35 Years of Make-A-Wish

2015-09-23 | ImagesAZ | Inspiration

The Make-A-Wish Foundation is celebrating 35 years of putting smiles on young faces and making wishes come true. The organization’s mission is commendable: grant the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions to enrich the human experience with hope, strength and joy. This worldwide leader in nonprofit organizations began in Phoenix when a community banded together to make a small local boy’s wish come true.   Chris Greicius was just 7 years old when he was diagnosed with leukemia in 1980. He always wanted to “catch bad guys” and be a police officer. His mother’s friend, Tommy Austin, a U.S. Customs agent, felt the need to support Chris and grant him this wish. Together with friends from the Arizona Department of Public Safety (DPS), Tommy put together a special surprise: a DPS lieutenant gave Chris and his family a tour of the department and then presented Chris with a badge to make him an honorary DPS officer. The officers had a special uniform made to fit... More

Filling bowls to help those in need

2015-09-23 | ImagesAZ | Inspiration

Photo Credit: Loralei Lazurek
Artists dedicated to supporting a local hunger-fighting organization are working together with the community and local businesses to raise money and awareness at the 15th Annual Foothills Empty Bowls Project Lunch.   On October 16, the Sonoran Arts League again invites the entire community to lunch at the Carefree Town Center from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.    In the beautiful Carefree setting, each guest selects an artist-made bowl into which they are served a delicious lunch donated by Harold’s Cave Creek Corral. Guests then take the bowls home with them, all for a suggested donation of $15. Artwork offered by members of the Sonoran Arts League is available for bid in a stunning silent auction. One hundred percent of the proceeds benefit the Desert Foothills Food Bank and Resource Center. Donations have ranged between $15,000 and 20,000 each year.   Original Sonoran Arts League member Carole Perry of Laughing Glass Studio and her husband, Don Carroll, have been chairing the Foothills... More

Impact of Hope

2015-09-22 | ImagesAZ | Inspiration

The night of October 24 will be a special one in Anthem, as Grace North Church will host an Impact of Hope event benefitting two local residents and provide a showing of support for the struggles they are currently facing.   Impact of Hope seeks to “provide hope to families in need and relieve the financial burden of a medical situation they are facing, to bring churches together as one to impact their community with the hope and love of Jesus Christ and to bring people into the house of God for fun, spirit-filled worship that will leave an everlasting impact on their lives.”   “Sometimes life throws a curveball and we are tempted to look up at heaven and ask God, ‘Why have you allowed this thing to happen?’” says Eric Henry, an Impact of Hope volunteer. “Sickness, illness, disease and the death of a loved one can be difficult to understand, especially when it is a child. We just have to remember that God is in complete control and knows exactly where we are at any... More

Bee Lecture and Tea with Emily the Bee Keeper

2015-09-14 | ImagesAZ | Inspiration

Discover the secret life of bees and get a taste of fresh honey with Arizona’s queen bee, professional beekeeper Emily Brown. Call for reservations. $30. 3-5 p.m. The English Rose Tea Room, 201 Easy St., 480-488-4812, More

Swinging Fore Kids Cancer

2015-09-13 | ImagesAZ | Inspiration

It is easy to feel overwhelmed by stories about illness or disease, particularly when children are involved. Beyond the fact that no one wants to face the possibility that they, too, could find themselves in a fight for their own lives, or for the lives of their children, many people simply feel powerless when a neighbor, friend, co-worker or family member is living with a life-threatening condition.   What do we say? What do we do? Do we talk about the illness? What if our own emotions betray our fear or sadness? What if we say or do the wrong thing?   For one local family, not only have they walked the horrible path that began with a diagnosis of childhood cancer, but they’ve also faced the desperate fight for treatment and, ultimately, the indescribable pain of losing a child to cancer.   Chrisie and Nick Funari became part of a club they never asked to join — the community of “cancer families” whose journeys have far too many similarities and far too much... More

Opening Doors for Foster Kids

2015-09-06 | ImagesAZ | Inspiration

Maricopa County alone has more than 1,000 children in shelters who are in need of homes and loving families. Imagine how high that number would be if factoring in all the homeless children in the state of Arizona? Or in the nation? For many of these children, hope is all they have. For some, they are granted the greatest of gifts: families with big, open hearts.   “Most people don’t adopt because they think it’s too expensive,” says Kelley Camasto, a foster and adoptive parent for more than 10 years. “The truth is, adopting a child is free in the state of Arizona.”   Kelley is now parenting a total of nine children (ages 6 months to 16 years) with her husband, Paul. Of the nine, six are their legally adopted children and three are still foster children, but in the process of being adopted.   “We couldn’t have kids on our own,” Kelley shares. “Through Big Brothers Big Sisters of Arizona, we were led to adoption. Ten years ago, we adopted two boys. They were... More

Walking In Spirit & In Hope

2015-09-03 | ImagesAZ | Inspiration

And they’re off! Once again, walkers and runners at the Linda’s W.I.S.H. 5K run/walk will take on the challenge and fun of this annual fundraising event. On September 26, runners and walkers of all ages will join in what has become an inspirational tradition since its inception in 2001.   Dedicated to the memory of founder Linda Kacmarsky, the event attracts participants from all over the North Valley. Last year’s race drew more than 400 participants to the beautiful Persimmon golf course at the Anthem Country Club, also the site for this year’s event. The more the merrier — and more money raised to support the continued fight to find a cure for breast cancer, as well as those who need help to cope with the diagnosis and its aftermath.   Together We Make a Difference Last year’s event raised a net $15,000 from race entry fees, sponsorships and related donations, and the Boulder Creek High School girls won the coin collection challenge with a grand total of $522. Every... More

Reunited After 34 Years

2015-09-02 | ImagesAZ | Inspiration

A stranger saved a little boy’s life after the boy had fallen into a pool. Thirty-four years later, the families reunited in a most unique way.   Andy and Louise Tobias grew up in Central Phoenix. Louise often spent time at her mother’s home a mile away, and this day was no different. The two of them got to talking in the backyard while Louise’s 22-month-old son, Ryan, was playing catch with the new family puppy.   “My mom and I decided to head inside so I could help her get ready to go to the beauty salon,” says Louise. She grabbed her son and locked the puppy outdoors. Eventually, Louise kissed her mom goodbye and started cleaning things up in the kitchen.   “All of the sudden, I noticed that the puppy was in the house,” she says. But she knew she had locked the dog out. She turned toward the back of the kitchen and saw that the patio door was open, and Ryan was nowhere to be found.   It was a mother’s worst nightmare. Louise walked into the backyard and found her... More


2015-08-01 | ImagesAZ | Inspiration

It was 14-year-old Sabrina Seifert’s attendance at a local community meeting last year that alerted her to the fact that supplies for Anthem Pets were running low. The discovery led Sabrina to suggest to her mom that she initiate a pet food drive through their mother-daughter community group, Believe in Anthem AZ. The drive was such a success that they are planning for an even more successful sequel this year.   Last year, the group collected 575 pounds of dog and cat food, 30 cans of wet cat food and treats and 155 pounds of cat litter thanks to the many community members who donated, as well as PostNet, who graciously made space for the donated items.   According to Anthem Pets volunteer Lisa Kilwein, the food is collected from PostNet periodically and delivered to a central location in Anthem, where volunteers repackage the food into 5-gallon bags.   “A large portion of the food is donated to families in the area with financial needs,” she said. “It’s amazing how many... More

Bartlett Lake: Right In Your Backyard

2015-08-01 | ImagesAZ | Inspiration

Being confined to a wheelchair has never stopped Bryan Church from chasing his dreams. Little did he know how big of a leap his dreams would take after a trip to Arizona.   “My brother and I decided to make a trip to Arizona to watch the Cleveland Indians spring training in Tucson in 1980,” he said.   Someone told them about Bartlett Lake, the best kept secret in Arizona, according to Church, and they decided to trek up to Phoenix and check it out.   The lake is the last reservoir on Verde River and fed by a 7,500-square-mile watershed located south of Flagstaff. It heads over east of Payson and the Mogollon Rim and west near Prescott. Back then, the last seven miles of the road to Bartlett were unpaved.   “I just got this vision,” said Bryan, as he described the marina he had pictured in his head the moment he “laid wheels” on the shoreline. So he went home, grabbed his typewriter and wrote a letter to the United States Forest Service about his idea. Three months... More

Savannah Strong :: The Ruiz Family

2015-06-29 | ImagesAZ | Inspiration

Photo Credit: Keri Meyers Photography
“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 came to buy a truck and eventually, the two were... 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