Tuesday, August 15, 2006


Delilah's words to her listeners...

From Delilah’s August 2006 electronic newsletter to her listeners…

Many years ago, when I broadcast my show from the Prudential Towers in Boston, I became friends with a wonderful man named Frank Niro. His two darling little girls were the same age as my son, and they played together in my front yard at an “Indian” themed birthday party. Frank’s housemate at the time, a beautiful woman named Brenda, became one of my closest friends. The three of us laughed an awful lot and faced life’s challenges with a great deal of gusto, thanks in part to Frank’s very Italian zeal for living.

Frank took me on my first trip to New York City to see a Broadway play. He often jokes about how excited he was to take me on a long road trip and show me the amazing sites of New England – he is quite a history buff – but instead he had a snoring passenger sitting next to him during the five hour drive to Manhattan!

A fabulous distance runner in his teen years, Frank ran marathons and won all sorts of awards. But when Frank was 19 he was hit by a car, breaking his legs, hips and nearly every bone in his lower body. He spent two or three years in the hospital, crippled by the accident. Not one to be kept down, Frank taught himself how to walk again, and even how to run. His gait is a bit different from most runners, but his passion for running was not diminished. The man refuses to give up!

When we first met, Frank was the chief administrator for a large hospital chain. He was a soft-spoken but powerful businessman who knew the ins and outs of corporate life. At the time, I was struggling to make ends meet – cooking ramen noodles and scraping to pay a mortgage. When I couldn’t afford to buy the materials to convert the attic into a small apartment for Producer Janey, Frank donated the funds to purchase the sheet rock, wood, nails and paint. A few years later when my financial situation had improved, I attempted to pay him back. Frank’s response was, “Pay it forward. It was a gift, not a loan.”

I have never forgotten his generosity or his example. I have tried, at every turn, to “pay it forward” and to bless others who are just starting out, or trying to do something good for others. And each time someone has said “I will pay this back”, I repeat Frank’s words.

Ten years ago I lost touch with Frank. I didn’t hear from him and thought he had just dropped off the face of the earth. Then about a year ago he contacted me and told me he’d had a debilitating stroke, followed by a heart attack, and had been fighting for his life. He had to give up his career in hospital administration and go on permanent disability. He next project was to write a book about his incredible life. I invited Frank to take a train to come visit me, take advantage of the peaceful environment at the farm, and finish his book.

That was about three months ago. Since his arrival Frank has helped me with my foundation, Point Hope. He has helped friends of mine who are starting small businesses. He has joined the local chamber of commerce and a church and even a bowling league. He HASN’T had a chance to write even a single chapter in his book because he is so busy helping me and those I love, but I suspect he will finish it sooner rather than later.

I laugh when I imagine his business friends from Boston, the doctors and other executives who knew Frank when he was getting up at 5 a.m. to direct the expansions of hospital facilities and running multi-million dollar operating departments. Today he awakens at the crack of dawn because the roosters crow right outside his window, demanding that he get up and pay attention to them! When I think about how God first brought me into Frank’s life, and how all these many years later we are friends once again. I can’t help but think of the Michael W. Smith song “Friends”. The lyrics of the chorus say “A friend’s a friend forever when the Lord’s the Lord of them...”

Frank inspires me to always follow my passions and my dreams. Although he is disabled and will need to use a wheelchair, Frank is determined to “run” the Boston Marathon again in a few years. When he does, he will become the first person to finish the marathon in less than three hours both running, with his legs, and using his arms to wheel himself in a chair. He could have given up a number of times in his life, but instead of giving up or giving in, he gets back up and starts all over again. His zest for life is one of the many reasons I cherish our friendship (well, that and the fact that my chickens adore him).

Delilah (www.radiodelilah.com)

Click here for Janet Kornblum's 8/2/06 article about Delilah in USA Today

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