North Oldham High School honored their senior boys basketball manager by starting him in the last home game of the regular season. Tee Salinas has been the Mustang's manager since he was in the sixth grade and finished out his career at NOHS by scoring the first two points in the game. Tee's special night was covered by nearly every Louisville media outlet and Tee's fellow students got Tee on sports center by tweeting #GetTeeOnSportsCenter. Tee has always been a sports fan and medaled in the Special Olympics last golf season. The gym was full of people who were eager to give back to Tee, it was an amazing thing to witness.
Doc isn’t your average librarian. Upon entering the library he is greeted with excited but confused faces. A quick stroll over to the circulation desk ends in wet-nosed greetings and a wagging tail.
Doc is one of six therapy dogs the Oldham County Public Library utilizes for their PAWs to Read program. The program allows readers of all levels to sit with a trained therapy dog and read aloud to build literacy skills.
“It’s designed to allow kids to read to a non-judgmental listener,” children’s librarian Melinda Fox said.
For Noelle Gosnell, PAWs to Read is a way to get her first grade daughter, Rachel, interested in books. Gosnell and Rachel travel from Jefferson County to take part in the program.
After hearing about the program from her sister-in-law, Gosnell signed Rachel up online and the pair have made two trips to the program.
“I’ve always loved reading and my daughter struggles, but loves animals,” Gosnell said. “So anything I can do to combine reading and something she loves is a good thing.”
PAWs to Read is a volunteer run program. After running the program successfully for a few years, the library lost its volunteer dogs and went two years with no dogs. Now, the program is growing and is always looking to add puppy partners, Fox said.
Participants in the program sign up on the library’s website to guarantee their spot. Each session with the therapy dog lasts 15 minutes. The sessions are free and take place throughout the week and participants are encouraged to bring their own reading materials. Sessions usually take place on Monday, Tuesday and Saturday and exact times are available from the library.
Kara Thompson Wright brings her four-year-old son Xavier to the program often. While Xavier cannot read yet, he practices flash cards with letters and numbers printed on them.
“Anytime he sees an animal he wants to share letters with them,” Thompson Wright said.
One of Xavier’s favorite dogs is Joe Cocker, a cocker spaniel owned by Jessica Gaines Jarboe of Jefferson County.
Gaines Jarboe brings Joe Cocker over to participate in PAWs to Read to “share his love,” she said. Joe is a trained therapy dog and is known to nod off during sessions at the library, Gaines Jarboe said.
Once when Xavier was going over flash cards, Joe Cocker started to fall asleep. Xavier promptly woke Joe up saying, “Wake up, this is very important,” Thompson Wright said.
Xavier is just one of the many children PAWs has helped, Fox said. One of her favorite success stories comes from a kindergartner. After not showing an interest in reading, the child’s mother knew her daughter was an animal lover and brought her daughter in to spend time in the program. After attending multiple sessions, the daughter was reading at a second grade level, Fox said.
For more information on the program visit the library’s website www.oldhampl.org and click children’s under the programs tab.
Hi there friend,
Thank you so much for taking the time to look at my blog, it really means a lot to me. I just wanted to give a quick update on what has been going on here in La Grange.
Last weekend I was fortunate enough to win first place in the Kentucky News Photographers Association's annual competition in the multimedia category with At the heart of it, the piece on the coal mining Wilson family. I am so thankful for this opportunity and encourage you to check out the amazing work that was featured in this years competition at www.knpa.org.
Also, I have been shooting a lot of sports. Now for those of you who know my work, you know that sports isn't my strong suit, so I am so very excited to get to work on my skills! With three high schools in the county I know that I will have my plate full but I honestly could not be happier.
I hope you're having an amazing day!
All my love,
At first glance, it may not seem like Lisa Wells has struggled with health issues.
But the Crestwood resident defeated two types of cancer before hitting her 40th birthday. Less than two years out from her latest diagnosis, Wells recently became a big fundraiser for an annual cancer walk in the area.
At the age of six, Wells was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, a type of bone cancer. Doctors in Louisville gave the young Wells a 20 percent chance of surviving her childhood cancer. After her diagnosis, Wells traveled to the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tenn.
For treatment, Wells was enrolled into a case study aimed at finding out if a surgery and chemotherapy combination or surgery only was the best way to treat osteosarcoma. Wells was placed in a surgery- only group and had her left leg amputated at the hip as a child. A few years ago she found out she was the sole survivor from the surgery-only group.
"It changed the way they do research," Lisa said of her childhood treatment.
Last year, Lisa was diagnosed with cancer again, this time it was colorectal. After almost a year of radiation therapy, chemotherapy treatments and a partial colectomy, she is now in remission.
As a former St. Jude kid, Lisa recently noticed a sign for the annual St. Jude's walkathon in her local gym. With roughly three weeks until the event, she started a fundraising team called, St. Jude's Miracle, with her husband, Joe, an attorney at James and Wells PSC, and went to work on fundraising.
"When you look back on something like (having cancer), it can be a horrible memory, but it’s a good memory for me because of St. Jude," Lisa said.
At the walkathon this past Saturday, the Wells’ St. Jude's Miracle team raised nearly $7,400, making them one of the top fundraisers for the event. Lisa was the top individual fundraiser with a total of $4,000.
"We've guilted, begged, pleaded and everything else on Facebook to get donations," Joe said.
After her success in fundraising for the St. Jude’s event, the Wells want to continue finding ways to support cancer research.
Lisa said she wants to help other families affected by cancer by fundraising, since her own family was taken care of by St. Jude’s when she was dealing with her bone cancer. Those interested in donating to St, Jude can do so by going to stjude.org and clicking on the green donate now button. Donations can be made in the name of Lisa or Joe Wells.
After defeating two types of cancer, Lisa Wells said her latest goal is a simple one.
"I want to grow old with my husband and see my grandkids,” Lisa said. “That's my biggest hope.”
With eight kids in the house, Debbie Lance needs two calendars to keep track of every appointment.
Foster parents Debbie and Roger Lance currently have seventeen kids in their life. Between the ten biological children from previous marriages, the three adopted children and the four they are currently fostering, the Lance household is always busy.
Debbie has always known she wanted to be a foster mother. Before her marriage to Roger Lance in 2005, she gave him an ultimatum.
"I knew this was something I was going to do and if we were going to be married he had to be on board," Debbie said.
Three years into their marriage Debbie quit her job at a local preschool to make sure her family would be financially stable on one salary.
Six months later, the Lance's signed up with the state's oldest child welfare agency, Maryhurst. After being accepted as a suitable home, the Lance's received their first child. Shortly after beginning their foster parent journey, both Debbie and Roger were diagnosed with cancer within six months of each other.
After making a full recovery the Lance's opened up their home again. Through the fostering process, they came to their first adoption, a teenager named Sarah.
"We fell in love with her right away and knew we wanted to adopt," Debbie said.
The couple was then asked to watch a set of three-year-old twins so another foster family could have a break. The twins had fetal alcohol syndrome, which led to a weekend of sleepless nights for the Lance's.
"After they left we said we could never do that again," Debbie said.
Little did Debbie know she would soon become their mother.
A few months after providing respite care for the twins, the Lance's received a call asking if they would care for the twins full time. The couple agreed and ended up adopting them. Now in second grade, the twins are doing well.
Currently, the Lance's are fostering four brothers and sisters that range in age from three months to four years old.
The next move for the Lance family is a new vehicle. Currently, the whole family cannot fit into one vehicle, so an upgrade is in order. A 12-passenger van will soon be gracing the driveway of the Lance household.
For those who wish to follow the Lance's story or join their foster and adoption community, a Facebook page called "Lance's Lot" has been created. Debbie hopes that other families will like the page and become part of the foster community in Oldham County.
"To me, it doesn't make sense why people don't foster," Debbie said. "If they have the room in their home and a heart for children, they can do it. There are so many children in Kentucky who need a home."