Mother displays courage

We can not imagine the pain felt by Hollie Ayers, whose 2-year-old son, Michael, was shot and killed by his father, Kenneth Robert Ayers, during what was scheduled to be a supervised visit on Saturday, March 23 in Petersburg, Huntingdon County.

Kenneth Ayers also inflicted gunshot wounds to Hollie Ayers on the day he killed his son and later committed suicide.

On Saturday, Hollie Ayers will serve as the keynote speaker during a fundraiser called “The Walk to End Violence,” at Detwiler Field in Huntingdon. The event is sponsored by the Huntingdon House, a domestic abuse and counseling center.

“I am honored that they asked me to be a part of this,” Hollie Ayers told the Mirror. “From the beginning, I knew I didn’t want this to happen to anyone else.”

More than 60 walkers comprising 11 teams have signed up thus far. Those interested in contributing or walking can call the Huntingdon House at 643-2801.

“My goal is to stop the silence on domestic violence,” Hollie Ayers said. “And I want to talk about Michael, the kind of little boy he was.”

In addition to our condolences, we offer Hollie Ayers a special thumbs-up for her courage and the willingness to share her difficult story for the benefit of others.

Others worthy of thumbs-up mention:

Thumbs-up to Mark Myers of Altoona, whose heroic actions last month rescued three children after a fire broke out at the home of Jack and Stephanie Kuhn, 2708 Third Street. After Myers’ niece told him about the fire, he quickly ran into the house and, despite struggling against the thick smoke, alerted the children and helped get them out safely.

Other neighbors put up ladders to get to the upstairs bedrooms and helped to extinguish the fire before firefighters arrived. The kids were ages 4, 6 and 16. Their parents were not at home, and the fire was later ruled as an arson.

Tyrone Boy Scout Cody Eckels definitely deserves a thumbs-up for his efforts in the transformation of Soldiers Park in Tyrone. His project, called “Eagle For Freedom,” raised money to honor Tyrone servicemen who lost their lives. In all, nearly $75,000 was raised, most coming from the sale of about 620 engraved bricks. The project was an incredible goodwill gesture and an amazing display of leadership from a 15-year-old.

Thumbs-up to the Altoona Symphony Orchestra and Maestra Teresa Cheung on a three-year extension of a relationship that began in 2008. A native of Hong Kong who travels to Altoona from New York for performances, Cheung has been extremely well received here and will lead ASO into the 85th season of its existence.