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Bike Trip for ArthRIDEis Over the Labor Day weekend, from August 29 through September 1, a team of nine bicycling enthusiasts rode from Pittsburgh to Washington, D.C., along the Great Allegheny Passage and C&O Canal Towpath biking trails to raise awareness and funds for the Arthritis Foundation. One of the riders, Jeff Krakoff of Upper St. Clair, decided to transform the initial idea of a long ride into a fundraiser called ArthRIDEis. First diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis* 18 years ago, Jeff manages his arthritis with

medication and regular exercise, including biking. “Biking has really been a help for me physically and also emotionally,” says Jeff, who trained for months with his group. Even as well prepared as Jeff was, he actually came very close to not completing the ride due to the pain. “There were times when I had severe pain in my hands, wrists, and knees, especially the last night before we rode from Harpers Ferry to Washington, D.C.” But Jeff was motivated to fight through the pain and complete the

The Christmas Twinkie Mary Lynne Spazok

It was a frosty winter’s eve. The moon shone bright while the stars danced merrily. Radiant stained glass shimmered, reflecting the golden glow of twinkling Luminaria along the streets. The outdoor Crèche, a life-sized work of art, is a symbol of hope and a guiding light. In that manger, a swaddled babe with arms outstretched welcomed families, friends, and strangers alike. It was December 24, Christmas Eve in Upper St. Clair. The church of St. John Capistran overflowed with faithful from near and far and angelic voices of the children’s choir led parishioners in “Joy to the World.” Officiate and Pastor James J. Chepponis shepherds the congregation’s spiritual being. The artistic attributes of being published and musically-gifted and having a sense of humor endow his persuasive homilies. As comedienne George Burns once said, “The secret of a good sermon is a good beginning, a good ending, and then having the two as close together as possible.” What was it going to be? The Narrative provides a contemporary appeal to Biblical tradition to bring out the word of God. Another option is the Expository. More theological in nature, deduction is made from statements, emotional expressions, and a prescriptive for positive action. Lastly, the Doctrinal is known as the textual sermon. It uses the “hook, book, 70


look, and took” approach. The goal is to “hook” your audience with a thought-provoking story. The “book,” of course, is formal scripture, while “look” examines what scripture is asserting. Lastly, the “took” element is what one should take in and take away. Well, out came Father Jim’s surprise bag, and what a surprise it was! At Father Jim’s request, a youngster came forward to discover the magic of the bag. Was it going to be the gifts of the Magi: gold, frankincense, and myrrh? Would it be a star, the Star of Bethlehem? To the boy’s amazement, he pulled out a Hostess Twinkie. Lighthearted laughter filled the church, but the boy seemed befuddled, expecting something a tad more holy. Father handed him a crisp one dollar bill in exchange for the Twinkie and a job well done. He declared that locating just one Twinkie, any Twinkie, was quite challenging with the manufacturer declaring it was going out of business. First there was the endless search of grocery store shelves to no avail. Then, E-bay revealed a seller who fancied a mere $12,000, declaring, “Hostess Twinkies—two boxes unopened need help with cataract surgery.” Whoa, good cause, but definitely out of the budget. Dauntless, a diligent patron came forward with one “food for thought.” That iconic American snack—a golden sponge with creamy filling—was destined Winter 2013

ride. “I hope our journey shows that people with arthritis can still participate in strenuous activity.”

Nine riders, including five USC residents, completed the 331mile bike trip from Pittsburgh to Washington, D.C. Riders, left to right, are Jeff Krakoff, Jon Hart, Pete Chiste, Ellen Hart, Vic Walczak, Lori Heinecke, Craig Hoffman, Laura Hoffman, and Kurt Meissner.

Father James Chepponis

to establish emotion, engagement, meaning, impact, and affirmation. How did that Twinkie correlate to Christmas? Father addressed five points. Unavailable for purchase at the time, the Twinkie seemed to be priceless. As we celebrate, remember that family and friendship are priceless gifts that cannot be bought or sold, and the value far greater than a coin of gold. Second, in order to enjoy the Twinkie we must open the cellophane wrapper. As we open gifts, consider gifts of the heart. It isn’t the size of the gift that matters, but the size of the heart that gives it. Third, eating a Twinkie gives us joy, but even more joy when we share. Love is kind and love is caring. Fourth, remember that in our lives there are shortfalls; something we had, but no longer have. Loss comes in many forms: the death of a loved one, the loss of a pet, an ended relationship. Sometimes abstract, a job loss can initiate the waning of a person’s self identity. Without delay, grasp a positive attitude; strive to overcome the past, and begin to focus on the present and future. In difficult times, decisively break ties that limit you, but reaffirm those connections that support your true self. Life goes on. Lastly, it is asserted that a Twinkie


Winter 2013 issue of UPPER ST. CLAIR TODAY Magazine, the official publication of the School District and Township of Upper St. Clair, Pennsy...

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