HughE Dillon: Monica Malpass’s Post-Twins Comeback!

Plus PhillyChitChat celebrates an anniversary, some 76ers shoot hoops for a good cause, and The Last Airbender stars pop up at Penn's Landing

It’s America’s birthday and my favorite time of year. I love living in the birthplace of America. I wear my flag shirts. I go to ceremonies. I do the small-town parade thing. I try to go to every event the city puts on during the week-long celebration. I watch as many fireworks as I can. And I stop by the war memorials near Penn’s Landing and pay my respects.

ABOVE: On Saturday, as I made my way down to Taste of Philadelphia, I passed the Korean War Memorial and ran into Korean War veterans Don Gallagher, formerly of Philadelphia and now of Wilmington, North Carolina, and Lloyd Burnette, of Warren, Ohio. The last time they had seen each other was on the front line in April 1951. They were in the 7th Artillery 49th Field ARMY. They reconnected over the Internet and decided to have their reunion in Philadelphia, and spend a few days catching up and seeing the sights, hitting a few Irish bars, and visiting the Korean War Memorial. Don took me over to the memorial and pointed out a name of his friend from Philadelphia who was one of the first to die in the war: Frank L. Jones. He went through boot camp with Frank in Japan, but they were later sent to different parts of Korea to fight the war. He later learned Frank had died, and he’s been searching for a relative to whom he could send a few photos of them in boot camp.  I have his email, so if anyone knows who Frank L. Jones was, let me know. I thanked them for their service.


Then I ran over to Taste of America to check out the fun. Actors Jackson Rathbone and Nicola Peltz attended an autograph-signing at Wawa’s Welcome America at Penn’s Landing for their movie The Last Airbender, which opens July 1st. (In The Twilight Saga, Jackson Rathbone plays Jasper Hale. His band 100 Monkeys just played the North Star Bar last April.) The day was hot, and eventually Nicola picked up that table fan and held it a few inches from her face.

Former 76er Darryl Dawkins was at The Sprite/Kia Basketball Dunk Contest. He posed for a few pictures and signed autographs for Natalie and Christian Harris (and for their dad Joe Harris). Then he went over to help Justin Friedlander, age 13, with his mission to shoot 63,000 baskets, one for every person in the US who’s diagnosed with a primary brain tumor each year. Justin’s Quest aims to raise $250,000 for the National Brain Tumor Society.

In March of 2009, Justin was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor that sits on his optic nerve. Less than two months after his diagnosis, Justin had helped to raise nearly $50,000 through the Race for Hope in D.C. to help with brain tumor research. Later in 2009, he started Justin’s Quest, with a goal of finding a cure for brain tumors.

His 63,000th shot will be done at the NBA All-Star Game in February. Until then, folks can help him achieve his goal—as long as he is present on the foul line, even shots that others throw count towards his goal. On Saturday 76er Thaddeus Young took the first shot toward Saturday’s target of 500 baskets, which they achieved. His parents Jon and Audrey told me that he is currently up to 14,619. At home his brothers Jacob, Joey and Jordan help him with the free throws.

Thanks to James Zeleniak, of Punch Media, and the Waterfront Square Condos for throwing me a party to celebrate my blog‘s third anniversary; I started on 7/7/07. To celebrate my anniversary I invited some of the people I have photographed over the past years, and some who have helped me with their wisdom.

ABOVE: Amber Goins, Scott Righter and Alicia Crawford-Zeleniak. We enjoyed food from FISH and FORK and spirits from Yards Brewery. Amber has lived at the Waterfront Condos for over a year. She loves that it is a gated community with a great neighborhood association, and the monthly community gatherings they have at the pool. I’m gonna cover more of this on my blog today.

ABOVE: Stacey Kracher, Aida Sparta, Erin Elmore and Janice Lim. Missing tonight was Sabrina Tamburino who—as everyone knows—is one of my faves. She allowed me to call her “the socialite,”  but having a confident person like her to follow helped me create the Philadelphia social diary that I have. So big thanks to Sabrina. Also unable to make it was Phyllis Halpern who helped me get my foot in the door by introducing me to a few key players in the city.

ABOVE: Matthew Vlahos, Mike Toub, Krista and Christopher Gabello and Jimmy Contreras. Big thanks to Mike who allows me to cover the Philly social life even when it takes away from ours. Also there: Jonathan Vendrick, WOGL producer Jamyra Perry, Jessica Matthews, Melony Roy of CBS Radio & Hear Philly, Maria Papadakis, and Ashley Keen.

ABOVE: Ooh La La! Mother of three Monica Malpass, who is always just wonderful in front of my camera and about giving me information readers want to know. Monica was happy to tell me that next Monday, July 5th she will be returning to 6ABC and more than likely will be showing a few of the pictures she showed me of her adorable kids. Where Magazine publisher Laura Burkhardt was right there from the beginning, inviting me to all of her gatherings. Also above: sweetheart Brenda Mendte and former Hotel Palomar GM Peggy Trott who is returning to Missouri to take care of a family member on July 3rd. Flower Child at 1900 Market Street does the arrangements at the Hotel Palomor, and also sent me a beautiful arrangement too. Thanks!

All in all, it was a great night and a terrific weekend as the Waterfront Condos let me have a staycation and experience what it was like to live in one of their model units, which you can read all about on my blog. This was a very special weekend: Besides thanking those who helped me make it to where I am, I met three heroes, Don Gallagher, Lloyd Burnette and Justin Friedlander. I wish them well on their quests.