Noreen the Outlaw Queen

With the road to Yellowstone National Park closed due to snow we spent a night in Cody, Wyoming, the home of “Buffalo Bill” Cody. We wandered into a random Italian restaurant because it was the only bar with live music. This music did not disappoint. We met one of the most inspirational people you have ever laid eyes on, Noreen the Outlaw Queen. She controlled the room, not just with her personality, but with her amazing voice and even better riffs on the guitar!!!
As she mesmerized everyone in the room, the owner of the bar let us in on a little secret. Noreen was 83 years old!
She has been playing music in this area for over 60 years and she still had it.
We got to meet her afterwards and take pictures with this western icon.
She told us she simply loved playing music for people and seeing them smile so she keeps on doing it.
As we left the bar that night we both thought of what an awesome life she was living and that we want to do the same!
And why can’t we?

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Moore Strong

It is very sad anytime we see the devastation after a tornado barrels through a populated area. This past May an F5 hit Moore, Oklahoma. As we drove through the town, actually seeing the damage was overwhelming.

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The saddest story came out of Plaza Towers Elementary School. Not only was the school completely destroyed, seven students were killed. The memorial set up in their honor would bring anyone to tears.
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With only four days until the start of the new school year, we thought we would lend a hand to get Plaza Towers Elementary’s temporary location set up. We helped move furniture, organize text books, and deliver donated supplies to each classroom. The tasks were simple but they were eye opening.

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We couldn’t believe how many supplies were donated from all over the country. We read note after heart felt note from so many kids, teachers-complete strangers.
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The sheer resolve of the community was astounding. A tornado just ripped through their town and flattened so many homes,  yet there was no doubt they would rebuild even stronger than before.

We helped Janice Brim, a 6th grade teacher, move supplies into her new room. She then asked us to sit down so we could talk and get to know each other. She told us how her school felt like family and she was ready for the new year to begin despite the challenges.

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We also got to meet Amy Simpson, the Principal of Plaza Towers. She had such a warm, easy-going nature yet you could tell she was also a strong leader. She, and the rest of the staff, were so appreciative of our help, but they were the real inspiration.
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It seems cliche to say, but it made us proud to be humans after meeting the people of Moore, Oklahoma. Kind of renews your faith in humanity. They will rebuild and they will bounce back because that is who they are. We are convinced no tornado could ever touch the spirit of these people.

Rebuilding Plaza Towers
http://news.yahoo.com/for-teachers-in-oklahoma–feelings-of-hope-and-anguish-as-kids-head-back-to-school-after-the-moore-tornado-135839118.html

Disney World In The Bronx

The Hoops and Hope Tour headed to NYC last week and we did two camps. Thursday, the 18th was in the Bronx, NY and Friday, the 19th was in Brooklyn.

The Bronx camp was at the Columbus Clubhouse of the Boys & Girls Club.
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Like in the other cities, the staff was ready to greet us upon arrival. We unloaded our stuff and prepared for the day.

Anthony Johnson is the club director there. What an inspirational leader they have in the Bronx. Anthony was born in Harlem, but moved to San Diego and grew up there. He played Division I football at Oregon State, but eventually made his way back to the east coast. The kids in the Bronx could not be luckier.

Anthony’s message to us was twofold. First, he was passionate about the role sports can play in the lives of youths. He said they have many kids at the club growing up in single parent homes. Anthony is convinced that no matter the circumstances sports is the great equalizer. Kids can learn the skills they need to succeed in life by getting on the court and playing. Secondly, he believed whole heartedly in making every day at the club seem like a day at Disney World. You see, Disney World is renowned for customer service and organization that refuses to allow anyone to have a bad day (as long as you don’t check your bank account statement while you’re there). He hired staff who saw the challenges of working with kids as fun. He wanted the kids and staff excited to come to the club every day, much like they would be if they were heading to Disney World.

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And trust me, for the day we were there that is how it felt. Their staff was on top of things, and helped out any way they could. The kids revered their athletic director, Marcus, who was instrumental in making the camp a success.

We learned a lot that day in the Bronx. No matter where you live or what your circumstances are, good leadership and positive people will ensure kids of all backgrounds have a chance to reach their potential and live the lives they dream of.

I guess that is what the Hoops and Hope Tour is all about.

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