Leah, thank you for showing us how to be strong…

{Source: Devon Still's IG}
{Source: Devon Still’s IG}

 

I had a Jimmy V day today. I thought. I laughed. And I cried.

Happy tears.

A little girl and her family received some wonderful news today. Remember the story I wrote a few months ago about Devon Still & his daughter, Leah(https://kassienetteskorner.com/2014/11/07/the-father-daughter-story-that-is-inspiring-millions/)? Well today, they received the news that Leah’s cancer is in remission!!! Thank you LORD! While scrolling through my Instagram, I saw that the NFL has re-posted Still’s image. After only reading the first two sentences, I immediately knew what the rest of the text would reveal. 

Every day so many people experience heartbreak due to this cruel disease. And it seems to overshadow all the stories of survival. So when anyone finds victory, on this side of the disease, I rejoice! That victory is often played out in public by adult figures. It is rare that we get to see someone as young as Leah give the disease a knockout punch. Yes, it happens daily and I hope we get to hear more stories such as hers.

If you have Instagram and you do not follow Devon Still, I encourage you to do so. In the midst of such a tumultuous time, his page was often filled with encouragement, fist bumps and laughter courtesy of Leah. While it would have been easy for them both to succumb to a state of despair, they allowed love to overtake them and it radiated out to the world. Through the battle, we were able to see the courage of a young warrior who gave it her all to ensure that she would celebrate many more birthdays. Her innocence shined brightly through her smile as she danced in her princess attire. And how could you not love her penguin sticker whom she affectionately named “Ice Cream?” 

I am so happy that Leah is on the road to recovery. And Leah if you happen to read this, thank you for inspiring millions of us grown folks to never, ever give up! You rock princess!! {Fist Bump}

 

 

Until next time…TOODELLS.

Stuart Scott: A Life LIVEdSTRONG

When I was a teenager, I had daily routine before school. Wake up. Get ready for school. Watch Rocky & Bullwinkle. Eat cheese toast. Turn to ESPN at 7a to watch SportsCenter. Over the years, my routine has varied some but the one constant has always been my morning dose of SportsCenter. It was on SportsCenter that I got watch one of my favorite sports anchors every morning, Stuart Scott.

I can remember the day I met him as if it happened recently. My sixth grade PE teacher, Ms. Graves, who has become a dear friend of the family invited me to go with her to Late Night with Roy at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. Her son, Will, who was like a little brother was a freshman on the basketball team. Supporting Will was a no-brainer. As a proud graduate of North Carolina State University, traveling over into enemy territory was nothing new for me. In an effort to clearly let the masses know that I was there to support Will, only, and not the team I put on as much red as I could find. Red headband. Red NC State shirt. Red Chuck Taylors. Even in all my red, I was excited. I was excited that Will was going to get his first chance to really showcase his talent to the fans that would be cheering him on for the next four years and I was excited to see Scott in his element, up close.

I settle into my seat and soon Scott was introduced. I was mesmerized as I watched him command the crowd of thousands in the same manner that made him a favorite on SportsCenter. I could not believe I was seeing him in person. Then, it happened. He spotted me. I was sitting three rows from the court and I stuck out like beanstalk in a haystack. He was walking by the bench when I heard him say, “I know I don’t see what I think I see.” We immediately locked eyes and I smiled. Scott asked me to come out onto the court. Now even in all my boldness, I was not about to let him get me out on that court to ridicule me. I shook my head and told him to come up to where I was. As is typical with the banter between a Wolfpacker and a Tar Heel, neither of us budged. He gave up but not without making a State joke then moved on to something else.

After the event, I went over to speak to him. As I approached, he immediately smiled. He reached out to shake my hand, gave me a hug and thanked me for being a good sport. I told him how much I enjoyed him on SportsCenter and how he was one of my favorites. He thanked me, asked me a little about myself, told me to keep doing what I was doing and posed for a picture.

Stu

Over the past few weeks, Scott has crossed my mind often. Typically when that would happen, I would go check his Twitter feed to see if he had tweeted anything. He was a regular tweeter and the fact that he had not tweeted since November 14 was a cause for concern. As the weeks went on and the tweets still did not happen, I became increasingly sad. The absence of his tweets resonated loudly. Whenever he crossed my mind, I would pray; for him, his healing, his family especially his daughters, his colleagues, his medical staff, all those who knew and loved him. I tried to remain optimistic as I knew that wherever he was, he was fighting a good fight.

In July, I watched with the world as Scott accepted the Jimmy V Award for Perseverance at the ESPYs. It was fitting that a man who had dedicated so much of his time and efforts to the V Foundation was now on the receiving end of the award named in reference to how Jimmy V lived his life while battling the same disease as Scott. My eyes filled with tears as I listened to Scott deliver a speech that totally changed the way I looked at cancer. He provided me with an 18 word quote that resonated loudly…”You beat cancer by how you live, why you live and in the manner in which you live.”

When my friend Quincy passed away in October after a 10 year battle, it was that quote that often made me smile, through the tears, when I thought about Quincy. Quincy never let cancer define him. NEVER. He lived a life worthy of being remembered forever. He woke up every day determined to live and that is what he did until he took his last breath. As I sat glued to ESPN this morning, I knew Scott had lived the type of life he spoke about on that stage in July. If you were a regular watcher or ESPN, you saw it every time Scott was on. The only indication that he was in the fight of his life was the LIVESTRONG bracelet that always adorned his wrist. There was never any pity, sadness or despair. Whenever Scott was on, he was on just like he had always been. He was a living example of what beating cancer looked like.

Today, through tears, I have thought a lot about Quincy. I have read tweet after tweet from Scott’s colleagues, current and former athletes, the President and those who just love sports. I have watched his fellow anchors fight back tears as “he is” has to now change to “he was.” I have reminisced on the countless hours I have spent watching Scott revolutionize the title of sports anchor/analyst. And I have thought a lot about the day I met him in the Smith Center. At the time, I was still focused on one day becoming an athletic director. Thoughts of one day being a sports journalist had not crossed my mind. If it had, then my interaction with Scott that day would have been much different. I probably would have thanked him for being authentically him. I probably would have thanked him for giving hope to countless black journalists who strive to have a platform as big as his one day. I probably would have thanked him for never compromising who he was. I probably would have thanked him for stepping out on faith and trailblazing a path for others to follow. I probably would have thanked him for bridging the gap between hip-hop culture, sports and corporate America. I probably would have thanked him for being so great on the job and for being even better off of it.

I would have thanked him simply for being Stuart Scott.

Staurt, you nailed it as only you could. With style, grace and a BooYow to top it off.

Well done, sir. Well done.

{Source: Twitter}
{Source: Twitter}

Live from NC: The Anomaly Tour!

I have never been a fan of Christian rap.

Until I heard Lecrae. Admittedly, I am way late when it comes to his work. I have heard a few of his songs over the years. I have had friends who have told me how great his work is. I have even met fans of his who are not your “stereotypical” Christian. For years, I have struggled with this new wave of music. Everything sounds the same. The beats, the lyrics, the delivery. Everything. Gone are the days of boy bands, rock bands and girl groups. Everyone seems to be all about self. Gone are the days of originality, substance and groundbreaking. Everyone is doing what everyone else is doing.

These facts are precisely why I have stuck with my old school music. I love music from the 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s and a few songs from the early 2000s. I miss the days where I can turn on the radio and hear good quality music. I miss the days of BET & MTV showing videos. I miss the days of waiting with great anticipation for someone’s album to be released. So for me, sifting through all the rift raft to get to music from Lecrae was almost an impossible task for me. Newer artists have let me down so much that I did not even want to take the time to possibly give Lecrae a chance. Then, September happened.

There was a lot of buzz throughout social media about Lecrae’s “Anomaly” album during the ninth month. My attention was immediately grabbed. Buzz? About a Christian rapper? Really? Wow Lord. My research began. I found out that Lecrae does not like to be labeled a Christian rapper. He prefers to be labeled as a Christian who raps. Got it. I found out that teens are heavily into to Lecrae. Love it. I found out that a movement sent by God in the form of Lecrae has been gaining steam for years. On it. I knew enough and immediately downloaded “Anomaly.” And with that, everything I assumed about Christians who rap went out the window.

I was not sure what to expect but I would soon find out. The album opens with a song that literally left me with my mouth open. “Outsiders” is an ode to the people in the world who do not fit in. The people who were created to stand apart. The people who refuse to conform to the world. This was me! Ever sense I discovered my purpose, I knew my journey would differ from most. To say I have been on the outside looking in many times would be an understatement. This song confirmed that “I’m not alone cause there’s plenty people like me.” As the tracks continued to play, I was awe struck by the delivery of the messages. Lecrae was not saying God and Jesus in every other sentence and still the messages resonated loudly. It was in those moments that I realized that Christians who rap can effectively get across the message that God has sent through them without saying his name 50 times in a song. As long as He is the foundation, the words still have power.

I have listened to “Anomaly” over and over from two and a half months straight. I have been a witness to Lecrae seizing the number one spot on the Billboard 200. Number one ya’ll. I have celebrated on Twitter with my brothers and sisters in Christ when #LecraeOnFallon became a reality. And last night, I worshipped and praised the Lord with thousands of my fellow brethern at The Anomaly Tour.

What I witnessed last night was amazing. The Greensboro Coliseum Special Events Center could have easily been called The Melting Pot last night. There were people in attendance from all walks of life. There were representatives from numerous age groups, ethnicities, cultures, backgrounds, countries and races. And everyone was on one accord as we all partied, screamed, sang, rapped and gave God praise.

The show opened with DJ Promote setting the atmosphere for the show. It was great to hear a DJ set that was free of profanity and mixed so well that it was easy to forget at times what songs we were listening to. After the completion of his set, I unlike most in attendance, was sort of  introduced to Andy Mineo. He is featured on the “Anomaly” album but that was relatively all I knew about him. Just as before, I had not taken the time to really do my research on him. By the time his set was finished I was hanging my head. Andy Mineo is so dope! Just as before, I was awe struck by the delivery of the messages. I was left wondering, how could I have let him stay under my radar for so long? Now, that is a moot point. Now I am on a mission to hear all of his previous work as well because I can see God working in and through him. Andy, if you are reading this, you gained a new fan last night. I cannot wait to see what else God has in store for you!

Crowd rocking with Andy Mineo
Crowd rocking with Andy Mineo

Then it was Lecrae’s turn. The electricity that had radiated through the building during Andy Mineo’s set continued throughout Lecrae’s set and rightfully so. From start to finish, Lecrae set the stage on fire with his personal testimonies, songs of encouragement and humor. I had been giddy all day from the thought of hearing the “Anomaly” album live and disappointed I was not. The best moment of the set was easily when Lecrae snuck into the audience and performed. I was sitting two rows in front of the audio engineers when Lecrae surprisingly appeared on top of equipment behind us. Lecrae. In the crowd. Crowd goes wild. Oh and he spoke to me while he was up there. Take that, take that, take that.

Lecrae performing 'Welcome to America"
Lecrae performing ‘Welcome to America”
Look who just showed up behind me :-)
Look who just showed up behind me 🙂

 

Usie!

The show was everything I hoped it would be and more. To the encore of  “Say I Won’t” to the teens jumping up and down to salsa dancing, it was a party. One that pleased God. Much like sports, music can unite us across cultures. Music can remove whatever boundaries we have when it comes to how to we interact with our fellow brethren. Much like sports, music can draw us together to root for one common goal. Last night the goal was simple: to glorify God. The music last night allowed us to wallow in the love that God desires us to have for each other. To be able to co-exist and appreciate the differences He created in all of us. He created us to stand out. He created us to give Him glory and spread love.

He created us to be…anomalies.

 

 

Until next time…TOODELLS.

 

P.S. Follow me on Twitter @KassieNette

Exercise your right or keep your mouth shut…

Every two years around this time, I get extremely annoyed.

Annoyed by all the political ads. Annoyed by all the bickering. Extremely annoyed by all the people with the “my vote doesn’t count” attitudes.

It never fails. I see people all over social media complaining about how they are not going to vote because their voices are not heard or that all politicians lie or that there is no one running that they believe in. Hey! I get it. Wait, no I do not. Ok, to some extent. Yes, lots of politicians lie. However, I do believe there is a large number of them that keep their word. You know grouping them all together is a stereotype, right? Like an all young black males want to be football or basketball players stereotype. Like an all young white males who like to dress in goth attire are likely crazy. Like an all youth of today only want to play on their phones all day stereotype. This is along to same lines.

Years ago I was asked, “Why do you vote?” My response was simple, “Why would I not vote?” Besides the fact that I have the right to vote, I refuse to let the thousands of people who sacrificed their life so I can have this right die in vain. I allow myself to be reminded of all the people from all walks of life from all shades of color from all corners of the US who fought so that we can all have a voice in the booth.

Today, there will be millions of people who sit home and decide not to exercise their right for whatever reason. These are the people I roll my eyes at because this tells me that they do not value their voice. Sure, your voice may be one among a million and while we may not be able to put a face with the voice, we can see that you have spoken.I tend to find that the people who do not vote are the loudest critics and “find” the most problems but they rarely have solutions. They tend to not volunteer or give back in their communities. They tend to not attend meetings where decisions are being made. They tend to not voice their opinions in a manner where they can be effective. In my opinion, people like this just want to stir the pot and hope whatever is inside burns. To those people I say, keep your mouth shut.

If you are not part of the solution then you are part of the problem. As this election season comes to an end, I challenge everyone to stand up for something. Stop hiding behind social media. It is great that you see all these problems but what are you doing to rectify them? If nothing, then today is the best day to start. Start by going to the polls and electing officials that you think are the best candidates for the job. Leave the all politicians lie stereotype outside of your voting booth. The truth is, we can all talk a good game, politician or not. Vote and hold them accountable. Show up at the meetings. Email them. Call their offices. Make your voice heard beyond the ballot.

Today, exercise your right or keep your mouth shut. Actions speak louder than words. What do yours say about you?

 

{Source: Google Images}
{Source: Google Images}