One of the amazing things about life is that the older you get, the easier it is to find people who deserve to be called a hero. Frequently, we use that label for those who serve in the military or risk their lives for a greater cause. But for me, people who quietly go out of their way to make someone else feel better or help someone in need deserve both our attention and admiration.
You may have watched 42-year-old news anchor Richard Lui on CNN Worldwide, MSNBC or NBC News. Or, like me, you may have read one of his columns in Politico or USA Today. If you use Twitter, you probably know that, according to Twitter Counter, his following is in the top 1 percent. What most people don't know, however, is that before he became a journalist, Lui spent 15 years in business with Fortune 500 companies and tech companies. In fact, he is the patent holder and co-founder of the world's first bank-centric payment system. Business Insider named him one of 21 dynamic careers to watch, alongside Mark Cuban and Warren Buffett.
While working at Mrs. Fields Cookies, Lui became the youngest person in the company's history to run a regional training center at 19 years old. He attended the City College of San Francisco and the University of California, Berkeley, and then he received his MBA from the University of Michigan.
In addition to his duties as a journalist, Lui has worked as an ambassador for Plan International USA, where he works to advise, identify and talk about the role that males have in gender equality. He has also reported on the Polaris Project, an anti-human trafficking organization. Alongside former President Carter and Rosalynn Carter, he has volunteered for Habitat for Humanity in Ghana, the Golan Heights and Haiti. He is a member of the United Nations board of advisors, has worked with The Aspen Institute and has spoken at the request of the U.S. Department of Justice and the State Department.
Lui is first-generation American, and his real last name is Wong. Why? His grandfather, who was an illegal immigrant, came to the U.S. as a "paper son" and purchased real U.S. identities with the name Lui so his family could remain in the country.
As surprising and inspiring as all these different aspects of Lui's life happen to be, the reason I admire him so much is that in spite of his hectic schedule as an activist, public speaker and TV personality, he has also been a conscientious and devoted adult son. His 83-year-old father, who has dementia, lives thousands of miles away. But as part of his active role as a contributing caregiver, Lui flies from New York to San Francisco each weekend in order to spend two to three days with his father.
AARP has produced several videos and statistics that illustrate the commitment of younger multicultural family members to their elders. Did you know that 23 percent of African-American caregivers care for someone who is not a relative? Or that 25 percent of Asian-American caregivers are helping someone who has either Alzheimer's disease or dementia? And you may be as surprised as I was to learn that 3 in 10 Hispanics over the age of 18 provide 41 hours per week of caregiving assistance. These truly are remarkable numbers.
Lui's experiences, along with those of two other Chinese-American families, can be found in the documentary "Caregiving: The Circle of Love." AARP has also produced "Stepping Up: Stories of Jazz and Caregiving," which highlights African-American jazz artists who are active caregivers. And for a glimpse into how Filipino-American families deal with caregiving responsibilities, AARP produced "Caregiving Dahil Mahal Kita" ("Because I Love You"). To watch any of these videos, visit the AARP website.
Marilyn Murray Willison has had a varied career as a six-time nonfiction author, columnist, motivational speaker and journalist in both the U.K. and the U.S. She is the author of The Self-Empowered Woman blog and the award-winning memoir "One Woman, Four Decades, Eight Wishes." She can be reached at www.marilynwillison.com. To find out more about Marilyn and read her past columns, please visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.