Entries in Wisconsin (5)


Superhero Window Washers Swoop into Wisconsin Children’s Hospital

Carla David/Ministry Health(STANLEY, Wis.) -- The young patients of Ministry St. Joseph’s Children’s Hospital got a big surprise Monday as Spider-Man, Batman, and Captain America all appeared to swoop down from the sky, right outside their windows.

What they were witnessing was not a comic come to life, but a kind collaboration between Brite-Way window cleaning service and some workers at Ministry St. Joseph’s.

“We got the idea from a hospital in Pittsburgh,” secretary of environmental services Julie Schafer told ABC News. “Brite-Way has been doing our windows for years and we reached out to them, and they were happy to do it.”

Tim Taggart, a supervisor at Brite-Way/Tim’s Maintenance, spent the day dressed as Batman and said he really got to play the part.

“We did some flips down the building and a lot of turns and stuff.  You can do just about anything while attached to the rigging,” Taggart told ABC News. “The kids really seemed to like it and that made it all worth it.”

Taggart said he and his crew repelled from the roof, down to an outdoor patio area where thrilled children waited to greet their favorite superheroes.

Since not all of the children were able to make it out to the spectacle, the superheroes made a trip inside to greet them. One of those children was Lakken Burzynski.

“Lakken isn’t really into superheroes,” Lakken’s mother, Katie Burzynski, told ABC News, “but she really thought it was neat.”

At home now in Stanley, Wisc., Lakken had been at St. Joseph’s since Friday. Katie said the window washers weren’t allowed into Lakken’s room, so they chatted with her using FaceTime on an iPad.

“Then they came to her window and waved hello, it was really something neat and different,” Burzynski said.

According to Schafer, the hospital and window washing company agree this is something they should do again.

“We’d like to do it every year, now. And hopefully this is something Brite-Way can do at all the hospitals they serve. The kids really deserve it.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Wisconsin Shootings: Sikhs Faced Discrimination Since 9/11

Darren Hauck/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Amardeep Singh, the son of a physicist, was raised in New Jersey where he played Little League and his mother coached softball. Now, he is raising two sons in Hoboken, the third-generation of Sikhs to live in this country.

But because Singh is religious and wears his articles of faith -- a beard and a turban, he faces discrimination at every corner, especially since 9/11. Sunday's shootings in Oak Creek, Wisconsin have made it all the worse.

"People have said to me, 'Get that f'ing rag off your head,' 'Get out of here, terrorist,'" he said. "It's commentary they think is funny and it happens at least half a dozen times a year."

Two days ago, while attending a meeting at his local library as a board member, he says he encountered a teenager who turned to a friend and said, "Here comes bin Laden."

"Being a Sikh in America means, in the very least, cat calls," said Singh, 41.

But today, in the aftermath of the most violent attack against Sikhs, it also means murder. On Sunday, seven people, including two priests and the gunman, were killed in Wisconsin in their gurdwara, or place of worship.

The shooter, Wade Michael Page, a former Army psychological operations specialist and a skinhead, was shot and killed by Wisconsin police at the scene.

Since 2001, the Sikh Coalition reports that more than 700 Americans have sought legal assistance after an incident of discrimination or bias -- "everything from violent hate crime to employment discrimination, profiling at the airport or school bullying," according to Singh, who is one of the advocacy group's co-founders.

In the first month after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the coalition reports it logged more than 300 such acts around the country. But, Singh said, there are likely "thousands more" across the country that are never reported. The FBI does not track hate crimes against Sikhs.

"When you see a turban and a beard, the number one thing people think of is terrorism," he said.

The first post-9/11 classified hate crime against a Sikh was the murder of Balbir Singh Sodhi in Mesa, Ariz. After the terrorist attacks, Frank Silva Roque, an aircraft mechanic, told bystanders at a local restaurant that he wanted to "shoot some rag heads," according to an essay in the Huffington Post.

Recent hate attacks include death threats against a Virginia Sikh family in March 2012; a violent assault on a Sikh in New York City in May 2011; the murders of two elderly Sikhs in Elk Grove, California in March 2011; and the near drowning of a Sikh student in West Texas in December 2009.

Sikhs first came to the United States in the 19th century, part of a wave of immigrants from South Asia who worked in the sawmills and became farmers and railroad workers.

The U.S. Census does not keep data on their numbers, but the coalition estimates there are anywhere from 500,000 to 700,000 practicing Sikhs in the country today, mostly in the San Francisco and New York areas.

"Oak Creek is not a large center and is not the typical immigration pattern," said Singh.

The Sikh Coalition said its surveys indicate 60 percent of all children in their community are teased in school. "That was part of my growing up in America in New Jersey," said Singh.

Another 20 percent reported unwanted physical touching.

In 2008, a student at Hightstown High School in New Jersey set fire to a Sikh student's turban during a fire drill, singeing the boy's hair.

The turban and the beard are "external signifiers of internal belief," said the coalition's education director, Manbeena Kaur. "It is a constant reminder to be kind, generous and honest dealing with people and to be loving and compassionate."

The turban also serves the practical function of covering the wearer's hair. Sikhs, both men and women, do not cut their hair.

"Much like the uniform of a police officer, it is a reminder to uphold the duties of the uniform … what I agreed to, to be a good human being," she said.

The Sikhs practice a monotheist religion based in peace that was founded in the Punjab region of India in 1469. There are more than 25 million followers worldwide.

Sikhism preaches a message of devotion, remembrance of God at all times, truthful living, social justice, while emphatically denouncing superstitions and blind rituals.

"The basic foundation principle is one God for all people and everyone is considered equal in the eyes of God -- which means gender, race and ethnicity," said Kaur.

Sikhs say one can get closer to God by practicing three things: remembering God, living truthfully and offering service to humanity. They say they are meant to uphold the values of honesty, compassion, generosity, humility, integrity and spirituality on a daily basis.

The five articles of faith include the unshorn hair [kes], comb for good hygiene [khangha], steel bracelet [kara], sword [kirpan] and soldier's shorts [kachhehra].

Since the Oak Creek attack, Kaur said the coalition has "sort of been in emergency mode."

Her colleague Singh flew out to Wisconsin today to help the Sikh community there and the families of the shooting victims.

"It's a very little community," said Singh. "We want to be supportive and figure out how to lend a hand. We also want to respond to all public inquiries so the there is a better understanding of who we are in the history of the United States and our contributions."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Hospital Fountain Linked to Legionnaires' Disease Outbreak in Wis.

Pixland/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- An outbreak of Legionnaires' disease in Wisconsin has been linked to a decorative fountain found in a hospital lobby, according to a new study released Tuesday online in Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology.

Eight people were tested in 2010 after exhibiting symptoms of the Legionnaires' disease, which include fever, chills, headaches and coughing. All had contracted a severe form of pneumonia caused by the Legionella bacterium and tested positive for the disease, which is transmitted by inhaling contaminated water.

Interestingly enough, none of the new patients were admitted to the hospital at the time they were exposed, leading experts to question the one common source of water: the lobby fountain.

"Legionella is very tolerant of higher water temperatures, it loves water," said Dr. Christopher Ohl, professor of infectious diseases at Wakeforest Baptist Medical Center.  "It could happen anywhere, in a hotel, in an office building...really any water fountain has a potential of having this happen."

Three of the patients who contracted the disease were visiting the hospital as outpatients, while three others were simply picking up medication.  The remaining two patients were either delivering materials to the facility or waiting in the lobby during a relative's appointment.  Six out of the eight patients remembered passing directly through the lobby and past the fountain.

According to Ohl, Legionella typically effects people whose immune systems are compromised. All of the patients who tested positive for the disease reported underlying medical conditions such as diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis or alcoholism that would have left them vulnerable to illness.

While Legionella has been reported in other places involving water, Ohl says Americans should not be afraid of walking past decorative fountains in general.

"I don't think people should be afraid of this," he said. "It could just as easily been the water system in your own home, from a shower at the YMCA...It's really impossible to reduce your risk."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Doctors Group Removes Cheese Hat from Controversial Billboard

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(GREEN BAY, Wis.) -- A billboard carrying an ominous warning about cheese consumption went up as planned Tuesday near Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wis., but with its most controversial element missing.

The Grim Reaper has lost his Cheesehead.

The physicians group that sponsored the ad says the billboard vendor refused to put up the original ad after the manufacturer of Cheesehead hats threatened legal action against both the doctors group and the billboard company.

“Although we weren’t backing down the billboard vendor did back down,” said Dr. Neil Barnard, president of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM), which designed the ad and rented the billboard space.

The original ad featured The Grim Reaper sporting a Cheesehead, a triangular yellow hat made popular by legions of fans of the Super Bowl champion Green Bay Packers.  The text of the ad reads: "Warning: Cheese Can Sack Your Health. Fat. Cholesterol. Sodium.”

But Barnard said that after receiving a threat of legal action from Foamation, the company that holds trademarks on the Cheesehead, the billboard vendor refused to put the ad up in its original form. According to Barnard, PCRM offered to indemnify the company against legal action, but still they wouldn’t budge.

So Tuesday, after painting over the Cheesehead with black and gray paint, the sign is now up along Route 41 in De Pere, a heavily traveled route for Packers’ fans on their way to the stadium.

“The message that we designed was intended to be informative about an important issue and a little bit funny, in a tongue-in-cheek kind of way,” Barnard said.  “And I am sorry that some of that is going to be lost.  This is America, and if I want to say that cheese is high in cholesterol and sodium and fat, a doctor should be able to say that.”

The underlying message of the campaign is that the American people are consuming far too much cheese, and it is leading to obesity and other health problems, he said. According to USDA figures cited by PCRM, the average American consumes nearly 34 pounds of cheese annually, more than 10 times the average amount a century ago.

“Where are we putting 30 more pounds of cheese per person every year? The answer, Barnard says, “is on our thighs, in our middles and all over our bodies, in obesity. That word has got to get out but it is going to take more than one billboard to drive that point home.”

PCRM’s planned billboard had also raised the ire of the state’s $26 billion dairy industry.  An official of the state’s Milk Marketing Board said Monday that the group is an animal rights fringe group with a “vegan agenda.”  The erasure of the Cheesehead is not likely to placate advocates for the dairy industry.

Barnard said PCRM’s campaign is about public health and free speech, and he’s disappointed the Cheesehead company decided to object to the billboard. And he couldn’t resist a parting shot at Packers’ fans who don the hats on any given Sunday.

“If they feel like someone somehow is hurting the reputation of a Cheesehead, it is hard to imagine anything hurting the reputation of it any more than has already been done by all those people sitting in the stands at ball games with paint on their faces with those silly hats on their heads eating hot dogs,” he said. “It is not a very appealing image.”

Take that, Cheeseheads.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Doctors Provoke Dairy Industry Backlash, Say Cheese Is Unhealthy

Digital Vision/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- A provocative billboard from a nonprofit physicians’ group planned for display near Lambeau Field in Wisconsin has stirred controversy even before it goes up.

The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine in Washington, D.C., has announced the ad, which includes the Grim Reaper wearing a “Cheesehead” hat and which carries an ominous message, “Warning: Cheese Can Sack Your Health. Fat. Cholesterol. Sodium.”

“Cheese has somehow managed [to be marketed] as some kind of health food, which is exactly the opposite of what it is,” says Susan Levin, a registered dietitian who is the director of nutrition education for PCRM. “It is an incredibly unhelpful food product with loads of fat, cholesterol and sodium.  It is a pretty toxic food for people to be consuming.”

The message itself is certainly enough to stoke a backlash in Wisconsin, where the economy leans heavily on the dairy industry. But the location of the billboard itself seems designed to provoke a reaction. The Cheesehead, of course, is worn proudly by thousands of fans of the Super Bowl champion Green Bay Packers, who play their home games at legendary Lambeau Field. The new billboard will be placed strategically along U.S. Highway 41 near the stadium, so that all those tailgaters would have something to think about in the parking lots on Sundays as they gobble up deep-fried cheese curds and Cheesehead Beer Cheese Soup.

"That visual is going to resonate more near a Packers’ game for obvious reasons,” Levin says. “We wanted to draw attention to the fact that cheese is unhealthy, and we think that [this] is a good place to get that attention.”

The billboard was scheduled to go up Monday, but bad weather has apparently delayed its going up until Tuesday. But that hasn’t stopped Wisconsin’s $26-billion dairy industry from starting to fight back.

“They are taking a page out of PETA’s book on this. They are trying to shock people,” says Patrick Geoghegan of Wisconsin’s Milk Marketing Board. Geoghegan characterizes PCRM as a fringe group with a “vegan agenda” that is more about animal rights than human health.

“People have been eating cheese for thousands of years,” says Geoghegan. “Many cheeses are an excellent source of calcium and a source of high-quality protein and phosphorus. It tastes great. We should enjoy it.”

PCRM is also facing potential legal action from Foamation, a family-owned Wisconsin business that owns the trademark to the Cheesehead brand. “We asked them to remove our product from the billboard,” says Edward Sarskas, an attorney for the company. “If they fail to comply we will have to consider all options, including going to a judge to order that it be taken down.”

But PCRM, which paid $3,500 for a month of space on the billboard, says this is about free speech rights. “There’s no way that anyone could perceive this as an attack on a hat,” Dan Kinburn, the organization’s general counsel told ABC News. “No one is criticizing the hat. No one is criticizing Packer fans. The only one being criticized is the dairy industry. The message is that dairy and cheese are bad food.” Kinburn says that as soon as the weather clears, the billboard will go up as planned.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio