Giving thanks

It’s Thanksgiving break week and I, for one, am grateful. This semester has felt like it’s gone by at breakneck speed, providing me with little opportunity to give thanks for some recent big happenings in Btown.

Last week, I had the privilege of attending the Indiana premier of what will almost certainly become the next smash-hit sports documentary, “Medora,” at the IU Cinema. Directed by two Midwesterners, “Medora” showcases the stirring story of the state’s worst high school basketball team over the course of a single season, capturing the lives of the players on and off the court and life in a small southern Indiana town struggling to hang on to its cherished past.

The statewide debut featured Angelo Pizzo, the writer and producer of “Hoosiers” fame, interviewing the filmmakers, as well as a special appearance by members of the Medora Hornets, whose lives surely won’t be the same once this riveting documentary, which delivered a slam-dunk performance at IU Cinema, continues to make its way around the country.

So thanks to the IU Cinema, one of the country’s finest, if not the finest, collegiate cinema houses, and its tireless director, Jon Vickers, for giving Btown audiences the opportunity to see this little documentary before it goes big time.

And there’s much more to be thankful for, including:

IU’s scruffy students. After junior Brian Levitas was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, his friends rallied around him Red Sox-style, growing out their facial hair for “No Shave November.” The bearded boys from Btown have raised $60,000 for cancer research so far, and, just last week, showed their love and support for Brian on NBC’s “Today” show.

Marathon dancers. More than 3,000 IU Bloomington students danced the night away – and then some – raising a record $2.6 million for Riley Hospital for Children.

Solidarity and support for the Philippines. After a devastating typhoon killed thousands of Filipinos and resulted in massive destruction, members of Bloomington’s Filipino community and IU’s Asian Culture Center came together to help in the relief efforts.

Veterans Support Services. U.S. News and World Report delivers a ranking in which we can all take immense pride: IU Bloomington is one of the top colleges for veterans.

Math whizzes. The numbers don’t lie. One university. Four faculty. Fifty mathematical scientists were named fellows of the American Mathematical Society for 2014 and only IU Bloomington’s College of Arts and Sciences placed four faculty members on the list.

Soulful Hoosiers. It’s a little-known secret about Hoosiers: We’ve got some serious soul. On Nov. 15, legendary soul musician Booker T Jones was among three IU graduates to receive the university’s Distinguished Alumni Service Award, IU’s highest award given only to an alumna or alumnus. Booker T celebrated his award by dropping by Dance Marathon that evening along with IU President Michael A. McRobbie.

The previous week, the renowned IU Soul Revue participated in the 20th-anniversary performance of the African American Arts Institute’s “Potpourri of the Arts” concert.

Finally, I give you former IU basketball star Victor Oladipo, who’s known to deliver a little bit of soulful magic behind the mike. See the video of Victor singing with fellow Hoosier athlete Shelby Gogreve that went viral this month.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

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