Passion ignited again

Passion ignited again

I’ve been on cloud nine since June 8 when I started working full-time again as the new editor of the Sanibel-Captiva Islander on beautiful Sanibel Island. Every day as I drive over the bridge there’s a calmness that takes over as I take in the scenery. On more than one occasion I have stopped on the causeway at the beginning and at the end of the day, just to take in the beauty, take a deep breath.

My passion for my craft has ignited again. I absolutely loved working from home creating my own hours, well running my own show. But . . .  I have to admit that I love working in an office outside of my home even more. It’s nice having that interaction with others face-to-face instead of just over the phone. It’s nice to leave work and officially leave my work at the office.

The best part are some of the assignments I have given myself to fill my paper.

My assignments have been fun over the last month, especially when they take me outdoors to further enjoy the tranquility of the island. This week I went on the Tarpon Bay explorers nature cruise and loved every minute of it because of the wildlife I was able to capture.

Here are a few pictures of what I was able to capture . . .

FACES_Tarpon Bay Explorers3FACES_Tarpon Bay Explorers4FACES_Tarpon Bay Explorers8FACES_Tarpon Bay Explorers9

FACES_Tarpon Bay Explorers5FACES_Tarpon Bay Explorers6P1050851FACES_Tarpon Bay Explorers2FACES_Tarpon Bay Explorers12FACES_Tarpon Bay Explorers10P1050830FACES_Tarpon Bay Explorers11

FACES_Tarpon Bay Explorers1P1050858FACES_Tarpon Bay Explorers7The best part was spotting dolphins, which are in the above two pictures.

‘Golden Hour’

Level I Trauma Center opens in Chandler Regional

Published April 5, 2014 in SanTan Sun News

After planning for more than a year, Chandler Regional Medical Center received provisional status as a Level I Trauma Center from the Arizona Department of Health Services. It began taking patients on Monday, March 24.

“We can do anything that all the Level I Trauma Centers can do in the state,” says Chandler Regional Medical Center Trauma Program Manager Lori Wass, who began working at the center on April 1, 2013.

Although there are only three designated rooms in the emergency department for trauma patients, the center has the ability to see more of the injured because once they are stabilized, they can be moved out of those rooms.

The center will provide service for Pinal and Maricopa counties. The center had to obtain funds for equipment, special stretchers and cabinets to help organize supplies for neurosurgeons and orthopedic surgeons.

More than $10 million has already been invested in the center. According to Director of Public Relations and Marketing Julie Graham, the Dignity Health Foundation of the East Valley has provided $1,150,000 in funding for the center from donations.

It will cost between $8 million and $10 million annually to maintain it, says Chandler Regional Trauma Medical Director Dr. Forrest (Dell) Moore.

There are Level I Trauma Centers in downtown Phoenix and Scottsdale, but, due to growth, this one was needed, Moore says.

“There isn’t a close enough trauma center for patients in the Southeast Valley and Pinal (County),” he says.

He also chalks up the decision to the vital “golden hour,” that important time period in which those suffering traumatic injuries must be seen.

Wass says recent data shows that in Maricopa County 42 percent of patients reached a trauma facility within the golden hour. Of those injured in Pinal County, only 10 percent of them received treatment within the first 60 minutes.

“Fifty-eight percent in Maricopa County and 90 percent in Pinal County did not get to a Level I Trauma in 60 minutes,” Moore says. “We can increase those odds significantly. The closer you are to a Level I Trauma Center, the better the outcome. It is in the perfect location to treat patients in Southeast Valley and Pinal County.”

In addition to providing trauma patients with faster care, the center, Moore explains, will also keep families closer to home because they no longer have to travel to downtown Phoenix or Scottsdale. EMS travel time is also cut in half.

Moore says the center in Chandler will affect Maricopa and Scottsdale Healthcare Osborn medical centers, but it’s more important to serve the needs of the community and decrease the risk of death and complications due to prolonged transportation times.

An expected 1,500 to 2,000 trauma patients a year will be admitted to the hospital from minor to severe injuries. Moore says some of those include complex hand injuries, chest and abdominal injuries, pelvic fractures from a blunt mechanism, car accident or fall, or stab or gunshot wounds.

“We have all the specialists onboard to be able to care for any traumatic injury,” he says.

There are approximately 15 specialty groups at the center with multiple physicians within each specialty. Moore says they have six surgeons in trauma care, multiple orthopedic trauma surgeons, four neurosurgeons, as well as many hand surgeons, plastic surgeons and vascular surgeons. Others include anesthesiologists, nurses and ancillary services.

Wass says trauma surgeons are at the center 24 hours a day, seven days a week and the other surgeons are always on call. Overall, there are up to 70 physicians caring for trauma patients.

“We are very excited to be a Level I Trauma facility and we are looking forward to giving the care to individuals in the community and their families,” Wass says.

The Level I Trauma Center’s designation is in conjunction with the hospital’s expansion project that is scheduled to open later this year. The expansion at Tower C will add 96 beds, expand the emergency department an increase the operating room capacity.

 

‘Dunk Your Kicks’

One of the things I enjoy most about my journalism career is the various topics I have the opportunity to write about.

The article below appeared in the SanTan Sun News, a newspaper I write for in Chandler, Arizona today.

I enjoyed writing this article because of its unique fundraising initiative, “Dunk Your Kicks.” It’s a cool idea, collecting old sneakers and running shoes to raise money for pediatric cancer patients.

I talked to two mothers who have son’s going through cancer treatments right now . . . I could not imagine their journey, but am glad there are foundations like the Max Cure Foundation to help them through their hard times.

‘Dunk Your Kicks’ while supporting pediatric cancer patients

Published in the SanTan Sun News Nov. 16, 2013

Parents who are struggling to financially support their cancer-stricken children are receiving help from a unique fundraising initiative in the Southeast Valley.

Three Chandler youngsters Jayden, Angelisa, and Tylar Bailey, spent theirfall break dispersing boxes at various locations to help collect sneakers for Dunk Your Kicks after their mother Erica Bailey shared information about the cause.

Tylar says he is helping with Dunk Your Kicks “because I don’t want anyone to have to fight cancer anymore.”

Started in 2012, their campaign raises money to help find a cure for pediatric cancer. The trio’s goal was also to help low-income and military families who are experiencing financial struggles while their child is having treatments.

Now, instead of the 200 million pairs of sneakers being thrown away each year sitting in landfills producing toxins, the sneakers are earning a profit and helping many families.

The fundraising campaign was created by the Max Cure Foundation in December 2008 by the New York-based Plotkin family. Their son, Max, who was diagnosed with cancer before his 4th birthday, is in remission at 9 years old.

“David, Max’s father, gave up everything to run the foundation,” says Erica Bailey, who began working with the foundation at the beginning of the year.

Instead of asking individuals for monetary donations, Dunk Your Kicks collects gently used sneakers and running shoes.

“It’s been a phenomenal campaign and it’s growing and growing,” Bailey says.

Her children placed boxes at 10 Audio Express locations and Fix 24 Chiropractic, which will remain there until Fri., Nov. 22. Audio Express is offering a $10 off coupon for every pair of sneakers donated.

“Their goal is to raise 20,000 pairs of sneakers,” Bailey explains.

Each sneaker earns $1, which in turn goes to families.

“I will be able to physically show my children that 20,000 sneakers equates to $20,000. It’s visual. It teaches them morals and values.”

An international recycler helps the foundation resell the shoes to merchants in developing countries.

“The more sneakers we collect, the more children we can help and the longer we can help them for,” she says. “We are putting shoes on men, women and children who die from diseases.”

The Baileys’ efforts are providing assistance to three families this year via the Dunk Your Kicks donations. Their children are undergoing cancer treatments.

Delilah Dow’s son Buddy, 5, was diagnosed with medulloblastoma, high-grade brain tumor, in 2011. Soon thereafter, Buddy underwent surgery for tumors on the back side of his brain. He also has tumors on the front of his brain as well as his spinal cord.

The initial diagnosis was shocking for Dow, who lives in Phoenix. Buddy began chemotherapy after his diagnosis and now has treatments every three weeks, Monday through Friday, for three hours at a time. Dow says the chemo is helping the tumors and preventing further growth.

“He is really strong,” Dow says. “He doesn’t like chemo, but he deals with it. He gives me the strength to keep doing what I am doing for him.”

The young boy started school this year at William T. Machan Elementary School where he also attends physical, occupational and speech therapy.

“He misses a whole week of school because his energy level is down,” Dow explains of his week of chemotherapy. “He doesn’t like to miss one day of school. He’s just a kid that likes to learn a lot.”

Another mother has a similar story.

Amber Foley has a similar story. Her son, Maurice Harrison, 9, was diagnosed with a nervous system disease and subsequent brain tumor in 2011.

“Since then he has had two brain surgeries,” Foley explains.

Maurice had his first surgery on Nov. 9, 2011, which was followed by unsuccessful chemotherapy treatments. An MRI was done in March 2012 and he had his second surgery in April of that year.

“Because of where it was, they weren’t able to get all of it,” Foley explains. “That’s why they are doing so many treatments.”

Maurice has had 33 radiation treatments and is on his second round of chemotherapy. Foley says he has at least another year to go with treatments. He has chemo treatments every two weeks for six to eight hours at a time.

“He goes one day every other week,” she explains. “He is just tired that day. This chemo is a lot calmer than other treatments we have tried with him.”

Foley explains her son is willing to give this cancer a fight.

“He is so kind hearted and so willing to help other people before he is worried about himself,” she says.

Although the diagnosis has been with the punches. She says as a single mother of four, she tries to work as many part-time jobs and seasonal jobs as her schedule allows.

“We try to make the best out of what we can and the situation,” she says. “For a child to go through it, it’s heartbreaking. God has a final say and take it day by day.”

The two families voice their appreciation for the Bailey family.

“I am really overwhelmed with happiness with how much help they were able to give me and my family,” Foley says. “I think it’s a wonderful foundation helping kids out here and kids in different countries that don’t have shoes. Everyone wins with this foundation.”

Bailey says so far they have collected 165,000 sneakers this year.

“Most of the time we collect them through mud runs and races,” she explains. “We collect muddy sneakers after the event (because) they typically end up in the garbage.”

If individuals are unable to donate their sneakers, they can log onto dunkyourkicks.org/match-a-dunk, and make a donation. Bailey says the donation will stay in Arizona.

Dreams do come true

Today was simply amazing, there is no other word to describe the day as a whole.

After walking out of the Bristol Herald Courier I could not help but smile. As soon as I sat down in my car I instantly sent Jason and mom the same text because they are my biggest supporters.

Wow, I’m beyond excited to join another paper as a reporter.

I spent about an hour and a half at the paper for my orientation this morning. I was introduced to countless people who were incredibly nice. One woman said she has been with the paper for 44 years, which to me only speaks volumes of the company. Everyone offered a helping hand if and when I needed assistance. They all made me feel incredibly welcomed and all shared what seemed like a genuine excitement about me joining the team.

The best part was saying “see you tomorrow” when I was leaving.

I have to admit I was reluctant at first to the idea of moving to Tennessee away from everything and everyone I know. The more Jason and I talked, two years to be precise, the more I eventually jumped on board. Jason believed in us, he believed our dream of making a home would be fulfilled in Tennessee.

My emotions were sky high once I returned home, I was bursting at the seams of what I have accomplished. I had to share my excitement, which was sent through text since Jason was working a double. I shared how much I love him and how grateful I am that we took that leap of faith. Our dream of finding a new place to live, a place we can call home, is no longer a dream, it’s a reality. This area is us … all because the outdoor adventures are endless.

It brings tears to my eyes to think of the struggles we had once we arrived and how far we have come since. We believed in ourselves and each other. We fought for the reason we decided to move more than 800 miles away from family – making a life and home for ourselves in an area that is absolutely breathtaking – our own outdoor playground so to speak.

Since arriving in Tennessee I have found a way to write for five publications in Florida, four in Arizona and now one in Virginia. That’s pretty exciting to think about!

Now that we both found really good jobs we are beginning to talk about our next home, a house somewhere beautiful between where we both work. A home, not an apartment, a home!

I have grown leaps and bounds since arriving, which is empowering and exciting. I have a man who believes in me, pushes me and supports me, by my side … which makes anything possible.

My love for this man runs incredibly deep. I hope he knows just how much he means to me. He has taken the time to get to know me, really get to know me, which has made our transition easier here in Tennessee.

Dreams do come true …you just have to grab a hold of the vision and take the steps to make it happen no matter how scary it may seem.

Thank you for everything babe. I could not imagine taking this journey with anyone else.

Great, no, amazing day

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Again I find myself on the porch listening to the music that continuously fills the air from the birds while watching the sun go down.

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Although they are not excellent pictures, the blue jay I have been trying to capture finally flew into my vision on a tree right in front of me. Nature, so peaceful!

Today has been a great day, a day that only lifts my spirits even more.

An effort I made to get my name out there while still living in Fort Myers worked to my advantage yesterday and today. A job that was not being offered at the beginning of the phone call slowly made its way into the conversation after I jogged the editor’s memory of who I was.

I took it upon myself to track down the job she told me was available when I did not receive an email with a link for the position a few hours after we spoke.
Today when she sent the link and asked me to tell her when the online application was finished, I replied it was ready for her review and please let me know if there was anything else she needed.

That got the ball rolling, clips of my writing were exchanged and a interview was scheduled for next week.

Persistence completely pays off! I showed her I was interested and kept at if until I landed that interview.

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Now as I sit and reflect upon the day, the excitement of what I accomplished takes a hold of me again. I’m slowly making my way in an environment I have only grown to know eight days ago.

The conversation the editor and I shared on the phone gave me hope that this might be my new adventure, a daily newspaper in Bristol, VA.

If you believe in yourself anything is possible. If you have a positive attitude any obstacle can be overcome.

If this interview does not pan out to be the outcome I hope for, it still gives me the experience as well as exposure in a new area that I need.

Patience

Why do people have such a lack of patience these days?

My paper, which typically is delivered all over Pine Island every Tuesday morning, did not show up this morning, well at all for that matter.

I have lost count of the number of people who have stuck their head in the door complaining that the paper is not out yet, as well as people calling and asking where is the Eagle.

I had one woman who stopped by the office twice; both times agitated it has not been delivered.

So I continued to smile and share what I have shared a couple dozen times before, which by the way was the same answer she heard the first time.

It was amazing to hear some of the responses … the attitude, the nonstop questions.

Don’t sweat the small stuff, life will go on.

Although the paper has been routinely delivered every Tuesday, the Eagle technically does not hit the streets until Wednesday. The date that graces the top of the paper reads Wednesday, which is then followed by the month, date and year. When you start to explain this to a retired community – that the paper is technically not late as of yet – they instantly reply well it has been delivered on Tuesday for as long as I can remember. Please listen, I know it is out of your routine, but your paper will be delivered. It was printed on time, it just has not arrived on the island yet.

Yes, I do have to admit that a few people were very understanding, as they replied OK while smiling. They displayed patience, they understand and yes they will return bright and early tomorrow morning.

Patience I thought was taught at a young age. Well that is what I experienced in my parents house growing up, since I had so many siblings.

Is this something that is forgotten over time? When did people give up on patience?

Multiple people shared that they checked all over the island and nobody has the paper, while asking is it not being printed this week? A couple times I had to hold back laughter because of how dramatic people became.

Although I am flattered that the community is that excited to read the paper hot off the press every week, it was quite comical to see how bent out of shape people became.

I am simply amazed of the reaction of so many people today . . .

I pray that the paper is delivered first thing in the morning, so these people can return back to their weekly routine, which of course will be a day late this week …

A few words

Although it was an 11 hour day, it ended with a bang.

Tonight as I covered and attended the Greater Pine Island Civic Association monthly meeting, I was called to the front of the room before the presentations began. As the president of the club announced that I had given my resignation, while handing me a letter of recommendation, all at once the entire room let out an “AH” in disappointment. I think I might have blushed at the response the crowd had given, which led me to say a few words of why I was leaving.

Once it was reveled that the destination was NE Tennessee, they all replied oh she will be back, which was instantly followed by, they will be lucky to have you.

Questions were asked once the meeting concluded of who was going to replace me and if they were going to work as much as I did.

When I first started in 2011, everyone shared with me that I had rather large shoes to fill following the previous editor, who unfortunately passed away rather quickly. As I dedicated countless hours and poured my heart into this weekly newspaper, the tune had changed, as individual’s shared how I will be hard to replace. What an accomplishment, if I do say so myself.

When I think I cannot be touched any deeper, another day at work happens and further impacts me. The smiles, which often leave my face hurting, are constantly taking over me, as individuals leave me speechless with their touching comments.

I look forward to continuing my journey at another newspaper, where I will hopefully impact just as many people if not more. It was a ton of fun turning this weekly newspaper into my own, providing information that I too would be interested in reading.

I have definitely chosen the right career; writing is my passion and will always be my passion. How can it not be with a response like this?

The countdown continues to my last day of being the editor of the Pine Island Eagle . . .