Turn tragedy into hope
As soon as Yvonne Pointer
received the call, she knew something was horribly wrong. Her 14-year-old daughter, Gloria, had never made it to Harry David Middle School on the morning of Dec. 6, 1984 — the day she was to receive an award for perfect attendance.
Tragically, an apartment building manager found Gloria’s body within hours of the school’s phone call. The teen had been abducted, raped and brutally murdered. Her killer has never been found.
“A lot of people don’t understand the devastation of losing a child in such a violent way,” Yvonne says. “Anyone who walks out the door and doesn’t return due to violence, your life literally changes at that point.”
Yvonne has since become an activist involved in child safety programs such as Stranger Danger and Cleveland’s Midnight Basketball League. Here is how she turned her tragedy into hope that now reaches children halfway around the world.
 make a promise: Over Gloria’s casket, Yvonne Pointer vowed to never let the memory of her daughter die. “I didn’t start out with a plan. I was just fueled by pain and the injustice of Gloria’s murder. I decided to start small and volunteer with organizations like Stranger Danger that were working to protect our children and keep them safe. ... My service to the community is what saved my life.”
 be open to a higher power: In 2003, a poor African boy named Anthony Tay spotted a piece of paper in his path as he walked along a dirt road in Ghana. It was part of a magazine article about Yvonne and her daughter’s murder. How it wound up there remains a mystery, but Yvonne believes “God did it. There’s no other way to explain it.” Anthony wrote Yvonne to express his sorrow over Gloria’s death and ask for help. The 17-year-old needed food, money or anything that could help his village.
 give freely: After determining it wasn’t a hoax, Yvonne began sending donations to Anthony. In five years, she’s raised enough money to help send him and about 25 other children to school. “When I think about Gloria, she was just an inner-city girl. But I look at how much has happened as a result of what happened to her. ... It’s all been about miracles; I’m just the instrument.”
 never under-estimate the good you can do: Anthony educated village girls about rape, teen pregnancy and AIDS, and because of Yvonne’s support, he founded the Gloria Pointer Teen Movement in 2005, which is now reaching girls in villages throughout Ghana. Yvonne’s goal is to raise enough money to build a school there in her daughter’s name. “If I hope for a better and safer world for our children, then my faith means I have to do something about it.”
Donations in Gloria Pointer’s memory can be made through the Cleveland Scholarship Program or the United Black Fund of Cleveland.
Talk about wine like a pro
You’re dining at a restaurant with a wine list as baffling as the IRS tax code. This is no time to remark on the “fruity notes” of the Two-buck Chuck you swilled last week.John Poggemeyer, a former Napa Valley resident who directs the wine list at Hyde Park restaurants, supplies talking points so you can one-up any wino (ahem, aficionado) in the room.
Legs: Swirl your wine and watch it trickle down the side of your glass. Legs are the streaks you see. “The slower, more sluggish the streaks, the higher the alcohol content.”
> up the ante: Identify the wine’s origin by checking out its legs. Higher-alcohol wines come from hotter climates — Chile, for example. If “legs” fall down the side of the glass in sheets, the wine came from a cooler climate.
Acidity: “You’d think if you put two acids together, you’ll get a pure, jerking, awful reaction. It’s the opposite.” Acidic wine cancels out food acidity, explaining the happy marriage of Sauvignon Blanc and seafood garnished with lemon or Chianti with tomato sauces.
> up the ante: Order crème brulee and a port wine for dessert. “The same rule applies to sweet.”
Meritage: The word was invented in the ’80s by California winemakers denied varietal labeling because their blends contained less than 75 percent of any single grape. The label they got instead was “table wine.” The Meritage Association was formed, the word was copyrighted, and winemakers earn the distinction for quality blends. “Its an indicator that you are blending with intent rather than throwing crap together for profit’s sake.”
> up the ante: Be sure you pronounce the word correctly. Don’t say Meritage with a French accent. The word is American and rhymes with heritage.
“Most winemakers don’t own vineyards, they buy grapes from all over and blend them together.” If a label reads ‘single vineyard,’ you can be sure it’s high-quality.> up the ante: Don’t be fooled by the word “reserve” on a label. “It’s a marketing word that literally has no legal definition on a wine label.”
Avoid a heart attack
Dr. Steve Nissen, chairman of the Department of Cardiovascular Medicine at the Cleveland Clinic, has a confession: There’s really nothing new when it comes to heart-attack advice. But that doesn’t necessarily mean we’re heeding it. “We’re seeing heart disease at younger ages because of the obesity epidemic,” Nissen says. “We have to focus on prevention.” Plain and simple, it’s a numbers game. “ Keep your blood pressure and LDL cholesterol low,” he says. If your blood pressure consistently hovers above 140/90, it may be time for medication (an ideal reading is 120/80 or lower). Finding the best LDL number isn’t as simple. LDL, as opposed to necessary HDL, is bad cholesterol. If you’re in good health, any LDL number under 130 is acceptable, but only your doctor can recommend the best number for you — a general rule: the lower the better. Above all, says Nissen, avoid trans fats, add some regular exercise, and you’ll keep your heart pumping strong.
|Stick a landing: Pilot
Robert Snezek, 42, a flight instructor for Zone Aviation in Elyria, remembers his most memorable landing — sort of.
The Conditions |
Winds were blowing at 50 mph. Snezek was in the air with a man who had just started to train for his license. They were flying a Piper Tomahawk, a light plane good for beginners.In the Air |
Snezek enforced a “sterile cockpit,” meaning there was to be no chatting about last night’s baseball game or anything else. “Beginners can’t handle conversation,” he notes. Maintaining proper altitude and heading are the primary challenges. His student was fighting the wind, but otherwise doing fine.
The Landing | Snezek’s student, still struggling with the winds, began to lose speed on his final descent, and the plane plunged 50 feet. Snezek felt a surge of adrenaline. “I grabbed the throttle and shoved it forward,” he says. “Power fixes everything.” The descent slowed, but the plane hit the ground — hard. Because of the spring-loaded gears, the plane bounced back up about 20 feet. When it came to a final stop, Snezek climbed out, expecting to see smashed landing gear. “It was fine,” he says. Obviously, he was relieved.
Stick a landing: Gymnast
Dominique Moceanu-Canales, 27, part of the “Magnificent Seven” team from the ’96 Olympics, recalls her most memorable landing.
The Conditions | The ’96 U.S. team had just won the gold. Despite a stress fracture in her tibia, Moceanu performed solidly, but blew it on the vault —falling the first time and wobbling the other. She’d be performing the same vault — a Yurchenko one-and-a-half twist — during individual competition.
In the Air | The first four strides were taken slowly to build up momentum. In the next nine strides, she reached maximum speed then flew into her roundoff. Both feet landed on the springboard, which launched her blindly toward the vault behind her. “I reached backward, toward the vaulting horse, tightened up my abdominal and leg muscles and exploded out of my shoulders,” she says. In flight, she executed her twist-and-a-half.
The Landing | “I keenly focused on greeting the floor with my feet while absorbing the shock through my quadriceps,” she says. “That was the essential ingredient to my perfect landing.” Her feet hit the floor hard. She stood up straight, flung her shoulders back and threw her arms into the air. “Obviously,” she says, “I was proud.”
Trace your family roots
Barack Obama and Princess Di have Ohio ties? If you go back far enough, says Ann Sindelar, a genealogy expert at the Western Reserve Historical Society, noting that ancestors of both lived in Ross County in the 1820s. Curious about your family’s past? Sindelar offers her advice on where to start.
> Leaf through the family tree: You might not know your great-grandmother’s maiden name, but your aunt might. Elder family members are valuable sources of information. Don’t wait to pick their memories.
> Rake it in: Birth, marriage, military and death certificates are gold mines. Old letters, clippings and photographs may show sides of your ancestors you can’t find in census data.
> Enlist the experts: Take advantage of a historian’s expertise. As one of the largest family research centers in the country, the WRHS Library is a good place to start. “Sometimes we can tell by the way a woman wears her hair which decade [a photograph] was taken. Or there may be an automobile or shrubbery in the background that can identify where and when the scene takes place.”