Editorial: Thumbs up, thumbs down

Naima Gutierrez of Merced, who has been cancer-free for three years, sells Kids Day papers at Blackstone and Shaw avenues last week.
Naima Gutierrez of Merced, who has been cancer-free for three years, sells Kids Day papers at Blackstone and Shaw avenues last week. ezamora@fresnobee.com

Thumbs up to the entire Kids Day force for raising $600,000 for Valley Children’s Hospital in one day – requesting just $1 at a time! About 6,000 volunteers join together to make this work in a region that is among the poorest in the nation. What does that say about the generosity in the fabric of this Valley? Bravo!

Thumbs down to the National Football League for living in such a state of denial on brain-injury research. It literally took a congressional hearing for NFL official Jeff Miller to come clean this week about the link between football brain traumas and the disease chronic traumatic encephalopathy. After years of claiming it wasn’t clear whether football was responsible for degenerative brain disorders in retired players, the nation’s most popular professional sports league finally – perhaps historically – admitted what the experts knew to be true.

The NFL’s influence on youth and collegiate sports can’t be overstated. California already has passed some of the nation’s most stringent measures to reduce head injuries and concussions in interscholastic football, thanks to a groundbreaking bill pushed in 2014 by Assemblyman Ken Cooley, D-Rancho Cordova. Californians should have a conversation about whether contact sports are appropriate for kids younger than high school age; there’s a reason flag football participation is way up.

And it’s not just football. Former soccer star Brandi Chastain, 47, a mother and a coach, announced that at death she will donate her brain to the Concussion Legacy Foundation at Boston University, where researchers study CTE. Little research has been done on women’s head injuries from sports and this is a good beginning.

Thumbs up to Sandra Hernandez of Fresno, who won $750,000 after buying a lottery scratcher. She purchased the $10 lucky ticket at Amigos Food Market at Church and Cedar avenues in southeast Fresno.

“When Hernandez told her family about her win, they didn’t believe her,” said lottery official Alex Traverso. “Not until she showed them proof.”

Hernandez says she plans to use her winnings from the “Mystery Crossword” scratch-off to buy a house and invest the rest.

Store manager Maged Abdullah said he knows the Hernandez family well. “I think it’s going to the right hands,” he said. “They deserve it.”

Thumbs up to a guy who lived up to his name and his college major recently. Jonathan Bravo of San Carlos, 19, a sophomore majoring in sports marketing, won a $2,500 tuition waiver for the fall semester at Fresno State during the last men’s home basketball game.

The promotion to entice students to basketball games was a partnership with Office Depot/Office Max and the university. Students entered by downloading the Red Wave Rewards App. Bravo is a member of the university’s marching band and basketball pep band.

Thumbs up to Cultiva La Salud for hosting a Community Bike Kitchen event to help needy residents of Fresno get their bikes in functioning condition so they can get enjoy the benefits of bicycling. The event will be today from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Mosqueda Community Center, 4670 E. Butler Ave.

Expert bike mechanics will offer workshops in Spanish and English so participants can maintain their bikes themselves. Diagnostics and repairs will be offered at no charge, while donated supplies last. This event is a collaboration of Bici-Projects, Fresno County Bicycle Coalition, Tower Velo and Fresno Ideaworks.

Thumbs up to the Marjaree Mason Center for raising nearly $160,000 at its annual signature fundraiser, Marjaree’s Mardi Gras Birthday Soiree, earlier this month. The center is the region’s largest shelter for domestic violence survivors and their children.

Thumbs up to Feed the Children, a national organization, for providing 2,000 backpacks to foster and homeless children through the Foster and Homeless Youth Education Services program. The backpacks include essential supplies such as toothpaste, deodorant and body wash, children's books and snacks.

Thumbs up to entrepreneurs from Roosevelt High School in Fresno, who were recognized by Virtual Enterprise International. The students took part in the Virtual Enterprise Trade Show in Oakland, where they won the Sustainable Business Plan and business cards contests, facing off with 1,300 student-entrepreneurs from California, New York, Illinois and Oregon. Roosevelt’s Fresno students formed their own business – Every Drop Counts – at their high school as part of a Virtual Enterprise course taught at thousands of other high schools throughout the country.

Thumbs up to former Fresno Bee reporter Amy Pyle, new editor in chief of the Center for Investigative Reporting in Emeryville. She joined CIR in 2012 as a senior editor and became managing editor two years later. In her new role, Pyle will oversee all editorial work for CIR’s newsroom, which publishes its work at RevealNews.org and, with its partner PRX, produces the “Reveal” public radio show and podcast. The radio show airs on more than 250 stations nationwide.