Savanna Strong :: The Ruiz Family

2015-06-29 | ImagesAZ | Inspiration

Photo Credit: Keri Meyers Photography
Writer Rebecca Zaner Photographer Keri Meyers   “She was a normal baby as far as we knew, but she was literally dying in our arms.”   Savannah Ruiz, born April 19, 2015. A new cry in the delivery room, signifying the arrival of new life. Happy tears, smiles, hugs; all the wonderful traces of a birthday celebration. A proud moment as the Ruiz family welcomes a baby girl. Pictures are taken as the infant is passed from one loving arm to another. As far as everyone knows, Savannah is a heathy, normal baby. For the first day of her life, she was; or so she seemed.   Frankie and Kendra Ruiz live in Anthem. While Kendra is an Arizona native, Frankie was born in Colorado. He is an eight-year army veteran and after serving, found his way to Arizona as an instructor at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff. He eventually decided to move to the Valley and return to the automotive industry, which he had been a part of for 16 years. That is how he met Kendra. A mutual friend of theirs... More

Arizona Authors Showcase

2015-06-01 | ImagesAZ | Inspiration

Four local authors discuss their works, including Harold Collins, A Widower's Journey in Faith, Love And Good Humor; Christine Regan-Lake, Sophia's Lovers; Stephen Schwertley, Enemy in the Heartland; and Marless Fellows, A Handshake is Enough. 10 a.m. Desert Foothills Library, 38443 N. Schoolhouse Rd., 480-488-2286,  ... More

Tilted Earth Wine & Music Festival

2015-06-01 | ImagesAZ | Inspiration

This vibrant festival returns for its second year with an expanded two-day line up of well-known folk and acoustic rock entertainment, wine from 17 northern Arizona wineries, and cuisine from eight gourmet food trucks from the Phoenix Street Food Coalition. 4 p.m.-midnight. $20-$45. Riverfront Park, N. 10th St., Cottonwood, 928-639-3004, More

Beyond Wildest Dreams

2015-06-01 | ImagesAZ | Inspiration

Photo Credit: Bryan Black
Inside the sanctuary of Papago Park, rust-colored sandstone monuments tower weathered and worn over a saguaro-studded moonscape. Ponds lined with palm trees and neat swaths of golf course green from form oases in the parched desert, and the sun illuminates a white pyramid standing alone atop a towering hillside. Erected out of grief by Arizona’s first governor, George Wiley Paul Hunt, to entomb the body of his wife, it is where he, too, is now enshrined.   Follow the paved path through this most unlikely corner of Phoenix, and another fantastic anomaly awaits. An array of birds, their melodies a medley of musical accord, accompanies the gentle rhythm of the hooves of giraffes and Grant’s gazelles as they saunter across a rolling savanna. Smiling meerkats stand erect, their masked eyes curious as they dart to and fro foraging for food. A rare white rhino stands motionless in the shade like a giant weather-worn boulder perched atop thick stumps.   In all, more than 1,400 mammals,... More

Mariposa: A Love Story

2015-06-01 | ImagesAZ | Inspiration

Photo Credit: Paul Markow
There are many among us who walk through life looking down at the pavement as they travel their paths, content with the knowledge that it is there, firm beneath their feet. Their roads are wide and well trodden, and they live safely and securely, smiling at their assuredness.   Beyond these superhighways of life are smaller roads, then wild pathways that lead through thickets of brambles and scattered, gnarled roots. Those who choose to follow these life paths often forge their own way, risking it all for the chance of finding something so special and fulfilling that the challenges and struggles are worth the prize.   For Sedona Chef Lisa Dahl, the path has been full of hills to climb and rivers to cross, but she has not walked it alone. Look closely at her footprints as they lead through the forest and there is a nearly invisible pair just in front of her, holding her hand and guiding her way.   Many Valley residents know Dahl from her award-winning, innovative Sedona restaurants:... More

Take a Hike

2015-06-01 | ImagesAZ | Inspiration

Photo Credit: Bryan Black
There are those who spend their spare hours beneath the fluorescent lights of the gym, television screens mounted in front of their eyeballs, machines whirring and whizzing and a constant flood of music playing on overhead speakers.   Then there are those who like to take life at a different pace. They prefer the calmness of a light breeze to the clanking of weights, and the smell of acacia and desert lavender to the scent of sweaty towels and hand sanitizer.   These are hikers, and the near-perfect weather we enjoy here in Arizona for much of the year makes our own back yard one of the biggest and best playgrounds in the world.   Terravita residents Brian and Judy Rea are among the latter group. Sure, they still spend some time at the gym, but if they had their druthers, they’d spend their days in the great outdoors, enjoying all the desert has to offer.   And they have enjoyed quite a bit of it. Brian is one of only nine people to have left his footprints on 89 trails and... More

Mother's Grace Brunch

2015-05-07 | ImagesAZ | Inspiration

Celebrate Mother’s Day with a champagne brunch featuring shopping and inspirational speakers and benefitting Mother’s Grace Foundation, a 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to the support of mothers and children who have endured life tragedies. 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Home of Sandy Metzler, 6811 N. Desert Fairways Dr., 480-320-9466, More

Wings & Wheels

2015-05-01 | ImagesAZ | Inspiration

Pediatric cancer patients benefit from this fundraising event. Admire private, luxurious jets and vehicles while dining on culinary treats from award-winning Good Morning America guest, Chef Eric Osborn. Two to three children’s items serve as admission and will be used to fill backpacks to occupy kids during their travel and treatment. Reservations required. 5-8 p.m. Pulver Aviation at Scottsdale Airpark, 7332 E. Butherus Dr., More

Found in Translation

2015-05-01 | ImagesAZ | Inspiration

It takes several shelves to display the collection of 35 elephant figurines in her home. For some, the majestic animals represent good luck; to others, they are decoration. But to Misha Mendicino, they represent what’s important: family, creativity and community.   They’re also the signature and purpose of her resort wear clothing brand, Misha Mendicino Designs.   “Fashion is the best way to merge all of my dreams together,” says Misha.   Her mother, who recently celebrated her 87th birthday, is enamored with elephants and has collected figurines throughout her life. Last fall, she gave her collection to Misha, igniting the next generation of elephant lovers in Shilo, Misha’s six-year-old daughter. So far, the first grader has contributed another 11 items to the elephant collection, although hers are of the non-breakable kind – think stuffed animals and other kid-friendly trinkets.   “She’s obsessed with elephants. She wants every single dress in her size,” says... More

Stronger Together: The Sonoran Distance Project

2015-05-01 | ImagesAZ | Inspiration

At 51 years old, Susan Loken is preparing for her fourth Olympic Marathon Trial. With her agile body and determined spirit, it would be hard to believe that she didn’t start running until the age of 35, after the birth of her third child.   “I was the girl that skipped gym class, hated to get her hair sweaty and was always picked last for any team sport,” she says. “I had no idea there was an athlete hiding inside my body for over 35 years! I began walking, and then running, to give myself some alone time, get outside in the beautiful sunshine, lose weight and feel personally accomplished. The gift that running gave me was the lesson to believe in myself.”   Now she is the athlete everyone looks up to, sweaty hair and all, as she trains with 15 other female runners as part of the Sonoran Distance Project (SDP), an elite all-female running team where members are hoping to qualify and compete in the 2016 Olympic Marathon Trials, and ultimately, the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio... More

The Joy of Giving

2015-05-01 | ImagesAZ | Inspiration

Photo Credit: Bryan Black
On the banks of Cave Creek, where soldiers once made regular stops to quench their thirst and rest their horses on the dusty trail to Fort Whipple in Prescott, Paula Scully examines the seedlings in the large garden behind her home.   Not one for flash or pretense, her cropped blond hair brushes her shoulders as she browses through rows of raised planters sprinkled with squash, strawberries, carrots, lemongrass, cucumbers, zucchini, herbs, flowers and other treats. Grape vines, still dormant for the season, form promising tangles on the wire mesh above; they will provide much-needed shade as the days get longer. Chickens, ducks and goats greet her from their pens, eager to let her know they are hungry.   The natural beauty of the garden and the surrounding five-acre property are a breathtaking find in the North Valley desert, but as Paula has learned, beauty alone means little without someone to share it with. And, like the garden which may, at first glance, appear to have no rhyme... More

Foothills Food Bank: So much more than Food

2015-05-01 | ImagesAZ | Inspiration

When we hear the words “food bank,” we most likely think of just that – a bank of shelves filled with foodstuffs and a band of volunteers who bag and distribute the food to the hungry. And we would be right. But in the case of the Foothills Food Bank we would also be so very wrong, for in its short life, the food bank has expanded its shelves with sustenance for not only the bodies, but also the minds and spirits of its clients, preparing them to survive and thrive on their own.   In the words of Executive Director Pam DiPietro, “It takes a village. Providing food is one thing, but we need to create a one-stop shop for those in need so that they no longer need us.”   With that in mind, the food bank now provides its clients with help in many ways to navigate their way to independence and success and to do so, partners with other agencies, non-profits, churches and government groups to coordinate a full range of assistance.   Who, Me? In the food bank service area of... More

Taylor Jarvill: On A Mission To Kenya

2015-05-01 | ImagesAZ | Inspiration

From Boulder Creek High School to Pepperdine University, Taylor Jarvill has always brought a strong will to succeed and to serve. That strength of purpose is soon taking her to Nairobi, Kenya. On May 29 she will join nine other volunteer interns on an eight-week mission in the Mathare Valley as part of Christian Missionary Fellowship International. Working alongside missionaries, volunteers, medical personnel and Kenyan nationals, Taylor will be able to use her focus on preventative healthcare to help transform the lives of those living in extreme poverty.   For Taylor, this is not her first mission. In her relatively young life, she has already spent time in Argentina and Fiji on missions to prevent and heal. During her month in Fiji in 2013, she saw first-hand the need for help. “People ride a bus all day to get to a doctor. I saw a lot of surgeries. And one lesson—the importance of something as simple as a healthy mouth to prevent other problems.”   That’s one reason she... More

Behind The Camera

2015-04-21 | ImagesAZ | Inspiration

For as long as I can remember, I’ve had a love affair with books. Walking through a library is like discovering a treasure trove of gems, each one bound tightly in book cloths or board, waiting to be opened so that it can reveal its carefully sculpted brilliance.   Some books reveal the intricacies of the author’s imagination: tales of intrigue and mystery drawing the reader into a fantastical dance. Others reveal knowledge and facts that change how we see the world and our role within it. Yet others share stories that give us insight, not only into the characters whose lives are portrayed, but into who we are and where we have been.   The story of one remarkable Arizona man may have been all but lost had his friends and family not encouraged him to pen his thoughts and document his life a dozen or so years ago.   Pedro “Pete” Guerrero was behind the lens of a life that unfolded for so many through photographs of early- and mid-century architectural and creative works of... More

Dinner With Wolves

2015-04-19 | ImagesAZ | Inspiration

Experience the mystique of the Mexican gray wolf, one of the planet’s most endangered mammals, while supporting the Defenders of Wildlife and Arizona’s Southwest Wildlife Conservation Center at this intimate dinner that includes a guided tour of the Conservation Center. 4-7 p.m. $250. Transportation provided from the Omni Scottsdale Resort and Spa at Montelucia, 4949 E. Lincoln Dr. Event takes place at Southwest Wildlife Conservation Center, 27026 N. 156th St., 480-471-9109, More