GOOD AS GOLD
Among the many letters of sympathy U.S. Olympic speed skater Dan Jansen received last winter was one from Mark Arrowood of Doylestown, Pa. It read, in part:
"Dear Dan, I watched you on TV. I'm sorry that you fell 2 times. I am in Special Olympics. I won a gold medal at Pa. State Summer Olympics right after my Dad died seven years ago.... Before we start the games we have a saying that goes like this. 'Let me win but if I can't win let me be brave in the attempt.'...I want to share one of my gold medals with you because I don't like to see you not get one. Try again in four more years."
Inside the envelope, the 30-year-old Arrowood had enclosed a gold medal, won in a track and field event. Jansen wrote Arrowood a letter of gratitude, and last week in Philadelphia he thanked him in person. Said Jansen, who has helped with the Special Olympics in the past, "I've seen the work that these kids put in. As far as they're concerned, they're training just as hard as we do for our Olympics.... I can't even begin to describe the feeling that I get when I see them win a medal. And when I received the letter from Mark, along with the medal, after knowing what these medals mean to these special people, it really touched me."
THE YELLOW BRICK ROAD
Coach Larry Brown has always been something of a basketball gypsy, so it should not have come as much of a shock last week when he announced that he was leaving Kansas, which he had led to the 1988 NCAA championship, for the San Antonio Spurs of the NBA. Still, his latest move makes Brown's words of April 8, when he decided not to take a job offered by UCLA, sound very hollow. "I'm committed to these kids and I'm staying," he said then. "Like Dorothy said, 'There's no place like home.' I don't want to do anything to take anything away from this championship."
Readers of The Wizard of Oz may also recall that when Kansan Dorothy and her cohorts returned to the Emerald City and asked the Wizard to live up to his promise, the Great Oz said, "What promise?"
When the only nesting beach for the Kemp's ridley sea turtle was discovered near Rancho Nuevo, Mexico, in 1947, some 40,000 females were nesting there. But because of poachers (the eggs are considered by some to be an aphrodisiac), fishermen, offshore drilling and such natural predators as coyotes and sharks, the number of female turtles on the beach has dropped to approximately 500. For more than 10 years, the National Marine Fisheries Service laboratory in Galveston, Texas, has been raising the endangered sea turtles in captivity. Every year, 2,000 yearlings are released into the sea from a protected beach on North Padre Island off the Texas coast, in hopes that they will someday return there to nest. Since a ridley turtle takes 10 to 15 years to reach sexual maturity, it's still too early to tell if the "head start" program is working.
This year, to give their charges more of a chance in the wild, the marine biologists are undertaking a pilot program in which 60 of the 2,000 turtles being raised at the laboratory will be exercised regularly. No, Jane Fonda has not been brought in to work with the turtles. What happens is that water is pumped into a tank to force a turtle to use its instinctive swimming abilities. The flow of the water can be controlled so that the turtle's stamina can be gradually increased. "We're very excited about this," says Dr. Edward F. Klima, director of the laboratory. "We feel that a better-conditioned turtle will have a better chance of survival."