Seeking a safe return. Community prays as search for ND student continues

Author: Linda Mullen and Gwen O'Brien

SOUTH BEND ? Like the rain, the flow of people was steady outside the Basilica of the Sacred Heart Thursday evening.p. Walking in small groups huddled under umbrellas, University of Notre Dame students, faculty, staff and the general public shuffled into church to attend Mass for missing freshman Chad Sharon, 18, of Pelican Lake, Wis.p. The dreary weather reflected the mood on campus.p. More than a week has passed since Sharon seemingly disappeared from the face of the Earth.p. Police Thursday still had no strong leads about what happened to him after he left an off-campus party bound for the university in the middle of the night.p. “I hope everything turns out OK. Right now the most we can do is to pray for him,” said freshman Courtney Wahley of Boston as she walked into the basilica.p. “Chad is in my Irish step class. Everyone loves him. He seemed quiet and shy, but a likable guy,” she said.p. Sharing Wahley’s umbrella was freshman Angelica Sandrea of Houston.p. “I have friends who live in Fisher (Sharon’s dormitory), and his friends there are really worried about him,” Sandrea said.p. She went to Mass to support Sharon’s parents, who remain in Wisconsin hoping he will return home.p. “I really feel bad for the family, especially at this time of year. If this was happening to my family, I’d want people to do everything possible to help,” Sharon said.p. Colin Taylor, a freshman from Akron, Ohio, said he came to pray for Sharon’s “happy and safe return.”p. A couple of hundred people were in attendance.p. The Rev. Robert Moss presided at the Mass. He is the rector of Fisher Hall, where Sharon resides. According to Notre Dame Security police, it was Moss who reported to them Saturday morning that Sharon was missing.p. Among the priests at the altar was the university president, the Rev. Edward Malloy.p. Since it is the holy season of Advent, the prelude to Christmas, there were several references during the service to this being a time of great hope and expectation. Moss made the connection between Advent and the anxious wait for word of Sharon’s fate.p. “Tonight we celebrate Mass with the expectation and hope that Chad will come home again,” Moss said during the homily. “We pray for Chad and for his safe and happy return. We pray for his family, that God’s goodness and will always be done. We ask for the gift of understanding, as we go forward to support one another.”p. About a half-mile away, the back yard of 520 Corby Blvd. looked as if it were frozen in time.p. That’s where Sharon was last seen by his friends.p. In the yard, surrounded by a privacy fence, two Anheuser-Busch beer kegs lay overturned. A Bacardi rum bottle and a Franzia wine box, just as empty as the kegs, also littered the muddy yard.p. Red and green plastic cups were scattered across the lawn. A bonfire pit, soaked by several days of rainfall, contained a partially burned half of a sacrificial pingpong table. The other half was leaning against the fence.p. On the front porch was a set of red sequined devil’s horns, probably left over from Halloween.p. Just east of the house, at the corner of Hill Street and Corby Boulevard, a large crucifix stands hauntingly, within sight of the party house.p. Friends of Sharon said they left him at the party about 2:10 a.m., and Sharon stayed behind, saying he’d walk the half-mile back to campus.p. At Madison Center, a few blocks south of the party, an employee told police Sharon approached him at 4 a.m. The employee was standing outside the hospital having a cigarette and Sharon walked up to him and asked directions to a convenience store.p. Rex Rakow, director of security at Notre Dame, said the employee smelled alcohol on Sharon, but that the student did not appear to be overly intoxicated. The employee gave Sharon directions to the 7-Eleven at the corner of LaSalle and Niles avenues.p. No one at the 7-Eleven remembers seeing Sharon, and he wasn’t recorded on the security tape.p. Rakow held a press conference Thursday to talk about the conversation Sharon had with the employee of Madison Center. Rakow said that police believe the employee and consider that to be the last confirmed sighting of Sharon.p. The Northern Indiana Search and Rescue dog unit and 14 South Bend police officers assisted Campus Security Thursday in combing the area between the party and Madison Center. Conny Anders, one of the dog handlers, said that the dogs learned Sharon’s scent by clothing from his room in Fisher Hall.p. At 2 a.m. Thursday, Rakow said, police and Campus Security officers revisited the area and talked with anyone they saw. That is how they met up with the employee at the Madison Center who remembered talking to Sharon.p. Today, Indiana State Police are planning to search with a helicopter, Rakow said. The weather was not conducive to a helicopter search on Wednesday or Thursday.p. Rakow said Sharon’s parents believe their only son will return home if he left school on his own. Sharon, a straight-A student, is attending Notre Dame on a full-ride, private scholarship. He did not show up for his final exams this week.p. Rakow said Sharon was not unhappy but instead enjoyed looking to the future.p. University officials are trying to be optimistic, but they are worried that Sharon may have become a victim of foul play.p. Rakow again asked the community to be vigilant in helping to find Sharon, who is about 5 feet 10 inches tall, 140 pounds, with short blond hair and blue eyes. He was last seen wearing jeans, a white sweater and a red jacket.p. Anyone with information about the student is asked to contact Notre Dame Security police at (574) 631-5555.p. Staff writer Linda Mullen: (574) 235-6368p. p. p. Geniuses don’t come along every day. Which is why they are in such great demand.

The University of Notre Dame knows a genius when it sees one. Which is why the prestigious Indiana school employs people such as noted cancer researcher and scientist Morris Pollard well past normal retirement age. Which is why Pollard is 85, and still faithfully heading off to work each day.

“I love my work,” he told me. “I suppose that is what keeps me going.”

Something sure does. Men all over the world, particularly black men, have Morris Pollard to thank for his profound medical research on prostate cancer. What he discovered can potentially save millions of lives.

But how does he do it? How does a man 20 years past retirement age go in the office day after day to do work that could save countless lives, most of them probably long after he’s gone?

“I’ve been fortunate,” he says modestly. “The work has been interesting. They built this laboratory for me and I like doing what I’m doing.” The work that the brilliant director of the Lobund Laboratory at Notre Dame has done for the last 41 years is remarkable.

Conducting experiments with rats, Pollard discovered that the significance of prostate cancer diminishes with the increase of soybean in the diet. Though there is no solid evidence that black men have higher testosterone levels than other men, Pollard suspects that is the case because black men contract deadly clinical prostate cancer at an estimated eight to 10 percent higher than white men; prostate cancer is caused by high testosterone levels.

“We demonstrated that soybean added to a diet protects against the development of prostrate cancer in our rats,” said the professor emeritus. “We characterized this model for about 10 years to determine how close it was to the disease in man, and we came to the conclusion that it was the best that was available.” His soybean theory was confirmed by studies at the National Cancer Institute, Johns Hopkins University and University of Iowa.

What’s truly amazing is Pollard’s accomplishments have occurred in spite of the personal challenges he’s had to face. He’s back to work after having buried his wife of 63 years last month (she was his first date in college).

He keeps working despite what happened to his son, Jonathan Pollard. How does he keep up his spirits when his son has been convicted of espionage and sentenced to life for passing documents to an ally that, according to a treaty between the countries, deserved to get them?

How did Pollard keep his sanity when people such as Alabama Sen. Richard Shelby and former federal prosecutor Joseph diGenova called his son Jonathan a “traitor” when there is not a shred of evidence anywhere to prove that Jonathan committed treason or put any U.S. agents or servicemen in danger?

If the information that Jonathan leaked to Israel in the early ‘80s while working as a civilian analyst for U.S. Naval Intelligence was sold to the Soviet Union and so damaging to U.S. security interests, why won’t the government say which agents have been killed, or exposed due to his actions? Where are the weeping widows? The grieving families and friends? Nowhere! Because there aren’t any dead agents.

Why are Jonathan’s lawyers in court right now trying to see classified memos that the government surreptitiously used to renege on its promise not to seek a life sentence in exchange for his plea to one count of conspiracy to commit espionage? Show us the documents.

In fact, the truth is that Jonathan gave Israel classified information that by law it should have received in the first place, detailing Iraq’s budding nuclear and biological war programs. It is believed that the information supplied by Jonathan was the catalyst for Israel’s 1981 air force attack on Iraq’s new nuclear facility.

And those documents were responsible for Israel being prepared for biological attacks by Saddam Hussein during the 1991 Gulf War. Attacks that injured American GIs. Jonathan’s “spying” is the reason that a “sealed room” must be included in each new home constructed in Israel today.

Is this the way we repay a Jewish-American family that has given us so much?

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