Written by Phil Cerroni
By Alice Canham
Bright faces greeted me in the gloom as I approached Lake Carolyn, site of the American Cancer Society’s ‘Making Strides Against Breast Cancer’ 5K walk on Oct. 6.
Two of those faces belonged to James and MacKenzie Fann. A student at Bennett Elementary, MacKenzie is part of her Dad’s team from the McKinney WalMart store.
“This is my first-ever walk,” said James. “All the WalMarts around here are doing a big push to help support breast cancer research.”
Sallie Bowen, volunteering as a crossing guard for the event, had a personal reason for showing up.
“I’m involved because I’m a survivor, almost 12 years,” Bowen said.
“We wondered if the weather and the threat of rain would hold down the numbers,” she continued, looking at the gray skies. “But it’s turning out to be just really great, and more people keep coming.”
ACS organizers hoped that each walker at the event would take about 10,000 steps by the end of the 5K course – bringing the nonprofit 10,000 steps closer to finding a cure. Among the thousands of people seeking to fulfill that promise were countless costumed characters.
An entire energetic team posed for their group photo.
“We’re Black Girls Run!” exclaimed Scymentres Williams. ”It’s a group of African American women with chapters all over the area, including in Irving.
“We probably have about 80 people out here, all walking to support the cause of breast cancer awareness. We thought it would be an excellent idea to actually get out and do this at our monthly get-together.
“We have a lot of women in our group who are survivors, or they’ve been impacted by the disease. We’re out here having fun, but working for a great cause as well.”
Statistics indicate that one woman in eight will develop breast cancer, and nearly 40,000 women in this country will lose their fight this year.
So the ACS team is glad when someone helps them focus attention on the disease. Someone like Brad Turner, perched high atop stilts while wearing a pink tulle tutu.
“I do a lot in Grayson County with the Relay for Life over there,” said Turner, who intended to risk splinters for all of his 10,000 steps. “I got involved with this walk kind of late. Maybe next year I can do even more fundraising for them.”
Waving goodbye to admirers, he coaxed his stilts into a U turn and joined the crowd milling towards the towers of pink balloons that marked the starting line. Another bright face.
Some information provided by the American Cancer Society.
Last Updated on Sunday, 14 October 2012 23:01
Written by Phil Cerroni
By Phil Cerroni
Many charity golf tournaments raise money for hospitals and organizations, but how many give high speed, low drag equipment directly to the disabled? One organization that does is the AMBUCS, an organization dedicated to helping individuals with ambulatory disabilities. Their signature contribution, the AmTryke, is a hand/foot operated tricycle for those with challenges using their arms and legs. Since the program started in 1988, the Irving chapter has given away over 1800 tricycles free of charge, and this year’s 10th Irving AMBUCS AmTryke Golf Classic at the Great Southwest Golf Club on Oct. 1 was a chance to both support their effort and see children ride their new tricycles for the first time.
By The way, it was a celebrity tournament with local stars such as Blazing Saddle’s Burton Gilliam, former Dallas Cowboy David Buehler and John Rhadigan of Fox Sports Southwest.
Also in attendance was Ali Nugent, Miss Texas USA 2013. She is very supportive of AMBUCS’ mission as exemplary of the intense, widespread spirit of service all around Texas.
“Something the state of Texas represents really well is giving back,” Nugent said. “Every week there is a charity tournament; every week there’s something, every day there’s something. What I’ve noticed about Texas, why I’m so proud the represent it is because there is so much giving back, and everyone cares here.”
Benjamin Landrey was a recipient of a new AmTryke. His mother, Kelley, was more than happy to share his story.
“He was playing baseball, and he fell,” Kelley said. “He had a brain tumor. Within 24 hours he was having a nine and a half hour brain surgery. After the surgery, he was in the hospital for 58 days with over a hundred other days in and out of the hospital.” Landrey continued to expound on Benjamin’s continuing struggle, and although he is living an active lifestyle through activities like Boy Scouts, things like severe hearing loss continues to put him at a disadvantage. “The radiation caused him to lose his eyesight, but we pray that one day it will come back, but we don’t know.”
The winning team at this year’s tournament was headed by AMBUC member Jim Crook. Charities like the AmTryke are particularly close to his heart because of his own family experience.
“I’ve got a nephew who was born with cerebral palsy,” Crook said. “His whole right side was paralyzed, and this young man ended up going to college, got a degree from the University of Florida. If you just give a young person a chance, they have it in their heart – they can just strive. Bad luck comes to all of us.”
Crook spoke passionately about the potential that AmTrykes realize in children.
“These poor young kids were born with bad luck, what they know they can fulfill once they’re on the bike. They know that they’re not limited,” he said.
Charlie Young, the only living charter member of the Irving AMBUCS chapter, talked about where the club has come since he became a member 50 years ago.
“Back then our main focus was scholarships for therapy students,” Young said. “That got started primarily because of Polio back in the 40s and 50s when so many kiddos had Polio. Probably the AmTryke is the biggest change I have seen. The nice thing about it is it’s more touchy feely than scholarships.”
Young explained the role evolving technology has had in shaping the AMBUCS’ outreach.
“People get to see these kids get on a tryke for the first time in their life, and they get a smile this big on them. That has given us more contact with people both adults and children who have disabilities,” he said.
The Am Tryke was conceived in 1987 when a children’s therapist spoke at an AMBUCS lunch in Longview. The therapist said that she needed a tricycle that could be operated with a hand crank for her patients who did not have the use of their legs. Dick Allen took up the challenge and with two tricycles and a welding kit built the first AmTryke in 1988. For the next few years, the Longview AMBUCS built the tricycles in the back of a repair shop and sold them to other chapters until the national organization acquired the rights and, with the help of Western Michigan University, began innovating and expanding the line.
“Back then we only had one size, and now we have them toddlers to adults. We go from diaper to diaper,” chuckled Young. “We test these things for about a year before we put them out. We have an “ambility” committee from all around the country from various clubs (one Irving member is on the board). They come up with ideas, and they engineer it.
Young continued, clarifying the contemporary Am Tryke R&D process.
“Any ideas they come up with they make it and have it tested there with kids. A new tryke will take two to three years in development stage,” he said.
Underneath the fancy technology, good friends, and golf a very simple message and reward remain clear. Benny Newman, a long-time AMBUCS member and veteran golfer bluntly put the event’s priorities in perspective.
“Whoever wins out here is immaterial. It’s the kids. When you see a youngster who can’t walk who can get on a bicycle or a tricycle and become mobile, then it’s all worth it.”
Last Updated on Sunday, 14 October 2012 23:01
Written by Phil Cerroni
By Alice Canham
What is bullying? For students on the playground, it may just seem like a part of growing up; almost a rite of passage. But it’s actually an imbalance of power, just as dangerous for the bully as for the victim.
New legislation goes into effect this fall that impacts every school district in the state, mandating that they address bullying and come up with strategies to identify and curtail it.
“We’ve always had a policy in place that says bullying won’t be tolerated,” said Dr. Pat Franklin of the Carrollton-Farmers Branch ISD, reading from her district’s policy manual. “For us, bullying occurs when a student or group of students engages in written or verbal expressions or physical conduct that occurs on school property, at a school-sponsored or related activity, or in a vehicle operated by the district that has, number one, the effect or potential effect of physically harming a student, damaging a student’s property or placing a student in reasonable fear of harm of such damage, or two, is sufficiently severe, persistent and pervasive enough that the action or threat creates an intimidating, threatening or abusive educational environment for the student.
“With the new legislative update, our school district has added new verbiage to include electronic expressions, or cyber-bullying.”
CFBISD has made a practice of investigating each complaint to decide whether or not bullying occurred and meting out consequences as needed.
“Now we’ve tightened our policies a lot more,” said Franklin. “We’ve set up a six-step reporting protocol for any student that feels they’ve been bullied or harassed.
“Students are also learning how to report cases where another student may be undergoing this. Whether it’s bullying or some other violent act, depression, date violence, sexual harassment; anything that could possibly be troubling the student.”
In addition, CFBISD middle school and high school students also participate in AnComm, an anonymous reporting process allowing victims to report an incident via text or email.
In Irving ISD, a similar program for reaching out anonymously for help is called ‘Talk About It’, which will go online in October.
“This is an issue that has gotten a lot of attention in the past year,” said Jose Villaseñor with Irving ISD. “We need ways to help not only the victims, but also the students who show aggressive behaviors.
“Working with them, with their parents and their teachers….it has to be a system-wide approach. That’s why we’ve adopted the campaign ‘Not In Our House – Freedom from Bullying’.”
Training sessions were conducted in late September for leadership, for trainers, counselors and administrators.
“That whole week went well,” said Villaseñor. “Everyone was excited about it.
“We also met with student representatives from each high school, members of the Superintendent’s Council. They will help with the rollout on each campus to lay the foundation; talking about what they’re seeing. They were very receptive and shared some great information with us.”
The final step was to engage students’ families. Parent meetings were held Sep. 27 throughout schools in the district to introduce the program (in both English and Spanish) via a simulcast presented by bully specialist Paul Coughlin. The speaker followed with action steps for parents who want to know more about bullying behaviors and how to intervene on their children’s behalf.
“We are bringing consistency to our treatment of bullying,” said Villaseñor. “As trained professionals, maybe we can see and understand that a student is suffering, but what about bus drivers or custodians? They also need to recognize these behaviors and bring it to someone’s attention so we can investigate.
“We want to work with all students to learn both sides of the story. This campaign should also change the climate of how students view social interactions. We want to present an alternative to aggressive behaviors, and to learn why a student is behaving this way.
“Part of our curriculum is based on Stanford psychologist Philip Zimbardo’s work, ‘Ascent to Goodness’. He’s done a lot of research on why people behave badly.
“One idea we hope to pursue is that you substitute new behaviors, such as random acts of kindness.
“Because we know this, too - the person who acts as the bully is also in pain.”
Last Updated on Sunday, 14 October 2012 23:00
Written by Phil Cerroni
Doctors have fun raising money for kids despite the rain
By Phil Cerroni
There is no shortage of charity fundraisers in Irving; individuals and groups are always throwing galas or organizing golf tournaments, but how many folks looking to raise money for charity, organize a motorcycle run that includes beer, barbecue and Hooters girls?
That is exactly what Healthcare Associates of Irving did on Sep. 29. In their effort to support the Irving-Las Colinas Chamber of Commerce Educational Foundation, the Irving based multi-specialty private practice turned the parking lot of their office into a carnival ground with a bounce house, carnival games, a large smoker named Junior, an energetic DJ, silent auction and of course barbecue, bikes and babes.
“We were just looking for a good children’s charity,” said Dr. Mark Anderson, one of the practice’s family medicine physicians and one of the event’s primary organizers. “I ride motorcycles, and I figured if you’re going to have an event and want to have fun, you have to have some motorcycles there.”
Dr. Anderson continued to say that the idea of a motorcycle run for charity was born out of a desire to create an event that would engage the entire community at Healthcare Associates of Irving.
“We wanted to have a charity that Healthcare Associates of Irving could rally behind,” he said. “So last year we started the Hogs and Hearts and tried to have the motorcycle guys come out and then have kids’ games and carnival to appeal to all ages.”
The run was cancelled due to continuous rain all day. Even though Dr. Anderson was expecting a large run, he was not dismayed by the turn of events.
“We expected fifty to one hundred [riders], but the weather wiped us out,” he said. “So we brought the run folks over here and the girls from Hooters, and we’re going to have it all over here underneath the tent.”
Joel Bailleu, The CEO of Healthcare Associates, was also pleased with the blend of activities the event had to offer.
“We try to create a fun, unique experience based around healthcare,” Bailleu said. “We have some wellness things, it’s kind of a kid oriented, but by the same token, we know that people who ride Harleys support kids so it’s a unique mix, it’s a family atmosphere and we have a great time doing it.”
Although the afternoon may have had the atmosphere of a block party, the organization put in a lot of work to ensure that they would be able to raise money for the Educational Foundation.
“We got underwriters to underwrite all the cost setting this up, so at this point, we’re going to try to raise four or five thousand dollars,” said Anderson. “[Last year] we made a donation for $2,500,” he continued proudly.
So if you missed the delicious food or are upset you did not take a shot at any of the signed Cowboys memorabilia at auction, rest assured that these energetic doctors and their staff will definitely be doing it again next year, and it will probably be bigger and wilder than ever before.
Last Updated on Sunday, 14 October 2012 22:59
Written by Phil Cerroni
By Phil Cerroni
Over 1,000 visitors and almost 200 volunteers including specialists in pediatrics, gynecology, cardiology, optometry and endocrinology descended on the Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in Irving to participate in the 11th Annual Community Health Fair on Oct. 6. The event offered a day of free check-ups, tests and seminars promoting preventative health.
“These types of health fairs are very much needed and bring various specialists under one roof to provide a one stop shop for preliminary medical screening,” said Chris Wallace, President and CEO of the Greater Irving-Las Colinas Chamber of Commerce.
The fair’s host, BAPS Charities, is an international organization that aims at helping underprivileged parts of the world with both emergency and long-term medical solutions. Dedicated to the spirit of service, BAPS places their primary focus on the South Asian and Indian communities, although this spirit extends far beyond those demographics to anyone in need.
Inside the mandir doctors and equipment were crammed into the officers, and the side corridors were filled with people waiting patiently in line to be checked.
“It’s to maximize the use of the facility,” said Amit Patel, a member of mandir and one of the event’s volunteers. “It is very difficult to give everybody an office type environment where you have a one on one doctor meeting in a non medical facility. This is a church type facility, and we’ve adapted every single room to help at least one or two people and to make sure everything flows well.”
With a crowd of 1,220 flowing through the mandir that day, the event was a well planned, logistical feat.
“We provide free services to the participants who may not have any access to either health care or insurance or [who have] high deductibles,” said, Ajit Dave, a local oncologist and the event’s organizer.
“The concept here is we don’t just want to bring people in; we want to give them something so when they go they feel they are benefitting. For example: flu shots. If you go out to get a flu shot, most health fairs do charge some,” Ajit said, proudly expounding on what made the BAPS health fair unique. “Because we have Dallas County’s support, we are able to make it free; bone density: normally a $200 test. The hospital who is our grand sponsor made it free for us. So many things we brought here you don’t find anywhere else. They are very sophisticated tests – cardiogram, ultrasound – those things are so highly sophisticated nobody can offer it because each test can cost $450.”
Ajit went on the explain some of the ways that BAPS was able to furnish such high quality services.
“If a drug rep comes to my office, I talk to them about the health fair,” he said. “I tell them I’ll have a 100 physicians. The say, ‘OK, we’ll be happy to pitch in a little bit; we’ll give them a break.’ They sponsor it, and they get to meet a 100 doctors under one roof in one day. They love it. Even Sam’s and Walmart, they want to pitch in for the community.”
Ajit was also very proud of the children’s clinic they organized this year.
“Kids, people take them for granted. Until they are sick, a lot of times they don’t even see a doctor,” Ajit commented sadly on the state of so many children today. “We not only offer talks about childhood problems like illnesses, but also so many things that concern growing up: eating, cleanliness, safety. We have the police department talking to kids about 911. We have fire safety, dental, vision and hearing, all for children.”
One of the participants, Hershad Bhavsar, drove four hundred miles in order to access the top tier care available at the health fair.
“The level of care is very intimate. Everyone is so caring; they will answer any question you might have. So the care is top notch,” Bhavsar said.
Bhavsar described why it was worth driving four hundred miles to come to the event.
“First of all there are plenty of tests which are being offered, they are reasonably priced and in some cases there is no cost at all. Not only that, it is a very well organized, very well planned event,” he said. “There are so many volunteers, physicians and the nursing staff which will take care of you. Once you walk in this place – let’s say there are four or five different tests you need to be performed – you probably will be out in a couple of hours.”
One thing that definitely helped the BAPS to create this event is a strong community at the mandir. Many of the volunteers are members who often help the community, and it was obvious that the spirit of service they have for each other extends to the community at large.
Last Updated on Sunday, 14 October 2012 22:58