August 19, 2019

Super kids help heroes catch villains

ELYRIA — The wind swirled and dark clouds rolled in off Lake Erie, almost creating the perfect movie-like scene for a villain-filled escapade through downtown Elyria.

Lex Luthor, played to perfection by Tim Misny, held Superman, Supergirl and Power Girl hostage at the Elyria Planet, aka The Chronicle-Telegram, as Poison Ivy and the Scarecrow attempted to rob Fifth Third Bank. Everything was in alignment for nothing, but mischief.

However, there is a flaw in every good plan. And, on this particular day, there were 11 youngsters ready to step in and upset whatever diabolical plan had been hatched.

“Super kids, there has been a prison break and villains are roaming the city,” said Debbie Bryant. “You got your capes. You got your masks. We are counting on you.”

It’s hard to imagine that a group of volunteers pulled off an event that brought smiles to so many faces. But Super Heroes to Kids in Ohio had a simple plan: Make the comic book dreams of a few deserving kids a reality. Months of preparation easily turned into hours of fun with Ely Square, The Chronicle-Telegram, Fifth Third Bank, Donna’s Diner and the Lorain County Justice Center serving as backdrops.

“We just want all of the kids to have fun,” said Brian Chulik, co-founder of the organization. “They are the reason why we do this. They are the real heroes.”

The anticipation of the day was palpable from the moment anyone set foot in Ely Square.

Quentin Guerra, full of 5-year-old energy, grabbed the sides of his green felt cape, let his arm flail out to the side and spun around in wide circles as the cape flapped in the wind behind him.

Nearby, his mother — pregnant with her third child — shook her head with delight and smiled. Quentin was ready for the virtual comic book event to begin, so in the meantime he did his best Superman impersonation.

“That kid right there is my hero,” said Jackie Guerra of Lakewood.

The day, meant to honor kids who have faced medical challenges or adversity, meant so much to Guerra because she has faced medical challenges, having endured seven open-heart surgeries in her lifetime and is on her eighth pacemaker.

Quentin is a happy, healthy boy.

“I guess you can say he is here because of me,” Guerra said. “I wasn’t supposed to have kids, but I had two beautiful, wonderful kids. My baby girl was born in May 2013 and died of SIDS on Thanksgiving. And, through it all, this little boy has been my rock.”

Now, ready to welcome her third child, Guerra said Quentin is still holding her together.

“I have to have iron therapy, but I’m a tough stick,” she said. “The last time I was there and it was especially rough, my Quentin grabs my hand and say, ‘It’s OK, Mommy. Take four deep breaths, and it’s going to be OK’.”

In all, 11 kids were chosen for the experience. They were Trey Kemper, 5; Bobby Miller, 8; William Clark, 2; Sam Mankins, 10; Aidan Wright, 4; Jayden Barber, 6; Carsen Barber, 5; Max Cousineau, 15; Anthony Cuevas, 12 and Will Myers, 11.

The day started with lunch for the super kids and their families at Donna’s Diner sponsored by Jeremy Cares, a nonprofit organization that supports families of kids going through medical treatments. The group started in 2008 in honor of Jeremy George, a leukemia survivor, to pay it forward for families.

George was 17 when he was diagnosed with leukemia. He is in remission and will soon graduate from Kent State University.

In all 70 people enjoyed a meal, said Donna Dove, restaurant owner.

“I had a blast, and those kids were so sweet,” she said.

Once the youngsters were properly fueled and accompanied by the Ohio National Guard Delta Company out of Brook Park, they were ready for the excitement to start.

“Don’t worry. I got this,” Jayden Barber, 6, said to his mother, Charlee Barbee, of Youngstown.

Dressed in his black Spider-Man costume, Jayden was all smiles behind his mask.

Nothing about him said three-time survivor of childhood cancer, yet in his short life Jayden has proved his perseverance. Superheroes, especially Batman, are his favorite escape.

Now, in remission he is just enjoying life and Saturday was eager to kick a little butt.

“We got the Kryptonite,” he said after helping to save Superman from Lex Luthor.

The bald bad guy was led away in handcuff and cheers, but the day kept going with scene after scene of action leading up to a major finale in Ely Square.

“This is really cool to be able to meet superheroes and fight crime,” said 11-year-old Will Myers of North Ridgeville.

Mom Pam Myers said to see her son getting in on all the excitement was wonderful, but also a little bittersweet. He’s a healthy kid and she is a healthy woman. Her story is not punctuated with surgery counts, chemotherapy tallies and tales of near death.

“He’s a hero because he’s a great kid,” she said. “He helps everyone. I think that’s really heroic, too.”

The Super Heroes to Kids in Ohio agreed too.

“We can all be superheroes every day,” said Stephanie Cirilo. “We’re heroes when we help our friends, do the right thing and treat others with respect. We are heroes when we never ever give up. Never let anyone tell us to give up and know we can do anything.”

The youngest super kid was 2-year-old William Clark of Lorain.

His cape didn’t flap in the wind as high as other,s but that’s only because his mom tucked it between him and his walker so it wouldn’t blow away. William, born with spinal bifida, moved all over Ely Square with such speed its hard to imagine he will be in leg braces and need a walker for the rest of his life.

“But with God’s will, we never know,” said his mother, Teresa Clark. “He has never let anything and especially his walker, stop him from doing and going where he wants to do. He is a happy little boy.”

The day meant a lot to the mom.

“It’s a good thing for kids with special needs,” she said “It was a day just celebrating them.”

Contact Lisa Roberson at 329-7121 or lroberson@chroniclet.com. Follow her on Twitter @LisaRobersonCT.


Super kids help heroes catch villains

Is Poison Ivy Getting Nastier?

By: Jenny Marder

The shiny three leaves of poison ivy. Photo by Susan Biddle/The Washington Post/Getty Images.

Ahh, summertime. A long wilderness hike followed by a refreshing swim in the river followed by — music screeches to halt — a nasty case of poison ivy. Few things can ruin a good romp in the woods like the three-leaved plant, which, when touched, is known to cause oozing and itchy blisters. And with warmer weather, it’s out, it’s rampant, and some scientists say that climate change could be making it worse.

A much-cited study published in 2006 found that a rise in carbon dioxide both fueled the growth of the weed and increased the potency of urushiol, the oil at the root of the rash. Poison oak and poison sumac also contain urushiol, and all three can cause the blistering rash. Airborne sap-coated soot can also get into the eyes, nose, throat and respiratory system, according to the National Park Service.

That study involved planting PVC pipes into six plots of North Carolina’s 7,000-acre Duke Forest. Carbon dioxide was blown through holes in the pipes, which stretched to the tops of the tree canopies, while another control group of pipes vented normal air. Of all the plants, poison ivy was the hands-down winner, said Jacqueline Mohan, assistant professor at the University of Georgia and the study’s lead author.

“It was the most responsive species to the higher carbon dioxide in the atmosphere,” Mohan said. “The average little tree that I measured grew 8 percent faster. And poison ivy grew 149 percent faster than it would have under ambient, normal carbon dioxide conditions.”

The logic lies in photosynthesis, she says. Whereas trees waste carbohydrates on building support structures — trunks, bark and branches — vines bypass this by using fences and other existing structures as their support. They also contain more leafy surface area, allowing them to draw in more CO2 and make more plant food, which they use to make more leaves, further driving photosynthesis and continuing the cycle. (Anything that’s brown is not photosynthesizing, Mohan says.)

Map by Elizabeth Shell.

And the carbon dioxide appeared to make the plant as much as 30 percent more potent.

Here’s how Mohan explains it. If you compare butter and olive oil, butter is more saturated than olive oil. Butter is made up of single carbon-carbon bonds, which translates to a denser substance. Oil is less saturated, and thus more fluid. The team found that when urushiol became more unsaturated — more like olive oil — it was able to interact more readily with human skin cells.

“We found that under high CO2 conditions, the urushiol becomes 30 percent more unsaturated, or should we just say 30 percent more nasty,” Mohan said.

A separate study in Wisconsin on the change in vine abundance over a 45-year period found the opposite. Using a data set published in 1959 on Wisconsin forests, researchers resurveyed the same area, using the same methods, and found that the amount of woody vines had not changed over the 45 years. This is despite the fact that atmospheric CO2 had risen globally by more than 20 percent over the 45-year study period. Not only that, but poison ivy in that forest was the only woody vine to decrease significantly over this period.

So what might explain the discrepancy? One explanation is that woody vines like poison ivy might be limited more by freezing winter temperatures than they are fueled by carbon dioxide.

“It may be too cold for the vines to take advantage of the higher CO2,” said Stefan Schnitzer, author of the Wisconsin study and related commentary and a professor at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee. Vessels that carry water inside the plant stems can freeze under cold conditions, ultimately killing the plant.

Mohan added that a surge in white-tailed deer, driven by a drop in hunting, may explain the decrease. Deer are known to consume large amounts of the weed. To know for sure what role the CO2 played, you’d have to build fencing and study the poison ivy over time in areas untouched by the deer, she said.

“But I’d be willing to bet the barn on this one,” Mohan said.

Schnitzer stresses that he’s not disputing Mohan’s paper, which he calls “impeccable work.” But he and Mohan both say it shows the need for more research.

“Poison ivy in my opinion is a remarkably understudied species,” Mohan said. “Most scientists avoid it.”

Not so surprising, since people who study it can end up with terrible cases of poison ivy, pointed out William Schlesinger, president of the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies, who researches the impact of rising carbon dioxide on desert and forest systems and was a co-author the Duke Forest study. And the allergy is known to worsen with exposure.

Mohan is no exception. As a result of her work, Mohan, who was only mildly allergic to poison ivy initially, is now highly allergic to it, and also to mangoes, which contain a similar oil. “I get this awful looking rash all over the bottom of my face,” she said. “It’s called mango mouth.”

The fact that these two papers got set up as point-counterpoint could distract from understanding the bigger picture, Schlesinger said.

“We know that a lot of plants grow faster at high CO2, and vines are among the best at that, and poison ivy’s a vine, and we know that CO2 is rising,” he said. “If someone were to look at this and criticize it, I’d say, ‘what more do you want?'”

What is well known, Schlesinger added, is that vines, such as kudzu and honeysuckle, grow exceptionally well under high CO2 conditions.

Development also fuels poison ivy’s growth, he said, by creating more roadside edges, which the weed loves. The plant doesn’t do well in deep shade, he said.

“Poison ivy is probably an extreme example of a plant responding to high CO2,” he said.

There are medical consequences linked to the CO2 phenomenon, too. More plants produce more pollen, which means more particles to get lodged in the lungs of people who suffer from emphysema, hay fever and asthma.

The increase in woody vines is particularly threatening to the role that trees play in tempering climate change. Vines like kudzu, for example, can smother the trees that are pulling carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

“I’ve driven miles and miles of highway, looking out at a green carpet of kudzu,” Mohan said. “We could be changing the whole structure of biomes with these crazy, crazy vines. It’s almost like a sci-fi movie. This ‘Little Biome of Horrors.'”

Correction: The map in an earlier version of this post had poison oak missing from several states where it is present, including Oregon, Washington, Nevada.

See the article here – 

Is Poison Ivy Getting Nastier?

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