Health, Uncategorized

Sleep, diet, exercise and cutting stress boost brain as you age

Health, Local

Yes, these doctors and med students make house calls

For Miami Herald.

Sarah Braxton has spent most of her life taking care of her family.

First she took care of her daughter, Pretious Latae Walker, who had open-heart surgery when she was 21 and died about four years later. Then it was her mother, Pauline Mason, who had a heart attack and a stroke in her early 30s. She died two years ago on Christmas Eve.

Even with the history of heart disease in her family, it wasn’t until recently that Braxton, 51, decided to start caring for herself.

The Miami Gardens resident woke up one morning in early January and knew that something wasn’t right. She was having chest pains and was short of breath.

“I kept telling myself that it was going to go away and I was OK,” Braxton said. “But I knew in the back of my mind it wasn’t. Something was wrong.”

She spent one week in the hospital, where she learned about the Green Family Foundation Health Education Learning Program NeighborhoodHELP. Rolled out about six years ago, the program, also funded by the Batchelor Foundation and other nonprofits, pairs students and faculty from Florida International University’s Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine and other FIU schools with medically underserved families.

The medical teams make house calls, going door to door to help people stay on track with their medications, assess their vital signs and discuss steps they need to make to improve their health.

Today Braxton is doing much better and credits her turnaround to the program.

“I feel 10 years younger,” she said.

NeighborhoodHelp has expanded to several communities, including North Miami, Miami Gardens, Opa-locka, Hialeah, Miami Lakes and South Miami.

The program also has broadened beyond medicine. The outreach team collaborates with more than 150 organizations, such as schools, places of worship and healthcare providers. Often, these groups refer patients to NeighborhoodHelp.

Once in the program, interprofessional teams of FIU faculty and students from the colleges of medicine, public health and social work, nursing, law and education work with the families, going to their homes, diagnosing their medical conditions and helping them resolve legal or socioeconomic issues that come up. The program also hosts cooking classes and provides mobile health centers.

“Ultimately what is more important than the quality of medical care are these other aspects that are considered non-medical,” said Dr. Fred Anderson, Braxton’s primary care doctor from FIU. “We can provide the best care in the world, but if we neglect all these social determinants — the quality of the communities, the quality of schools, legal concerns — you will never make a significant impact in the overall health.

“It’s much more holistic than simply having blood pressure at a certain number.”

In South Miami, Baptist Health South Florida has stepped in, working with FIU’s medical college and the Green Family Foundation. The program, called the South Miami Green Family Foundation NeighborhoodHELP, works with nearly 100 families.

According to Anderson, access to basic needs like schools, safe environments and gainful employment has not been historically emphasized by doctors because they’re not considered medical factors.

When Braxton left the hospital, she was told to find a doctor immediately. With no health insurance, she wasn’t sure what to do. That’s when NeighborhoodHelp stepped in.

“They kind of took over. They came in and set me up with the doctors I needed to see,” Braxton said, who now has access to home visits from medical professionals.

She has grown attached to one FIU medical school student, Andrew Miller, in particular.

“I look forward to my appointments,” Braxton said. “They made me feel like my life mattered.”

For Miller, the key was to implement realistic changes into Braxton’s life.

“When Sarah and I first started talking, our conversation began with what changes she wanted to make,” Miller said. “It wasn’t me just giving her a list. So many times in medicine, doctors will do that for their patients and it’s not something that they want or can necessarily do.”

For the first time, Braxton is taking her medication regularly and is eating a more nutritious and well-balanced diet. Vegetables now make up half of her dinner plate, and she has replaced sugary and salty snacks with almonds, pistachios or carrots.

She and Miller also discussed different ways to exercise, which for Braxton is key because of her sedentary desk job. She loves to walk, but plans to start Zumba soon.

“I really do need to get back to a healthier weight because I know better. Especially after taking care of mom and my daughter,” said Braxton, who helped her daughter, Pretious Latae Walker, lose a significant amount of weight.

At one point, doctors had predicted that Walker would live for only three to six months and suggested she be placed in hospice. Instead, Braxton took Walker home. She weighed almost 600 pounds and with her mother’s help, she lost more than 400 pounds. Walker lived for three more years.

Today, Braxton’s advice to others is simple: Stay positive.

“Believe what your doctors say and work at it,” she said. “Don’t give up.”


For more information on the Green Family Foundation Health Education Learning Program (NeighborhoodHELP), call 305-919-4594.
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Events, Fitness, Health, Local

Post-marathon: Allow 2-3 weeks to recover after big race

Maria Ramos helps Jaime Medina stretch after completing the Miami Marathon & Half Marathon on Sunday. The two are from Colombia. CARL JUSTE
Maria Ramos helps Jaime Medina stretch after completing the Miami Marathon & Half Marathon on Sunday. The two are from Colombia. CARL JUSTE

On Sunday, thousands woke in the predawn hours and headed to American Airlines Arena, where they ran, ran/walked (intervals) or rode special bikes to compete in the Miami Marathon & Half Marathon.

When they crossed the finish line, they got a rush of adrenaline and took a moment — maybe more — to recover.

But sitting still after the race is not the way to go, say sports medicine doctors and experienced marathoners. In fact, there are important steps to take immediately after a big race, and in the days following it, to prevent injury.

“Research shows that muscle, cellular and immune systems are compromised for two to three weeks post-race, so recovery from a marathon is a critical component,” said Dr. Farah Tejpar, a sport medicine specialist at Cleveland Clinic Florida in Weston. “Runners who don’t recover properly from a marathon put themselves at increased risk of injury and delayed healing.”

Tejpar recommends resting for at least three to four days after a big race before returning to a normal exercise routine. She suggests starting with low-impact cross training or 20 to 30 minutes easy jogging.

“Don’t rush to compete again. Allow your body the time it needs to recovery,” Tejpar said.

Dr. Thomas San Giovanni, an orthopedic surgeon at Miami Orthopedics and Sports Medicine Institute of Baptist Health South Florida, concurred that rest is essential.

“The next day, runners want to get right back into running because they figured they’ve reached this maximal fitness and they don’t want to lose that,” said San Giovanni, who is also the co-medical director of the Miami Marathon. “That is a common mistake. You want to give your body some time to rest to allow your body to recuperate and restore.”

He advocates a good night’s rest and a well-balanced meal. To help reduce inflammation, take ice baths and keep legs elevated.

After a race, some people may not be able to distinguish between post-race soreness and an injury because it’s common to feel pain and aches.

“Look for swelling and inflammation that lasts and pain that persists,” San Giovanni said. “As the days go by, if it doesn’t seem like you’re getting better, then you may want to seek medical attention or get evaluated.”

Frankie Ruiz, brand manager for the Miami Marathon and chief running officer at Life Time Fitness, says support is crucial in the period immediately after a race.

“Have somebody near by, so that you can lean on them or in case you might need attention,” Ruiz said. “I definitely recommend somebody walk with you through the recovery and that you’re not by yourself.”

Tracy Smith, a marathon runner and director of physical therapy at Cleveland Clinic, completed the Miami Marathon last January in four hours and 27 minutes. She advises athletes to stay hydrated and get some food immediately after a race. Many marathons are stocked with bananas, oranges, bagels and protein bars for the runners at the end of the race.

“You don’t want to overeat because your body doesn’t really digest at that point,” said Smith, 41, who lives in Davie. “But you have to get some calories and some carbohydrates back in.”

She also advises not to stop after a race.

“The key after is to really keep moving,” Smith said. “Not to cross that finish line and sit down. Walk around and enjoy whatever the marathon has for entertainment.”

Paul Sykes would agree. The 50-year-old Coral Gables resident completed the New York City marathon on Nov. 1 and walked a mile to retrieve his personal items.

“At the time, that felt really bad, but it’s actually the best thing that I could have done,” Sykes said. “The last thing you want to do is run 26.2 miles and then sit down and let your legs seize up.”’

According to Ruiz, marathon organizers kept this in mind. At the Miami Marathon, organizers placed the finish line a quarter of a mile from Bayfront Park, where the food and entertainment awaited.

“There’s a purpose to that,” Ruiz said. “So people don’t just come to a complete halt, throw themselves on the ground, and end up needing medical attention.”

Sykes completed the New York Marathon in four hours and 18 minutes. In total, he has run eight marathons and 25 half-marathons. His biggest advice to others is to stay in shape.

“How you recover is impacted a lot by how you prepare,” said Sykes, who had heart surgery for an aortic valve replacement at Mount Sinai Medical Center in Miami Beach nine months before the New York City race.

Sykes underwent a minimally invasive method that involved a small, five-centimeter incision, resulting in a quick recovery. He was training just three weeks after his surgery.

His surgeon, Dr. Joseph Lamelas, the chief of cardiac surgery at Mount Sinai, recommended a minimally invasive approach because the recovery is more rapid and patients who are athletes can return more quickly to an active lifestyle.

Marathon runners and doctors also advise runners to congratulate themselves once they cross the finish line. Ruiz believes in rewards such as a massage or a small treat.

“A little bit later in the day, it might be time to reach for that dessert,” Ruiz said. “A scoop of ice cream or a key lime pie.”

Although he doesn’t recommend overindulgence, Ruiz does enjoy a sip of soda after completing a big race.


Tips to stay sober on New Year’s Eve

Written for the Miami Herald.

Tim Myers
Tim Myers, 34, makes plans on how he will avoid drinking alcohol before every holiday season. The Delray Beach resident is a TV and radio commercial writer for MJS Advertising. As of Dec. 22, 2015, Myers has been sober for more than five years. Matias J. Ocner

The countdown begins. The ball in Times Square is about to drop. People will kiss, give a champagne toast and reflect on their new resolutions.

For many, it’s an exciting time. A new beginning.

For alcoholics in recovery, it’s the end of a stressful season filled with temptations and uncomfortable situations.

With the free-flowing alcohol from holiday parties and family gatherings, it is hard for those struggling with addiction to avoid a drink. Adding to that is the difficult household dynamics and tense work relationships.

Tim Myers, 34, knows this well. He took his first sip of booze when he was 15 and struggled to regain sobriety for 10 years.

“When I was first getting sober I would go home for Christmas,” said Myers, originally from upstate New York. He moved to South Florida to get treatment at Caron Renaissance in Boca Raton.

“I would find that the struggle was not always with the alcohol. That was a big part of it, but the struggle was with family members and old friends. That can be hard to rush back into.”

According to a survey done by Caron, nearly 9 out of 10 adults feel that it’s appropriate to drink alcohol during holiday parties.

“It really shows the correlation between the holidays and the increase in alcohol use,” said Brad Sorte, executive director of Caron Renaissance and Caron Ocean Drive in Florida.

“In that same survey, we also found that over half the adults who do drink alcohol experience at least one negative consequence.”

That could include waking up with a hangover or doing something embarrassing.

Today, Myers has been sober for more than five years and attributes his success to preparation.

The TV and radio commercial writer attends extra 12-step meetings during the holiday season. He constantly checks in with his support system and ensures he has a getaway vehicle when he goes to New York for the holidays.

If you are trying to stay sober this New Year’s Eve, here are some tips.

1. Stay connected

Don’t go through tough times alone. Lean on friends, sponsors, therapists, spiritual advisers or pastors.

“If you know the holidays are going to be tough, plan on talking to your sponsor at least once a day,” said David Vittoria, assistant vice president of South Miami Hospital Addiction Treatment and Recovery Center.

“Staying connected is really, really key.”

2. Take care of yourself

Self-care is imperative during stressful times. Activities like exercise and meditation will help avoid buildup of negative emotions. Dr. Indra Cidambi, an addiction expert and medical director of the Center for Network Therapy in New Jersey, encourages working out, even if it’s just walking 10 minutes a day. She also recommends anything that will help lift spirits, such as getting a massage or going to extra Alcoholics Anonymous meetings and therapy sessions.

“Treat yourself right,” Cidambi said. “If someone is having a lot of interfamily conflicts, then they can visit their therapist, sit down with them and get their dirty laundry out.”

Cidambi also wants people to avoid HALT, her acronym for hunger, anger, loneliness and tiredness. It is much easier to avoid temptations when people are at their best.

4. Carry a non-alcoholic beverage

Many experts advise recovering alcoholics to hold a non-alcoholic beverage.

“Hold the beverage in your hand, so that nobody will come and ask you ‘what would you like to drink’ or ‘can I get you a drink?’” Cidambi said.

5. Rehearse saying no

Practice saying no, so that it comes naturally. Don’t feel pressured to give an explanation. Just be graceful and firm, so that other people understand that not everyone may want to drink during the holidays.

6. Have an exit plan

“People who expect they’re going to have a difficult time at a party where there is a lot of alcohol should plan ahead,” Vittoria said.

“If you have to communicate ahead of time that you have to leave early, apologize in advance. Sometimes giving word of an early exit might help, especially new folks in recovery.”

7. Have a conversation

Some situations are made easier when everything is out in the open.

“Families entering the holiday when they have a loved one who has been struggling with alcohol, deal with their own set of challenges,” Sorte said.

“It’s very important for both the individual with the alcohol issues and the family to have open communication.”

Supporting each other and talking about different strategies to stay sober will help.

8. Attend an alcathon

Most communities have around-the-clock AA meetings during the holidays called alcathons.

People who don’t feel comfortable at a New Year’s Eve party don’t have to sit at home or be alone.

“You just have to walk in and introduce yourself,” Myers said. “It’s the most welcoming organization in the planet.”

9. Get help after a relapse

Some people who are trying to stay sober may have a slip.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it is estimated that about 16.6 million adults have an alcohol-use disorder, and alcohol-related death is the third-leading cause of preventable death in the United States, with approximately 88,000 patients dying annually.

Dr. Ihsan Salloum, the chief of substance and alcohol abuse at the University of Miami’s Miller School of Medicine, believes that relapsing may cause a catastrophic reaction.

“They say ‘well I slipped, so what is the use? I’m going to drink more and enjoy it,’ and they continue drinking,” Salloum said.

“But for somebody with an alcohol problem, the best thing to do is to stop drinking, get themselves out of the situation and seek help.”


To find a local AA meeting, visit

Caron Treatment Centers: 7789 N.W. Beacon Square Blvd. Boca Raton, 800-221-6500,

South Miami Hospital Addiction Treatment and Recovery Center: 6900 S.W. 80th St., 786-662-8118,

University of Miami Hospital: 1400 NW.12th Ave., Miami, 305-243-6400,

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Features, Local

Helping the homeless find homes, jobs and schooling

Features, Local

Helping veterans transition to everyday life

Edwin S. Vasco Gonzalez, first Miami service platoon leader for Mission Continues, listens to a speech at an event earlier this year.
Edwin S. Vasco Gonzalez, first Miami service platoon leader for Mission Continues, listens to a speech at an event earlier this year.

For the Miami Herald.

He dreamed of becoming a doctor. He even had a job lined up at Baptist Hospital in Kendall before he completed his service for the Marine Corps in December 2006.

“I thought I was going to be fine,” said Edwin Vasco González, who joined the Marines in December 2002.

Six months later, he quit his job at the hospital and he was far from fine. González was experiencing just how difficult and unnerving the shift to civilian life can be compared to the years of discipline and structure in the military.

“I was going through a lot at the time and I didn’t have a lot of support,” González said. “ I was doing poorly psychologically and emotionally.”

Like many veterans, González, 31, suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). He tried to find a place and sense of purpose through jobs and education. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree from Florida International University, where he studied sport physiology.

“I didn’t really like anything I was doing because I felt like I wasn’t doing anything positive for other people,” he said.

González was lost until he found Mission Continues, a national nonprofit organization based in St. Louis that aims to empower veterans through community service.

“It was something that I had been missing,” said the Kendall resident, who completed a six-month fellowship for the organization.

He soon found what he was lacking by being around other veterans and doing community service projects.

Now González is the first Miami service platoon leader for the organization. He hopes to help other South Florida veterans cope with adjusting to civilian life, while giving them the opportunity to continue to serve the public.

The organization, which has about 270 members, meets the first Saturday of each month. They host and assist with many events and service projects.

In June, Miami’s Mission Continues hosted a PTSD/Suicide Awareness Walk.

“In our country, at least 22 veterans commit suicide every single day. That’s almost one an hour,” said Tabitha Aragon, a reactionary therapist at the Miami VA. “A lot of our platoon members focus on trying to keep that suicide rate from increasing and to hopefully bring it down.”

Aragon, who has worked for the VA for 12 years, is not a veteran but volunteers at Mission Continues because she sees the daily struggle that veterans go through.

“Transition is very hard. The way military works is so different,” Aragon said. “They were in a combat zone, under high stress for months, day in and day out.”

She sees many young veterans return feeling lost, lacking support and having survivor’s guilt. To her, having an organization run by veterans, for veterans helps with these issues.

In August, the organization hosted a tree-planting event at Historic Virginia Key Beach Park, where they planted 1,000 trees.

For Shane Suzuki, 34, doing great things for the community with people who have a common background is important.

“I think Mission Continues is different because it’s so oriented around service; we’re not just getting together and telling war stories,” said the Marine Corps veteran who was deployed in 2005 to Ramadi, Iraq.

“We’re getting together, telling war stories, while we’re doing something worthwhile in the community.”

People from every branch of service participate in the organization, and they often bring their families and friends.

Stacy Roman, 30, a member of the platoon, was among those who planted trees. The Barry University student was in the Marines for 10 years and has gone through her own challenges when she came to Miami two years ago.

For her, the organization helps to bring awareness to veterans.

“Sometimes there is a bad stigma for veterans,” said Roman, who is a sales representative for the Miami Beach Chamber of Commerce. “We’re 1 percent of America; 99 percent of America isn’t going to adjust and try to understand us 1 percent. Us 1 percent has to figure out a way to adapt.”

For González, Mission Continues is a platform for veterans to make lasting impact.

“We have to feel like we count for something,” he said. “Which is what we try to build with the platoon. We make veterans feel like they are greater than themselves again. They are pulling for one common goal and doing something positive.”


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Features, Local

Help for the homeless: Chapman Partnership celebrates 20 years

Photo by Max Reed for the Miami Herald
Photo by Max Reed for the Miami Herald

For the Miami Herald

Features, Local, TCPalm

Book Review: Local lawyer’s new book recalls tales of Treasure Coast

Rick Crary went on his own personal treasure hunt. Not one of gold or riches but historical tales from an area where he and previous generations have grown up.

After a house that belonged to his grandparents was saved from being demolished and then moved to downtown Stuart, Crary was asked to give a talk about the home’s history.

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Art, Features, Local, TCPalm

Local upcyclers promote art and rescue discards from landfills

Nichole Rouse, who runs Treasure Coast Reuse Center in Port St. Lucie, thinks everything has a purpose and tries to educate people on upcycling. (PROVIDED BY TREASURE COAST REUSE CENTER)
Nichole Rouse, who runs Treasure Coast Reuse Center in Port St. Lucie, thinks everything has a purpose and tries to educate people on upcycling. (PROVIDED BY TREASURE COAST REUSE CENTER)

Some may consider those mismatched socks, empty coffee bags and old-fashioned entertainment centers designed for tube televisions, a waste of space.

To Treasure Coast upcyclers, these untouched items collecting dust in corners of houses, are anything but junk. They turn that perceived trash into cash.

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Features, Local, TCPalm

Treasure Coast metal detectorists looking for more than just treasures

Mitch King, a member of the Treasure Coast Archeological Society, says he visits the beach several evenings a week to metal detect on the beach. "We try to go down at low tide because it gives you more access to the lower parts of the beach where people were swimming earlier," said King, adding that he tries to return jewelry, such as rings, to their original owners whenever possible. (SAM WOLFE/TREASURE COAST NEWSPAPERS)
  Mitch King, a member of the Treasure Coast Archeological Society, says he visits the beach several evenings a week to metal detect on the beach. “We try to go down at low tide because it gives you more access to the lower parts of the beach where people were swimming earlier,” said King, adding that he tries to return jewelry, such as rings, to their original owners whenever possible. (SAM WOLFE/TREASURE COAST NEWSPAPERS)

While some facets of the 1715 treasure fleet disaster remain a mystery, one thing is certain: coins and artifacts continue to wash up on Treasure Coast shores.

People who scrounge the beaches with metal detectors hope to recover some of those precious fleet treasures and anything of monetary value.

Members of the Treasure Coast Archeological Society, founded in 1988 by a group of metal detectorists, are driven by a variety of reasons.

Mitch King, the organization’s vice president, has found two silvers rings from the 1715 fleet, but he considers some of his best finds, the rings he’s been able to reunite with people who have lost them.

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Local, TCPalm

Lunch on a budget? No problem with affordable, delicious Martin County options

Luna Italian Restaurant on Flagler Avenue in Downtown Stuart has a maximum capacity of 50 people inside, tables for outdoor seating and a sidewalk takeout window. (Crystal Chew/Treasure Coast Newspaper)
Luna Italian Restaurant on Flagler Avenue in Downtown Stuart has a maximum capacity of 50 people inside, tables for outdoor seating and a sidewalk takeout window. (Crystal Chew/Treasure Coast Newspaper)

For The Stuart News, The Indian River Press Journal and The St. Lucie News-Tribune

My grandma always said that if I had a penny, I would try to spend two.

She was right.

I’ve never been the best at budgeting, but I been working on it, especially since I’m a typical college intern. so what does an intern working 9-to-5 eat?

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Events, Features, TCPalm

Local Deadheads to attend Grateful Dead’s last shows

Photo Caption: Al Zilinsky (left) and John Zias (right) from Unlimited Devotion, a Grateful Dead tribute band performing at Sertoma Youth Ranch in Brooksville earlier this year. (PROVIDED)

First and foremost, Al Zilinsky considers himself a businessman.

But when he was younger, his life revolved around the Grateful Dead. His main focus was on how to get tickets to their concerts.

“I didn’t even worry about food,” Zilinsky said. “Now I’m more balanced.”

Today the 52-year-old’s life centers around his family and his career, but he remains a deadhead for life. In his spare time, he is the rhythm guitarist for Unlimited Devotion, a Grateful Dead tribute band that performs all around Florida. They played June 20 at Terra Fermata.

Zilinsky has been to approximately 250 Grateful Dead concerts, his first was 1977 in Tampa.

The guitarist will be one of the many Florida “Deadheads” attending Grateful Dead reunion shows June 27 and 28 in Santa Clara, California, and July 4 through 6 in Chicago.

“These will be some of the most popular concerts in history,” Zilinsky said of the shows that will commemorate the 50th anniversary of the band and feature four of its surviving and original members.

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Events, Features, TCPalm

Where’s Waldo? In Vero Beach … somewhere

He’s been spotted in Hollywood, outer space and jungle safaris. Now you can search for him in Vero Beach.

The Vero Beach Book Center wants everyone to find Waldo, not in the familiar children’s books, but around town.

The character, known for his red and white strip shirt and black-rimmed specs, will be hidden in 25 local businesses such as the book center, Majestic 11 movie theater, ACT Computers and Chive restaurant during July.

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Events, TCPalm

Organizers say inaugural Treasure Coast Comic Con a success

PHOTO CAPTION: Treasure Coast Comic Con attendees enter the inaugural event Saturday morning at the Port St. Lucie Civic Center. (CHRISTOPHER ARNOLD/TREASURE COAST NEWSPAPERS)

The thousands of people dressed like their favorite fictional characters who swarmed into the Port St. Lucie Civic Center over the weekend helped make the Treasure Coast’s inaugural Comic Con a success, according to organizers.

John Mangan, CEO of South Florida Event Management, said more than 10,000 attended the two-day event. He estimates 50 percent were locals and said 25 percent of ticket sales came from Vancouver, Canada.

Mangan said there was a need for a fun, different event, catering to a younger crowd and it was reflected in the attendance.

There were a few snags in ticketing and getting people in the venue as quickly as they would have liked, but the event organizers said Comic Con was a huge success. “We knocked it out of the park,” Mangan said.

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Events, Features, Local, TCPalm

Chiefs wide receiver Albert Wilson returns to Treasure Coast for charity fashion show

PHOTO CAPTION: Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Albert Wilson (12) runs against the Oakland Raiders during the first half of their NFL football game in Kansas City, Missouri, on Dec. 14, 2014. Wilson, a Port St. Lucie High School graduate, will be in Vero Beach June 27 for a charity event. (REED HOFFMANN/AP FILE PHOTO)

It was never a question of whether or not Albert Wilson was going to be successful, it was more about how he would one day give back to the community that has helped him become who he is today.

“He was very driven and strong willed,” said Hilary Poole, his high school football coach, “one of the most focused people I have ever come across. Once he set his mind to something, that was it.”

As a student at Port St. Lucie High School, Wilson, the current wide receiver of the Kansas City Chiefs, wondered how he could make a difference. He asked one of his mentors, Marylin Richardson-Pryor for her advice.

“Make good choices and give back to your community,” said Richardson-Pryor, who was a school-based social worker at the time. “Seek the right path and choose a productive life.”

Taking her wisdom to heart, Wilson will return to Indian River County July 27 for a charity fashion show hosted by Moral Value Love Sincerity Trust, Inc., run by four women, including Richardson-Pryor.

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Art, Events, Features, TCPalm

Developer wants to make downtown Fort Pierce an arts destination

PHOTO CAPTION: The building on Orange Avenue in downtown Fort Pierce, which houses Art Mundo and Anytime Fitness recently was acquired by Steve Tarr and his company, OneEleven LLC. (CRYSTAL CHEW/TREASURE COAST NEWSPAPERS)

The changes have already begun.

The building on Orange Avenue in downtown Fort Pierce, which houses Art Mundo and Anytime Fitness, was bought in May by developer Steve Tarr.

His goal is to include the building in a plan to make Fort Pierce Florida’s next big arts destination.

The building is approximately 35,000 square feet; about 5 percent is used for gym space and the remainder is for art. Art Mundo has a downstairs loft and third-floor gallery space with studios for rent.

“We’re going to create a brand for the building,” Tarr said of the acquisition he calls the OneEleven building.

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Features, Health, Local, TCPalm

More vegan options sprouting up in Martin County

PHOTO CAPTION: Pesto breadsticks from Fruits & Roots are toasted flatbreads spread with pesto and topped with house Parmesan cheese. (PHOTO BY RENEE ATHAUSER/FRUITS & ROOTS)

Amber Eichling, like many vegans in the area, thought she had limited food options when dining out.

She could order salad without meat or cheese, but after a while that was boring.

She also was concerned about cross-contamination. If chefs were not careful or unaware the dish was for a vegan diner, they might use the same kitchenware used to cook a burger.

So Eichling, a former Terra Fermata bartender and mother of a 6-year-old daughter, opened her own vegan café, Fruits & Roots Juice Bar + Vegan Cafe, in March.

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Education, Events, Features, TCPalm

Children’s book author, photographer David FitzSimmons to visit Vero Beach Book Center

Photo Caption: David FitzSimmons,  freelance photographer and writer, has a childbook’s series, Curious Critters. The third book,  Curious Critters Marine is shown in photograph.

When David FitzSimmons was in elementary school, his mom, a high school English teacher at the time, would take him to a children’s literature conference at Ohio State University. It was there the landscape and wildlife photographer’s love for books grew.

FitzSimmons’s dad was an outdoor educator and would often bring home such animals as snakes, turtles and lizards. His love of nature grew.Now, the 45-year-old author hopes to spread that love through his series of “Curious Critters” children’s books, which he will present at the

Now, the 45-year-old author hopes to spread that love through his series of “Curious Critters” children’s books, which he will present at the Vero Beach Book Center June 9.

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Support groups and exercise help cancer survivors

Events, Features, Profile, TCPalm

National touring bands perform at Terra Fermata

Photo caption: Two-time Grammy nominated song writer and country blues musician Lee Roy Parnell performed May 16 at Terra Fermata in Stuart. (HOBIE HILER/ SPECIAL TO TREASURE COAST NEWSPAPERS)

Regulars at Terra Fermata, the live outdoor music venue in Stuart, might have noticed some changes since its opening in early 2013.

The establishment on Sixth Street, just off Colorado Avenue, plays live music every night and the featured artists have been slowly transitioning from local bands to more national acts like The Original Wailers or festival favorites, Donna the Buffalo. Lee Roy Parnell, a two-time Grammy and three-time Country Music Award nominated artist performed last weekend.

“We are keeping up with our aggressive agenda of attracting national touring bands,” said Ronald Hart, owner of Terra Fermata, who recently booked Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee Leon Russell to perform July 23.

To Hart, booking Russell is a huge deal, especially since booking national music acts was his original goal all along.

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Health, Local

Widow starts charity for firefighters with Parkinson’s

For Miami Herald.

Shortly after marrying John Somerville, his wife Donna noticed a drastic change in his behavior: He was walking differently and his face had turned blank.

“It was like he had a stroke,’’ said Donna, who later learned her husband had Parkinson’s disease, a progressive disorder of the nervous system that develops gradually and causes stiffness or slowing of movement.

John was an avid athlete who had no previous health issues and had retired as a fire captain. He had worked for Miami-Dade Fire Rescue for 31 years.

Donna, a former educator with Miami-Dade Schools, scrambled to figure out how to take care of her husband for the next eight years. He died on Jan. 7. He was 62.

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Preventing fractures is imperative for elderly

Ana Weisman takes Prolia, an injectable shot, twice a year. It helps to slow bone deterioration, crucial for preventing falls and fractures that might have dire consequences for an aging person.

“If you’re in your 20s and 30s and break your wrist or your shoulder, you will heal quickly,” said Weisman’s doctor, Dr. Carlos Sessin.

That’s not usually the case for older individuals.

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Gulliver Prep engineering students create system to fight malnutrition

After an intense year of brainstorming, researching and inventing a product to alleviate malnutrition around the world, seven students at Gulliver Preparatory School have won the Best Presentation Award at the Conrad Spirit of Innovation Challenge.

For the students at the Pinecrest school, their task at hand has just begun.

The award for presenting their project at Kennedy Space Center last week was just one achievement in a list of goals.

“Our goal with the actual presentation wasn’t to win the competition,” said Louis Hamilton, 16, one of the students who focused on producing the prototype. “It’s getting people to watch it from all over the world.”

Gulliver is part of Project Lead The Way, one of the nation’s leading providers of K-12 STEM programs. It serves more than 6,500 schools around the country.

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No action yet: A year later, Surfside still discussing sand removal from construction site

For Miami Herald.

About this time last year, Surfside residents were displeased to find a significant amount of new sand from a construction site dumped on their beach. Since then, the sand has been a hot topic and has yet to be removed.

Last March, Fort Capital, a real estate investment management company based in Miami, dug up sand from underneath the construction site on 9011 Collins Ave., the site of a hotel and condominium called the Surf Club.

Florida law says excavated sand must be placed near the site from which it came. As such, the developer spread the sand over Surfside’s public beach.

The state’s law also says the sand must be compatible with the existing sand, but residents believed the sand was completely different, even calling it dirt. They voiced their concerns about the toxicity of the sand during various town hall meetings and claim that they find debris like metal nails and concrete boulders on a daily basis, even after numerous sand sifting activities.

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Cutler Bay Academy Senior High unveils solar powered electric car

For Miami Herald.

Students in an experimental science class at Cutler Bay Academy Senior High School have spent that past couple of months working in the school’s wood shop to construct their own solar powered electric kit car. The vehicle fully charges in a couple hours, runs for about 40 minutes and goes 25 to 30 mph.

Through a vote, it was decided that junior Gabriel Hechavarria, 17, will be racing the car in the FIA Formula E Miami ePrix race this Saturday against nine other schools, all of which received a grant from Florida Power & Light that provided schools with kit cars.

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Events, Video

Dads and their kids mix it up at Miami Dolphins Day

For Miami Herald.

For Carl Toussaint, the hardest part of being stationed in Afghanistan was watching his four young children grow up on a computer screen.

“Out of all the things that happened over there, that was the worst,” said Toussaint, 40, an Army soldier who spent a year away from home.

On Saturday, Toussaint, along with hundreds of others, participated in a Dads, Fathers & Kids event hosted by All Pro Dad at the Doctors Hospital Training Facility at Nova Southeastern University in Davie. The event kicked off a partnership between Family First and the Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

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Fitness, Health

Cardiac rehabilitation helps build healthy lifestyle for heart patients

Read in Miami Herald.

Anthony “Tony” Turturici lives by the rule that exercise is the key to everything.

The 89-year-old Hollywood Hills resident who suffered his first heart attack in 1998, picked up the habit to keep moving after undergoing a quintuple bypass, an open heart surgery done to treat severely blocked arteries that feed the heart.

He attended 36 one-hour sessions of cardiac and pulmonary rehabilitation classes for three months at Memorial Regional Hospital in Hollywood and credits the program for being alive and well today.

“I don’t think I would have survived without it,” he said.

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Fitness, Health, Technology

Apps track foods, fitness — even your daily water supply

For Miami Herald. 

To escape the tedious task of calorie counting by pen and paper, Mike Lee, a programmer who wanted to shed some pounds for his beach wedding, created the nutrition tracker, MyFitnessPal.

Ten years later, MyFitnessPal has helped 75 million users lose 180 million pounds.

Among them is Andrea Ceballos, a Zumba fitness instructor, who has lost 80 pounds thanks to her love for Zumba and the MyFitnessPal app on her iPhone and iPad.

The South Miami resident, originally from the Dominican Republic, was overweight when she moved to Miami five years ago. Zumba helped her lose some of the weight, but she needed more.

“Every time I lost about 20 pounds I plateaued,” said Ceballos, who teaches about 12 classes a week. “And that’s when I started to realize unless I changed my eating habits I wasn’t going to lose any further. That’s when MyFitnessPal came along and helped me.”

The app keeps track of the nutritional value of about four million food items while also tracking a user’s exercise. It has the option to sync with 60 other apps like Fitbit Tracker, MapMyFitness and Garmin Connect.

Here then are our picks for the best nutrition and fitness apps.

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Events, Local

Florida City turns 100-years-old

For Miami Herald.

Florida City, whose early inhabitants were from Detroit, recently turned 100.

The city began its celebration of the milestone birthday in late July with an event that honored residents 80 and older.

“They are the ones who deserve it,” said Commissioner Avis Brown, whose father was born in Florida City in 1922.

“They deserve the honor of saying they made an impact on Florida City. But the impact is not only on the city, but also on our children and our families.”

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Surfside baffled over $1 million cost to remove sand from beach

For Miami Herald.

Surfside has been stuck in the sand — or at least it’s how many residents feel.

In March, a developer, Fort Capital, dug up sand from underneath the construction site on 9011 Collins Ave., the site of a hotel and condominium called the Surf Club. Florida law says excavated sand must be placed near the site from which it came. As such, the developer spread the sand over Surfside’s public beach.

But many residents said the sand was completely different, even calling it dirt. To them, the beach was no longer the same. Florida law also says the sand must be compatible with the existing sand.

Residents grew more concerned when toxicology reports indicated levels of arsenic higher than state residential guidelines. Experts hired by town staff and Miami-Dade County Health Department, however, said the sand posed a low risk to human or pet health.

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Education, Events, Local

Young musicians from the Miami Lighthouse visit Jungle Island

For Miami Herald.

On Saturday mornings, while many teenagers are sleeping in, the 25 students from the music program at Miami Lighthouse for the Blind are learning sound production from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

During the summer, the music production program meets Monday through Friday for two months.

Last Saturday, the teens put down their instruments and had a chance to visit Jungle Island for a Touch Tour to visit animals for a multi-sensory field trip.

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Booker T. Washington on the verge of unveiling state-of-the-art planetarium

For Miami Herald.

Booker T. Washington is on the verge of unveiling a newly renovated planetarium, which will be the centerpiece for the school’s new astronomy magnet program that will begin in August.

The facility is the first of its kind at a Miami-Dade school, which the school hopes will encourage more interest in its program as the deadline to register is approaching.

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Caregiving for an early-onset patient

For Miami Herald.

On Roger Roessler’s first date with Rosie, his hand shook when he picked up the phone.

“You should probably watch that,” she joked. “It could be Parkinson’s.”

Five years later — after marriage, three kids and an accident that severed three of his fingers — Roessler does indeed have Parkinson’s disease, a neurological disorder that typically targets those 60 and older.

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Bass Museum hosts family art event to celebrate end of semester

For Miami Herald.

Ana Uran felt her 7-year-old daughter Ana Alcaza did not have enough exposure to art. So Uran started her own little art club for Ana and her friends.

Uran called the group the Goodness Gorillas and took them to museums and galleries, where the children looked at art and then tried to create their own.

For three years, Uran inspired the kids until she heard about a community outreach program run by Bass Museum of Art in Miami Beach.

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Art gallery transforms Holtz Children’s Hospital

For Miami Herald.

Jacqueline Roch paced through the hallways of Holtz Children’s Hospital as her son, Lucca, underwent an eight-hour heart surgery.

Lucca was born with Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome, a heart condition in which there is an abnormal extra electrical pathway, which can lead to a rapid heart rate. Doctors discovered it when he was 11. Now 16, he has gone through three surgeries.

A couple months after his last surgery, Roch stumbled upon a CBS News special about the artwork displayed at Cedars Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. The segment highlighted the world-class collection of contemporary art throughout the hospital, a collection begun in 1966 when a businessman and art lover, Frederick R. Weisman, suffered a head injury.

His wife, Marcia Simon Weisman, an influential art collector, grew alarmed as her husband struggled to remember her name. To stimulate his memory, she brought some artwork to the hospital. He immediately recognized an abstract piece by Jackson Pollock, with its trademark jagged lines and dripping colors.

“I was still in a very vulnerable, sensitive place and I just got so moved,” said Roch, a visual artist at the Bakehouse Art Complex in Wynwood.

She decided to donate her own work to Holtz.

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Ground broken for family aquatic center in West Perrine Park

For Miami Herald.

Miami-Dade County Parks broke ground for a new $5.9 million family aquatic center at West Perrine Park at 10301 SW 170th Ter. last Saturday.

The ceremony was led by Miami-Dade County District 9 Commissioner Dennis C. Moss. There was about 30 people in attendance.

When Moss began his term, he was committed to building a pool in West Perrine.

“We are going to make good on the promise that I made,” he said. “This will be a state of the art swimming pool and the community is going to be very pleased.”

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Girl, 16, who claims teacher took her virginity, sues Miami-Dade School Board

For Miami Herald.

A former South Dade Senior High student is suing the Miami-Dade County School Board for not providing her with better protection from her teacher who sent her lewd texts and had sex with the minor.

The 16-year-old, who goes by the initials C.R.R., is also asking for damages from her former geometry teacher Bresnniel Jansen Mones, who the lawsuit claims sent her graphic texts and took her virginity on his desk in December 2013.

The suit asks for monetary damages and claims neglect on behalf of the School Board, which it says knew of a similar incident at the same school also involving Mones, five years ago.

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Program aims to help victims break cycle of abuse

For Miami Herald.

Yoav Potash and Josh Safran had an idea for a documentary that was originally expected to be a fairly simple six-month project. It ended up taking seven years.

Safran, a lawyer, was representing Deborah Peagler, a battered woman who was wrongfully imprisoned.

Her case became the subject for Crime After Crime, a documentary that will be shown as part of the Alper JCC’s 34th annual Book Festival at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Dave & Mary Alper Jewish Community Center, 11155 SW 112th Ave., in the Robert Russell Theater.

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