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Keeping the hope and the stories alive

Keeping the hope and the stories alive

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So I went down to the basketball arena not long ago to see a lot of shots being taken. It was Friday, Feb. 5, and it was on that cold and sunny morning when I felt like we were really seeing some light at the end of the pandemic tunnel.

I had the honor of providing transportation for my mother-in-law, Carrie Wiars, to get her to and from Pinnacle Bank Arena to get her first dose of COVID-19 vaccine.

As we left downtown to head for home, I thought about how it truly was a well-run event, so kudos to the PBA folks and the Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department for that.

A few other here-and-there thoughts that hit me that morning:

- Dr. Rick from the Progressive ads should have been there in the parking garage. “Backing into a spot when there are six cars behind you in the garage. Is that a good idea?”

- Does it really matter if Subway tuna is real tuna?

- Will I ever be able to play golf again here in Winnipeg? Wow, what a winter.

- Shouldn’t every NCAA Women’s Volleyball Championship be played in Nebraska? Really.

I thought about lots of things. But mostly, what hit me was how important it is to honor the most experienced people in our lives and their stories, because there are so many good ones.

About 5,000 seniors got their first shot of the vaccine that day at Pinnacle Bank Arena, and so I thought about those 5,000 stories.

How many of those folks were doctors and nurses? How many were teachers and coaches? How many built homes or served their community in some special way?

Oh, the book you could write with all their stories. And I got to be in their company that morning. Lucky me.

One of the guests of honor was one of the youngest female pilots in Wisconsin, in the mid-1950s. She flew out of little Hales Corners Airport, near Milwaukee. Her parents ran that airfield, and she was flying planes before she had her driver’s license. It’s true.

That young pilot was Carolyn Gardner, now Carrie Wiars, now 84.

I got to take here to get her shot that day.

An honor and a privilege, for sure.

John Mabry, development director at the Food Bank of Lincoln, will share stories about life from time to time in L. He wears a mask, and he can be reached at


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