Chasing A Dream

2014-04-06 | ImagesAZ | Inspiration

Photo Credit: Bryan Black
Writer Peni Long Photographer Bryan Black   When young, newly married Susan Thompson underwent the trauma of a radical hysterectomy in 1972, she began taking a prescription drug to manage her condition – a drug first created in 1942. Like anyone else at that time, she followed the doctor’s orders and had no idea of the source of the drug, just that she would need to take it for the rest of her life.   Six months after the hysterectomy, she and her husband moved to Lake Havasu to be near her parents. “Waiting for me there was a horse named Golden Boy. He was my first horse and really helped me survive pain and disappointment. He was part of my life for 33 years.”   Then in 2002, she saw a headline: “Premarin Horses Go to Slaughter.” That was her drug, the one that was supposed to be her life partner as a woman. But what she read was to change everything. What she read led her to believe that she had unknowingly contributed to the abuse and death of many mares and their... More

The Queen of the Land of FAR

2014-04-05 | ImagesAZ | Inspiration

  Writer Tom Scanlon Photographer Bryan Black Gwen Ware takes her work home with her every day.   That’s perhaps redundant, as her work is her home, and her home is her work. Ever since she ran away from the insurance world, she has found what might be called “a new leash on life” at Foothills Animal Rescue. She astounded the folks here with her unusual dedication as a super volunteer, so FAR hired Gwen as an animal care technician.   Here in north Scottsdale, she is treated like a queen every day. “I may not have health insurance,” she cracks, “but I do get lots of kisses. It’s very, very rewarding.”   Foothills Animal Rescue is a no-kill shelter that is a comfortable, temporary home to abandoned dogs and cats. Gwen and company care for the animals, and also work hard to find loving, permanent homes for them. The best part of her job is when a FAR animal gets placed; not only does that mean one dog or cat has found a new family, it’s the green light to “get in... More

May 1: National Day of Prayer

2014-04-03 | ImagesAZ | Inspiration

Anthem will unite and pray on Thursday, May 1, from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. for the 63rd annual observance of the National Day of Prayer held across the nation. Hosted by ReadyAnthem, together we will humbly and respectfully unite the Anthem Community and North Valley in an expression of prayer for our leaders who commit their time each day to serve and protect the nation, state and community. Join us at the Amphitheater in the Anthem Community Park. Bring your chairs and blankets. More

March 29: Take a Walk for Education

2014-03-26 | ImagesAZ | Inspiration

  The Deer Valley Education Foundation Walk for Education will be held March 29 at Sandra Day O’Connor High School to raise funds to provide grants for student scholarships and teacher grants to bring innovative and dynamic learning experiences to our children. Registration begins at 9 a.m. and the walk begins promptly at 10 a.m. Foundation raffle winners announced at 11 a.m. Cost is $10 for individuals; $30 for teams of up to five members. Booths and games for family fun, and young adult authors Rebecca Boschee, author of “Mulligan Girl” and “Last Resort,” and Janine Caldwell of the Vortex Series, will also be at the walk.   623-445-5012 More

New Song Center for Grieving Children Serves Scottsdale-Area Families

2014-03-15 | ImagesAZ | Inspiration

  New Song Center serves families in the Scottsdale area with grief support groups that meet at Episcopal Parish of Saint Barnabas on the Desert, 6716 N. Mockingbird Ln. in Scottsdale. Groups meet every other week in the evening. Children, teens and young adults learn to cope with their grief and loss by sharing stories and experiences, as well as through art, music and recreation. At New Song Center, which is part of services offered by Hospice of the Valley, families find the support they need in a “safe” place to share feelings of loss. Children and adults find support through difficult emotional times. New Song Center also serves families at locations in Phoenix, Gilbert and Avondale.   480-951-8985,  ... More

Fighting for Life

2014-03-08 | ImagesAZ | Inspiration

Writer Amanda Christmann Larson     Jeff Luttrell was only five years old when he became a superhero. Like all his favorite Marvel comic book heroes, he wasn’t trying to be different, but a twist of fate and a villain called “cancer” revealed his hidden strengths. For two decades, he’s continued to battle his nemesis, and he’s stayed strong, relying on his physical fortitude when he could, and his mental strength when he could not.   Like all superheroes, Jeff can really never rest. At 25 years old, he’s in his seventh bout with cancer right now, a fight he’s determined to win. And with a league of fellow superheroes in the Children’s Cancer Network fighting behind him with all they’ve got, he’s got a great chance at winning yet another battle for his life.   It was Jeff’s second day of kindergarten when he faced his first skirmish with the disease. His mom Patti took him to the doctor for a series of illnesses that didn’t seem to be getting better. Tests... More

Hometown Pride: Kate McCulley

2014-03-05 | ImagesAZ | Inspiration

Writer Tom Scanlon Photographer Jamie Pogue   We could make a fortune, you and I, if only we could bottle what Kate McCulley has: A drive to succeed, an inner voice telling her to work hard and do her very best in sports and in class, a little whisper of “forget the party, there’s work to do.” Imagine being able to sell that to parents who have to remind/encourage/nag their kids to do homework!   At Boulder Creek High School, the self-driven Kate McCulley is a 4.3 grade point average student, scoring high grades in challenging advanced placement classes. In her final year at Boulder Creek, while other seniors might be cruising a bit, Kate is taking AP physics, AP calculus AB, AP literature and composition, and intro to art.   In addition to playing on the tennis and volleyball teams at Boulder Creek, Kate plays on a competitive club team and was one of 12 girls selected to the Arizona High Performance Youth International Volleyball Team.   On top of her academic and athletic... More

MAKE-ing It Happen

2014-03-04 | ImagesAZ | Inspiration

Writer Amanda Christmann Larson Photographer Bryan Black   Two years ago when we met Joe Hudy, he was a quiet 14-year-old whose love for technology set him apart from other kids, but had also just begun to open doors for him in circles beyond his Anthem neighborhood. He was “Joey” back then; a slight, awkward boy who was beginning to learn that being different is not always a bad thing.   In May 2011, when we featured him in our Road Less Traveled series, he had only begun to shine. Using a compression model he’d come up with himself, he’d built his latest invention, a triple pipe tank cannon capable of launching a jumbo marshmallow in a 170-foot trajectory. Little did any of us know that invention would soon earn him a spot at the White House Science Fair and put him on a first-name basis with the President of the United States.   Today, it’s almost difficult to remember the old Joey in the now-16-year-old. His voice has lowered, his hair is darker, and he’s gotten... More

Playing in the Big (Ivy) League

2014-03-04 | ImagesAZ | Inspiration

Writer Tom Scanlon   Most would agree that being invited to play football for a major college is quite an achievement, showing that a high school athlete has reached the ultimate level. Not to slight the hard-studying crowd, being invited to learn at an Ivy League school also is a rare accomplishment.   But to combine the two? Well, those hulked-out footballers surely can’t be smart enough to go to places like Harvard University, right?   Such are the stereotypes Billy Nichols faces on a regular basis. Standing 6 feet 5 inches off the ground, and sinking into it at 282 pounds, he certainly has the look of a college football player; no need to convince anyone there. But when people ask him where he’s going to college, and he answers – that’s where the fun begins.   “Some people I needed to convince I was going to Harvard,” he said with a light chuckle. “Some people make me show them my ID. It’s so rare to meet someone going to Harvard.” Not to mention someone who... More

Second Nature

2014-02-24 | ImagesAZ | Inspiration

Photo Credit: Brenna Zumbro
Writer Amanda Christmann Larson Photographer Brenna Zumbro   There is something about nature and its stubborn determination that more or less draws souls to the desert foothills. In a land where flora and fauna seem to beat the odds simply by returning each year to flower and reproduce, there is a certain peace in the communal relationship we develop with the silts and clays and the life they sustain here in the arid lucidity of the Sonoran Desert.   For as deep as human roots can be traced in the Valley of the Sun, people have left an imprint on desert ecology. Early inhabitants were hunters, but cultivated corn has been traced back 3,000 years in the Arizona desert. Pinto and tepary beans, gourds, squash, cotton, amaranth and devil’s claw followed, and ancient Hohokam and Upper Pima natives learned to divert precious water to their fields through an estimated 400 miles of canals that snaked through the Phoenix Basin.   In more recent history, primarily in the early-to-mid 1900s,... More

February 26: Sixth Annual Handbags for Hope Luncheon for St. Jude

2014-02-24 | ImagesAZ | Inspiration

  Hundreds of the Valley’s most stylish and giving women will attend Stars of Hope’s Sixth Annual Handbags for Hope luncheon February 26 in Scottsdale. Dozens of trendy designer handbags will be available for auction. Proceeds will benefit the world-renowned St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. The event will take place at The Country Club at DC Ranch, 9290 E. Thompson Peak Parkway in Scottsdale Feb. 26 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Individual tickets are $125 and tables of 10 are $1,250. Tickets are available online.   602-385-0480 More

February 22: Diamonds are Forever Gala for Crisis Nursery

2014-02-20 | ImagesAZ | Inspiration

  The annual Diamonds are Forever gala will be held February 22 at the beautiful Montelucia Resort and Spa, 4949 E. Lincoln Dr. in Paradise Valley. A casino reception begins at 6 p.m., and dinner, entertainment and dancing begin at 8 p.m. This popular event is one of the largest fundraisers for the Crisis Nursery, an organization dedicated to education, foster care training, emergency crisis intervention and daycare services for at-risk infants and young children in Phoenix. Proceeds go to the Crisis Nursery operating budget. Tickets are $275 per person, or $550 per couple.   602-273-7363 More

Seeking Inspiration, Finding Serendipity, Following Dreams

2014-02-02 | ImagesAZ | Inspiration

Writer Donna Kublin   It was during the 2013 Hidden in the Hills Studio Tour that I first met the artist Valentine, though I had seen his distinctive work on occasion in print and online. He greeted me and a stream of other guests with a warm welcome and began showing us around his sunlit gallery/studio in Cave Creek situated on a beautiful piece of land with peaceful mountain views. He exuded passion about his work, enthusiastically sharing his artistic process while at the same time showing an interest in each of us.   His work, based upon the female form, is evocative, and I found that each beautiful painting and sculpture stirred an emotional response in me. At times, I felt amused or swept away or becalmed or excited. I hadn’t expected it. I became intrigued and wanted to know more about him and his art. A month later, I had the opportunity to do exactly that while talking to him about his 30th anniversary as a professional artist.   As it turns out, eliciting an emotional... More

Hospitality Employee of the Year

2014-01-26 | ImagesAZ | Inspiration

Photo Credit: Jamie Pogue
Writer Tom Scanlon Photographer Jamie Pogue   Just about everyone is nice to friends, family, co-workers and others he or she knows. Strangers? That’s a different story. Some people want to be nice to people they don’t know, but are too shy; others are too wrapped up in their own lives to think of people they don’t know; some actually think kindness is a sign of weakness.   For those folks, working in the hospitality industry probably isn’t the best idea. Oh, they might be able to fake it for a while, though the false smiles and the forced “have a nice day”’s would wear them down. They probably wouldn’t be able to work in hospitality for a year, let alone win an award.   No, they would be no threat to take the title from Olivia Fierro, a 25-year-old Anthem resident with a non-stop smile and rare spirit. Last year, she was named Outstanding Lodging Employee of the Year by the American Hotel & Lodging Association.   Fierro, known to most as “Liv,” is a front... More