Mark McEwen tells Tampa Bay area journalists: Get busy living
Traveling home to Orlando, fomer CBS This Morning anchor Mark McEwen knew he didn't feel right. But hearing that it was probably nothing serious, he hopped on a plane to get home and had a second, major stroke that almost killed him.
Today, other than a few slurred words and his slow gait, you'd never know McEwen spent four days in a coma in 2005, near death (McEwen didn't know, either, until someone told him six months later). "I woke up and saw (my family) all around the hospital bed and thought, this can't be good," he told the crowd assembled Thursday at the Poynter Institute for the fourth annual Griot Drum Awards. "Boy was I right."
McEwen was the keynote speaker at the Tampa Bay Association of Black Journalists' Griot Drum Awards. Developed as a fundraiser for the group, the ceremony featured the awarding of three $1,000 scholarships to deserving journalism students of color, 23 awards for journalists who have excelled in covering issues related to people of color and performances or presentations by the Soulful Arts Dance Academy, gospel singer September Penn and the Midtown Through Our Eyes youth journalism project.
McEwen capped the evening with a stirring story on his recovery from the stroke, which came as he was living in Orlando, anchoring the morning and noon newscasts at WKMG. Recalling how an airline staffer left him curbside at the Orlando airport as he was in the throes of a stroke, McEwen handed his cell phone to a stranger on the street to call 911 when he could not.
"I never saw the man again," the anchor said. "I'm convinced he was an angel."
Eventually, McEwen needed to relearn many skills, from walking and talking to writing with his left hand and concentrating while driving. The experience, chronicled in his new book Change in the Weather, led him to recall a quote about facing hard times from the film The Shawshank Redemption:
"It said, 'Either get busy living, or get busy dying,'" McEwen said. "I decided to live."
Click below to see a full list of those who won Griot Drum Awards.
The following journalists were honored with awards at the Tampa Bay Association of Black Journalists’ Griot Drum Awards banquet Thursday, Nov. 20, 2008 at the Poynter Institute for Media Studies in St. Petersburg.
Television, Spot News -- "MLK Parade," WFTS News and Production Team, WFTS/ABC Action News
Television, Non-Deadline Reporting -- "Freedom Riders," Dennis Hollingsworth, WTSP-TV 10
Television, Investigative/Series, "Taking Action series," Matt McGlashen and Jackie Callaway, WFTS/ABC Actions News
Television, Community/Public Affairs, "A Gulf Coast Journal: Buck O'Neill profile," Jen Noble, WEDU-TV
Television, Documentary, "Central Avenue Remembered," Spencer Briggs, WEDU-TV
Deadline and Spot News Reporting, Print (circ. above 100,000): "Jury spares Steele's Life," Jamal Thalji, Molly Moorhead and Julia Kumari Drapkin, St. Petersburg Times
Print, Investigative Reporting, (circ. above 100,000), "A Chase an Outcry and Shots in the Dark," Tom Lake, Molly Moorhead, Jamal Thalji, Julia Kumari Drapkin, St. Petersburg Times
Print, Features, (circ. above 100,0000), "Mom's Call to Action," Sarah Hoye, The Tampa Tribune
Print, Community/Public Affairs, (circ. above 100,000), "Fraternizing with the enemy, "Rodney Thrash, St. Petersburg Times
Print, Sports Feature, (circ. above 100,000), "Family Blessings," Anwar Richardson, The Tampa Tribune
Print, Investigative Reporting (circ. below 100,000), "American Recession, Black Depression," Charles Cherry II, Florida Courier
Print, Features, (circ. below 100,000) "United Front, "Wade Tatangelo, Creative Loafing
Print, Community/Public Affairs, (circ. below 100,000), "Complete Systems Failure," Jenise Morgan, Florida Courier
Print, Sports Feature, (circ. below 100,000), "New Name, Same Winning Spirit," Charles Cherry II, Florida Courier
Print, Commentary, (circ. below 100,000), "Black Colleges Deal with Mission Creep," Charles Cherry II, Florida Courier
Print, Criticism, (circ. below 100,000), "Numbers Man," Megan Voeller, Creative Loafing
Photo, Deadline and Spot News, "Relatives Devastated," Fred Bellet, Tampa Tribune
Photo, Features, "Comfort," Lara Cerri, St. Petersburg Times
Photo, Sports News, "Strong Finish," Fred Bellet, Tampa Tribune
Photo, Sports Feature, "Athlete of the Year," Fred Bellet, The Tampa Tribune
Graphic or Photo Illustration, "A Night on the Town," Lara Cerri, St. Petersburg Times
Photo Illustration, "The Iraq War: What Would MLK Say?" Charles Cherry II, Florida Courier
New Media, "In the Mix," Sarah Hoye, The Tampa Tribune