Friday, February 20, 2009

Park West Foundation Featured in The Detroit Free Press

Drive-by shooting victim Weusi Olusola inspires with cancer battle

By Rochelle Riley • Free Press Columnist • February 20, 2009

Weusi Olusola's second life began two weeks after he got shot.

A 16-year-old All-State basketball star and marching band member at Murray Wright High, he was Willie Brown Jr. then. On August 10, 1986, he was eager to finish his shift at a downtown Hardee's so he could rush home to meet a pretty girl. He was so eager that he took a cab. He was just a block away from his dad's house, standing and flirting, when six guys sprayed the corner with gunfire.

Two months later -- after four hours of surgery, 60 days of anguish and 86,000 unstoppable seconds of knowing that he wouldn't walk again -- he got a visit from Pistons legend Isiah Thomas asking him to be the grand marshal of an anticrime parade. Two weeks after that, he began speaking to what would become thousands of youths, initially on his own, and 10 years later as part of Pioneers for Peace, a group of living victims who show what gun violence can do.

Twenty-three years later, he is battling Stage 4 bladder cancer and doctors have given him six months to live. But Weusi Olusola wasn't beaten then, and he isn't beaten now. He plans to be there on March 7 when the Park West Foundation, which funds family and youth initiatives, fetes him with a lifetime achievement award.

"The number of kids that he has touched personally, that he has made an impact on, I can't even count," said Saba Gebrai, program director of the Park West Foundation. "There has not been a school, a community, a hellhole that we have not been in. After homicides, when nobody else is there, there are just a few people you can call. He's one of them."

The lifelong Detroiter, who was diagnosed two months ago, said the March event also is to raise funds for a miracle. It won't be the first... Read the Full Article

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