In May 2013, Tim Cacioppo, an Omaha father of four, was diagnosed with ALS, a fatal neurological disease. This crushing diagnosis wouldn’t leave Tim much time to fulfill what he considered his most important role in life – being a dad. Even as the disease slowly robs his body of muscle strength and movement and muffles his speech, he is determined to keep things as normal as possible for his family.
Dmitrii “Dima” Shaposhnikov, 13, of Omaha, Nebraska, excels at piano despite being completely blind. Shaposhnikov, who moved from Russia to Nebraska with his family in 2013, reads his school work and sheet music in braille and speaks several languages.
Bert Grubb of Pisgah, Iowa, was the recipient of a Watchman device that was placed in his heart at Methodist Hospital in Omaha, Nebraska. The Watchman device opens up like an umbrella to essentially seal off a space in the heart with hopes of patients going off blood-thinners and preventing strokes.
Retired Nebraska horse jockeys share stories about putting their life on the line for their love of horse racing. Horse jockey, Jayme LaRocca, a Fremont, Nebraska native, is permanently disabled after a horse racing accident in 1982. Horse jockey, John Lively, who won 10 riding titles at the former Aksarben racetrack and won the Preakness in 1976, recalls the thrill of winning.
Dixie Quicks Public House in Council Bluffs, Iowa closed its doors in January 2018 after 22 years in business. Owner, Rob Gilmer, made the decision to close the restaurant and the adjacent RNG Gallery after his husband, René Orduña, died of kidney cancer in November 2016. Gilmer, longtime friends, and customers describe Orduña’s impact and the legacy he left.
Former Husker football player Ricky Simmons, a wide receiver from 1979-83, was introduced to cocaine while playing professionally. “Cocaine convinced me that football was getting in the way of my using” said Simmons, who walked away from the NFL to be a “full-time drug addict.” After decades of drug use and several periods of incarceration, he received a letter in jail from former Nebraska football coach Tom Osborne that inspired him to turn his life around.
The Ravens are Omaha’s chapter of the Armored Combat League, an international association of teams that compete in full-contact fighting wearing steel armor and wielding steel weapons.
When he agreed to have children with his 56-year-old wife, Lisa, Mike McLaughlin didn’t expect to be nearly 70 and raising them by himself. In a tragic turn of events, Lisa died a few days after giving birth to the twins.
Duane Wiskus, 67, grew up in Carroll, Iowa, and served in Vietnam as a crew chief for an EC-47 surveillance aircraft flying electronic eavesdropping missions out of Nha Trang in 1968-69, where he recalls helicopters spraying Agent Orange around the perimeter of his base as well as in the jungles of Vietnam. Many years later, his son, Clint, was diagnosed with infantile muscular dystrophy and died at 20-months-old. Wiskus thinks his wartime exposure to Agent Orange could be to blame.
Sam Fried, of Omaha, who escaped from Auschwitz, a Nazi concentration camp, more than seven decades ago shares his story. His prisoner identification number still remains on his left arm: A-5053.
Sarah Gissel, 2, donates her bone marrow to her older sister Vanessa, 11, in hopes of curing her of sickle cell anemia with a transplant at the Aflac Cancer Center of Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta on July 17, 2013.
Fred J. Piccolo, of Omaha, owner of Piccolo’s Barber Shop reflects on cutting hair for 59 years. The barber shop was founded by Fred’s father, Joseph Piccolo, in 1934, and Fred has been cutting hair since there since 1957.
“On September 23, 2000, our lives came crashing together and we became one,” said Jerry Mudd. “He is a part of me forever.” Jerry Mudd, 66, of Louisville, Kentucky, received a new heart from 18-year-old organ donor Jon Clark, of Bowling Green, Kentucky. Clark was driving home late one night when he ran off the road, overcorrected, and flipped his truck several times. Clark died about 24-hours later and his seven life-saving organs were donated to seven different people.