Monday, August 06, 2007
The kindness of others...
It's been a sad and busy last several days. Tonight, I've arrived in Utah to cover the story of the trapped miners. And before that I spent a few days covering the collapsed bridge tragedy in Minneapolis. But one development in that story has put a smile on our faces.

Last week, we told the story of 26-year-old Marcelo Cruz, a parapalegic who was driving his own specially equipped van when the bridge went down. He avoided plunging into the Mississippi River by purposely crashing his van into the wall and stopping just feet from the water.

Because he no longer had a vehicle, we offered him a ride to the emergency room to get some treatment to his injured back. Well, among the good samaritans watching our story was Lawrence Pleskow, head of a California based charity called When U Dream a Dream. He asked us if we could put him in touch with Marcelo, and here's why.

Pleskow has told Marcelo that he will come to Minnesota on Friday to present him with a new accessible van that Marcelo can keep as he works to get a new one through his insurance policy. In addition, the charity wants to fly Marcelo and his mother to California so they can have a free trip where they will tour Disneyland and meet a celebrity or two.

Pleskow tells me his charity works with many paraplegics and quadrapelegics, and when he saw this story on "360", he knew he wanted to help in some way. Marcelo tells me he is thrilled with the offer, and overwhelmed with the kindness he's felt from others.

Seven years ago, Marcelo was shot by an unknown assailant. That's why he's in a wheelchair. We hope the attention he's getting marks the beginning of a more carefree life for him.

-- By Gary Tuchman, CNN Correspondent


Editor's note: For information about how you can make a difference, please visit Impact Your World.
Posted By CNN: 8:10 PM ET
  24 Comments
Thanks for the uplifting story Gary. And bless "When U Dream a Dream" and Mr. Pleskow. And may there be brighter days ahead for Marcelo.
Posted By Alan G . - Hammond, IN : 8:22 PM ET
Hey Gary,

I saw the interview with Marcelo and how he was presented with this wonderful gift.
When tragedy happens,it is comforting to know that people come together to help,to support. Too bad we tend to forget about helping others when everything is going well. I make it a point in my life,to be grateful for what I have and help in any way I can.
That's what we need on a day to day basis,more humanity.
As for the trapped miners,I've just learn about it. I'm on vacation,so it's break time from the news but didn't I hear there was a heartquake in Utah this
morning? Is it related? Guess I'll go check the cnn.com.
Hope there will be a good outcome for those miners and their families. My thoughts and prayers are with them.
Gary,you are very human in all the reports that you do.

Joanne R.
Laval Quebec
Posted By Joanne R.Laval Quebec : 8:38 PM ET
Gary/AC360:
The news events of today as well the past couple of days have been rather overwhelming from the Minneapolis bridge collapse to the urban murders in Newark as well as here in Indianapolis.

So, it was nice to hear of a young man moving beyond his personal and environmental challenges and celebrating life.

Thank you and CNN for bringing a positive story to a very burdensome summer season.
Posted By Sharon D., Indianapolis, IN : 8:53 PM ET
We hear so many stories in the news about mans inhumanity to his fellow man, but horrific disasters like the Minneapolis bridge collapse have a way of bringing out the best in some people. It's so good to hear the story of Lawrence Pleskow and how he has offered help to Marcelo Cruz.
Posted By Joseph Kowalski, North Huntingdon, PA : 8:55 PM ET
I have a tendency to see the negative side of things first. I've always attributed this to being what I like to call a "realist," not a pessimist. But deep down I am afraid I am the latter. Stories like this force me to alter my opinions about human beings and their intentions. In spite of the inherent flaws we all have, some of us have the ability to do incredibly humane things. And some of us, like you, have within their power the ability to affect change. Journalists can do so much good with their work and I find myself defensive when others criticize the press. When journalism works the way it should, IT REALLY WORKS. Thank you for sharing your experiences.
Posted By Debbie, Denham Springs, LA : 9:25 PM ET
This is the true human spirit. It doesn't matter in the end if your rich, poor, black, white, tall, thin, short, fat....what matters is helping someone who needs it at that moment.

It's what was the best part of 9/11 (not that there was really a "best part" but I think you understand), and in every crisis before and since.

It's really heartbreaking that it is only in times of extreme tragedy that we step up and are the compassionate people we should strive to be every day of our life.
Posted By Barbara, Columbia MD : 9:33 PM ET
This is the true human spirit. It doesn't matter in the end if your rich, poor, black, white, tall, thin, short, fat....what matters is helping someone who needs it at that moment.

It's what was the best part of 9/11 (not that there was really a "best part" but I think you understand), and in every crisis before and since.

It's really heartbreaking that it is only in times of extreme tragedy that we step up and are the compassionate people we should strive to be every day of our life.
Posted By Barbara, Columbia MD : 9:33 PM ET
Hi Gary, yes, Mr. Cruz definitely deserves a break, after being shot, and now this, after the bridge collapse. He's like a cat with 9 lives! Kudos to Mr. Pleskow for answering the bell and for all the good samaritans whose big hearts never cease to amaze me and touch me.

But now, one sad story after another. We haven't gotten over the bridge collapse tragedy, and now this. It gives me flashbacks of the Sago mine story. I can't believe this is happening again. Let's all pray for a better outcome.

Lilibeth
Edmonds, Washington
Posted By Lilibeth, Edmonds, WA : 9:48 PM ET
Gary:

Keep up the great work! Nice to read the good news on the blog especially when you miss the live show.

You all should take a few minutes to pat yourselves on the back. I often think that sometimes we don't take time to do that so often.

So three cheers to Gary and the others that helped to get Marcelo's story on TV! It is good to hear some positive news come from this story.

Thanks for bringing the world to our family room!
Posted By Renee Bradenton, FL : 10:55 PM ET
another week another smile. thank you for the story Mr.Gary.

regards to all staff and crew of AC360 and to mr. Anderson Cooper.
Posted By Jemillex Bacerdo Chicago, IL. : 11:35 PM ET
Mr. Tuchman:

OK, maybe I am just being picky here, but this rubbed me the wrong way...

It is great that the attention is helping this gentleman out, but I think your line that it may help him to get to a "more carefree life" is awkwardly put. As someone who has worked with students with severe/multiple disabilities, I am not sure that a new van and being on 360 will make his life... well... do a 180. To be clear: I am NOT saying that people who use wheelchairs don't have as much to contribute as those of us who do not need them, but this man's life will probably be just as hard, easy, beautiful, scary, happy, etc. as it was before he went on TV. He will just have a clip of him on CNN and the new van. But what will it be like when the attention is turned elsewhere? Like the importance of better bridge maintenance, his story will fade as people get distracted by Lidnsay Lohan or Vingh Rhames (sp?). What evidence do you have that his life will become more carefree?

I guess "carefree" also bothered me because I can't imagine what he is going through psychologically after seeing cars falling into the water and wanting to help the woman he heard screaming but couldn't reach. In addition, I wonder if this will reignite issues relating to the trauma of the assault.

Not to mention: How carefree can his life be now that he has to deal with the insurance company? Ugh. I am wodnering if you might need to follow up with a "keeping them honest" piece if he (and the other survivors as well as the families of those who were lost) runs into red tape.

I know you have only so much time and so many words in which to get across your stories, but I can't stand it when reporters use some pat phrase/line like this that comes off a bit heartless (which I know you are not) and makes it seem like you "just don't get it"; it partly ruins what is otherwise a great story.

BTW: Speaking of ways to help: I ran across the "Impact Your World" page and hope you all will feature it prominently on the 360 site and the sites of other programs. http://www.cnn.com/SPECIALS/2007/impact/ Some great info there for those of who might want to get involved in many of the issues regularly featured on the news.
Posted By Norah, West Chester, PA : 12:22 AM ET
Being wheelchair bound myself I identified with Marcelo and his ordeal of being on that bridge and not being able to help but having to be helped himself. Its hard to adjust to especially after being active before the injury or disease takes its toll and puts bars around your life.

Once those bars are there everything is harder - from the most mundane activities to the most complex. Help is always appreciated and I certainly appreciated it when you took him to the hospital to see about his back and I appreciate the people helping him with his van and giving him a trip for him and his mother to break the routine of life.

Kindness is always appreciated - whether you are disabled or not. In this hard summer of bad news and tragedies we all need to dip into our wells of kindness and share with each other. We are all in this together after all.
Posted By Suzanne Pratt, Knoxville TN : 7:31 AM ET
WONDERFUL, FANTASTIC, humankind does prevail. Glad to hear something good out of this. So many were "taking pictures" instead of extending their hand.
Posted By Anonymous : 8:01 AM ET
This is an awesome story. However, why is in not a headline? We hear so many stories about the darker side of society (and of course Lindsay, Paris, Brittney and Nicole). I just wish we as a society could focus on the good news.
Posted By Anonymous : 8:27 AM ET
Relax Norah...

I don't think it's too hard to gather from Gary's comment, that he was referring to his unfortunate life-threatening events twice, in one lifetime, not his disability.

Geez.
Posted By Anonymous : 9:43 AM ET
Thank you Gary for your report . If you've ever been without a vehicle or other transport, it's frustrating. I can see how Marcelo depends on not just his wheelchair but a van to be as independent as possible.

Thanks also to Dream a Dream for "coming to the rescue".
Posted By Chas, Virginia Beach, Va. : 12:05 PM ET
To Norah:

Management 101 and Basic Diversity Training 101 tells you the reader to ask this simple question of the author, "What was Gary's intension when he wrote his post?"

Try this next time someone writes something or says something you may not agree with.

You may feel Gary's choice of words do not suit you. I am very clear in my mind that it was not his intension to demean the story.

And for the record, I hardly think Gary Tuchman or anyone at CNN needs someone like myself defending them.

It is my intension for you to learn something from what you posted and my response.

So next time you interact with someone and something is said you may not agree with, ask yourself, "What was his/her intension?" It works like a charm!
Posted By Renee Bradenton, FL : 2:07 PM ET
Dear Gary,

I have really appreciated your very thoughtful reports on the victims of the Minneapolis bridge collapse. You are always so gracious and sympathetic.

It is so touching to hear about the kindness of strangers in an event such as this. Thank you for bringing us Marcelo’s story.

Strangely enough tragedy sometimes brings out the best in many people and in a time of war and destruction it reminds us that there is still much humanity left in the world.

Unfortunately, you are now covering another tragic event in Utah. My heart goes out to the miners and their families. I hope that they will soon be returned safely into the arms of their loved ones.

You seem to have had a very trying week, I don’t know how you cope with covering such tragic events.

Take care,
Jo Ann
Posted By Jo Ann Matese, North Royalton,Ohio : 7:41 PM ET
Renee:

I believe it's INTENTION. Webster's dictionary, copyright 1990, Simon & Schuster,Inc.

But your point is well taken and has been duly noted.
Posted By Debbie, Denham Springs, LA : 9:39 PM ET
I think what bothered me the most is that this post seemed a little too self-congragulatory. Yes, I, too would be pleased if a story I did helped someone deserving get something they needed, but "carefree" seems to be taking it too far. If Gary Tuchman (or any other reporter) actually had such power, I know I would love a visit from him as well.

And, for the record, I did say that the awkward phrasing was not his intent.
Posted By Norah, West Chester, PA : 12:41 AM ET
I am impressed that this man cheated death two times in his life. I hope he does not face such a thing again! And I hope he finds much happiness in his life. He deserves it.
Posted By Anonymous : 1:58 AM ET
It's all a matter of perspective. I guess George Bush would say Norah is a glass half-empty kind of gal. This isn't the first time the story of Marcelo Cruz has been picked apart. Journalists have thick skin, so I imagine Gary Tuchman isn't losing too much sleep if he gets picked on a little. I'm delighted for Marcelo. Carpe diem.
Posted By Gypsy, Mexico : 4:17 AM ET
To Debbie:

Thanks for the correction. It is hard to get misspells sometimes when there are two words nearly identical -- INTENSION and INTENTION.

Well, I hope I gave someone at 360 at good laugh! If you really knew me, you would know that I hit the feedback button when there are misspells on the blog written by the blog post author. Misspells drive me nuts. I was an editor of a magazine for three years.

So I guess the laugh, well, it is on me! And, so it goes!
Posted By Renee Bradenton, FL : 6:54 PM ET
As another reader commented, it has been a very "burdensome summer" I live in the Phoenix area, and so between our news journalists being killed in a hekicopter crash, and the collapse of the bridge in Minnneapolis, the collapse of the mine, and the murders in Newark, for once it was nice to see some joy being put back into this world by a kind soul. It brought tears to my eyes. Thank you for reporting the "good" news too!
Posted By Sharon M. Mesa, AZ : 1:01 PM ET
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