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Pioneer Viewpoints: Of wolves and media hounds

Every once in awhile, a local story comes along and grabs everyone's attention. In Internet parlance, it means the story "goes viral."

If you need an example in our region, check out what happened to Marilyn Hagerty of the Grand Forks Herald and her review of the Olive Garden restaurant last March.

Noah Graham can sympathize with Marilyn.

The 16-year-old from Solway became a media must-have last week after he survived an attack from a wolf at a campground near Lake Winnibigoshish on Aug. 24. His remarkable story appeared first in local media outlets — and then it was off and running. First, the Twin Cities media came calling, then national, and even international, press picked up on Graham's amazing story. The Pioneer's website was bombarded with new visitors after the story was linked to other websites, such as the popular Gawker site, worldwide.

But why? What about the story sent it careening through social media and the Internet?

Here's why: Graham's tale of how he fought off a wolf after it clamped down on his head sparks the survival instinct in all of us. "Could I have done that?" we ask ourselves.

If a 16-year-old can somehow grab a wolf's jaws and pry them from his skull, reach his feet to face his attacker and send it on its way with a few kicks, we think we can do it, too. But deep down, we also know that maybe we couldn't. We are both amazed at Graham's heroics, and maybe a little afraid, as well.

To his credit, Graham has handled the media attention with aplomb. He told Pioneer reporter Justin Glawe on Thursday he's ready for the story to fade.

"I get about four hours of sleep every night. I wake up to calls and I go to sleep with calls," he said. "I'm over it. It's not a big deal."

Most overnight sensation stories are just that — fleeting as the national and worldwide media move on to the next "it" thing. So, Graham should be seeing some relief soon.

A wolf trapped and killed at the campsite a few days after the attack was rabies-free, and officials have sent the carcass, along with Graham's shirt, to a California lab for DNA testing to make sure it was the attacking lupine.

So, when those results come back, Noah, expect a few more calls. At least from us locals.

Think bikes, think big

One of the ideas that came out of a discussion of cycling enthusiasts last week was community cycling event. A destination ride that would attract biking enthusiasts both near and wide.

It's a strong idea and one the city and other civic-minded organizations should support. Bemidji has long been known for its variety of events — from the arts to the outdoors. The key is to make the cycling event a community happening, one that doesn't just appeal to a niche audience. Bemidji has prospered with these type of events such as Art in the Park and the Dragon Boat festival, so there's no reason to think a cycling ride or, heck, what about a cycling race, here couldn't work.

Think big. And who knows, maybe in a few years, we'll be checking out the Tour de Bemidji as riders zip by the lake.