New Year's Eve is typical of this, and over the years I've come to rely on Dick Clark as a familiar face and voice to help mark the transition from one year to the next. It's always been the same script: smooth, fluffy chatter to keep viewers focused as the seconds tick down to the inevitable milestone. The man became a cultural icon because he defined the very best in on-camera delivery.
So when I turned on the television just before midnight and saw him, I admit I was saddened to see him struggle to get through the show. The more I thought about it afterward, however, the more I admired him for his courage. I thought of the countless stroke survivors and their families who were inspired by what he had done, and I knew I wanted to write about the goodness that he had accomplished in the process.
The resulting piece was published in yesterday's London Free Press. Here's the link. Here's the text (see below your today's Your Turn...I hope you'll share your perspective as well):
Dick Clark return emotional momentYour turn: Stroke and heart disease are the leading killers of Canadians - and I surmise folks of other nations as well. How has heart disease and/or stroke touched your life? How have you coped?
Published Tuesday, January 3, 2006
The London Free Press
If more Canadians take the time this year to learn about strokes, they'll have Dick Clark to thank.
Like so many on New Year's Eve, I watched television coverage of the big ball drop in New York's Times Square. Clark returned almost 13 months after suffering a stroke that had kept him silent last year for the first time in more than 30 years.
I'll admit it was initially painful to watch him. His speech was slurred, slow and deliberate. The smooth-as-glass delivery was gone.
Yet in its place was a man with the guts to risk losing his position at the very summit of American pop culture so that more of us would wake up to the risks of strokes.
The Heart and Stroke Foundation estimates some 50,000 Canadians will have a stroke this year. About 16,000 will die. Although stroke risk doubles every 10 years after age 55, it strikes at any age.
Because of Clark's courage, viewers with the foresight to help themselves just might avoid this fate.