By Steven Piper
When gold- and platinum-selling R&B/jazz musician Ty Moss and his wife Carole attended Jordan High School’s 75th anniversary last Saturday evening, there was someone missing. Though he should have been part of the Class of 2009, their son Nile died three years ago from methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA)– a bacterium that is resistant to certain antibiotics and causes infections that are difficult to treat.
The Mosses took part in the school’s celebration, which included a health fair, to raise awareness about the disease, of which, Carole says, few people have knowledge. “It is a staph infection that has mutated into something that does horrible things,” she said. “MRSA is an epidemic that most people do not know about.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that in 2005 about 94,360 people developed a serious (invasive) MRSA infection and that approximately 18,650 patients died during hospital stays related to these serious MRSA infections.
To promote awareness about MRSA, the couple formed Nile’s Project– a coalition of Nile’s friends, entertainers, musicians, artists and other coalitions. “We are here to make sure people can walk away with something they can use,” Ty said.
Every year, Ty and Carole donate $5,000 to the Long Beach Educational Foundation, but, since Nile would have graduated this year, they decided to donate $10,000 in the form of The Double Thumbs Up Scholarship. To be eligible for the scholarship, students must be grateful, kind, patient, gentle but strong, happy, and joyful, among other qualities. The winners of the two scholarships were Rafael Iniquez and Mercedes Zazueta.
Following the health fair, which also included booths by Jordan’s Aspiration in Medical Services Academy, The African-American Infant Health Project, the Long Beach Alliance for Children With Asthma, the Department of Health and Human Services, the Boys and Girls Club after-school program, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and the Press Telegram, The Nile’s Project Band performed in the auditorium. The band played R&B tunes to break up the night’s events, which included: a quick message from 9th District Councilmember/Vice Mayor Val Lerch; the revealing of a commemorative acrylic tile mural by renowned artist C.J. Latimore, which will be placed in the school’s main office; an inspirational speech by guest speaker and former NFL player Kermit Alexander; a promotional video about Jordan High School; and the presentation of the Double Thumbs Up scholarships.