Here’s a heartwarmer: Tim Russert spent a recent Monday visiting an inner-city school in North Philadelphia. Russert has been a longtime financial supporter of the Jesuit-run Gesu School, located in a crime-ridden stretch of North Philly. According to school president Christine Beck, he’s been on their board of trustees since 1997 and has been a “generous donor.” The kids loved it:
“It was real exciting. I never met someone on TV before,” said 13-year-old Brian Mobley, who added that he especially enjoyed hearing about some of the celebrities Russert has interviewed, such as Michael Jordan. “I liked that he was encouraging, and that he was telling us that if we wanted to do something big that we thought we couldn’t do, we just had to put our mind to it,” said Patricia Dailey-Sweet, 13, who said she aspired to be a pediatrician. Dailey-Sweet said she connected with Russert when he said, “The best exercise of the human heart is reaching down and picking someone up.” Dailey-Sweet said helping her 9-year-old sister, Jone’e, pull her grades up at Benjamin Franklin Middle School was a good example. Russert, Washington bureau chief of NBC News, has said he credited much of his success to his Catholic upbringing in Buffalo. He graduated from Holy Family School and the Jesuit-run Canisius High School there, as well as John Carroll University, also a Jesuit school, in Cleveland. It was at Holy Family, Russert said, that a nun encouraged him to start a school newspaper, to channel the energy of a seventh-grade boy who rarely paid attention. When John F. Kennedy, the country’s first Catholic president, was assassinated later that year, Russert mailed his newspaper’s special edition to Washington. To Russert’s surprise, both Jacqueline Kennedy and Sen. Robert F. Kennedy wrote back to him. “Maybe I could
go to Washington,” Russert recalled saying. “Maybe I can interview presidents.”
We hear Russert ended up having some success with that.
(Image via Philadelphia Inquirer)