Friday, June 19, 2009

Out of Grief, an Amazing Tribute Rises

By Jim Kanak
Staff Columnist
Four years ago, two area teenagers responded to a tragedy by organizing an event that has become an annual tribute to a deceased friend and a significant fundraiser in the cause to help those impacted by cancer.
Jordan Sanford of Shapleigh and Jackson Tupper of Kennebunk, competitive snowboarders, lost their friend and colleague, Tucker Olmsted, to lymphoma at age 14. The young men decided to do something that would serve to commemorate their friend. The result was Tucker’s Boardercross for Cancer, a snowboard competition held at Sunday River that raises money for the Maine Children’s Cancer Program.
“Tucker died from lymphoma,” Sanford said. “ We had competed against him in snowboarding. Jackson and I got together and came up with the idea of boardercross. Tucker had competed in it. He was a great friend we wanted to remember.”
The race is held on President’s Day weekend in February each year and has raised more than $50,000 for the Maine Children’s Cancer Program. Sanford and Tupper and their families put the event together. “It’s a huge commitment,” Tupper said. “Each year we start to prepare in September or October and continue until a month or two after the event. We have to get raffle items, donations, T-shirt designs, and things like that. Afterwards, we do the thank you’s.”
“Jackson and I do most of the work,” said Sanford. “But we have a lot of help from our parents. It takes about an hour a day.”
Sanford and Tupper compete nationally in snowboarding. The United States of America Snowboard Association sanctions the Sunday River event. “We get about 80 competitors,” Sanford said. “For this one, friends also come in, so we get over 100 people. It’s definitely a big turnout.”
Debra Matson, Program Manager of the Children’s Cancer Program, said the event initially came as a surprise. “The boys worked through Tucker’s parents,” Matson said. “The next thing we knew, we got a check. It’s amazing, a big event for them to have pulled off doing everything by themselves.”
For the program, Tucker’s Boardercross for Cancer has become an important source of funds. “We rely heavily of fundraising dollars,” said Matson. “We’re a pediatric oncology program. We couldn’t exist without fundraising. The money we get from the boys’ event will be used to help us develop new programs.”
Sanford and Tupper have been snowboarding since early childhood. In fact, they met on the slopes. “We’ve been friends since third grade,” Tupper said. “I met Jordan on the slopes of Sunday River and we’ve been really good buddies ever since. We have traveled everywhere together, competing in snowboarding.”
Jackson graduated from Kennebunk High School this year and plans to attend the University of Vermont in the fall. Sanford will enter his junior year at Berwick Academy is the fall. They each say they’ve learned much from their experience with Tucker’s Boardercross.
“It shows that hard work pays off in the end,” Sanford said. “We’ve touched so many people in different ways. A friend’s death didn’t go forgotten. It’s a great event. It’s tough to put it into words. I want to continue with this as we go forward.”
Tupper agreed. “We really want to run the fundraiser again,” he said. ‘It’s really what we want to carry on. It will be harder with me going off to college and Jordan traveling a lot more for snowboarding and everything.”
Matson said the event was a positive commentary on the two young men’s characters. “They just want to do this,” she said. “It’s their friend and it’s their cause. They’re not doing it for the recognition. We have invited them to come up and meet with our board so we can thank them.”
Photo caption: From left, Jackson Tupper, Jordan Sanford and Tucker Olmsted as youngsters. (Courtesy photo)

Navy Secretary Mabus Visits Shipyard

By Larry Favinger
Staff Columnist
Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus got a first hand look at the work and workers of the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard Monday and was suitably impressed by both.
“This has been a terrific day for me,” Secretary Mabus said, during a short meeting with the press at the shipyard’s pass office following his tour.
Turning his attention to the workforce he said, “I want to brag on them” for doing the kind of work they do because there is “zero tolerance” for defects where submarines are concerned.
“I want to thank the people here for being so welcoming and for doing such a good job for the Navy and the country,” he said.
He said the work on submarines at the yard is being done well, under cost and ahead of schedule, meaning that more of the submarines can be kept at sea.
He cited the cooperation between all parties involved at the shipyard for accomplishing this, and noted that what happens at Portsmouth happens other places as well. “This is one shipyard,” he said of the Navy facilities, “and one Navy.”
During the briefing Secretary Mabus was flanked by U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree, a member of the House Armed Services Committee and the Seapower and Expeditionary Forces Subcommittee, and U.S. Rep. Michael Michaud.
Pingree said it was “wonderful to have you (Secretary Mabus) here” to see the fine work being done in the state of Maine. Earlier in the day Secretary Mabus toured Bath Iron Works with Rep. Pingree and Michaud and U.S. Sen. Olympia Snowe.
Rep. Michaud also thanked the secretary for visiting the shipyard because “the work they do here is vital.” He said the work at Portsmouth is “the gold standard” for the Navy.
Secretary Mabus is the 75th United States Secretary of the Navy, sworn into office May 19. In his position he leads the Navy and Marine Corps and is responsible for an annual budget in excess of $150 billion and nearly 900,000 men and women.
The Secretary of the Navy is responsible for conducting all the affairs of the Department of the Navy, including recruiting, organizing, supplying, equipping, training, and mobilizing along with overseeing the construction, outfitting, and repair of naval ships, equipment and facilities.
Prior to joining the administration of President Barack Obama, Secretary Mabus served in many government positions and in the private sector.
A former governor of Mississippi, he worked for the enactment of the Better Education for Success Tomorrow program, considered to be one of the most comprehensive education reform programs in America.
He is a former Ambassador to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in the Clinton Administration in 1994. Prior to becoming Governor he was elected State Auditor of Mississippi and served as a Surface Warfare Officer in the U.S. Navy aboard the cruiser USS Little Rock.
Secretary Mabus is a native of Ackerman, Miss., and received a Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Mississippi, a Master’s Degree from Johns Hopkins University, and a Law Degree from Harvard Law School.
He has been awarded the U.S. Department of Defense Distinguished Public Service Award, the U.S. Army’s Distinguished Civilian Service Award, the Martin Luther King Social Responsibility Award from the King Center in Atlanta, the National Wildlife Federation Conservation Achievement Award, the King Abdul Aziz Award from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and the Mississippi Association of Educators’ Friend of Education Award.
Photo caption: Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus. ( photo)

Stories of Maine’s Survivor

By Chip Schrader
Book Review Editor
Sometimes a rainy day makes a good book better. Making Waves: The Stories of Maine’s Bob Crowley is a great book in the rain, or on a sunny Maine morning with the smell of the North Atlantic not too far away. One word of caution, this book about the 2008 Survivor winner will be read in one sitting, rain or shine.
In the preface, author David Ladd gives a context in which this book is written. He and Bob Crowley have commuted to work and listened to a thousand of Crowley’s stories. Ladd compiled the endless miles of conversation into this pocket sized book that reads like the tales of old Maine mythology.
Crowley’s father was a Protestant, a marine engineer and a lobsterman who rode his Indian motorcycle in a leather jacket. His mother was Catholic and married the elder Crowley who was “beneath her social class,” according to her father. They met during their service in Manila in World War IIwhere she rebelled by not only being a nurse, but by serving her country. Her successful father believed any sort of servitude was beneath his daughter.
The influence Crowley’s parents had on him was immeasurable. His father’s integrity, prudence and service to this country were beyond Crowley’s fathoming, and his mother’s traditional sense of hospitality was legendary. Vagrants, fishermen, and passersby were invited to stay with his family and to enjoy a home cooked meal at any time. Crowley recalls a guestbook that represented a language from every continent except Antarctica.
At the age of fifteen, Crowley’s parents left him on the island cottage in Casco Bay where his father checked on him weekly. This unique parenting gave him an early sense of independence and plenty of opportunity to cause mischief, particularly building pyrotechnics that one day scorched a good portion of his face when building a pipe bomb.
Crowley’s sense of curiosity led him to jobs as a forester, fisherman, lobsterman, a moth eradication expert, an archaeologist for the Smithsonian, and finally a physics teacher who fully admits he is more incorrigible than his own students.
A particularly amusing story comes about when Crowley goes to Labrador to participate in an archaeological expedition with a group of Inuit people as guides. A favorite Inuit pastime, Crowley states, is to torment the “white man” and scare the living wits out of him. Among the mischief was a close encounter with a polar bear where an Inuit feigned bad aim.
At the end of the trek, Crowley recalls these gentle people fondly and their practical jokes scarring, but also a kind means of including their guest into their community.
Crowley eventually settled in to a job teaching physics. The politics and procedure of public education only brought out Crowley’s rebellious side as his antics compiled into a file that was “thicker than a stack of sandbags meant to hold back a tsunami.” After years of being an independent thinker, he lets us in on the insight that “people are not respected for who they really are and what they actually do, but the position and authority they hold.”
This biography reads like a collection of tall tales of a modern day Paul Bunyan. They are believable, funny, spirited and kind stories about a life that is very interesting while purely Maine. Even for those who haven’t seen Survivor, this book is a clear winner.
Photo caption: Book cover of Making Waves: The Stories of Maine’s Bob Crowley as told to David Ladd. (Courtesy photo)

Local Quilt Shop Featured in National Publication

Knight’s Quilt Shop,, a quilt shop in Cape Neddick, has been chosen as one of the 10 featured shops across the United States and Canada for the Fall 2009 issue of Quilt Sampler magazine, published by Better Homes and Gardens.
Quilt Sampler, published twice a year, has been profiling North America’s top quilt shops for the past 13 years. Quilt shops submit a detailed application on their history, business promotions, charitable work, teaching schedules and design philosophies. A panel of quilt experts led by Jennifer Keltner, group editor of American Patchwork & Quilting® magazine, narrows down the applications to 10 featured shops for each issue. The names of the selected shops are kept secret and unveiled at the spring International Quilt Market.
Competition to be included in Quilt Sampler is keen. Nearly 3,000 quilt shops are eligible to apply for this year’s honor. Knight’s Quilt Shop and the other nine shops chosen were photographed and interviewed by a team from Quilt Sampler, and a multi-page profile of the shop will appear in the issue, which will be available on newsstands on Sept. 8, 2009.
Employees of each quilt shop also design an original quilt for the magazine, and the full-sized pattern for the quilt appears in the issue of Quilt Sampler.
Quilt Sampler has proven to be a huge success, and early, out-of-print issues are collector’s items. Chosen shops are inundated with visitors and requests for the shop’s quilt patterns and fabrics. Quilters are known to try and visit all 10 shops in each issue, getting the signature of each shop owner in their copy of the issue.
The art of quilting has changed dramatically since the days of quilting bees in church basements, with quilting enjoying a major renaissance across the country. A Comprehensive Study of the Quilting Marketplace, released in 2003 by American Patchwork & Quilting magazine, reports that the U.S. quilting market is comprised of 11 million households. The total value of the U.S. quilting industry has grown to an annual expenditure of $2.7 billion. Further research shows that readers of American Patchwork & Quilting spend an average of $1,121 per year on quilting supplies and complete nearly 10 projects per year. This group is overwhelmingly female, well educated, affluent, and have been quilting for almost twelve years.