Last week, I gave an account of Tim Murdock, a beloved teacher at Elkridge Landing Middle School, who sustained a catastrophic spinal cord injury during a normal workout routine. Just a short excerpt to refresh your memory or explain to anyone who missed the story:

"On Oct. 13, Timothy Murdock's life changed forever when he sustained a devastating spinal cord injury. After two major surgeries, this vibrant 25-year-old Howard County eighth-grade history teacher and high school wrestling coach remains paralyzed from his chest down. He is currently undergoing inpatient rehabilitation at a hospital in Georgia and will continue as an outpatient until he reaches his new level of normalcy. Tim's primary motivation throughout his fight has been to return to the classroom by the beginning of the next school year." A fundraising campaign has been established in Tim's honor through HelpHopeLive (formerly NTAF), a nonprofit organization that assists the transplant and catastrophic injury community. For more information or to make a tax-deductible contribution to help Tim's family, please go to http://www.helphopelive.org.

On that note, I'd like to remind you of a very exciting event that is being orchestrated solely for Tim's benefit: Murdock Madness is a benefit concert being held at Elkridge Landing Middle this Saturday, June 2, at 7 p.m. and will feature the sounds of Elkridge's own O.R.B. (Cooper Gerus, Owen Gerus and Bo Oliver), who will be playing cover, such as Red Hot Chili Pepper, Jimi Hendricks, the Beatles and their own originals. Julen Rodriguez, Howard High Class of 2012, will bring his own Indie Rock style with voice and piano, and Ryan Sauder, a seventh-grader at ELMS, will be playing electric guitar and singing classic rock music. Rounding out the entertainment will be Shane Kieta and Steve Eastman, in yet-to-be-named shows of talent, so come see what they have in store for Murdock Madness! The event emcees are slated to be ELMS faculty members Bobby Everett and Mike McMillion. The cover charge is $10/person and 100 percent goes to HelpHopeLive on Tim's behalf. Please plan to support Murdock Madness at ELMS on June 2 or you may wish to make a contribution through the HelpHopeLive web siteTo make a contribution through the concert event, contact Lori Gerus at algerus@juno.com.

. Come out to support the spaghetti dinner, hosted by Boy Scout Troop 432 at Grace Episcopal Church Hall, on Saturday, June 2, from 5 p.m. to -8 p.m. The troop, sponsored by Grace Church for over 30 years and currently lead by Scoutmaster Billy Neault, will be working hard to make your dining experience most enjoyable. The menu will feature spaghetti and meatballs, grated cheese, salad with choice of dressing, garlic bread, beverage, and dessert. Tickets are $8 per adult; $5 kids 4-11 years; children under 3 are free/donation. There is a maximum cost of $28 for a family of 5; tickets will be sold at the door. To help facilitate the success of Troop 432's fundraising effort, donations have been provided by the following local businesses: Costco, Food Lion, Green Valley, Giant, Mama Lucia's of Elkridge, and Northwest Savings & Loan, and their generosity is greatly appreciated. In addition to being a delicious meal and a good time, the event will help raise funds for troop activities and offset expenses throughout the year.


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Patapsco Heritage Greenway (PHG) sponsored its 13th annual Garlic Mustard Challenge on Sunday, May 6, focusing on removing invasive garlic mustard in the Orange Grove Area of Patapsco State Park. More than 80 volunteers worked to make the event another rousing success. For the first two hours, seven teams competed against each other removing 961 pounds of garlic mustard in just two hours in the lower Patapsco watershed. Many great event partners helped sponsor this event including Howard County DPW Environmental Services, Constellation Energy and R.E.I. First place winner in the mustard pull for "most pounds pulled per person" goes to Arbutus resident Brian Schexnayder, who singularly pulled an amazing 294 pounds! The year's 2012 Chef Challenge (adult category) went to Alex Streat, of Columbia, for garlic mustard lasagna; in the children's division, 1st place went to Georgia Briggs, of Ellicott City, for her Patapsco pasta. PHG would like to offer sincere gratitude to all of the exhibitors who shared their knowledge of watershed issues with the participants: Sonja Schmitz, Wanda MacLachlan, Lauren McMillion, Jeff Klein, Vanessa Beauchamp, Glenda Weber, Angeles Morales, Melody Nevins, and Kathy Swan. Special credit is given to the main Garlic Mustard Challenge team who spent countless hours getting ready for the event: Betsy McMillion, Jennifer Griffiths, Chris Fiorito, Anita Kraemer, Pete McCallum, Jeff Klein, Lucy McKean, Sam Miller and Lisa Wingate. The PHG is also tremendously grateful to volunteers from Howard Community College and Towson University. Betsy McMillion, PHG executive Director, would like to extend her appreciation and kudos to everyone who made this year's Garlic Mustard Challenge a success.

Julie Rout, assistant principal at Elkridge Landing Middle School, would like to share her gratitude to the PTSA for an amazing teacher appreciation week. According to Rout, the faculty and staff are tremendously grateful for such a supportive group of parents and special acknowledgement goes out to Cindy Barr, Hope Oehler and Becky Sauder for organizing a delicious breakfast, lunches, desserts, snacks, and a special Friday afternoon thank you to culminate the week-long festivities. In her words, "Certainly, the staff appreciates the supportive relationship we have with our parents."

In other ELMS news, I'm happy to report the Students of the Month for April, having been selected by their teachers for consistently demonstrating tolerance by showing respect for all persons and appreciating their differences, views and beliefs. The 6th grade winners of this recognition are: Robert Agbai, Nick Deamer, Rebecca Posadas, Shaheem Wells and Hannah Zelnosky. Tolerance is best being modeled in seventh grade by Alexandra Barton, Erika Crampton, Logan Filler, Moustafa Hussein and Dawson Staruk and, from eighth grade, Austin Aguilera, Emily Barr, Jane Lee, Kelsey McAllister and Kara Tu. Congratulations to these fine students for setting an example from which everyone could learn.

Dr. Diane Mumford, principal at Elkridge Elementary School, shared with me her appreciation to the PTA for treating the entire staff to a sweet week of fun and surprises for Teacher Appreciation Week, May 7-11. Parents Darcy Concha and Jeanne Nichols, coordinated the celebration into a full-blown Candyland theme. Dr. Mumford explained how "parents worked tirelessly until 9:30 p.m. the Friday before decorating the entire school as a Candyland game board with the hallways emulating Chocolate Swamp, Licorice Forest, Gumdrop Pass, Peanut Acres, Peppermint Forest, and, last but not least, Lollipop Land. When the staff arrived early Monday morning, they were greeted by faux ice cream cones that loomed six feet high and trees decorated with peppermint candy canes, as they made their way toward a delicious homemade breakfast. Candyland game cards were hidden in places allover the school, to be discovered by staff and exchanged for gifts. Lunches were specially prepared and served on tablecloths with flowers every day by over 100 parents. To sweeten the huge display of appreciation, students wrote notes to describe which candy their teacher best symbolizes. For example, one student wrote, "Ms. Jagoda reminds me of Skittles because she is sweet and likes different colors!" The letters and notes were posted all over the school. According to Dr. Mumford, "The Elkridge staff is moved by the PTA's thoughtfulness, planning and execution of the theme and for all the great work they do all year long to support the faculty and staff." Sweet stuff all the way around!

Last, but not least: Congratulations to the Class of 2012. No matter whether you're graduating from college, high school, or any other level of education, may your summer be the start of everything good. No doubt you've come a long way, had fun and learned a great deal as the years have flown past. It's important to look back to appreciate what you've accomplished, but may you always look forward with hope and promise. And may you never lose the excitement of new beginnings!

That's all for this week, but can you believe we're saying goodbye to May already! Take heart, for Al Bernstein said it best, "Spring being a tough act to follow, God created June." Until next time, please pay it forward and practice random acts of kindness. Thanks and have a stellar week!