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Poem by Renee Springhorne

Young man in need has technology on his side
By Chip Mundy
The Jackson Citizen Patriot - Jackson, Michigan

Leonard Tose and Carl Riccio likely never crossed paths in life. That's too bad, because each would have meant a lot to each other.

Tose, who died Tuesday, was a man with a heart of gold and a lot of money. He owned the Philadelphia Eagles and was the driving force behind the Ronald McDonald House program, which gives families a place to live while their children are in the hospital.

Frank Dolson, former sports editor at the Philadelphia Inquirer, once wrote: "Some people collect stamps for a hobby. Others buy antiques. Tose's hobby is spending money."

But Tose had a dark side. He had a tragic gambling problem. He once estimated that he lost as much as $50 million gambling, and it got to the point where he had to sell the Eagles in 1985 for financial reasons.

"I made every mistake you can make," he said in April 2002. "I sit here and think of all the mistakes I made. You'd need a big book to put them all in."

During that time he learned that one of his players' children had leukemia, so he bankrolled the "Eagles Fly for Leukemia" program.

The only thing that meant more to Tose than his Eagles was gambling and helping others.

Tose lived to help others, and Riccio is a young man in need of help.

Riccio, a high school junior in New Jersey, had a bright future in sports until two months ago. He was a preseason all-American for juniors in baseball, and he was unbeaten in wrestling in 26 matches.

Until Feb. 23, when he sustained a severe neck injury after falling awkwardly in a wrestling match.

Riccio is paralyzed below the neck with no feeling or movement in his arms or legs. The vertebrae are out of place and his spinal cord was bruised and swelled.

But because of people like Tose, Riccio has hope. He already has received a visit from Superman.

Christopher Reeve, who played Superman in the movies, visited Riccio in the hospital.

Riccio may not be Superman, but they're calling him "The Ultimate Warrior." The nickname for his high school team is Warriors.

There will be a banquet in Riccio's honor next month with an auction to help raise funds for his family.

People from all around the country have responded. A Web site, carlricciotrust .com, has been set up with a message board. Riccio's parents read him the messages every night.

What relevance does this have to Jackson? Nothing, except that with today's technology, any of us can help someone in need from hundreds of miles away.

Contributions may be made by mailing funds to the Carl Riccio Special Needs Trust, P.O. Box 4422, Warren, N.J., 07059.

Those on the Internet may leave messages at the Web site listed earlier.

Leonard Tose isn't around to help, but there are plenty of people like him who can and will help.

Riccio's future is unknown, but by all accounts he has an incredibly positive attitude and plenty of support. He just needs more, and who knows, he might just beat it.

-- Reach reporter Chip Mundy at cmundy@citpat .com or 768-4961.

© 2006 Carl Riccio Special Needs Trust