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United they run

Hermitage HS wins national relay title

It may have seemed as if there were the usual number of runners on the Hermitage H.S. sprint medley relay team that won the national championship in June.

But behind the foursome of Jaylen Banks, Dallas Carter, Edwin Mejia and Devin Barnes, there were a number of unseen hands and supporters helping to clear their path to the championship and propel them over the finish line in first place.

In a run that their coach called "amazing," the boys led the field from the very beginning of the race and claimed the title with a margin of 1.6 seconds. According to Milestat.com, which compiles high school meet results, the boys "attacked" the event, and only one team ever had a chance of catching them.

McShin Foundation helps addicts to ‘love themselves’

At only 12 years old, Honesty Liller began drinking and using marijuana. Through her teen years, she moved on to cocaine, followed eventually by heroin. After an overdose, a pregnancy and hitting rock bottom, she found her place at the McShin Foundation, a full-service recovery community organization (RCO) serving individuals and families fighting substance abuse disorders.

“I was desperate,” she says. “I didn’t love myself, and I wasn’t a mother. I was broken down, beaten down, and I didn’t have any money.”

She moved into the foundation’s recovery house, located off Dumbarton Road in the basement of Hatcher Memorial Baptist Church. During the following five months, she began doing odd jobs as a nanny and landscaper and eventually began working for The McShin Foundation.

Racing for a cure, one breath at a time

More than 250 participants will take a stand against lung cancer in the fourth annual Richmond Free to Breathe 5K Run/Walk March 8 at Innsbrook Corporate and Community Center, which aims to raise awareness and funds for groundbreaking research in the early detection of the disease.

Susan Keen, a thoracic nurse navigator at CJW Medical Center, founded the local area race after losing four family members to lung cancer, the deadliest form of cancer in men and women.

Canine commitment


Sixty-one year-old Debbie Hart-Bowley of Henrico suffers from a neurological movement disorder that limits her mobility. But she has gained some of her freedom back after being paired with Fletch, a young Labrador/golden retriever mix through Companions for Independence.

Fletch can open doors, turn light switches on and off, assist with transportation and pick up dropped objects; Hart says he’s a perfect match.

“Fletch is laid-back and just loves moving at my pace, which is important because my health has slowed me down,” she says. “I can do so much more when he is helping me, and I save time and energy. I am no longer sitting looking at four walls; Fletch has helped me enjoy life again.”

CACGA rings in Chinese New Year with flurry of colors

The Chinese community celebrated the arrival of the new lunar year – a year dedicated to the horse – with a parade of dancing lions and dragons, acrobatics, other cultural performances including Peking opera, vendors and children's activities at the The Cultural Art Center At Glen Allen Jan. 19, just a few days before the official new year began Jan. 31.

All over China, people may take several days of holiday from work to prepare for and celebrate the new year with family and friends as Americans do for Thanksgiving. The new year 4712 is designated to the horse, one of the twelve rotating Chinese zodiacs.

Hitching a ride

The Budweiser Clydesdale East Coast hitch, with its four pairs of stunning Clydesdale horses, made an appearance at the West Broad Village last month, on its way to the Super Bowl in New Jersey. The Clydesdales are used for promotions and commercials by the Anheuser-Busch Brewing Company.

There are several "hitches," or teams of horses, that travel around the United States. Anheuser-Busch owns a total of about 250 Clydesdales in total; each one must be at least four years old and six feet tall.

Positive reflections


In 2009, Aljanette Hall struggled like many Americans. She found herself out of a job after many years working in the real estate business. The time off afforded her the opportunity to live out her true passion - shaping young girls into successful women-to-be who know their value.

“Going through the downside of the economy, I knew just how it was,” she says about feeling singled out and in need of information. She had been mentoring through her church on a volunteer basis, but saw the need to grow her outreach throughout greater Richmond.

Cleaning up


La Forest Williams and Michelle Collins-Robinson joined students from Maggie Walker Governor’s School and volunteer coordinator John Shuck to help clean up East End Cemetery in Henrico County Jan. 4 as part of Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe’s “Day of Service.” The cemetery, adjacent to Evergreen Cemetery, is the final resting place for several noteworthy African-Americans, including famed educators Virginia Randolph and Rosa Bowser. It’s been overgrown with brush and ivy for years and is used as an illegal dumping area.

Tour empowers girls with fun, education

In a society in which many of the normalcies in tween culture focus on sexuality and promiscuity – and push young girls to grow up too fast – the Secret Keeper Girl Crazy Hair tour offers a fresh outlook on mother-daughter connectedness by teaching that being “crazy” can mean many different things.

A “Secret Keeper girl” embraces modesty, loves herself and others, feels comfortable sharing with Mom, and knows she is a masterpiece of God. By introducing girls to this event, organizers hope that they will realize the true beauty that lies within them and be opened up to a world of positive role models.

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