Em Miller writes

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Tag: health

Hundreds gather to cheer Evan Jager’s appearance in Olympic finals (Sun-Times Media)

ALGONQUIN — The live Internet stream had frozen several times during the 3,000-meter men’s steeplechase race, to groans from the more than 300 people who packed out Buffalo Wild Wings Grill and Bar on Randall Road to watch the Olympic event.

But the crowd cheered instead as television screens around the restaurant froze on the one glorious moment Algonquin native Evan Jager cleared one of seven water jumps in the race, landing ahead of the pack.

Jager finished sixth after several Kenyan and Ethiopian runners sprinted to the lead and the unthinkable happened: defending Olympic champion Brimin Kapruto of Kenya fell in front of the 23-year-old American.

And Kevin Christian, head cross-country and assistant track coach at H.D. Jacobs High School, said, “You can’t complain about sixth in the world.”

“He led it, and it was great, and he’s only going to get better. He’s got one or two more Olympics, and he’ll go, and he’ll only get better.”

Christian had helped organize the community gathering Sunday afternoon at Buffalo Wild Wings, just across Randall Road from the sign at Jacobs. On Sunday, it read, “Evan Jager / 2007 HDJ grad / 2012 Olympian.”

He had been assistant cross-country coach when Jager was a junior at Jacobs, and, he said, he had suggested the track star try steeplechase when he went away to the University of Wisconsin, an event that is not run in Illinois. He since has followed former Wisconsin coach Jerry Schumacher to Portland, Ore., and joined the Oregon Track Club.

For the rest of the story (as well as a photo gallery, video and an explanation of the steeplechase), read Hundreds gather to cheer Evan Jager’s appearance in Olympic finals (Sun-Times Media).

For sports coverage of Evan Jager’s Olympic finish, read Olympics: Evan Jager finishes sixth in steeplechase (Sun-Times Media).

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Biweekly Wrap-up: A human being, not a policy

“Look at it as a human being, not as a policy.”

That’s a quote from one of my articles last Sunday in The Courier-News. That’s also the theme of many of my articles that appeared in the newspaper over the past two weeks (admittedly, not many. I went to a beautiful wedding Friday evening, then spent Saturday through Wednesday with my family in Wisconsin.)

That’s the power of story. It’s easy to disagree, to become angry, to be negative about a policy. Those things become harder when you meet a human being impacted by that policy, when you hear his or her story.

“I wouldn’t mind if people were negative about it — as long as they understood. I don’t see how you could be negative about this after learning about this,” said David Miller, a student at Judson University in Elgin.

I interviewed Miller in April 2011 after he organized an experience at Judson called UN-Documented. That experience was meant to get students to think about “the way we interact with people who are immigrants and the way we show respect and love them,” according to UN-Documented creator Jesse Oxford.

Those words have stuck with me since then. They’re what come to mind when I write about, help people learn about new policies.

Like the cover story I wrote last week about the U.S. Supreme Court upholding the Affordable Care Act — and the people its measures already have impacted. And the cover story about the Obama administration’s decision not to deport young people brought illegally into the country by their parents — and the incredibly brave young people who may benefit from that.

Here are the other articles I’ve written over the past two weeks:

Photo credit: Michael Smart for Sun-Times Media. (Non-blurry photo hopefully coming soon.)

Locals split over Court ruling (Sun-Times Media)

ELGIN — Karen Haseman says her 23-year-old daughter spent “a scary three years” without health insurance.

It was scary, according to Haseman, because her daughter — who has Crohn’s disease — could not visit the emergency room until she was very sick.

The disease, an autoimmune disorder that usually attacks the intestines, meant she needed to see a doctor every six months to a year. It also meant it was difficult to get affordable health insurance after she turned 18 and no longer was covered on her mother’s policy, the Elgin woman said.

And that meant declaring bankruptcy as the emergency room bills stacked up, she said.

“We lived this for a long, long time. I’m happy about Obamacare,” Haseman said.

Provisions of the Affordable Care Act, or “Obamacare,” require health insurance providers to insure people with preexisting conditions, like Crohn’s disease. It also requires them to insure children up 26 years old on their parents’ policy, like Haseman’s daughter.

In an historic decision, the U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday upheld the Affordable Care Act, President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul.

The 5-4 decision means the overhaul will continue to go into effect over the next several years, affecting the way Americans receive and pay for their personal medical care and extending it to more than 30 million uninsured person. That includes 2 million Illinoisans.

For the rest of the story, read Locals split over Court ruling (Sun-Times Media).

Photo credit: Getty Images via Sun-Times Media.

Meaty issue (Sun-Times Media)

It’s not Soylent Green. But calling it “pink slime” doesn’t make it sound much more appetizing.

Officially, it’s “lean finely textured beef” — cheap, lean beef made from fatty bits of meat left over from other cuts and treated with ammonium hydroxide to kill E. coli and other bacteria. It’s mixed in with ground beef sold in supermarkets and served in some school lunches.

And it has drawn public outcry, mostly since a March 7 ABC News investigation reported that 70 percent of the ground beef sold in grocery stores contains the filler.

The outcry since has prompted several national grocers and fast-food chains to stop buying meat made with the filler. It also shut down, at least temporarily, three of the four plants where it is made in Iowa, Kansas and Texas.

And it has garnered nearly 259,000 signatures on an online petition to the U.S. Department of Agriculture to “STOP using pink slime in school lunches” by school lunch blogger Bettina Siegel of The Lunch Tray.

But school districts U46 and 300 say all that has drawn few phone calls from concerned parents in the Elgin and Carpentersville-Dundee areas.

“Actually, I think we had just one parent that asked about it, asked what we were doing. Just one parent,” said Claudie Phillips, director of food and nutrition services in Elgin School District U46, the state’s second-largest district.

For the rest of the story, read Meaty issue (Sun-Times Media).

Photo credit: Sun-Times Media.

Grant to fight obesity, cancer at Boys & Girls Club (Sun-Times Media)

Grant to fight obesity, cancer at Boys & Girls Club (Sun-Times Media)