Today we're toasting some local folks making big differences.
But first, we have the case of The Activist, the Cop and the Mysteriously Vanishing Video.
An article in Tuesday's newspaper told the story:
A local activist was videotaping cops in downtown Orlando. The cops didn't like it. And they ended up arresting the guy for interfering with their duties and "resisting arrest without violence."
The activist says the arrest was malarkey; that he wasn't doing anything wrong and that his video would clearly prove as much.
Only, guess what? The video is now missing.
The camera, according to Tuesday's story by reporter Mark Schlueb, "was never taken into custody and secured as evidence."
How do you arrest a guy who's taking a video and then lose the video?
Especially when much of the arresting officer's report actually focuses on the videotaping in question.
Cops should obviously be free to carry out their duties without obstruction. And if CopWatch activist John Kurtz was disrupting the officers' activities, the video would seem to be perfect proof of a valid arrest.
But now that proof is missing?
The Orlando Police Department is filled with good cops. And the good ones I hear from dislike anything that taints their reputation. As such, the department should provide a good explanation for why it doesn't have video in a case that centers on video.
O.P.D. wouldn't say anything about the case Tuesday, since charges against Kurtz — who's facing up to six years in jail — are still pending.
In general, video cameras and law-enforcement are a good combination. A growing number of departments have them as standard features on their vehicles; something more local departments should consider.
Cameras help prove cases. They protect cops from wrongful accusations. And they instill public confidence.
Quite simply, cameras don't lie. Plus, when they're attached to the cars, they rarely disappear.
Speaking of activists …
…I also wanted to shine a light on a different breed of advocates — those involved with Orlando nonprofits making an impact far beyond Central Florida.
First up is HOPE for Haiti, a relatively new program established by UCF President John Hitt in the aftermath of the Haiti earthquake.
There are many worthwhile efforts to help this quake-ravaged and impoverished country. But what makes UCF's so unique is its high-tech and approach to rebuilding — using cell phones.
HOPE (which stands for Healing, Outreach, Partnership and Education) is providing schools in Haiti with cell phones and mini-projectors that give Haitian teachers the ability to deliver high-tech, cutting edge lectures — even in rooms without power.
Cell phones provide data to the projectors, which can then broadcast everything from PowerPoint presentations to live Internet images on blank walls.
The cameras and projectors are distributed as micro-loans, with the Haitian educators paying back UCF over several years. "These are proud and professional educators. And our goal is to empower, not entitle," said David Metcalf of UCF's Institute of Simulation and Training "It also makes the program sustainable."
If you're interested in more info about this effort — which is seeking old cell phones as well as donations — check out http://www.ucf.edu/haiti.
25 amazing years
And finally, we move from a new philanthropy to one that celebrated its 25th anniversary this past weekend: Give Kids the World.
Nearly 1,500 people packed the renovated Peabody Orlando Saturday night raising hundreds of thousands of dollars for an organization that has helped more than 100,000 families of sick and deserving children. GKTW helps families escape their everyday worries about illness with an Orlando vacation full of care-free fun … and unlimited ice cream.
This month, GKTW expects to set a record, helping 700 families in May alone.
Just as inspiring is the story of the organization's founder, Henri Landwirth, who lost both of his parents in Nazi death camps and yet ultimately became a savior to parents and kids throughout the United States.
The phrase "inspiring life story" is sometimes over-used. With Landwirth, it is most certainly deserved. His life is testament to both the American and human spirit.
You can learn more at GKTW.org.
firstname.lastname@example.org or 407-420-6141Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun