Tag Archive | "there goes my hero"

A personal note for all friends, fans and supporters re: changes at WNST

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A personal note for all friends, fans and supporters re: changes at WNST

Posted on 22 August 2014 by Nestor Aparicio

SIXTEEN YEARS AGO, DURING THE SUMMER of 1998, I had an amazing opportunity to create and develop Baltimore’s first all sports radio station – a dream come true for a Dundalk guy who was a fanatic and devotee of journalism, learning and all things local sports. WNST-AM 1570 – affectionately dubbed “The Station With Balls” – was to be “all day, all night, all sports.” There were only a handful of radio stations in America that had such a format.

Roch Kubatko, now an employee of Peter Angelos and MASN, inked a mostly skeptical and mostly accurate front-page sports story in The Baltimore Sun three months after we launched. It even allowed then market-leading WBAL general manager Jeff Beauchamp and others in the marketplace to scoff at me, pile on and go on the record as giving “Nasty Nestor” very little chance to succeed. (WKDB was the original call sign for our AM signal.) You can read it here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As we quietly celebrated our 16th anniversary at WNST on August 3rd, and now in our seventh year of partnership with Super Bowl winning head coach Brian Billick and offering 5% of all of our company’s operating profits to The Living Classroom Foundation to benefit Baltimore youth initiatives, I can’t help but stand tall and proud of all that we’ve accomplished over the past two decades. We’ve given many aspiring journalists and sportscasters a chance to follow a dream, sit in front of their first microphone and start a career. That was my goal and dream all along – to create something great and to give others a chance that folks like me weren’t given on my way into the business.

Sure, I fought the power. If I hadn’t, nothing good would’ve ever come from my life. And I certainly wouldn’t now have the power that you’ve given me to help other people and pay forward all of those deeds and endorsements from the many who have supported me during my darkest hours.

And now, entering 2015, via the power of new media and no longer encumbered by a 5,000-watt AM radio signal with 1948 FCC rules and regulations – I’ve been given the chance to chronicle every moment of Baltimore sports moving forward in real time.

Beginning with my first broadcast in December 1991 with Kenny Albert at WITH-AM 1230, I’ve seen modern day media morph into something much larger and more useful than just “local radio.” I remember back in the 1980s when the only way the public could know what I was thinking was if my editor at The Baltimore Sun would send me on an assignment. And my byline would be in the newspaper the next day with a few paragraphs of information in black and white words. Now, every tweet, status, video and thought is instantaneous and in high definition, like something I could only then imagine on an episode of The Jetsons.

And through all of the accomplishments of my employees, our reputation for excellence and accuracy and my own personal achievements over 30 years in doing Baltimore sports media beginning at The News American in January 1984, I’m proudest of what WNST has done in the community over the years. With your help and love and support, we’ve raised nearly $1 million in goods, services, coats, food, donations, checks, goodwill, promotion, publicity and power for too many local causes to list. I’d also like to believe that we’ve helped create many magical memories for tens of thousands of Baltimore sports fans over the years. Somehow, someway, you’ve been affected by what we do at WNST and I’m very grateful to have shared that experience and to have your trust and loyalty after all of these years.

Maybe it was at Whiskey Joe’s in Tampa in 2001 or on the Natchez or during the Super Bowl march in New Orleans in 2013? Maybe you were in the upper deck at “Free The Birds” doing the right thing in 2006? Or maybe you just called in one time or met us on a road trip ­­–­ we’ve now taken over 10,000 people on trips with the Ravens, Orioles, Terps, Caps and others – or at one of our hundreds of live Ravens players shows since The Barn in 1996 that began, appropriately, with Ray Lewis.

And if we’ve made you smile, you probably have the pictures and same incredible memories that I do of all that we’ve accomplished, celebrated, discussed, grieved and protested over the years since I took the microphone on Dec. 13, 1991.

If you’re here reading this – in some way – WNST has had some positive effect on you to keep you here through all of the years. Please let me begin this note with a gigantic THANK YOU for all that you’ve done to support me – and my family – over the past three decades.

As you might have heard, I’m going through some changes in my life these days.

Today, I announced the departure of several veteran folks – Drew Forrester, Glenn Clark, Ryan Chell and my office staff of general manager Paul Kopelke and Ashley Bishoff – in effort to create a basic change in the way we’re doing content and our radio format at WNST.net & AM 1570. They came to work every day and they gave everything they had to WNST. They’re good, hard-working, honest people and I wish them absolutely nothing but the best in their future.

I also want to thank everyone who has worked at WNST over the past 16 years. Many staffers and interns have come through our doors and learned the sports media and radio business from me, and several have gone on to further careers in the business, here in Baltimore and in other markets. All of them helped in some way to build WNST and make it great.

As most of you probably know by now, my wife was diagnosed with a rare form of leukemia on March 20 and this sent my life into a place I’ve never encountered and could never recommend. She’s been fighting for her life every day over the past 160 days and it’s been an honor to serve her and watch her battle cancer. Every facet of my life – and my life together with my wife – has been put on hold through her remarkable journey except for the comeback of my daily radio show, The Happy Hours, from 3-6 p.m. on WNST.net & AM 1570, which was something we planned together for many months.

Since returning to the radio on April 1 as host of The Happy Hours, WNST.net has retained 17 new sponsors directly related to me coming back on the radio on a daily basis. All of these companies stepped up to help

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#JennStrong receives the greatest “life and love” letter ever written from Germany

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#JennStrong receives the greatest “life and love” letter ever written from Germany

Posted on 07 August 2014 by Nestor Aparicio

Today, while on her usual visit at the hospital, my wife got a massive surprise. Jennifer Ford Aparicio (aka #JennStrong) received a letter from her donor. It came from her bone marrow transplant coordinator on three sheets of paper in 12-point type. The blanks indicate information that was literally whited out on the original documents to ensure anonymity. We do not know his name. We aren’t allowed to officially meet or exchange names for another 11 months.

This is the most poignant, amazing document I have ever seen. If you think it’s hard reading it, you should’ve seen me trying to re-type this to publish on my blog. Obviously, I might have to ask Mark Cuban or Dirk Nowitzki for a favor…

 

Dear Ms. “;”

Honestly, I don’t really know how to start such a letter. Maybe it is the best way to start by introducing myself as good as I can.

I’m a 21 year old man from Germany. I’ve got several sport activities which I very like. I really like soccer. I’ve played it for almost ten years in clubs. The first time I played soccer, I was a little boy and my father went with me to the football pitch. It was such an awesome feeling to play with other kids and have fun. I didn’t play very successfully, but if I’m honest, it wasn’t my intention to be the next soccer star. I just wanted to have fun. After some years and a few injuries, I decided to give up what I really love. Of course, it was a tough decision, but I had to take care of my health, so it was the only decision I could make.

I’m interested in basketball. The origin of basketball is your country! Of course as a German, I’m a huge  ______ fan, so it’s no wonder, that I’m also a “fan” of the _________. Are you also interested in basketball, or are you prefer another sport activity?

Now, I’ve got a few questions which I’d like to ask you. The first and for me, most important question is:

How are you feeling?

Did you overcome blood cancer, the pain and everything else which is included by this awful disease?

How did you get to know of the diagnosis “blood cancer”?

What were your first thoughts once you got the message of leukemia?

Have you ever doubted that you’ll survive?

What did you feel, when receiving the message, that there is a donor for you?

Of course, I’ll understand if you don’t want to answer some of these questions, because maybe they’re too personal.

Probably it is time to explain to you, why I did donate stem cells.

A couple of friends asked me “why do you donate for a person you don’t even know?”

The answer actually isn’t as easy as it looks like. Once I was in the hotel, previous and after this donation, I often asked myself the question. But if I’m honest, it’s complicated to describe. Sometimes it’s hard to explain with the words I know. Maybe it’s best to tell you how I anyway get into position to donate for somebody.

About two years ago, when I was in vocational school, there was a charity event organized by ____. I was asked if I wanted to sign up or registrate to the database of ______. I didn’t really think about what I was doing and potential consequences for me or other people so after a few minutes I was a potential donor.

My first thought was “Oh, you won’t get the chance to donate” but this thought should become a huge fallacy.

One Year after my registration, it was a Saturday, I came home from work and while I was having breakfast, the doorbell rang. I thought it could be the mailman, because it was the typical time in Germany for post. He gave me the usual catalogues of advertisement and one huge envelope. I was quiet fascinating and didn’t expect that this letter was for me. My mind noticed very quickly “Oh, it’s for you!” I saw the logo of _____ and something in my mind told me, that this letter could change a few things immediately.

While I was reading the first lines, I was shocked in a “special” way. Obviously, at this moment I realized that my name and information about me were remaining in the database of the ____. I really had to sit down for some minutes in my room and had to think about what just happened.

It was unreal to read that I could make a contribution to rescue the life of somebody!

The next weeks were quite a journey for me: I had to fill in a lot of papers about health issues, went to doctors, had a couple of calls from employees of the ____ and got also several letters.

One day I had to go to my family doctor, because I had to give a blood sample. This blood was sent to a scientific institute to check if I’m the right donor for you! My responsible official had already told, that could take a few weeks until I’ll get an answer.

Weeks passed, but at the end of May, I finally got a positive answer. I was snoozing until I looked up on my mobile phone and saw an incoming call. I’ve already recognized the number, because I got several calls from this number in the last weeks. It was the _____! Immediately, I was wide awake and listened carefully the woman on the phone. As she had asked me, if I would like to donate, I did not hesitate for a second. I’ll do it!

So a couple of days later I had to go to ______, because of pre-examinations to check if I’m completely healthy. The donation should start a few days after the check-up, but one day in the evening I got a call from the clinic where the donation should take place. She said the target date had to be postponed.

This was a strange feeling, because I worried a lot and asked myself what could be the reason for this delay. But after some calls on the other day, the worries didn’t exist anymore.

On the 24th of June I went to ____ again, but this time I stayed there two nights in an incredible hotel.

Next day was donation day! The breakfast in the hotel was impressive, but honestly I couldn’t eat as much as I’d like to, because I was too excited about the things which should come later that day.

At eight O’clock, it all began. Of course, I speculated a lot about how this day will look like and I also had a few doubts if I’ll get any pain or side-effects. But was so relaxed, I couldn’t believe it myself.

I lay there about three and a half hours. It sounds like nothing than boredom, however it wasn’t. I listened to music a lot and talked to one of the nurses for some time.

The feeling after donation was unbelievable! I couldn’t realize that I possibly saved a life. I had to wait about half an hour, because the doctors wanted to know if I felt good after this process. I didn’t expect that I’ll feel so good if I’m honest because when I was at the check-up they told me, you will feel like you ran a marathon. But everything was good.

In the evening I finally realized what I had done. If everything went well, I would save a life! A life of a human! The thoughts and the feelings which I have while thinking about it, are so unbelievable! After the donation, friends texted me “we are so proud of you – you’re a hero!” Of course, the support of my friends was amazing and just in the moments as I had worries about the things that will come. I felt a lot more secure.

But am I really a hero?

In my opinion I’m not a hero! Actually, I did something very special and maybe uncommon. Of course, everybody has his own definition of becoming a hero. For me a hero is a person who risks his own life to save a life of somebody whom he or she actually doesn’t even know. A soldier in Afghanistan is a hero! He or she puts his/her life on the line, just to create a little bit of freedom in a country where freedom never could exist. A fireman risks his own life to save a life or even more from people he actually doesn’t know everyday. But why do they do something like that? In my mind, those people do this out of deepest conviction. They don’t do it because they have to. No, they do it because they believe it is right to do it!

What does it mean to my situation?

I did this donation also out of deepest conviction. I didn’t do it because it’s highly regarded in society. No, I did this for you because I believe it is our assignment to help people when they need help the most.

But there is another reason why I did such a thing.

I told you previously, that I was admitted into the database of the ___ because there was an initiative at my vocational school. There was a guy of the same age and his little brother suffered leukemia, so he was looking for a donor for his young brother.

While I was listening to the story of his young brother, I asked myself what I would do for my little brother if I was in his position. I don’t know if you have children or if you are even married, but the thought that you may lose things which you truly love was beyond all bearing. By knowing that I could make at least one person much more happier pushed me a lot. A lot of people want to have so much money that they don’t know even what to do with it, they want to have a fast car, a huge mansion or even a yacht. But what you only wish is, that you can see your kids, play with them in the garden, see them growing up, just do what you want to do and not spending every second thinking about your disease. You just want to live your life! Happiness is one of the things you can’t buy!

I’d like to come to the end of this letter. I actually don’t know how to end such a letter, like I previously didn’t know how to start. But what I’d like to say: I also have to thank you! It may sound strange but I’m deeply grateful that I had such a chance to do something like that. Every time I’m upset, I think back on what I did and that you could be the happiest person on earth. And so I become very happy too. I wish you, your family and your friends all the best and that you will become the person you were before the disease, that you can do whatever you like to do, that your dreams and wishes you have become reality at some point.

Someday, I hope that I’ll get the redeeming message from you: “I’m fine!”

 

Your genetical twin!

 

 

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An update on #JennStrong as she undergoes bone marrow transplant this week

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An update on #JennStrong as she undergoes bone marrow transplant this week

Posted on 11 June 2014 by Nestor Aparicio

Today, my beautiful wife and best friend enters Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center to receive the greatest gift that any leukemia patient can be given: a bone marrow transplant and a second chance at life with a new DNA from a very generous (and anonymous) donor from somewhere out there in this wonderful world.

We’ve received so many cards, letters, emails, Facebook and Twitter mentions via #JennStrong – the sheer volume of love that has flowed in the direction of Jennifer Ford Aparicio over the past 90 days has been staggering and eye-opening – and we want to first just express our gratitude for all of the concern and offers of kindness and sweet gestures. As awful as some our experiences have been with people over the years, this time in our lives will always be remembered for the good (if not the BEST) in people, especially when some days the burden felt very heavy for us.

The love has truly been medicinal on some days when she struggled physically and emotionally. Make no mistake about it, this has been heavy lifting in so many ways.

We’ve been peppered with so many questions and concerns regarding her health and honestly don’t know where to begin with dispensing some of the more amazing – and at times “gruesome” for the queasy amongst us – information regarding blood cancer, leukemia and bone marrow transplants. I’m probably the biggest wuss on the planet when it comes to the mention or sight of blood (and Jenn is diabetic to begin with) so this whole thing has been like seeing snakes for me from the beginning.

But here’s what you really need to know and hopefully this blog answers some of the FAQs of the #JennStrong bone marrow transplant:

Jenn enters the hospital today and will undergo a week of chemotherapy in preparation for her bone marrow transplant next Tuesday, June 17. (This will be her new “birthday.”) There is no “surgery” – just a bag of stem cells and blood that gets attached to her via her port, a pair of tubes that were inserted into her back on March 21st.

Our understanding is that there are many less than desirable outcomes that could result from this procedure – there are whole handbooks on Graft vs. Host Disease and other scary complications. Our doctors have been steadfast in their belief that she’s a great candidate for this procedure and that a perfect match and new DNA and bone marrow could give her a whole new lease on life over the next six months. They were also very sobering in their discussions of all of the percentages of living vs. dying, cure vs. recurrence of cancer and various ailments that could exist or take place during the next few weeks.

But it’s also very clear that this is Jenn’s only chance to survive because even though she’s in remission and cancer free right now, her pathology indicated that her specific leukemia would certainly come roaring back before the end of football season.

Last week a dear friend and client went to breakfast with us and began the conversation by saying, “Wow, you guys have been through a lot of bad stuff!” And we said, “Sure, but let’s examine where we were three months ago and the amazing place where we are now.”

On March 20th at 8 a.m. after months of planning with Jenn and my family, I announced the release of my book on the Orioles and Peter Angelos called “The Peter Principles” and my radio comeback after nine years off the air. Nine hours later, Jenn was diagnosed with a rare form of leukemia. She began chemotherapy the next day.

On March 27th the doctors somberly entered her hospital room and told us that in terms of treatments there are three types of leukemia: good, intermediate and bad. We were told hers was

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WNST & Sport Clips team up for #JennStrong to beat leukemia

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WNST & Sport Clips team up for #JennStrong to beat leukemia

Posted on 04 April 2014 by Nestor Aparicio

Thanks to the many folks who’ve reached to us to support my wife, Jennifer Aparicio, in her battle with leukemia. Over the past two weeks we’ve known her hair was going to fall out from the chemotherapy and I shaved most of my hair on the first morning after her diagnosis two weeks ago.

I’ve received many notes, texts and seen social media statuses regarding other folks wanting to join me in my solidarity with my wife, who had her hair shaved off last night at Johns Hopkins. She looks great and is battling the normal side effects of her cancer treatment but we remain #JennStrong & #BmorePositive for a cure and a happy ending.

In the meantime, we’re trying to raise money for a great group of folks at a local organization for leukemia victims, called www.theregoesmyhero.org. My new friend (and angel) Erik Sauer is a leukemia survivor from Bel Air who founded the group after receiving a life-saving bone marrow transplant from a 19-year old girl in Germany in 2008. It will become our mission over the next few months to help him fund his foundation but more importantly to get many folks to become bone marrow donors as we get some WNST events together later in April and into early May. We’ll have a lot more details coming over the next two weeks about ways you can help.

In the meantime, for those who want to shave their heads in support of #JennStrong, we’re offering you this great chance to stop by any of the 18 participating Sport Clips in the Baltimore  area and tell them you want your head shaved for leukemia. (They will either use a No. 1 or No. 2 cutter…they do NOT use razor because of safety issues!)

We’re requesting a $10 minimum donation to the organization and we’d love if you tagged your new “cue ball” hairstyle on Facebook, Twitter and beyond with #JennStrong and #BmorePositive. The money goes to There Goes My Hero for funding and bone marrow transplant love.

This offer begins on Saturday, April 5th and extends through next Friday, April 11th.

I’ll be having my head shaved on Monday at 6:30 p.m. at the Fullerton location (7964 Bel Air Road) just outside the beltway. You’re welcome to join me or go to any Sport Clips location near you at your convenience and simply share the picture on social media. We will retweet and share all photos in solidarity for #JennStrong and all leukemia patients and their families.

Thanks for all of the support and love for our mission to find a cure for Jenn.

The last 15 days have been a hard, humbling yet immensely rewarding period for us. Your love, words and offers keep our energy and spirits high.

And here’s more on There Goes My Hero:

 

Appreciate you…

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