One of my favorite exercises at the end of the year is to review all my columns throughout the year. I began writing LION (Leaders In Our Neighborhood) features in April of 2014, and I am always surprised how each year seems to have a certain theme. In 2018, it was good people passing away. That certainly occurred this year with the departure of Father Manno. There are few individuals that had an impact on an entire region as much as that man.
But this year I found that there were more young LIONS than all the previous years combined. There was the freshman from Penn College named Noah Shuey, who was given a motorcycle when he went off to college. He heard about the 911 Ride and wanted to participate. He had a patriotic streak, and though he was just an infant when the Twin Towers were attacked, it seemed to him that this was a tradition worth keeping. He told me after it was over, “It was amazing, seeing all those people, mile after mile, I did not realize that there were so many people who still cared about America that way. You would never guess that from listening to the media.”
There was the cover story on Abby McCoy, who nine years ago was featured on the cover of Webb Weekly for winning an equestrian championship at the age of eleven. Now a freshman at Emory & Henry College in Emory, Virginia, Abby was part of a national equestrian championship. Keep your eye on this young lady, as she is a pre-engineering major with a minor in chemistry who has the drive and ambition that translates into great achievements.
Ben Watts and Kaleb Daniels were high school graduates with strong political instincts. Ben won an essay contest for the Lycoming Republican Party that demonstrated wisdom far beyond his years. Kaleb served as a summer intern for the Lycoming County Commissioners, and his presence was clearly missed when his internship was over. Both entered college in the fall, and their strong political instincts will serve them well in the future.
Katelyn Taylor was the Lycoming County Dairy Maid. Just a senior at Montgomery Area High School, Katelyn is the energizer bunny of milk product promotion. She volunteers to speak to daycare centers as well as senior citizen homes and even made a presentation for the legislators at Harrisburg in support of the dairy industry. Spend more than fifteen minutes with Katelyn, and you will feel a real need for a glass of milk!
Anne Reiner was featured recently as a Millennial Media Entrepreneur for her efforts with On-the-Pulse, an in-depth local news, and cutting-edge multi-media coverage type website. I have known many young entrepreneurs in my life, and many are simply idealists with a good product idea and a lot of energy and not much else. Anne has a savvy and confidence combined with genuinely valid skills in media production and interviewing skills that make me believe this young lady has a very bright future.
The crown jewel of the young LIONS is far and away, 12-year-old Loyalsock resident Jacob Stopper. Though he has cerebral palsy, which impacts his fine motor skills, especially on his right side, Jacob’s mind is razor-sharp. He has a more profound vocabulary than anyone his age that I have ever met, and his knowledge of American politics and history is encyclopedic. Scott Metzger, running for Lycoming County Commissioner, and Eric Beiter, running for Williamsport city mayor, both made Jacob their honorary campaign chairman. However, when I interviewed Jacob, it sure seemed that he did not take his position as honorary as he outlined his strategy in amazing detail. I can’t remember having more fun doing an interview than the one with Jacob.
As my years creep rapidly upward, it is extremely satisfying to recognize so many young leaders emerging in our community, as they are the lifeblood of hope.
Larry Stout welcomes your comments or input. He can be reached by email: email@example.com.