Ten years ago Tai Babilonia and Randy Gardner won the hearts of thousands of aspiring young skaters and nonskaters (PEOPLE, April 17). I had once hoped to be like her. But after reading about Tai's problems, I am shocked and rather disillusioned. It is sad that the young generation of today has to learn that someone they looked up to turned to drugs, alcohol, even attempted suicide instead of coping with disappointment. Where is the role model who tries again and again, no matter how many times they fail? Now that Tai is trying a comeback I sincerely wish I could cheer her on, but because of my disappointment with her life after the Olympics, I am unimpressed by her effort.
To all of us recovering alcohol and drug addicts, Tai Babilonia's statement, "Now I have a Courvoisier once in a while, and I drink wine," says that she has already relapsed and has not come to grips with her very serious problem.
Steven D. Bruns
Tai Babilonia has a lot of courage to admit her weaknesses and problems to the public, and I sincerely hope that she can have a Courvoisier once in a while and drink some wine. However, if her new relationship ends or something else traumatic happens in her life and she begins to drink heavily again, I pray that she will find her way back to Alcoholics Anonymous, where she, along with anyone else who has a desire to stop drinking, will always be welcome. For anyone who really is an alcoholic, one drink is too many.
Teresa A. Rogers
My partner, Michael Botticelli, and I skated right after Tai and Randy in the 1980 Olympics. It was a devastating moment—everything happened so fast and then it was over, with no more chances to try again. Michael and I went out and skated not only for ourselves and not just for our country. The last words Michael said to me before we skated on the ice were "Let's do this for Tai and Randy." Now it's nine years later, and I completely understand how Tai feels, trying to be her own person after 20 years of always being joined under the name Tai and Randy. It is very hard to feel independent. I just want to say, good luck, Tai.
1980 Pairs Olympian
Tai Babilonia is my favorite skater. After following her career for years, I still remember my feelings at seeing her Olympic dreams shattered by Randy Gardner's injury. I hope she continues to use her great drive and determination to find personal happiness.
The story on the Pitcairn Islanders was one of the most fascinating stories I have ever read in PEOPLE. My only regret is that it was not longer. I hope Harriet Shapiro writes a book about the people of Pitcairn because I'll be first in line to buy it.
Redondo Beach, Calif.
In this overpopulated world of oil spills, Three Mile Island, Love Canal, crack houses, runaway inflation, voodoo economics, gangland killings, drive-by shootings, schools that don't teach, kids that won't learn, homeless people and latchkey kids, I for one think of Pitcairn Island as one last place on earth that hasn't been spoiled by man. Maybe it isn't heaven, but is sure sounds close.
Thank you, God, for creating Joe Lara and thank you, PEOPLE and CBS, for sharing him with us.
I'd gladly nuzzle with Noah the snake to get next to Joe Lara.
Denyse L. Cramer
Mays Landing, N.J.
No photo has ever touched me as deeply as did Ron Olshwanger's picture of the fireman and the little girl, Patricia Pettus. Olshwanger is to be commended for not capitalizing on this tragedy but instead setting up a fund for the stricken family. May other, opportunistic ambulance chasers learn from this.
Tamara McNutt Bundy
Being the wife of a fire fighter I was already aware of the frustration and pain these men go through when they have lost someone to a fire—especially if it was the result of not having a smoke detector. If Ron Olshwanger's photo doesn't make people realize how precious life is, nothing will.
The Pulitzer Prize should not have been awarded to Ron Olshwanger for his photo, but to fire fighter Adam Long. What was he awarded for risking his life and then attempting to save another? Maybe a day off with pay?
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