Saturday, September 26, 2009

A Tale of Two Heroes

While I frequently point out that I'm a fan few, I must confess to great admiration for Jamie Foxx. Although I loved him in Ray and could hardly take my eyes off of him in Dreamgirls, it was The Soloist that catapulted the star born Eric Marlon Bishop onto my win column and put him on my short list.

Still, the billboards, statue, motorcade and hoopla at Terrell's Tiger Stadium today, Jamie Foxx Day, leaves me a little cold. Texas Governor Rick Perry, Senator Bob Deuell, State Representative Betty Brown and the heads of both the Texas and Dallas film commissions are all there to mark the re-naming of Eric Marlon Bishop's hometown street as Jamie Foxx Way.

I like the Jamie Foxx way. I adore his devotion to the grandmother who raised him. I love his shameless acknowledgement of the role his home town played in his life and I'm oddly thankful for his credo, "My goals, my dreams, my values". It's proud but not prideful, secure but not self-important. It doesn't say "my way or the highway". It says "Don't let anyone or anything run your life. Don't let anyone tell you that you can't. Don't let anyone shame your dreams. And don't ever EVER think that you don't have value because of who you are or where you came from." That's what his credo says to me. Yes, I do like the Jame Foxx way.

But, he's one man and his story is still being written. Who knows what kind of man he'll be tomorrow. Will we point at him when he's 90 and say "he made us proud"? I hope so. But, time will tell.

Down the highway from all this Jamie Foxx fanaticism in Terrell, Texas, a precious child named Laurren Smith is grand marshall for a homecoming parade in Forney, Texas. She's scarcely able to sit up or even breath as tumors suffocate her windpipe and attack her heart. Two short years ago, she was an active cheerleader on the 4th-5th grade squad my sister coached. The shock to Laurren's friends and family was surreal when the truth about her leg pain was diagnosed. She didn't just land wrong in cheerleading practice. She had a very rare form of cancer.

Our small town has rallied around her and one news station has chronicled Laurren's brave battle, infectious joy of life, and fearless matter-of-fact attitude as she's gone to California and Mexico for new and experimental treatments. There have been welcome home parties, carnivals, and fund raisers and now, Forney, Texas, will hold Christmas in October because Laurren won't live past December.

But five thousand people didn't line the streets for Laurren and the governor didn't stop by for a photo op. Laurren hasn't gotten the national or even local attention of a Jamie Foxx hometown celebration because there are so many heartbreaking Laurren Smith stories out there all over the state, the country, and the world that it's inevitable for one little girl's story to fade into the fabric of human suffering.

Two parades today. Eight miles apart. Two very different stories. Two very different heroes. Jamie, if you or any of your peeps are reading this, maybe you could stop by and shake Laurren Smith's unshakably courageous hand.

Mercy Me "Pray for Laurren" promo.
KXAS article on Laurren.
KXAS video on Laurren

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