Every morning, it seems, we’re greeted with another shooting, another fatality in a car crash, an ATV accident somewhere, another life lost. Little effort goes into finding the humanity behind any of the stories but Austin Daily Herald reporter Mike Rose provided a good example today of why we in the business should try harder.
Here’s the story as reported by AP:
An Austin teenager was killed and a 5-year-old boy injured in an all-terrain vehicle crash near Albert Lea.
The Freeborn County sheriff’s office says 18-year-old Dennis McDermott died at St. Marys Hospital in Rochester.
Deputies found McDermott lying beside the ATV after Sunday’s crash. The 5-year-old boy, whose name was not released, was conscious. The boy was treated and released from Albert Lea Medical Center.
And here’s what Mr. Rose found: The young man who died had Down Syndrome. He took up wrestling in high school and wasn’t very good at it. But he didn’t quit:
It wasn’t always easy — because of his Down syndrome, Dennis sometimes struggled with the sport, particularly when he was just starting out. One day, he told his dad about his struggles.
“He hardly ever complained about anything,” James McDermott said. “(But) he said, ‘I can’t win.'”
Never one to give up, Dennis McDermott kept trying. He took his fair share of losses, but he kept pushing himself. During his 10th-grade year, Dennis started practicing and training more — getting “buff,” his mom noted.
That year, the hard work paid off — Dennis pinned an opponent and won a match.
“I never heard him complain again,” James McDermott said. “He just went back to loving wrestling.”
Added his brother, Jimmy: “That was one of his proudest moments.”
In the big scheme of things, perhaps, Dennis McDermott wasn’t much different than a lot of other people. But a lot of other people who are a lot like a lot of other people have stories worth telling and are people worth knowing. That’s where a good reporter comes in.