Tuesday, May 24, 2016



   "It rained during the survivor's lap. Poured. Only half of them had umbrellas but they walked. The luminaria that circled the track that circled the football field weren't going to light, but they walked, and we cheered and clapped. 40 some folks walked by us, some smiling, some glancing at the uncooperative sky, some of whom as you read this 
no longer alive. 
  Charleroi High School hosts the Mon Vallley Cancer Walk. Kids from 4 different schools: Belle Vernon, Ringgold, Fraiset and Charleroi walk their quarter mile track for an entire day, taking turns, taking breaks, hawking snacks and toys and games to themselves and anyone else who wants join them. They raised 110,000 dollars.
  It was beautiful American chaos. Kids walking both directions, kids running, dancing, and dodging each other. Balls of all description flying through the air. Dance music deafening the procession at the 50 yard line. Every fried, dipped, battered and cheese covered edible available at all times. 
  For an event to fight a serious disease it was wonderfully irreverent. What my acting teachers had always told me come to fruition.. play the opposite: laugh when they think you're gonna cry. Smile when you should be curling up in pain. 
  I climbed up into the bleachers to get a wider view of the field. Past the photo booth, past the word "Hope" blocked out in paper bags that weren't going to glow anytime soon. 
  I could see the dark valley of the Monongahela. I could see where the mills of Monesson once stood. I could see a farm not a quarter mile away. 
    And below me in this AstroTurf commons a couple hundred teenagers had built a messy town square. Hoodies, pajamas, blankets, sweats: kids huddling around the idea that this shouldn't be happening, this epidemic, gathering almost, if you weren't close enough to hear the banter, almost like they were praying. 
  Cancer rates in the Mon Valley towns, in the Kiski Valley, in parts of Greater Pgh itself reach 30 times the national average. When we built the Arsenal of Democracy, after all the steel had been poured, after all the glass and coke and aluminum and plutonium was pulled out of the bones of working Pittsburgh- who forgot to clean up the mess?
   What the Hell did we do to ourselves?
   And do our kids have to keep paying the price? 
   What's next for Pittsburgh? The future looks exciting. Uber, Google, Remake Learning, Light Rail? The names go on, describing growth like we haven't seen since WWII. 
  I looked down at Charleroi's field, feeling like I was dead center of what I'd call home, and watched 100 kids doing a line dance. 
    No future, no kind of growth's worth any of them walking another lap when they don't have to. 

Sent from my iPhone