Central Florida Lifestyle Winter Park May 2021

Page 1



MAY 2021




GOLF Fitness: FORE Women

+ Women's ISSUE

Photo Courtesy Brady Gin Photography

Celebrates the Woman Next Door www.CentralFloridaLifestyle.com




IN ONE PLACE. As a leader in healthcare, Orlando Health is excited to be the first-in-market to offer a new tool that makes taking care of your family’s health even easier. Orlando Health MyChart provides a centralized, interactive online location for you to safely access and share health records, view test results, schedule appointments, connect with doctor offices and more — all on one account for your whole family.

Learn More at OrlandoHealth.com/MyChart

MyChart® is a registered trademark of Epic Systems Corporation.

+ LETTER From the Publisher

What’s Your Favorite

Role in Life?

Mother. Grandmother. Sister. Aunt. Wife. Mentor. Boss. Caretaker. Volunteer. We play so many roles in our lifetime, but my favorite of all is WOMAN. In this issue, we’re celebrating the women in our community who do it all. They have a passion for helping others without asking for help for themselves. They work to make a difference in the lives of their neighbors and their families. On page 26, we have partnered with AdventHealth for Women to highlight the stories of 10 amazing local women while sharing important facts about women’s health. This issue also spotlights a superstar Special Olympics athlete (page 50) and a local boutique owner who has everything you need to spoil the special women in your life (page 18). We’re also launching a new department called Talk of the Town (page 10) to cover fun tidbits about what’s going on in your neighborhood. All month long we’ll be celebrating the amazing women of our community on www.CentralFloridaLifestyle.com and our social media channels. Share your stories with us for a chance to be featured. “A strong woman is one who feels deeply and loves fiercely. Her tears flow as abundantly as her laughter. A strong woman is both soft and powerful, she is both practical and spiritual. A strong woman in her essence is a gift to the world.”

CEO/PUBLISHER Kristi Gomen kristi@karstmediagroup.com EXECUTIVE EDITOR Lyndsay Fogarty lyndsay@karstmediagroup.com DIRECTOR OF SOCIAL MEDIA & SPECIAL EVENTS Catie Moore catie@karstmediagroup.com GRAPHIC DESIGNER Michael Feland CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Tarre Beach, Kimberly Blaker, Michael Brehne, Stina D’Uva, Kaitlyn Fusco, Dr. Christine C. Greves, Rich Maladecki, Karen Palacios-Jansen




www.CentralFloridaLifestyle.com Kristi Gomen Publisher

Lifestyle Publications is comprised of multiple editions, each mailed monthly, directly to homes and businesses throughout Central Florida. Lifestyle Publications is published monthly by Karst Media Group. Copyright 2021. All rights reserved. WINDERMERE LIFESTYLE, DR. PHILLIPS LIFESTYLE, METROWEST LIFESTYLE, WINTER GARDEN LIFESTYLE, CELEBRATION LIFESTYLE, DOWNTOWN ORLANDO LIFESTYLE, WINTER PARK LIFESTYLE, COLLEGE PARK LIFESTYLE, LAKE NONA LIFESTYLE, AVALON PARK LIFESTYLE, WATERFORD LAKES LIFESTYLE, OVIEDO LIFESTYLE, WINTER SPRINGS LIFESTYLE and CENTRAL FLORIDA LIFESTYLE are federally registered trademarks. Reproduction or use in whole or in part of the contents of this magazine or of the trademarks of Lifestyle Publications without written permission of the Publisher is prohibited. Lifestyle Publications makes every effort to ensure the accuracy of content published. Neither the publishers nor advertisers will be held responsible for any errors found herein, and the publishers accept no liability for the accuracy of statements made by advertisers in ads and/ or in paid promotional features. May 2021.

Proud Member of:

Follow us: • facebook.com/centralfloridalifestyle • instagram.com/yourlifestylemagazine • twitter.com/cflifestylemag A Product of Karst Media



+ WHAT’S Inside

Contents | May 2021 Departments

Features 8






MONTVERDE ACADEMY: YOUR INVESTMENT STARTS HERE How a brand new facility will set the stage for student success from middle school through graduation and beyond.


Golf-Specific Circuit Training for Women



Axiom Bank: What Comes Next, Florida?



Conversation for Your Community



Don’t Miss the Boat



Shop Local Gift Guide



What You Need to Know About


Preventing Birth Defects Pool Safety 101 for Homeowners



How to Style Your Bar Cart

What to know about attention deficit disorder and how it affects women.




Fierce, Fabulous and 40+


Premiere Orthodontics is now open and has put new procedures in place with patient safety in mind.


This month, in partnership with AdventHealth for Women, we’re recognizing some of the women in our community who are selflessly giving to others while raising families, supporting their loved ones and building their careers.


Your guide to getting outside and discovering the beauty of Central Florida’s outdoor attractions, state parks and farms.

Web Life



Go online for stories and photos not seen in print.

• More stories from local communities • An expanded web calendar • A full Q&A with 10 inspiring local women

Central Florida Lifestyle | May 2021


West Orange Chamber Celebrates Extraordinary Women



Feel Your Best in 1, 2, 3...







Brittany Tagliareni

ULTRA-EXPRESSIVE | U N I Q U E LY B O L D Unveiling Our New Retail Studio Spring 2021





520 E. Church Street, Ste 105, Orlando, FL 32801

+ SPORTS & Recreation

Golf-Specific Circuit Training for Women Get on track with your golf game while keeping your body healthy with this circuit training technique. By Karen Palacios-Jansen


omen often have a hard time squeezing in exercise during the week because of their busy lifestyles, including raising families and working full-time, let alone finding time to work on their golf games. With daily routines that include sitting in a car, sitting at a desk, sitting in a waiting room and sitting in front of the television, there is less and less time to be active, which means energy levels remain low. You know you need to exercise to stay healthy, right? So why not work on your golf game at the same time you exercise? It is possible to introduce exercise into your daily life while working on improving your golf, but it means getting creative. Here is a simple method of combining cardiovascular exercise with golf-specific exercises to kill two birds with one stone. It’s called circuit training. This combination of endurance exercise and strength exercise will not only help you slim down, but can help you improve your game by making you stronger and more flexible. Do a variety of flexibility exercises to cool down the body and increase range of motion. In total, this workout takes 45 to 50 minutes..


Central Florida Lifestyle | May 2021

Golf Circuit Training • General warm up 10-15 minutes This could include jogging, cardio machines, aerobics or dynamic stretching. • Circuit Segment 6 strength segments 2 minutes each Complete a variety of exercises within 2 minutes, alternating the following areas: abdominals, obliques, back, chest, legs and arms. • Cardio segments 2 minutes each Do 2 minutes of cardiovascular exercise in between strength segments. Examples include jogging in place, jump rope, high/low impact aerobics or bike. • Total circuit time 24 minutes • Cool-down stretch 10 minutes

Benefits of Circuit Training 1. A strength and cardio circuit can be more beneficial than only doing cardio or strength training alone. 2. Circuit training can be less intimidating because you’re doing short bouts of 2-3 minutes of exercise at a time instead of a long session of 4050 minutes in one stretch. 3. A circuit is easy to perform at home, in a hotel room or at a gym. 4. It saves time by cutting workout time in half. Instead of just doing cardiovascular exercises like jogging or biking for an hour, then doing another workout of strength exercises, circuit training allows you to combine the two by alternating between cardio exercises and strength exercises.


4.9 STARS ON GOOGLE! Dr. Phan and staff were amazing and made me feel safe, calm and comfortable. The dental staff was dressed in full medical grade Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and double masked. Every precaution was taken in ensuring a safe and clean environment from allowing only one patient in the lobby at a time to thoroughly disinfecting every surface area between patients to requiring the use of hand sanitizer and a temperature check before being seen. The level of care and attentiveness exhibited by the entire staff was nothing short of exceptional. -Tina Le

Dr. Phan earned the prestigious Mastership Award from The Academy of General Dentistry (MAGD), placing him among the 2% of general dentists throughout the United States and Canada that hold this title. 7824 LAKE UNDERHILL RD., #G ORLANDO, FL 32822 (407) 282-7498 WWW.PHANTASTICSMILE.COM


for new patient exam, x-rays & initial cleaning The $99 special offer is for new patients without insurance. Not valid with any other offer. Good through 6/30/2021.

• • • • • • • • • • Promotional Feature • • • • • • • • • •

MONTVERDE ACADEMY Your Investment Starts Here

How a brand new facility will set the stage for student success from middle school through graduation and beyond.


Central Florida Lifestyle | May 2021

• • • • • • • • • • Promotional Feature • • • • • • • • • •


ontverde Academy (MVA) continuously pursues excellence in education, athletics and the arts with the recent opening of a new 38,894-squarefoot middle school building. Students in grades 6-8 will begin the 2021-22 school year with a fresh perspective as well as new facilities that include 16 classrooms, three innovative science laboratories, an attached gymnasium with locker rooms, a performing arts stage and a study hall for individual or group studies in a relaxed, inviting atmosphere.

Support From a Former Student

Francisco Lindor, an MVA alumnus and superstar Major League Baseball shortstop with the New York Mets, was among guests who celebrated the ribbon cutting and grand opening of the new facility in April. Lindor was the lead donor in MVA’s Time to Lead capital campaign, making a $1 million gift toward the construction of the state-of-the-art building, named Lindor Hall, that serves more than 200 students. He also established the Francisco Lindor Scholarship Fund to provide selected current and prospective students with financial assistance to attend MVA. “Montverde Academy played an important role in my life and is a special place for me,” says Lindor. “By leaving Puerto Rico and coming to the Academy, I definitely grew up and became a man through my experience here. The education I received and the confidence, work ethic and character I developed and strengthened here as a student, helped shape me. I’m thankful for the blessings the Lord has bestowed on my family and me. I’m grateful to have the opportunity to pay it forward. I know middle school students and teachers will benefit from this new facility, and I hope this gift helps provide the same strong foundation for future students that it provided for me.”

Time Well Spent

“Francisco’s gifts are of seismic importance to Montverde Academy,” says MVA Head of School Dr. Kasey C. Kesselring. “Francisco Lindor made an indelible mark on MVA as a student. He was special on the baseball field and in our community, with a tremendous work ethic, an infectious smile and grace toward others that we see continuing in his professional life. His donation sends a strong message to everyone that academics will always come first. Education is lifelong, and a sports career has an expiration date. This gift from Francisco is not surprising because he has always been selfless and humble. He sees the value of what the Academy instilled in him and is generously giving for a lasting impact on others.” Lindor credits the diversity, structure and academic programs that MVA provided as significant influences in his development of leadership and decision-making skills. With this foundation, he continues to build a successful professional career in the MLB. “As a student, I received a lot of help and would not be where I am today without it,” he says. “I want to help others, to let them know that they have to focus on their schoolwork first and then practicing a sport is second. When you work hard, anything is possible.”

Discover Montverde Academy

Ranked No. 1 for Most Diverse Private High School in Florida by Niche.com, MVA’s goal is to inspire students in grades Pre-K3 —12 to develop a life-long passion for learning. Also, to challenge themselves and remain fearless in their ability to develop and succeed. Whether a student is striving for academic excellence, flourishing in the arts or aspiring to excel athletically, Montverde Academy’s history, experience and diverse community ensures their growth, wellness and confidence will continue to expand in an inspiring and innovative environment.

17235 7th Street Montverde, FL 34756 407.469.2561 Montverde.org MVASports.com



+ TALK of the Town

Conversations for Your Community A monthly look at what's happening in the Orlando area, along with fun facts and important reminders. By Rich Maladecki

Did You Know Have you driven on the new Daryl Carter Parkway (DCP) between Apopka-Vineland Road and Palm Parkway? This new roadway should help with rush hour commuting, especially for residents of the South Dr. Phillips community.

that Dr. Phillips resident, Michael Hanley of Wealth Management Strategies, is the current Allied Member of the Year for the Central Florida Hotel and Lodging Association? This honor is bestowed annually to a dedicated supplier member of the organization. Congratulations Michael!

The school year is nearly over. It’s time to finalize summer camp opportunities for your children.

Please add this important date to your calendar: The annual State of the County address is confirmed for Friday, June 4. This Orange County update will be presented by the Honorable Jerry Demings, Mayor, Orange County. For more information, please refer to the community events page at www.CFHLA.org.

And, mentioning DCP, have you seen the nearly completed White Castle restaurant? This Midwest tradition is set to open its new location on May 3. As they say in Michigan, it's time to buy a sack!


do car manufacturers continue to install "turn indicators" when the vast majority of Florida drivers never use this safety device? (As both a bicyclist and driver, this shift in driver courtesy is frustrating.)


Central Florida Lifestyle | May 2021

Have you invested in — or have you recently tested — your home fire extinguisher? This is a musthave device to properly protect your family, pets and property. Experts recommend conducting a visual inspection of your fire extinguisher once a month and a professional maintenance inspection once a year.

The annual Memorial Day holiday will occur on Monday, May 31. This is a dedicated time as a nation to recognize American military personnel who have died in the performance of their duty. Please respect and honor these individuals who have given the ultimate sacrifice for our freedoms.

+ DID You Know?

Don’t Miss the Boat Make sure you’re ready to get out on the water with a recreational boating safety class.

By Tarre Beach


here is an old wives’ tale that you shouldn’t go swimming for about one hour after you eat. While that myth has been debunked, there are other ideals that might be helpful to water enthusiasts. In particular, taking a class on boating safety is a great way to make sure nothing cramps your style while out on the water. Start off this boating season and National Boating Safety Week, which is May 22 to May 29, with a boating safety class offered by the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary (USCGA). The USCGA is the uniformed, all-volunteer component of the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) that’s made up of 26,000 members in approximately 850 units or flotillas throughout the U.S. and its territories. District 7, which includes Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina, is its largest district. So why not take advantage of this valuable resource before going boating this year? Vice Flotilla Commander in Lake County and Unit Coordinator Robert Musco says that boating safety classes aren’t required by law in Florida for personal recre-


Central Florida Lifestyle | May 2021

ational (non-commercial) boat operators. However, they’re extremely useful for anyone who wants to enjoy boating safely, no matter their boating experience level. Boat America is an eight-hour, comprehensive class that covers boating law, safety equipment, safe operation and navigation, boating emergencies and trailering. Some insurance companies offer discounts on boating insurance for those who successfully complete the class. According to Musco, USCGapproved life jackets are not required to be worn at all times by adults while on the water (it is required for children under six on boats 26 feet and smaller), but that shouldn’t stop you from wearing one. There are four types of USCGapproved life jackets available, including comfortable ones that are easy to wear. “In nearly 85% of all drownings, the person was not wearing a life jacket,” Musco says. This is why the No. 1 thing he encourages all boaters to do is wear a life jacket. “I hear it all the time: ‘But I’m

a great swimmer,’” Musco says. “If you get knocked unconscious, your swimming skills aren’t going to help you. And putting a life jacket on after an accident can be a lot trickier than you think.” To learn more about boating safety, find a Boat America class in your area, or get a free vessel safety check, visit uscgaux.org.

Boating Safety Tips Follow these simple tips to have a safe, fun time while boating.

• Make a float plan and share it with

a friend or family member on shore.

• Monitor weather conditions before you go out and while on the water.

• Have enough USCG-approved life jackets — and the right sizes — for everyone on board. It’s the law.

• Wear your life jacket while boating. • Know your limits. You can be

boarded by the Coast Guard, fined, and even taken to jail if you are thought to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol while operating a boat.

Now Offering Non-Surgical Spinal Decompression Therapy! Are you experiencing radiating pain into the arms or legs? This could be due to a herniated disc or disc bulge, sciatic nerve irritation, degenerative disc disease or spinal stenosis.

Call 407-395-8632

to schedule a new patient exam and determine if decompression therapy is right for you!


What you need to know about attention deficit disorder and how it affects women. By Kimberly Blaker


Women with ADD can be at either end of the spectrum. Hyperactive women may go at full speed until they crash. Family life can suffer with a hyperactive mother who may be unable to sit and play games or read to her children unless she finds the activities stimulating. Many women with ADD are at the other extreme. They’re hypoactive, unable to muster the energy to do much of anything. These women often can’t keep up with life’s many demands. Maintaining a home, participating in family activities, staying in touch with friends, even holding down a job can be a significant challenge.

Characteristics of ADD in Women

Inattention vs. Hyperfocusing

Some of the many symptoms are more commonly seen in women and are opposite the more recognized symptoms seen in men. This makes detection unlikely and diagnosis difficult. While there is a multitude of characteristics, most women don’t have every symptom. Instead, each woman has a mixture severe enough to impair some areas of life.

Mental vs. Physical Disorganization

Disorganization is typical and often a severe problem for women struggling with ADD. They may be unable to organize their homes, offices or lives. To outsiders, the disorganization isn’t always visible because they may have assistants, secretaries, and cleaning services to assist them. Some ADD women have a partner who compensates for their organizational dysfunction, as well. Others find clutter and disorganization an incredible distraction. These distractions, coupled with the responsibilities of everyday life, lead to mental disorganization. The disorganized brain struggles to store, weed out and organize logically. For these women, being tidy and organized equals survival. 14

Hyperactivity vs. Hypoactivity

ccording to Sari Solden, in her book Women with Attention Deficit Disorder, “Almost all women find that life today is complex, upsetting or frustrating, but they are still able to meet most of [life’s] demands reasonably well…. For women with untreated Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), however, the demands of daily life can be crippling. It cripples their self-esteem, their families, their lives, their work and their relationships.” ADD, also known as Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (AD/HD), affects 3-5% of the population. However, adult ADD, especially as it appears in women, often goes unrecognized.

Central Florida Lifestyle | May 2021

Women with ADD struggle to regulate attention. This doesn’t mean they can never maintain attention. Instead, their ability to focus is based on interest and whether the activity is stimulating. Many women daydreamed through school when they were younger. Yet the subjects or activities they found fun or interesting didn’t pose such a problem. Adult life with ADD is often the same. Hyperfocusing also poses problems and can coexist with symptoms of inattention. While it may be challenging to focus on some things, a woman may hyperfocus on that which interests her and be unable to shift her attention for hours, days, or longer. Meals may be forgotten, and family members can carry on conversations without being heard, which puts a strain on the family. If a hyperfocused woman manages to break away from what she’s engrossed in, she may wander aimlessly and forget what she’s doing.

Impatience and Impulsivity

Standing in lines, sitting in waiting rooms and being placed on hold for lengthy waits drives some women with

ADD to the brink. Women with ADD may be impatient, either visibly or internally, or act impulsively. Minor nuisances can cause significant agitation. Others can maintain their composure yet still feel anxious and annoyed. Women with ADD may also be impatient about life and events. A woman may plan her whole education or entire life in one day and need for it to happen immediately. She goes into things full swing rather than step-by-step. As a result, she may have a change of heart after investing time or money or feeling spread too thin, with too many goals to achieve. Impulsiveness is seen when women with ADD act or speak without thinking. This often leads to trouble by spending impulsively or jumping into relationships or marriage. Some struggle socially, interrupting conversations or blurting things out they later regret.

Mood Shifts

Mood swings, being overemotional or easily frustrated is another problem. For some, it’s like being on an emotional roller coaster. Extreme mood shifts can lead to a misdiagnosis of bipolar disorder, though the two can coexist. Women with ADD are frustrated by the slightest aggravations. A simple mistake may result in anger, storming off and dropping a task altogether. If interrupted in the midst of something, a woman may become irritable and annoyed. Depression, although not a symptom of ADD, often coexists or is a result of the disorder. It may stem from a lack of self-worth because she’s unable to keep a job or adequately care for her family. It can also result from not achieving up to potential because of attention problems or the inability to stick with things. Sometimes, it comes from feeling overwhelmed.

The Cause of ADD + Misdiagnosis

Research indicates ADD is a neurobiological disorder with a strong genetic link. According to the nonprofit organization Children and Adults with Attention DeficitHyperactivity Disorder (CHADD), complications during

pregnancy, labor and delivery; exposure to nicotine or alcohol during fetal development; or other environmental factors may play a role in the development of ADD. Studies show the incidence of ADD in men and women is nearly identical, says Kathleen Nadeau, Ph.D., co-author of Understanding Women with AD/HD. However, doctors often diagnose the depression that accompanies ADD in women but miss the ADD itself. Women, more often than men, have coexisting anxiety and depression, which must be treated as well. Also, women who are more hyperactive, hyper talkative and impulsive are sometimes misdiagnosed with bipolar disorder. Many doctors still look for signs of ADD more typical of boys. They fail to understand that ADD symptoms in females often don’t appear until puberty or later because of hormonal fluctuations. When girls enter adolescence, during PMS and as estrogen levels drop in perimenopause and menopause, the symptoms of ADD often worsen. Also, girls tend to try harder in school, so their ADD patterns are often overlooked by teachers.

Treatment Options

The most effective treatment for ADD is prescription medication. There’s a multitude of stimulant and non-stimulant drugs available. Behavioral therapy is also beneficial for coming to terms with the lifelong disorder and relieving negative coping behaviors. Coaching is useful for learning new strategies for structuring life. Because ADD is neurobiological, therapy and coaching work best in conjunction with medication. An accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment are essential. Finding a qualified provider isn’t easy because adult ADD, particularly as it affects women, isn’t always recognized. Before seeking a diagnosis, read some recommended books for a better understanding of the disorder and the diagnosis and treatment process. Then, compile a list of questions to ask your provider. If you don’t feel comfortable with a physician’s responses, seek help elsewhere.



• • • • • • • • • • Promotional Feature • • • • • • • • • •


The Clear Way to a Confident Smile


beautiful smile can help you feel more confident. Using traditional braces, as well as a clear aligner treatment plan where the aligners are changed out every week or two, Dr. Jason Battle of Premiere Orthodontics helps boost the confidence of his patients through every stage of their lives. Dr. Battle partners with his patients to create their perfect smile. At his cosmetically driven practice, he customizes each treatment plan based on the patient’s individual needs to straighten their teeth quickly and affordably without anyone noticing. After learning about their treatment goals, Dr. Battle develops a plan using clear aligners like Invisalign, 3M and ClearCorrect with minimal assistance from traditional braces. With a simple, one-minute scan using the world’s fastest scanner, Dr. Battle creates digital models of a patient’s teeth. He then alters the models on a computer to design their new smile. The final digital production allows the patient to see the outcome before the treatment plan even begins. After the digital models are approved, they are sent to a lab so the clear aligners can be fabricated. “It’s a better fit for all of the retainers and appliances,” Dr. Battle says of the scanner. “It also has a faster turnaround time, which means the patient can start the treatment sooner.” 16

Central Florida Lifestyle | May 2021

With the traditional method for the clear aligner treatment plan, the aligners are changed out every two to three weeks. Using the accelerated method, the total treatment time is cut in half. Even complex surgical cases involving major under bites and over bites can be handled with the same treatment plan as more simple orthodontics cases. “In the past, patients would often need around two years of traditional ‘metal’ braces. We’ve cut that down to about three months, and that’s if they are even necessary,” Dr. Battle explains. Even better, patients don’t need to visit the office as much for maintenance. However, they still need to schedule regular in-office appointments or virtual consultations so Dr. Battle can check their progress and transition them through each stage of the treatment. This should occur every four to six months compared to every four to six weeks with traditional braces. “My patients can reach their smile goals faster with the accelerated treatment plan, and I’m there for them every step of the way,” Dr. Battle says. “I’ll do whatever it takes to get them to happiness.” At Premiere Orthodontics, one thing is clear: Dr. Battle is committed to creating beautiful smiles for his patients quickly, boosting their confidence for the milestones that matter the most.

Premiere Othodontics Goes Virtual Dr. Battle understands that life can get busy and office visits aren't always easy to schedule. That's why he now offers HIPPA-compliant virtual consultations instead. It's simple. 1. On the Premiere Orthodontics website, click "Start Your Virtual Consultation" and input your cell phone number. 2. You will receive a link via text where you can upload your photos from your phone. 3. Dr. Battle will review the photos and provide a treatment plan and fee estimate within three days.

Dr. Phillips Office 7009 Dr. Phillips Blvd., Ste. 200 Orlando, FL 32819 407.381.3376 Waterford Lakes Office 448 S. Alafaya Trail, Ste. 10 Orlando, FL 32828 407.381.3335 www.BattleOrtho.com

+ BUSINESS Spotlight

Shop Local Gift Guide This trendy gift boutique has everything you need for your next celebration, whether it’s for Mom, Dad, a graduate or another special person in your life. By Lyndsay Fogarty


eggy Duncan opened her boutique, Sweet, Sassy & Southern, at The Grove in Windermere in 2016. Since then, she has been an advocate for other small business owners, utilizing her space to share local products with the community. You will find beautiful jewelry from local artisans, handmade soaps and even an Ocoee-based granola brand. There are also products available from members of Ear for Each Other, a Facebook group that was launched last year to promote the side gigs of individuals who were furloughed or laid off from their jobs at Disney, including a line of soy candles and handmade pillows. Tucked behind the checkout counter is a former storage space that Duncan’s friend, Nicole Sharp, recently transformed into Couture Academy. There, she will host design classes, where both children and adults and can hone their skills in creating their own home décor or fashion items. Sweet, Sassy & Southern is open from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday and is closed on Sundays.

Engraving services are available for items like these kitchen boards, which offer the perfect backdrop for beloved family recipes, as well as crates that can be filled with fun items and gifted to graduates or teachers. Embroidery and vinyl personalization is also available for items purchased in-store. 18

Central Florida Lifestyle | May 2021

The boutique features displays from local jewelers (above) and space for Couture Academy to host design classes (below).


Available to 9th Graders (2021-2022 school year) Must test in the 98% on national tests; 3.8 GPA or Higher


Pre-K3 through Grade 12 Offering 5 and 7 Day Boarding International Baccalaureate World School

(407) 905-7737 info@windermereprep.com windermereprep.com



SUNDAY, MAY 30TH STARTING AT 1PM “THE BOOTS” LIVE STREET PERFORMERS DJ SCOTTY B 3251 Margaritaville Blvd. Kissimmee, Florida PromenadeAtSunsetwalk.com www.CentralFloridaLifestyle.com



What You Need to Know About Preventing Birth Defects Learn some important steps that you can take to help keep you and your baby healthy during pregnancy. By Christine C. Greves, MD, Orlando Health Winnie Palmer Hospital


bviously, the goal of every mom-to-be is to welcome a full-term, healthy baby into the world. While birth defects cannot entirely be prevented, it’s possible to increase the chances of having a healthy baby by following a few healthy lifestyle options. For example, did you know that folic acid is known to prevent many serious birth defects and is found in most vitamin supplements, especially those that are labeled as “prenatal” vitamins? And did you know that there also are many foods that are rich in folic acid, including asparagus, broccoli, citrus fruits and avocados, as well as dark, leafy greens such as spinach and romaine lettuce? One recent survey found that, while nearly two-thirds of women did know that folic acid is an important nutrient in preventing birth defects, only about a third regularly took a multivitamin with folic acid before learning they were pregnant. The poll also found that many women didn’t know that iron, calcium and vitamin D

also are important in protecting developing babies against defects. Additionally, a small number of women didn’t realize that avoiding tobacco reduces the risk of birth defects and that eliminating the consumption of alcohol and illegal drugs during pregnancy would have similar benefits. If you’re pregnant or thinking about getting pregnant, here are some important steps you can take to help keep you and your baby healthy. • Take folic acid. It’s best to start at least a month prior to becoming pregnant then throughout your pregnancy. For women of child-bearing age, at least 400 micrograms of folic acid every day, either from multivitamins or food, is recommended. Specifically, some of the birth defects that folic acid can help prevent are neural tube defects like spina bifida and anencephaly. • See your doctor regularly. Starting as soon as you think you might be pregnant, schedule an appointment with a healthcare professional and continue with regular prenatal care throughout your pregnancy.

• Stop drinking alcohol. There is no known safe amount of alcohol you can consume while pregnant without putting your baby at risk for birth defects (and that includes wine and beer). • If you use tobacco, quit. Tobacco use, including smokeless tobacco, has been linked to cleft lip, cleft palate, low birth weight, preterm birth and infant death. • Limit caffeine. Because caffeine is a stimulant, it increases your heart rate and blood pressure, neither of which are good during pregnancy. • Ask your physician about genetic screening and what it involves. This is especially important if you have a family history of birth defects or if you’re 35 years of age or older.

Finally, try to relax with some dedicated “me” time and enjoy this very special time in your life! To learn more about mother/baby care at Orlando Health Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women & Babies, visit WinniePalmerHospital.com.

Christine Greves, MD, is a board-certified OB-GYN with the Orlando Health Winnie Palmer Hospital Center for Obstetrics & Gynecology. Dr. Greves received her medical degree from the University of South Florida College of Medicine where she also completed her residency. She is a fellow of the American Association of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG).


Central Florida Lifestyle | May 2021

Advanced Diabetes & Endocrine Medical Center OUR SPECIALTIES INCLUDE: ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■

Diabetes (Juvenile and Adult Onset) Gestational Diabetes Thyroid Diseases Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome Pituitary Dysfunction Hormonal Imbalance Adrenal Problems


MAJOR INSURANCE PLANS ACCEPTED Aetna • Ambetter • AvMed • BCBS • Careplus • Cigna Medicare • Oscar • Tricare • United • Wellcare

9166 University Boulevard, Orlando, FL 32817 | TEL 407.673.4600 | FAX 407.673.4601 www.OrlandoDiabetes.org | AdvancedDiabetes

Accepting New Patients Evening and Weekend Appointments Available

Southwest Orlando Eye Care Dr. Ben Konynenbelt

Pediatric Eye Care Specialist

407-271-8931 www.southwestorlandoeyecare.com

Vision Therapy We create customized programs to improve overall functional vision performance. Symptoms may include: • Blurred vision • Headaches • Double vision • Tired eyes • Trouble reading/writing • Poor reading comprehension

Myopia Management These treatments are intended to slow the progression of myopia (nearsightedness). If your child has myopia, most likely they will need stronger eyeglasses year after year. Treatments may include one or a combination of the following: • Eye drops • Multifocal contacts • Ortho-K lenses

Come to us for your everyday eye care needs! Comprehensive eye exams for all ages • Emergency eye care • Award-winning Optical Boutique

BRAND NEW LOCATION 7208 Sand Lake Road, Ste. 202 Orlando, FL 32819 www.CentralFloridaLifestyle.com



Pool Safety 101 for Homeowners Teaching your children pool safety is your top defense against drowning. But what are the legal liabilities for pool owners if tragedy strikes? By Michael Brehne, Law Offices of Michael B. Brehne, P.A


t has been said, and it’s abundantly true, the best defense is a good offense. Drowning prevention should be the primary concern for all homeowners, homeowners associations, hotels and amusement parks. However, the legal responsibilities assigned to each have different legal standards to uphold and attendant consequences. Before we consider the legal ramifications post-drowning, let’s discuss some important preventative measures that can be taken by those responsible for swimming pools. First and foremost, teach your children to swim. This may sound condescending, but if your child knows how to swim, it’s much less likely that they will drown. Never leave a child alone by any body of water. Regardless of your child’s swimming abilities or use of flotation devices, adult supervision is the most effective precaution against drowning. Safety barriers of at least 4 feet high should be erected around pools on all sides to keep children from accessing the water. Other considerations are safety covers, pool alarms and lock or latch areas that include doors, windows and gates. Fences should be equipped with a locking mechanism that is over 5 1/2 feet. Lastly, parents should learn CPR so they can immediately administer life-saving techniques. Who is responsible if tragedy strikes? That depends on many factors, including the type of body of water in which the drowning incident occurred. Florida law states that drowning is a risk inherent in any body of water. The owner of

the body of water is not liable merely because a person may be too young or of insufficient intelligence to understand the open and obvious danger of the water. The responsibility for the care of such people remains with parents and guardians. To shift the responsibility to another by virtue of ownership alone is unreasonable. I have reviewed cases where a child has drowned and the parents sue the pool owner, only to be brought into the lawsuit as defendants for their lack of supervision while their child swam in someone else’s pool. Thus, there is no liability for drowning in a body of water, natural or artificial, unless there is some unusual danger not generally existing in similar bodies of water or the water contains a dangerous condition constituting a trap. Neither can a hotel be responsible for the death of a guest who drowns in their pool merely because they didn’t post a lifeguard at the pool. There is no legal duty to supervise swimmers in a hotel pool, but there are legal standards that lifeguards must follow if they’re posted to supervise swimming. A violation could subject the lifeguard and their employer to liability if a drowning occurs. Some jurisdictions require that there be minimum standards of protection against allowing easy access to pools for new construction. For example, the Florida Building Codes require safety barriers and gates surrounding the pool, prohibiting unrestrained admittance to enclosed areas. I hope that you will practice these pool safety tips and enjoy your summer.

Michael Brehne has dedicated his 24-year career to representing injured people in motorcycle and car accidents, and represents people when their insurance claims have been denied. He has earned a reputation as a tenacious and skilled trial lawyer when representing his clients against large corporate defendants and insurance companies. He is also the author of “Watching Out for Florida Motorcyclists: Legal Rights of Injured Bikers.”


Central Florida Lifestyle | May 2021

Devereux Behavioral Support Program Offering Hope for Youth with Autism When Mental Health Challenges Escalate

How You Can Get Involved with Devereux’s Mission Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health Florida unlocks and nurtures human potential for people living with emotional, behavioral or cognitive differences. Community support has been the key to providing life-changing services for individuals and families facing challenges from these diagnoses. There are several ways you can get involved. Refer: If your family is experiencing any of the challenges mentioned in this article, you don’t have to face it alone. Devereux is recognized nationally for its expert level of care for families just like yours. For immediate help for your family or a family you know, reach out directly to referral@devereux.org. Participate: Do you need help with understanding your child’s diagnosis and managing their behaviors? Devereux can provide the tools your family needs. Sign up for training announcements or receive more information by emailing DevereuxFlorida@devereux.org. Learn: Interested in learning more about the services Devereux provides for individuals and families in crisis? For more information about Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health Florida, visit DevereuxFL.org. Donate: A contribution of $25 provides a virtual consultation session to a family in need. Text “DevereuxFlorida” to 41444 to make a monetary gift.




Ways to Style Your Bar Cart

Your guide to the perfect party accessory and everyday accent piece.

By Lyndsay Fogarty


o you have a bar cart and you don’t know what to do with it. Here are three easy ideas for styling it to perfection.

Make it Practical

As trendy as they are, a bar cart is one of the many ways to display the personality of your home. But you don’t just want it sitting in the corner all the time. “To create an amazing bar cart, you first need to build it to be usable,” says Francia Fusik, owner of All in One Decorating Solutions in Windermere. She suggests investing in a three-tier, oversized bar cart on wheels. Keep the essentials on the top tier, such as an ice bucket with tongs, glassware, a cork screw, a strainer, a bottle opener, a cocktail shaker, coasters and an elongated spoon, so you’re prepared to make any cocktail. Store all of your favorite liquors and liqueurs on the bottom tier, keeping in mind to curate a collection that will appeal to a variety of tastes. During a dinner party, the second tier can be used to place hors d’oeuvres, small plates, napkins and utensils. When the party is over, store your serving dishes there.

Give it a Theme

Another way to decorate your bar cart is choosing a theme that caters to your taste in beverages. Whether you prefer margaritas, old-timey cocktails or wine, you can build a bar cart to match, complete with alcohol, all the essentials and pretty decorations.


Central Florida Lifestyle | May 2021

Fusik leans toward the timelessness of a beautifully themed wine cart. She notes that the first tier can hold the wine decanter, corkscrew and wine glass accessories that will help you figure out which glass is yours. The second tier can hold a selection of fruits and cheeses, and the bottom tier is where the wine bottles can be stored. Or consider purchasing a cart that is designed specifically for the wine theme with a built-in wine rack, glass rack and a top for all the essentials.

Make it Pretty

Even with a practical bar cart, it’s important to style it so that it’s appealing as a dinner party accessory but also as an everyday accent piece in your living or dining rooms. Add understated flair with your favorite flowers, scented candles or bar books with cocktail recipes. Create your own décor by doing a craft project with recycled wine corks or flattening old wine or liquor bottles to be used as art to hang behind the cart or as a serving plate. All of these accents can be removed when needed to allow for more room to make your cocktails.


CFHLA Gives Program Annually, the Central Florida Hotel and Lodging Association, in partnership with the CFHLA Foundation and the support of our members, raises funds for local hospitality student scholarships and grants through the CFHLA Gives program. Since 2000, the CFHLA Foundation has awarded over $925,000 in hospitality student scholarships, and this successful program would not be possible without the support of our 26 MVP Committee members. On April 29, CFHLA hosted our

Robert Agrusa is president and CEO of the Central Florida Hotel and Lodging Association, the world’s largest regional hotel association (www.CFHLA.org). Nicole-Smith-halfpage.pdf



Annual Gives Luncheon at the JW Marriott Orlando Bonnet Creek Resort & Spa, where we awarded 47 hospitality student scholarships and 4 educational grants. In total, the CFHLA Gives program raised over $110,000 in 2021! Please join us in thanking the 2021 CFHLA MVP Committee: Cindy Andrews, Sunbrite Outdoor Furniture; David Baird, Vermana; Jackie Bozzuto, Lowndes; Jill Cooper, Blown Away, LLC; Ruthann DiLauri, Minuteman Press; Beatriz Dominguez, Clean Tec Services; John Gill, Premier Oracle Elevator Co.; Matt Grier, Greenery Productions, Inc.; Maureen Haggerty, Spinout Guest Laundries, Inc.; Louis Robbins, former CFHLA Chairman; Lou Rocco, Global Sourcing International, LLC; Chad Rocheford, Crown Linen; Erin Sims, Landform of Central Florida; Cindy Traenkner, Domino’s; Michael Hanley, Wealth Management 10:53 AM

Strategies of Central Florida; George Haq, B&H Towels and Linens; Steven Jamieson, The Mall at Millenia; Paul Joseph, Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress; Barbara Kenney, Kenney Communications, Inc; Charisse Kissenberth, Summit Broadband; Justin MayLawhon, Florida Patio Furniture; John McCracken, Marriott Village Orlando; Stefanie Mizrahi, Addition Financial; Steve Vinciguerra, SeaWorld Parks & Resorts; Jody Walker, Accentria Insurance; and Brandon Whaley, Mainscape, Inc. CFHLA would also like to recognize the committee’s top contributor, Justin May-Lawhon. Thank you, Justin, and all of the 2021 CFHLA MVP Committee members, for your enthusiastic support and assistance in granting Central Florida students with the opportunity to improve their education and future careers in hospitality.

Nicole Smith

Licensed Real Estate Professional





Get the Home TeamAdvantage and learn about the Diamond Difference.







G R O U P W W W. D I A M O N D R E A LT YO R L A N D O . C O M

321.229.2286 www.CentralFloridaLifestyle.com


the Woman Next Door This month, in partnership with AdventHealth for Women, we’re recognizing some of the women in our community who are selflessly giving to others while raising families, supporting their loved ones and building their careers. Whether they know it or not, their stories inspire other women in their shoes.


Central Florida Lifestyle | May 2021


Thelisha Thomas Altamonte Springs

For more than 15 years, Thelisha Thomas has been an advocate and leader in providing health services for children, women and disabled individuals within underserved communities in Seminole County. Most recently, as the executive director for the Healthy Start Coalition, she had a hand in ensuring that several local pregnant women in need of services were able to survive an economically trying 2020. Through the organization of holiday food and supplies giveaways, hundreds of families received diapers, food, gifts and health services that they would otherwise not have been able to access. What is your WHY? My why is to make others happy! I want to help my community and make things better for those that come after me. When I had to write a paper for grad school, I focused on the standard obituary and that simple dash between the birth and death dates. I really want my dash to mean something. I want to leave good memories with family and friends. I also want my peers, families and individuals that I’ve come into contact with over the years to say, “Thelisha was a hoot!,” laugh and recall something funny or something good that I did. I want to help others and make someone happy, even if it is for a short period of time. I want my son to be super proud of his mom, present and future. On your toughest days, what motivates you to put one foot in front of the other? Before my son was born, I would say the quality instilled in me from childhood that you just don’t quit. You never give up. Go over, go around, go through, but don’t quit! Now, my son drives me to ensure I can’t quit … I won’t! What is the biggest challenge you have faced and what did you learn from it? Being a professional single mother. Things can be scary and difficult. Others have walked similar paths and done great things. I can do all things and there isn’t a cheat sheet to help you be a perfect mother. Do the best that you can. Lean on those true support systems and enjoy the ride. All of this is temporary.

AdventHealth for Women Health Navigator Tip! After you turn 40, you should start getting a screening mammogram to look for signs of breast cancer, such as tumors, once a year. But it’s also important to do self-exams regularly at any age after puberty. www.CentralFloridaLifestyle.com


Belinda Kirkegard Lake Nona CITY OF KISSIMMEE

First and foremost, Belinda Kirkegard is a mom who is raising “the cutest kids on Earth.” She is also the economic development director for The City of Kissimmee, where she invests her time in helping Osceola County businesses and families thrive. As a member of the AdventHealth Kissimmee Community Advisory Council, she also provides valuable insight to the AdventHealth team. What is your WHY? Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “The future belongs to those that believe in the beauty of their dreams.” My why is because I believe in the beauty of my dreams. On your toughest days, what motivates you to put one foot in front of the other? My faith. What is the biggest challenge you have faced and what did you learn from it? In 2008, I ran for political office unsuccessfully. It was a high-profile race. I had raised $2 million, did everything right and lost by a half percent. I struggled to understand why because I knew in my heart that’s where I was called to be. Now I look back and it’s my reminder that God has a plan for us. The experience bolstered me professionally, the connections I made across the state were incredible and, most importantly, I met my now husband on the campaign trail, which was the greatest win possible.

Jackie Nitti Oviedo

What is your WHY? I believe it’s important to do what we can to help others because that’s how our communities thrive. There will always be people who need support, whether they are underprivileged, special needs, elderly, sick, abused or marginalized, and there are so many wonderful nonprofits and people in our community who are willing to step up and help where needed. I find it inspiring to work for HOPE Helps, where every day I see the kindness in people’s hearts when they’re willing to lend a helping hand to someone who is struggling. What word perfectly explains who you are? Optimistic. There’s a lot of contention in the world right now, and so many people are having a tough go of it. I truly believe that most people are trying their best and want our families and neighbors to be secure and successful. I’m optimistic that if we all continue to work together, our community will be a place where everyone feels welcome and safe, has opportunities to succeed and provide for their families, and lives a long, healthy life. 28

Central Florida Lifestyle | May 2021


As the development manager at HOPE Helps, Inc., a nonprofit that works to prevent homelessness in Central Florida, Jackie Nitti focuses on fundraising and donor relations. Her role helps to sustain the organization’s programs and ensure its clients receive the support they need during times of financial insecurity. She enjoys getting to know donors, business partners and community members who support the HOPE Helps mission.



An Incredible Network for Women’s Care OB and NICU Services At AdventHealth for Women, our goal is to provide personalized support throughout your pregnancy journey. Your team of experts includes boardcertified OB/GYNs, midwives, high-risk pregnancy specialists and a Birth Experience Team to customize your delivery experience at each of our stateof-the-art Baby Place® locations. In the event your little one needs extra care, we have the largest NICU network in Central Florida and have been named the best newborn care in Florida by U.S. News & World Report.






Gynecologic Care AdventHealth Medical Group’s team of board-certified OB/GYNs and advanced gynecologic surgeons offer compassionate, advanced care at every age and stage of a woman’s life.

Mammography Scheduling a mammogram has never been easier. AdventHealth for Women has the largest network of mammography locations with 3D technology, online scheduling and appointments in 30 minutes to fit your busy schedule.

Pelvic Health Our comprehensive program features your own pelvic health care coordinator to guide your journey as well as a multidisciplinary team including experts from colorectal surgery, urology, urogynecology and pelvic floor physical therapy.




Personalized Health Navigation The specially trained registered nurses on our Women’s Health Navigation team provide expert personalized, clinical assistance and educational, emotional and spiritual support. As part of this complimentary service, we’re here to coordinate your overall care and answer any questions you may have.

Doreen Forsythe BSN, RN Health Navigator

Janelle Grall BSN, RN, CPN Health Navigator

WomenAreIncredible.com | 407-720-5191


Meet the Navigation Team

Deborah DiPrato Dr. Phillips

During the school day, Deborah DiPrato becomes DJ Debbie D, as she puts on a fun song over the intercom for students and staff to bop to as they enter campus. An Orange County Public Schools teacher for the last 16 years, she is truly dedicated to her students, consistently shopping for classroom goodies and investing hours into her lesson plans. She also juggles her career with motherhood, making sure her two daughters always feel happy and loved. What is your WHY? For children to achieve academic as well as social and emotional success, they must be happy in school and motivated to learn. Would you change anything about how you have handled challenges or successes thus far in your life? Maya Angelou said, “There’s a reason the windshield is bigger than the rearview mirror. Where you’re going is so much better than where you’ve been.” I would agree with that! What is the biggest challenge you have faced and what did you learn from it? My biggest challenge was reinventing myself when our family decided to move from Connecticut to Orlando in 2000. I was a financial manager of an executive suite business. I had taken many education classes in college. I started substituting in my daughters’ elementary school. The substituting led to teaching full time. The career, in fact, found me, but I do believe that this is what I was supposed to do with my life.

Ashley Moore Maitland

What is your WHY? I carry life lessons from my parents, who taught me to do as much as I can for as long as I can, because one day, I won’t have the same abilities and energy to accomplish as much. To me, that translates across all facets of life — at home, at work and in service to others. Carrying on these principles is part of my purpose. Have you drawn inspiration from other women? I put my mom on a pedestal. She’s my constant, giving me unconditional love when I didn’t deserve it, showing me how to have a career with not only a paycheck, but also purpose, and how to steadily balance life in light of adversity. Most importantly, she’s shown me the best example of how to be a mother. If I’m half the mom she has been, I’ll consider myself a success. What is the biggest challenge you have faced and what did you learn from it? I lost my dad three years ago to leukemia. I’m continuing to learn so much about grief and its complexity with each day that passes; particularly, that grief doesn’t go away. Rather, I’ve found that life begins again and grows around the grief, making it seem less overwhelming. I’m also learning how to honor my dad and his legacy — mostly by making, not finding, time to give my talents to those who deserve them. 30

Central Florida Lifestyle | May 2021


As the community relations officer for Seminole County, Ashley Moore is responsible for public information dissemination and the management of public education campaigns. As she balances work with parenting two young daughters, she is also an active member of the Venue on Lake Lily event committee, a founding board member for Apopka Community Trust and a volunteer mentor for Embrace Families.

Emily Kinnunen Winter Garden

A music teacher for Orange County Public Schools, Emily Kinnunen lives, breathes and plays music. Even when classes went virtual, she continued to come up with the most creative lesson plans for her students and did everything in her power to brighten their days. She even attends her students’ musical performances and after-school activities in her free time, truly showing how her dedication to her students shines both inside and outside the classroom. What is your WHY? I have wanted to be a teacher from the moment I entered a school. My biggest goal is to always leave the world a little bit of a brighter place. As a music teacher, my biggest WHY is that I absolutely love what I do, and I can’t imagine doing anything else because I love being able to make music with the most amazing young musicians every single day.


What are you most proud of? I am most proud of being confident in my own skin and not being afraid to be who I am. For so many women and young girls, being confident in one’s own skin is something that they often struggle with. I am a firm believer that being true to yourself never goes out of style and there is nothing better than being exactly who you are. What is the biggest challenge you have faced and what did you learn from it? When I think back on some of the biggest challenges I’ve faced, I often think back to when I was growing up and my peers telling me that I was different, that I didn’t fit in with everyone else, and that I would never be good at what I do. Instead of letting these hurtful words set me back, I always knew that if I set my mind to something, that I would be able to achieve my goals. Along with this, I knew that being different from everyone else is what made me special. I always tell my students that I love them for being just the way they are, and I believe that my experiences have helped shape that lesson that every child leaves my classroom knowing.

AdventHealth for Women Health Navigator Tip! A well-woman exam is a yearly checkup performed by either your primary care physician or your OB/GYN. This annual screening is a great time to catch up with your care provider to review your medical and family history and share any changes with your body over the last year. If you’ve had a hysterectomy, it’s still recommended that you have a pelvic exam every three to five years, even if you’ve never had an abnormal result.



Downtown Orlando

As the leader of the cheer and dance programs at Bishop Moore Catholic High School, Shannon Lambert is a mentor to studentathletes, both in their sport and their faith. She also volunteers with the AdventHealth chaplain. Last year, she felt called to minister to the elderly, so she started taking classes to become a CNA to meet requirements for serving this population in the hospital environment.


Shannon Lambert

What is your WHY? Life is tough in some way for everyone, and I learned early on that you don’t have to become a product of your environment. However, it would require goal setting, a game plan, hard work and to always stay true to yourself and your values. As I matured, I recognized my happiest moments were when I was helping others. I started serving those who felt lost or struggled with poor self-image and, when that wasn’t enough, I heard the call to care for the elderly. I have state championship and national titles, but none measure up to the moments when you’re thanked for making a difference in a life. On your toughest days, what motivates you to put one foot in front of the other? It’s simple: for the love of others. I enjoy seeing people grow, get healthy and learn to love and accept who they are. I pray daily that those I encounter will get a glimpse of Jesus in me.



Alfreda Clark

Downtown Orlando As the center director for the AdventHealth for Children West Lakes Early Learning Center, which opened last April to provide education and care for essential workers’ young children, Alfreda Clark oversees the daily operations of the facility’s clinic, comprehensive services, community outreach and school. She has dedicated her career to providing children and families with optimal experiences that contribute to positive outcomes in life. Her efforts have been integral in growing the center to 90% of its capacity. What is your WHY? I am a difference maker, a change agent. I know it’s my calling to contribute to humanity by using my gifts and my whole heart to be of service. On your toughest days, what motivates you to put one foot in front of the other? I get centered, and in my self-talk, I reconnect with God and recite the verses and sayings that have contributed to resilience and perseverance in my life: “Where you find yourself is where you are, and where you are is where you need to be,”“This too shall pass,”“Only a fool returns to his folly,” and “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.” I also seek advice from a circle of confidants that continue to pour into me and inspire me. What are you most proud of? I’m most proud of being the mother of an amazingly spirited 5-year-old and watching her grow and witnessing her loving heart. I’m also proud of feeling like I’m extended family to so many amazing friends and that I have a family that is like none other. I have been truly blessed in those areas of my life.


Central Florida Lifestyle | May 2021


Sonja Nicholson Winter Park

Originally from Alabama, Sonja Nicholson speaks in a soft southern accent though her nurturing personality and passion for her community command the room. Her heart for philanthropy is apparent with her name connected to investments in education at UCF’s Nicholson School of Communication and in the health of the community at AdventHealth Winter Park’s Nicholson Center. In her nomination, it was said, “I’ve seen firsthand how much she cares for the wellbeing of the community and gets involved to make an impact. Overall, she is generous, kind, compassionate, warm and inspiring.” What is your WHY? Making a difference. I want to make a positive impact on the lives I touch, whether large or small. This includes my family, friends, our community and our country. I believe making a difference starts at home. I always feel you get back more than you give when giving from the heart! Have you drawn inspiration from other women? Yes, over the years my mother, sister, daughters and a few special friends. I learned to raise the bar for my life in every way, which includes loving God, holding family dear to my heart, being adventurous, never giving up on dreams and living life to the fullest. What is the one word that perfectly explains who you are? Genuine. Many people have used this word to describe me over the years. I have never lost sight of who I truly am.

AdventHealth for Women Health Navigator Tip! Typically, regular colorectal screenings should begin at age 45 to determine the presence of any cancerous or precancerous cells in your lower digestive tract. However, it may be recommended sooner if you have risk factors such as a family history of colorectal cancer. The screening usually takes less than an hour and is not anywhere near as uncomfortable as you might think. Your doctor will provide some level of anesthesia, whether conscious sedation or Monitored Anesthesia Care, which has a rapid onset and a quick recovery time.



Jessica Wickey Byrd Southwest Orlando GREG BYRD

Jessica Wickey Byrd is an instructor and internship program director at Rosen College of Hospitality Management. She launched human trafficking education last summer to enhance the students’ internship education. She’s a member of the Greater Orlando Human Trafficking Task Force and the Central Florida National Academy Foundation’s Advisory Board for high schools with hospitality and tourism programs. What is your WHY? My professional “why” is to mentor future leaders of the hospitality and tourism industry. The highlight of my day is when a student calls or emails me to tell me they got their dream career. Their success brings me such joy! I truly enjoy guiding them to be the best versions of themselves and, in the process, they teach me to be the best version of myself.

On your toughest days, what motivates you to put one foot in front of the other? I suffered a traumatic loss of my twin sister in 2010, and my mother in 2009. Losing them changed the trajectory of my life. Prior to their deaths, I lived a carefree life with a modest concept of goals. After their passing, I try to consciously take advantage of time with family and friends and plan strategic, obtainable goals. I try to be present in conversations and a better listener. Everything I do, I do with them in mind. I want to live life to the fullest, travel to every country, taste every food and meet new people — all things they’re not able to do. I often find myself stepping out of my comfort zone to take advantage of opportunities that would make them proud. What is the one word that perfectly explains who you are? Can I have three words please? I live each day following the three Ps: positivity, passion and productivity. When I worked in the hospitality industry, they used to call me the “smiling general.”

“The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away.” – William Shakespeare

What truly remarkable stories these local women have of finding and living their life’s purpose. We hope you are as inspired by them as we are. Learn more about the women featured here and the work they do within our community

at www.CentralFloridaLifestyle.com


Central Florida Lifestyle | May 2021

Best Women’s Care in Orlando

At AdventHealth for Women, our network of care across Central Florida provides expert services for women in every stage of life. Our physicians, midwives and nurses are focused on providing the whole-person support you need, when and where you need it.

Experience the AdventHealth for Women difference • Convenient labor and delivery locations with the highest level of NICU care • Virtual resources for new parents including classes, tours and support groups • Advanced minimally invasive surgical options and leading technology • Comprehensive pelvic health program including pelvic floor rehabilitation • 3D mammography with the most locations throughout Central Florida

To connect with your personalized health navigation team, visit WomenAreIncredible.com.

AdventHealth Orlando is ranked #41 in the nation by U.S. News & World Report for gynecology.

© Amy Smith Photography


Discover incredible care for incredible women.

+ YOUR Local

and 40+

How a local Facebook group created a network of supportive women, and how they plan to give back to the community. By Kaitlyn Fusco


ashtag Ladies Life Over 40 is a Facebook group created by Kelly Lapricido Stutts that connects Central Florida women who are over 40 years old during a year so many were left feeling isolated. “I know what it’s like feeling alone with an invisible disease, as I have multiple sclerosis and it’s almost like an invisible disease came upon all of us this past year,” says Lapricido Stutts. “I didn’t want anyone to feel the loneliness I’ve felt, so I created this space for women to connect and support one another.” Lapricido Stutts created the group in September 2020 after Tina Guss moved into her neighborhood to find there was no way to meet people during a pandemic. What started as a few women connecting online quickly turned into safe, face-to-face gatherings at local businesses that were struggling during the pandemic. Today, the group has over 800 members and they affectionally call themselves hashtaggers. Hashtaggers frequently post spontaneous get togethers on the group’s Facebook page, but there are scheduled events such as line dancing, painting classes, walks and hikes. Members Monique Belzung and Sharon Richard also host a monthly Bunco game for the group at their home. “I didn’t know Kelly before she created the group, and now she’s one of those real, true friends who you can count on and call anytime for anything, like many in this group,” says Belzung. “I love hosting Bunco and


Central Florida Lifestyle | May 2021

meeting other woman. If you’re a women of hashtag, you’re our sister and we want you to come enjoy life with us!” Members get together for social events, but they also look to inspire, encourage and give back. “It’s great to see people lift each other up,” says Guss. “I know I felt alone moving to the area during a pandemic, and I am truly blessed to have found the hashtag ladies, because they’ve shown me there’s a whole world out there. It’s all uplifting, supportive and really a sister tribe and fast track to meaningful friendships.” Now that the hashtaggers have gained momentum, Lapricido Stutts’s vision is to give back to the community. After she came across an 18-year-old woman who was homeless, went through a trauma and became hospitalized, she was determined to find ways to support homeless youth. “This was something that weighed heavy on my heart and I feel compelled to be part of the solution,” Lacricido Stutts says. “I know with the incredible sisterhood we have here, we can make a difference by donating to groups that serve homeless youth like this one young woman who touched my heart.” Orlando’s hashtaggers invite others in the community to get involved with their efforts. To join the group and find ways to get involved with your community, visit Hashtag Ladies Life Over 40 - Central Florida on Facebook.


Fierce, Fabulous







Get your PLAY PASS today at ICONParkOrlando.com THE ICON PARK PLAY PASS INCLUDES (1) ADMISSION TO: The Wheel at ICON Park, Madame Tussauds Orlando, SEA LIFE Orlando Aquarium, Orlando StarFlyer, Museum of Illusions, Pearl Express Train, 7D Dark Ride & $5 In The Game Play Card. 8375 International Drive | Orlando, FL 32819 | 407-601-7907

+ YOUR Local

The West Orange Chamber Celebrates Extraordinary Women

Sandy Hostetter, Truist

Rilla Tomyn, Betty J’s Florist

Judge Gisela Laurent

Representative Kamia Brown

The annual Celebrating Extraordinary Women event will explore the issues facing women today through the life experiences of its distinguished panel. By Stina D’Uva, West Orange Chamber of Commerce


any, many years ago, while attending college at Montclair State in New Jersey, I was the president of Phi Chi Theta. At the time, it was a fraternity with the purpose of promoting women in business and economics. As an undergrad studying business administration, Phi Chi Theta was a perfect fit to build my professional circle of friends, to learn from one another and to gather resources in preparation for the world outside of college — the work place. We focused our conversations and events on issues facing women in the work place back in the 1980s. (Now you have an idea of how old I am!) It turns out, those issues are still the same today: inequality in pay and promotions, greater child care burden of time and responsibility, and fear of leaving the work place associated with raising a family. Actually, the pandemic hasn’t helped with many of these issues and likely made them worse, especially those revolving around women and raising a family. During this pandemic, the job loss for women over men is at twice the rate due to the daily responsibility of caring for children. With disparity across the nation in school options, more women stayed home to make up for declining child care options. Even if they are able to work from home, the pressures of work and a family are more challenging and stressful.


Central Florida Lifestyle | May 2021

During a normal day, women spend 50% more time caring for children than working fathers and are 1.5 times more likely to spend three hours more per day on household chores. These challenges, coupled with the additional stressors of the pandemic, caused many women to leave the workforce. Yet, we will all feel that loss since women, up until this pandemic, were the majority of the workforce. As we continue to move out of this pandemic, women need to get back into the workforce to meet the goods and service demands of our society. However, women cannot just go back to the same disparate situations. The issues need to be openly discussed with real solutions being sought. If not, women will always have barriers in place, decade after decade. Women will be part of this solution. With that in mind, the chamber is presenting a very timely “Celebrating Extraordinary Women” event on June 16 at the Ocoee Lakeshore Center. We will delve into these issues and life’s experiences of our distinguished panel of women, to include Sandy Hostetter, Truist Central Florida Regional President; Gisela Laurent, 9th Judicial Circuit Court Judge; Rilla Tomyn, owner of Betty J’s Florist; and the Honorable Kamia Brown, District 46 Representative of the Florida House. For additional information, visit https://wochamber.com/celebrating-extraordinary-women/

The Great Outdoor

CHALLENGE Your guide to getting outside and discovering the beauty of Central Florida’s outdoor attractions, state parks and farms. By Lyndsay Fogarty


ne of the best parts about living in Central Florida is that there are so many things to do. From learning about animals and their habitats to taking in the beauty and history of local gardens, and everything in between, the outdoor opportunities are endless. We’ve compiled a list of our favorite spots to get outside and enjoy the sunshine. We invite you to join us in the Great Outdoor Challenge to get to know these places and all they have to offer. Lake Apopka North Shore The 20,000 acres that make up the Lake Apopka North Shore provide plenty of opportunity to get in touch with nature for free. Once a part of Lake Apopka, it’s now a restoration area that is a haven for wildlife as well as one of the top three birding destinations in the state of Florida, with 369 bird species recorded on property. Visitors could also spot alligators, bobcats, otters, bears, raccoons, armadillos and coyotes. The Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive, a scenic one-way, 11-mile drive, provides opportunities to view wildlife


Central Florida Lifestyle | May 2021

and learn more about the area. It’s available from Friday through Sunday and on federal holidays. Entrance gates open at 7 a.m. and close at 3 p.m., though vehicles can tour the area until 5 p.m. On the St. Johns River Water Management website, drivers can access an audio tour that provides information across a variety of stops, including details on the bird and alligator populations, agricultural history and more. For those who want to explore the area on foot, the Lake Apopka Loop Trail and two blazed hiking trails are available for hiking, bicycling, horseback riding and wildlife viewing. Audubon Center for Birds of Prey Maitland is home to the Audubon Center for Birds of Prey, a facility that works to protect land, water and wildlife by using science to guide their work and birdlife to measure the health of the ecosystem. As one of the state’s most influential conservation organizations, the center connects people to nature through in-person visits, special events and programs such as wildlife rehabilitation and research, conservation education and

Eaglewatch, a program that monitors close to 30% of the bald eagles in the state. During a visit, you can learn about the center’s conservation efforts while learning about eagles and other raptors. While buildings and interactive exhibits are currently closed, you can experience outdoor areas and exhibits. Pre-ticketed sales for a designated time slot are required at this time and can be scheduled between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday.

Mead Botanical Gardens At Winter Park’s Mead Botanical Gardens, the work of Theodore L. Mead lives on. Before his death in 1936, the famous horticulturist grew orchids and developed new varieties of caladiums, rare ferns, bromeliads and other plants, inspiring two of his friends to develop a botanical garden in his memory. On Jan. 14, 1940, the garden in his name was dedicated. After several restorations, the 47-acre property now includes hiking trails, a creek, a boardwalk, a greenhouse, a butterfly garden and a pond with various wildlife. While you can explore the property on your own, tours are also available, including volunteer-led birding walks and hikes through the garden with an expert forager or herbalist. Additionally, Mead Botanical Gardens is host to one of the first community gardens in Winter Park. Through the community garden program, residents can rent a 4 foot by 16 foot bed for one year to grow a variety of vegetables and fruits. Some of the garden beds are dedicated to growing produce for Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida, and many participants in the community garden donate excess produce from their own beds, too.

Southern Hill Farms What started as a small, leased farm has turned into a hotspot for Central Floridians looking to soak up the sunshine in a family friendly environment. Southern Hill Farms is a third and fourth generation, family owned and operated farm that now sits on 120 acres in Clermont, offering an annual Fall Festival and various U-Pick opportunities throughout the year. Now in blueberry, peach, sunflower and zinnia seasons, Southern Hill Farms provides the freshest produce (you’re picking it off the plant yourself, after all) while teaching you where your food comes from along the way. Not only can you support your local farmer while there, but you can also relax with a homemade blueberry lemonade or blueberry mimosa in a rocking chair or on the rooftop deck, dig into a fresh blueberry donut (or a fresh strawberry donut during strawberry season in the winter months) and shop at the Southern Hill Market. There is also a covered playground barn and complimentary yard games as well as farm wagon rides, live music on an outdoor stage and food trucks on the weekends. Nehrling Gardens In Gotha, a two-story wooden house from the 1800s has quite the story to tell. The former home of famed horticulturist, Henry Nehrling, the property was the site of Palm Cottage Gardens, which Nehrling established as a place where he could experiment with tropical and subtropical plants year-round. One of Florida’s earliest botanical gardens, he tested over 3,000 new and rare plants for the Bureau of Plant Industry, now known as the USDA. Over 300 of those plants



became essential to Florida’s ornamental horticulture, including caladiums, palms, bamboos, magnolias, amaryllis, Indian Hawthorne and crinum lilies. Now known as Nehrling Gardens, the property is owned and operated by the Henry Nehrling Society, a nonprofit that was established in 1999 to save it and that continues working to preserve the home and gardens for future generations. Only six acres of the more than 40 acres that Nehrling originally purchased remain today. It includes specimens of the original 100-year-old tree canopy, many of Nehrling’s plantings as well as the original home. Nehrling Gardens provides tours, service learning projects and educational workshops. The property is a beloved community resource focused on historic preservation, horticultural education and environmental conservation. West Orange Trail It’s no secret that the West Orange Trail is the perfect place to go for a walk, jog or bike ride any time of the year. This 22.26-mile, paved trail runs from the Orange/Lake County line in Oakland, where you can explore the railroad bridge or the Oakland Nature Preserve, to Welch Road in Apopka. The trails are open daily from sunrise to sunset. Along the way, you might spot zebra and other exotic animals at World Watusi Foundation along the Briley Farm portion of the trail or a beautiful butterfly garden at Tildenville Outpost. There are places to stop for a bite to eat, including the many restaurants of downtown Winter Garden as well as The Catfish Place, which has served southern-style seafood in Apopka for decades. You can also pack a picnic and find a shaded place to take a break and enjoy your spread. Curry Ford West Butterfly Garden This month, a pop-up butterfly garden will set up shop at Curry Ford West, a volunteer-driven organization that is one of the City of Orlando’s Main Street Districts. Tickets are $4 with proceeds benefitting Curry Ford West’s ongoing community beautification efforts. “Guests of our butterfly garden, whether out for a romantic stroll and photo op, to get kids out of the house for a learning opportunity or for any other reason, will be pleasantly surprised by the beauty and immersive nature of this project,” says Curry Ford West Executive Director Danielle Clark. “We’re proud that this is being led by resident and business volunteers from across our district.” The butterfly garden will be open from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. from May 8 to June 19, excluding Sundays. Several events will take place on select dates, so there will be opportunities to participate in other activities while supporting local businesses.


Central Florida Lifestyle | May 2021

+ HEALTH & Wellness

Feel Your Best in 1, 2,3 ...

Learn more about the ways you can feel your best with three alternative therapies. By Lyndsay Fogarty


hen you’re not feeling your best, you likely have tried and true methods that you use to get back on your feet. Maybe it’s aromatherapy when you’re feeling stressed or a soak in the hot tub to relieve sore muscles. However, if you’re looking for something new try, consider the following therapies.

1. Spend Time in a Salt Room

Salt therapy, or halotherapy, comes in several different forms that could help to relieve a variety of health issues, including allergies and asthma. Salt rooms utilize dry salt aerosol inhalations through salt-infused air and wall coatings. The origin of the modern salt room, a relaxing chamber often equipped with flat-screen TVs or toys, derives from European salt caves. Practitioners of this therapy report a variety of health benefits during and after their steady breathing sessions in salt rooms. While not everyone will


Central Florida Lifestyle | May 2021

experience the same relief, acne treatment and pure relaxation seem to be the most ubiquitous of benefits.

2. Keep it Cool with Cryotherapy

During whole body cyrotherapy, individuals stand alone in a can-like enclosure, which is open at the top, for two to four minutes at a time. The torso and legs are exposed to frigid temperatures while the head stays at room temperature. While the U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not have evidence that it can be used to treat conditions such as asthma, anxiety, chronic pain, depression, fibromyalgia, insomnia, migraines, multiple sclerosis and others, both celebrities and everyday people use it for just that. You can find cryotherapy facilities throughout Orlando, but it is important to consult with your doctor before you decide to participate in this type of treatment.

3. Float Away Your Stress

A massage can clear the mind and melt the stress of the week away. So can a soothing yoga class or a meditation session. Popular in European culture, flotation therapy is thought to be equally beneficial for the mind; it just hasn’t caught on fully in the United States yet. During flotation therapy, an individual floats in a tank full of saltwater — ­ also called an isolation tank — in an experience where he or she will feel completely weightless. This allows for complete relaxation in every muscle of the body. The soothing technique is beneficial for deep meditation practice, and it’s possible that it could also aid in the treatment of chronic pain, anxiety and more. Next time you’re feeling stressed from work or frazzled from running the kids to all of their activities, consider treating yourself to a flotation experience.

+ CALENDAR of Events ALL MONTH LONG May 7, 14, 21, 28 Art After Dark

6-9 p.m. Lake Nona Town Center 6855 Lake Nona Blvd. Orlando, FL 32827 Free admission LakeNona.com Gather the family and enjoy all there is to offer in Lake Nona, from food to art and more.

407.644.7207 WPSAF.org Enjoy a variety of fine arts and crafts in categories such as digital art, mixed media, painting, sculpture and more.

May 13 Corks and Forks

6-9 p.m. Venue on Lake Lily 641 Maitland Ave. S. Maitland, FL 32751 $45 general admission CorksAndForksMaitland. com Sample food and drinks from local restaurants and vendors while supporting the community. Proceeds benefit the historic Maitland Civic Center, known as Venue on Lake Lily.

May 14-16 Winter Park Sidewalk Art Festival Times vary 150 W. Morse Blvd. Winter Park, FL 32789 Free admission

May 16 Frontyard Festival’s Disney Movie Night

7 p.m. Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts 445 S. Magnolia Ave. Orlando, FL 32801 Pricing varies 407.358.6603 DrPhillipsCenter.org Enjoy a showing of Disney’s “Up” in your own socially distant viewing box for up to five people, where you can have food and drinks delivered while you watch.

May 17 RMHCCF Golf Classic May 15 11th Annual Black & White Weekend

8:30 p.m. Rosen Plaza Hotel 9700 International Dr. Orlando, FL 32819 $49 in advance, $70 at the door 407.996.9700 BlackAndWhiteWeekend. com People of all ages and backgrounds are invited to network at this annual gala with food, drinks, dancing, silent auction and more.

11:30 a.m. - 7 p.m. Arnold Palmer’s Bay Hill Club and Lodge 9000 Bay Hill Blvd. Orlando, FL 32819 407.876.2429 RMHCCF.org This four-person scramble tournament supports the thousands of families who stay at the three Ronald McDonald Houses in Orlando each year.

Multiple times and venues Pricing varies by event 407.648.0077 OrlandoFringe.org Now in its 30th year, this 14-day, immersive cultural experience features 850 ticketed theatrical performances and a free outdoor music festival.

Central Florida Lifestyle | May 2021

June 5 Enchanted Fairy Doors Exhibit

9 a.m. - 5 p.m. Leu Gardens 1920 N. Forest Ave. Orlando, FL 32803 $10 adults, $5 children ages 4-17, free children ages 3 and under 407.246.2620 LeuGardens.org This exhibit features 20 whimsical fairy doors that will inspire a child’s imaginative world of secret gardens and the magic of fairies. Face coverings are required.

June 12 Kids Night at the Museum - Maker Month

May 18-31 Orlando International Fringe Theatre Festival



6-10 p.m. Orlando Museum of Art 777 E. Princeton St. Orlando, FL 32803 $70 members, $75 nonmembers for first child; $40 per additional child 407.514.2000 OSC.org Youth ages 5 to 12 can explore exhibits, experience enhanced programming, participate in hands-on activities, see an interactive live science show and enjoy a pizza dinner in age-appropriate small groups following social distancing guidelines.



+ SNAPSHOTS On the Town Ribbon Cuttings & Grand Openings

Community Health Centers, Inc. Grant 1. Orlando Health Foundation recently donated $50,000 to Community Health Centers, Inc. to expand behavioral and mental health services in the Pine Hills area.


L to R: Jocelyn Pichardo, MD, Chief Medical Officer, Community Health Centers; Stephanie Lopez, Community Benefit Specialist, Orlando Health; and Debra Andree, MD, President & Chief Executive Officer, Community Health Centers.

Mercy Kitchen Grand Opening Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida celebrated the grand opening of its new Mercy Kitchen on March 31. At the expanded facility, staff and volunteers will support hunger relief efforts by producing more than 115,000 meals a week. 2. Local officials display Second Harvest meal kits for Central Florida families. 3. Second Harvest of Central Florida volunteer.

Golf After Dark Local nonprofit, Lighthouse Central Florida, recently hosted its GOlf After Dark annual fundraiser benefitting its mission to serve the region’s residents living with vision loss or impairment.


4. L to R: Mike Walsh, VP Chief Programs Officer for Lighthouse Central Florida; special guest player Tom Mirus, professional PGA player living with vision impairment; and Kyle Johnson, President and CEO of Lighthouse Central Florida.


Ribbon Cutting 4


5. On April 13, Harris Rosen celebrated the official ribbon cutting of the Rosen Aquatic & Fitness Center on International Drive. The facility is poised to welcome more than 50 aquatic competitions annually, as well as to host special events, out-of-town visitors and local members

The Picture of Health 6-7. The Central Florida Lifestyle Magazine team posed for the Picture of Health Wall Crawl. Every Sunday in May and June, admission to Wall Crawl in downtown Orlando is free, compliments of AdventHealth Medical Group.


7 48

Central Florida Lifestyle | May 2021

+ SOMEONE You Should Know?

Spotlight On:

Brittany Tagliareni This Seminole County resident has made a name for herself as a top-ranked tennis player for Special Olympics Florida.

By Lyndsay Fogarty


Central Florida Lifestyle | May 2021

and her brother’s friends, but no one related to her and her challenges,” Cathy says. “I think we both feel that the athletes, coaches, volunteers, everyone in the Special Olympics world, was very welcoming.” Brittany notes that she has met a lot of new friends who support her through Special Olympics. Not only has her participation broadened her tennis skills but it has helped her to come out of her shell, built her confidence and selfesteem, and helped her evolve as a person as well as an athlete. “Everybody likes to be accepted and embraced. I think that’s a worldwide thing,” Cathy says. “I think Special Olympics embodies that. They accept who you are and embrace you. They don’t focus on your disabilities; they focus on your abilities.” Special Olympics offers a positive environment for all athletes. Even more, their experiences with the organization shape their lives outside of sports. “Brittany now has friends, things to do, things to look forward to,” Cathy says. “She gets messages all the time on Facebook. She doesn’t get that she’s a role model.”

Special Olympics Florida is currently hosting its Race for Inclusion campaign to support athletes just like Brittany. Through a series of fundraising events, participants can help create communities of inclusion and acceptance while celebrating the incredible potential of people with developmental disabilities. For more information, visit www.RaceForInclusion.org.

Get to Know Brittany Tagliareni • Hardest thing about tennis: The serve

• Favorite thing about the Special

Olympics ceremonies: Walking in the Parade of Athletes

Favorite post-competition food: Hamburgers and pasta with Parmesan cheese

• Future athletic goal: “I want to get better in competition.”

• Main motivation: “I want to go

to Berlin.” (The 2023 Special Olympics World Games will take place in Berlin, Germany.)



hen an athlete steps into their arena, they become part of a team, utilizing their skills and talents for the common mission of clenching the win. This couldn’t be more true at Special Olympics, where athletes of all skill levels are celebrated for every win — even if it’s as small as simply having the courage to give sports a try — since it was established in 1968. Brittany Tagliareni, a Seminole County resident, is a topranked Special Olympics Florida tennis player who discovered the organization while on vacation in Hilton Head with her family. While there, her mom Cathy Tagliareni saw a sign for a Special Olympics tennis tournament, an opportunity she didn’t realize was available to her daughter, who was diagnosed with autism at a young age. Brittany was familiar with the game and had played with her brother, so Cathy looked into it and signed her up at home. Now, 12 years later, she has multiple USA Games and three World Games under her belt, has earned a gold medal and is an honorary ESPY winner. “It’s a huge thing, not having friends or peers who were like her. She hung out with her brother


Issuu converts static files into: digital portfolios, online yearbooks, online catalogs, digital photo albums and more. Sign up and create your flipbook.