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San Clemente Journal

What's in it for me?

Nov 01, 2003 10:10PM ● Published by Don Kindred

by Roby LaPorte

   In this column, we are shedding some light on the benefits of the World Wide Web. We have discussed web hosting and also the endless amounts of information and services the internet can provide, for free, for all. This issue I wish to convey another truly amazing aspect of the internet; the chat rooms and the miracles they can produce. Here is a story of one such miracle I was fortunate enough to witness.
     I started using the internet awhile back to try to find old friends that time and miles had taken away from me. I did manage to find quite a few people, and to find they were looking for me as well. This was so great! One of them told methey were having success finding old friends at a site called classmates.com. 
     Though I was a bit reluctant, turns out it was the best 20 bucks I ever spent. I went into the chat rooms and found a lot of people from my high school; few knew me but quite a few knew one or both of my big brothers. This was really fun to chat with so many others about the same people and places, but at different times and from different points of view... very cool. 
     One day this guy I knew fairly well from school knew one of my best friends, Jim, and asked if I knew what he was up to these days. I said yes, we are still best of friends to this day; we work together and are in a rock n’ roll band as well. He asked about Jim’s brother, Lee, and how he was doing. I guess not too many people knew about Lee, he had been in a near fatal accident way back in ‘67. Lee came out of coma after 3 months, badly injured, and would be confined to a wheelchair for the rest of his life. The coma left him with brain damage that would leave him with the intelligence of a 12-year-old. I told this old friend that the worst thing that had happened to Lee was the fact that none of his friends remained in contact with him and so he had loneliness to deal with as well. I am the only ‘outside the family’ person to ever hang with him and be his friend. I told him that I was trying to save up enough money to buy Lee a computer and set him up on the internet so he could at least travel and see the world from his wheelchair, but I was just making ends meet myself.
     It was just a few minutes later I got a barrage of replies to this post; I must say it was overwhelming, everyone asking questions and wanting to help an old school mate. One nice lady, who we referred to in the forum as ‘MOM’, suggested we put together some “South High Power” and put together a “get Lee a computer” foundation. Much to my surprise, the outcome was glorious; dozens of good people sent a total of $3,000 within a week. By the next day, my IT friend Blake Folgner and I put together this great machine and went to Lee’s and set him up. 
     If I could only describe the way Lee responded, just laughing and ear to ear smiles as he glared at the monitor. Lee is now an internet junkie, surfing the world from his wheelchair, finding new friends in the same predicament and getting inside information on his favorite ball teams...truly a sight to behold. The happiness these good people bestowed on someone in need, who they didn’t even know, was truly inspirational. 
     This is but one of the miracles of the internet, the chat rooms and the people that find their way there!
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