February 2022

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2 | 501 LIFE February 2022



As the hospital’s volunteer program, the Unity Health Auxiliary is comprised of local residents who give of their time and talents toward helping Unity Health’s patients and their family members, guests and associates. Auxiliary members donate thousands of hours of service to the hospital every year by providing assistance to various departments and information desks throughout the hospital.


Auxiliary positions: Admissions Cafeteria Chaplain services Gift Shops Infection prevention cart Materials management Optional special projects Sewing & knitting projects

Scan for more information

unity-health.org/about-us/volunteers/ 501.380.1055 February 2022 501lifemag.com | 3


PUBLISHER Jeremy Higginbotham EDITOR Stefanie W. Brazile FOUNDERS Donna Spears and Sonja Keith SPORTS AND DIGITAL DIRECTOR Levi Gilbert COPY EDITORS Jade Fitch and Andrea Miller BRAND AMBASSADORS Donald Brazile and Paulette Higginbotham PHOTO DIRECTOR Mike Kemp FINANCE DIRECTOR Debbie Flowers ADVERTISING SALES Donna Spears CONTRIBUTORS Becky Bell Don Bingham Justin Dorathy Jessica Duff Lori Dunn Levi Gilbert Laurie Green Dwain Hebda Linda Henderson Vivian Lawson Hogue

Beth Jimmerson Mark Oliver John Patton Susan Peterson Dr. Robert Reising Judy Riley Jennifer Skinner Donna Lampkin Stephens Morgan Zimmerman



y family and I have lived in Central Arkansas for almost two years, and we love it! My phone is filled with photos of discoveries like The Old Mill, Garvan Woodland Gardens and Bridal Veil Falls. We have spent days off exploring trails, stores, historical sites and college campuses, and there's still so much to see. Despite the exciting adventures we're having and new friends we've made, I find myself thinking of the people and places back "home" that I love. And, as Valentine's Day approaches, I'm reminded of the opportunity we all have to reach out to people that we care about to let them know how much sweeter they make our lives. This issue is appropriately themed "Love in the 501 — What are you passionate about?" My passion is sharing positive stories from 11 counties each month and this issue has several dozen. In one miraculous story, a young couple shares their struggle with becoming parents. They take us on their journey showing how God uniquely answered their prayers using modern medicine and the love of a true friend. Contributor Judy Riley explains how two friends successfully carried three siblings to term — the Yates Triplets of Lonoke County! One baby was born on May 24, and two siblings arrived on June 6. Other themes for this issue are "Active Senior Living" and "Saying 'I do' in 2022." In addition, we have stories featuring seniors living their best life and fulfilling dreams. And, I'm confident you'll enjoy the beautiful wedding photos and tips that are sure to inspire any bride-to-be. Our cover features a couple who has been in love for 35 years. They are award-winning Argentine Tango performers and ballroom dance instructors from Cabot. For the first time, 501 LIFE brings the story to life in a video recorded at the recently opened The Max Event Venue in Conway. To watch them perform, visit 501lifemag.com or see our QR code on page 6. Another exciting story is about the Zoppé Family Circus that hails from Greenbrier and performs worldwide. We're featuring half of the 501 Basketball Team, and we also bring you an update on Jordan Wicks of Conway, who signed with the Chicago Cubs. I invite you to grab a box of chocolates and linger in the pages of this edition. I know you'll love it just as much as we loved creating it for you.

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Johnny Adams Jack Bell Don Bingham RaeLynn Callaway Glenn Crockett Kay Dalton Beth Franks Russ Hancock Spencer Hawks Mathilda Hatfield Roe Henderson Jerry Hiegel Mike Kemp Julie LaRue

Karl Lenser Monica Lieblong Lori Melton Kiera Oluokun Deanna Ott Pat Otto Jon Patrom Amy Reed Lori Ross Margaret Smith Jan Spann Kim Tyler Suzann Waggoner Jennifer Whitehead

CONWAY COUNTY EDITORIAL BOARD Mary Clark Shelli Crowell Dr. Larry Davis Shawn Halbrook Alicia Hugen Alisha Koonce

Stephanie Lipsmeyer Stewart Nelson Kristi Strain Jim Taylor Morgan Zimmerman

WHITE COUNTY EDITORIAL BOARD Betsy Bailey Tara Cathey Cassandra Feltrop Phil Hays Natalie Horton

Matt LaForce Mike Parsons Brooke Pryor Carol Spears Kristi Thurmon

501 LIFE is published monthly by Make the Jump Media, LLC (920 Locust Ave., Suite 104, Conway, AR 72034, 501.327.1501) owned by Jeremy Higginbotham and Stefanie Brazile. The contents of 501 LIFE are copyrighted and materials presented may not be copied or reproduced in any manner without the written permission of the publishers. Articles should not be considered specific advice, as individual circumstances vary. Products and services advertised are not necessarily endorsed by 501 LIFE.

February 2022 501lifemag.com | 5


February Volume 14 Issue 10

4 8 10 12 14 16 20 22 23 26 28 30 32

Letter from the Editor Upcoming events/News Loving LIFE photos Senior travel club assures new friendships

By Stefanie Brazile

On the cover

Music Man and The Max Two to tango Couple of the Month: Pearlie & Marvin Williams Seniors Living Well Special Section Helping seniors through pandemic blues Estate-planning strategies Exercise best prevention for heart disease

Rick and Sarah Pinedo perform the Argentine Tango to an original song by Jacob Flores. Photo by Mike Kemp

By John Patton


Senior creates neighborhood park

By Becky Bell

Conway hosts largest Arkansas Senior Olympics in 40 years

By Lori Dunn

34 36

Love bites: Chef shares Scottish dishes

By Don Bingham

The Zoppe´ family circus:

By Dwain Hebda

40 Youth of the month: Searcy’s Jordan Crisco By Dwain Hebda


For the love of fitness

By Justin Dorathy

45 ‘I Do’ in 2022 Special section 48 Ask the Wedding Experts 52 501 Basketball Team By Levi Gilbert & Mark Oliver

60 62 66 68

PCSSD begins Pre-K registration

By Jessica Duff

Three babies, two women, one miracle


By Judy Riley

How writing became labor of love

By Vivian Lawson Hogue

Author of the Month: Dr. Judy Tiesel-Jensen

By Susan Peterson


Home of the Month: A house built on love

By Stefanie Brazile


Kid of the Month: Charlie Schell

By Becky Bell

76 78

501 Pet: Best buds

By Becky Bell

Athletic Excellence: Pulaski County’s Ransom Jackson

By Dr. Robert Reising

80 Snowmageddon 2021 By Linda Henderson

84 For love of the game Wicks Chicago Cubs bound By Mark Oliver


Energy Smart: Myths or facts

By Beth Jimmerson

88 Love, lessons and little Martha-isms By Laurie Green


Person of the month: Kathryn Tucker

6 | 501 LIFE February 2022

Watch our magazine

cover come to LIFE! Experince Rick and Sarah Pinedo performing their Argentine Tango to Jacob Flores' song Mariposa Traicionera. Scan the QR code with your phone's camera or qr code reader to to enjoy now!

501 LIFE would like to thank our advertising partners for their continued support and encourage our readers to visit these businesses: B

Bledsoe Chiropractic, 22 & 65


CareLink, 29 Centennial Bank, 71 Central Baptist College, 73 College Square, 25 Conway ENT & Hearing Aid Center, 25 Conway Corp, 9 Conway Regional Health System, 91 Conway Regional Rehab, 64


DDS Denture + Implant Solutions, 31 DJM Orthodontics,41 Downtown Conway, 44-45


Edward Jones, 26 Events Rental & Floral 49


First Community Bank, 43 First Security Bank, 92 First Service Bank, 13 Freyaldenhoven Heating and Cooling, 19

Every month, our 11-county publication flies right off the rack!

Why not have the best news in Central Arkansas land right at your front door? For only $20 a year, you can get a subscription for yourself or the special ones you love. Home delivery ensures you never miss an issue!

Visit 501LIFEmag.com or call 501.327.1501 to subscribe. 501lifemag




Hartman Animal Hospital, 77 Harwood, Ott & Fisher, PA, 69 Heritage Living Center, 5

Catch 501 LIFE on KARK News with Mallory Brooks at 12:30 p.m. on February 3.


Julie's Sweet Shoppe, 87


Kilwins, Little Rock, 49


Legacy Acres, 46

welcome to the Writers’ Room


Methodist Family Health, 61 MSC Eye Associates, 87


O'Kelley Law Firm, 27 Ott Insurance, 67


Patterson Eye Care, 41 Pulaski County Special School District, 60


Restoration Wellness, 51 Reynolds Performance Hall, 89


Salem Place, 33 Shelter Insurance, 74 Sissy’s Log Cabin, 15 South Conway County School District, 74 Southern Sippery, 50 Spencer Hawks, 85 StoneBridge Senior Living, 27 Superior Health & Rehab, 2


Unity Health, 3 University of Arkansas Community College Morrilton, 35 University of Central Arkansas, 38


Windgate Museum of Art, 83

Judy Riley lives in White County. She holds degrees from the U of A and Texas A&M University-Commerce. She retired as a full professor for the U of A Cooperative Extension Service and currently helps her husband, Tom, with a hay production and beef cattle farm and is a board member for several community foundations.

Laurie Green

Levi Gilbert

is a Greenbrier native and a 501 LIFE faith contributor. Laurie and her husband, Will, share seven children, seven grandchildren and a golden retriever named Marlo. They own and operate a lawn care business and are members of New Life Church in Greenbrier. She can be reached at thegreens@ymail. com.

is a UCA graduate who plays an essential role with the 501 Football and Basketball Teams, and has been with 501 LIFE since it was founded. Levi lives in Greenbrier with his wife, Brittany, and their three children. He also serves as the play-by-play TV announcer for Wampus Cat athletics on Conway Corp and as a learning specialist for Acxiom.

February 2022 501lifemag.com | 7

501 Events Little Rock Anime Festival

11th Annual

Great Amazing Race Series 2 - 4 p.m. • Feb. 19

10 a.m. to 6 p.m.• Feb. 5

Little Rock Anime Festival is a one-day event being held to celebrate anime and manga, as well as general pop culture and animation, while bringing together a diverse list of guests, vendors, artists and fan groups in an affordable, family-friendly environment. Adults $20/Kids 2 - 10 $5.

Casablanca – 80th Anniversary Showing

Test your "Amazing Race" skills! Modeled after the TV show, contestants pair up with a friend, and compete against other similar age teams at Pinnacle Mountain State Park in Little Rock. Open for ages 5 to 85 who are walkers or joggers. One competitive course and one recreation course for kids and leisure teams. Two person teams begin at $59.99. Learn more at eventbrite.com or runsignup.com.

Monster Truck Wars

7 p.m. • Feb. 8

1 p.m. and 7 p.m. • Feb. 26

Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman light up the screen in one of the most enduring romances in movie history-- Casablanca. Searcy 8 VIP Cinema will mark the 80th anniversary with a presentation of the movie with exclusive insights from Turner Classic Movies. Run time is 102 min. 2933 East Race St., Searcy. For more information, call 501.305.FILM.

America's wildest monster truck show is coming to the Garland County Main Arena in Hot Springs. See these giant national TV Monster Trucks as they battle it out on a huge, fast track and compete in earth shaking, ground pounding, high-flying excitement. Tickets on sale at monstertrucks.fun.

Turning 15 on the Road to Freedom

12 to 3 p.m. • Feb. 26

10 a.m. • Feb. 8

Filled with traditional and original Gospel and Freedom songs, experience the inspiring true story of Lynda Blackmon, the youngest person to walk all the way from Selma to Montgomery, Ala., on the Voting Rights March in 1965. Reynolds Performance Hall, Conway. Adults $10/Kids $5. 8 | 501 LIFE February 2022

SoMardis Gras Parade

The parade will be held in the SoMa neighborhood, 1301 South Main, Little Rock with the theme of “Pirates and Popstars.” Think Madonna, Blackbeard, or maybe Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow riding down Main Street in the Black Pearl! Event proceeds benefit SoMa 501 Little Rock, Inc.. Entries include floats, walking groups, classic cars and pets. For more info, visit downtownlr.com.

A giver's market

Conway Realtor and cancer patient establishes ‘Real Estate for a Cure’ C

onway Realtor Pamela Stephens has established “Real Estate for a Cure” to help cancer patients at CARTI. She is inviting other Realtors to give a portion of their fees to the nonprofit. CARTI is a nonprofit cancer care provider that treats more than 35,000 patients annually.

showing no trace," she said. "I am currently doing radiation and chemo and am doing very well. It is a fight and I plan on winning!" Because Stephens has received support from family, friends and strangers, she wants to pay that forward in several ways. One way is to donate a portion of her Realtor fees. To that end, she founded Real Estate for a Cure.

Last June, Stephens was diagnosed with Glioblastoma, an aggressive brain cancer. She wants to help others with cancer as she continues her treatment plan.

Stephens said that a portion of her fees and other participating Realtors' fees would go to CARTI and cancer research. She invites other agents to join the new group. Other groups associated with selling real estate are also donating to CARTI.

"They removed my tumor on June 30 with a post MRI

"I am fighting my battle and helping other Arkansans fight theirs," Stephens said. "Let's pull together to make this happen!" To learn more about “Real Estate for a Cure,” contact Stephens at 501.944.1155. Or, you can donate directly to the CARTI Foundation by contacting Michaela Johnson at 501.660.7616. The Faulkner County Board of Realtors made a $500 donation to the CARTI Foundation. Sena Crafton (from left), Real Estate for a Cure founder Pamela Stephens and Casey Hawks.

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February 2022 501lifemag.com | 9

LOVING LIFE IN THE 501 Headed out on a special trip? Have a special occasion or get-together coming up? Pack a copy of 501 LIFE in your suitcase, snap a photo at your destination and send it to us for publication in a future issue! Photos can be submitted by email to stefanie@501lifemag.com.

Restoration Wellness celebrated their opening with a Ribbon Cutting hosted by Conway Chamber of Commerce representatives. Owners Sheila and Steve Hayes were “Loving LIFE” when she cut the ribbon. Maumelle Troop 295 was "Loving LIFE" when they added a fifth Eagle Scout to the troop. Back row: Scoutmaster Jay Gillespie (from left), Mike Blackburn, Eagle Scout Spencer Wood, Eagle Scout Noah Browning and Greg Browning; front row: Steve Peyton, Maumelle Mayor Caleb Norris, Eagle Scout Justin Oulette, new Eagle Scout Lucas Harrison, and Eagle Scout Jacob Blackburn.

Irma Gail (third from left) was “Loving LIFE” with friends while holding an award-winning quilt that, in the 1990s, won multiple national awards including $10,000. Her creation was featured on the cover of the book 100 Best American Quilts. It also graced the cover of two magazines: Quilter's Newsletter Magazine and Quilts - A World of Beauty. The quilt is part of the collection of the Museum of the American Quilter's Society in Kentucky.

10 | 501 LIFE February 2022

Hilltoppers Home Extension Club of Conway County was “Loving LIFE” when they hosted the annual Christmas Council meeting. Charlotte McDowell (from left), Gail Fickle, Anna Halbrook, Cindy Nelson, Cathy Boyd, Cindy Wilson, Kristi Strain, Erika Rodriguez, Melanie Garrett and Angela Austin.

More than 20 brave souls were “Loving LIFE” before taking the plunge at Greers Ferry Lake at the 18th Annual Chunky Dunk on New Year's Day. Dan Feuer and Patti Leitner are holding the magazine.

Morrilton friends, Lewis (from left) and Sandy Newman, and Regina and Keith Long were "Loving Life" last fall as they prepared to board an 1880s steam engine train in Keystone, S.D., for a scenic ride through the Black Hills.

Senator Mark Johnson and Dr. Linda Beene were “Loving LIFE” at an event at Holly’s Country Cookin’ in Conway.

Houston Phillips, of Conway, was bundled up and “Loving LIFE” in McCall, Idaho.

The Conway County Piece Makers were “Loving LIFE” as they presented a quilt to 1st Lt. Walter Rhodes, 93, of Benton. On Veterans Day, the ladies gifted 17 quilts to local veterans in Morrilton. They have given nearly 600 quilts to veterans.

February 2022 501lifemag.com | 11

ON THE ROAD AGAIN Senior travel club assures assistance, safety and new friendships By Stefanie Brazile


ctive seniors want to travel, and joining a group can provide safety and help with planning, mobility, and new friendships. Judy and Randle Tomlinson moved to Conway from El Dorado in 2019 to be near their son. They have membership in the First Service Travelers Club at First Service Bank. The program is for customers 50 and older who have flexible schedules, enjoy travel, social events, and unique experiences. "As I have grown older, it gets easier to let someone else do the driving, and all of the planning and all I have to do is sit back and enjoy the trip," Mr. Tomlinson said. "We've only been on four in-state trips so far. There are four outof-state trips planned this year, and we've signed up for all of them because COVID-19 has really kept us in the house. Even though we've been to three of the places already, they are visiting sites where we haven't been." Dealing with the traffic and hurried pace of larger cities can be daunting at any age, even with GPS. "You have to consider the effort and time of planning a trip and the mental state you're in when you're in a large city," Mrs. Tomlinson said. "We figure that into the cost, but the cost is extremely reasonable. Besides your hotel, it covers many meals, plus entry fee into museums and other planned stops." Traveling in a group is safer, and there is an opportunity to meet new people. Ina Standridge is the club's Director. She accepted the position in March 2018. "The first year was awesome, and we went to Ireland," she said. "We canceled the second year because of the pandemic. However, we hope to go on all trips planned for '22. "Seniors get to make new friends," Standridge said. "You are going to see some of the same people on the trips, and it's a great way to cultivate friendships and renew acquaintances." Mrs. Tomlinson praises the VIP treatment offered to the First Service Travelers group. "We've been traveling all our life, but we always did it on our own," she said. "They handle your luggage, have frequent stops and drop you off right where you should be and pick you up." For seniors with mobility issues, this is especially helpful. "Even if you're handicapped to the point of using a walker or scooter, you're still able to go," Standridge said. "The bus driver is wonderful to get those out for you each time we stop." "Ina [Standridge] is one of the most caring people I know," Mr. Tomlinson said. "When we travel, she makes sure that we have every convenience that we could want. She is a very personable lady."

Judy and Randle Tomlinson (top photo) and the First Service Travelers Club enjoyed a day trip to the Edgemont House in Little Rock. It is a historic Spanish Colonial Revival style home that is open to tourists.

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The trips planned for this year include Savannah in April, Niagara Falls in June, Mount Rushmore in August and Maine in October. To become part of the First Service Travelers, you must maintain a certain amount in an "Earn 50 Plus" checking account. Learn more by calling Standridge at 501.514.2340 or ask any of the bank's representatives for assistance.

February 2022 501lifemag.com | 13

a music man AND THE MAX a video tribute to "Love in the 501"


here are many things that must come together for an effective 501 LIFE Magazine cover shoot each month. An amazing photographer, an engaging subject, a perfectly-lit environment, and always ... a little luck. When 501 LIFE chose the story "Two to Tango" about Rick and Sarah Pinedo for our February cover, 501 musician Jacob Flores and the team at The Max Event Venue helped bring our cover idea to life. Jacob Flores, is an award-winning, one-person band. The former American Idol and The Voice contestant performs a diverse repertoire of both American and Latin-American styles. With last year's release of his second album 'Cupid,' Flores is solidifying his position as an songsmith in the genres of Pop, R&B and Soul. Flores has been featured as a support act alongside internationally recognized recording artists: La Sonora Dinamita, Los Traileros del Norte, and Banda Carnaval. 501 LIFE Publisher Jeremy Higginbotham and his wife were impressed with Flores' talents at a performance in Downtown Conway. "From the moment we heard this musician capture the attention of an entire crowd by himself, we knew he should be featured in the magazine," Higginbotham said. Flores coordinated with the Pinedos and it was decided he would perform his original song "Mariposa Traicionera" as the backdrop for their Argentine Tango depicted on the this month's cover. The next step for creating this one-of-a-kind video of the cover was to find an ideal location. The Max Event Venue was the first that came to mind. The event center is located in downtown Conway and debuted in November 2021. The new development hosts private, small events of up to 60 people. Created by Pete Tanguay, president of Rock Pond Pros, the experience begins when you enter the door. A stunning, modern chandelier centers the sophisticated room that was the perfect place for the dancers to perform. Besides offering a first-class setting for personal or corporate events, The Max has leading-edge sound, video, lighting, and live streaming technology. Those who rent it can have presentations, record, and have the option of global connectivity through large screens. "Pete Tanguay invited Jeremy and me to tour his sophisticated new development in the fall," said Editor Stefanie Brazile. "It was a beautiful January evening when we brought in Rick and Sarah Pinedo to dance, Jacob to sing, and Mike Kemp to take the cover photo. Pete's team took care of the crystal-clear sound and impressive video work." The shoot was electric. With 11 creatives in the building, the excitement was palpable. Because Flores and the Pinedos have performed professionally, the evening moved along effortlessly. "We are grateful to Pete for the use of The Max, to Cunningham Creatives and Scot Pederson for the impressive videography, Monika Anne Cunningham for promotioal assistance and Mike Kemp for capturing the perfect moments. We were thrilled to be able to showcase the talents of these performers and for everyone that made it happen," said Higginbotham and Brazile. Based out of Hot Springs, Jacob Flores provides original and cover songs at events, meetings and weddings. For more information, visit jacobfloresmusic. com.

Watch our magazine cover

come to LIFE!

14 | 501 LIFE February 2022

The Max accommodates personal and corporate events and broadcast and performing arts production projects. Learn more at experiencethemax.com.

February 2022 501lifemag.com | 15

By Donna Lampkin Stephens Photos by Mike Kemp


ick and Sarah Pinedo are quick to credit ballroom dancing for revolutionizing their marriage. In fact, it's probably safe to say that what started as Sarah's dream has changed their lives. The owners of Cabot Ballroom Latin & Swing Dance Room won the 2016 "Dancing Into Dreamland" competition in Little Rock and competed in the 2019 Dreamland Tournament of Champions. "It started as a hobby, turned into a part-time gig, and if we're not careful, it could turn into a full-time gig," Rick said. Since 2006, Sarah has uttered "I told you so" to her husband only a few times. That was the year they became friends with a couple who had recently moved to the area. The wives worked together at Cabot Public Schools, and the husbands also hit it off. "My friend said one night, 'Let's go out to dinner, and then we'd like to go to Fred Astaire's (Dance Studios) in North Little Rock since we've been going there for lessons,'" Sarah recalled. "I came home and told Rick about the dinner plans, but I did not mention going dancing." As a little girl, she remembered she'd always wanted to learn to dance. Still, her single mother had little money

for extracurricular activities, so she never had many opportunities beyond wrapping a blanket around her waist to dance around the house and learning to salsa when her uncle put her feet on top of his to teach her. She had broached the idea of ballroom lessons to Rick a few months before the dinner date, but there had been no progress beyond, "Yeah, we should do that." So, given the opportunity, she sprang it on him. "I did not mention the dancing until nine the night before," she said. "And Rick was like, 'Oh no, I feel sick; I can't go.' And I said, 'Nope; it's too late.'" Rick remembered he went along, dragging his feet. "They taught us a basic beginners lesson," he said. "At the end, the owner asked if we'd like to continue. In reality, I didn't, but I knew Sarah did. So, I asked him, 'What is the cheapest, shortest package you have?' and I bought it. It made Sarah happy. It was only a week-long, so we ended up doing that cheap, short package for three years and learning all they could teach us there, and then we expanded out to the ballroom/Latin/swing clubs in Little Rock." He said men often have several excuses for not wanting to dance. "One is, 'I have two left feet'; another is, 'I don't have any rhythm,'" Rick said. "But I discovered the third reason was

February 2022 501lifemag.com | 17

mine — most men don't want to look foolish in front of their peers. Most men think that dancing is effeminate. But in reality, if you do it correctly, it's one of the most masculine things you can do." Rick, 59, and Sarah, 53, grew up in the Chicago area and met in 1985 at the bilingual (Spanish and English) First Baptist Church of Bensenville, Ill. They were married in 1988, and he joined the Air Force shortly after that while Sarah was in college. Their military career took them to Elmendorf Air Force Base in Anchorage, Alaska; Moody Air Force Base in Valdosta, Ga., and twice to the Little Rock Air Force Base. After 24 years of service, he retired a Master Sergeant in 2012, and the family chose to stay in the 501, where they'd lived from 1992-2001 and again since 2004. By 2006, their children, Maricela and Richie, were in high school, and they could see an empty nest on the horizon. "Dancing came at the right time," Sarah said. "The kids were busy all the time and starting to branch out and do their own thing, and it was going to be just the two of us." Over the years, the couple has sometimes danced four or five nights a week. Now they're averaging two or three. Their

specialty is the Argentine Tango. Rick is of Mexican heritage; Sarah's roots are Puerto Rican. "We're kind of like West Side Story," Rick said, chuckling. What sets the couple apart on the dance floor? "There's not a lot of Latin dancers in Arkansas, and not a lot of married Latin dancers in Arkansas, and not a lot of married dancers who can perform the Argentine Tango," Rick said. "When we dance, we're very, very connected." Added Sarah: "The Argentine Tango lends itself to seeing a connection. It's all lead and follow. There's not a set pattern. It's very different." Just before the COVID-19 pandemic changed the world, the owner of Cabot Dance Academy, approached the couple about offering ballroom dance lessons in her space. As a result, they opened Cabot Ballroom Latin & Swing Dance Room in January 2020. After the pandemic closure, they've started back. The benefits to dancing include physical, health and social aspects. "It really has changed our lives," Rick said. "We say our specialty is people with two left feet and no rhythm." Another focus for the couple is Marriage Enrichment classes. "Because Sarah and I have been so successful, we have decided to reach out to other couples and teach them how dancing can revolutionize their marriage," he said. "We use the dance floor as the vehicle to teach them how to dance and to get them to reconnect." Sarah said she's wondered over the years what they'd be doing now if they hadn't taken the dance leap in 2006. "We'd probably be sitting in front of the TV.”

In 2016, Rick and Sarah Pinedo won the ‘Dancing into Dreamland’ competition in Little Rock. Learn about this year’s competition, planned for Feb. 12, on Facebook at Dreamland Ballroom. Photo by Richard Davis.

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HER STORY: WHERE DID YOU GROW UP: Eudora (Chicot County) in

southeast Arkansas.

EDUCATION: Bachelor of science in health education from the University of Central Arkansas. EMPLOYMENT: Education counselor at UCA. PARENTS: The late Josephine Johnson and Sylvester Thomas,


COMMUNITY ACTIVITIES: Preparing and distributing

in the Arkansas delta.

CHURCH ACTIVITIES: I’ve served as a worship leader,


both of Eudora.

meals to the homeless, elderly, sick, and homebound.

Sunday school teacher, home church leader, and choir member.

HOBBIES/SPECIAL INTERESTS: Designing lapel pins and

corsages. I enjoy reading and watching a good movie or series.


compassionate, fun-loving, and friendly.

WHAT IS ONE THING PEOPLE DON’T KNOW ABOUT YOU: My married name is the same as my maiden

name. No, we are not related!

MOST ENJOYED WEEKEND ACTIVITY: Spending time with family and friends. I also enjoy taking spontaneous trips and traveling. WHAT IS YOUR MOTTO: Treat everyone the way you would

like to be treated. “See” everyone and value them as a human being. You never know who you meet and the impact they could have on your life.

WHAT DO YOU ENJOY MOST ABOUT LIVING IN THE 501: Getting to know members of the community and

their backgrounds. I enjoy seeing the community grow while maintaining its small-town charm.

WHERE DID YOU GROW UP: Osceola (Mississippi County) EDUCATION: Bachelor of science in speech language EMPLOYMENT: Student success coordinator for UCA. PARENTS: George and the late Deloris Williams of Osceola. COMMUNITY ACTIVITIES: Conway Ministry Center board

member, RAISE Grant Working Group member, preparing and distributing meals to the homeless, elderly, sick, and homebound

CHURCH ACTIVITIES: I’ve served as a worship leader, church pianist, youth pastor, and choir member. HOBBIES/SPECIAL INTERESTS: Cooking, singing, playing

the piano, and serving others.

HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOURSELF: Friendly, outgoing, loving, easy to talk to, helpful, and giving. Others say I’m humorous. WHAT IS ONE THING PEOPLE DON’T KNOW ABOUT YOU: The older I get, the more of an introvert I’m



the community with Pearlie serving meals.


THEIR STORY: HOW WE MET: UCA campus through a mutual friend in the gospel choir called The Ebony Singers. THE PROPOSAL: Traditional one knee in a dorm room. WEDDING BELLS: Dec. 2 1995, Little Rock. CHILDREN: No biological, but many unofficially adopted children. PETS: 1 rat terrier, Sadie. FAMILY ACTIVITIES ENJOYED TOGETHER: Laughing,

sitting on the back patio watching TV, serving together, and visiting with family.

20 | 501 LIFE February 2022

I have several: I can’t help everyone, but I can help someone. Do what you can to help others; you never know when it might be you in need. Being better off doesn’t make you better than anyone else. We know where we’ve been, but we don’t know where we are going.


and growth. I love our downtown area and how it’s maintained and developed.

A COUPLE OF SOCIAL MEDIA STARS Pearlie has a Facebook page for her pins, Pearlie-Girlie Pins. Marvin has a Facebook page about cooking and a cookbook “Marvin Williams Cooking Adventures.” He also has a YouTube channel with more than 1,000 singing and cooking videos. Photo by Mike Kemp

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As we grow older, there are many opportunities to learn new skills, make friendships, travel, volunteer, and be active and healthy. Today's older adults are proactive about living well.

In this special section, 501 LIFE has assembled stories that remind readers how to make The Golden Years shine. Included is a story about a senior who built a park for neighborhood kids; how to maintain your mental health during the pandemic and the value of volunteerism; the Senior Olympics in Arkansas; how to be heart healthy; and, taking charge of your financial legacy.

February 2022 501lifemag.com | 23

Helping seniors through the

pandemic blues By Jennifer Skinner


iving an active life as a senior is rewarding mentally, emotionally, and physically. Active seniors enjoy better mental and emotional health when they continue to do the things they love, try new things, challenge their minds, laugh, and have fun with friends and family. It is very important, even during a pandemic, for seniors to be connected and involved with meaningful projects, safe family activities, volunteering, and socializing. Those who stay active enjoy longer lifespans, improved thinking, better coping skills, happier and healthier moods, lower risk for health problems, and more stable emotional and mental health. Spending time doing the things you love with the friends and family you care about is very important. However, two years in a worldwide pandemic has completely changed our active lifestyles. Particularly the lives of seniors who have been among the most vulnerable to COVID-19. Many withdrew immediately from the risks of crowds, group activities, church, volunteering, and part-time jobs. In doing so, many have been removed from the very things that keep them happy and healthy. The rewarding, mentally stimulating, and emotionally satisfying activities are important to older adults and the groups and organizations with which they are active. When things were so suddenly halted, there was a big impact on everyone, especially seniors. It has taken a toll on emotions and mental health. It is easy to become secluded, inactive, bored, sad, depressed, lonely, confused, and completely unstimulated by a lifestyle no one expected or wanted. It is important to assess personal mental and emotional health through the pandemic and do the same for friends and family who may be struggling during this time. It doesn’t take much to get caught up in negativity or unhealthy mindsets. Seniors can help battle the pandemic blues by staying involved in meaningful activities they enjoy and making conscious efforts to have a healthy lifestyle.

Some helpful tips include: • Step away from the news for a while. Don’t fill all your time with negative news. • Connect with friends and family with calls, porch visits, FaceTime calls, or social media. • Attend church using precautions or view online services. • Volunteer with an organization. There are ways to help even if you don’t want to be in-person. • Go outside to enjoy the sunshine and fresh air. • Start a new hobby or revisit an old one. • Make good decisions for your overall health, including: 1. Get exercise and adequate sleep. 2. Eat healthy well-rounded meals . 3. Avoid alcohol and tobacco use. 4. Attend regular doctor visits and screenings. It is normal for all of us to long for and even grieve the lifestyles we had prepandemic. Feelings of disappointment, sadness, or helplessness are normal when people experience a dramatic change in their lifestyles. The pandemic has evoked uncomfortable feelings of uncertainty and fear at times. It’s natural and important to express these changes in feelings and moods, but we should be concerned if moods and emotions become excessive, prolonged, or severe.

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Signs a senior may be struggling: Changes in behavior including • lack of concentration or interest in normal activities • lack of energy or loss of appetite • difficulty remembering • sleeping more or less than usual or unexplained body aches or pain Changes in emotions and feelings including • unusual negativity and being cranky, irritable, or having angry moods • expressions and feelings of hopelessness • expressions and feelings of low self-esteem or self-worth If you notice changes in emotions or moods in someone else, you can reach out and • make contact regularly with phone calls or porch visits • listen without feeling like you must fix things • let them know you are available and willing to talk • encourage positive choices and activities they enjoy • help them laugh and have fun If you are concerned about a serious change in mood and/or emotions, consider speaking to someone who can help you or a loved one learn ways to manage these feelings. Unity Health - Clarity Health and Wellness offers easy counseling services and telehealth capabilities in convenient locations, so you don’t necessarily have to leave home. Unity Health Clarity Health and Wellness: 501.203.0055 (Searcy) 870.495.1260 (Newport) 501.422.6431 (Cabot) 501.453.6000 (Jacksonville)

Nancy Meyers is a helpful volunteer at the Gift Shop at Unity Health – White County Medical Center in Searcy. Photo by Erica Duncan

One of the best ways seniors can remain active and enjoy feeling good about their involvement in something meaningful is through volunteer opportunities. Volunteering for nonprofit organizations, churches, homeless shelters, and local hospitals is a rewarding way to maintain an active lifestyle you enjoy with friends. The Unity Health Auxiliary is accepting new volunteers in Searcy and Newport and soon in Jacksonville for the new Unity Health hospital. Possible positions include admissions, cafeteria, chaplain services, gift shops, guest services, materials management, sewing and knitting, special projects, and more.

Learn more at 501.380.1055 or unity-health.org/about-us/volunteers/.

February 2022 501lifemag.com | 25



Estate-planning strategies important to all seniors W

hen you hear “estate planning,” what do you think of? For many people, these words evoke images of immense wealth. But estate planning isn’t just for the wealthy – it’s for everyone. And it’s about more than preserving wealth – it’s about putting you in control of your own legacy. But how can you achieve this worthy goal? You can start by identifying your estate planning objectives. Here are some of the most common ones:

Controlling movement of assets to beneficiaries During and after your lifetime, you will want to ensure your loved ones receive what you want them to have, and when. Through documents such as a will and a living trust, and techniques involving life insurance and using proper beneficiary designations, you – not the courts – will control the movement of your assets to the desired recipients.

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Naming someone to make decisions if you become incapacitated Naturally, you hope to stay in good physical and mental shape throughout your life and remain capable of making your own financial and health care decisions. But the future is not ours to see, so, to protect your interests and those of your loved ones, you may want to consider creating arrangements such as a power of attorney, health care directive and a living will. In this way, you’ll still be able to control the key choices that may lie ahead.

Providing for minor children or dependents If you have young children or other dependents, be sure they’ll be looked after if you aren’t around. In your estate plans, you can name a guardian for them. You can also use various estate planning tools, such as life insurance, beneficiary designations and the establishment of a trust to provide the necessary financial resources for your loved ones.

Supporting a charitable organization Leaving something behind for your family is obviously an enormous part of your legacy – but it may also be important to you to provide support for charitable groups whose work you’ve admired. Of course, you can contribute to these organizations while you’re alive, but through strategies such as donor-advised funds and charitable remainder trusts, you can include these groups in your estate plans.

Managing taxes efficiently If you’re likely to have a large estate, your heirs may need to be concerned with income and estate taxes. To help control these taxes, you can take a number of steps, such as making outright gifts to your family during your lifetime, establishing an irrevocable life insurance trust, creating a family limited partnership and making charitable donations. All the estate-planning strategies and techniques mentioned here can be complex – so, to implement them, you’ll need to work with an estate planning attorney and a tax professional. You may also want to include your financial advisor, who can help ensure your estate planning objectives align with your important financial goals, such as living comfortably in retirement and providing for your children’s or grandchildren’s education. By identifying your objectives and working with your professional team, you can create an effective estate plan – and help yourself maintain control of your legacy. This article was written by Edward Jones.

We not only care like family. We play like family. At StoneBridge, our residents enjoy a wide array of daily activities, all designed to provide health, happiness, and our one-of-a-kind family experience. Discover more at StoneBridgeSeniorLiving.com.

Conway • Cabot • Heber Springs • Russellville • Pocahontas • Blytheville

February 2022 501lifemag.com | 27

the heart

of the matter

Exercise is the best prevention for cardiovascular disease By John Patton


hen it comes to preventing cardiovascular disease, there is no substitute for exercise. “Exercise has the single biggest impact on what people can do to prevent heart attacks or stroke,” said Don Steely, an interventional cardiologist with more than 20 years of experience treating heart patients in Conway. Dr. Steely practices at the Conway Regional Cardiovascular Clinic. “I emphasize with my patients that risk factor management is the No. 1 way to prevent heart disease,” said Steely. “Smoking cessation, controlling blood sugar (diabetes), cholesterol, and high blood pressure are really important, with exercise having the biggest impact.” An American Health Association (AHA) study of patients indicated that moderate exercise, 30 minutes per day for five days per week, can decrease the mortality rate by 30%. The AHA also studied the effects of walking, running, weightlifting, cycling, and swimming and found no difference between these forms of exercise in reducing mortality. The exercise regime should also include muscle-strengthening activities of moderate or greater intensity on two or more days a week. Strength training should involve all major muscle groups to provide full health benefits. Steely added, “I tell people to do whatever exercise fits their goals as long as it is 30 minutes of moderate aerobic activity, five days a week. If your goal is longevity, moderate aerobic exercise and core strength can preserve your ability to do what you want. That can include 30 minutes of yoga — but the exercise must elevate the heart rate.” Don Steely, MD, is a highly experienced Interventional Cardiologist with the Conway Regional Cardiovascular Clinic.

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Heart Attack Symptoms


Steely also advocates regular visits with a family doctor to monitor blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar, and other vitals. Without those yearly visits, cardiovascular disease can go undiagnosed and can lead to heart attack or stroke. It is also important to know the symptoms.

Steely said there are improvements in medication related to cardiovascular disease and that diuretics, specifically certain diuretics for diabetes patients, have been shown to be helpful for heart failure patients.

Heart attacks do not always present with dramatic symptoms. “Only about 50% of patients have typical symptoms: crushing chest pain, nausea, sweating, or pain going down the left arm and up into the jaw,” said Steely. About 20% never know they have had a heart attack. “A super common theme among new cardiac patients is going to be exertional shortness of breath, decreased exercise tolerance, and a dull, achy discomfort that can be mistaken for indigestion,” he said. “It’s a low threshold for saying something’s changed. For instance, if you exercise regularly and one day on your 2-mile walk, you get short of breath or have to cut the walk short because you don’t feel good, then we need to look into that.”The less dramatic symptoms are generally more prominent in women but can be present in men.

Stroke Symptoms The signs of stroke in men and women include:

• Sudden numbness or weakness in the face, arm, or leg, especially on one side of the body. • Sudden confusion, trouble speaking, or difficulty understanding speech. • Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes. • Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance, or lack of coordination.

It important to know that not all medicine is helpful. “For instance, the average person does not need to take aspirin unless a doctor has diagnosed them with heart disease, atrial fibrillation (an irregular and often very rapid heart rhythm), or if you are at risk for stroke,” said Steely.

Response Time Another important factor in the fight against cardiovascular disease is the medical response time to heart attack and stroke. “Our heart team continues to be one of the fastest providers of heart care in the state,” Steely said of Conway Regional Medical Center. In 2021, Conway Regional achieved the AHA’s gold plus standard for door-to-balloon time as well as the gold plus standard for stroke response time. The awards are based on the speed of their response to heart and stroke patients. Gold plus is the highest standard awarded by the AHA. Steely encourages anyone experiencing heart attack or stroke symptoms to call 911 immediately. Most emergency responders are equipped with mobile communication technology that can transmit electrocardiograms (EKGs) from the ambulance directly to the nearest emergency room. Once the EKG is sent to Conway Regional, the heart team is alerted. “Our team is totally focused on fast response. Our emergency department and cardiac catheterization lab professionals are prepared to receive the patient and begin providing immediate care. It’s really a total team effort to respond as quickly as possible,” he said.

CareLink has been caring for families in Central Arkansas since 1979. Whether you’re looking for respite, someone to care for an aging loved one, or someone to care for you, CareLink has the resources to help caregivers care for themselves. As well as the training to make sure those in need get quality assistance. Call CareLink’s Information & Assistance Specialists today to find out if senior services like in-home care or Meals on Wheels are the right choices for you or an aging loved one at 501.372.5300.

February 2022 501lifemag.com | 29

Photo by Mike Kemp

Let Them Play Active senior creates neighborhood park By Becky Bell


hen Bob Crossman’s five grandchildren outgrew their playsets in his backyard, he had the perfect second home in mind for the equipment. On his property, he created the Shady Oaks Neighborhood Park on the corner of Steve Street and Sternwheel Drive in Conway. His reason was simple. “There are no parks nearby that have been an attractive part of the neighborhood,” he said. “Now kids come by and they play.”

primary reasons he and his wife, Marcia, decided to build on the property. “My oldest son helped me slingshot a fishing line over the limb to put it up,” Crossman said. “The swing is very popular just like it was at church camp.” Crossman wanted everyone in the neighborhood to know about the swing, so he put a sign welcoming them to use it.

Crossman, 68 and retired, said he is “staying busy” by taking care of the park and authoring books.

“The next thing I did was build a little arbor with a red double swing where mom and dad could sit and swing while their children played,” he said.

The retired Crossman Printing business owner and Methodist minister said the park began about two years ago when he decided to build a 6-foot by 15-foot bridge over the creek that flows down into the woods behind his home.

Then, to make his park more enticing to neighborhood families, he installed a brick walkway across the bridge so they could see the goldfish pond.

Another idea that quickly followed was hanging a 3-footwide swing, which several children could use at the same time, on a 200-year-old oak tree. The tree was one of the

The park draws about 50 people per week, and Crossman said they have been very good about picking up their trash after birthday parties and other celebrations.

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The Shady Oaks owner said no one helped him fund the park and he was glad to do it for the children. He said he knows the families appreciate the park because of their smiles and how they react on the playground. As an experienced former minister, father of two and grandfather of five, Crossman said he remembers how children need to stay occupied in things that are good for them. “My long-term concerns are about children who have nothing to do, and they get into trouble,” he said. “This gives them a safe place to be and to entertain themselves, and when you are in the neighborhood next door, the backyards are very small. There is no place to play like I had.” Other additions to the park have been putting in a volleyball court and a tether ball area. Crossman said he is looking for a soccer goal that a school or a city park is not using so children can practice their skills, as well on the park’s soccer field. There are also two basketball nets, four slides and three playhouses. He said the people using the park are quick to let him know if something needs attention. “People are great about picking up, and they tell me when something is broken or loose, and I go out and fix it,” he said. “It’s wonderful. I’m very pleased with that.” When he is not playing guardian to the park or playing with his two Maltese dogs, Crossman spends his extra time writing. Crossman is also author to eight books, with the last two about Arkansas history and the previous on the Methodist church. His books are available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other book retailers.

Cooper Crossman and a neighborhood friend, Stephanie, play on one of three tree swings at the park.

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Conway hosts Arkansas' largest Senior Olympics in 40 years By Lori Dunn


cott Bryden of Conway was visiting Missouri on a business trip several years ago when he noticed a group of guys in a gym playing a game he didn't recognize. "I looked down and saw these guys whacking a ball across a net," he said. The ball resembled a wiffle ball. "I said, ‘What in the world?'" The sport is called pickleball, and now Bryden is quite good at it and loves to introduce it to others. "I've been doing it ever since," Bryden said. This past November, Bryden was one of 257 Arkansans who competed in pickleball in Conway at the largest Senior Olympics held in Arkansas since 1983. Because of that event, he is one of 215 Arkansans who qualify for the National Senior Games pickleball tournament, scheduled for May 10 to 17 in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. Pickleball is a combination of badminton, wiffle ball and tennis. The balls are hard plastic with holes, similar to a wiffle ball. Bryden qualified for the men's doubles for the National Senior Games. He is an alternate for mixed doubles and is on the wait list for singles. "I play both singles and doubles. Typically, there is a lot more running for singles," he said. His pickleball partner is Brad Boyle from Morrilton. Greg Eberts, executive director of the Arkansas Senior Olympics, said pickleball is an activity that offers senior adults exercise while also allowing them to socialize. Bryden agrees. "Players are very happy to teach new players the game and get people involved. I've seen three generations playing together. It's a great way to have some family fun," Bryden said.

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This past November, 257 competed in pickleball at the Senior Olympics. 215 of them qualified for the National Senior Games pickleball tournament.

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love bites

From Scotland to Vilonia, Chef Suzanne Campbell has a passion for the delicious. by Don Bingham


hen life presents us with friends and acquaintances that are a delightful encouragement, they often come from all four corners of the globe! One such friend is Chef Suzanne Campbell, a Certified Executive Chef, with Scottish heritage and northern English roots. Suzanne grew up in the Queens Hotel, owned by her family, in the little town of St. Bees in Cumbria, England. Among her remembered and cherished dishes from the region would be: Grasmere Gingerbread, Hawkshead Wig (bun with hint of caraway), Fat Rascals (type of tea cake) and Kendall Pepper Cake! Cumberland Sausage and Black Pudding are also regulars at her table, with charcuterie being a chosen offering, long before the charcuterie board became the culinary rage.

Blackberry swirl bread 6 oz butter softened 6 oz sugar 3 eggs room temperature Grated zest of orange 6 oz self-rising flour 1 teaspoon baking powder 2 tablespoon powdered sugar 1 small jar of homemade blackberry jam (stir contents until smooth)

Preheat oven 325 F. Grease and flour bread pan. Using an electric mixer, beat butter, sugar, eggs, and orange zest for one minute. Sift flour and baking powder into a large bowl. Fold the flour and baking powder mixture into the butter and egg mixture. Pour half into the loaf pan. Swirl some of the jam through the batter. Add remaining butter mixture, and swirl jam through remaining batter. Bake for 30-35 minutes. When an inserted toothpick comes out clean, the bread is done. Allow the bread to cool in the pan before turning it out onto a wire cooling rack. Once cooled, sprinkle the bread with powdered sugar.

Photo by Mike Kemp

"Cooking is an art form, a social interaction, and represents traditions painstakingly acquired,” she said. “Our food history and regional cooking promotes resourcefulness and respect for our culinary heritage. We should not lose sight that our food should taste great and should be enjoyed and celebrated with friends." And celebrate, she does! Chef Campbell has followed her husband's career in the U.S. Air Force for 40 years, and has spent much of this time stationed around the world — landing in Vilonia! For over 10 years, she has developed classes for the Pulaski Tech Culinary Arts Institute in Garde Manger, History of Food, Canning, Fermentables, and Preserving. The Chef Campbell story does not end here! Besides winning numerous awards such as Educator of the Year and the Formica Culinary Award, her theme in life is to enjoy "food, laughter, friends, and wine!" In her spare time, she trains horses at her owned and operated horse farm, Three Sisters Farm! Competitions too numerous to mention, a true showman in riding, and "born with a spirit for animals in her DNA" would be at the top of her business card! She has authored and illustrated two children's books on the adventures of two of her miniature horses, titled The Adventures of Belle and Nick, The Rescue Ponies: A Christmas Wish, and The Adventures of Belle and Nick, The Rescue Ponies.


scottish scones 2 lbs all-purpose flour Pinch of salt 3 heaping teaspoons of baking powder ½ cup sugar ¾ cup unsalted butter 1 ½ cup milk ½ cup dried currants (optional)

Egg wash

1 egg 2 teaspoon milk

Topping ½ cup sugar

Preheat the oven to 475 F. In a large bowl, sift flour, salt, baking powder, and ½ cup sugar. Cut the cold butter into the dry mixture until crumbly. [Many use a pastry blender to evenly distribute the butter. The pieces should be about pea sized when you are done.] In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs and milk. Make a well in the dry mixture, and add the egg mixture. Hand mix until all ingredients are incorporated. Empty dough onto a floured surface. With clean, dry hands, form the dough into a mound. Roll the dough so it is an inch thick. Score the top with a knife and cut into triangular wedges. Brush the top of the dough with the egg wash, and sprinkle with sugar. Place on an ungreased sheet pan. Bake 10-13 minutes until golden brown.

And, I must also mention that she has a high level of expertise and promotion in foods that are seasonal to the regions where she has resided. As a member of the American Culinary Federation and having traveled extensively with her husband's career, she has been able to promote the "farm to table" philosophy from London to Vilonia with her vast knowledge of canning, freezing, and preserving — with blackberries being a speciality! Her pantry remains full of jams, jellies, tomatoes, pickles, chow-chow, chutney, and local honey! Thank you Chef Campbell, for all of your delightful contributions to our community, our state, and thank you for the years of teaching and inspiring others in the world of culinary arts!

See Chef Campbell's Cumberland Sausage recipe at 501lifemag.com/food-home-entertaining.

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February 2022 501lifemag.com | 35

Tosca Zoppé was born to be a circus performer as part of Zoppé Circus, a family business spanning nearly 200 years. By Dwain Hebda Photos by Mike Kemp


t’s always been my life,” she said of the performance art form. “I’ve always loved it.”

culminates in a show they get to share with family and friends.”

Practically from the time she could walk, Toske Zoppé was a tiny ballerina in the circus’s signature equestrian act, something for which she showed natural artistry and expertise as she grew. A few years ago, when she launched her own production, Piccolo Zoppé, horses remained the centerpiece of a show that also includes aerialists, wire acts, and clowns.

Both the show and the camp are Zoppé’s way of paying tribute to the history of the art form and her family’s role in it. In a profession that’s easy to romanticize, the true origins of the Zoppé Circus is something to behold. Commencing in 1842, a young, French street performer, Napoline Zoppé, spotted Ermenegilda, a beautiful, equestrian ballerina in a Bucharest Plaza. Ermenegilda’s father disapproved, dismissing Napoline as a lowly clown, so the young lovers ran away to Venice where they founded their circus.

Piccolo Zoppé keeps alive a brand of circus much different from what American audiences are used to. Instead of behemoth three-ring versions that typically play major auditoriums, the Zoppé circus has always been smaller, one-ring shows cast in the classic European tradition. Zoppé took that philosophy even further in Piccolo Zoppé, providing an intimate evening of entertainment that connects with audiences in ways that larger circuses cannot. As with all live entertainment, COVID-19 cut performances to near nothing in 2020, but performances rebounded to 11 cities and 132 shows in 2021. Zoppé said she would like to build Piccolo Zoppé’s schedule to encompass 25-30 weeks in the coming years. She’s also passionate about preserving the circus arts for future generations, having launched an all-ages circus camp. “The whole circus school experience has really exploded in the United States,” she said. “We started doing bareback riding camps for kids about 15 or 16 years ago across the country. It was a natural progression to our full circus camp four years ago. They learn how to ride, they learn a little bit of aerial, clowning, juggling, tumbling, a little bit of everything. And at the end of the week, it all

A century later, with the couple’s great-greatgrandson, Alberto, and his siblings taking their places in the family business, the company struggled through the devastation of World War II bombings that decimated their livestock. Despite this, Zoppé Circus remained a draw, particularly for one wellknown American film icon. “Orson Welles used to visit our family’s circus in Italy quite a bit,” Zoppé said. “For one, he loved the circus, and he was friends with my father. And he really loved my grandmother’s cooking.” Welles talked Alberto into coming to London to appear in a movie about the circus and arranged an introduction between the Zoppé family and John Ringling North of Ringling Brothers, Barnum and Bailey Circus. He also lobbied Alberto to come to America to appear in Cecil B. Demille's film, “The Greatest Show on Earth.” The patriarch balked at the idea, saying his family’s business would likely not survive his absence.

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After some thought, Alberto made a counteroffer. If Ringling Brothers would loan Zoppé Circus one of their elephants — an almost unheard-of attraction among smaller European circuses at that time — it would provide enough of a draw that Alberto and his family would come to the U.S. for the project. After some wrangling, a deal was struck and so began the family’s American chapter in 1948.

actually a home,” she said. “We’d rented a farm in Little Rock for the winter because it was centrally located and we were doing a lot of performances across the South. One day she said, ‘I’m going to go look for a house.’ She found it in Greenbrier.”

Lizzy Flemons (from left), Stacia Adams, Amelia Jane Flemons, Tosca Zoppé, Johnny Adams, John Ryan, Corey and Emily Shumate

Born into the life of a circus troupe meant Zoppé’s upbringing was at best unconventional and replete with animals many people only see in zoos. At three days old, she took her first elephant ride, and as a tot, she was tended sideby-side with a lion cub. “The day I was born, my father wasn’t at the hospital because he was helping my uncle deliver lion cubs. My uncle gave him one of the cubs,” Zoppé said. “I was actually raised with a lioness that was the same age I was. My mother would prepare two bottles and feed both of us in the back of a station wagon. She painted the lioness’s bottle gold so she’d know which was which.” As a child of the circus, Zoppé lived a nomadic life filled with homeschooling, performing, and never staying in one place for long. That is, until one day her mother put her foot down. “Mom had had it. We’d spent a lot of time in an RV, and she wanted to have a home she could go to that was

“I was five years old when the circus moved in across the street,” said Young, who estimates he’s seen 50 Zoppé performances overall. “It changed my life and shaped my life. They brought culture and people from all over the world into a place where I was starved for those things. They really helped me reshape my whole image and outlook of this world and what life is like for people around the world. They were highly impactful on me.” Even after calling Arkansas home for 30 years, Zoppé and her band are still very well-kept secrets in The Natural State. Piccolo Zoppé recently performed in Greenbrier for the first time ever and Zoppé’s eager to expose more Arkansans to the art form she loves so much. “I have a passion for our history and our heritage, honoring those who went before me,” she said. “To share that with people is really our biggest love and biggest joy."



et ready to check all the boxes. At UCA, students get it all – a beautiful campus, NCAA D1 sports, impressive facilities – plus the outdoor adventure and city access unique to central Arkansas. Even better? It’s all surprisingly affordable. Apply today!

UCA.edu 38 | 501 LIFE February 2022

Greenbrier native Max Young II said it was a magical piece of his growing up to spend time with the unique family.

February 2022 501lifemag.com | 39

501 LIFE




By Dwain Hebda


few years ago, Jordan Crisco had a firm plan in mind for life after graduating high school at Harding Academy in Searcy. The standout football player was headed to Harding University where he’d study to become a teacher like his mother and grandfather before him. Then, a funny thing happened on the way to college. He got what he thought would be a summer job with the campus television station, a gig that altered the entire course of his future. “There was another woman working there who was a college student at the time, and we became good friends,” Crisco said. “She told me I needed to apply to work on Harding University's daily newscast. I applied, and I got the graphics position in the fall of 2018.”

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The position itself didn’t speak to Crisco, but it was obvious a switch had been flipped in the freshman within the world of broadcasting. By the spring of 2019, another unexpected opportunity presented itself within the department. “The program director asked me, ‘Hey, do you want to direct? We have an opening.’ I was like, ‘I don’t. That sounds terrifying.’ She was like, ‘Great, you’re going to do it,’” Crisco recalled. “It’s what they always preach to people who come to Harding: ‘We will throw you in the deep end, and if you sink, that’s OK, we’ll grab you back up.’ And that’s how it started.” Despite his fears, Crisco agreed, and the experience set the hook for the process and pace of delivering a television newscast. He’d direct for the remainder of his college career,

“It’s what they always preach to people who come to Harding: ‘We will throw you in the deep end, and if you sink, that’s OK, we’ll grab you back up.’ And that’s how it started.” - Jordan Crisco while still majoring in history, but he sought to apply his degree on set rather than in front of the classroom.

graduation that range from Arkansas television stations, to national cable channels to get his start.

“I fell in love with the storytelling aspect of [broadcasting],” he said. “That’s been a constant thread through my life. I’m a fourth-generation history major, and it's always been a major part of my life, and I have taken that love for stories and moved it into more of a breaking news style. It’s important that we all know what’s going on right now, as opposed to what happened 30, 40 years ago.” Looking back, the college senior can recall the early life experiences that may have foreshadowed his new career ambition. As a kid, he’d spend time after school at his grandparents’ house as he waited for his mother to get off work.

He’s a strong candidate for any job he applies for, given the quality of work he’s been a part of during his time at Harding, resulting in several prestigious awards. The Harding University program was recognized by the National Broadcasting Society for its live coverage of the revived Searcy Homecoming Parade and was an honorable mention for a regional Emmy for expanded coverage of the changeover of the university president.

“My grandad always had Fox news on,” he said with a chuckle. “I would always sit and watch Fox news at age 8, 9, 10, not really understanding what was going on, but fascinated by the colors and the words and all that.” “When I became a director for the first time, the newscast reminded me of sitting in my grandparent’s house, watching Fox news.” With his new academic focus has come “wildly new” professional plans, Crisco said, including video editing, directing news, and even dabbling in short films. He’s eyeing some opportunities after

get f ra m e d at

Pa t t e r s o n E y e C a re

Wherever Crisco ultimately winds up, he’s quick to praise Harding University for giving him a solid start in broadcasting from the ground up. “Specifically talking about the communications department, we are one of the only colleges in the state, and potentially even the country, that allows freshmen to come and immediately start working on our premier projects,” he said. “I know for a fact that a lot of schools don’t allow anyone but seniors and master’s level students to work on those types of projects, whereas I had the opportunity to come in and work on ours right away. As a result, I have more experience doing that than a director in a master’s program might have. It’s been an amazing experience.”

2505 Donaghey, Ste 102 • Conway, AR



February 2022 501lifemag.com | 41

For the love of fitness Set goals for a healthier you. By Justin Dorathy

Personal Trainer/Certified Nutritionist at Beebe Athletic Club


hen you are setting fitness goals, it's important to train with a purpose. Each workout then becomes a chance to take a step forward in achieving that goal rather than just showing up to workout with no plan. Look at it as being able to make a deposit in the workout bank where each workout makes you owe a little less of an amount of time/sweat to reach the goal! I set fitness goals for myself often in signing up for events that will hold me accountable to be ready to show up at my best. Sometimes, it can be hard to see the end goal of being ready for an event/goal. For myself, it's important just to enjoy the process of training while getting into a routine. Consistency is the key with any goal, whether it be weight loss, muscle gain, or a race you're preparing for. If you don't show up and put the work in consistently you are less likely to achieve that goal, so I keep these things in the back of my mind always when training gets tough. Also, it's a privilege to be healthy enough to chase fitness goals because someone out there may be wishing that they were able to do something that you are, so I don't take it for granted. I keep that in mind when it gets tough and push through it. Winning the 2021 Lake DeGray Duathlon was an amazing feeling. I put a lot of work into stringing several races together leading up to the Duathlon. In 2020, I competed at the same venue and finished in 50th place. From then on I made it a personal goal to come back and win the Duathlon the next year. The biggest takeaway I learned was that you get out of training what you put into it. Three times a week I would commute to Little Rock and ride my bike on the River Trail to train. I was doing this all on top of training clients averaging 40 to 60 sessions a week. So in short: if it is important to you and you want to make it happen, you will find a way. If you want to be part of an event like this, or maybe a 5K, my rule No. 1 is to sign up! No race is real until that leap of faith is made and you get your name on the list. Once you have made the commitment to running a 5K and have a date solidified, then the training can begin. If starting from little to no running experience, it is important to start slow with the 80/20 rule of endurance. Eighty percent of your runs should be at a comfortable pace where you can carry on a conversation while pacing to avoid injury and build an aerobic base. Twenty percent of your runs should be tempo/ speed-based, where you are trying to hit a certain pace per mile to improve performance while building your anaerobic tolerance. Running a 5K every day isn’t required when prepping for the race; marathoners do not run a marathon

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every day when training. Building up a solid level of base training through consistency and developing aerobic/ anaerobic endurance to run the 5K is the best plan of action. Cycling is another a great addition to anyone’s fitness routine, whether they are trying to lose weight, gain endurance, or just get outdoors to enjoy the beautiful Natural State of Arkansas! Cycling is a low-impact exercise that burns an abundance of calories while offering cardiovascular benefits from the different intensity ranges on the aerobic/ anaerobic spectrums. Cycling will help anyone trying to lose weight as it allows people to burn calories while avoiding long periods of impacts on the knees that other forms of cardio may have. Cycling will also benefit someone looking to train for running events because it allows them to build endurance on the days that they may be recovering from a long run that has given them some wear and tear on their body. Arkansas offers many places to rent bikes from casual cruisers to road bikes, which is a great place to start your cycling journey. Beautiful scenery in Central Arkansas can also be enjoyed on cycling-friendly trails, such as the Arkansas River Trail in Little Rock. The comradery of thousands of cyclists coming together for the 2021 Big Dam Bridge 100 was something special. And of course, crossing the finish line on the River Walk gives you a special feeling! Know that we are all capable of so much more than we think. In terms of fitness, no one is any more special than the next. If you want results, put the time in and it will happen. Consistency and showing up daily are key. Every workout will not be your best but if you put in a consistent effort, your body will respond by reaching your goals whatever they may be. Don't forget to have fun with it along the way! Physical fitness is a privilege, not a chore.

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A message from

Kim Williams

Director, Conway Downtown Partnership February is one of Downtown Conway’s favorite months because there are so many reasons to celebrate. But, Valentine’s Day is one of our favorite holidays. It brings out the best in all of us! Check your calendar — Valentine’s Day falls on a Monday, so that means you can celebrate your Valentine from Friday, Feb. 11 through Monday, Feb. 14! But don’t wait until that weekend; our shops and restaurants are gearing up now for the Big Day! Stay tuned.

Shop, Eat, Play, Repeat in Downtown Conway

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If wedding bells are on your horizon, let the advice in the following pages guide you. This is a special time of planning for two families and professionals are at the ready to take pressure off of the bride and groom. Set your budget, involve family and friends to help, and make special memories together that will bind the two of you for a lifetime of happiness. February 2022 501lifemag.com | 47

sk the Experts We asked Julianne Darnell, owner of Most Joyful Day Wedding Planning, for her tips for couples who have decided to say “I Do” in 2022. As virus concerns continue, what trends do you see in weddings this year? Overall, wedding budgets are remaining about the same, despite COVID-19. One trend we are seeing is couples embracing the idea of much smaller gatherings. Rather than feeling limited or frustrated as virus concerns continue, many clients are excited to hold more intimate celebrations with their close family and friends. Because guest lists are smaller, they can spend money on special elements that would have otherwise been cost prohibitive with a large guest list. Some examples include: Flowers/tablescapes: More of the overall budget is spent on bridal party flowers, floral installations, tablescape design, and décor. There is an increased trend where clients want to make each guest’s place setting memorable by adding elements such as “unique contemporary” or “boutique vintage” glassware, plateware, and flatware. Also, at each seat, they add little touches like organics or flowers, a handcrafted favor or personalized goodie, custom paperie, and unique linens and textiles. Music: Couples are springing for live musicians, both for the ceremony and reception. We are hiring many more live musicians when assembling vendor teams. The genres range from small, classical orchestra ensembles, to cover dance bands, coffee house style singers and small jazz groups. Dining. Guests are being offered more involved dining experiences. Couples are choosing higher-end fare, and they are spending more on full-service catering, rather than buffet. Some clients are adding unique cuisine to the mix, as well as things like an “end bite” with a fun food truck and special custom cocktails at the bar. Extended receptions: Because many couples are limiting their guest list and inviting only close friends and family, we’re noticing receptions go later into the evening because people enjoy being together in more intimate groups. Photos from Nikki Traibman’s marriage to Chris Hawkins in November 2021 by Maranda Wynne Photography

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What criteria should a couple use to pick a venue? Our biggest advice is for couples to talk to their planner first before settling on a venue. Planners should be familiar with the capabilities of local spaces, and layout for guest flow, etc. The planner will have good insight on what venue best matches the “vibe” a couple wants, and whether they can achieve that at a particular location, aligned with what the couple wants to spend. At Most Joyful Day, we offer good ideas for the nontraditional use of a venue’s space. At the recent fall wedding in the photos, we designed an elegant tablescape that included 50 place settings. The guests dined, al fresco, in the venue’s outdoor chapel space.

What are popular colors this year? We’re excited about the Pantone Color of the Year: periwinkle! We still have many brides who go with lovely classics, such as soft blushes and sage, and ivories and creams. There is also a movement toward warm colors such as rust and dusty apricot. Copper is big, as well as antique silver and brass for metallics.

What styles are brides seeking for flowers, wedding gowns, and tuxedos? Above all, clients want their wedding attire and florals to match their personalities. Couples often choose dresses or suits from curated boutiques, or source pre-owned or vintage items. Some brides use custom, online dressmakers, and many offer pricing competitive with brick-and-mortar shops. For tuxes—classic black is back! At Most Joyful Day, we are happily spending increased consultation time with our clients and floral designers to create the perfect palette to match each couple’s vision.

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sk the Experts See how these 501 wedding professionals are here to make your big day special!

What is a recent trend you have been excited to take part in at weddings? More than ever, couples are working to make their wedding a fun and exciting experience for their guests. Many have found our chocolate wedding favors to be the ultimate crowd pleaser. It’s the delicious gift they’ll never return! We offer ready-to-go confections and collections, or can customize a gift of chocolates, caramel apples, fudge, turtles, caramel corn or brittle and we can customize a delicious treat for your budget. Located in the Little Rock River Market, we invite you to come and experience our high quality products and in-store craftsmanship. Our values are simple; treat others as you want to be treated, do your best, and have fun! This is exactly what we can help you do on your big day! David Lister, Kilwins Little Rock

What is the best piece of planning advice you can give to couples who expect to wed this year? The bridal industry is labeling 2022 as a "wedding boom." The demand for wedding products and services will outweigh supply. This means early planning and alternative options are important. With wedding venues booking up for this year, you should start planning months in advance. Micro Weddings will be a trend this year still. Using the same budget as traditional weddings, couples upgrade rentals such as luxurous linens, oneof-a-kind decor and unique florals for a more personalized experience with close friends and family. Karen Bernard, Events Rental and Floral


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Contact us

501-804-0154 501-215-6960 southernsippery@gmail.com www.southernsippery.com

What is something a couple can to do help make a wedding truly unique? What is more unique than a one-of-a-kind, converted horse-trailer mobile bar named Jolene? Southern Sippery is a traveling cocktail bar and bartending service serving Central Arkansas and the Arkansas River Valley. It is our goal to create a completely unique cocktail experience for our clients. We love to meet with couples and help them create the perfect custom cocktails for their special event. In addition to Jolene, we also have a buffet southern sidebar and our packages include licensed bartenders, ice, mixers, garnishes, cups, napkins, straws and fruit-infused water. We even provide add-ons such as a champagne wall, custom cups, koozies and more! General and Liquor Liability insured. Stacy Drilling & Misty Willbanks, Southern Sippery

What should a bridal party look for when selecting their wedding venue? First and foremost, a wedding venue should be at a location where you feel at peace. Our timeless venue sits on 40 acres of beautiful land, ideally located in Central Arkansas. Our Chapel and Ballroom are simply white so the bride can create her own unique vision for the big day. Our couples are thrilled with our spacious cottage where the wedding party can relax and get ready. The bride has access to the venue the day before the wedding to decorate and rehearse, which allows her and her family to simply focus on being together and celebrate the day. Diana Kirkland, Legacy Acres

What can you do to help a bride look her absolute best in a wedding dress? Even when eating a healthy diet and getting plenty of exercise many of us still have stubborn areas that need slimming. Emerald Laser™ is a 30-minute, non-invasive, painless procedure that has little to no downtime and can get rid of fat in problematic areas. We actually work with both men and women and have the only device proven to not only treat small pockets of fat, but also those with a BMI 40+. We go through every part of the recommended treatment plan that will help them reach their goal. Our system can help with virtually any part of their body, including waist, hips, thighs, neck, bra area, arms and more with up to 6 inches of loss possible. We suggest coming in at least five weeks in advance to discuss your personalized laser therapy to be ready for your special day. Sheila Hayes, APRN, FNP-C, Restoration Wellness

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present the

Stories by Levi Gilbert and Mark Oliver Photos by Mike Kemp

Meet the 2021-22 501 Basketball Team Alexa Booher (Clinton), Mya Bradley (Beebe), Karley Brown (Mayflower), Amira Calvin (Morrilton), Calle Citty (Harding Academy), Kaitlyn Crafton (Wonderview), Sara Daniel (Searcy), Carl Daughtery Jr. (Maumelle), Ben DeSalvo (Nemo Vista), Cooper Ellis (Conway Christian), Aubrey Evans (Bigelow), Jackson Fox (Harding Academy), Kylie Freeman (Nemo Vista), B.J. Gilliam (Mayflower), Russ Hensley (Clinton), Halen Hoelzeman (Sacred Heart), Jaylea Hooten (Heber Springs), Taylor Jo Hooten (Quitman), Faith Johnson (Cabot), Kalayna King (Conway), Trinity Kussmaul (Guy-Perkins), Dwayne Lockhart (Conway), Rylie Marshall (Beebe), Jacob Mathis (Greenbrier), Maggie Mooney (St. Joseph), Piper Peterson (Mount Vernon-Enola), Joseph Pinion (Morrilton), Luke Pope (St. Joseph), Emma Rehm (Greenbrier), Sam Reynolds (Wonderview), Caleb Ross (Maumelle Charter), Alyssa Rudolph (Perryville), Nic Shue (Quitman), Gavin Smothers (Mount Vernon-Enola), Cade Spinks (Perryville), Jasiah Stubbs (Guy-Perkins), Jake Swindell (Sacred Heart), Zach Thomas (Heber Springs), Madeleine Tipton (Vilonia) and Josie Williams (Conway Christian).

AUBREY EVANS Bigelow Basketball has been ingrained in Aubrey Evans from an early age, and for her, it’s more than just a game. “My mom was my basketball coach since third grade, but sadly she lost her battle to breast cancer while I was in fifth grade,” Evans said. “This has made me stronger as a person and as a basketball player because I know she will always be there watching me play. That is why I always must have the color pink on my socks. She was my Wonder Woman. “I want to be remembered as the person who hustles and always has high energy on the court


whether it is on offense or defense.” In last season’s sophomore effort, Evans provided scoring and rebounding to the Bigelow Lady Panthers, who made it all the way to the 2A semifinals and are looking to get back again. “Her athleticism, ball-awareness, and her ability to get to the goal are some of her best qualities on the court,” said Luke Cornett, who is in his first year as head coach at Bigelow. “She’s kind-hearted, generous, and humble. She participates in local charity events and serves at her church. Everyone around her knows that she is going to do the best that she can at whatever it is that she is attempting. She would do whatever she had to do for the best interest of her teammates. “There isn’t a better kid than Aubrey. She is one of the most humble players that I have coached in my short career.”

Forty players were nominated by their coaches and selected by the 501 staff, and the nominations were weighted equally between on-the-court and off-the-court attributes. Sponsors for this year’s team are Conway Regional Health System, First Security Bank, Moix Equipment & Toy Company and Velda Lueders of Coldwell Banker RPM Group. We will feature half the players this month and half in our March edition.

Gavin Smothers, (from left), Aubrey Evans and Piper Peterson.

GAVIN SMOTHERS Mt. Vernon-Enola With state tournament memories still lingering from his sophomore year, senior Gavin Smothers and the Mt. Vernon-Enola Warhawks have big goals for this season. “I want to get better every day and lead the team the best I can,” he said. “We want to win district, win regions, and make a run at the state tournament by being dogs and working hard on and off the court. I love the competition and traveling all over the state.” Outside of Mt. Vernon-Enola High School’s halls, Smothers assists a local 6U softball team and works on the family farm.



He’s a member of Future Farmers of America. In addition to basketball, he plays baseball for the Warhawks and also participates in rodeo. His hardworking attitude extends off the basketball court. The senior works in construction and has a side project of working on his 1978 Ford F150. “Gavin has an ability to shoot the ball, handle pressure, and defend at a high level,” said Mt. Vernon-Enola Head Coach Drew Blocker. “Gavin is a willing passer, has a high basketball IQ, and has a calming presence on the floor. I expect that Gavin will shoot the ball at a high level and be a great defender. I also expect him to take on a leadership role and really have a breakthrough senior season. He exhibits all the qualities that we want players in our program to have. He is tough, hardworking, coachable, and overall a great young man.”


It was no easy task for Piper Peterson to get back on the court this season, but the senior isn’t afraid to put in the hard work to achieve her goals. Peterson, a 6-foot-2 post player for Mt. Vernon-Enola, has returned from a season-ending injury a year ago to help push the Lady Warhawks to an 18-2 record as the new year

begins. “Last year, I dislocated my left knee for the second time, and I ended up having to have two surgeries in order to fix that,” Peterson said. “So, coming back and being ready to play was a

challenge that I had to overcome. I want to be remembered as a hard worker and to be able to be the best asset to my team.” Off the court, she is involved in Beta Club and Future Business Leaders of America. In her spare time, she has recently started diving into classic novels like “Anna Karenina,” “Jane Eyre” and “Dracula.” When she’s not protecting the rim for the Lady Warhawks, she can usually be found on the farm with her family. “Piper is a very hard worker,” said Mt. Vernon-Enola Head Coach Adam Carlton. “At 6-foot-2, she does a great job protecting the rim. She is always encouraging others. Even when she was hurt, she was always a voice on our team. We look for her to help us out on rebounding and being a physical presence inside.” Peterson plans on pursuing a medical degree after graduation.

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Josie Williams, (from left), Cooper Ellis, Alexa Booher, Russ Hensley, B.J. Gilliam and Karley Brown.

JOSIE WILLIAMS Conway Christian Eagles The 2021-22 season has been a roller coaster ride for Josie Williams and the Conway Christian Lady Eagles, but Williams’ competitive spirit has her looking ahead and looking up. “We had a great start to this season, beating a state finalist 6A team, Fayetteville, then had a dry spell going into conference play, but we are starting to get our groove back,” Williams said. “We have the most talented school ball team I’ve played with.” Williams is a multi-sport athlete at Conway Christian. She’s a member of the back-to-back Lady Eagles golf championship team. She also plays softball.


And Williams is just as competitive in the classroom, boasting a 4.0 GPA and currently ranking third in her class. Her extracurricular activities include Future Business Leaders of America, Beta Club, drama club, tech club, and Spanish club. “Josie is a fearless competitor with a great motor,” said Conway Christian Head Coach Trey Lynch. “She is a shot creator and shot maker that can score from multiple spots. She rebounds very well for a guard and loves to create turnovers from her defense. Her ability to generate shots for herself and her teammates gives us lots of options on offense. “She is an extremely driven student with big-time life goals. Her GPA looks as good as her basketball stats. She may be the most determined kid I have ever coached. She has big dreams for her team and pushes her teammates to compete at a higher level on a regular basis.”

COOPER ELLIS Conway Christian Eagles Led by budding underclassmen, the Conway Christian Eagles are improving each game and look to spread their wings right when it matters the most. “As the season has progressed, I can personally tell that our younger players are starting to adapt and learn the differences between Junior High and Senior High basketball,” junior guard Cooper Ellis said. Everyone on the team works their tails off every game. No matter what our record is, I am proud to play with all of them.” A two-time 501 Basketball Team honoree, Ellis has made a name for himself as an all-around player in the Class 5-2A




conference. “Cooper has very good awareness on the court,” Conway Christian head coach Zachary Fryxell said. “He has a knack for getting to the rim and protecting the rim on the defensive end. He drives so well that he often brings help, allowing other players to get good shots.” Off the court, Ellis is a member of Beta Club, Drama Club, FBLA, and National Honor Society. The junior also plays tennis, runs track, and is a member of the Eagles’ fishing team. “Cooper is a great student and a great friend to many at Conway Christian,” Fryxell said. “He not only gets his schoolwork done on time, but it is done well. I have always seen Cooper thrive with his peers. He has great friends that he is always around and that he supports in whatever they do.”

ALEXA BOOHER Clinton After dropping a heartbreaker in the first round of the Class 3A state tournament last season, Clinton entered the 2021-22 season with unfinished business. Hot off of two tournament victories over the Christmas break, the Yellowjackets project to be one of the 501’s most dangerous units entering 2022. Senior point guard, Alexa Booher, is all the buzz for the seniorladen Yellowjackets this season. “Alexa does a great job pushing the tempo that we like to play at,” Clinton head coach, Matthew Post, said. “My expectations are for her to be a leader on the court and help lead us back to the


state tournament. I expect her to be in control of the offense and be one of our best communicators on the court.” More impressive than her skills on the court is Booher’s ability to inspire others to be their best off the court. “Alexa picks others up when they are having a bad day and is the same person every day,” Post said. “She hasn’t missed an early morning practice in two years. She works hard in school and can often be seen helping and encouraging others with their school work. She makes class fun and always has a great attitude.” Off the court, Booher takes pride in giving back to her community. “Alexa is friendly and caring with a positive attitude and a good sense of humor,” Post said. “She has worked blood drives and helped raise money for the March of Dimes and juvenile diabetes research.”

RUSS HENSLEY Clinton When the going got tough for Clinton this season, the Yellowjackets got tougher. With competitive losses against tough teams, there’s no denying that things are moving in a positive direction for the program. Behind junior forward Russ Hensley, the Yellowjackets are determined to get back to the Class 3A state tournament and finish the 2021-22 season on a positive note. “Russ’ best qualities on the court are his rebounding, his shooting, and his physical and mental toughness,” Clinton head coach Cole Gardner said. “His ability to lead by example and willingness to put others before himself makes him a good


teammate.” Despite a lack of senior leadership this season, Hensley has stepped up to provide guidance for his team and continues to improve each game. “Russ was a good role player last year on a team that was loaded with seniors,” Gardner said. “He was very good at his job and even started several games for us. As a role player, he showed signs of being a leader when the time was right and has always been a great teammate.” The future is bright for Hensley, who hopes to leave a lasting legacy during his time at Clinton. “I look forward to watching Russ grow as a player and a young man,” Gardner said. “His ability on the floor is at a high level, but his character off the floor is even higher. If the world had more people in it like Russ Hensley, we would all be better off.”

B.J. GILLIAM Mayflower When his team suffered heartbreak in the Class 3A title game last year, Mayflower senior B.J. Gilliam had two choices: give up or get better. He chose the latter. “Losing helped motivate us a lot,” Gilliam said. “We took coming up short personally, and it made us want to get better every day. Each day in practice, we work as hard as we can because we all have the same goal of getting back to the title game and taking care of unfinished business.” Getting back to the big show isn’t always easy. For the Eagles, it has required adjusting to various challenges.


“We lost two talented seniors to graduation last year,” Gilliam said. “At 6’5”and 6’6”, their size and leadership has been hard to replace. Because of that, we’ve had to learn how to win in new ways. So far, we’re matching up well, and I believe that we’re on the right track to getting back to the state tournament. We’re steadily building our team chemistry each game, and it’s resulting in big wins for us.” From tough losses to knee surgeries, the steadfast senior has learned there’s nothing he can’t overcome. “I’ve dealt with adversity many times in my life so far,” Gilliam said. “Bouncing back from that adversity has helped me become a more determined person. Whether it was having knee surgery, or losing in the finals, knowing that it wasn’t over for me inspired me to keep working hard toward what I want.”

KARLEY BROWN Mayflower Karley Brown is the lone returning senior for the defending champion Mayflower Eagles. “Karley played a huge role in our state championship run,” said Mayflower Head Coach Coty Storms. “She did all the dirty work for us. We probably don’t win it without her on that team.” For Brown, winning a ring was an experience like no other. “I got to do it with some of my best friends, which made it even better,” she said. “My favorite thing about basketball is the friendships and memories you make that will last a lifetime. I’ve met my best friends in the world through basketball at Mayflower.”


Brown isn’t resting on her past successes and is putting in the work for an underclassmen-laden Eagles squad. “I want to help the younger girls on the team to get more comfortable on the court,” she said. “I am the only one on the team that will not be coming back next year, so I hope to put the team for next year in the best position possible.” Brown also plays volleyball and golf for Mayflower, and she plans to continue playing golf in college. Outside of athletics, she is a member of Beta Club, National Honors Society, Student Council (class president) and Future Business Leaders of America. “The ball always finds her,” Storms said. “She is our rock that holds it all together. She will do all the things that nobody wants to do, but what it takes to win.”

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LUKE POPE St. Joseph After last year’s first-round exit from the playoffs, St. Joseph is taking charge of its own destiny this season. Led by senior guard and two-time All-Conference honoree Luke Pope, the Bulldogs won’t back down from anything that stands in their way this season. “Our goals for this season are to get better every day and make the Regional tournament and more,” Pope said. “My personal goals are to do what I can to help my team win, as well as help my younger teammates get better. I’d like to bring excitement and school spirit to St. Joseph School.” “Luke is a very hard worker,” head coach Brent Bruich said. “He


loves the game very much. He’s very intense and plays with a lot of heart. [He’s a] great shooter, passer, rebounder, and scorer.” In his final season with the Bulldogs, Pope proudly carries both responsibility and leadership on his shoulders. “This season, I expect Luke to have a great senior year by leading us and stuffing the stat sheet in all categories every game,” Bruich said. Outside of basketball, Pope is involved with Interact Club and National Honors Society at St. Joseph High School. The senior plays baseball for the Bulldogs and gives back to his community through St. Joseph Catholic Church in Conway. “Luke is a leader who motivates his teammates, cares about his classmates and leads by example,” Bruich said. “He volunteers and works service projects for the school, the parish of St. Joseph and the city of Conway.”

MAGGIE MOONEY St. Joseph On the court, Maggie Mooney’s senior season came to an abrupt end in St. Joseph’s second game due to an ACL injury. But her role as a Lady Bulldog is far from over. “I will continue to support my team in any way possible,” Mooney said. “My favorite thing about basketball is the sense of family. Because basketball is such a long season, you get close with your teammates, coaches, and even fans. After a while, you become a family that celebrates wins together and mourns losses just the same. My goal this season is to be there for my teammates and push them to play the game to the best


of their ability. The wins will eventually come as long as we work together and have some fun.” In addition to basketball, Mooney is also a member of the volleyball and softball teams at St. Joseph. She plans to attend a public university in Arkansas after high school and pursue a major in nursing with the goal to become a traveling nurse. “Maggie's level of commitment, effort, and dedication is evident on and off the court,” said St. Joseph Head Coach Kay Lynn Hill. “She is able to balance the demands of being a student athlete. She maintains a 4.2 GPA. She’s a great leader who puts her team first. She is a great asset to our team. She is a calming force for our team when under pressure. I am proud to be her coach.”

CALLE CITTY Harding Academy Calle Citty is helping to lead a young but talented Harding Academy Lady Wildcats team. Citty isn’t a typical junior. She led the team in scoring and rebounding last season as a sophomore, and she was an everyday starter for the state tournament-bound Lady Wildcats in her freshman year. “This season, I am really wanting to become my team’s biggest leader, both on and off the court, and my coach has really encouraged and helped me with that,” Citty said. “Trying to balance friendship and leadership is difficult, but it’s something I have been focusing on this season. Because in order to have a good team, there has to be good chemistry and no


drama, which is something that really makes our team different.” Citty was named to the all-conference team the past two seasons. She also plays soccer and runs track for the Lady Wildcats. “Calle’s ability will speak for itself,” said Harding Academy Head Coach Rusty Garner. “We expect to see her continue to evolve and develop as a player, a teammate and a leader. Calle knows and communicates her role and her teammates’ roles. She uses her experience and understanding to help less-experienced players grow.” Citty volunteers for the annual Micah Rine Wildcat Legacy 5K. “I want to be remembered as the player who always worked hard and had an influential voice on and off the court,” she said. “Someone who always pushed the people around her to be their very best, if not better.

JACKSON FOX Harding Academy Jackson Fox and the Harding Academy Wildcats are in the midst of a wild three-year run. The Wildcats won the 3A basketball championship in 2021, and Fox has won three straight championships in football the last three years. Fox started every game for the champion Wildcats last season, leading the team in assists and shooting almost 40% from a 3-point range. “Jackson has a tremendous basketball IQ,” said Trey Jameson, who took over as head coach for the Wildcats this season. “He’s a very quick point guard and good at getting in the paint to create for others. He takes care of the basketball and consistently makes


good decisions. We have a lot of new faces on the court this year, and I expect him to be able to help those guys come along.” Fox is a leader for the Wildcats off the court, too, serving as the student body president. “He’s a great communicator and has a strong sense of maturity,” Jameson said. “He communicates all the time on the court, picks people up when they're down, and gets people in the right spot to be successful. He is really like having another coach on the floor.” Fox volunteers at Camp Barnabas, which is a camp for kids with special needs. He and his brother also helped found the Searcy Chess Club. “He is very strong academically,” Jameson said. “He’s truly a leader on and off the court, and I think that is evident by his desire to lead the student body his senior year and take on that added responsibility.”


Luke Pope, (from left), Maggie Mooney, Calle Citty, Jackson Fox, Jasiah Stubbs and Trinity Kussmaul.

JASIAH STUBBS Guy-Perkins When it comes to the ultracompetitive Class 4-1A conference, Guy-Perkins has proven that it belongs in the discussion among the 501’s elite teams this season. With numerous quality wins and even remaining competitive in their losses, the Thunderbirds have shown massive improvement since last year’s first-round regional tournament exit. Leading the team’s ascent this season is senior guard, Jasiah Stubbs. “Jasiah’s best qualities on the court are his court vision, shotmaking ability, quickness and leadership,” Guy-Perkins head coach Keane Guiden said. “He maintains a positive attitude and helps to build up his teammates on a consistent basis.”


With a smooth three-point shot and a passion for defense, Stubbs creates scoring opportunities for his team with magicianlike prowess. When his number is called, the senior’s high motor doesn’t stop at anything short of success. “Last season, Jasiah was our second leading scorer and provided leadership for our team,” Guiden said. “This season, I expect him to be an all-around player who is among our leaders in scoring, steals, and assists.” Off the court, Stubbs serves as a positive figure for his classmates and is always willing to lend a helping hand to those in need. “Jasiah is a good classmate,” Guiden said. “He has a great personality, helps others and is respectful to all. He engages with his teachers in a respectful manner and gives back by being friends with other students and inspiring them to be all they can be.”

TRINITY KUSSMAUL Guy-Perkins Trinity Kussmaul has worked her way back onto the court for the GuyPerkins Thunderbirds after missing her junior season a year ago. “She provided a leadership and motivation for the team even though she was sidelined last year with a season-ending injury,” said Guy-Perkins Head Coach Millie Herndon. “I expect her to be among our leaders in rebounding this season and be an all-around good player and a team leader.” Kussmaul, a senior forward, has helped the Thunderbirds make strides and improvements this season after a 9-17 record last season.


“Her court vision, shot making, rebounding, and leadership are some of her best attributes on the court,” Herndon said. “She has a great personality, helps others, and is respectful to all. She maintains a positive attitude and helps to build up her teammates on a consistent basis. She also keeps her teammates accountable for all of their actions. “She gives back by motivating and inspiring her teammates to be the best that they can be. She is also quick to volunteer to help someone in need.” Off the court for the Thunderbirds, Kussmaul is a valuable asset in the classroom. “She engages with teachers in a respectful manner,” Herndon said. “She is a straight-A student and helps her classmates in tutoring them.”

February 2022 501lifemag.com | 57


Jake Swindell, (from left), Halen Hoelzeman, Kaitylyn Crafton, Sam Reynolds, Kylie Freeman and Ben DeSalvo.

JAKE SWINDELL Sacred Heart Changing the basketball culture of a program is never easy. With the right leadership in place, however, all it takes is a spark. For Sacred Heart, that catalyst is senior point guard Jake Swindell. Unafraid of a challenge, the steadfast senior sees change as an opportunity to shape the future success of his Boutique and Gifts of Morrilton teammates. “Jake is the first kid that I really connected with at Sacred Heart,” first-year coach Chase Lewis said. “He came into my office the first week I was here and told me that he wanted things to change. He has helped me since day one shape the program we are trying to form. He has helped lay the foundation for the


Clover Alley

years to come.” One of two seniors for the Rebels this season, Swindell has molded himself into a role model for his teammates to rally behind. “Jake is the first one to practice and typically the last to leave,” Lewis said. “He makes relationships with younger kids in our program, and they look up to him.” Deep in the heart of Class 4-1A conference play, count on Swindell to push Sacred Heart to the finish line. “I expect Jake to lead our teams in ways that he never has had the opportunity to do before,” Lewis said. “If Jake controls the flow of the game and controls the tempo, then we will be in good hands. I also expect Jake to put up points every night, as he is one of our stronger weapons.”

HALEN HOELZEMAN Sacred Heart Halen Hoelzeman has enjoyed her time making memories with the Sacred Heart Rebels. Last season, she started at forward as a junior, led the team in rebounds, shot 45% from the field, earned all-conference honors, and helped Sacred Heart make it to the 1A quarterfinals. “My favorite thing about basketball is the bonds that are made not just within my team but other teams we face continuously,” Hoelzeman said. “It is always something I remember, and it builds lifelong friendships. Being a different group this year, we want to become a close family and a close team. We hope to make it to state and prove that we are more than what people expect.


We want to continually build our team up and improve ourselves to be better as a whole.” In her senior season, Hoelzeman has earned the role of captain for Sacred Heart and is welcoming the role of carrying heavier expectations. “Halen does so much for our basketball team,” said Sacred Heart Head Coach Kyle Duvall. “She brings energy every day in practice and games. Halen is tough inside. She is a very hard worker, and she is always so positive and encouraging her teammates to be the best they can be on a daily basis. “Halen is a very versatile player who is tough and can get to the rim, can post up on the low block, and is a great passer.” Hoelzeman has committed to play softball at Cottey College after graduation.

KAITYLYN CRAFTON Wonderview When it comes to basketball, just about everything Wonderview touches has turned to gold this season. According to Lady Daredevils senior point guard, Kaitlyn Crafton, the team’s secret to success is simply great chemistry. “Despite just two seniors and three juniors, we have an experienced sophomore class,” Crafton said. “We’ve played tough conference games, went to overtime and pulled out some really good wins just by playing together as a team.” As one of two seniors this season, Crafton thrives as a leader on and off the court.


“If anything needs to be done on the court, or if a teammate needs to be encouraged or lifted up, Kaitlyn is going to be the one to do it,” Wonderview head coach, Alaina Ford, said. “Whether it’s a big shot that needs to be knocked down, getting a teammate the ball, or slowing down the offense and getting everyone settled, she is our go-to player to take the reins of the team.” In addition to basketball, the versatile senior plays softball, and runs track for Wonderview. In the classroom, Crafton leads through Beta Club, FBLA, FCA, FFA, and Student Council. “Kaitlyn is one of the hardest workers I have ever had the opportunity to coach,” Ford said. “She gives it her all, no matter what she may personally be going through, and pushes her teammates outside of their comfort zone. She is respectful and encouraging to teammates and is very coachable.”

SAM REYNOLDS Wonderview After reaching the playoffs for the first time since 2014, the Bismarck Lions look ahead to a new season with a hunger for more. “My favorite football memory was playing in my first playoff game against McGhee because it's been several years since Bismarck has gone to the playoffs,” senior receiver/ defensive back Braden Efird said. “This season, our team goal is not only to make the playoffs but to win a playoff game. The players will have to buy in on what the coaches are teaching us and work as a team.” Amid the challenging Class 5-3A conference, the Lions plan to utilize their senior leadership and their strengthened defensive


core to turn heads this season. “Braden is fast, shifty and understands the game as well as any,” said Bismarck Head Coach D.J. Keithley. “Last year, he was one of our leading tacklers on defense as well as one of our leading receivers. He’s not very big, but he will surprise you with how explosive he can be. I expect much of the same this season, with even greater numbers.” As Bismarck’s leading tackler and receiver in 2020, Efird is committed to whatever it takes to help his team win. “My personal goals this year are to make all-conference for the second year in a row and to make all-state,” Efird said. “As a senior, I want to be remembered on the field as a leader, a good teammate and a player that my coaches can trust.” r stores and banks would close temporarily since everything was automated and computerized.

KYLIE FREEMAN Nemo Vista In a season of ebbs and flows, Nemo Vista has found a way to win games when it matters the most. With just one senior on its roster, the Red Hawks have set high expectations for each of its role players in order to remain competitive in the ultratalented Class 4-1A conference. No problem for versatile junior guard Kylie Freeman. “Kylie is one of the best role players that I have ever had the ability to coach,” Nemo Vista head coach Kyle Payne said. “She doesn’t care if she scores 10 a night or zero as long as we win the game. She is not afraid to take a charge or be the first to dive on the floor after a loose ball.”


With a whatever-it-takes attitude, Freeman is focused on bringing success to Nemo Vista in her final year with the Red Hawks. “Kylie is an extremely hard worker and has been since the 7th grade,” Payne said. “Most nights, she is assigned to guard the opposing team’s best offensive player. Her speed also gets our team out in transition after turnovers.” Off the court, Freeman is a member of FCA and FCA at Nemo Vista High School. “Kylie is a leader by example,” Payne said. “You can find her every morning waiting for me at 6:30 a.m. to open the gym doors. Kylie is a great student and role model for the younger players and other students in school.”

BEN DESALVO Nemo Vista Whether on the court or on the farm, Ben DeSalvo doesn’t shy away from putting in the work. The senior point guard has high hopes for his final campaign with Nemo Vista. “My main goal is to not only work on myself playing the 1 through 5, but also helping out our sophomore guards who will end up being the future of the program,” DeSalvo said. “Our team’s expectation is to make it to the state tournament. We will achieve this by not worrying about personal accolades, but by focusing on what the team needs.” When he’s not playing sports, he’s typically working on the family farm or hunting or


fishing. He’s active in the Arkansas Cattlemen’s Association and St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Center Ridge. After high school, he will pursue a bachelor’s degree in pre-veterinary medicine. “Eventually, I plan on coming back to the family farm and continuing what future generations before me had accomplished,” DeSalvo said. Beyond athletics at Nemo Vista, he participates in Future Farmers of America, Beta Club, and the Gifted and Talented program. “Ben is an athletic guard who plays extremely hard,” said Nemo Vista Head Coach Aaron Thomas. “He makes his biggest impact on the game on the defensive end. Ben guards the other team’s best perimeter player and is a tremendous asset. I expect Ben to have a very productive year and represent our district with tremendous class.”

February 2022 501lifemag.com | 59

PCSSD begins Pre-K registration By Jessica Duff


tudents entering Pre-Kindergarten are now eligible to register at the Pulaski County Special School District. The PCSSD Pre-K program is part of the Arkansas Better Chance program and supported by the Arkansas Division of Elementary and Secondary Education. It provides students with a strong foundation of knowledge and skills to build on through kindergarten and into elementary school. “The PCSSD Pre-K curriculum is embedded throughout the school day,” said Nikki Stolzer, PCSSD Pre-K Director. “It is in every routine, activity, action, and interaction. Our program is committed to creating an environment where children can unfold and explore.”

PCSSD Pre-K program, students must meet age requirements: Pre-K 4 students must be 4 on or before Aug. 1, 2022. Pre-K 3 students must be 3 on or before Aug. 1, 2022. Age-eligible children must also meet one of the following: • Family with gross income not exceeding 200% of the Federal Poverty Level • Parents without a high school diploma or GED • Low birth weight (below 5 pounds, 9 ounces) • Parent under the age of 18 at the time of child's birth • Immediate family member with documented history of substance abuse/addiction • Child has a developmental delay as identified through screening • Eligible for services under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act • Limited English proficiency • Parent has a history of abuse or neglect or is a victim of abuse or neglect (documented)

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An age-eligible child who falls into one of the following categories is exempt from the family income requirements: foster child, child in custody of/or living with a family member other than the mother or father, child with immediate family member arrested for or convicted of drug-related offense, child with parent activated for overseas military duties.

Another option available to PCSSD families is our DRIVEN Virtual Academy. This is a 100% online school for students K-12. Nearly 600 students were enrolled in DRIVEN for the first semester of this school year. “Many families have realized that their students thrive with flexible learning,” said Rachel Blackwell, digital learning facilitator. “Families can expect to build a partnership and relationships with their student(s) teachers. Content is updated each week so families can work with a teacher or independently.” Students currently enrolled in PCSSD can fill out a letter of intent to return for the 2022-2023 school which can be found at PCSSD.org/register. Registration for students new to the district will open March 1.

Pulaski County Special School District spans more than 600 square miles in Central Arkansas and requires highly skilled and passionate personnel to adapt educational policies and personalization to 25 schools. Every school is accredited by the Arkansas State Board of Education. PCSSD has served schools across Pulaski County since July 1927. PCSSD is committed to creating a nationally recognized school district that assures that all students achieve at their maximum potential through collaborative, supportive and continuous efforts of all stakeholders.

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three babies, two women


childhood friend makes family whole By Judy Riley


he road to parenthood is often a winding one. For Matt and Morgan Yates, becoming parents has been a long journey filled with friendship, hope, faith and love. After several failed pregnancies, and after enduring the loss of her 19-dayold son, Gus, who came into this world prematurely, the Yates still desired to grow their family. So they prayed, and they persevered. The couple completed a home study for adoption. They also pursued a fertility clinic in Little Rock. But, they decided to see a doctor in St. Louis who specializes in “mini IVF.” COVID-19 complicated the process, and things did not go according to plan; they were the last couple to get an appointment before all elective surgeries were postponed. It was as if God was saying not yet. While Morgan was struggling with starting a family, her lifelong friend Katherine, “Katie,” Zehr was in her third year of medical school at UAMS. Her classes were sidelined as COVID-19 raged, so she was working at her family’s farm, Barnhill Orchard in Cabot. Katie and Morgan met on the first day of kindergarten at Southside Elementary in Cabot where their mothers were teachers. During the early years, they played soccer, had sleepovers, even joint birthday parties, the kind of things written in idyllic storybooks. In fact, each of their families were examples of what’s best in families: a good work ethic, the value of education and a desire to give back. “Morgan loves strawberries,” Katie said, “which is one of Barnhill’s specialties, so she would come to the farm to pick up her usual order. Morgan still had that big smile, but her eyes told another story.” Heartache continued to weigh heavy on Katie for her friend. She remembered Morgan’s mom coming up to her at Gus’ funeral, giving her an extra-long hug and saying: “Morgan’s going to need you.” At that time, she didn’t understand the depth of her mom’s heartfelt words; however, as time passed the story began to unfold. One day, Katie, who is a lover of succulents, was looking at a big pot of “hen and chickens,” and she noticed one lone “chick” had migrated far from the mother plant, yet was still attached. This made her think of Morgan and baby Gus; Gus was removed physically, but he was still attached to his mother. That “hen and chickens” plant now thrives in Morgan’s kitchen window. That is when the seed of the idea was planted: Katie and her husband Nic would offer to serve as a surrogate for Morgan and Matt. Mother’s Day was soon approaching, and Katie called Morgan to say that God had placed it on her heart to be a surrogate for her. According to Morgan, “that’s the only explanation for someone to offer something so huge without requesting anything in return.” Morgan admits she never prayed for a surrogate; she simply asked God to make a way for her and Matt to have a healthy baby to raise and love.

February 2022 501lifemag.com | 63

The in vitro process was long and complicated for both of them. They both took injections and pills to prepare their bodies. Morgan’s first retrieval was in June on her 30th birthday and then another in September. The plan was for Katie to get two of the embryos because often only one survives. During the process of retrieval, the doctor discovered Morgan was ready to receive an embryo. Facing past fears head on, Morgan and Matt decided to try again. Their prayer was that perhaps one of the embryos would survive; however, all three embryos survived. Morgan carried one of their babies, and Katie carried their other two babies. The journey was not easy. Morgan was confined to total bed rest for half of her pregnancy. Katie’s delivery was by Cesarean after a long and difficult labor. But, both persevered through commitment to each other and the support of family and friends. Three babies, now six months old, have three distinct personalities and two different birthdates. Remi Harper was born May 24 and might be the future family diva. Mackenzie Mae and Maverick McCall were born June 6. Mac is the hilarious one, sometimes the rebel child. Mav has the biggest smile and loves to be held. Morgan freely admits she has a village of support. Her mother retired after a 39-year teaching career to come to her daily aid and help with her three new grandchildren. Morgan’s prayer was for the Lord to send help and these friends are a direct answer: Tara Haubein, Don Ann Crumbly, Laura Widener, Mati Yates and Amanda Sobczak. Her prayer now is for God to reward them for their selflessness and love. What does the future hold for these friends, three babies and the village that loves them? According to Morgan, “Our faith brought us to and through everything that led Katie and Nic to us and to us having three babies. Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” Is it easy, raising three at once? “No, but somehow, God selected us for this task and our faith and love for Him will continue to sustain us.” When Katie is asked why and how she and Nic stay connected when they have sacrificed so much for their friend, she responds with, “That is who we are and what we care about.” Katie will graduate from medical school in May and will go on for a dual residency in Pediatrics and Internal Medicine. Because of work schedules, the families only see each other every couple of weeks, but Katie enjoys making baby food for all three babies. Remi loves green beans, Maverick loves anything orange, and Mac is still unsure about food, but likes anything sweet. Morgan returned to teaching in January as a Dyslexia Interventionist at Cabot Junior High South. She says the children will always know about the love and sacrifice of a friend who brought them into the world. And they will learn of a community of support and love that continues to nurture and enrich them, a true journey of love in the 501!

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Childhood friends Morgan Verkler Yates (left) and Katie Zehr have been there for each other for many years. With husband Nic's support, Katie was a surrogate for two of Matt and Morgan's triplets.

February 2022 501lifemag.com | 65

A common Sunday occasion in Faulkner County. A baptism at Hill Creek for Pleasant Grove Baptist Church, Conway, c. 1910

The tale of the black-market christening dress and the dunkin’ do-nots of baptisms...

how writing became my labor of love By Vivian Lawson Hogue


ords and I have always been close friends. This was odd since I didn’t talk until I was 3 years old. People like to say I was probably spoiled and had no need to ask for or tell anything, but I doubt that. In good time, if I wasn’t writing something or reading, I was drawing. Otherwise, I was outside making clover necklaces and studying rolypolies. I was, I suppose, “independently wealthy” in ways of amusing myself. I enjoy getting writing ideas from nowhere, the same as my mother could make Naugahyde car seat covers without a pattern for a brother’s 1953 Plymouth. In fact, a recent experience set me off on a writing venture. I had decided to become baptized in our new church. In my previous denomination, I was christened as a baby. That isn’t a baptism but does involve getting a shockingly cold, wet head. It was mid-World-War II and my mother had been gifted some “black-market” cotton batiste fabric by a clerk at our local J.C. Penney store. Apparently the town was hoping the all-male chain would be broken in the Lawson siblings. When the bolt of fabric came in, the clerk hid it under the counter. From it, Mother made an impressive christening dress (with no pattern) that was

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carefully stored afterward and brought out 26 years later to be worn by my infant daughter. Not counting the three accidental, potentially deadly self-baptisms I did in various rivers while in my youth, I was formally baptized by another “sprinkling” when I was 18. It was a sudden decision, not driven by dedication. A surprised elderly minister went to a water fountain to fill the silver baptismal bowl for the occasion. There are several methods of baptism cherished by various denominations, and they don’t throw rocks at each other for being different. Some time back I discussed baptism with my husband, who was raised in Naylor, just up the road a bit. His church held immersion baptisms in a stock pond, much like the early days when witnesses converged on the bank of a pond, river, or creek in their Sunday finery. At the age of 15, he was immersed and, fortunately, allowed to come back up by Bro. Doyne Kelley. The thing he remembers most was that, although the bottom of the pond was naturally muddy, it seemed extra squishy, as if a herd of cattle might possibly have been there before the church gathering.

I had thought about this type baptism for a few years, but not having been a Baptist previously, I wasn’t aware of the logistics and plans. Now that it is recently accomplished, I can offer a list of dunkin’ do-nots that can be helpful to new candidates. Before the dunking, plan your attire. Do not wear Sunday finery. At 36 degrees outside that morning, I wore a polo shirt and jeans. This turned out to be the first dunkin’ do-not. The water is wonderfully warm and one feels lightweight, but when you stand up to leave, your wet clothing doesn’t want to leave at the same rate. After a couple of steps, you not only feel twice your weight, but the garments also seem to have just come out of a fully functioning Frigidaire freezer. Sequestered in a changing room, you discover not one item can be removed. Everything, including the little hospital socks with nubby bottoms, is virtually superglued. And try as you can to towel off, it is not enough to quickly slide on dry clothes. A chair is shoved. A mirror is knocked askew and a provided hair dryer falls to the floor. Your spouse and the kind attendant waiting in the hall are sure it sounds like steel-toe boots tumbling in a clothes dryer. My best advice is to make this ceremony a summer event when you can go barefoot and wear shorts and a halter top. Well, all right, maybe not the halter top. Another dunkin’ do-not is not to dwell on the imaginations that could happen. Firstly, I was assured that they had never lost anyone to drowning. Secondly, I did not slip and fall face-first into the baptistry water with a resulting tsunami. And then there is vanity. Women, do not apply make-up. This is not a beauty pageant. Do not worry about your hair. It is ultimately going to look like “the wreck of the Hesperus,” as my antique mother used to say. (You may have to look that up if your mother was/is not antique.) During this solemn occasion, they actually dimmed the baptistry lights so I could get comfortably seated with only my shoulders and head visible. Following the pastor’s eloquent statements, I held my nose and was dunked. They dimmed the lights again as I exited the water, and I resisted singing Handel’s “Hallelujah Chorus” or performing a sweeping center-stage bow. The congregation applauded anyway, so no encore was needed.

Vivian (top) at 9 months wearing her christening dress and booties handmade by her mother, Bessie Lawson, in 1943. Vivian’s daughter, Amy (bottom), wore the same items at the same age in 1970. Both wore baby rings tied around the wrists with pink ribbon to avoid loss.

So what does this have to do with enjoying writing? This was an event that automatically called for a written reaction! I like to connect with readers because I enjoy their own shared stories, which are often better than mine! One writes for the outlet of expression, to keep one’s gray matter exercised, and to hopefully provide a reader a few minutes of diversion, education, experience, or observation.

Besides, God knew I couldn’t swim, so He let me write.


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Couple’s Therapist Dr. Judy Tiesel-Jensen celebrates

love, trust, commitm commi tment ent By Susan Peterson


alentine’s Day is a celebration of love and intimacy. But sometimes those feelings can wane. Dr. Judy Tiesel-Jensen, a noted psychologist and family therapist, defines intimacy as “to know and be known — in body, mind, and spirit.” According to her, intimacy involves love, trust, commitment, and risk taking, and there are ways couples can improve or regain it, as she explains in her book “Invitation to Intimacy: What the Marriage of Two Couples Therapists Reveals About Risk, Transformation, and the Astonishing Healing Power of Intimacy.” In this newly published work, which is described as part relationship guide and part memoir, Judy candidly recalls moments of her 35-year marriage to Reuel Tiesel after his diagnosis of Stage IV nonHodgkin’s lymphoma. At the time of his diagnosis, both worked as family therapists and couples’ counselors in their thriving private practice in the Twin Cities area in Minnesota. She and Reuel offered parenting workshops and marriage retreats before specializing in co-therapy with couples. But despite the specialized knowledge they shared daily with their own clients, they faced the same challenges as everyone, as Judy clearly relates in the book. Readers describe her writing as open, honest, and relevant. Following Reuel’s death in 2007, Judy began writing as a way to help channel her grief. She recalled vignettes from their time together and included insights taken from private counseling sessions. She added to her story over the years and one day realized her memoir might serve as a legacy for their children, possibly giving them insights into overcoming conflicts, dealing with adversity, and coping with grief. It was in early 2020, during the COVID-19 downtime, that the book crystallized. She put finishing touches on the manuscript and sent it to her three adult children. A daughter-in-law told Judy how helpful the book was for them. That’s when she realized that even though her writing was not initially intended as a self-help book, it could be helpful to others.

With the encouragement of her family, Judy decided to publish her work. She took her manuscript to Et Alia Press in Little Rock, and they enthusiastically agreed to accept it. By November 2021, it was in print, selling online and in stores. Understanding the human psyche was always something that interested Judy. Growing up in funeral homes allowed her to observe family dynamics at their best and worst. During the early years of their marriage, Reuel worked as a pastor in various locations around the country, and her concern began to focus on the unique stressors of clergy couples. After 18 years of pastoring while raising three children, the couple changed course, Reuel moving to support Judy’s graduate work. After her licensure, she opened a private practice in Minneapolis, where he joined her. Judy earned a Ph.D. in marriage and family therapy, is a licensed marriage and family therapist and psychologist emeritus and holds numerous memberships in professional organizations. Today, Judy lives in Maumelle with her husband, Dr. Peter Jensen. The two met while both were working in Minnesota. With his specialty in child and adolescent psychiatry, the two found much in common, both personally and professionally.

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Following their engagement, Peter was recruited for a position at UAMS, and they made the leap from Minneapolis to Maumelle. In 2015, they exchanged wedding vows in their new home overlooking the Arkansas River. Judy is now edging her way into “creative” retirement. Combined, the couple have a total of eight children and 15 grandchildren. She enjoys watching the wildlife along the river and is appreciative of the natural beauty and milder winters that the 501 area offers. “Invitation to Intimacy” is available from Amazon and other online sites. If ordering from Et Alia Press (etaliapress.com), use the code 501LOVE for a 10% discount and $1 shipping (now through Aug. 5).

February 2022 501lifemag.com | 69


A house built on love.... Riddle's create home dedicated to faith, family and service By Stefanie Brazile


eff and Julie Riddle built their "forever home" in Damascus with timber harvested from family land. They filled it with heirlooms that make coming home a feeling of being connected to their heritage. The couple hosts events at the rustic, 5,000-square-foot house that is strategically situated so they cannot see civilization and can enjoy the relaxing view of cattle grazing. When you turn into the driveway, you are greeted with their Circle R brand and that image is subtly repeated inside the home and on permanent hardscapes in the yard. They began building in 2015. "We wanted a rustic look and wanted our privacy and to enjoy the view," Julie said. "It was a labor of love." A brick home with pine and cypress timbers framing the porches, the Riddles built three bedrooms, three bathrooms, a loft (bonus living area), and two spacious porches, one with a wood-burning fireplace. The view from the living room and

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porches seems to go on forever, with sparkling ponds dotting an idyllic farming landscape. There is a guest house and a play area for the grandkids. In 1959, Jeff's grandfather moved to Damascus from West Texas and married a local girl from Rosebud. Later, P.E. and Olevia Riddle purchased 450 acres for $40,000. He was a share crop farmer in Texas, but he used the acreage as a dairy farm. “People thought, ‘You crazy Texan, you’ll never pay for this.’ But he did and lived on the place until his death in 2008,” Jeff said. Later, Jeff’s father bought 200 acres from his parents and, later, an adjoining 60 acres. Jeff’s parents still live “next door” and Jeff and his dad run an active cattle farm. This is the land that provided the wood for Jeff and Julie’s dream home. Besides being a home builder and cattle farmer, Jeff has another skill set in his tool belt. He chairs the Physical

Education Department at Central Baptist College (CBC) and is an assistant professor of health and PE. “We lived in Greenbrier for 21 years and raised our boys there,” he said. “When we sold our home, we built our forever home here on the farm.” Once they started building, it took about six months, except for some side projects like building a headboard, bedside tables, and finishing out the staircase with leftover barn wood. "We cut and milled pine trees from this land and my mom's family land in Damascus," Jeff said. “It was milled onsite. That’s one of the unique things. We built a modern home out of milled lumber.” Milling means that once a tree is cut, it’s sawedup with a band saw. In the past, it would have been cut with a big, circular saw. Then the wood was stored in a barn on the property so it could dry/ cure for one to two years before it was ready to use. They sawed all of the main framing material onsite and used some of the authentic, rough-sawn lumber as well. Julie stained all of it. When you enter the home, the view of pastureland dominates your attention. Large windows frame the view up to a vaulted ceiling in the living room. The support beams are branded with their Circle R. “It was a labor of love,” Julie said. “And a labor of leaving something for our kids, too. We hope to pass this place on to them.” In the meantime, the couple shares their home with others. For 25 years, they have hosted CBC students for Fall Hay Day each October. “All of the student body is invited and we have a double

Photos by Mike Kemp



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trailer hayride, two fire pits, the kids roast marshmallows and play games,” he said. “It’s really a neat experience for a lot of those kids because they don’t get to see wide open spaces like this.” Typically, 120 to 150 students plus faculty, staff, and their families attend. Each Sunday night, the Riddles host the small group that they are a part of at Antioch Baptist Church. This group is also invited to a hayride, along with the Antioch Student Ministries and their Sunday school class. “We want to share the blessings that God has given us,” Jeff said. “We are blessed to live here and we dedicated it to the Lord.” Their friends from church also took part in the building process. “Before the sheetrock was installed, we had a ‘Scripture Signing’ and friends from our small group and church staff wrote scripture all over the studs and walls. And we had a dedication prayer,” Julie said. Under the stairway, their pastor wrote “He will guide your steps.” When the storage under the stairwell is accessed, the scripture is visible. While the home has rustic elements, they are combined with modern conveniences. Hidden beneath stained concrete is a radiant heating system divided into three zones. A separate water tank heats water in the pipes to warm the floors. Typically, the floor in the master suite is heated year round to keep it cozy. “A lot of our furniture has meaning behind it as well,” Julie said. She proudly displays her great-great-grandmother’s chair and hope chest, which is 250 years old. On her 16th birthday, her grandmother gave her the great-great-grandmother’s sofa to be used as her hope chest. Her grandmother also crocheted pot holders and keepsakes for Julie. One such keepsake is displayed on her bedroom wall and marks Jeff and Julie’s 25th wedding anniversary. Other hutches, a China cabinet, rocking chairs, and tables honor family members who have passed on but are not forgotten by the sentimental couple. On a farm that’s belonged to the Riddle family for 65 years, Jeff and Julie have built a home by hand, and their love and hospitality seem to have no borders, just like the view from the porch.

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Couple photo courtesy of Katie Opris

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501 LIFE




Third grader has become YouTube Kids animator By Becky Bell


harlie Schell has a big imagination and likes to constantly create. And at age 9, she has a YouTube channel called MoonCloud.

made a video about wolves with music and images. She said that wolves are some of her favorite animals, and she creates them as characters on her YouTube Kids channel frequently.

She attends Morrilton Elementary School in the South Conway School District and is the daughter of Brian and Rachel Schell.

“I really like dogs, but I also like wolves because I like that they have packs and I like that they are families and work together,” she said. “My main character is a wolf. My second favorite are foxes. My two other characters are foxes.”

Brian teaches at Morrilton Intermediate School. Rachel helps companies with social media support and online training by creating videos and graphics. The third-grader paid attention to what her parents were working on and picked up skills quickly. “Charlie has always loved computers and technology,” Rachel said. “I work from home, so she would want to come and see what I was working on. One day when she was about 5, she saw me working on a video and said, ‘How did you do that? Where did the music come from? How did you make it move that way?’” After working with her mother for a few months, Charlie

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Although Rachel has been a designer for years, she said that the videos and artwork that Charlie made before she got on YouTube Kids taught her things she didn’t know. “Technology is amazing, and she doesn’t have a computer like mine. She has a Chromebook,” Rachel said. “I have professional software and licensed professional tools, so we started looking for free apps and things she could download. She has taught me about some amazing tools. Once she got that going for a year and a half, she asked me about YouTube because she was becoming aware of social media.” Rachel said she and her husband talked to Charlie about

“I thought my mom knew everything about animating, but it was kind of cool when I started teaching her a few things.” Charlie Schell Photo by Mike Kemp

YouTube Kids and agreed to allow her to have her own channel if they oversaw it and gave her permission when she could go online. “Charlie really wanted to be on Facebook, or Instagram, or TikTok, but I have a YouTube channel and I knew we could create a YouTube Kids video and monitor it and it would be safe,” she said. “It’s like a kid’s channel for kids only. So that’s a safety feature built in and how she started this journey.” Working her way into having a YouTube channel was challenging at first, but Charlie is proud of the progress she has made with her skillset of designs and videos. “I didn’t think I would be able to start doing my videos for a while,” she said. “I thought (Mom) knew everything about

animating, but it was kind of cool when I started teaching her a few things about animations I do and stuff.” One of the main things she does on YouTube is post videos about a game called WildCraft, which includes wild animals in the forests. There is a giant community following and she animates all the characters in her game, Rachel said. Charlie has been taking piano lessons for the past year at Conway Institute of Music. If she doesn’t become an animator or a pianist, Charlie would like to become a singer or a jewelry maker. But for now, she will enjoy all her hobbies, especially those that involve creating a world for her characters on YouTube Kids.

February 2022 501lifemag.com | 75

Pet of the Month

Best Buds Rescued golden retriever, Buddy, is a true friend By Becky Bell


wen Gardner said she believes three signs confirmed that adopting her beloved dog was the right decision. First, it was her birthday when a veterinary clinic called to say that a golden retriever was once again available after being previously adopted by a family who could no longer keep him. At her birthday dinner, she told her family that she was hoping to rescue a golden retriever. When her dinner mates asked what she would name the dog, she knew the answer right away. “I said he probably already has a name so I’m not going to rename him,” Gardner said. “But if I could name him, I would name him Buddy or Bo. The next day, I went to meet him and the family, and the staff said, ‘Oh, you mean Buddy.’ And I thought, ‘It’s my birthday, his name is Buddy, and I probably will have a third sign,’ and I did.” Gardner didn’t look at the address initially, but while driving she asked her passengers what the name of the street was. They were looking for Graham Street, and Graham is the name of her 3-year-old grandson. “That was my third sign,” she said.

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Her birthday is Feb. 1 and she got Buddy two days later. “He was like my best birthday present,” she said. “I always celebrate my birthdays for a whole week.” Buddy bonded with Gardner easily and this warmed her heart because she has had two other special relationships with golden retrievers, one named Sis and one named Daisy. She has had Buddy for two years now and thinks he is about 3 1/2 years old. She is so glad she told the staff at her vet’s office to let her know if a golden retriever became available. After her divorce, Gardner said she has never felt alone because she stays busy babysitting her four grandbabies, but having Buddy helps fulfill the loss of her other golden retriever, Daisy, who also gave her purpose and companionship. “When you are by yourself at night, you just feel better to have a pup there with you, rather than just being alone by yourself,” she said. “And Buddy is a lap dog. I think all dogs are lap puppies no matter what size they are.” Buddy loves racing across the backyard and even enjoys greeting children playing on the street nearby, but he always comes back dutifully. However, he did get into some mischief

He’s my pup and I’m his person. - Gwen Gardner

this Christmas, Gardner said through laughter. Gardner loves to cook chicken vermicelli and gumbo, and she had cooked a hen and some breasts and the entire kitchen smelled wonderful. She had the breasts still in the pot, but the hen was on the counter. Graham’s father came to get him, and she went outside to say her goodbyes. Buddy looked ashamed when she came back in the door. “I knew instantly there was something wrong. Two-thirds of my delicious, deboned chicken was gone, and it was a huge chicken,” she said. “I told him, 'It was just too much to resist, wasn’t it?' I said, 'Well, it’s going to be all yours now. I can’t do anything with it.' I left it on the counter. I just didn’t think he would stand up on his hind legs and go for it.” Even though Buddy ate the chicken without permission, it does not affect the way she feels about him. She loves him just the same. “He’s my shadow,” she said. “He has been a precious, wonderful companion.”

Photos by Mike Kemp

February 2022 501lifemag.com | 77


athletic excellence By Dr. Robert Reising

Pulaski County's

Ransom Jackson The

nickname stuck. Its creator, however, remains unknown— perhaps his father, probably a Chicago sportswriter. In death, as in life, the catchy, poetic “Handsome Ransom” catapults a remarkable athlete to centrality in any discussion of famous sports nicknames. Similarly, overflowing with oddities and memorable moments, the whole of the multi-sport athlete’s bizarre career nostalgically recalls the pride, glory, and romance that sports returned to the nation following the catastrophic Great Depression.

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University (TCU), and into the latter’s Navy V-12 Officer Program. There in 1944, head football coach Dutch Meyer convinced him that varsity football could supplement a 21hour course load and prepared the 165-pound 6-footer as a backup punter and halfback. Before season’s end, he was the team’s star punter, a regular on both sides of the ball, and a 1945 Cotton Bowl participant. Coach Meyer also headed TCU’s baseball program and found a place for Randy on the school’s varsity in the subsequent spring. The new third baseman proceeded to lead the Southwest Conference (SWC) in hitting.

Jackson (left) with Jackie Robinson, rivals for the third base slot during spring training at the World Champions Camp. Source: United Press Telephoto.

Randy J. Jackson, Jr. (center, front row) was nicknamed Handsome Ransom.

Ransom (Randy) Joseph Jackson, Jr., was born in Little Rock on Feb. 10, 1926, at the height of the raucous Roaring Twenties. Although Black Tuesday, Oct. 29, 1929, abruptly ended the decade of gaiety and thrust most Americans into painful economic circumstances, Randy and his sister escaped unscathed. Their father, a Princeton University graduate, prospered in insurance sales. Childhood and adolescence were disadvantage free for both youngsters. But no varsity baseball and football awaited Randy at Little Rock Central High School. The Great Depression and the second World War, launched by the Dec. 7, 1941, bombing of Pearl Harbor, united to cancel the two sports. Randy improvised ingeniously. His sole high school sport suddenly became golf, his father’s favorite (and his in retirement), and he merged it with makeshift football punting contests and a neighborhood variation on baseball, christened sock-ball, to earn him labels like “a natural athlete” and to prepare him for organized sports ahead. The University of Arkansas welcomed him after his 1943 graduation. Yet, to avoid being drafted into the Army, he soon volunteered for membership in what historians have celebrated as The Greatest Generation, those Americans born in the Twenties who lived through the Depression and moved into the service of their nation during the international conflict. He relocated to Fort Worth, Texas, and Texas Christian

The Navy ended TCU’s V-12 Program prematurely, and Randy moved to Austin, Texas, and the University of Texas (UT) for the final two years of his program. The implausible followed. He played for a second College Football Hall of Fame coach, Dana Bible and in a backfield featuring irrepressible All-American Bobby Layne, UT’s playboy quarterback once labeled “the W.C. Fields of football” for the seldom-sober comedian. Led by the star who “played by day and partied by night,” the Longhorns completed the season with a Cotton Bowl triumph, 40-27, over the University of Missouri. Later, Randy modestly admitted that he was “the first and only player in Cotton Bowl history to play in backto-back bowls for different teams.” Additional SWC feats followed. Before World War II ended in 1945, he was allowed to opt out of the active Navy, complete his V-12 commitment, and accept a reserve commission; thus he found time to claim two more SWC batting titles (with Layne again a teammate). After twice adding All-SWC baseball honors, he collected his UT baccalaureate in business in 1947. Three years later, Handsome Ransom launched his 1950s major-league stay with six seasons as a Chicago Cub. It came on the heels of a trio of robust hitting campaigns, two in the high minor leagues. Yet never again was he to record a .300 batting average. In the words of the late sportswriter Joe Distelelheim, he “was a good, not great, major-league player.” His career batting average was a creditable .261, and he lofted 103 home runs, played in a World Series, and appeared in two All-Star Games. In the second, he starred by singling, driving in a run and scoring another, a trio representing, he said, “his most thrilling moment in baseball.” His greatest contributions to sports, especially baseball, are not captured in statistics, however. Handsome Ransom was like “Forrest Gump [... who] always seemed to be around the biggest names and starring in their monumental moments.” In a decade of significant changes featuring racial integration and franchise movement, third baseman Jackson literally played by the side of Chicago’s first African American, Hall of Fame shortstop Ernie Banks, while joining him as a Cub fan favorite. His love affair with The Windy City ended in December of 1955. Suddenly, he found himself a member of the Brooklyn Dodgers, baseball’s defending World Champions, later memorialized in Roger Kahn’s 1971 best-selling classic “The Boys of Summer,” in which he earned favorable attention. As one of those boys on Sept. 28, 1957, he had the distinction, too, of being the last Dodger to hammer a home run in a Brooklyn uniform. He often announced, however, that a far more meaningful, memorable honor came a year earlier: having played AGAINST him often, he played WITH the iconic Jackie Robinson. The player who broke baseball’s color line in 1947 was, in 1956, completing his brilliant, courageous career. Thereafter, Handsome Ransom proudly proclaimed his teammate a “close friend …. a legend … greatness … the ultimate ball player.” On March 20, 2019, at age 93, the peripatetic Arkansan who always denied that he deserved his nickname died, a unique source of pride to Pulaski County as well as the 501.

February 2022 501lifemag.com | 79

Story and photos by Linda Henderson


ebruary is always the hardest month for me to come up with a subject for my Traveling the 501 stories. February is a transitional month. It is the month between winter and the upcoming spring. February can be a boring month to photograph. I love dramatic light with lots of highlights, but most years, February’s light is gray with little contrast. But not 2021. Last February, Arkansas got to experience an unusually heavy snowstorm, aka Snowmageddon 2021. If you have lived in Central Arkansas for any length of time, you know the occurrence of significant amounts of snow is an extremely rare event. On the rare occasion that we do receive snow, it usually occurs late at night and the snow

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immediately starts to melt as soon as the sun rises. Typically, by noon the only thing left is a messy frozen sludge left on the grass and bushes. That was not the case last year. An arctic blast barreled through Central Arkansas. The temperature plunged. Ice and snow blanketed the 501 area. Unlike most years, the snow did not melt immediately. The delayed snow melt allowed me to get out and capture the beautiful scenery and the impressive light of Snowmageddon 2021. So, if we have a Snowmageddon 2022 this year, here are a few tips for taking snow pictures with either your phone’s camera or a regular camera. Cameras require contrast to auto focus. Snow is smooth and white, so the camera has trouble focusing on a snow

The Springfield-Des Arc Bridge at Lake Beaverfork

scene. Choose something with texture or an area between dark and light and place your focus there. Capture your pictures early. One reason to start early is fresh snow is clean and free of footprints. Snow and ice will melt fast. Melting snow is not pretty; it is just messy and lumpy. Act fast because the early morning’s warm light reflecting off the snow is beautiful. If you wait until later in the day, the light will be magnified and glaring by the sun being high in the sky. Light changes fast on a snow day. The light will change when the sun goes behind the clouds, and the scene will look blustery and fiery. Then when the sun comes out, the scene

will change to crisp and fresh. Snowy winter landscapes and backyards can be both dramatic and beautiful. Do not let the weather stop you. Safety is important, and no picture is worth harm or injury. Always check for road conditions before taking off to Arkansas’ backroads. Arkansas winter storms do sometimes have unfortunate side effects. Since our winter weather is mild most years, we very seldom need our roads cleared by heavy equipment, so most counties are not equipped with snow plows. Occasionally our roads remain icy after a snowfall and that can contribute to hazardous conditions. So, layer up in warm clothing and enjoy the few days of winter weather we get in the 501 area, as I did last February.

February 2022 501lifemag.com | 81

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windgate museum of art

Details at windgatemuseum.org

Make Me Feel Mighty Real: Anthony Sonnenberg Anthony Sonnenberg, Still Stage, Set Life, 2018, mixed media room installation, Art Museum of Southeast Texas, Beaumont, Texas.

Walker Evans American Photographs Walker Evans (American, 1903-1975), Alabama Cotton Tenant Farmer Wife, 1936, gelatin silver print from a scan of a negative in the Library of Congress, approximately 10 x 8 inches, courtesy of the Library of Congress. © 2021 Walker Evans Archive, The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Based on an exhibition originally organized by the Museum of Modern Art, New York. Support provided by Art Bridges.

James Hayes James Hayes, Ring of Fire, 2020, glass and steel, 37 x 36 x 36 inches, courtesy of the artist.

Delita Martin: Conjure Delita Martin, Among Shadows, 2020, relief printing, charcoal, acrylic, liquid gold leaf, decorative papers, and hand stitching on paper, 55 x 75 inches, courtesy of the artist.

1600 Washington Avenue | Conway, AR 72032

February 2022 501lifemag.com | 83

Chicago cubs

for Love of the Game Conway’s Wicks achieves big-league dream by Mark Oliver


hen we last talked to Conway pitcher Jordan Wicks, the former Wampus Cat was starting his college baseball journey at Kansas State University with the hopes of one day making it to the big show. How time flies. Three years later, Wicks is trading in his jersey yet again. Much like his high school days, the former Conway hurler will sport a big letter ‘C’ on his chest. This time, it’ll be for one of the most iconic teams in Major League Baseball. On July 11, 2021, Wicks was selected by the Chicago Cubs as the 21st pick in the first round of the MLB draft. On hand in Denver, Colo., Wicks says it was the moment he had dreamed of his entire life. “It was amazing,” Wicks said. “Being surrounded by the most important people in my life and sharing that moment with them was awesome. To go to a place like Chicago with so much history and such an awesome organization, I couldn’t be more blessed.” Days after the draft, Wicks flew to Chicago to sign his first major league contract, a deal that has given the Faulkner County native 3.1 million reasons to smile. “It’s definitely a sign of hard work,” Wicks said. “As a kid,

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it’s something you dream of and it’s so surreal that it’s here. I’m blessed for the ability to help my family and start out in a decent spot as I work my way up the minors.” Referred to by many as the top left-handed pitcher in the draft, Wicks quickly became known for his difficult-tohit changeup at Kansas State on his way to becoming the Wildcats’ all-time strikeout leader. In 2021, Wicks set Kansas State’s single-season strikeout record and in his tenure with the team, the ace has taken home multiple honors, including Freshman All-American, All-American third team, Big 12 Freshman of the Year and D1Baseball.com’s Summer Breakout Prospect and Pitcher of the Year. “It was a lot of hard work,” Wicks said of his success at Kansas State. “There were a lot of early mornings and late days working to get better and better. Whether it was the coaches, the strength staff, or the moral support of my family, there was a lot of help from the people around me that put me in the position I am in today.” As an official big leaguer, Wicks says he has already started to forge meaningful bonds with fellow players around the league.

On July 11, 2021, Wicks was selected by the Chicago Cubs as the 21st pick in the first round of the MLB draft.

“One of the guys I talk to quite a bit is pitcher Dustin May of the Los Angeles Dodgers,” Wicks said. “I’ve gotten to know him well and learned a lot from him. Another close friend is Chicago White Sox reliever Evan Marshall. A former Kansas State player, he has given me a lot of advice about what to expect going forward. He’s excited for me and the things that are coming for me, and it’s always nice to have people like that in your corner.” Late last season, Wicks’ first assignment on the road to Wrigley Field was with the South Bend Cubs in Indiana. In his first start, the rookie threw one scoreless inning with a strikeout. “Once you get drafted, you don’t go straight to the bigleague team,” Wicks said. “You have to work your way up through the minors. Getting a taste of it for the two-anda-half weeks that I was there gets me really excited for next season. I’m really thankful that the Cubs allowed me to get a taste so I can know what to expect next season.” With a new season right around the corner, Wicks is enjoying time off in the place where all his dreams began. “For me, Conway is still home,” Wicks said. “I’m excited to be back working out and throwing while visiting family and friends as I wait to report to spring training in February.” In a year full of exciting changes, Wicks also plans to tie the knot with fiancée Megan Lee in Conway later this year. “We’re getting married this November,” Wicks said. “We’re waiting until the season is over. I’m really excited about it.” With a bright future ahead, Wicks hopes to inspire others to never give up on their dreams. “Take it one day at a time,” Wicks said. “There are many different ways to get to the big stage. When you’re selecting a college to play at the next level, explore every option. Search for the best fit and best opportunity and make that decision for yourself.”

February 2022 501lifemag.com | 85

presented by

We all think about saving energy every day. For example, when we leave a room, we turn off

MYTH: Closing vents in unoccupied rooms saves energy.

lights, close the refrigerator door after getting a


snack, and don't leave the water running while brushing our teeth. Some energy rules are easy to follow, but others can be confusing and can be harmful. Common




efficiency and conservation can increase energy use and actually end up costing residential consumers and businesses money. Whether

MYTH: Hand-washing dishes uses less energy than using the dishwasher. FACT:

they're based on misinformation, flawed intuition or simply old technology, common fallacies about saving power can make you think you're being green when in reality, you're only wasting it. Take a look at these prevalent energy myths and discover how to turn money-wasting

to standby power settings and power converters, most devices consume energy even when they are off. Some of these even use almost as much energy when turned off as they do when turned on. Using a power strip to turn off devices and desk electronics not in use cuts standby power, which can help you save energy and money. Plus, ENERGY STAR® certified models consume far less energy in standby and other inactive modes.

MYTH: Energy conservation and energy efficiency are the same things. Energy conservation is using less energy or choosing not to use power at all. Turning off the lights when you leave a room and opening the windows for a cool breeze instead of turning on the air conditioner are good conservation habits. Energy efficiency is using less energy to provide the same service. Compact fluorescent light bulbs give the same light output as standard incandescent bulbs but use just one-quarter of the energy and last 8 to 12 times longer. Low-e windows help block sunlight out, keep your home cool in the summer, and prevent your air conditioner from working harder to cool and maintain your comfort indoors.

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Hand-washing a load of dishes requires a lot of hot water, and therefore a lot of energy. Today, most dishwashers have energy-efficient settings, which allow you to run a load of dishes using less water and less energy. Washing dishes by hand may seem like the economical thing to do, but you're likely using more hot water than your dishwasher does. So, relax and let the dishwasher do the work.

MYTH: When appliances and devices are turned off, they don't use power. FACT: In the past, this was probably true, but thanks

fiction into energy-saving facts.


Although closing vents in unused rooms seems like it's conserving energy, the energy consumed by the HVAC system is at the unit itself. Restricting conditioned air at a vent register redirects it to other locations in the house or through leaks in the duct system. Closing vents also puts back pressure on the fan that pushes air through the system, causing it to work harder, use more energy, and wear it out more quickly.

MYTH: Ceiling fans cool rooms. FACT

Ceiling fans cool people, not rooms. Unlike air conditioning units, ceiling fans don't cool the air but move the air around. Instead, fans simply recirculate air and create a slight breeze that cools us down by increasing the rate of evaporation of sweat and removing heat from our skin. Therefore, it's beneficial to run the fan only when people are in the room to feel the breeze.

MYTH: Keeping your thermostat at the same temperature overnight uses less energy than turning it down and reheating your home in the morning. FACT:

You don't want to turn your thermostat off or let your house get really cold because you will have to invest a lot of energy in a short period of time to get back to a comfortable level. Setting the temperature just a few degrees lower can significantly reduce heating costs. Also, close blinds and drapes on winter nights to keep the cold out and give your heating system a break.

MYTH: Hot tap water boils using less energy. FACT:

It uses the same amount of energy to boil water regardless of where the energy is from. If the water heater preheats it, you pay for that energy as well as any losses in the pipes and heater itself. Try boiling water in a covered pot because it boils faster and uses less energy. Use the least amount of water you can get away with because it takes less time to boil. Once the water is boiling, remember to turn the heat down and use the lowest possible setting to keep the water boiling, steaming or simmering.

MYTH: It's more energy efficient to leave your computer running when not in use. FACT:

Any time you can turn off your computer, it will save energy. In the past, desktop computers needed to be left on because turning them on and off caused additional wear on the hard disk and other components. However, today's computers can tolerate several on-off cycles each day. In fact, one leading manufacturer of computers tells their employees to turn off desktop computers at the close of business, over lunch breaks and during long meetings, saving the company more than $1 million in energy costs each year. For shorter periods, configure the system so the monitor will go into power saving or sleep mode instead of flashing a fancy screen saver.

Consider a home energy audit to debunk more energy myths or learn more energy efficiency tips. Conway Corp's Energy Smart program offers free residential energy audits to help customers identify how much energy a home consumes and what measures can be taken to make that home more energy-efficient. To schedule your free audit or learn more, call 501.450.6000 or visit ConwayCorp.com/ EnergySmart.

February 2022 501lifemag.com | 87

Love, lessons and little Martha-isms By Laurie Green


y mom is honestly one of the hardest workers you could ever have the honor of meeting. Growing up, our childhood was instilled with little "Martha-isms" that our mom would always say and teach us. For example, in my sassy pre-teens I'm pretty sure I thought my name was Miss Aster. Before you ask, I have no idea who she is. However, anytime my mouth spoke faster than my brain was working, mom would point her finger at me and say I’d better simmer down and stop acting like little Miss Aster. Another of my favorites that she said a lot to me in those early years was, "Smarty had a party and nobody came." Again, I have no idea what exactly this was supposed to mean, but I heard it so much growing up that I find it flies out of my mouth almost involuntary whenever someone says something sarcastic to me, LOL. But seriously, my mom really did make an impression on the type of individual I grew to become. My mom has always believed that everyone should work for the public at least once in their lifetime. She would always point out to us how people who have done their time serving others behave just a bit differently, and honestly, the older I've gotten the more I find this to be true. We grew up with the firm understanding to be kind to everyone, from the lowest job to the highest ranked position. Mom would always remind us to treat each individual with the very same respect and kindness. Another little Martha-ism we were taught was to leave a place better than when you arrived. To this day, my family, my siblings, and all our children have carried on our mom’s tradition of cleaning our table when we eat out. We will scrap, stack, and line everything neatly in a little stack to be picked up from the corner of our table. (I have noticed that I do get some funny looks when on a cruise ship when I do this.) But if there was one thing that you NEVER said, certainly not in the presence of mom, it was those dreadful words, "That isn't my job. That's what they get paid to do." That was certain to get you called Miss Aster along with being reminded that smarty had a party and nobody was going to come! But seriously, all kidding aside, it was important to mom that we made sure to make others feel important, regardless of their job, financial status, or rank. Mom made sure we knew everyone deserves to feel like someone special. I dare say that I agree wholeheartedly and hopefully have passed this same legacy down in our children. And while I realize not everyone had the advantage of growing up with a mom

Laurie Green’s mom was a Texan who would correct her children with unique sayings. Martha took her children to the petting zoo at Pickles Gap when they were young. In the photo a daughter, Dallas, holds a goat (from left), Laurie, and their brother Brazos.

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quite like mine, I have a little bit of advice that I have found to be the secret for loving whatever it is you do for a living. The funny thing is it's been around since the beginning of time, and I'm pretty sure this very thing was ingrained into my mom and passed down to us without me even realizing. It's a small little passage in Colossians 3:23 (that can easily get overlooked): "Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people." I can't tell you how many times throughout my life I have been in a job that I didn't necessarily enjoy or feel appreciated at. Yet I would remind myself of this little verse and keep pressing on until another door would open. It wasn't always easy, but I knew that piece of scripture helped remind me to give 100% even when I didn't feel like I wanted to. I can happily say that after a lot of different career paths (many of which involved working for the public, LOL), my husband and I now get to work side by side in our lawn care business. Is it always easy? Heck no! I mean, you folks know what Arkansas summers are like around here. But do I love what I get to do? YES, without a doubt! This season of life is another area where I get to see the goodness of God at work in my life. So, in closing, I really want to encourage you to write that piece of scripture down in Colossians 3:23. Put it where you can see it every day and, more importantly, live it and watch it transform your day. Lastly, I'd like to share another one of my mom's little Martha-isms that always helps keep me grateful and grounded: "The very things we often complain about, someone somewhere is currently praying for." Life is too short and too beautiful not to wake up and always find something to be thankful for.

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My husband, Gabe Mayhan, and I have been married for almost eight years. We have a 6-year-old named Tucker Mayhan and a 3-year-old named Kathryn Clarke Mayhan, but we call her Coco. Gabe has been a cinematographer for almost 20 years.


I am a proud graduate of Little Rock Central High School and the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. I majored in photography and communications. I am also a graduate of the Directors Guild of America Training Program in Los Angeles.


I co-founded the Arkansas Cinema Society in 2017 and serve as the executive director. I have also been a filmmaker for almost 20 years and have been a director, producer, and assistant director.


I became a filmmaker because I love the collaborative process of artists working together with a unified vision to tell a story. Movies share perspectives we may never experience in our own narrow lives, and they have the ability to transport and inspire unlike any other art form. I started the Arkansas Cinema Society (ACS) because working in film seemed like an impossibility to me growing up in Arkansas. Once I moved to New York and saw that it was a possibility, I jumped in. I hope the ACS gives people of all ages from Arkansas, the tools, resources, and connections to find their way into the film industry — and maybe even help them build it in their own backyard.


In 2020, I won a Mid-America Regional Emmy for directing a documentary about Gov. Mike Beebe for Arkansas PBS. In 2011, I was nominated for three Directors Guild of America awards for my work as an assistant director on the first season of the TV series “Glee.”


ACS hosts Filmland each fall in Central Arkansas with filmmaker-accompanied screenings with talent like Adam Driver and Jessica Chastain attending in person, as well as a robust educational workshop program for filmmakers. Outside of Filmland, the Arkansas Cinema Society stays busy year-round with community film programming throughout the state. We offer filmmakeraccompanied screenings, like the premiere in Northwest Arkansas of the film “Minari,” which was written and directed by Arkansas native Lee Isaac Chung; educational programming like our Filmmaking Lab for Teen Girls; our screenwriting film camp in Helena; and Young Storytellers, our screenwriting program for fifth-graders in public schools.


I know my kids are not a possession but they are what I cherish most. They are my treasures and have my heart.


Being six generations Arkansan on both sides of my family, I have a very strong, rooted, clear sense of “home” and there is no place like home. I have always loved the warm sense of community in the 501 and am committed to being an active member and giving back to it.


Arkansas is full of talent. I just want to do everything I can to help everyone who has any interest in film have the tools and resources they need to succeed. Having a healthy film ecosystem employs artists, drives economic development, and helps promote tourism. It’s really a perfect industry if you ask me! For anyone that is just now learning about the Arkansas Cinema Society, please check out everything we do at arkansascinemasociety.org. 90 | 501 LIFE February 2022

Photo by Daniel Nansel

A Growing Health System for a Growing Community

Left to Right: Don Steely, MD, Rimsha Hasan, MD, and Yalcin Hacioglu, MD of Conway Regional Cardiovascular Clinic

Expanded Access

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All Your Heart Needs, All in One Place At Conway Regional, we strive daily to exceed the standards in heart care. Led by a highly-skilled group of interventional cardiologists and emergency department physicians, we have one of the state's best door-to-balloon times for providing emergency heart care. To schedule an appointment with the Conway Regional Cardiovascular Clinic, call 501-358-6905 or visit ConwayRegional.org to learn more.

We’re not just growing—we’re growing together.

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Bank Better with us. When you bank with First Security, you’re choosing real support. For you, and for the state. That’s because our bank is your community bank. So friends, families and fellow Arkansans find better solutions together. It’s another way First Security helps Arkansas bank better – and it’s why you should call on us today.

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