Monday, April 16, 2018
I was invited to come to San Antonio today, to be at the SA Express News offices when the 2018 Pulitzer Prize Awards were announced livestream. "Rowan's Reach" by photojournalist Lisa Krantz had been submitted in the Featured News Category. With such a big news year, and so many global stories, tragedies and crises, we did not expect to be in the running. However, Lisa's work was announced as a Pulitzer Prize Finalist! (one of just 3 in it's category) This is HUGE!. This is only the second SA Express News submission that has made it as a Pulitzer finalist, in over 100 years. And Rowan was the only entry this year whose story featured a specific individual, not a group or an event. For a single child's life, death and legacy to reach such a broad audience and for Lisa's photos of him to be recognized at this level...is mind blowing.
We awaited the news together...
And were thrilled to hear he was a finalist...
At the celebration, a few hours after the announcement was made public, I told the entire news room, that Rowan always wanted to save the world. The first time he told us that when he was 3 years old, in ICU, after his first brain surgery. I explained that while he definitely changed a lot of us, the work Lisa, and all of them, did on this story, and with the countless other stories they bring to the masses, they were helping Rowan achieve that goal. It takes a village, and they were all indeed changing if not helping him save the world.
I cannot thank Lisa Krantz (photographer), the Editor in Chief, the Managing Editor, Text editor, Photo editor, and the entire staff of the San Antonio Express News for all your hard work. Rowan is no doubt smiling down, proud of how far reaching his message of hope is spreading, excited about how many people will hopefully now remember to "Love your Life!".
For the rest of time, if someone looks up the 2018 Pulitzer Prize Awards Finalist at http://www.pulitzer.org/prize-winners-by-year they will see Lisa's touching photos of Rowan's life and legacy, in the 2018 Featured News category finalists. That is a big deal, a really big deal!
Here are just a few of them...
As the Pulitzer Prize Board describes the photos and story, which also perfectly describes Rowan's life, it was a "... physical, spiritual and emotional journey".
Congratulations Lisa and the San Antonio Express-News.
Thank you for truly expanding Rowan's reach...
And remember everyone... "Love Your Life!"
Guardians of the Children remember "Hope" & "Courage" once again as they give back to the community.
The Guardians of the Children Von Ormy Chapter hosted the 10th Annual Children's Festival "Avenida Fiesta" this Saturday, and gave away bikes to kids in the community, once again. You may remember Rowan attending 2 years ago and bringing an Iron Man bike that he was so very proud to donate to a precious little boy. Last year they honored Rowan's memory by putting his bracelets on the bikes, and this year they did that and more...
The Guardian's of the Children do so much for the community. They not only stand up for and protect neglected and abused children in the community, and give back to the under served, but they also adopted Rowan and Jalene into their family as Lil' Guardians, as they fought for their lives. Jalene was known as "Courage" and Rowan chose the name "Hope". They wore their vests proudly and embodied those characteristics, and both of our families cherish the vests, and what they mean, still to this day.
It was such a beautiful day Saturday... both the weather and the spirit and heart of the event. They opened by presenting the flags and playing the national anthem. They had face painters, clowns, balloon animals, games, food, drinks, music, dancing, etc... all free to the local children and their families.
The biggest part of the festival though is the free bike raffle for the kids. They give away tons of bikes to kids of all ages.
Rowan's bracelets were on the handle bars once again.
It is just precious to watch the kids run up to the stage when their name is called, and they get to choose from a sea of brand new shiny bicycles...truly priceless.
It makes me cry every year. Jen and I donated a Frozen bike in memory of Jalene, and an awesome orange trick bike in memory of Rowan, this year. It was so fun to wait and see who chose those specific bikes. They were so excited! Their parents allowed me to photograph them on them, which really warmed our hearts.
Before the bike raffle started though, the Guardian's called Jen and I, and Jalene's sister Zoe, up on stage, and honored our angels so beautifully.
They told a little bit about Jalene and Rowan and explained how they had been adopted into their family as "Courage" & "Hope". Then they held a moment of silence, a balloon release (letting all the children there let go of their brightly colored balloons at the end of the moment of silence), and played "Shake it Off" for Jalene, and "Somewhere over the Rainbow" for Rowan. Jen and I both held each other and cried.
Near the end of the songs we noticed the last straggling balloons, the only ones left that could be seen at that point... they were a single orange balloon and a single purple balloon (I didn't get a picture of it, but we all saw it;). A sign of thanks from "Courage" & "Hope".
Thank you to our Guardian's of the Children Von Ormy Family and to every other sponsor, volunteer, and attendee who helped make Saturday so special. We love you, love attending this event, donating bikes, and watching all the good you are making in the community.
And thank you for always remembering and honoring our angels, Rowan Jameson "Hope" Windham & Jalene Estella "Courage" Salinas...