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Heroes all around

Sometimes the hardest part of following a dream is having to change your route so close to your goal.

Thomson's Danny Verdun Wheeler learned that over the weekend.

After spending an entire preseason with the Chicago Bears, Danny found himself on the outside looking in. He didn't make the final regular season roster despite his hard work and dedication.

So maybe Chicago won't be the culmination of Danny's NFL dream. But knowing Danny, it also doesn't mean his dream is over. He'll keep pursuing.

And no matter what happens, his hometown will be immensely proud of the man he's become.

I've often heard from people who say the first thing they look at in the newspaper is the obituaries. They joke that they want to make sure they aren't in there. Lately, I've wanted to avoid reading them at all. I see too many people I know.

A few weeks ago, it was Inez Wylds. A former Augusta City Councilwoman, she had spent the last several years dallying behind the scenes of Columbia County politics. I got to know her as she battled some members of the Columbia County commission as they outlined plans for building a large boat ramp near her lake home.

And she kept the meddling politicos at bay with a sharp wit: "Things change,'' Mrs. Wylds once told me as we talked about Columbia County's growth. ''And the change will be no better than the leadership that Columbia County citizens choose.''

Inez Wylds was a grand lady. To this day, she serves as an inspiration to me: I've still got the note from Mrs. Inez complimenting The Mirror and wishing me well in the future. It's stuck in my top drawer, right where I can grab it on the days I wish I hadn't read the obituaries.

A few days after Mrs. Inez, it was Stewart Wilson. Stewart was one of my first bosses, giving me daily assignments as I washed cars, cut grass and other odd jobs at Johnson's in Thomson when I was in high school.

Years later, he and I sat at the same table at weekly Rotary meetings.

In recent months, I'd watched him battle harder and harder as he waited for an organ donor. In his obituary, family members took the opportunity to encourage people to become donors.

How severe is the need? Earlier this week, there were 12,000 people on the list to receive a donated body part. Yet there were only half that many donors.

Come on folks, it doesn't take much. In fact, in Georgia, all you have to do is sign a Uniform Donor Card - a legal document that must be signed in the presence of two witnesses who also must sign it, according to the Georgia Department of Driver Services.

A copy of the card - along with more information on becoming an organ donor - is available at

Web posted on Thursday, September 06, 2007

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