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Sports metaphors inspire Hagerstown man's community service

September 23, 2008|By JANET HEIM

Joe Tischer's community service has provided him with many humbling moments, but one really sticks out for him. He had just passed to Art Richards the reins of Dreams Come True, an organization he co-founded with Nick Giannaris.

The nonprofit was being honored with a Maryland You Are Beautiful Award and Tischer said he sat in the back of the room feeling sorry for himself as he watched Richards receive the accolades.

Later, he saw one of the children his organization had helped, bald from the treatments required to fight her disease. That moment was a revelation for Tischer.

"How could I be so selfish to want recognition?" Tischer said.

Tischer's latest venture came after he was selected to be a board member and on the executive committee of the Ed Block Courage Award Foundation in early 2007. The foundation - named after a Baltimore Colts trainer - began 31 years ago with an award to a Colts player who returned to play after an injury.

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The award has grown throughout the NFL, and the foundation raises money to support a house for abused children for just about every NFL team.

"It's an unbelievable organization. This is big time equaling big heart," said Tischer, who lives in Fountain Head.

Tischer, 73, was born and raised in Baltimore, and graduated from Towson University, where he lettered in five sports.

He spent most of his career working in construction bonds. After earning an MBA from Loyola University in 1994, he was an adjunct professor at Towson and Hagerstown Community College.

Tischer took up swimming when he was about 50 and has competed in three Ironman triathlons, two in Hawaii and one in New Zealand. He has run the JFK 50 Mile once and competed in the Bay Bridge swim twice, using sporting competitions as opportunities for fundraising.

Recent shoulder surgery and the need for a knee replacement have slowed him a little, but Tischer still makes a point of working out every day.

"In life, you've got to play hurt. It's not an excuse when you don't get your way. You keep going when something is unfair. It's a sports metaphor for life, business, relationships," Tischer said. "You don't have to be a star, but be dependable, committed."

Tischer has helped raise $2 million for the Humane Society of Washington County, and with John Waltersdorf helped establish the People's Choice Awards for Washington County.

The next big fundraiser for the Ed Block Courage Award Foundation will be a weekend celebration of the 50th anniversary of the "Greatest Game Ever Played," the 1958 NFL Championship game between the Baltimore Colts and the New York Giants.

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