‘There are so many people that supported me’

Last week I attended a Relay for Life event in Jonesborough, Tennessee. I have covered a few Relay for Life’s in the past and they have always touched me. This is the first time I attended one of the meetings to kick off the season. Lisa’s story touched my heart! After talking to American Cancer Society Community Representative Jessica Poff about what they need in terms of volunteers for this season, I gave her my business card and told her I would help write press releases for Relay.

It’s true, everyone has been touched by cancer in some way, shape or form. Why wouldn’t you provide a helping hand if the opportunity was there?

Here is another inspirational story of a cancer survivor.

‘Relay’ gets ready for 2014

Published in Herald & Tribune March 4, 2014

For Lisa Tipton, the Rally Team meeting at AmericInn Lodge & Suites last week to kick off the second Relay for Life season in Jonesborough was the perfect place to tell her story.

Tipton, originally from Georgia, has lived in Jonesborough almost her entire life, and provided the speech to begin the meeting that was held Feb. 27.

Tipton said she comes from a long line of family members who have been diagnosed with cancer. Her mother passed away at 55 years old from cancer, and the following year cancer took the life of her aunt. Her grandmother also died from cancer.

“There are only four of us on Mom’s side of the family living,” Tipton said.

Two of those family members have had cancer.

Because of her family history, Tipton began having regular mammograms when she was 32 years old. In 2009, she was diagnosed with stage zero breast cancer as a result of a routine mammogram.

Lisa TiptonIn December of that year, Tipton had a double mastectomy. Her diagnosis at that point had changed to stage one invasive with cancer cells in her blood vessel.

Although Tipton said she was against chemotherapy treatment, her doctor convinced her that it would give her an opportunity to go on with her life.

She had four rounds of chemotherapy, once every three weeks, from January to March 2010. Twelve days after she had her first round, she lost her hair.

“I was never sick. I worked the whole time I took chemo, except when my blood levels bottomed out,” Tipton said. “I had energy and strength. My heavenly Father healed me.”

Tipton was not familiar with Relay for Life until 2010 when someone asked her to attend the event.

“I went to a few events that year — one in Johnson City and one in Erwin,” she explained.

To this day, the survivor lap makes her emotional.

“Every time I did the survivor lap, I did it crying,” Tipton said.

She said the survivor lap is awesome because it is a place where survivors are honored, as well as a place that gives them hope. Tipton said it is a great feeling to see people cheer them on when they are walking that lap.

After attending Relay for Life and as a survivor, Tipton felt she had a responsibility. She  said she wants to get the word out about how important mammograms are and what kind of assistance the American Cancer Society offers.

“I feel like I have a responsibility because there are so many people that came after me,” she said of individuals diagnosed with cancer. “There are so many people that supported me. I don’t want to ever forget that.”

Tipton went for her six-month appointment last week.

“I’m doing awesome,” she said.

The Team Rally event also included videos explaining Relay for Life and interactive activities for those who attended.

“Lisa is the reason we relay,” said Mary Jane Greene, Relay for Life chair.

Last year was the inaugural event for Relay for Life in Jonesborough. Greene said she has always participated in the Relay for Life in Johnson City and asked about bringing the event to Jonesborough.

“I have never seen or participated in an event that pulled together the way Jonesborough did,” she said.

Last year, 21 teams and 91 survivors participated in the July event that took place in Downtown Historic Main Street. The event raised more than $30,000.

This year’s theme, “Games!! Finish the Fight & WIN Against Cancer” is scheduled from noon to midnight, Saturday, July 26, at Downtown Historic Main Street.

The HOPE Ceremony, survivor lap and caregiver lap, will begin at 6:30 p.m., and the Luminaria Ceremony will kick off at 10 p.m.

The Fight Back Ceremony, Closing Ceremony will start at 11:30 p.m. and the final lap will kick off at midnight.

Greene said this year’s goal is to have 30 teams and more than 150 survivors. Financially, the goal is to raise a minimum of $40,000.

“We are going to reach for the sky,” Greene said. “I’m so excited about the 2014 relay.”

American Cancer Society Community Representative Jessica Poff said Relay for Life will feature all-day entertainment and activities.

“It’s a community festival that celebrates survivors,” she said, adding that it also provides more community awareness for everyone.

Committee members, sponsors and teams are still being sought for this year’s Relay for Life event. For more information, visit http://www.RelayForLife.org/JoinTheRelayMovement.

The next Rally Team meeting will be held at 7 p.m. on Monday, April 7.

‘I’m tickled to death’

There is something about interviewing students and teachers that brings a new kind of excitement over me. I interviewed a teacher at David Crockett High School in Jonesborough, Tenn. last week regarding a robotics team that brought two rivalry high schools together. His excitement was contagious.

This particular subject always grabs my attention, due to a team I wrote about on Pine Island, FL. while I was the editor for the Pine Island Eagle. It’s amazing what these kids do when they work together as a team.

Boone, Crockett students team up to manufacture the perfect robot

Published Feb. 25, 2014

With their robot stored safely away, students of David Crockett and Daniel Boone High Schools are focusing on final preparations for the First Robotics Competition.

Guy McAmis, drafting instructor at David Crockett High School, said the group kicked off this year’s First Robotics Competition at the University of Tennessee on Jan. 4.

A collaboration of 12 students from Daniel Boone High School and 12 students from David Crockett High School make up the team that began forming last year.

“It was open to all students that wanted to come into the First Robotics Team,” McAmis said. “We have two rival schools that have come together to build a robot.”

Sophomore student Ethan Riddle of David Crockett High School got involved by joining the programming team when it first formed with three other students. He said he has enjoyed his experience of working on the robot, as well as learning about programming.

Last fall, McAmis traveled to Cherokee High School with the team to help that school’s First Robotics Team get a better understanding of the competition.

“On the bus trip back, our students came up with the (name) Musket Alliance,” he said. “They did it as a team effort.”

After the team was formed, a corporation was created with a CEO and board, on which McAmis sits, as does David Shell from Daniel Boone High School.

When the rookie team traveled to the University of Tennessee last month, they were required to execute a robot quick build from a kit that was provided to them. The kit was equipped with such basics as the frame, a set of wheels and all the electronics.

“It comes with enough to make a running robot out of the box,” McAmis said. “All the extras we had to buy separately.”

Fundraising efforts started last year when McAmis told his students he would shave his mustache if they raised $2,000 by the end of the football season. The students were successful.

Several companies also made donations to the team, so they could purchase additional parts. Those include S.E.A.M.S. LLC; Grainger, Fastenal; Valley Equipment of Jonesborough; United Grinding; Eastman Chemical Co. and Energy Systems Group, LLC.

When the students began putting together their robot last month, they decided it would defend the field to make it difficult for another team to score. Riddle said the robot defends the goal with its lift that can be raised and arm that extends outwards.

This year, the robots have to shoot a 24-inch exercise ball through a hoop to score points. Riddle said their idea is to get the exercise ball in either the high goal that is around 7 feet in the air or into two low goals.

“Our robot is also  defending against other teams,” he said.

The students clocked between 60 to 75 hours after school working on their robot from Jan. 4 to Feb. 18 before it was ready to  “bag and tag” for the competition.

“It was a lot of fun working with the kids,” McAmis said. “They did the design and drawing. We sat back and watched them.”

He said the students know how to put the robot together and take it apart on their own.

“I’m tickled to death,” McAmis said. “They jumped in there.”

Six students worked on building the robot. The work was done at David Crockett High School due to the availability of the machine shop to build parts. A playing field was set up at Daniel Boone High School for practice.

Mitchell Roop, a teacher at David Crockett High School helped the students with programming, which included a trip to Eastman Chemical Co.

Riddle said the classes they attended at Eastman Chemical Co. were really helpful in programming the robot.

“Learning how to do (the programing) is a rewarding thing,” Riddle said.

Although the build team, electric team and programming team are no longer allowed to work on the robot, there is still plenty to do to get ready for the competition.

McAmis said the rules and safety team have a lot to do to prepare.

“I think we did well,” McAmis said about the students building the robot. “It’s been a great experience.”

Ten of the Washington County 5022 Musket Alliance team members will head to the Knoxville Convention Center March 26-29 to compete in the FRC regionals.

“I would love for people of Washington County to come and watch,” McAmis said.

On Friday, March, 28, the Musket Alliance will be paired with other teams as they try and score points. Five students are allowed in the pit area during the competition. The remaining students will scout the other teams to see whom they want to be aligned with for Saturday’s competition, March 29.

Riddle said his programming team will be located in the driver’s station at the competition.

The station has two joysticks and a computer. He will operate the computer and make adjustments to the robot if necessary.

Riddle said he is excited about going to the competition.

“It’s been enjoyable, but it has been a lot of work for myself and David Shell over at Boone,” McAmis said.

With that said, he thinks they will probably try and keep the FRC team going next year.