There’s a lot of talk these days about heroes, particularly about firefighters and police officers who risk their own lives to save others. So when ten-year-old Cameron Blackwell of Jeffersonville, Indiana, found out that his parents wanted to talk about heroes during family home evenings, he was not surprised. What did surprise him was how many heroes his family came up with, and who one of those heroes was.
“We talked about the heroes who lived and died when the planes crashed into the World Trade Center in New York City,” Cameron says. “We talked about other heroes in history, and we talked about who our personal heroes are. Some of my heroes are the teachers, leaders, and others who help me every day.”
“Having several home evenings on heroes was a good way for us to deal with the events of September 11,” Cameron’s father, Eric, explains. “It was a way to be a little upbeat in the face of tragedy.” The discussions often continued the next morning at breakfast, and many of them involved gospel heroes and questions like “How can I be a hero today?”
“President Gordon B. Hinckley has always been a hero for me,” Cameron continues. “I have a lot of prophet heroes from the Bible and Book of Mormon, too. I’ve learned that sometimes prophets in the scriptures had struggles, and it amazes me what they were able to do.”
Cameron, who is blessed with a bright mind and a powerful memory, astounds many people with his knowledge of the scriptures. “It comes,” he says, “not only from reading them, but from studying them and asking questions.” His mother, Jennifer, recalls that Cameron memorized Book of Mormon Stories nearly word for word before he could even read.
The Blackwells decided that members of their own family are heroes, too. “My mom and dad are, because of all the things they do for us,” Cameron explains.
Another brother, Craig (7), is known as a hero at the local elementary school because he donated half his birthday money to a fund-raising activity for victims in New York and Washington, D.C. Craig was also a hero in preschool when he had the courage to invite his teacher to the open house of the Louisville Kentucky Temple (Louisville is just across the river from Jeffersonville). Both the teacher and her husband attended. “She said it was beautiful,” Craig remembers.
Jamie (5) knows that having extra patience with Jordan (3) can make her a hero. Jordan has a happy heart, and he’s full of enthusiasm, but he doesn’t do any one thing for long. “Heavenly Father whispered to my spirit that I should be nice to him, because he is a child of God,” Jamie says. That kind of attitude may help explain the feeling of respect for one another that fills the Blackwell home.
In most ways, Cameron Blackwell is just like other ten-year-olds. He loves to read, to play soccer and gym hockey, to ride his bike, and to jump on the trampoline. He’s good in math and spelling, and he took a Spanish class after school. He went to day camp with the Cub Scouts in July, and he loves archery and target shooting. So Cameron was a bit surprised when his family told him they think he’s a hero, too.
In part, they think he’s a hero because he’s learned to move ahead with his life, even though he has Asperger’s syndrome. (In Cameron’s case, that means it’s easy for him to get frustrated.) In part, it’s because he’s so kind to Jordan, who has an autistic spectrum disorder. (That means Jordan doesn’t get along with others easily.)
But ask Cameron about being a hero, and he’ll tell you, “You don’t have to be a firefighter or a policeman to be a hero. You just have to work hard and help other people.”
Cameron believes in doing good. He is an example of the joy that comes from living the gospel of Jesus Christ. When you look into his face, you see the promise of a marvelous future. It is refreshing to know him and to feel of his spirit. That’s what makes Cameron a hero.