Last week was a good one for heartwarming stories in addition to the usual spate of breaking news.
My wife, a long-time teacher at Amador Valley, invited me to join her for the premiere Friday afternoon of "Long Shot: The Kevin Laue Story" at the Vine Cinema in Livermore. Kevin graduated from Amador Valley and starred on the basketball team. Kevin greeted her with a hug in the lobby that was crowded with many young folks who were there for the late afternoon showing.
The film, a documentary filmed and directed by Franklin Martin over a four-year period, chronicles Kevin's amazing journey from unsure 10-year-old who had just lost his "bigger than life" father (cancer) to a Division 1 basketball player playing on scholarship for Manhattan University in New York Cityall while playing with one hand. He is an athletic 6-11 post player. He was born without his left hand which had been entangled with the umbilical cord that was wrapped around his neck twice.
While a senior at Amador, his story was featured on a number of Bay Area television stations that led to a column in Sports Illustrated that President George W. Bush read. The president sent him an unsolicited note encouraging him.
The rollercoaster ride Kevin endured was captured the afternoon he met President Bush at San Francisco International Airport and then returned to play in a game where he suffered a hairline fracture in his leg and his season ended.
It is an excellent film if you lived in Portland or Denver and had no connection. For folks who live in Pleasanton and have a connection to Amador, it's even richer.
UCLA and NBA basketball star Bill Walton captured it when he said, "Kevin's remarkable and perfectly told story will make you laugh, cry and think."
It is running at the Vine this week.
News stories this month have featured two-year-old Delaney Newton's battles with a brain tumor that now is being treated with chemotherapy. Doctors operated for 12 hours in September to remove the tumor.
Many people have rallied around the Livermore family, including Service Champions employee Nick Borchers. Borchers and his co-workers, including company owner Kevin Comerford, completely redid the duct work and installed a surgical grade air filtration in her Livermore home last weekend. Comerford worked with his vendors to obtain the materials while Borchers put together the installation team.
The super-clean air will help Delaney avoid potential infections while she undergoes chemotherapy.
Merlin Newton, Delaney's dad, is a fire fighter with the Livermore Pleasanton department where a number of his colleagues have shaved their heads to support Delaney. His wife, Janice, has been through tough times before. When she was 23 years old, her family was featured on Extreme Makeover: Home Edition after she lost her mom and step-father within a few months. The three oldest siblings were left to raise the other five kids.