Starting out with one

Published 10:09 pm Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Gymnastics, golf and football are wildly different sports. In Suffolk though, all three either are being used or have been used in the last few days as instruments by people to help other people.

The Suffolk Steelers midget football team is seeking donors and sponsors for one of its former players, Raemaad Wright. Wright, a Forest Glen Middle School student, has been accepted into the 2011 World Leadership Forum in Washington, D.C. in September.

The Ryan Beale Golf Classic was a big success for the second straight June last week at Nansemond River Golf Course. Headed up Kyle Jett, Beale’s friend and two-sport teammate a few years back at Nansemond-Suffolk Academy, the event raises money to Beale after he was in a car accident and paralyzed from the chest down.

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World Class Gymnastics Too, a gym near Driver, is turning an annual event, its Gym Night, into a fundraiser for longtime teacher and gymnastics coach William Joseph Bystrom. “Coach Joe” is in critical care and in the midst of chemotherapy treatment due to acute myeloid lymphoma.

The Steelers and the Inner City Athletic Association help kids academically as well as athletically year-round with study halls and tutoring. It’s all usually much closer to home than Washington, D.C.

It’s evident, though, how assisting one kid’s education and experiences can turn out to be a great influence for countless people in coming generations.

Maybe Wright will gain career ambitions in politics, or probably better yet, another field altogether. Meeting Colin Powell first-hand could be inspirational. Wright said he’s never been to Washington. The trip and sights alone could be more powerful.

For Beale and Bystrom, the donations raised are going to help with their medical expenses, clearly helping their families.

All of Beale’s friends and family know it’s going to happen anyway, but the more strides Beale makes through his long road of rehabilitation, the more of an impact he’ll have on his friends, current and future friends. That’ll go double for friends who happen to be lacrosse players.

Bystrom’s taught and coached generations of students and gymnasts. Even when high schools took his sport away, he built a way to redouble his coaching efforts all the more. Even from a hospital, he’s finding ways to coach and teach the kids he cares about.

If he’s able to get back in a gym and coach again, it certainly seems he will.

It wouldn’t be surprising if some of the families whose children he’s coached see helping him out more as a repayment than a donation.

Whether it’s friend helping friend, player helping coach, or coach helping player, one certain lesson that can be learned from theses stories is this: Rarely does helping one person result in helping just that one person.