MAIN STREET: Mentors can change a child’s world

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I love backstories and when I heard this one last week, knew it was worth sharing.

The Press recently ran a feature on budding local thespian Oskar Owens co-starring with veteran actor Jack Bannon in the production of "On Shaky Ground." Oskar’s mom, Kiki Miller, gave a little additional background on Oskar and Jack’s first meeting about a dozen years ago.

During Oskar’s on stage debut as Nails the Dog in "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow," the 6-year-old was bitten by the acting bug. He and his mom were at Syringa for lunch and noticed Jack and his wife, Ellen Travolta also dining there that day. Kiki assumes Oskar had seen Jack coming and going from the theater during rehearsals prompting his insistence that he knew Jack. Oskar told his mom that since he and Jack were both actors they should talk. She convinced her son to wait until they finished lunch before approaching Jack and Ellen’s table.

“Upon the server clearing their table, Oskar immediately walked over and introduced himself to Jack. Jack quietly swung around in his chair, crossed his legs, leaned back and began a lengthy conversation. I didn't know these folks at the time and felt quite anxious and embarrassed the longer my son spent at their table so I went over and began an apologetic introduction. Ellen quickly shushed me and said something along the lines of "they're talking shop, you should just wait,” recalls Kiki.

So she did. She said Oskar talked about the meeting many times through the years and how Jack made him feel so grown up and connected to the acting world.

On Sunday, we attended the matinee of On Shaky Ground and as I watched a now 18-year-old Oskar and his acting mentor work their magic on a live theater stage, I thought of how generous both Jack and Ellen have been for so many years in our community. They share their considerable talent and passion for theater arts with young and old.

And for that 6-year-old boy “talking shop” with a fellow actor it made all the difference in the world.

• • •

This weekend join me for the second Sledge Hockey Fest at Frontier Ice Arena. Three Inland Northwest Disabled Veteran Sports Association teams with players from Coeur d’Alene, Post Falls and Spokane along with teams from San Antonio, Texas, Great Falls and Flat Head Valley, Mont. and an able-bodied team from Kootenai County Firefighters Local 2856 will compete in round-robin tournament action on Friday from 1-4 p.m. and for the Saturday finals 9:30 to 11:30 a.m.

At 6 p.m. Friday the Showcase game will pit the All-Star Team against the Fairchild Air Force Base Falcons, made up of active duty FAFB military. I’ll return as honorary captain of the All-Star Team to defend the title we won last year. Sean Halsted, USAF ret., of Rathdrum will be the honorary captain of the Fairchild team.

Friday there’s an Adaptive Sport Expo at Frontier Ice Arena with information on sled hockey, cross country skiing, archery, basketball and wheeled sport racing from 4:30 to 7 p.m. On Saturday morning from 9:15 to 10:30 a.m. there’s an open house for any of you, able-bodied included, who would like to try sled hockey. The sleds allow for disabled players, many of whom are veterans, to be out on the ice for some incredible hockey play.

When I experienced this tournament for the first time in 2015 it was an eye-opener. Bring the family for not only a most inspiring event but for some fast-paced and action-packed ice hockey!

• • •

Happy Birthday today to Stacy Hudson, Dina Hourland, Cliff Slaney, Katherine Ekhoff and Haley Walker.

The same tomorrow to Jerry Lyon, Vic Slater, Amy Reagan, Scott Livingston, Rosalyn Martin and George Beebe.

Celebrating on Friday, the first day of autumn, are Autumn Hanson, Craig Owens, Wendy Young, Patty Kilcup, Stacie McGrath, David Thompson, Sue Enright, Brian Harris, Denise Bechel and Madeline Singleton.

On Saturday, Tracey Vaughn, Debbie Michalak, Justin Capaul, Steve Evert, Dorothy Benoit, Carlena Shove and Cathy Schaede unwrap their birthday presents.

James Hagman (13!), Susan Cliff, Beck Jacobsen, Brenda Watkins, Gladys Sullivan, Michael McGee, Ronald Schlepp, Rebecca Greer, Marcia Hughes, Cheryl Snyder, Cate Kuhlmann, Teri Oliver and Charlie Taranto will blow out the birthday candles on Sept. 25.

Monday is the big day for Joseph Doutre (80!), Darci Allert, Hannah Riorden, John Oaks, Luke Kilcup, Lisa McElwain and Dan Tesutov.

On Tuesday beautiful golden girls Helen Knott will blow out 90 candles and Ruth McDermid is turning 88, both sharing birthdays with Loretta Reed, Cindy Lash, Delraya Anstine, Joseph Dutre, Kaley Fowler, Julie DeGon, Robert Hoyt and Paul Landers.

• • •

Kerri Rankin Thoreson is a member of the National Society of Newspaper Columnists and the former publisher of the Post Falls Tribune. Main Street appears every Wednesday in The Press and Kerri can be contacted on Facebook or via email mainstreet@cdapress.com. Follow her on Twitter @kerrithoreson.

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