Payson Is Truly Heart Of Arizona

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It's pleasant, isn't it, to no longer be part of the No. 1 news story in the nation.

And it's especially nice to have never been at its epicenter unlike Show Low, unlike Heber-Overgaard, unlike the 467 families who lost their homes.

But those aren't the only reasons you have to rejoice.

If you ever harbored any doubt, you now know with absolute certainty: this is one terrific little town. A town which, as the nation watched, redefined generosity and caring.

If you think that qualifies as overstatement, ask any of the national news and emergency personnel who passed through town and said, in one way or another, that they had never seen a community pull together and help its neighbors with the speed, graciousness and all-encompassing thoughtfulness of this one.

Friends. Families. Total strangers. Competing businesses. Rival churches. Political enemies. Young and old. Wealthy and struggling. Children emptied their piggy banks. Adults emptied their closets. Restaurants emptied their refrigerators. Stores emptied their shelves. Everyone opened their hearts.

And they all did it for the same modest payoff: the spiritually satisfying feeling that always comes with helping others in times of genuine need.

While your response may have surprised outsiders, though, it didn't surprise me. When I came to the Roundup from the Valley in 1999, one of the first stories I covered was the discovery of 4-year-old Ashley Allen's brain tumor. Through the last 18 months of her life and beyond, I saw the same generosity, caring and love extended to that little girl and her family.

And I've seen that spirit extended dozens of times, in dozens of situations, since then.

You may rest assured. This is one terrific little town.

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