Justin Juenemann, a backup kicker for the University of Minnesota’s football team, recently received an unexpected gift from an equally unexpected source. The 23 year-old has diligently worked as a volunteer at Masonic Children’s Hospital throughout his college years. His coaches and teammates were inspired to do something for him.
“Our goal was to create a moment of memory for Justin and his family forever because that’s what he earned,” said P.J. Fleck, head coach of the Minnesota Gophers.
Kyle Tanner, a teen patient at the hospital, spoke in front of the team and singled out Juenemann as his favorite player. Coach Fleck handed Tanner a t-shirt and told him to put it into a t-shirt cannon and fire it directly at Juenemann. He did so. Juenemann caught the white shirt, unraveled it and read the message on the front.
“Justin, congrats you have earned a scholarship,” it read. Justin and his teammates celebrated afterward and he FaceTimed his mother to show her the shirt.
“It was an amazing feeling,” Juenemann said. “It is something that I will never forget.”
“I’ve never seen anybody serve and give more than that guy who is not a star player,” Fleck said. “He could easily just not do it and nobody would ever say anything, and he does is continue to keep his oar in the water and live that holistic life academically, athletically, socially, and spiritually. His life is not about him. His life is about serving and giving to other people.”
Beaverton couple, Melanie Blake and Brian Cook met over MySpace ten years ago when Melanie reached out to him. “I lived in Connecticut and he was out here and I wanted friends before I got out here,” she explained in an interview with KOIN 6 News.
However, soon after they began dating, Melanie was diagnosed with both thyroid cancer and a brain tumor. She tried to break up with him because of the diagnosis, but he refused to leave her side. “I didn’t want Brian to go through all that,” she stated. “I didn’t want him to be with someone who was sick all the time, but he wouldn’t let me.”
After multiple surgeries that included a craniotomy, she was left unable to talk or perform basic functions; even so, Brian stuck by her side. After eight months of intense rehab, Melanie was finally herself again.
On October 26, 2016, the couple got engaged. Unfortunately, several weeks later, Melanie discovered the tumor had grown back even larger, and she was started on chemotherapy and radiation.
Even with such a heavy diagnosis, the couple was still able to have their dream wedding with the help of Wish Upon A Wedding, which is a non-profit organization that provides weddings for couples with serious health issues. A spokesperson from the non-profit, Kasey Conyers stated, “We are honored to have this opportunity to assist such a deserving and loving couple.” Local vendors also donated their services as well, adding to the amazing generosity shown to the couple.
When discussing how she copes with her health, Melanie stated that “You just need to love everyday because you never know what’s going to happen tomorrow . . . I’m so happy. Yeah, I’m so happy.”
Over 800 teenagers have been participating in a work camp and have been working on 104 different projects throughout northern and central Virginia this summer. The Diocese of Arlington is sponsoring this camp.
“I didn’t even think we had people like this in the world anymore,” said Kevin Curtis. Curtis, 59, has been the beneficiary of the teenagers’ hard work. They’ve built him a deck extension and a ramp so he can get out of the house. Due to his disability, he has been unable to leave without being carried by two strong men for the past 15 years.
“It’s so wonderful to have somebody come to you and help you. I’ve never reached out for any kind of help in my life,” Curtis said. He has multiple health issues stemming from a car accident he suffered in 2003. “I crushed every bone in my body, in my chest. Both collarbones were broken. All my ribs were broken. My back was broken. My leg was broken in several places.”
Contractors oversee all the teens’ projects but the teenagers do the majority of the work.
“We have to dig the holes first, put the posts in, then the concrete,” said Monica Castro. It is her third summer participating in the work camp. “All three years I’ve been building decks. So I’ve gotten pretty good at the whole ‘dig the holes, mix the concrete, pour the cement and let it set.’ And then the measurements that come afterwards.”
“I’m so excited! I’ve got a doctor’s appointment…that I won’t miss because I will be able to get out of the house,” said Curtis. He recalled that after he met the kids, he bent his head. “And I prayed. I asked God to bless them all, deeply and fully.”
The deck and ramp were completed in time for Curtis’s appointment.
The Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy recently published an article which argues that, under the fourteenth amendment of the US constitution, unborn children are considered persons. In the article, Harvard law student Joshua Craddock challenges both pro-choice philosophy and pro-life interpretation of the Constitution. He sums up both as “constitutionally unsound.”
Craddock looks at the Supreme Court’s pro-choice decisions since the 1973 case Roe v. Wade and their supposed refusal to decide whether or not an unborn child is a human being with human rights. He states that the justices considered other matters to be more important than this decision and thus decided to take no action on the matter. Craddock also examines the idea through the lens of pro-life legal scholars, who either claim that the Constitution doesn’t say anything about abortion at all or that it is important to consider the issue from an “originalist” perspective, which advocates that people should look at what the Constitution meant to those who wrote it and interpret it accordingly.
Craddock then argues that people on both sides of the abortion issue misinterpret the Constitution. He uses the fourteenth amendment to prove that the Constitution’s original meaning includes an unborn child’s right to life. It says that no state shall “deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” He then provides three pieces of historical context to back up his argument: what the word “person” meant at the time, the anti-abortion laws of that period, and what the people who wrote the amendment said about it.
Craddock concludes that states that allow abortion violate the Constitution. An example of this statement is if a state allows abortion but prosecutes murderers of other age demographics, it denies the unborn the equal protection of the laws. “Congress or the courts must intervene,” he writes. “The Fourteenth Amendment was to be a new birth of freedom for all human beings.”
Last week a bill, which has been ignored by traditional media and whose gravity is unbeknownst to many Oregonians, passed out of the Oregon State Senate with a vote of 17-13. Titled, “Relating to healthcare decisions; prescribing an effective date,” Senate Bill 494 appears to merely be an update to the current advanced directive, which is a legal document that permits an Oregon citizen to appoint a representative to carry out the end-of-life medical decisions that the patient has chosen if he or she is incapacitated and unable to make such a decision.
However, SB 494 is far from harmless. The bill has the potential to allow the starving and dehydration of mentally incapacitated patients, (i.e. Alzheimer’s and Dementia) against their will by emitting an important statue, ORS 127.531, which helps to prevent any unauthorized actions and abusive steps that could be taken by health representatives through the current advanced directive form.
Colm Willis, an attorney with Lynch Conger McLane LLP, in his testimony against the bill before the Senate Rules Committee, stated: “The form interacts with ORS 127.540 and other sections of the statue to ensure that an incapable person’s life is not ended without his or her explicit consent, unless he or she is in one of four statutorily defined end of life situations.”
This safeguard is removed in the proposed bill. Instead of the form articulating that a citizens’ representative cannot make end of life decisions without expressly-stated consent, the form would allow the representative to deny life-sustaining treatments unless the patient expressly stated that he or she should not. Willis notes that “This creates a situation where your intentions when filling out the advance directive may not be reflected in the decisions that are made for you once you can no longer make decisions for yourself.” In other words, health care representatives in the future could be permitted to dictate the premature deaths of elderly patients who could perhaps still make basic decisions on matters such as food and water.
The sponsor of SB 494, Democratic Senator Floyd Prozanski, along with his fellow party members (excluding Betsy Johnson, who voted against) and Republican Senator Jeff Kruse, chose to ignore the warnings of the Republican legislators who voted “no”. He stated that SB 494 merely updated the confusing language of the current form; it allowed for citizens to express their values about the end of life; and it made room for “patients’ autonomy” at the end of life to be expressed. When addressing the concerns raised right before the Senate voted on the bill, he merely stated that the worries were irrelevant and, if citizens were worried, they could simply opt out of the advanced directive form.
SB 494 is long and complicated in its entirety, which may have led to a misunderstanding by some legislators of the implications of the bill. Critics contend that this was intentional. Gayle Atteberry, executive director of Oregon Right to Life, stated: “This bill, written in a deceiving manner, has as its goal to save money at the expense of starving and dehydrating dementia and mentally ill patients to death.”
SB 494 is now in the State House of Representatives for possible consideration. The bill must be passed out of the Legislature by July 10th, the constitutionally mandated end of legislative session, and signed by the Governor in order for it to become law.
Today at noon a moment of silence was held for those who gave their lives defending two teenage girls from a vicious attack.
A week ago today, Jeremy Christian killed two men and injured one other on a MAX train in Portland. Christian had been spewing hateful, anti-muslim words at two young women–one wearing a hijab.
Three men–Rick Best, Taliesin Myrddin Namkai Meche, and Micha Fletcher–had stepped forward in defense of the women and were attacked by Christian. The assailant pulled a knife on the three victims, slashing them each in the neck. Best died on the scene and Namkai Meche died later in a hospital. Fletcher survived the attack and is recovering from his wound. The two girls escaped without any physical harm.
Today the victims were honored as heroes for their sacrifice to defend the lives of two others. All MAX buses and trains were halted and Governor Kate Brown ordered flags to be lowered to half-staff in honor of these men.
Last week’s attack garnered national attention not just because of the heroism of these men but because of the hate speech that caused the victims to come to the defense of the young women in the first place. The President of the Muslim Educational Trust in Tigard commented that, “For [the two women] as a new immigrant family, it brings for them a lot of memories of violence and war and the reason they’re here.”
Through their actions and deaths, the heroism of the MAX attack victims sent a powerful message against hate and in defense of life.