The world lost a couple of giants this week. They were not giants because they were regularly in the news or lived lives that created headlines. Their impact on the world was less public, save for a couple of stories that captured lessons for how we all could live.
Captain Tom Moore
There are so many instances in life in which a “normal” person, through acts of courage, kindness, and creativity does something that captures the world’s attention. Such is the case of the UK’s Captain Tom Moore, who sadly passed away this week at the age of 100. Moore, as you may recall, raised more $40 million for British health care workers in the early stage of the COVID-19 pandemic by doing 100 laps on the path of his 82-foot patio and garden.
This act of generosity and morale boosting emerged from a challenge by his son-in-law, who said he would give him one British pound for every lap Moore could do before his 100th birthday. His daughter then turned the challenge into a public fundraising goal for British health care workers. Soon, global news outlets had picked up the story. Celebrities like Prince William chipped in. Moore said, “Never in 100 years, when we started, did we anticipate how much money would be raised.” In his interviews, he connected the work of health care workers to the World War II experience of veterans like himself, saying, “At that time (WWII), the people my age, we were fighting on the front line and the general public was standing behind us….In this instance, the doctors and nurses and all the medical people, they’re the front line. It’s up to my generation to back them up, just as we were backed up.”
During WWII, Moore completed officer training and was sent to India. Eventually, he was deployed to Burma, where the British fought the Japanese in desperate conditions in the jungle. The fighting against the Japanese was brutal, but troops were also ravaged by tropical disease, the heat, snakes, and insects. He told one reporter, “I don’t recall getting frightened at the time at all.”
He became famous for his 100-lap challenge. He signed a book deal and recorded a song. Queen Elizabeth invited him to Windsor Castle and granted him a knighthood. If you haven’t seen the ceremony, you need to watch this. It’s just about the sweetest thing in the world. Given that both lived through WWII, it reminded all of us of the resiliency and grit of the “greatest generation.”
I talked about that generation at last year’s commencement ceremony. Like so many who lived through WWII, many were born or were children during the 1919 Pandemic. We are all so tired of this 2021-2021 pandemic and the pain and suffering that it has caused. Captain Moore was among the many who raise our spirits and share lessons in what it means to give of yourself to others.
Mary Henning’s memory will live on in the students she encouraged to be part of Horizons at Colorado Academy and all the lives she touched at as a nurse and community member. The Knapp Elementary nurse spent the last 23 years inspiring students to know that education was their path to success. She served on the Horizons Board and inspired many in the Horizons community to serve others in creative ways.
We shared news of Mary’s death earlier this week. I’ve been touched by the sentiments shared about Mary’s impact on students, as well as on the Horizons Program. Her dedication was recognized by her sister, as she helped launch the Henning Health and Wellness Program for Horizons. CA Content Strategist Vicki Hildner captured Mary’s story in the Spring 2020 CA Journal.
It strikes me that both Mary and Captain Tom saw the importance of health and wellness. Tom walked laps. Mary was so much more than a nurse who promoted good health to her students and provided band-aids and a place to rest when students didn’t feel well. They saw how simple acts could bring together communities, and they put their energy into caring for others.