Bill Shields and Aly Raisman -both winners in my book
Bill Shields and I worked in the same newsroom for 25 years at WBZ. Born and bred in the heart of Texas, Billy never lost that southern drawl. He proudly displays his “Texas” decal on the rear window of his Jeep. Billy can make anyone laugh at any time. He never takes himself him too seriously in a business that breeds self absorption. He can be a pit bull reporter and a sweetheart at the same time. He is the only person I have ever seen who could put his feet on top of his desk, lean back, and take a “power nap” for ten minutes- complete with snoring. Everyone loves Billy.
Now he has lung cancer.
Bill shared the stunning news with this colleagues last week in an email shared with the station staff.
“You know how life is full of irony.. sometimes it makes you laugh, sometimes it can anger you,” he wrote. “Well I find it frustratingly ironic that after finally quitting smoking (the 100th time), I have been diagnosed with lung cancer. Within a few days I will unleash my own aggression on the cancer. I will start chemo and radiation at Dana-Farber next week.”
Two days before Bill’s announcement, Olympic gymnast Aly Raisman held a fundraiser at the Pine Brook Country Club in Weston. Over $150,000 was raised to benefit the Uniting Against Lung Cancer‘s national research program.
Raisman was also honoring her grandmother. Nancy Raisman died before she could see her grand daughter win Olympic gold.
“Just 8 months before the London Olympics my grandmother died,” said Raisman. “The woman who encouraged me to fight so hard for my dreams wasn’t there to see me reach the biggest dream I ever had.”
It is impressive to see someone as young as Raisman (age 19) take on a cause and commit to making a difference. I first met Aly at the annual TD Garden “Tradition” event last month. When I thanked her for the interview, she told me about her fundraiser, took my business card, and said she would follow up. Which she did.
The event was hosted by Susan Wornick of WCVB fame, along with Channel 5’s Heather Unruh, and Kiss 108’s Matt Siegel. Also in attendance were Olympic Gold medalist Kayla Harrison, NHL Hall of Famer Brian Leetch, and Aly’s coaches Silvia and Mahai Brestyan. Her special guests were Boston Marathon victim Jeff Bauman, and Carlos Arrendondo who heroically saved Jeff’s life.
Raisman, after losing her grandmother is determined to help others fight the battle.
” It was important for me to her memory, as well as the countless others affected by lung cancer,” she said. “This includes the patients and doctors who battle this terrible disease every day, the lung cancer survivors, and the families and friends of those individuals who lost their battle.”
I am counting on my friend Bill Shields to win his battle.
“You guys know me,” he said in his email. “Yet you might not know this: underneath my easygoing laughter is a street fighter (a few have witnessed it)… I will fight this with everything I have and win.”
My vision is this:
Next year when Aly Raisman holds another event to raise funds for Uniting Against Lung Cancer, Bill Shields will be her special guest. Billy will be a living, breathing, completely healthy example of how it is possible to defeat lung cancer.
And my friend Bill Shields will be there to watch his boys play football, surf, graduate college, and start families of their own.
Good luck Billy- now go kick some butt.