Over the years, I’ve interviewed some extraordinary people.
Some of them were also famous; most of the truly remarkable ones were not. The individuals that stick in my mind, people whose words still ring in my head, those whose strength and dignity took my breath away, were outwardly ordinary folks like you and me whose extraordinary qualities were only revealed to the rest of us in challenging times.
For almost a decade now, Gwinnett Magazine has featured stories of survivorship in our annual healthcare issue. We started in 2007, profiling cancer survivors as part of our Heroes Project and in support of Gwinnett’s Relay For Life celebration. From day one, the stories captivated our staff and for me, writing these profiles was both a treasured gift and a rewarding responsibility. It mattered tremendously to me that I captured the spirit of each individual and gave each their unique voice. It wasn’t usual to have someone get emotional in an interview, but in a great many of these interviews, we all welled up. Remarkably, the tears were rarely sorrowful. Instead, these survivors shed tears of triumph, accomplishment and perseverance.
In 2008, we added young people to our profiles and all my writer’s training went out the window. Most of these children were young, often under age 10, so I was interviewing their parents and I couldn’t quit thinking like a mom myself. I marveled at the strength and grace of these parents… of what it took to lead your child hopefully, courageously through treatment.
We met Tony Velo and his mom, Cathy, in 2010, when he was just 11. We found his passion for life and his faith inspiring then and it’s been our pleasure to watch him grow up. He’s still inspiring others – and that’s no surprise to us. You can read more of his story on page 26, plus news on this year’s Relay For Life event.
Tony’s is not the only story of challenge and triumph you’ll find in this issue. Our healthcare focus includes a series of profiles about individuals who’ve faced some daunting health issues and are now thriving. You’ll also meet three individuals who made 180 degree career changes to follow their dreams, with a spirit and determination that’s energizing for all.
We think these stories of renewal and new beginnings are the perfect way to launch spring – and it couldn’t get here fast enough for us.
Dana K. Urrutia