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Stephen Kerr's Blog




A Marriage Made In Heaven

With all the statistics about the divorce rate getting higher and higher, here's a change of pace: a couple who was married 72 years, and ended up passing away together. Read this incredible story by clicking here: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2051047/Gordon-Norma-Yeager-married-72-yrs-die-hour-apart-holding-hands.html?ito=feeds-newsxml
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A True Sense Of Community

This past week has been one of deep reflection for me. No, I'm not going to espouse philosophy or anything; it's quite simple, really. The devastating wildfires here in the Austin area, along with the 10th anniversary of 9/11... both events have stirred a myriad of emotions in me, and, I'm sure, in many of you as well. We probably know at least someone who was affected by the wildfires in some way. I know three people personally who had to evacuate, but thankfully they were able to return to their homes with little or no damage. But there were countless others who lost everything, including their homes, and my thoughts and prayers go out to them. You always hope that there is no loss of life with these events, but unfortunately, two people died from the wildfires, and my heart goes out to their families as well. Even if many of us weren't directly affected by the tragic events of September 11, 2001 in the sense of losing loved ones or friends, I don't think we can ever forget the sense of horror and outrage we felt when the terrorists struck. Our country was being violated, and it didn't matter whether you lived in New York or Austin, if you saw the images on television or heard about it on the radio, you felt as if you were right in the thick of it. The dominant thought running through my mind as I ran through both events this week is the way people pull together in times of tragedy or great crisis. We worry and complain daily about our local, state, and federal government, about the economy, the unemployment rate, health care, etc. But when something or someone threatens our community, state, or country, all that goes out the window. When you hear about people opening their homes to total strangers because they had to evacuate, or give generously of their finances or material possessions, it shows more than just a sense of duty or responsibility. It demonstrates real compassion, a feeling of togetherness. It's one of the many reasons I'm proud to be an American.
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Braille Awareness Day

Have you ever seen or felt what Braille is like? Have you ever run your fingers across a page of Braille? If not, have you always been curious to find out? Your chance comes this Saturday, June 25, as the Austin Council of the Blind hosts a Braille Awareness Day at Barnes & Noble, 10000 Research Blvd. in the Arboretum from 1 to 4 Pm. Come see what the alphabet looks like in Braille, along with books that contain both Braille and print so blind and sighted children can read together, and watch a demonstration of different writing tools used to write Braille. As a special treat, have your name or a special message written in Braille for you to keep. For more information about the Braille Awareness Day, visit: http://www.acbaustin.org/bn_braille-awareness.htm In conjunction with Braille Awareness Day, Barnes & Noble is also hosting a Book Fair, with a portion of the proceeds benefiting the Austin Council of the Blind. The Book Fair will run from June 25 through June 30. Virtually any item purchased at Barnes & Noble can be used to support the Book Fair. If you shop online, all you have to do is enter the code 10512481 at checkout, and a percentage of your purchase price benefits the Austin Council of the Blind. For further instructions on how to shop in support of the Book Fair, visit: http://www.acbaustin.org/bn_bookfair_2011.htm
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Royal Couple Has A New Addition

William and Kate are about to hire a housekeeper-dresser for their new London home. To find out more on that, and other goings-on with the Royal Couple, click the article below: http://www.people.com/people/package/article/0,,20395222_20500584,00.html
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Help Meals OnWheels and More This Summer

Summer can often seem busier than other times of the year, with vacation, entertaining the kids while school's out, etc. In the midst of all this activity, we sometimes forget that not everyone is able to do these things, particularly people who are homebound du to illness or other reasons. That's why Meals On Wheels and More is so vital to our community, providing meals for people who are otherwise unable to cook for themselves. The organization relies on dedicated volunteers to transport 90 percent of the one million meals it distributes each year throughout the Austin area. With summer approaching,MOWAM is facing a shortage of drivers to cover its routes, and more cancellations are expected due to summer commitments. 40 of these routes are currently open, which means they don't have regular drivers assigned to them, and are having to be covered by paid drivers. This raises administrative costs, including gas. Meals On Wheels and More is looking for both regular and substitute drivers, particularly in north Austin and areas east of I35. If you can help, visit their website at: http://www.mealsonwheelsandmore.org/volunteer.
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Which Prince's UniformDo You Like?

Which prince had the most charming uniform at the Royal Wedding? Prince William sporting his Colonel of the Irish Guard uniform, or his best man, brother Prince Harry, in his Captain of the Household Cavalry uniform? Find out more about the princes' military garb at: http://www.people.com/people/package/article/0,,20395222_20485858,00.html and let me know your thoughts.
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Counting Down To Zero

Reality TV shows are quite the rage these days. Even our City of Austin is getting into the game, and it's all for a good cause. The city has launched a program called Dare to Go Zero. Four local families have accepted a five-week challenge to reduce the amount of trash they generate, and will document their progress on camera. Each family is competing for a chance to win a sustainable home improvement package worth over $2000! Dare to Go Zero airs Friday nights, 7 Pm, on Austin's local Government Access Channel 6, as well as on YouTube. For more information about the Dare to Go Zero project, visit http://www.cityofaustin.org/sws/daretogozero.htm
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Stop the Cyberbullying!

Bullying has been a problem for centuries. I certainly was a victim of my share growing up, and, I'm ashamed to say, even occasionally dished out the insults myself. My son was also a victim during middle school. It's no secret that bullying can have major consequences, some of which can be tragic. Many teen suicides and highly-publicized school shootings over the years have been linked to youths being pushed over the edge as a result of either being bullied or feeling ostracized by their peers. Over the past few years, the advent of the Internet, texting, and other forms of technology have created another form of bullying that can be even more destructive: cyberbullying, where humiliating messages and images are sent and forwarded to many people. Unlike face-to-face bullying, victims of cyberbullying suffer widespread public humiliation and don't have the chance to defend themseelves before the damage is done. What can be done to stop it? The Texas Child Safety Organization, in collaboration with the Austin Independent School District and the National Day of Cyberbullying Awareness, will hold its first-ever Cyberbullying Prevention and Intervention Conference. The event will be held Sunday, March 6, 2:30 to 5:30 Pm, at the Anderson High School Performing Arts Auditorium. Parents, students, educators, and others are encouraged to come together in an informative, interactive session to address what is being and can be done to reduce, or even totally eliminate, this growing problem among teens and preteens. Studies show that as many as one in every three children will be cyberbullied in their teen or preteen years, so organizers of the conference believe this is a timely and potentially life-saving first step in putting a stop to it. State Represenative Mark Strama, an internet and child safety advocate, will moderate the conference. For more information, contact Natalie Kloss-Biagini at (512) 947-3385, or email her at: natalie@texaschildsafety.org To register for the event, go online to: http://www.texaschildsafety.org/
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Bowling For Blind Baseball

Once a year, I get the privilege of emceeing an annual Bowl-a-thon that benefits an Austin area beep baseball team, to raise money for them to travel to the sport's annual World Series. What is beep baseball? It's a modified version of baseball played by blind individuals. The ball has an electronic mechanism that beeps, and the cone-shaped foam bases emit a buzzing sound, allowing the runner to hear where the base is. The Bowl-a-thon is more than just a fundraiser, though. It's a chance for blind and sighted people to come together, bowl a couple of games, and just have fun. All proceeds go to the Austin Blackhawks, a team that has been in existence since 1986, and is the proud winner of several World Series championships. I happen to be a former player, although I haven't swung a bat in a game in over 20 years. The World Series of Beep Baseball is held each August in a different city, and the Blackhawks have been every year for as long as I can remember. This year's Bowl-a-thon will be held this Saturday, Feb. 12, at Highland Lanes, 8909 Burnet Rd. from 1 to 3. It's $15 per person, and you get to bowl two games. There are also door prizes given generously by numerous local businesses, and many merchants also sponsor a lane. The 2011 Beep Baseball World Series is coming up July 31-August 7 in Indianapolis. Watch this video to find out more about how the game is played: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZNXqN_QVmpk
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