Stories that stand tall

Local storytelling group celebrates landmark

— She enjoys doing research on her subjects almost as much as she likes sharing them with the audience.

“I love it because courage and compassion are contagious,” she said. “I feel like I’m giving people role models. I’m giving them hope.”

Her first CD was, “Lighting the Way Home: Stories of Lighthouses and Their Keepers.” Dudding followed that up with “People Who Made a Difference: Volume 1.” Calling it Volume 1, Dudding says, was kind of a promise that there would be more to come.

This summer, she finished “Young People who Make a Difference.” She needed a couple of more stories to round out the CD, so she mentioned the project to a local librarian, who handed her a stack of books on potential subjects. One of them was written by a girl from Long Island who’d been heartbroken by the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill. She had written to the Audubon Society and mentioned she was a “good drawer.” Maybe, she said, she could create watercolors for people who donated. To date, she has raised more than $200,000.

The CD also has a local flavor. Dudding includes a story about Children at the Well, an Albany-based group of youth storytellers who promote peace and understanding. She won the storytelling slam at the National Storytelling Conference in Los Angeles by talking about Children at the Well.

The CD’s release comes at the 101st performance of Story Sundays at the Glen Sanders Mansion. Now in its 14th season, the series has seen more than 6,700 people enjoy storytelling and dinner. Sunday’s program draws on Dudding’s and McCanty's lifelong love of baseball and the people who play it. Dudding is particularly drawn to stories such as those of Jackie Robinson, the first black player in the major leagues, and Wendell Smith, a black sportswriter. McCanty grew up in Buffalo next door to Lou Boudreau, who went on to play for and manage the Cleveland Indians.

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