By Kevin Wing
Editor, Off Camera
At the suggestion of our Chapter President, Steve Shlisky, I’m humbly writing to you this month to discuss something personal that I wasn’t intending to talk about in Off Camera. But, after some thought, I decided to take up Steve’s suggestion, for if I can help someone in any way through the sharing of my story, then talking about this here in Off Camera will be well worth it. This isn’t so much about me as it is more about all of us aiming high and going for our dreams and not letting anything, or anyone, stand in our way.
I am not only grateful for Steve that he has been our Chapter President and will continue to be for another two years, but that he is also a trusted friend and colleague to me. Steve read a magazine article about yours truly that was published in June. The magazine is Diamonds Mirror, an outstanding publication specializing in stories of inspiration and hope.
I guess that’s where my personal story comes in.
Steve suggested that we share the magazine article with all of you here in Off Camera. So, if you decide to read it (I promise you, it’s a quick read and it was wonderfully written by Diamonds Mirror Editor Marisa Bojiuc), I am grateful and I thank you from the bottom of my heart.
When I was 10 years old, I knew I wanted a career in television news. In my 10-year-old mind at the time, I didn’t know how I was going to get there someday, but I was inspired nonetheless by watching anchorman (Fred) Van Amburg deliver the news every night on KGO-TV Channel 7 here in the Bay Area. Yes, hard to believe, but I did watch the news when I was 10. We always had Channel 7’s News Scene on in my house. It was the station to watch for my family, and Van was my Mom’s favorite newscaster. Before I was born in the 1960s, my Mom and Dad knew Van’s family, when he was still a budding sportscaster at KPIX Channel 5.
Around the time I was 10, a birth defect, unbeknownst to my family up to then, began showing up in me. It changed the appearance of my facial features. I became the one at school for most of the mean kids to bully. I was teased, taunted, laughed at, made fun of, stared at, and was the constant object of finger-pointing. I was chased to school in the morning. I was chased home in the afternoon. It was almost relentless. Somehow, I made it through the torment. As we know, kids will be kids, right? Luckily, I had friends who stood up for me in school, and thankfully, I was blessed with a family who surrounded me with love. And eventually, I would grow to be 6’2” tall, so I wouldn’t be the skinny kid who some would pick on.
My Mom took me to see various surgeons and specialists. After all, we lived in the Bay Area. We had the best of the best, right here. After several consultations, doctors at UCSF Medical Center determined that they could help me, but that I’d have to wait until I was fully grown. To play it safe, they suggested we wait until I was 19 or 20. When I was 20, my Mom kept her promise to me, and asked if I’d like to go through with the surgery to correct the birth defect. I said yes. I told her I was tired of being different. And, by then in college studying for a career in television journalism, she knew such corrective surgery would likely benefit me. The following year, I had the surgery to correct the birth defect. I was in the operating room for 10 hours. It would take two months for me to recover from it all to return to my college classes.
I would like to think that the surgery certainly did benefit me. I couldn’t have done it without my Mom. She made it happen. Everything I’ve ever done in my career – including being on camera as a news reporter and anchor — likely would have never happened.
I don’t look the way I did before that surgery many years ago, and while I hated being different when I was a kid, I feel blessed today. I don’t mind being different now. It is who I am. All we can be, is ourselves. Each one of us is unique. Cherish who you are. I won’t ever forget who I was before the surgery. That kid is still in my heart. And, the experience has made me who I am today, as a person. Through sharing my story, I hope to help others who may also feel different about anything they are enduring in their lives.
If you’d like to learn more about my personal story, here is the link to the Diamonds Mirror article:
Thank you very much for the honor of your time.