Local TedX event focuses on rising from tragedy

The Marshall University community celebrated an evening of “RISING” last Friday at the third annual TEDxMarshallU event.

TEDxMarshallU’s talks centered around a wide array of topics, ranging from empowering students by Lt. Chad Napier of Appalachia HIDTA and Handle with Care West Virginia and Dr. Kathy D’Antoni of the Marshall University Board of Governors; rebuilding the Appalachian economy by Lee Farabaugh of CORE10 and Brandon Dennison of Coalfield Development Corp.; the West Virginia Mask Army by Dr. Suzanne Strait of the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission and Marshall University; and rising above the stigma of mental illness by Dr. Ashley Perkins, a pharmacist and doctoral student in Marshall’s College of Education and Professional Development. Each topic discussed was connected to the theme “rising,” a dedication to the perseverance and resilience of the community following the 1970 Marshall University tragedy.

“In November, we recognized the 50th anniversary of the plane crash, so we knew we wanted our event to be centered around what it means to rise amidst adversity,” said Kelly Leonard, TEDxMarshallU’s co-organizer and Marshall University graduate student. “Our community was so resilient after the crash, which is a testament that you can always rise.”

As a tribute to the 1971 players, Young Thundering Herd Head Football Coach Jack Lengyel introduced the event and theme. Former Thundering Herd Assistant Coach Red Dawson and Huntington Regional Chamber of Commerce CEO and President Bill Bissett sat down for a fireside chat.

Tyce Nielsen and Huntington native Mary (Wolfe) Nielsen  of Duo Transcend, cirque-style entertainers and “America’s Got Talent: The Champions” runner-ups, provided the final talk of the evening. They discussed rising above failures to transcend with Mary Nielsen concluding with the statement, “don’t be afraid to fall, be afraid of living in regret for never trying to do something extraordinary.”

To end the night after the talks, Dr. Allen Meadows, a member of the Young Thundering Herd, announced an upcoming event in September, when a plaque will be unveiled to honor the Young Thundering Herd, and read “Distant Thunder,” a poem written by Bob Compton, another member of the Young Thundering Herd.

“I was so pleased with the event,” said Dr. Brian Kinghorn, TEDxMarshallU’s Organizer and assistant professor in Marshall’s College of Education and Professional Development. “Our team was an amazing group to work with and pulled off an extraordinary event, and our speakers did a phenomenal job sharing their RISING ideas with our community and the world.”

“I really feel like we all left the event further connected and with fresh, new ideas worth sharing,” Leonard said.

“’Ideas worth sharing,’ is, after all, the mission of TED and TEDx,”  she added.

To continue the three-year tradition of sharing ideas worth sharing, Matt James, TEDxMarshallU co-host and assistant dean of student affairs at Marshall, said Friday that the TEDxMarshallU team soon will be sending out a call for speakers, in which people can pitch to share their ideas at next year’s event.

“Everyone has an idea worth sharing, so we welcome everyone to pitch,”  Leonard said. “This speaker will be called a crowdsourced speaker as we are relying on others outside our team to help us find diverse ideas,” she said.

Leonard said she encourages people to follow @tedxmarshallu on social media throughout the summer for news and updates about the crowdsourced speaker.

Those interested in watching last Friday’s TEDxMarshallU: RISING may do so by visiting www.tedxmarshallu.com. Additionally, individual speaker videos and photos will be posted to the TEDxMarshallU website and the TEDx YouTube page soon.

For more information about TEDxMarshallU, visit www.tedxmarshallu.com and follow @tedxmarshallu on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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Photo: Former Thundering Herd Assistant Coach Red Dawson appeared at Marshall University’s TedX event April 2.