artilces about me



About 14 years ago, I was at a sales convention. I really did not want to be there, because I was unhappy with my job. During our dinner they brought out a guest speaker, coach Lou Holtz. He talked about keeping a positive attitude, giving back to people, and the importance of having goals. He spoke of a time when he was unemployed and became inspired to create a list of goals after reading The Power of Positive Thinking.

I was impressed by the fact that Holtz didn’t come from a big city or from a lot of money and he didn’t believe himself to be overly intelligent. I thought, “If this man can do so many great things, what is holding me back?” I made my list of goals on the flight home.

One of my goals was to hike to the base camp of Mount Everest. During the month I was in Nepal, there were times when I was very uncomfortable: no showers, the

cold, altitude sickness, etc. Yet the guides who were helping us never complained and had the best outlook each day. These people had nothing and perhaps everything, which reminded me of an acronym that Holtz used in his speech—WIN (what’s important now). What was important for me on that journey was to keep moving forward step by step and be aware of my surroundings. When it was time to go home, I left much of what I had with my guides and porters.

Before I heard Holtz speak, I’d never traveled out of the country, climbed a mountain, nor lived my life to the fullest. Since then I have run with the bulls, climbed Kilimanjaro, partici- pated in the Pikes Peak Marathon (and 40 others), and taken my mother to Ireland.

I had the honor of meeting Lou Holtz four years ago (also on my list). I can’t put into words how much that experience meant to me. To top it off, he left a message for my mother on her answering machine. He thought it would cheer her up because she was away taking care of my sick grandmother.

Any day a person has the ability to change someone’s life. I hope one day I will be able to change someone’s the way coach Lou Holtz changed mine. I am not overly intelligent, wealthy, or famous, but I realize that I can accomplish anything if I want it bad enough.

Contributed by Todd Lewis St. Louis 


    Friedrich Nietzsche

Oh noon of life! Oh summer garden site
For Celebrating!
There's restless joy in standing watch and waiting!
I wait for friends, I'm ready day and night
Where are you, friends? Do Come! The time is right!
For you , the glacier clothes its old gray hue
In rose attire,
The rivers seek you, running with desire,
The winds and clouds climb high into the blue,
As high as birds - to keep their watch for you.
My table waits for you with each delight:-
Such lonely ledges
Are home to few, save stars and chasms' edges.
My realm - its bounds reach past the range of sight,
My honey too - who dreams they'll taste the like?...
-Oh friends, you're there! But - What grave ill portends? -
Am I a stranger?
You pause; your wonder wounds far worse than anger!
I am no more? - In face, or stride or hands?
But am I not what I am for you, friends?
So was I once another? Self-unknown?
I've left my own source?
A strength too often set against its own force?
A wrestler beaten by himself alone,
And wounded by a victory of his own?
I've looked where sharpest winds blow frozen air?
I've made my home here,
On glaciers where no other soul dares roam near,
Forgot both man and god, both curse and prayer?
Became a ghost who walked with polar bears?
-Old friends! See here! Your faces have gone white,
With love - and pain too!
Just leave in peace: there's nothing to detain you:
Here in the distant ice-filled rocky height -
This realm belongs to hunters, born to fight!
I'm now a wicked  huntsman! Look - my bow
Is stiff and stock straight!
The strong alone can pull back such a taut weight - -:
Take care! M arrow's speed is far from slow,
The danger's great - so flee to safety! go!...
You're turning back? - Oh heart, this blow hits hard,
But hope must stay fast:
Hold open doors as new friends make there way past!
Old friends must be left back! Old memories barred!
You once were young -now, youth has been restored!
We shared one hope - that was our common band, -
Now - who reads these signs
That love had once inscribed, such faded half-lines?
They look just like a parchment that the hand
is loath to touch, - they're just browned and tanned.
What are they called? - since friendship's at an end -
Just ghostly brothers!
Who rattle nightly on the heart and shutters,
Who look at me and  say: "you were my friend" -
-Those wilted words once bore a rosebud scent!
Oh youthful longing; how you failed to see
Dashed expectations!
Those friends turned family, seeming close relations,
- How they grew old, and turned their heels to flee:
For only those who change keep ties with me.
Oh noon of life! Oh summer garden bright!
Oh youth returning!
There's restless joy in waiting, watching, yearning!
I wait for friends I'm ready day and night
the new friends now! Do come! The time is right!
The song is gone, - the longing cries are through,
Their sweet sounds ended.
The work of a magician I'd befriended,
The friend of noon-time - but-no! don't ask who -
It was at noon, when one turned into two...
Now we can feast, with triumph in the air,
The fest of all fests:
Friend Zarathustra came, the guest of all guests!
The world can laugh, the gruesome curtain tear,
The wedding day of light and dark was here...

Soulard Resident Sets Daredevil Goals

By Laura McCarthy
To anyone who has ever dreamed of quitting his or her job to travel the world, Soulard resident Todd Lewis is a hero.
In 2005, frustrated with his sales job and working for an uninspired boss, Lewis submitted his resignation and booked a trip to Nepal the very next day. Since that trip, during which he climbed to the base camp of Mt. Everest, he has tried to “surround [himself] with posi­tive people, pictures, books.
“I don’t have time for people [who] are trying to drag me down,” he said.
That was the same year he ran 15 marathons, two of them he ran back-to-back (Memphis and Las Vegas) in under four hours each.
Sure, a lot of people talk about how cool it would be to climb mountains, run marathons, run with the bulls in Pamplona and to have the freedom to do all three and more, but Lewis puts those aspirations into action.
Now in telecommunications sales for NuVox Communications, Lewis said he is thankful to have found success and a flexible boss. He has also been working part-time at REI in Brentwood for the past four-and-a-half years.
Inspired by legendary Notre Dame football coach Lou Holtz, Lewis said he has made a list every year since 2002 of tasks big and small that he wants to complete before the year’s end. And he carries it with him almost all of the time.
Lewis has even taken his list to his personal heroes, like Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks. He said they ex­changed a few emails and that he wanted the opportunity to shake Cubin’s hand. The two met in Indianapolis shortly thereafter.
This year, he said his list includes over 100 items, among them are an ultra marathon (50 miles); a hike through Italy, which he completed over Labor Day; an ascent of Mt. Whitney in California, which he completed in July; and complet­ing a marathon in less than 3 hours and 45 minutes.
“Once you accomplish one thing, it’s like, ‘OK, I need to raise the bar, see what else is out there,’” he said, adding that his list grows as the year progresses.
“It’s OK to fall short,” he said. I’m not afraid of failure, but “I’m afraid not to try.”
Some might dismiss this behavior as nothing more than symptoms of a mid-life crisis, but Lewis, 39, said he tries to “embrace each birthday as a challenge to make it the best one yet. [We’re] all going to get old — might as well ‘Rage against the dying [of the] light.’”
But perhaps most impressive of Lewis’ feats to the casual observer is having run with the bulls in Pamplona, Spain, three years in a row.
This dangerous and sometimes deadly tradition of corralling the bulls through the city streets and into the bull ring dates back to the mid-19th century. The running of the bulls is most famous in Pamplona as part of the nine-day festival of San Fermin.
Lewis said he participates with the ut­most respect to tradition, which includes wearing all white with a red scarf and not drinking until after the run is over.
He said the key to running with the bulls is to not stop. Part of the challenge is that “you have to keep your wits about you and not freak out.” He said people will stop and try to grab on to someone next to them for help. “It’s like [they’re] drowning,” he said.
But Lewis said the truly “hard-core” runners are those who seek the “Aura of Death,” where the participant runs between the bull’s horns, as if the bull has accepted the runner as part of the pack. He said he has come close to the “Aura of Death,” but not enough to claim it.
“But when it comes to something like the running of the bulls, I don’t really want to encourage it,” he said.
“For me, the closer that I am to death the more I feel alive. I don’t have [a] death wish — I just love the celebration of any event with the people that were there with you.”
Although he said he wants to go back to Pamplona every year he can, he missed this year’s run to climb Mt. Whitney.
“Mount Whitney was a bear,” he said, and explained that aside from the chal­lenging elevation (approximately 14,500 feet) it was his first technical climb – meaning that it required the use of ropes, harnesses and protective settings on the rock face in case climbers fall.
While Lewis doesn’t usually bring anyone with him on his trips, traveling alone “forces you to meet some of the greatest people,” he said.
For example, a group he met while hiking through Peru to Machu Picchu last November met up over Labor Day this year to hike in and around Tuscany. “These people are made from the finest cloth; they are wonderful.” he said.
While hiking to the base camp of Ever­est, for example, Lewis said that plane      
and helicopter wreckage was common and quite eerie. “You’re thinking, ‘What happens if I get sick [or] hurt?’ It’s not like they’re going to fly a helicopter to take you away. They’re going to have to carry you out.”
And even though Lewis doesn’t have a wife or kids at home to worry about him, he said, “I’ve got a mom [who] is a saint.”
He said the first year he ran with the bulls, he made the mistake of not telling his his mom about the trip until he returned home in one piece. Now he said he lets her know about every trip, but not necessarily every bump and bruise.
“What motivates me the most is people who say ‘You can’t,’” he said. Beyond that, he stocks his iPod with plenty of music from bands like Tool and quotes from movies like Fight Club and audiobooks like Viktor E. Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning.
“Bobby Knight’s half-time speech [where he famously yells at his players] gives me goose bumps every time I listen to it,” he said.
A resident and fan of Soulard for nine years, Lewis originates from the South­ern Illinois town of Benton, where his mother and grandmother still live. “You see all walks of life meshing together [in Soulard]. It’s great.” 

SIU grads run with the bulls in Spain

Jessica Yorama

Daily Egyptian




The quiet, cobblestone roads of Pamplona that SIUC graduate Todd Lewis examined the evening of July 6 were a far cry from the next morning when 5,000 people took the streets, anxious for The Running of the Bulls to begin.

Lewis, a 1994 graduate in political science, did much more than observe the 500-year-old tradition of running with the bulls. He experienced it.

From the first to the last rocket signifying the entrance and departure of the bulls, Lewis joined thousands of individuals in the challenge of surviving the 2,200-pound bulls capable of reaching the speed of 33 mph.

Lewis realized there are those who view the race across wet pavement as an act of stupidity and often drunkenness. He was well aware that The Running of the Bulls was in the eyes of some, no longer the act of appreciation it was intended to be. But unlike many, Lewis ventured to Spain with a full understanding of the event and its purpose.

Although the red scarf worn by participants may be perceived as an attempt to provoke the bull's anger, it actually represents something much deeper. Lewis says the scarf represents the blood shed by saint San Fermin who was executed for attempting to spread Catholicism.

With the idea of honor in mind, Lewis decided to make the shirt produced by his former employer, Pick's Liquor, part of his attire.

"You have to wear the traditional white," Lewis said, "but I wanted to wear Mr. Pick's shirt underneath. He was a great boss and really helped me through college."

Aside from a shirt stating in bold letters, "I SELL BEER," Lewis took little more than a backpack, a camera and a journal in which to write down his thoughts of his dangerous experience, an experience that he said provided much more than the "simple rush" one might anticipate.

"The experience of realizing you could pass away kind of makes you want to do things better," Lewis said.

According to him, the most memorable experience came after he fell and wounded his knee but still managed to beat the last bull into the corral. His happiness was further increased by the thousands that cheered as he took the traditional bow.

According to Lewis, some of the tradition we associate with the event, including the women donning participants with rose petals, still exists, allowing those who envision the event as the pastime of stumbling drunks to see the beauty in the tradition.

Lewis was not the only person taken in by the unique experience of running with the bulls. While in Pamplona, he met up with Mark Kuo, a fellow SIUC graduate in speech communication with whom Lewis had spoken sporadically throughout his college career.

During one of their brief conversations, Lewis had mentioned the event to Kuo and suggested he look him up if ever in Pamplona.

"I didn't even come to Spain for the running of the bulls. I was amazed that they still did it. Something like this could never happen in America with all the lawyers," Kuo said. "There was a lot of spirit and energy there, and I just became consumed by the atmosphere. The city literally comes to life, and it's hard not to get involved."

Despite their experience, Kuo and Lewis both acknowledge that there are those who support the theory that participants are often drunkards or simply looking for a quick rush.

Aware of fatalities that occurred in previous years, Kuo did a great deal of research on how to survive the bulls.

"It's a reason besides luck that increases your chances," Kuo said.

After the seven-day event was complete, Kuo and Lewis took the time to enjoy various areas of Spain using their minimal knowledge of the Spanish language. According to Kuo, "Todd knew nothing, and I knew next to nothing."

Not until Lewis returned to the United States did he inform people of his journey.

"I didn't want my mother or anyone to have to worry about me. My travel agent didn't even know what I was doing," Lewis said. "When I told her, she was pretty ticked off, but she was glad I was all right."

Wilbert Pick, the man whom Lewis chose to honor, was "not a bit surprised" at his former employee's decision to run with the bulls.

"You don't find many people like him," Pick said. "When I was younger, I did a lot of things that people may consider crazy. People have different ideas and do different things. I think it was a good experience for him."

Lewis, now a resident of St. Louis, says neither people's opinion of the event, his decision or the minor injuries he acquired while running will prevent him from attending the event "every year until I pass."

Kuo, now a Chicago resident, has a similar feeling about The Running of the Bulls.

"It enhances what you feel about America," Kuo said. "The experience is like driving the wrong way down the expressway. It can be done, but you better know what your doing. When it was over, I lost my watch but not my life."