Thursday, August 16, 2007

He's Got A Big Mouth

Don Imus is back in the news which strikes a personal chord with me. My son is staying at his ranch this week in New Mexico. Thanks to a neighbor who used to listen to Imus, we found out about the ranch he set up for kids who survived cancer, and now their siblings have a chance to go.

Cancer is an invasive species in more ways than medical. It creeps into your life, raises havoc and fears-and disrupts every damn day. Your friends and family feel the impact. And in the case of children, it's problematic. How do you explain their lives now? The "medicine" that they will have to take for months or even years will make them lose their hair, and sometimes their identity as they drop in and out of school, and the life they once knew. They might lose old friends who can't cope, and gain new ones who won't survive. Those who do make it are our modern miracles, but we can't know what the toll will be- what physical and mental "late effects" will linger.

Don Imus understands this. He started with the usual fund raisers on the air, but he soon became more personally involved. He wanted to do something beyond the dollars, and he came up with the idea of a working ranch to give kids the confidence he felt he gained when he grew up roping and riding on his family's farm. Ten or so kids arrive for a week. They are given a horse to care for and put to work. The Imus family, ranch hands and staff all eat and go through the day with the kids making the place more like a new home than anything else. (When Imus was on the air, he would broadcast from his studio right there in the house.)

My daughter has been twice. She comes back dressed like a true cow girl with the ability to lasso her friends and a huge excitement about where she has been and what she has learned. I know my son, who was six when she was diagnosed and endured three years of being put aside for her and our new baby, will have an amazing experience. He deserves it.

So say what you will about the man, his show, or his politics. There is more to this story than meets the ear on the news. Personally I don't know that much about Don Imus, but I am willing to bet that he is an equal opportunity misanthrope. His foot may be in his mouth, but his heart is in the right place.

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