New York, NY (PRWEB) April 14, 2011
What would you do if you had just three days to live? Taken seriously, it's not an easy question to answer, but that's exactly what people in over 25 countries and 44 US states did when they entered the LAST 72, a writing contest whose winners are set to be honored in an upcoming awards gala. Former FDNY Battalion Commander Richard Picciotto, the highest-ranking firefighter to survive the World Trade Center collapse, will keynote the event scheduled for Thursday, May 5th, 2011 from 6-9pm at Manhattan's Grand Hyatt hotel. Organizers intend the celebration to culminate a year-long social experiment that challenged participants to imagine practical steps they could take to live out happier, more fulfilling lives.
Last spring, The Fountain: A Magazine of Scientific and Spiritual Thought together with the Emmy-Award winning Everest Production Corporation invited the public to consider "What would you do if you had 72 hours to live?" and write in for the chance to win cash prizes and publication of the their work. A reality TV series that may feature some of the essayists is also being developed by Everest. The website http://www.last72.com recently announced the contest winners.
But what did the entrants write about, and wasn't it all a bit morbid? The very opposite, says Hakan Yesilova, Chief Editor at The Fountain. "By getting people to reflect on their mortality, we were really asking 'What really matters to you most, and how can you make it happen while you still have time."
In all, hundreds poured out their hearts, detailing the wrongs they needed to right, lost loved ones they hoped to find and to whom they would finally get the courage to say, 'I do.' Instead of fantasy bucket lists, guidelines insisted on realistic tasks capable of uplifting lives. According to Yesilova, many who submitted described the writing exercise as "cathartic." He and his staff were "humbled to receive so many inspiring stories."
Among those to be honored at the May 5th awards ceremony are Joanna Bodnar, whose invocation of community and family titled, "I am an Immigrant" has earned $1,000 in 3rd place; and attorney and former Vietnam Boat Person “Nam-My” Nguyen for her essay "Captain Bell's Rescue" ($2,000 - 2nd place). Joseph J. Salter, author of "You Waste It, You've Lost It" is the winner of the $5,000 top prize. The distinguished panel of contest judges, also expected at the event, include Pulitzer journalist Paul Moses and Dr. Stephen G. Post, Director of the Center for Medical Humanities, Compassionate Care, and Bioethics at Stony Brook University. Other invitations are being sent out. "We're reaching out across society, to people of diverse faiths, cultures and professions because we believe there's a message in this for everyone," a Fountain staff member informed.
And what is the message of the LAST 72? Life is precious, and everyday, is an opportunity to live it to your best. Nasuhi Yurt, Vice President of Everest Production Corporation, the event's co-sponsor, phrased it another way, "Today, we see a lot of despair, in the economy--you name it. But what happens if we take a chance and try to be our own example of courage and hope? You never know, even that little thing you've been putting off could make a difference."
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