June 1, 2012 (WABC) -- This is a magical weekend for me: The beginning of a one-birthday-a-month over the next 3 months for my three children.
My son turns 17 on Sunday. My youngest daughter turns three on a Sunday next month, and then on a Sunday in August, my oldest daughter turns 20. This weekend we'll all be together before the two eldest scamper off out of town for their summer jobs, and I intend to drink them in as a group as much as I can.
I'm also emceeing tomorrow's YAI Central Park Challenge, where disabled and special needs kids and adults will be walking and running for equal opportunity and a level playing field. I've been doing this since 1999, and it's an important cause for me. Back in 1957, my parents gave birth to Alex Ritter. He was, as they called it back then, mentally retarded. That's not the politically correct phrase these days; in fact, there's a pretty large campaign to rid the lexicon of the "R" word. But that's what my brother Alex was back then.
Doctors told my folks that, even if Alex had otherwise been in good medical shape, his disabilities were so severe he likely would have stayed institutionalized all his life. That's what they did to disabled people back in the Stone Age. And it continued to be the norm until the early 1970's when, with the help of Eyewitness News, the inhuman and inhumane conditions at these warehouses for the disabled were exposed, and made a thing of the past.
So I look at some of these kids who I will cheer on tomorrow and know that they have known and will never known bupkis about warehousing. They still have barriers to overcome, but they've also come a long way since Alex Ritter was born and, two weeks later, died. And I know my parents, who became very involved in non-profit groups that helped people with disabilities, would be proud that the kids walking for recognition and rights tomorrow in Central Park aren't that different than the son they had, and buried, back in 1957.
I think they'd also be happy I'm involved. I know I am. And I know I'm a very lucky guy, to have three healthy kids, celebrating life (and their summer birthdays, beginning this weekend).
And so I'm filled with all this - as we prepare our 11 p.m. newscast. It's also our first newscast without Kenny Plotnik as our news director. Kenny's been here for 25 years, the last 10 as the big guy. And we will miss him, and wish him the best.
At 11 tonight, we'll have the latest reaction to the anemic jobs growth last month - about half of what experts had predicted, and the worst jobs report in a year. This upcoming Presidential election might very well hinge on the unemployment rate; if it goes up - it rose to 8.2 percent - then Pres. Obama might have a rough time. If Americans believe, however, that the economy is upticking, then it's Mr. Romney who might have the rough time.
Also at 11, George Zimmerman has 48 hours to turn himself in and go to jail. A judge in Florida today ordering the man who shot and killed Trayvon Martin to surrender after his bail was revoked. Zimmerman apparently lied about his financial status, and that he apparently had a second passport.
We'll also have any breaking news of the night, plus Meteorologist Amy Freeze (in for Lee Goldberg) and Rob Powers with the night's sports. I hope you can join Sade Baderinwa and me, tonight at 11, right after 20/20.
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