It was back in 2002 when Kasie Craft, then a sophomore at Anna-Jonesboro High School, first heard me speak, and determined that one day, she would help bring me back to Southern Illinois so others could hear my Holocaust story and messages of tolerance and respect.
Kasie began her mission well over a year ago, telling her students, as a teacher's aide at Shawnee Jr Sr High School, about me, and vowing to bring me to the school so they could hear me "in person."
Kasie persisted in her efforts to attract sponsors to help fund her project, and schools willing to set time aside for the visits. Despite having a full time job, 2 young children, Hunter, age 7, and Hayden, age 5, to care for, and several stumbling blocks along the way, Kasie never gave up. The headline
"Nothing stands in the way of the will" personifies this young woman, and Kasie was determined to accomplish her mission, no matter what.
We just know that Kasie Craft is destined to accomplish great things in her life!
Eventually, with the help of Vivian Ugent, a long time Carbondale resident and activist, and Beth Arthur, a retired teacher and former president of the Illinois Reading Council, Kasie reached out to businesses and area schools, and the long hoped for visit became reality when Nathaniel & I flew into St. Louis on Sunday, December 4th, to be met by Kasie and Robert, Kasie's Army veteran husband of 8 years, who drove us the 2 hours, in the rain
(Robert is an excellent driver!) to the gracious hosts of the Hampton Inn in Carbondale, Illinois.
As usual, it was a busy and intense week: Talks at 4 public schools, Shawnee Community Jr Sr High School, Anna-Jonesboro Community High School, Carbondale Community High School, and Marion Community High School, plus 2 evening presentations open to community members, the first to a capacity audience at the Anna Arts Center in Anna, and the second, to a capacity audience at the First United Methodist Church in Carbondale.
Additionally, there were 7 interviews that week: a radio interview at News radio WJPF with Tom Miller, an interview at WSIL 91.9 FM with Jennifer Fuller, 2 TV interviews, one being with the ABC affiliate WSIL-TV Channel 3 in Southern Illinois filmed at the Anna Jonesboro Community High School with reporter Brandon Richard, and one with Cathy Williams of TCT, a large Christian television network headquartered in Marion, Illinois, and a newspaper interview with Marilyn Halstead of the Southern Illinoisan.
nks to the Hampton Inn of Carbondale for providing a great community service by providing comfortable and welcoming lodging for the 4 day visit for a most minimal cost!
Thanks also to the Illinois Reading Council, The First Southern Bank, and First Mid-Illinois Bank & Trust, for their financial support to make this visit a "GO." And, once again, our thanks to Kasie Craft, and her husband, Robert, for all the schlepping (driving us around) for the week. Our thanks to Vivian Ugent and Beth Arthur for their important behind the scenes work, and to Beth, for driving us back to the St. Louis airport for our flight back to New York.
P.S. Nathaniel just returned from the post office, having mailed off 8 photo CD's, along with photo prints to the various venues in Southern Illinois, several of which are pictured in this newsletter. He says he took over 700 photos!