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Earlier this afternoon - news was abuzz with rumors that a tornado may have touched down in Philadelphia. Just an hour ago, officials have declared that a tornado did in fact hit a neighborhood in Northeast Philadelphia this afternoon.

One man witnessed the event and told NBC 10 that he saw a roof fly off a building. And, other people witnessed a huge cloud descending upon the 9800 block of Northeast Avenue around 2:00 P.M. The path of the tornado was 300 feet long and 100 feet wide.

All told, the tornado tore a roof off a beer distributor and restaurant and it destroyed a body shop. No catastrophic injuries or deaths were reported thankfully.


Photo from CBS News

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Over this past weekend, I had the pleasure of participating in Camp Erin-Philadelphia 2011.

Camp Erin is an initiative led by former Phillies pitcher Jamie Moyer and his wife Karen, Camp Erin photo: www.valleyoflife.comwho serves as Vice President and co-founder of The Moyer Foundation, which began in 2000 and is a non-profit organization aimed at helping children in distress.

Camp Erin, which specifically aims itself toward providing support for children and teens ages 6-17 who have experienced the death of someone close to them, is the largest network of such bereavement camps in the nation, with more than 40 camps in 25 states.

The camp was created by The Moyer Foundation as an honor to the wish of a young woman named Erin Metcalf, from Woodinville, Washington.

Erin had developed liver cancer at the age of 15 and unfortunately lost her battle at age 17 in 2000. The camp is named after this extraordinary young woman who showed the care and compassion that has become the driving force behind an initiative that continues to serve many in need of love and support in times of grief.

Camp Erin-Philadelphia functions in partnership with Penn Home Care and Hospice Services- Wissahickon Hospice. Under the direction of Elise Gaul, the camp provides a fun and caring environment through which the children can build new friendships and trust. The ultimate goal of the camp is to provide a safe setting where the children can be educated about grief and feel connected to other children with similar life experiences.

In addition, Camp Erin Philadelphia succeeds further through a strong partnership with Diamond Ridge Camps in Jamison, Pennsylvania. The camp site itself is a beautiful, well maintained landscape equipped with an arts center, basketball courts, tennis courts, a pool, and Ga Ga ball courts.

What is Ga Ga ball, you ask? Well, it is a loose variation on traditional dodge ball. I had never heard of it up until my Camp Erin experience, but I can now definitively tell you this: kids LOVE Ga Ga ball.

The weekend, which began on Friday evening and ended on Sunday morning, was filled with fun and activities. These activities ranged from adventure to arts and crafts, including various elements of sports, music, and performance routines. Additionally, there were activities that presented an opportunity to focus on the true meaning of the camp and provided an environment with which the children could express themselves and reveal a bit about their experiences.

My assignment for the weekend was to be a cabin buddy to a group of nine and ten year old boys. Essentially, my role was that of a camp counselor. I was there to greet the campers and their families, help facilitate activities, and guide these children through the Camp Erin experience. Oh, and also to make sure they are safe and accounted for at all times! Although mildly challenging and exhausting at times, the experience of spending an entire weekend with these eight children, building relationships and helping them connect with the other children was quite rewarding.

Having lost both my parents as a teenager, I came into this experience with a drive and a passion to help out children who may be feeling a similar loss that I did in my youth. I realized the value of the type of support this camp provides. Camp Erin did not exist in the mid-nineties when I felt my most significant loss, and I am thrilled to have become a part of the group that perpetuates its existence.

I firmly believe it is the collaboration between the camp volunteers and all the wonderful aforementioned organizations that catapult this experience to another level altogether. The team of volunteers was a virtual melting pot of people with one thing in common: a purpose. The camp volunteers may not have all shared the same age, gender, creed, or profession, but we all shared a belief in providing a safe environment for children to recover from personal loss and tragedy. The amount of time, patience, detail, and care that was put into this weekend, not only by the coordinators, but every single person involved was startling and amazing. It was an incredible display of teamwork and camaraderie.

Furthermore, in my own estimation, what really put this camp experience over the top was the presence of many special guests, including Erin’s grandmother, aunt, and cousin who very willingly gave their time and shared their own personal perspective about Erin, creating an even deeper sense of emotion throughout the experience.

In addition, Karen Moyer was present and graciously spoke to the children, providing a great deal of comfort and support. Philadelphia Eagles long-snapper Jon Dorenbos  also appeared, along with his wife Julie, to perform some entertainment in the form of magic tricks, but more importantly to express an intense and influential message about his own similar life experiences. Based on my interaction with the young boys, I think I can safely say that Jon’s message reached deeply to the children and was certainly a highlight of the weekend in many ways.

The weekend a spectrum of emotion filled with dancing and consoling, mourning and befriending, tears of sadness and tears of joy. Most of all though, there was an overall sense of connection. Personally, the icing on the cake was seeing the children’s transformation from caution and nerves on Friday to enthusiasm and joy on Sunday. Mission accomplished.

Before this weekend, I knew I believed in the purpose and message of Camp Erin. I was touched by the cause and benefit of such a dynamic and constructive program. I recognized an opportunity to use my own experiences as a backdrop to help others, and I am thrilled that I could become a tiny, tiny cog in this magnificent machine.

I believe that Erin is truly an angel. She continues to smile upon the people she observed to be in need of support and care. It is the heart of such a special person that inspires great people like Jamie and Karen Moyer, and all those involved with this ongoing initiative, to carry on that kindhearted wish.

I am grateful and honored to have carried out a small part of her wish.

Thank you, Erin.

To learn more, you can also visit the David Bradley Children's Bereavement Program website, part of Penn Wissahickon Hospice.

Contact Ryan Downs at rdowns@philly2philly.com

The Duke Avatar

Religious followers of all sorts are sure to be ticked off about Stephen Hawking's declaration that heaven doesn't exist. But, you know what...he just might be right. Hawking has created quite a debate on the web.

Yours truly doesn't subscribe to the belief in God or heaven myself and personally I don't have a problem if anybody does. It's a free country and you're free to believe in what you will.

But, let's put this little scientific tidbit out there - called The Doppler Effect, which proves the universe was spawned from a Big Bang and is moving away from us.

The Doppler Effect was devised by scientist Christian Doppler in 1842. Doppler learned that sound waves would have a higher frequency if the source was moving toward the observer and a lower freqency if the source was moving away from the observer.

If you want to observe the Doppler Effect - the next time you're waiting for a train...listen. When the train is approaching, the whistle has a higher pitch than normal. You can hear the change in pitch as the train passes. 

On a final note, Hawking stirred up the debate last year by claiming God wasn't needed to create the universe. And, over 60% of the people who voted in a poll agreed with Hawking's recent claims.

Contact The Duke at theduke0000@yahoo.com

citizens bank park

You see that image above? That image of Citizen's Bank Park will be transformed into a winter wonderland of ice and panels come January 2, 2012.

Your Philadelphia Flyers will host the New York Rangers in the 2012 Winter Classic. NHL officials haven't confirmed a "contract" just yet, but it's all but a done deal.

Contact The People's Blogger at peoplesblogger@yahoo.com

james troutman

James Troutman, the murderer of 9-year-old Skylar Kauffman in Souderton had a previous run-in with her a few weeks ago. And, her family feels that her murder could have been prevented. Souderton Police on the other hand insist that there wasn't enough there for cops to bring in Troutman.

Each day more news comes out about Troutman who actually was engaged to be married. Many of his friends said he was a little "off" (he was known to party a lot) but they never expected him to committ a horrific act.

Of course, that's what everybody says when someone they know rapes or murders an individual in horrific fashion.

Troutman's fiance was blindsided by the news and had no clue she was living with a monster.

Contact The Peoples Blogger at peoplesblogger@yahoo.com

Oxford Valley Mall Promotes National Fitness Month

Media Contact: Jennifer Sherlock

WHO: POPPEL.com and Oxford Valley Mall present a sports and autograph show, featuring signers including former Philadelphia Flyers players, former MLB stars and Yankees pitching prospect Manny Banuelos.

WHAT: Sports fans can come out to the Oxford Valley Mall to browse dealer tables of sports cards, autographs, memorabilia and collectibles.  For a fee, fans can have sports legends and an upcoming star autograph memorabilia during their signing.

  • Top Yankees pitching prospect, Manny Banuelos- 11:30am-12:30pm, May 14
  • 1960’s Yankees player, 1962 World Champion of NY Yankees, Jack Cullen- 11:00am-1:00pm, May 14
  • 1950’s Boston Red Sox player, Dick Gernert- 11:00am-1:00pm, May 14
  • 1993 Phillies NL Champion, Tommy Greene- 12:00-2:00pm, May 14
  • 2x All-Star and 1976-1982 Flyer, Bob Dailey- 10:00am-12:00pm, May 14
  • 5x All-Star and former Flyer, Brian Propp- 11:00am-1:00pm, May 14
  • 3x All-Star and former Flyer, Tim Kerr- 11:30am-1:30pm, May 14
  • Former Flyer, Ed Hospodar- 10:00am-12:00pm, May 14

WHEN: Saturday, May 14, 10am-9pm and Sunday, May 15 11am-6pm, sports stars will be available during select signing times

WHERE: Oxford Valley Mall in the Sears Court, 2300 East Lincoln Highway, Langhorne, Pa., 19047

WHY: Enjoy a day wrapped up in the sports atmosphere, the dream for any sports lover.  Fans will get the chance to browse over 20 dealer tables for sports memorabilia or pay to get memorabilia signed by sports stars.  Autograph fees for each signer are posted on POPPEL.com.

Country line dancing attracts participants to the Courtyard at Sears in the Oxford Valley Mall early Saturday morning.

Country line dancing attracts participants to the Courtyard at Sears in the Oxford Valley Mall early Saturday morning.



The second image: Kathy Romano of WMMR's Preston & Steve Show performs dancing alongside members of her dance company, Las Estrellas from La Luna Dance Studio.

The second image: Kathy Romano of WMMR's Preston & Steve Show performs dancing alongside members of her dance company, Las Estrellas from La Luna Dance Studio.



The Duke Avatar

Rick Santorum, the former Senator of Pennsylvania is considering running for President. Yep, that’s not a misprint.

While at a dinner in South Carolina last night he won a straw poll over the likes of Mitt Romney, Herman Cain, Donald Trump, and Michele Bachmann. The list reads like a who’s who’s list of birthers and right-wing conspiracy theorists except for Romney who looks like Barack Obama compared to the others in the field.

I guess when you’re lumped in with some of those people anybody can look good. Even a whacko - anti-abortion, anti-gay rights extremist like Santorum who believes in that garbage philosophy otherwise known as intelligent-design.

I still have to laugh when you google “santorum” or “rick santorum” it yields the following goof website  - spreadingsantorum.com. Joke’s on you Ricky!

Contact The Duke at theduke0000@yahoo.com

Now here's some news which we didn't expect to hear. Hot off the presses - Arnold Schwarzenegger and his wife Maria Shriver have announced they are separating after 25 years of marriage.

Former California Gov. Schwarzenegger has been back in the news lately with news about his latest movie project.

The news of their separation comes as a complete surprise as there was nothing ever mentioned about any marital troubles between the power couple.

They released the following statement: “At this time, we are living apart while we work on the future of our relationship,” the statement read in part. “We ask for compassion and respect from the media and the public."

In Hollywood, being married 25 years is a hell of an achievement. It's probably equivalent to being married 100 years in the real world.

Contact The People's Blogger at peoplesblogger@yahoo.com

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