John Kelly's Washington
An update on some inspiring Washington area people in 2009
As 2009 comes to a close, I thought I'd update you on a few of the people we met in my column this year. To read the original columns, visit my blog: voices.washingtonpost.com/commons.
Not just horsing around
Jamal Brown lives in Northeast Washington, not exactly a hotbed of equestrianism. But ever since he was a toddler, this city kid has been obsessed with horses. After my April column about Jamal, he was approached by the Washington International Horse Show, which made Jamal its official youth ambassador. He was at the show all week and met some of the country's top riders.
Jamal competes on the varsity riding team at the Barrie School in Silver Spring, where he's a junior. Soon he'll be looking at colleges. He's hoping to earn a scholarship to ride at a school that has an equestrian team.
"This is his passion," said Jamal's mother, Dannielle Brown. "I can't imagine him doing anything other than something connected with a career in horses."
Leaving no stone unturned
Each spring Arlington County's Stephen Powers embarks on a marathon eight-hour trip to visit all 40 of the weathered, 200-year-old stones that mark Washington's original borders.
After my May column, Stephen earned a meritorious service award from the local chapter of the American Society of Civil Engineers. When the weather warms up, some volunteers from that group will restore the rusty metal fence around the eastern cornerstone.
Best of all, a local collector contacted Stephen and allowed him to examine an original manuscript by Fred Woodward, who in 1906 started photographing all the stones. "That was like looking at the Holy Grail of the boundary stone preservation effort," Stephen said.
Stephen will embark on his fifth annual boundary stones trip this May. "I think my mother wants to go," he said. "There's a couple stones that are tough to get a 73-year-old woman down into, but she's a trooper."
Honoring the troops
Scott Kreger of Germantown vowed to provide every returning veteran with a token of his gratitude: a sticker reading "AFG" or "IRQ" and "I served." After my July column, donations to his effort poured in. So did requests for stickers.
"We've sent off 240,000 stickers now," Scott said. "I have only seen one, and it drives me crazy that I haven't seen any more. I heard that if you drive through Walter Reed they're everywhere."
The program has been such a hit that he wants to expand it to honor vets from another war. Said Scott: "If anybody out there has a really good contact with Vietnam veterans, I'd love it." You may soon see bumpers emblazoned with "VNM: I served." (E-mail Scott through his Web site at http:/
A winning hand
Jon Urban is the 29-year-old industrial designer who quit his job and moved to Las Vegas in the summer to be a professional poker player. When I checked back two months ago, he was just squeaking by. Then early this month Jon came in tops at a poker tournament at the Bellagio. His prize: $27,642 -- plus a Rolex.