Letters 10-24-2016

It’s Obama’s 1984 Several editions ago I concluded a short letter to the editor with an ominous rhetorical flourish: “Welcome to George Orwell’s 1984 and the grand opening of the Federal Department of Truth!” At the time I am sure most of the readers laughed off my comments as right-wing hyperbole. Shame on you for doubting me...

Gun Bans Don’t Work It is said that mass violence only happens in the USA. A lone gunman in a rubber boat, drifted ashore at a popular resort in Tunisia and randomly shot and killed 38 mostly British and Irish tourists. Tunisian gun laws, which are among the most restrictive in the world, didn’t stop this mass slaughter. And in January 2015, two armed men killed 11 and wounded 11 others in an attack on the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. French gun laws didn’t stop these assassins...

Scripps’ Good Deed No good deed shall go unpunished! When Dan Scripps was the 101st District State Representative, he introduced legislation to prevent corporations from contaminating (e.g. fracking) or depleting (e.g. Nestle) Michigan’s water table for corporate profit. There are no property lines in the water table, and many of us depend on private wells for abundant, safe, clean water. In the subsequent election, Dan’s opponents ran a negative campaign almost solely on the misrepresentation that Dan’s good deed was a government takeover of your private water well...

Political Definitions As the time to vote draws near it’s a good time to check into what you stand for. According to Dictionary.com the meanings for liberal and conservative are as follows:

Liberal: Favorable to progress or reform as in political or religious affairs.

Conservative: Disposed to preserve existing conditions, institutions, etc., or to restore traditions and limit change...

Voting Takes A Month? Hurricane Matthew hit the Florida coast Oct. 6, over three weeks before Election Day. Bob Ross (Oct. 17th issue) posits that perhaps evacuation orders from Governor Scott may have had political motivations to diminish turnout and seems to praise Hillary Clinton’s call for Gov. Scott to extend Florida’s voter registration deadline due to evacuations...

Clinton Foundation Facts Does the Clinton Foundation really spend a mere 10 percent (per Mike Pence) or 20 percent (per Reince Priebus) of its money on charity? Not true. Charity Watch gives it an A rating (the same as it gives the NRA Foundation) and says it spends 88 percent on charitable causes, and 12 percent on overhead. Here is the source of the misunderstanding: The Foundation does give only a small percentage of its money to charitable organizations, but it spends far more money directly running a number of programs...

America Needs Change Trump supports our constitution, will appoint judges that will keep our freedoms safe. He supports the partial-birth ban; Hillary voted against it. Regardless of how you feel about Trump, critical issues are at stake. Trump will increase national security, monitor refugee admissions, endorse our vital military forces while fighting ISIS. Vice-presidential candidate Mike Pence will be an intelligent asset for the country. Hillary wants open borders, increased government regulation, and more demilitarization at a time when we need strong military defenses...

My Process For No I will be voting “no” on Prop 3 because I am supportive of the process that is in place to review and approve developments. I was on the Traverse City Planning Commission in the 1990s and gained an appreciation for all of the work that goes into a review. The staff reviews the project and makes a recommendation. The developer then makes a presentation, and fellow commissioners and the public can ask questions and make comments. By the end of the process, I knew how to vote for a project, up or down. This process then repeats itself at the City Commission...

Regarding Your Postcard If you received a “Vote No” postcard from StandUp TC, don’t believe their lies. Prop 3 is not illegal. It won’t cost city taxpayers thousands of dollars in legal bills or special elections. Prop 3 is about protecting our downtown -- not Munson, NMC or the Commons -- from a future of ugly skyscrapers that will diminish the very character of our downtown...

Vote Yes It has been suggested that a recall or re-election of current city staff and Traverse City Commission would work better than Prop 3. I disagree. A recall campaign is the most divisive, costly type of election possible. Prop 3, when passed, will allow all city residents an opportunity to vote on any proposed development over 60 feet tall at no cost to the taxpayer...

Yes Vote Explained A “yes” vote on Prop 3 will give Traverse City the right to vote on developments over 60 feet high. It doesn’t require votes on every future building, as incorrectly stated by a previous letter writer. If referendums are held during general elections, taxpayers pay nothing...

Beware Trump When the country you love have have served for 33 years is threatened, you have an obligation and a duty to speak out. Now is the time for all Americans to speak out against a possible Donald Trump presidency. During the past year Trump has been exposed as a pathological liar, a demagogue and a person who is totally unfit to assume the presidency of our already great country...

Picture Worth 1,000 Words Nobody disagrees with the need for affordable housing or that a certain level of density is dollar smart for TC. The issue is the proposed solution. If you haven’t already seen the architect’s rendition for the site, please Google “Pine Street Development Traverse City”...

Living Wage, Not Tall Buildings Our community deserves better than the StandUp TC “vote no” arguments. They are not truthful. Their yard signs say: “More Housing. Less Red Tape. Vote like you want your kids to live here.” The truth: More housing, but for whom? At what price..

Home · Articles · News · Features · A Dose of Inspiration
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A Dose of Inspiration

Erin Crowell - February 27th, 2012  

How training with a quadriplegic has changed my philosophy on running

“Leave your worries, leave your fears.

Leave the doubt you’re holding dear. Leave them there, love, by the door. They’re no good anymore” – “Nothing for Granted” by Brendan James

“I’m so sore today,” I say, taking inventory of my body – from my tight quads to aching calves. “I don’t think I’ll be able to run tonight.”

“Wahhh!” Grant says mockingly, a crooked smile on his face.

I should have seen that coming. Grant likes to poke fun, but more so he likes taking any doubts or complaints you may have and throw them back at face value, because they are exactly that: nothing more than doubt and complaints.

We continue walking through the Grand Traverse Mall – me, decked out in a fanny pack that holds a bottle of water, towel and timer; Grant, leaning on his gait trainer that allows him to put one foot in front of the other.

For my friend Grant Forrester, a 24-yearold quadriplegic living in Traverse City, there is no such thing as can’t.


For years, I thought running a marathon was a far-flung goal, sitting somewhere on the horizon along with winning a Pulitzer. That is, until I met Grant, a hometown celebrity in his own right, but who earned a new respect from his community when he walked the Meijer Festival of Races 5K at the 2011 National Cherry Festival. It was the farthest he ever walked in his life, finishing the 3.1 miles in just under four hours.

I love sharing his story with those who haven’t heard it … about “Team Grant,” the group of a dozen family and friends who accompanied him during those four hours.

So when a friend propositioned me on helping him with an upcoming book project that would have me running my first marathon, my initial thought was excitement, which was immediately followed by doubt as I pictured the number – 26.2 miles – in my head. That’s twice the distance I ever ran, which was in 2009 and left me with the inability to bend my knees for two days.

However, it didn’t take long before the hesitation and uncertainty were replaced by inspiration and determination, and the image of Grant, dripping in sweat, as he crossed the finish line of his own race.

My race pick landed on the Bayshore Marathon, happening Memorial weekend in Traverse City. And although Grant’s upcoming race is about 1/8 the distance of mine, his training is just as tough. This is evident on our weekly laps at the mall when, by JCPenney, Grant’s shirt is soaked through and his witty comebacks are limited to punctuated huffs.

Grant started training for his July race back in October by standing for hours at a time – pretty impressive for a guy who’s spent the majority of his life in a wheelchair.

When he was 15 months old, Grant was riding with his father down an Indiana highway when another motorist struck their car, sending Grant – still attached to his car seat – across four lanes of traffic and a median.

Body, Mind, Spirit

His skull was cracked ear to ear and he spent nearly six weeks in a coma. At the time, Grant was just learning to walk; but the accident left him with spastic quadriplegia, which impedes voluntary muscle movement, making some tasks, such as showering, using the bathroom and dressing, impossible without assistance.


For many running “purists,” a race, whether it’s a 5k or marathon, should be run, not walked. Participation just isn’t enough.

A 2005 article in the San Francisco Chronicle entitled “Running Debate” explores the growing trend of walkers who participate in marathons, finishing these races in several hours.

“On Sunday morning at 5 a.m., about 1,000 very slow people will gather at the Ferry Building in San Francisco,” the author notes about that year’s marathon. “They will have as much as seven hours to go 26.2 miles – an ambitious venture for most mortals but a glacial pace for marathoners.”

The article reflects polarized opinions on who should toe the start line.

I’m embarrassed to say I used to feel this way; yet, a part of me still does when, after weeks of preparation, my pace is grounded to a halt by a group of walkers at the start of a 5K race.

Then I remember there’s probably some poor guy with a 4:58 pace and 6% body fat who had to sidestep around me.

Like any fitness goal, a race is all about relativity.


I keep this humbling thought in mind as I reflect on my own marathon goal: to finish without walking or stopping. While doing either would disqualify me from having completed a marathon in my own mind, simply having that as a goal would make some elite marathon veterans snort.

For many, it’s surviving. For some, it’s enduring. For others, it’s conquering. Whatever silly reasons we put our bodies through hell, there is a commonality in envisioning something hard and stepping up to the challenge, regardless of fitness level.

Simply having a fitness goal speaks volumes nowadays. Exercise is no longer a necessity for survival, but a lifestyle choice. It’s why friends and family pat me on the back when they hear about my marathon goal.

“Wow, that’s crazy!” one says. “I could never do that,” says another. For the most part, this makes me proud, yet a small part of me is bothered by these remarks of self-doubt. I imagine a part of Grant feels the same.

It’s taken me awhile to put these feelings into perspective. And being a writer, I needed to put them into words (perhaps best placed on a tacky self-motivational poster). My best conclusion regarding pushing one’s body – particularly in regards to my own goal – is this:

Running is instinct. It has been hardwired into human beings as a means of survival. When circumstance is taken out of play, society is to blame for our lack of moving. Convenience, technology, and a perpetual onslaught of unhealthy habits have removed our desire – and most importantly, a necessity – to release the flood of endorphins, trigger a muscle twitch and set the lungs ablaze.

Running a marathon isn’t doing something impossible; it’s simply undoing what we have done to ourselves.

By all definition, Grant is a “victim” of circumstance, yet he still manages to get up and walk. A concept so simple, yet absolutely remarkable in its own right.

During one of our walks, Grant tells me about the time he walked across the Kresge Auditorium stage at Interlochen to accept his high school diploma, a goal he set back in sixth grade. Grant’s foresight, his ability to visualize what is capable surprises me every week.

I consider my walks with Grant a part of my own training as he serves as a constant reminder of accountability, a voice I hear in the back of my mind when the couch gets too comfortable or my legs start feeling heavy on long mileage days. I didn’t train consistently for my half marathon – a choice I will not be making for the full.

If Grant can do it, why can t I? Like an athlete true to form, Grant accomplished one goal and didn’t hesitate to set another. Simply finishing was no longer enough. Grant wants to race, and while he’s not competing to beat others, it’s a race against time, boundaries and limitations.


As we near the end of his mile lap, I ask Grant how he feels.

“Alive,” he says. I couldn’t agree more. With each walk, Grant continues to chip away at his time. Sometimes it’s minutes, other times it’s seconds. Some days are slower than others.

When I look into Grant’s eyes, there’s a certain determination and stubbornness to them, something I’d like to believe exists in every athlete, from the first-time marathon runner and 5K walker to the sponsored Olympian.

If there is a goal you have in mind – wherever it falls on your “impossible” scale – if you reach down deep enough, you can find that person who won’t accept excuses; because as my friend Grant says, there’s no such thing as can’t.

To see a slideshow of Grant Forrester s 2011 Cherry Festival 5K race, visit http:// www.youtube.com/watch?v=86vJkN-phFg. For the Northern Express story on Grant s race (published 7/18/11), search “Nothing for Granted + 5K + Northern Express Weekly.

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