This week in history we look back 10, 25 and 50 years to see what was happening in eastern Wake County. Children of all ages were the topic of this week.
In 2005, dozens of children from Belarus came to East Wake where people from local churches and a nonprofit helped them out. In 1990, a reporter investigated the relationship between parents and children working together on East Wake High School’s sports teams. And in 1965, the newspaper reported on a 6-year-old’s birthday party.
Ten years ago, a nonprofit and local churches in East Wake joined together to help out some Belarussion children over the summer.
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Her eyes welling with tears, Titsiana Shanchenka gazed through the lenses of her new glasses Friday afternoon, smiled briefly and quickly snatched them off.
The 12-year-old could, in fact, see better. But she feared what the children at her orphanage in Belarus would think. If she wasn't picked on for wearing them, she'd be lucky if they weren't stolen.
Titsiana is one of 76 Belarussian children who will spend six weeks this summer in eastern Wake as part of the American Belarussian Relief Organization. Belarus, a former Soviet state bordered by Poland and Russia, is still plagued by the radiation damage from the April 26, 1986, Chernobyl nuclear power plant accident.
About a fourth of the country was contaminated in the spill that, according to the International Atomic Energy Agency, was 400 times more potent than the atom bomb dropped on Hiroshima. Its effects continue to plague the country's children; exposure to radiation has led to, among others, birth defects, thyroid cancer, heart disease and leukemia.
The six weeks the Belarussians spend in America is the equivalent to adding nine months to one year to their lives, said Joe Strong, ABRO co-director. It is "basically a chance for the children's immune system to clean out, they can eat clean food, and it gets them out of the contaminated zone of Belarus."
While here, the children are sponsored by local churches and live with American families. They will receive free medical and dental care, eye examinations and much more, including new clothes and sightseeing across North Carolina and beyond.
ABRO, a nonprofit organization, has groups in Wake County and other states. This year, 617 children from Belarus will live with American families in 15 states, a news release said.
So far, Dr. Jeffrey Stroud, an optometrist at Triangle East Eye Care Associates, has examined about 24 Belarussians – 22 kids and two chaperons. Most could see OK, but several had to have corrective lenses, he said.
"One girl had an eye that was a little crossed, and just putting those glasses on straightened it out. She just had this nice big smile. That's where it becomes worth it."
Continuing off of last week’s story about East Wake’s athletic familial ties, The Zebulon Record continued their series 25 years ago. This time, they focused on parent-child relationships.
“Leave the game on the field” where it belongs. The old sports adage sounds easy enough until applied to the two parent/player tandems at East Wake High School.
In their cases, the battles – whether won or lost – followed them home like a stray dog.
And instead of shooing it away with sternness, the Sassers and the Brayboys invited the memories of competition inside their homes like distant cousins in for a weekend visit.
David Sasser, a senior quarterback/pole vaulter/golfer, said he thinks such hospitality is advantageous for both parent-coach and son-player.
David contended extra skull sessions at the supper table rather than the sideline helped him establish a mental rapport with his coach and father, Johnny Sasser.
“We’d talk a lot,” David insisted. “It got to the point that he could call a formation and I could sense what he wanted. I know how he thinks.”
Back in the day, that is, 50 years ago, it was all about the “who’s who” in the news, even if it was just a 6-year-old’s birthday party. And yet, right below the piece in the same section was one brief line that read: “South Viet Nam has a half million men under arms.”
Last Sunday Jeanne Strickland celebrated her sixth birthday with a party given by her parents, Mr. and Mrs. Larry Strickland. The social was at the Strickland residence.
A pink and blue color scheme was used, along with lanterns, tassels and balloons. Party hats were given to each guest.
The refreshment table was covered with a birthday cloth and centered with a cake iced in red and green, topped with ballerinas. Refreshments were ice cream, cookies, potato chips and bubble gum.
Guests were Dwayne Alford, Linda Jo Stickland, Gale Thompson, Suzanne Parrish, Jo Ann and Kathy Medlin, Donna Strickland, Daryl Hopkins, Nancy Ferrell, Gina Pulley, Jeana Wilson, Christy Williams, Denise Driver, Susan and Michael Bunn, Emma Katherine Strickland, Annette Debnam, Rita and Jo Ann Massey, Jenny Creech, Ned Daniels, Robbie Price and Paula and Jerry Wayne Jones.
The cake was decorated by Lynn Alford, Pansy Strickland and Billie Jean Johnson.