by Craig Juntunen
Tonight was the 56th STUCK event. Like all of the STUCK screenings, tonight was created by a dedicated group of volunteers and well-attended by interesting members of the community.
During an interview, I was asked if tonight feels different now that we are near the end of the tour. The answer is no. Even though the tour represents a continuum of experiences, each city has its own personality and energy irrespective of what number the visit is in the sequence of the tour. It is easy to appreciate each night as if it was the only time we have done this.
Like all of the cities, Princeton had its distinguishing features. Today, I had the privilege to have lunch with Bill and Susan Belifore and after lunch, the three of us took a walk around the Princeton University campus, which, according to my scoring system, is the most beautiful university setting I have ever seen. The campus is magnificent.
However, the walk was much more than a wonderful sightseeing excursion. Susan and Bill adopted four children from Romania in 1992 and their story is inspirational and underscores the profound impact the love of a family has on children. Their children are HIV positive and were not given much of a chance of any kind of life, until Bill and Susan changed that. Susan had gone to Romania as a volunteer to care for children in a particular orphanage, and nature took its course. Susan and Bill fell in love with four of the children and decided to adopt them.
It wasn’t easy. In 1992, HIV was misunderstood, the children were developmentally behind and Bill and Susan had to fight the governments to get these kids home. Sound familiar? The challenges and obstacles were conquered by two very special people who changed four kids’ lives. Next week, their daughter graduates from college, the same girl who Bill and Susan were told was nothing but trouble and should be avoided. At two years of age she weighed 9 pounds, but once in a family she began to grow, and now has a future because two very special people believed in her, and three other kids who now have possibilities and options simply because they belong to a family. It is one of countless stories that define and validate the UN-STUCK movement.
It was such a magical afternoon and it set the tone for a great night. The event tonight was fabulous: a company named Thomas Sweet donated ice cream for everyone during the after party. It was a great group of people to hang around with after the film and the ice cream was a symbolic celebration of the sweetness of the day.