Get your Sully on

My homeboy, the ever-modest, most brave Sully Sullenberger, was welcomed back to Danville last Saturday. It was a real hero's welcome as a crowd of 3,000 stood on a brisk Northern California day out in front of the town library we built a few years back.


Some were there to catch a glimpse of the unassuming captain, who so deftly belly-landed a disabled US Airways A320 jetliner in the Hudson River in January. Others were there to offer honor to the guy who saved 155 lives in a matter of minutes. Still others were there because it was a really great reason to celebrate all that is right with the world, and to admire a brave and earnest soul like the pilot from Danville.

The breathtaking part of the story is that all passengers made it home. But for the irregular landing, it’s likely that most of those passengers would have left the plane not even thinking twice about the guy in the cockpit “just doing his job.”

Sully is just a regular guy in a town of regular guys. His wife carpools. He walks his dog. They’ve collected food for the poor. He’s one of us.

What a bold and refreshing tale of heroism against a steady flow of the usual darkness and despair. Extraordinary virtue from an ordinary place.

Truth be told, there are many Sullys out there. They are pilots. They are owners. And they are definitely developers. Brave souls, who take the chances, ride the bumps, always hoping for the best and sometimes getting the worse. But always, just doing their best and giving it all they got.

Come to think of it, our cover story, Shaun Donovan, is also one of us. A multihousing professional from several sides of the table poised to make a difference by simply doing his job. Maybe that’s what is most intriguing about these stories. Greatness from the ranks of just regular people not so interested in the hollow spotlight as they are in purpose.

The Danville police chief made Sully an honorary officer and officially awarded him badge number one. The mayor gave him only the second key to the city ever awarded. There were bands, bagpipes and proclamations. Another neighbor, a retired fighter pilot, buzzed overhead in a P-51 Mustang.

I’m so proud. There is nothing more enduring than the human spirit, from Sully who landed the plane, to the boats who dashed to the scene to help, to the neighbors who stepped in to cover the Sullenbergers’s carpool days. Ordinary people doing extraordinary things.

Such folks inextricably rise to the challenge and I suspect we will be seeing a lot more of this in the days ahead.