Bio

DON KETCHUM is a native of Phoenix. He was a sportswriter for The Arizona Republic/The Phoenix Gazette for nearly four decades. He covered high school sports on several occasions as well as the Arizona Diamondbacks, Arizona Cardinals and Arizona State sports. From 2008-14, he was a staff writer for AIA365.com, the web site of the Arizona Interscholastic Association.

Friday, September 18, 2020

Annual X Breakfast is emotional, memorable

 The video camera followed Sr. Lynn Winsor, Xavier Prep’s Vice Principal for Activities and Athletic Director, as she wheeled her Zappy transporter down the sidewalk in front of Founders Hall. She hopped off, stepped into the hall and . . .

Nothing. All was quiet.

“Where is everybody?’’ she asked, voice echoing off the walls. “Isn’t this the day that we are supposed to have the X Breakfast?’’

True, indeed. Then she “remembered’’ that the annual fund-raising event on Thursday (Sept. 17) was being held virtually due to health and safety concerns brought about by the Covid virus. This year, the 13th X Breakfast was being watched on a live stream video by people on campus, in the Valley, state and country, and even across the world.

What everyone witnessed was a story of fear, heartbreak, strength, recovery, encouragement  and spirituality by XCP 2000 alumna Elena Flores-Breese.

Elena Flores-Breese, Class of 2000.

On April 15, 2013, she was near the finish line of the annual Boston Marathon, waiting for her husband, Jeff Breese, to cross.

Suddenly, there was a horrific explosion of two pressure-cooker bombs, built and placed by two Chechen-American brothers. Three people lost their lives in this despicable act of terror and several hundred others were injured. Thankfully, Jeff was not injured, as he was a few miles behind the leaders.

There were countless others who were traumatized by what happened. Many, like Flores-Breese, suffered Post-traumatic stress disorder.

“It was a day when my bubble burst forever,’’ she said. “The images were time-stamped on my heart and in my mind.’’

Still, such an occurrence does not necessarily manifest itself in a serious manner right away. The aftermath treats everyone differently.

For Flores-Breese, a mother of two, it didn’t fully take over until 2016.

“I couldn’t understand. I had been canceling events, had anxiety,’’ she said. “But it was three years and four months of mental anguish.’’

She checked herself into a psychiatric hospital, where she stayed for six days.

Once she realized what was happening, she began the road to recovery.

“I think that this trauma shaped me after that and it does now in these changing times,’’ she said.

One of the primary tools that helped her was to make time for prayer and meditation.

She interacted with others from around the world at an annual International Congress for Victims of Terror in Nice, France, in 2019. There were 400 survivors from 80 countries.

Flores-Breese, who lives with her family in the Phoenix area, also has been writing a blog about her experiences for the last three years called Stillbloomingme.

One of those experiences came in 2018, when her husband was finally able to finish what he started when the family traveled to Boston for the race.

And she said she could not have made it without the lessons learned at Xavier, not necessarily just in the classroom. There was the sense of friendship, family and spirituality.

She reads her Bible regularly, writes a journal and even sings songs she learned at Xavier to herself.

Near the end of the video, viewers got to see other alumni talk about their Xavier experience, and see current students trying to find their way.

A song played softly in the background. It sounded quite familiar to The XCP Files sports blogger. Where had it been heard before?

Finally, the answer came. It was sung by varsity volleyball players as they warmed up before a match.

It was line from the chorus of the song Thy Word, written by Amy Grant and Michael W. Smith, based on Psalm 119, Verse 105.

It is worth remembering, a joyful noise for all of us.

Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.

Thank you, Elena.


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