(This column appeared in a recent edition of my hometown newspaper, the Devils Lake Journal in Devils Lake, N.D.)
I recently discovered a scrapbook from my Devils Lake High School days that I had long forgotten I even possessed and had not cracked open in at least 20 some years. It amazes me the variety of items I kept and treasured enough to so carefully preserve. The care I took with it is particularly interesting since keeping a scrapbook for other life milestones is not something I’ve continued throughout my life.One aspect of the scrapbook that is somewhat surprising to me is the number and scope of newspaper sports story clippings (many of them by the Journal’s Mike Belmore) and sports paraphernalia I saved – I think I have every Devils Lake Satans button produced in the 1970s! Looking back I remember being an avid fan of hockey (who wasn’t) and basketball, yet my clippings in the scrapbook are for every sport from wrestling to cross country, which brings me to the recent story of Devils Lake cross country team member Melanie Bailey, who has warmed the hearts of people around the world through her recent selfless act at a meet of carrying an injured fellow competitor on her back instead of finishing the race. The Devils Lake Journal first posted a photo on its Facebook page of Melanie carrying competitor Danielle Lenoue on her back on a recent Wednesday. It instantly got a ton of likes and eventually within about a day went viral, which basically means that legions of people worldwide saw the photo or story through social media sharing, which can result in it being picked up by the media. As I write this column I know Melanie’s story has been shared by ABC News and USA Today and that will likely expand. Ellen DeGeneres also posted a photo of the pair on her Facebook page, and rumor has it the girls and their families are heading to LA to appear on a popular talk show. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/10/21/runner-carries-inured-opponent_n_6021498.html
This phenomena of a story spreading like wildfire worldwide was unheard of back in my high school days because none of the technology existed for it do so. In addition to the viral nature of the story, I also think what’s interesting about this story is that so far it has only been shared and touched the hearts of so many via a powerful photo and the written word. I also like the fact that it’s actual, authentic story going viral, rather than some goofy YouTube video of a cat scaring a baby or some other animal nonsense. From YouTube videos to insipid shows like the Kardashians or Honey Boo Boo, people in the U.S. and elsewhere are filling their brains with a lot of nonsensical drivel. Melanie and Danielle’s story is a bona fide story involving real, everyday people and genuine emotions.
And Melanie and Danielle’s story is being scrapbooked for them in an electronic forum for a much larger audience to see and appreciate than ever could have happened in the 1970s. However, even though these girls could gather a collection of links to the many stories that have appeared I noticed that instead Melanie cut out the Devils Lake Journal print article and photo from the meet, took a picture of it and posted on her Facebook page. You go girl. Get that scrapbook going.