenging slopes. “I wish I had my sight back,” Lonnie said during our interview, “but I wouldn’t trade the last 23 years for anything.”

Kenny Sailors died in 2016. He was credited as the player who introduced the jump shot to basketball in the 1930s. I interviewed Jake Hamilton, who produced a biographical film about Kenny Sailors. Kenny is not in the Basketball Hall of Fame, but he should be. The documentary should give him a better shot, just like he gave basketball.

Dr. Richard Moss, author of “A Surgeon’s Odyssey,” tells the story of how he (a Jasper, Ind. head and neck surgeon) traveled across Asia, with extended stops in Bangkok, Nepal and Bangladesh to treat the locals, operating on people with almost unspeakable deformities. Stymied by limited resources and the challenges of diverse cultures, his story deserves a full documentary feature film, not just a 10-minute interview with me.

These stories and more are available on the WISH-TV website or can be Googled with my name, along with the guest’s name.

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