“The Chocolate 5K” Reflects a Wider Southern Florida Effort to Improve Wellness


Marathon running race, people feet on roadDespite its name, the “Chocolate 5K” event was anything but fattening.

On January 17th, runners from Orlando and across southern Florida gathered in Blanchard Park to participate in the fight against obesity. Not only were they there to compete, they were there to spread awareness about America’s growing problem with obesity and health.

The event was organized by the Kerosene Lamp Foundation (KLF), a non-profit organization founded by former NBA player Adonal Foyle. According to its website, the foundation’s mission is “to empower youth to grow into healthy and well-educated adults.” Since 2003, the organization has striven towards “promoting education and health awareness, providing free athletics [and] academics camps, mentoring at-risk student-athletes and building/refurbishing basketball courts.”

Foyle, who retired from the NBA in 2010 after having played for the Orlando Magic and the Golden State Warriors, decided to devote his post-basketball career to improving the lives of youth in his adopted home. Born and raised in the tucked-away Caribbean island nation of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Foyle experienced first-hand both the burdens of poverty and a lack of resources — as well as the benefits athletics can offer to children and young adults.

Writing in the Bleacher Report, Foyle realized that as a retired NBA player, he had to “reinvent himself.” As a result, he devoted even more of his time to the KLF, seeing the potential it had to improve the lives of not only children but also the community at large. Named after the kerosene lamps Foyle would use to study as a boy in St. Vincent, the KLF promotes athletic and academic events throughout the United States and the Caribbean. So far, it has impacted over 6,500 children.

The Chocolate 5K was the latest KLF effort to raise awareness and money for an issue that directly affects children across the United States: obesity. According to the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 17% of young Americans ages two through 19 are obese. Black and Hispanic children, in particular, are more susceptible to obesity than white children, as are children in lower socioeconomic backgrounds. The same holds true for adults, except the percentage of obese American adults is even higher, reaching a whopping 34.9% in 2012.

Despite the fact that in 2012 more than 15,000 5K events were held in the U.S., the American population is struggling with keeping its weight down. The KLF and other organizations are working tirelessly to educate as well promote healthy lifestyle choices for children.

The Chocolate 5K event reflects a wider pattern of obesity-prevention initiatives sprouting up throughout Florida. As reported in the Gainesville Sun, the Alachua County government declared January 5th to be “Healthiest Weight Florida Day.” The day recognized county and state officials who have work toward combating obesity in the state. The special designation follows in the footstep of Florida’s wider “Healthiest Weight Florida Initiative” from last year, a program intended to raise awareness about the dangers of obesity as well as offering programs and services to help Florida’s overweight citizens.

Local news affiliate CBS 12 of Palm Beach County reported that in addition to the Chocolate 5K event, a special training camp was set up for a local middle school on January 14th by the Miami Dolphins. Run by former and current Dolphins players, the camp promoted health and exercise activities with the hopes of encouraging children to eat and exercise right.

“If you are going to eat, you have to make sure you exercise,” said former Dolphins tight end Troy Drayton — a sentiment the state of Florida wholeheartedly agrees with.

Congresswoman Brown Promotes Nick Martinelli to Deputy Chief of Staff/Legislative Director

nick martinelli
Nick Martinelli promoted

(Washington, DC)  On February 1st, Congresswoman Corrine Brown will promote her Legislative Director and Transportation Committee Staffer, Nick Martinelli, to the position of Deputy Chief of Staff/Legislative Director. With regard to Nick’s promotion, Congresswoman Brown made the following statement:

“I vividly remember when Nick began working for me as a young intern in 1996.  Bright, enthusiastic, and loyal, I knew at the time that he would contribute in great ways to a congressional office, and I was fortunate that he chose mine.

Through dedicated hard work and an uncanny ability to learn and retain information about my congressional district and the complicated inner workings of Capitol Hill, Nick quickly advanced in my office.  He was initially hired as a Staff Assistant in January, 1997, after completing a six month internship.  Afterwards, he swiftly moved up to the position of Legislative Correspondent, where he assisted my staff with their computers, and answered letters on a variety of topics to my constituents.  Subsequent to that position, he became a Legislative Assistant, and was responsible for covering numerous issues, yet he was mainly focused on my work in the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.  Later, in 2007, when I took over as Chairwoman of a key subcommittee within the House Committee on Transportation (Railroads, Pipelines and Hazardous Materials), Nick took the prestigious title of “Shared Committee Employee,” and served as my Transportation Committee Liaison, while simultaneously running my congressional office’s Legislative Division.

Presently, because of his outstanding work in my office, I decided to promote him further to the position of Deputy Chief of Staff/Legislative Director.  Indeed, Nick has displayed strong leadership ability, as well as a thorough, substantive knowledge of my congressional district and its needs.  And although Nick was born and raised in Pennsylvania, he is well known by all major players and stakeholders throughout my congressional district, and throughout the state of Florida.  I am certain that given Nick’s past success and outstanding work during his 18 years in my congressional office, Nick will excel in his new role.”

Obama: Netanyahu’s visit too close to election for meeting


obama pensive

Washington (CNN)President Barack Obama says he will not meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in March because his trip to Washington comes too close to Israel’s upcoming elections.

“I’m declining to meet with him simply because our general policy is, we don’t meet with any world leader two weeks before their election,” Obama said in an interview with CNN’s Fareed Zakaria. “I think that’s inappropriate, and that’s true with some of our closest allies.”

House Speaker John Boehner invited Netanyahu to deliver a speech in front of Congress in March. He’s expected to use that speech to lobby for tough new sanctions against Iran — putting him at odds with Obama, who has threatened to veto additional sanctions as he tries to hash out a deal to halt Iran’s nuclear program.

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There’s an Ebola Vaccine in Africa. Now What?


January 28, 2015 Ripley Ballou, the chief Ebola vaccine researcher at GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), was late for our phone conference. I asked what held him up. “Silly little things like Liberia saying, ‘We saw on the news you were sending vaccine. Can you send us the billing shipments and let us know what’s on that plane?’ ” he said, lightheartedly. “You think that would have been taken care of.”

He was able to track down paperwork. It was one last little “t” to cross in an unprecedented effort to bring an experimental vaccine to a large-scale clinical trial in just four months. That’s a lightning pace for the pharmaceutical industry, which normally works on a decade timescale. “I’ve been doing this kind of work between 25 and 30 years,” Ballou says. “I certainly never experienced something like this.” GSK put about 175 people on the project in August after the World Health Organization declared Ebola an international public health emergency. Other projects were shelved. “We’ve had to disrupt the entire system at every level to try to make things go as quickly as possible and yet not sacrifice on quality or patient safety,” he says.

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Local author releases inspiring new children’s book


chadcheetahWINTER GARDEN, Fla. — Author Tiffany Komendat announces the nationwide release of her new book, “… When Along Came Chad the Cheetah,” where she weaves an engaging story about a newcomer’s search for friends.

In “… When Along Came Chad the Cheetah,” the author shares a valuable lesson about acceptance and friendship. Eric the Elephant, Lisa the Lion and Mary the Monkey are playing at the park when along comes Chad the Cheetah. Chad is on a search for new friends in his neighborhood. Unfortunately, he zooms past every opportunity to meet a new friend. Will Chad slow down in time to make new friends? Read along with Chad, and discover the golden rule of friendship!

Published by Tate Publishing and Enterprises, the book is available through bookstores nationwide, from the publisher at www.tatepublishing.com/bookstore, or by visiting barnesandnoble.com or amazon.com.

Komendat is an upbeat elementary educator who is dedicated to providing enriching experiences for children. She previously resided in Ohio when along came the opportunity to move to Florida to pursue a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction. She loves ice cream, dancing and good friends!

$333.2 mil to protect Florida families


TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Governor Scott’s KEEP FLORIDA WORKING budget will make important investments to protect families, visitors and businesses, along with implementing a new statewide emergency alert notification system.

rick-scott“By making investments in Florida’s disaster preparedness,” Governor Scott said, “we are working to ensure that every family in our state has the resources needed to be prepared for any dangerous situation.”

“In Florida, we want to be prepared for any potential impact on our state, and that is why we have to continue to make investments to keep us ready for any threat,” said FDEM Director Bryan Koon. “Governor Scott’s funding allows the Division to ensure our state’s preparedness and keep Florida families, visitors and businesses safe. This budget also funds projects which reduce the financial impacts of future disasters, and creates jobs in communities where these projects are being implemented.”

The Governor is proposing

  • $234.2M for Federally Declared Disasters, $20.2M is General Revenue: FDEM is currently administering open declarations. This figure represents payouts to applicants as well as the state operating budget to manage the federally declared disaster grants. $20.2M represents the total amount of required state matching funds applied to these projects.
  • $14.4M for Emergency Management Performance Grant (EMPG): The EMPG Program assists state, local, territorial, and tribal governments in preparing for all hazards, as authorized by the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act.
  • $7.5M for Flood Mitigation Assistance Program: The Flood Mitigation Assistance Program is administered through FDEM. FDEM develops and maintains a State Standard Hazard Mitigation Plan, reviewing Flood Mitigation Assistance Program sub-applications, recommending technically feasible and cost effective sub-applications to FEMA and providing pass-thru funding for FEMA approved and awarded project grants to eligible sub-applicants.
  • $6.7M for Pre-Disaster Mitigation Program (PDM): The PDM Program provides funds for hazard mitigation planning and the implementation of mitigation projects prior to a disaster event to reduce overall risks to the population and structures, while also reducing reliance on funding from actual disaster declarations.
  • $4.5M for Statewide Emergency Alert Notification System: FDEM will initiate the statewide deployment of a vendor-hosted “mass notification” system to provide voice call, text, email, and TDD/TTY alerts of eminent or actual hazards to all Florida citizens, businesses and visitors. The system will merge with existing systems, including the Emergency Alert System and the Integrated Public Alert and Warning System to automatically disseminate weather warnings from the National Weather Service and target specific geographic areas for real-time, location-based mobile device alerts.
  • $3.4M for Severe Repetitive Loss Program: FDEM administers this program to provide relief for those whose insured property has demonstrated severe repetitive flood loss, according to guidelines set by FEMA. This program allows owners to seek forms of relief such as elevation, relocation, or acquisition of their affected properties.
  • $3M for Hurricane Shelter Retrofit: FDEM publishes an annual shelter retrofit report which provides a list of facilities recommended to be retrofitted for use as public hurricane evacuation shelters. Such measures bring the safety of public shelters up to established safety criteria and increase the availability of public hurricane evacuation shelter spaces in the state. An additional 20,000 spaces are estimated to be available to the public by August 2015.
  • Included in the “KEEP FLORIDA WORKING” budget is the deployment of a Statewide Emergency Alert Notification System. The planned vendor-hosted mass notification system will provide voice call, text, email, and TDD/TTY alerts of eminent or actual hazards to all Florida citizens, businesses and visitors. The new system will integrate with existing ones, such as the Emergency Alert System and the Integrated Public Alert and Warning System. It will include the capability to automatically disseminate National Weather Service warnings and geographically target specific areas for location-based mobile device alerts.

The NFIP Community Rating System (CRS) is a points-based program, which allows enrolled communities to earn reduced flood insurance premiums. Communities earning 500 points in CRS will be rewarded with a 5% savings to policyholders. The new notification system will provide CRS communities with 395 of the required 500 points.

Florida NFIP policy holders will save a combined $47M once all eligible communities are enrolled in CRS.

“The Statewide Notification System is an important tool for protecting those who live, work or play in our state,” said John Dosh, emergency management director for Escambia County. “Smart phones account for the majority of today’s mobile devices, and it is very important that we invest in a system that capitalizes on the broader range of capabilities they offer.”

The new system will also result in potential savings to Florida homeowners by reducing premiums paid by National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) policyholders.

“Governor Scott’s funding provision for the Statewide Notification System is a sound investment for Florida,” said Dosh. “It protects homeowners and has the added benefit of reducing the financial burden of hard-working families.”

If you’d like additional information about the Florida Division of Emergency Management, visit Floridadisaster.org. FDEM also features an extensive social media presence. Follow FDEM on Twitter at @FLGetAPlan, Instagram@FLGetAPlan, and Facebook at Facebook.com/FloridaDivisionofEmergencyManagement and Facebook.com/KidsGetAPlan.

It’s Time for Hollywood to Act Like Diversity Matters

Marc H. Morial President and CEO National Urban League
Marc H. Morial
President and CEO
National Urban League

Diversity is basically a description of independence.  Diversity is what moves the ball for me, and I thought ‘give people a chance that have different points of view.  Let the audience decide whether they like it or not.  But give those voices a chance to be seen and heard.” – Robert Redford, actor, director, and co-founder of Sundance Film Festival

Hosted by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the 87th annual Academy Awards ceremony – better known as the Oscars – will either best be remembered for the uproar incited by this year’s homogenous nominations, or as a seminal moment for change in the Academy’s long, non-inclusive history.

How to Cut Child Poverty by 60 Percent Right Now


WASHINGTON, Jan. 28, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — The Children’s Defense Fund released a groundbreaking report today:  Ending Child Poverty Now (www.EndingChildPovertyNow.org). For the first time this report details how to substantially reduce child poverty in America.

Single – Bride Abuse


Wedding-Rings-1Dear Sandy B: Recently I was listening to a program on talk radio. The dialogue was centered around marriage. The caller stated that she has been dating regularly for several years, but has been unsuccessful in finding a husband. She said that she has given herself until she’s forty to find a husband.

ORLANDO Sculpture now at the Orlando Citrus Bowl

New Orlando sign lights up the night at the new Citrus Bowl
New Orlando sign lights up the night at the new Citrus Bowl

Last night Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, City Commissioners and the City of Orlando Public Art Advisory Board celebrated Downtown Orlando’s newest arts and cultural installation with the official lighting of the iconic ORLANDO sculpture at the Orlando Citrus Bowl.  The new ORLANDO sculpture adds to Downtown Orlando’s growing art scene which already features 20 art galleries, eight iconic See Art Orlando sculptures and the new Dr. Phillips Center for Performing Arts.