Editor’s Note: Bethany Erickson is the digital editor of People Newspapers, our sister publication. We asked her to highlight the newspaper’s recent ‘Person of the Year’ feature. It’s a solid story. Here’s Bethany.
Every year, People Newspapers picks a Person of the Year for both the Park Cities and Preston Hollow, and then we feature them in the January issues of Park Cities People and Preston Hollow People.
But for whatever reason, 2021 just seemed like a good year to do something different. Maybe it was because we seemed a little you know, stuck, with the pandemic, or maybe we just love creating more work, but looking for a new way to tell the stories of some really interesting people seemed like an imperative.
As we started planning the Persons of the Year issues back in September, we came up with the goal of creating an opportunity to interact and engage with our readers more. Out of that came our Readers’ Choice Person of the Year, which would be featured alongside the picks of the editorial team.
We asked readers to nominate their choice, and then we took those nominations and put them on a ballot using a company called PolCo. We anticipated a slow start — it was the holiday season, for one, and it was also a brand new endeavor. We ended up getting about three times the votes that we thought we would.
And in the end, Episcopal School of Dallas student Isabelle “Izzy” Martin was who our readers picked as their Person of the Year. Izzy is a pre-teen who has been waging a battle with osteosarcoma, a cancer that begins in the cells that forms her bones. Doctors caught her cancer after she broke her femur (which isn’t exactly an easy bone to break) at dance class (not an activity that usually breaks femurs). Despite going through exhausting treatment regimens during a time when it’s not easy to be immune suppressed, Izzy is heading up several philanthropic efforts, including one for Austin Street Center and an osteosarcoma research fund.
As luck would have it, one of Izzy’s classmates happens to be the daughter of NBC DFW’s Meredith Land. Meredith was ready with a story that aired on two newscasts on Dec. 17 — the day we announced our Persons of the Year. She beat out the likes of headliners like Mark Cuban and Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins.
The next week, when the issue was hitting news racks and mailboxes, CBS 11 picked up the story and featured Izzy that week.
December — ask anyone in the news business — is usually this exhausting flurry of activity where you’re trying to wrap up a year and account for holiday days off when the news doesn’t exactly take days off.
But the Person of the Year stories are always just this time (for me, anyway) to take a breath and get to know extraordinary people.
Our three Persons of the Year: Lyda Hill (Park Cities), Cindy Brinker Simmons (Preston Hollow), and Izzy, were absolutely opportunities to stop and reflect on our better natures — the ones that are generous and tenacious and bravely deal with adversity with compassion.
I hope you take the time to meet all three of them.