Tag Archives: heroes

Day 302: Steven Weitzman

I found out that the artist of one of my favorite pieces of art in our nation’s capital, literally in the Capitol, lives just a few miles outside of the District. I thought I’d let him know that his beautifully crafted bronze statue of Frederick Douglass inspires me every time I see it.

Day 302-3


As a resident of our nation’s capital, I’m accustomed to walking by monuments and statues. I cruise down hallways of some of the most iconic buildings in America and don’t stop to appreciate the artistry on display.

I created this tree on the front of the card, then realized I wrote the card upside down so the tree seems like it's on the back of the card!

I created this tree on the front of the card, then realized I wrote the card upside down so the tree seems like it’s on the back of the card!

Often times when I do take an interest in a piece of art or the masterfully painted ceiling, I am unaware of the artist or if I do find out who it was, they’re more than likely deceased. So when I learned that you were the creator of the Frederick Douglass bronze statue that captivates visitors to the U.S. Capitol, I wanted to write you to let you know that your work moved me. Its beauty and power are striking, doing tremendous justice to one of the most charismatic and influential leaders in our history. Brilliant!

With great admiration,
Reed Sandridge

P.S. Ooops – I just realized I wrote this upside down.

Day 247: Glenn

I grew up in Mechanicsburg, PA. It’s a quiet suburb of Harrisburg. My family was strong and provided great role models. But sometimes you’re fortunate to have outside role models who take time to help you find your way through life. It could be a teacher, a coach or in my case, a boy scout leader.

To my knowledge Glenn was actually never an official leader while I was involved with Scouting. He was something like a scout leader emeritus. Anyway, he lived a few short blocks from my childhood home and was a great role model and friend to me.

I grew up, moved away and rarely visit Mechanicsburg now. We’ve sort of lost touch, but I thought he should know how much I appreciate that he took time to care about me and so many other young people in the community.

Thirty years later, he still answers the phone with the same familiar greeting, “Good evening, Glenn.”

Day 247

Dear Glenn,

I hope this note finds you well. I was thinking about people who have been and still are mentors in my life today and thought of you. You always led by example on how to be a friend, a husband, a father. I just wanted you to know how much you mean to me – despite how lousy I am at staying in touch. I will be in Mechanicsburg the weekend of Sept. 25th and would love to find time to visit. I’ll call/email as we get a little closer.


Day 156: Steve Hartman, CBS

Photo: CBS News

Photo: CBS News

Steve Hartman is one of the best. Every week he pulls back the curtain and introduces us to an extraordinary person – often tugging at our heartstrings and causing tears to well up in our eyes. To see some of Steve’s work, check out links on Day 143 and Day 147 – letter recipients who I learned about through his reporting.

I do a lot of work around storytelling and can assure you that Steve is a master. He knows how to craft a narrative that moves the audience to think, feel or do something and that is really the power of storytelling. We learn through story. We influence through story. And we entertain through story.

I’d love the opportunity to watch Steve work up close. Who knows, maybe, just maybe, that could happen and someday I’ll tell you a story about it.

Day 156-2

Dear Steve,

For me, it was the Jason McElwain story back in 2006 when you ended your touching report with, “Because he is autistic, Jason says he’s used to feeling different. But never this different. Never this wonderful.” I took note of your name and for the past decade I’ve been carefully collecting your stories.

You give your audience a gift every time you do a segment. You tell the kind of stories we thirst for, and you tell them with unparalleled artistic brilliance. You have my dream job! Uncovering and sharing meaningful stories that reflect the world we want to live in.

Day 156I crave narratives that strengthen the fabric of our community. In my pursuit to perfect my own storytelling, I would like to ask you to consider allowing me to tag along on a future assignment – a kind of apprenticeship if you will. I’d cover all my expenses, I’d just be extremely grateful for the opportunity. As Milton Berle said, “If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door.” Well, I’m building a door!

Thank you for taking the time to read my letter and for considering what would be a chance of a lifetime experience for me. I look forward to hearing from you.

Kind regards,
Reed Sandridge

Day 69: Mookie Wilson

Mookie_Wilson_courtesy_of_New_York_MetsOne of my all time favorite baseball players is Mookie Wilson. And while I was a big fan of the New York Mets outfielder, my mother was an even bigger fan. Most people probably didn’t know she was a baseball fan, but she was.

I started following the Mets around 1981 and soon thereafter my parents started following too. Then in 1984 the Mets had the first draft pick and chose Shawn Abner, a graduate from my hometown high school in Mechanicsburg, PA. I think that probably solidified our allegiance to the team.

Anyway, Mom loved Mookie. The speedster on the bases had incredible work ethic and seemed to avoid all the scandals that plagued the Mets during the Strawberry, Gooden, and Hernandez era. Mom would have loved this letter. If she were still alive, I would have asked Mookie to send her a letter.

Day 69

Dear Mookie,

I grew up a die-hard Mets fan – unusual for someone living in Central Pennsylvania. All of my friends were Philly and Pirate fans. I watched every game on WWOR, captivated by Kiner, Zabriskie, McCarver and Staub’s call of the game.

My parents also became fans – I guess they gave in when my memorabilia draped room started looking more like the dugout at Shea than it did a bedroom. My mother, Lenora Sandridge, was your biggest fan. When you would get on base, she would start talking about how “Mookie’s gonna steal second.” She loved to watch you run the bases and I agree with her, few players truly make an art out of base-running. You were the best.

The other thing that you have in common with my mother is truck driving. No, she never drove a truck, but she often said that that would be her dream job – just driving the country and being her own boss.

Screen Shot 2015-03-10 at 8.01.13 PMShe never realized that dream. She passed away in 2006 of heart disease at the age of 63. Shortly after that I learned that you had an 18 wheeler and drove short routes all over the southeast during the office season. She would have loved to have known that. Or maybe she did know that and it was just another reason she was so fond of you.

Anyway, as much as it would be nice to hear back from one of her (and my) heroes – learn more about your post baseball life, your recording work, etc. I don’t expect a response. I just wanted to share this little story with you.

Thanks for making baseball so fun to watch for my family and me during the 80s.

With admiration,
Reed Sandridge

Day 40: Kimmy

I was a huge fan of the New York Mets when I was growing up. I have every baseball card made from 1984-1988 and a ton of memorabilia of the Mets. A hero of mine was Gary Carter who wore number 8 and played catcher for the Mets. I wrote to him as a kid and he wrote me back and sent me autographed card.

Gary Carter after winning the World Series in 1986. Photo: Newsday

Gary Carter after winning the World Series in 1986. Photo: Newsday

In May of 2011 Carter was diagnosed with an aggressive case of brain cancer known as glioblastoma multiforme. He lost his battle with cancer on February 16, 2012. The 57-year-old was married and had three adult children.

I had found Carter’s address a few years before he died, before he was diagnosed with cancer, and I thought I would write him a note to let him know how much I looked up to him as a young person. I put it off and sadly he died before I ever sent the letter.

As we get close to the anniversary of Carter’s passing I thought I would write his daughter Kimmy a note. I’ve struggled around the anniversary of my mother’s death and find comfort when people reach out to say something nice about her. Hopefully my letter to Kimmy will brighten her day to know how much I admired her father.

Year of Letters-6

Dear Kimmy,

As a kid, your father was my hero. I was 12 when he led the New York Mets to the 1986 World Series victory against the Boston Red Sox – in fact my Dad took me to the NLCS Game 5 where your father hit a single up the middle off of the Astros’ Charlie Kerfeld in the bottom of the 12th that scored Wally Backman to win the game. It was truly amazing.

As an adult, I learned about your father’s work ethic and unwavering character. His comments at the the 2003 Hall of Fame induction touched my heart.

I imagine that this time of year must be tough for you and your family but I hope that somehow it is comforting to know that he is remembered fondly by so many – not only as a Hall of Famer on the field, but as a role model off the field as well.

With warm regards,
Reed Sandridge