My mom is a nervous wreck. I’m flying overseas twice this month, and one of them connects in Brussels – the location of a recent bombing, and she’s totally freaked out. I remember saying to her a few weeks ago that tragedy can happen in my own backyard.

And then there was Orlando.

A lone gunman, Omar Mateen, entered a Florida nightclub and left 49 dead, 53 wounded. It was an event born out of hate.

Listening and watching the horror as it unfolded, as a healthcare provider, I couldn’t help but focus on the medical and non-medical people who instead of running AWAY from the scene, ran TOWARDS it. They ran INTO the face of danger to do their part to save lives.

When tragedy strikes, heroes emerge.

Choose To Be A Hero

Whenever I’m confronted with those life-pondering questions that ask who I’d choose to meet, if it could be anyone dead or alive, my answer is always Mister Rogers. He’s my hero, and this is one of the reasons why:

“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’ To this day, especially in times of ‘disaster,’ I remember my mother’s words, and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers–so many caring people in this world.”

We found so much death in the tragedy of Orlando, but we found helpers amidst the tragedy too.

Joshua McGill, nursing student, pulled victim Rodney Sumter to safety, made a temporary tourniquet for the wounds until help arrived, and then rode with Rodney to the hospital, never leaving his side, and supporting him all the way. Rodney survived.

Brenda Lee Marquez McCool, mother of eleven, was at the club with her son, when shots fired. She saw the gunman and pushed her son from harm’s way, saving his life. She did not survive.

Imran Yousuf, a recent hire as a bouncer to the nightclub and former Marine, recognized the sound of gunfire. He took a chance to open a door that brought dozens of innocent lives to safety. He said he wished he could have saved more.

Our country is in mourning and rightly so. For that reason, I urge you to use this tragedy to become more heroic. I urge you to become kinder and more tolerant of others who are different from you. This is how we contribute, both in the aftermath of tragedy, and in the instances that demand our help. We can always contribute to make this world a better place.

Being a hero is a choice!

Get your copy of “Celebrate Nursing: Human by Birth – Hero by Choice”.

Renee ThompsonThanks so much for reading. Take care, be kind, and stay connected.

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Dr. Renee Thompson works with healthcare organizations who want to overcome the leadership and clinical challenges their people face every day. If you’d like to find out more about her programs, please visit her website