Lo­cal speak­ers urge kind­ness

Sunday Star - - FRONT PAGE - By JOSH BOLLINGER jbollinger@star­dem.com

EAS­TON — Speak­ers at the Eas­ton Mayor’s Prayer Break­fast Fri­day morn­ing, Oct. 27, at the Tide­wa­ter Inn urged the sold-out crowd to be kind to oth­ers.

“Let’s make Eas­ton, Md., a city of ran­dom acts of kind­ness,” Al­fred B. “Tim” Ka­gan Jr. said.

This was the 35th year for the Eas­ton Mayor’s Prayer Break­fast, a form of lead­er­ship break­fast where peo­ple gather over a meal, share sto­ries of their faith and pray for their lead­ers.

The break­fast an­nu­ally draws an eclec­tic crowd of lo­cals, elected of­fi­cials, busi­ness­men, county and town gov­ern­ment em­ploy­ees and coun­cil mem­bers, physi­cians, police and first re­spon­ders, ed­u­ca­tors, men and women of faith, and, of course, Eas­ton Mayor Bob Wil­ley.

The speak­ers this year were Ka­gan, a real­tor and civic leader, and Cpl. Lenox Trams, an of­fi­cer with the Eas­ton Police Depart­ment and as­sis­tant squad leader for its bike unit.

The two told their sto­ries Fri­day morn­ing. Both were wholly dif­fer­ent but had sim­i­lar themes, in­clud­ing brushes with death and urg­ing the crowd to be kind in their daily in­ter­ac­tions.

Ac­cord­ing to his bio, Ka­gan has lived on the Eastern Shore for 40 years and has been heav­ily in­volved in Ro­tary In­ter­na­tional since 1985. He has a Ro­tary award named af­ter him, one that hon­ors Ro­tar­i­ans who go above and be­yond the call of duty.

He also is in­volved with FINCA, a char­i­ta­ble or­ga­ni­za­tion that pro­vides fi­nan­cial ser­vices to the world’s low­est-in­come en­trepreneurs, and has helped pro­vide clean drink­ing wa­ter and san­i­ta­tion to un­der­de­vel­oped coun­tries.

Ka­gan stood in the Gold Ball­room of the Tide­wa­ter Inn Fri­day morn­ing when he re­called a story from a year and a half ago, one that oc­curred in that same inn and even­tu­ally changed his out­look on life.

“Eigh­teen months ago in this ho­tel, I was pro­nounced dead, twice,” Ka­gan said.

Ka­gan said he had a heart-re­lated med­i­cal emer­gency while he and his wife awaited the ar­rival of friends at the Tide­wa­ter Inn. He was seated when his face went flush, and he fell and hit the floor, he said. A stranger, a nurse, was sit­ting near him and came to per­form CPR but couldn’t re­vive him, he said.

EMTs re­vived Ka­gan, but he died again on the way to the hospi­tal be­fore be­ing re­vived again, and the doc­tors at the hospi­tal in Eas­ton kept him alive, he said.

“Need­less to say, my life has not been the same since. I al­ways trusted the Lord in my life. Sud­denly, ev­ery­thing around me took on spe­cial mean­ing — my fam­ily, my friends, ev­ery­day life,” Ka­gan said. “It sounds corny, but the sky never looked so blue, the grass never looked so green. Ev­ery­thing around me was dif­fer­ent. I took time to no­tice.”

“But most of all, my walk with Je­sus be­came more spe­cial than ever. I never felt closer to Him and felt the Holy Spirit’s pres­ence in such a spe­cial way. I was lis­ten­ing like never be­fore,” he said.

Ka­gan also spoke about his ex­pe­ri­ence serv­ing po­lio vac­ci­na­tions to kids in In­dia in 2010 and, shortly af­ter­ward, his ex­pe­ri­ence with the death of his brother, Rod.

In the end, he urged the crowd to per­form ran­dom acts of kind­ness to strangers, and “love one an­other as He (God) loves us.”

“I be­lieve there is a way that we can show the Lord our love for each other, by prac­tic­ing ran­dom acts of kind­ness,” he said. “Things we do for each other with­out any ex­pec­ta­tion of re­pay­ment or thanks. I chal­lenge each of us to try it here in Eas­ton.”

Like Ka­gan, Trams also urged the crowd to be kind and to live ev­ery day as it’s their last.

“I truly don’t be­lieve that things hap­pen by co­in­ci­dence. I do be­lieve that ever ything hap­pens for a rea­son,” Trams said. “God has placed cer­tain peo­ple in our lives for a rea­son.”

Trams was born in 1975 on a small is­land called Montser­rat in the Bri­tish West Indies, and his birth mother died when he was 2 years old. He was the youngest of his father’s 13 kids, and he didn’t take care of Trams. He spent some time in fos­ter houses and even­tu­ally ran away from his last fos­ter home — with an abu­sive dis­tant rel­a­tive — when he was 6 years old, and hung out near a lo­cal water­front res­tau­rant in Montser­rat, per­form­ing tricks for tourists.

The woman who even­tu­ally be­came his new mom, Pat Trams, was in Montser­rat “to meet Paul McCart­ney,” who recorded tracks in a nearby stu­dio. But the mu­si­cian had left the is­land, and she wound up manag­ing the res­tau­rant where Trams lived, he said.

One night, she found him rum­mag­ing through the dump­ster out­back, brought him in the res­tau­rant and shared a ham sand­wich with him. Their re­la­tion­ship de­vel­oped over time, and she ended up adopt­ing him and bring­ing him back to the U.S. on June 14, 1985 — Flag Day.

Trams said he was a 13-year-old liv­ing in Ch­ester­town when he had a run-in with police. Af­ter get­ting in trou­ble for break­ing into video game ma­chines and steal­ing change, the way the police of­fi­cer in­ter­acted with him “changed my life ... He was very gen­uine in what he said” and wanted to help him.

“That day I said, ‘You know what, I could do the same thing one day for some­body else,’” he said. “That was the day that I de­cided to go and try to do the right thing, go on the right path, and I wanted to be­come a police of­fi­cer.”

Trams grew up to be­come a police of­fi­cer, and he said he be­lieves his first day on the street as a uni­formed police of­fi­cer was no co­in­ci­dence — Flag Day, June 14, 1999.

Later on, while work­ing for the Eas­ton Police Depart­ment, where he has been for more than 18 years, he in­jured him­self and it was found he had low kid­ney func­tion.

By 2016, it got to the point where he needed a kid­ney trans­plant. “A lot of peo­ple stepped up and got tested” to see if they were a match for a kid­ney trans­plant. Only one co-worker was, Jill Gar­vey, and the op­er­a­tion was suc­cess­ful.

“God sent an an­gel to save my life,” Trams said. “I’ve seen my share of peo­ple who have been on dial­y­sis for eight to 10 years and haven’t got­ten a kid­ney.”

Trams said he tries to give back to the com­mu­nity and pay it for­ward af­ter he was given a sec­ond chance at life with a kid­ney trans­plant. He hopes any­one he helps passes it on in re­turn.

“Ev­ery day is a bless­ing,” Trams said. “We don’t know if we’ll be here to­mor­row. My mes­sage to you is live ev­ery day as it is your last.”

PHOTO BY JOSH BOLLINGER

From left, Pas­tor Jon Stephens, of First Wes­leyan Church in Eas­ton, Cpl. Lenox Trams, Al­fred B. “Tim” Ka­gan Jr. and Eas­ton Mayor Bob Wil­ley at the 2017 Eas­ton Mayor’s Prayer Break­fast on Fri­day, Oct. 27.

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