In May of 2020 I decided to do something completely out of my comfort zone: Go after one of the most feared and revered leaders in the country.
Was that fight worth risking my career, reputation, all that I had built up for 20 years to go up against a powerful governor from a dynasty family, and the fawning media that covered him?
My moral compass told me I was on an important mission and fueled the storm inside of me: to find out if the deaths of my husband’s parents could have been prevented during a once-in-a-lifetime pandemic.
I believe New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo deliberately put our elderly population in harm’s way by flooding New York nursing homes with thousands of COVID positive patients for weeks without alerting family members.
That experience is one of the main reasons I began writing the book “I am the Storm: Inspiring Stories of People Who Fight Against Overwhelming Odds.”
I wanted to detail what motivated me to do something I never imagined I could. But, while I was documenting my journey for justice on behalf of thousands of other families, I was finding others that had done similar things in their lives, and they gave me the strength to keep going.
From soldiers going to war to parents standing up for their kids, I learned about everyday heroes living through real-life David and Goliath moments. Some have gotten to the finish line, while others are still in the middle of combat.
One of the moments in history that inspired me throughout this journey happened 79 years ago. A young woman named Maureen Flavin applied for a job at a post office that was located at a lighthouse off the coast of Ireland. One of her main duties was to record weather information from the forecasting equipment used to track storms across the sea. Those important measurements were used to plan the largest seaborne invasion in history on June 6th, 1944; what came to be known as D-Day.
Maureen’s story is truly incredible, and one that is not well known. But it spoke to me so much. One of those reasons is that throughout my career, people have used what I do as a profession to silence or demean me. Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office was no exception:
“She’s not an expert on anything except maybe the weather,” they said.
And yet here was a true story I learned about where the hero was a woman whose job it was to report a storm that delayed a world war and caught the enemy off guard.
Maureen’s amazing achievement set the stage for chapters featuring other inspiring people, like the captain of the U.S. Hockey team who lead his players to win one of the most dramatic upsets in sports history to a beloved nurse from Georgia that came to New York at the very beginning of the pandemic to try to help others.
You’ll read about a California chef who questioned another powerful leader’s lockdown orders and a gymnastics coach who vowed to change a sport mired in scandal. A brave veteran who lost his hearing and sight to an IED, while a Minnesota mom continues her fight against the opioid epidemic after losing her daughter, and the former Green Beret who helped smuggle hundreds of refugees during the Afghanistan withdrawal.
Writing all of these stories during a time when I was up against something bigger than myself gave me a great perspective. I wasn’t just a reporter trying to find modern-day David and Goliaths, I was now using these moments to inspire my own fight.
And what I’ve learned now is many of these journeys come from a place of sadness and tragedy. Devastating storms can destroy people’s lives, but they can also bring great clarity after an unprecedented event has happened. They can sometimes bring us the desire to try and change the world around us.
And even though there are different forces that fuel our energy to keep going, the commonality we all have in our mission is to try to raise awareness and to keep telling our stories, because without that urge to be heard, we wouldn’t keep fighting.
And the message to those who try to silence or demean us during our fight? That only encourages us to get louder.
The Goliath who tries to drown us out will never succeed because If the battle is worthy enough, we will always find ways to amplify our voices, to keep telling our truth, and find the audience who will listen.