Source: Lake Geneva Regional News

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Local hero appearance on CNN special

by Lisa Seiser

December 15, 2011

My heart racing, my hands shaking and the feeling in my stomach were definitely the signs.

It's been a long time since I felt those types of emotions — usually only when I have had to speak in front of tons of people or many years ago before a big high school or college basketball game or tennis match was to be played.

But Sunday night, watching the live "CNN Heroes" show, I was definitely nervous. No, I was not there in person, nor was I the person who was being recognized or who would have to speak in front of millions of people.

Rather, I was nervous for Sal Dimiceli, our local hero who made it to the two-hour show as one of 10 finalists for CNN Hero of 2011.

Just minutes into the show, CNN's Anderson Cooper started to talk about helping those struggling in poverty and I knew the segment was about Sal. The 5-minute video was a quick look at what Dimiceli does on a daily basis.

They showed Sal with, they showed him in his vehicle and then they showed him helping people. It was a glimpse into how life is every day for Sal and the joy that is brought to the people he helps.

Then, Sal was announced and he came on stage in his white suit to accept the Top 10 Award from Cooper. He held up the wooden award and told the millions watching that it was for the children, the elderly and those forgotten and struggling in the depths of poverty.

It was difficult not to become emotional while watching this man who does all his work with his heart on his sleeve. He often has tears in his eyes as he talks about the people he visits and helps every single day.

Near the end of the show, with just a few minutes left, the nervousness came back as the winner would be announced.

I truly thought it would be Sal.

I thought several times how wonderful it would be for him to be the CNN Hero and what could be done in this community with the $250,000 prize.

When Cooper made the announcement it wasn't Sal, there was disappointment. But each of the finalists were called back up to the stage seconds after the 2011 Hero, Robin Lim made her speech.

As the nervousness disappeared, I watched nobody else but Sal as he returned to the stage. He hugged and whispered to the winner. I could tell what he was saying and it was typical for Sal Dimiceli. He congratulated her and was gracious and appreciative of her efforts.

Now, it's time to send this message to Sal.

Thank you for everything you do in this community. Without your efforts, there would be so much more struggling. You are truly a beacon of light to those desperately in need.

You have made many, including myself, more mindful of the struggles so many face on a daily basis. Your charity and giving has brought tears to many people's eyes.

But most of all, you have guided some of us to try to become more thoughtful and giving people. For your efforts will never be overlooked again as your desire to help has become a community's effort to be better.

Congratulations, my friend — we are forever proud.

Seiser is the editor of the Regional News.