Fighting good fights

Nancy Gould-Hilliard
Around the Island

First, a math lesson from Mercer Island Rotary, for my metrics error last week. Since a kilometer equals .621 miles, it’s a sure bet that a 10-K run equals 6.2 miles and a 5-K run is 3.1 miles. However, a half-Marathon equals 13.1 miles! I erroneously “mis-K’d” the March 25 Rotary Half Marathon. Arrghh. Ten lashes.

For the exact courses and lengths of the 5-K and 10-K runs, the Half-Marathon and the shorter kid-dash, please see All proceeds will help benefit colon cancer awareness, giving folks a jump on its cure and prevention.

Other Islanders wage good fights as well:

A benefit concert in support of Kyle Roger, the 6-year-old grandson of MI’s Linda and Roger Willhite will be performed by Recess Monkey, a Seattle kid's band, this Saturday, March 10, noon-2 p.m., at the Experience Music Project. Kyle and family are staying at the Willhites for his six-week treatment at UW and Children’s Hospital for pontine glioma — scientifically speaking, cancer deep in the brain of children. For more about how people are helping the family over the hurdles, see

“Keep a good thought for Kylie,” says Grandma Linda. “I know all grandkids are special, but he’s such a bright star with a positive attitude. He goes cheerfully into daily radiation treatments, which require general anesthetic, because kids that age can’t be still enough.”

The Willhites have lived on Mercer Island 37 years. Their daughter Christin (Willhite) Roger, Kyle’s mom, is a 1989 MIHS graduate and her family lives in Bellingham.

Author Clay Eals, a 1969 MIHS graduate, will debut his new book in April. “Steve Goodman: Facing the Music,” tells of the late-songwriter, who fended off a normally fatal illness for years by creating more than 100 songs from 1960-80. Most popular was “City of New Orleans.”

Arlo Guthrie writes in the book’s foreward: “I felt (Goodman) knew (how long his life mission would take) with a typical sadness that was not debilitating, but actually energized him” to write deeper or funnier songs. “That kind of instinct ... allows you to be more real because you’ve got nothing to lose.”

Eals, who formerly worked for the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, also is writing a biography about baseball great Fred Hutchinson, who died of lung cancer in 1964. In his memory, the renowned cancer-fighting institute began. The book should be out by 2010.

The state’s “first-gentleman,” Mike Gregoire, recently spoke on Mercer Island urging all to “stand by U.S. veterans to ease their burdens.” He said approximately 51,000 vets have claimed injuries and mental disorders as a result of war in Iraq - levels not seen since the Vietnam War.

Rabbi Jay Rosenbaum, Herzl-Ner Tamid, provides us a local opportunity. He tells of Gavriel Jacobs, a Marine and HNT congregant, who was seriously injured when his tank was blown up near the Syrian border. This was Gavriel’s second tour of duty in Iraq, and he was just two months from returning home. Now he’s in a military hospital in Bethesda, Md.

Says the Rabbi, “I have been impressed with Gavriel - who combines sensitivity and courage and, in his 21 years, has seen more of the harsh side of life than most of us will see in our lifetimes. He has received inspiring support from the military and from friends and family all over the world. HNT is sending him CD's and books to add to our good wishes and prayers. Words of support from community members would be appreciated greatly by Gavriel,” he adds. Cards sent to HNT will be forwarded.

A final word on survival: Jack Lane, former East Mercer Park resident off Gallagher Hill Road, rescued a two-ton boulder when the road was widened years ago. “The street crew was about to haul it away, but Jack thought it would be a nice entrance marker and had them move it to its current resting place,” says Beryl Huffstetter, still an EMP resident.

Now, drivers daily pass by the multi-million-year-old sentry, formed from molten magma way up north, dragged here by glaciers, thrust up by other processes and weathered into its present spheroidal shape. The granite rock, greening with age, is a reminder of all it’s been through to get where it is today. Against all odds.

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