And the Award Goes to…OH, GIMME A BREAK!

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year!  Time to declare who rules and who drools!  Time when a pile of people we mostly never heard of but know they’re important because they say they are, offer us their nominees for the world’s most assorted fabulous people in any number of categories.

Now, I don't know about you, but I rarely remember a time when, say, People Magazine, for example, announced its "Sexiest Man Alive" and I thought, "Dang Skippy, they nailed that!"  More often than not I’m left scratching my head wondering what’s there I apparently do not see?

And is it just me, or have you most often NOT seen the movie garnering all the Academy buzz?

How about such and such's pick for Person of the Year?  Or Most Influential so and so?  Do they match your pick?  Most of the time, again, I’m thinking, “Oh, gimme a break.”

So, with all the listicles coming out, and since I'm still waiting on my ballots from the Academy, People, and everyone else, I thought why not bust out my own list?

This is certainly not meant to be exclusive and I know I will miss people that you really care about – especially if you’re reading this outside South Carolina!  So feel free to add yours to the comments section!

(By the way, I purposely left off politicians.  Looking for more Ho! Ho! Ho! and less hot air in this space.  It’s Christmas.)

So here goes.  My musings on the 2019 PEOPLE OF THE YEAR (in no particular order):

EVERYONE FIGHTING HUMAN TRAFFICKING. 

I have this fantasy that this horrific scourge would be the issue that would unite parties and nations, and fire up high profile advocates.  Imagine national government summits with this top of the agenda and an intense, global effort to target the most disgusting criminals on the plant and save the most vulnerable – with immediate impact.  Here in South Carolina, Jen Thompson, CEO at Lighthouse for Life is a local hero in this tough arena.  Internationally, Christine Caine with A21 does amazing work and has saved countless lives.

LARRY NICHOLS

Here in Columbia, SC, Larry Nichols runs a longtime ministry devoted to the area homeless called Resurrections Lunch on Lawn.  No matter the weather, rain or snow, in 100 degrees heat and humidity, every single Saturday -- every single Saturday (he never misses) -- Larry works to make sure Columbia's homeless receive a substantial weekend meal and whatever else they need.  His humble, tireless devotion literally takes your breath away, yet Larry would be the first one to tell you, America is richly blessed with many like him, in communities big and small, who give like he gives.  Talk about being People of the Year!

COLLEGE QB CLUB

I know I will miss some well-deserving young men on this list.  For example, Heisman winner Joe Burrow is an obvious standout.  The LSU signal caller’s incredibly poignant Heisman acceptance speech addressing poverty in his hometown generated a staggering $250K in donations for the hungry fewer than 48 hours after he gave it.  But I have been particularly struck by the humility and humanity of three QBs this season:  Alabama's Tua Tagovailoa, Oklahoma's Jalen Hurts and South Carolina's Ryan Hilinski.  Tagovailoa and Hurts are consummate teammates.  They are winners because they both know how to handle being back-ups, and they consistently show amazing grace under tremendous pressure.  In other words, they shine without a spotlight.  Unlike Tagovailoa and Hurts, Hilinski has only just begun his college campaign, but he bears more on his young shoulders than he should, and like Tagovailoa and Hurts he does so with exceeding dignity and strength of character that honors his teammates, his university and his brother's legacy.

RADIO & T.L. HANNA HIGH SCHOOL. 

The sad news came this week that we lost a true icon -- James "Radio" Kennedy.  Radio was 73 when he passed away early Saturday morning, breaking the hearts of everyone associated with T.L. Hanna High School for the past several decades and the Upstate South Carolina community that loved him as well as Radio loved them.  Radio's story was captured in the 2003 film starring Cuba Gooding, Jr., and you give yourself and anyone you love a great gift by watching it again and often.  In short, in the mid-1960s, Radio (who could barely speak and had never learn to read or write) was embraced by Coach Harold Jones, and regardless of staffing changes over the decades, the T.L. Hanna High family took care of Radio who became a beloved person of high significance at the school and in the community.  Radio was inducted into the T.L. Hanna Athletic Hall of Fame in 2016.  His story is a tribute to love -- pure, simple and all powerful.

SANITATION WORKERS. 

I actually checked with Google to see if it's okay these days to use the term "garbage man".  This is the ruling from the Google Gods: "Politically correct terms are 'sanitation engineer' and 'waste management professional,' but if you ask the men and women who actually do the work there's nothing to be ashamed of in a description that's less euphemistic."  I really wanted to be respectful with this because I really mean it.  Sanitation workers are up and at it exceedingly early.  In South Carolina it's mostly always hot.  Always too humid.  Nasty bugs and other wild critters roam. And then there’s the humans! Most folks are annoyed that the big, stinky truck is blocking traffic.  On the best days it has to be a really tough job and I imagine without many thank yous.  Every time I come home and my big green can is empty, I think how grateful I am for these workers.  If there was an “Unsung Hero” category, I’d nominate them.

CAREGIVERS FOR THE VERY YOUNG & THE ELDERLY. 

I am awed by the gifts God grants some of us to use in service to others.  It is incredible to me that some are able and willing to rush to the most horrific crime and accident scenes and not retreat, while others brave burning buildings and war zones. That doctors can open chests and perform intricate brain surgeries, and scientists can identify the tiniest cells that lead to the most magnificent breakthroughs - it’s all so staggering to me. But few people amaze me as much as those who care for sick and terminally-ill kids.  God must have granted the doctors, nurses and other professionals in this excruciating arena three extra hearts so that as one breaks, two continue the heavy lifting of carrying on and caring. There must be a special place in heaven just for them. Likewise, for hospice workers and those who choose to serve the elderly in nursing homes and other facilities - God bless you.  Being the heart and hands that help someone finish their race well is vital work.  It is both a tremendous privilege and a great burden to serve as a gateway to heaven and I am grateful for those who labor there.

There are so many others we could talk about from our heroic troops stationed across the globe to the people of Hong Kong pressing for freedom, to your local dispatchers.

And that’s good news.

In a world that seems so hopelessly divided, it is actually easy to think about people that are deeply admirable.  Folks you’d want your kids to emulate.

And the best news is for most of them, we don’t need a red carpet, a plane ticket, a trophy or a ballot to honor them.  We don’t have to be bigshots to recognize the bright lights amongst us because they are all around.  They are our fellow citizens, members of our community, friends and neighbors, the family members we kiss goodbye as they set out on another shift.

They are the real stars in our very real world and dominate perhaps the most vital category of all:  “Most Needed”.

To them and to all our unsung heroes, may God richly bless you this Christmas and keep you in His awesome grip this new year.

As a young TV news reporter, Christy mistakenly drove the bad guys away from the crime scene. If you're looking for a funny and inspirational speaker for your next event - contact Christy at bodychekessentials@gmail.com or 803.908.7630. For information click HERE.

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