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Rachel Von | The Journal Gazette

Furthermore …

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Generosity paints the town pink – again

Those bright pink ribbons adorning the city for the Vera Bradley Foundation for Breast Cancer Classic are a happy reminder of the medical research made possible by the foundation’s efforts. Imagine a ribbon for every dollar raised since 1994 and you’d see a city totally in the pink.

From its first golf and tennis event through last month’s 21st, the foundation has raised $21 million for breast cancer research. The classic this year set another fundraising record: $1,083,629, celebrated at an event this past week.

“We planted the seed and the Fort Wayne community embraced the cause and grew it into the huge success it is today,” said Barbara Bradley Baekgaard, Vera Bradley co-founder, in a news release.

The success is in the promising work done at the foundation’s Breast Cancer Research Laboratories at Indiana University School of Medicine in Indianapolis.

Nearly 40 medical investigators are working there, studying a personalized medicine approach to breast cancer treatment. Genetic sequencing to find biomarkers for treatment targets is another approach.

Public schools’ safety grant has hidden extra cost

Indiana schools, hurting for state support under the crush of lawmaker demands, certainly won’t complain about the $9 million in school safety grants awarded this week. But the money comes at considerable cost.

For one, it’s the opportunity cost of money spent on security systems and resource officers instead of instruction. A $50,000 award to pay an officer’s salary is money that could be spent to hire an additional classroom teacher or restore a position in art, music or physical education. It could be spent on the school counselors that the Indiana Chamber of Commerce would like to see advising students.

There’s also a cost to public confidence. The second year of grant announcements sends a subtle message to those unfamiliar with Indiana’s public schools that they are dangerous places.

That is not the case. The well-respected Phi Delta Kappa/Gallup Poll of the Public’s Attitudes Toward the Public Schools last year surveyed parents of public school students about safety. Asked whether they fear for the physical safety of their oldest child while at school, 88 percent said no, compared with 63 percent in 1998.

For parents to feel more confident in their children’s safety after Columbine, Paducah and Newtown suggests they are pleased with what they find when they visit their schools. That’s not the work of the new safety grants – it is the long-standing effort by educators to make buildings safe.

In announcing the grants, Gov. Mike Pence issued a news release noting that “all of Indiana’s students deserve to learn and grow in a safe environment.” Interestingly, there was no news release in March, when the governor quietly signed a bill allowing adults to keep guns in their vehicles in school parking lots.

Long-delayed honor

For baseball fans in Indiana and everywhere else, Tommy John’s name is synonymous with the ligament-replacement procedure common to pitchers with elbow injuries. Now, the native Hoosier, who continued his successful career as a Major League pitcher after the surgery in 1974 can finally be known as the commencement speaker for his Terre Haute high school.

Thomas Edward John, 71, is set to deliver the speech at Terre Haute North Vigo on Sunday, 53 years after he was denied the honor as Gerstmeyer High School’s 1961 valedictorian.

The belated address is the result of a chance comment he made to Danny Tanoos, Vigo County school superintendent, when he attended a ceremony last year naming a baseball diamond as “Tommy John Field.”

John told Tanoos that a school official assigned him to deliver the invocation at his commencement ceremony, even though John had worked hard to graduate in the top spot in the class. Why? Apparently because he stammered.

“I think they were afraid I’d get up there and start stammering,” John recalled. “They didn’t really tell me why.”

Tanoos was astounded, and set out to make it right. He approached Robin Smith, principal of the high school created by a 1971 consolidation, to make it happen. John agreed to deliver the speech only after making sure he wouldn’t replace someone in the current graduating class.

Next time you hear John’s name, think not only about the pioneering surgical procedure to which he lent his name but also the incredible class he showed as a student and as an adult.

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