Memorable mail from Al Haynes

I wonder if it’s going to rain every other day this summer? That seems to be the pattern. Well, it sure has not put a damper on all the “walks” we’ve had this spring.

I talked with Lori Kiker, who was instrumental in putting together the Multiple Sclerosis Foundation walk, which took place April 1st at Golden Park. I asked for its history, and Lori told me she got involved in 2014. Quite a few people showed up for this event. I even took Michael (my German shepherd) and he enjoyed it, which for him is unusual. Mike’s 92 pounds and he would much rather ride “shotgun” in my Blazer than walk.

And speaking of walks, the American Heart Association board of directors has a new energy, thanks to the addition of new board members, which has brought out a renewed spirit.

National Walking Day 2017 was April 5th. It is always the first Wednesday in April. We decided that our job is to encourage Americans to get “Healthy For Good” by being more physically active. Therefore, our National Walking Day was expanded to a month-long initiative as part of the Healthy for Good movement.

May is National Stroke Awareness Month, so we also tasked ourselves to raise awareness of “Stroke”. I have to say it was quite a joy to see D’Anna Smith and Jennifer Valadi bring their vision, leadership and vitality to the forefront of what was already a pretty good board of directors. These ladies, with the help of a few other board members, put together a community education project called “Straight Talk About Stroke”. It took place May 24th at the Columbus Library on Macon Road. To promote it they had flyers made and distributed, and they did live radio interviews and commercials. The event was a lecture/ question and answer forum with the Medical Director of the Stroke Program at St. Francis Hospital, Dr. Nojan Valadi. This neurologist fielded every question he was thrown, and he also spoke about the warning signs, who’s most at risk, and what to do when this happens. There was food and prizes and takeaway reading material. Not only did Dr. Valadi do this free of charge, he volunteered to go anywhere (churches, offices) to speak on the subject of strokes. He’s pretty cool, and yes, Jennifer is his bride.

And speaking of walks, Detra Holloway, from TSYS, was instrumental in putting together a walk for folks in our area associated with “Lupus”. The people with this malady, the caregivers, medical and support people to include individuals not associated were all invited to form teams and walk. Detra’s team has been doing the walk since 2011. She has been a champion in getting the word out locally, and this year her organization invited me to be the emcee. The event took place May 20th at Hardaway High School. Over 500 people attended, including Kate Resta development manager, Teri Emond vice president COO, Maria Myler President CEO of the Lupus Foundation Of America Georgia Chapter in Smyrna. They were in town to witness the amazing fellowship that was taking place, and also to award Detra’s team an award for raising the most money for “Lupus” and also another award for her individually because she herself raised the most money $8,700.00. It was a good day.

And speaking of talented assets in our community who happen to be female. Hats off to Leann Malone, Executive Director for Girls Inc. of Columbus and Phenix City and her Development Manager Ashley Ingram, and the rest of that awesome staff of Girls Inc. for the job they did with the “ Strong Smart Bold Luncheon” May 16th at the St. Luke Ministry Center. Get ready to duck! I’m dropping names here! Good job Ms. Essie Pugh with the Girls Inc. singers, Ms. Ashanti Williams of Carver High’s Stem Magnet program, Ms. Teresa White for being Ms. Teresa White! Miss Columbus Ms. Seychelle Hercules (I was glad I was able to pronounce your name, I practiced, thanks Ashley!), Jocelyn Garcia (that 6th grader is bilingual and extremely talented), Wendi Jenkins the President of the Girl’s Inc. Board of Directors (who acknowledge me and paid me a high compliment as the emcee, when she told the audience that I was the air personality she listened to as a little girl! That was great! Being a couple days older than black pepper has its rewards!) Dr. Jen Welter, the honored guest and speaker who happened to be the first female coach in the National Football League. She was the linebacker coach for the Arizona Cardinals. It was a great lunch that raised tons of money for Girl’s Inc. I was honored to be a part of it.

And speaking of me, this column is not about me; it’s about me spotlighting the people I run into that are truly making a difference in the lives of others in our community.

I have more, but it will have to wait.

See you in the streets,

Al Haynes

Tom Ingram

Tom Ingram is the editor of The Local. He is an English literature graduate of Columbus State University and Columbus native.