Weekly Feature

2012-03-29 / Editorial

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West Seneca Editor

INSPIRED — Emily Picone doesn’t know me, but I am one of her biggest champions. I stood amidst a group of students and staff who supported her on Friday as a stylist shaved her head.

Picone, who is featured on this week’s front page, was West Seneca East Senior’s top student fundraiser for its “Goin’ Bald for Bucks” campaign. She collected nearly $3,000 in pledges. Her funds are a part of the school’s $36,000 raised in total for Roswell Park Cancer Institute.

I fought back tears as I watched Picone do the same. Cancer claimed the lives of her mother on March 6 and my aunt on March 3. Though these relationships are incomparable, the pain we both felt in the wake of losing a loved one is no different. It hurts.

I was a babbling fool during my short interview with Picone on the bleachers. I told her several times that I thought she was brave for shaving her head — I would be terrified — and how beautiful she looked. (It’s almost annoying how stunning the female fundraisers have coincidentally been the last three years at East, especially after they’ve shaved their heads.) I even joked that Picone is the “total package” when she told me that she aims to earn an engineering degree from the University at Buffalo.

Saying that I’m amazed at Picone’s fundraising efforts and the school’s overall success is an understatement. I remember being influenced by peer pressure and persuaded by others’ opinions so greatly in high school. While that unfortunately is human nature and likely will never cease, it seems that today’s high school students are supporting their own more than ever before. That is refreshing to experience and in turn makes me proud to cover such an inspirational community of people.

In my position as editor, I am required to report hard news — from politics, which I admittedly hate, to fatal accidents. So it shouldn’t take much explaining to understand why I relish the opportunities to cover such human-interest pieces as the Bald for Bucks campaign at East.

Another story I recently had the pleasure of sharing was the West Seneca Food Pantry’s fundraising journey. On Tuesday, I again stood among a crowd of people united in something positive for the community. Several volunteers and other individuals interested in the pantry surrounded Mary Lou Dietrich, the director, as she put a shovel to the ground. The pantry had reached its goal of raising enough funds to expand its building.

As a side note, Dietrich was involved in a recent skiing accident and now seeks physical therapy. I joked that it was God’s way of telling her to slow down because she’s been doing too much lately. Really, she’s been doing too much for the last 30 years. But if not for her, I’m convinced the pantry would not exist.

I often complain about my job, about the long hours and modest pay — that goes for all journalists — wondering why I didn't choose a 9 to 5 profession instead. But it’s people like Picone, who inspires me to stand up for what I believe in; Dietrich, who inspires me to carry on with my passion; and my aunt, who reminds me to accept my challenges and face my adversities.

I’m learning lifelong lessons as I progress in my position as editor. These are lessons that cannot be taught in school — only through experience. I’m truly blessed to have met so many terrific people, and after two and a half years, I’ve only scratched the surface.

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