Michael Vitez met the Rev. Elinore R. (Nellie) Greene in the summer of 2004 on the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, where she'd come with friends to pose for her annual Christmas-card photo. Her friends had carried her wheelchair up and down three flights of the steps.
Vitez was there working on a book about people who come from all over the world to the "Rocky" steps (Rocky Stories). Nellie's friends told Vitez that she could teach Rocky a thing or two about courage and dedication.
Vitez immediately wanted to write a story of this woman, whose remarkable mind was trapped inside a broken body. He decided to follow her through the almost incomprehensible process of writing a sermon - her primary way of connecting to the world.
For three months in early 2007, Vitez watched her at work and interviewed her through numerous e-mails – the only way, albeit painstakingly slow – that she can communicate. Her Lenten sermon was delivered in March and the story ran Easter Sunday.
Vitez, 50, won the Pulitzer Prize in 1997 for his series, "Final Choices --Seeking the Good Death."
His editor on both these projects was Dorothy Brown.