Heartland LIVING Magazine Aug-Sep 2023

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Heartland LIVING

August & September 2023

Country Singer Jake Owen
“Customer service is important to me. After you buy the truck is when you know how good the customer service really is. Anyone can sell you a truck, but after the sale is what’s important to me. Every time I go to Gilbert for service they really take care of me. That’s why we will always buy from Gilbert.”
- Robert & Shannon Stossel
3175 US Highway 441 South • Okeechobee, FL 34974 (863) 763-2121 • www.Gilbert-Ford.com
Owners of R&J Osceola Adventutres
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5 August & September 2023 Serving infants, children, teens, and patients with special needs in Okeechobee County, Highlands County, and the surrounding areas! Most insurances are accepted and emergencies are welcomed. OKEECHOBEE 863-357-7338 FAX: 863-357-7342 2029 Hwy 441 North Okeechobee, FL 34972 SEBRING 863-382-0340 FAX: 863-357-7342 5606 US Hwy 27 Sebring, FL 33870 Melissa
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Everglades Pediatric Dentistry features offices located in both Okeechobee and Sebring, FL in order to provide the Heartland, Greater Lake Okeechobee area, and surrounding counties with the most convenient care.
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Molly Elliot -

CONTE NTS

August & September 2023

Volume 12  Issue 4

FEATURES

24

Homegrown Country Singer Jake Owen

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Penelope's Power

Young Girl With Down Syndrome Redefines Possibilities

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Atta Girl, Molly Elliott

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NOTEWORTHY 10 Letter from the Publisher 16 Behind the Scenes 20 From our Readers COVER Cover Jake Owen Photography by Matt Paskert August & September 2023 Heartland LIVING Homemade Country Singer Jake Owen August & September 2023 Volume 12  Issue 4 DEPARTMENTS CONTENTS FOOD & HEALTH 68 Brazilian Ji Jitsu: Lessons for Life Rebecca Maglischo 94 Big Steps for Education Options Rebecca Maglischo 86 68 86 Change Up Your Breakfast By Cindy Adams 8
863-240-0552 863-247-2325 — Cosmetic & General Dental Services — Laser Treatment and Digital Imaging Orthodontics — Invisalign ® — Full-mouth Rehabilitation — Same-day Crowns, Root Canals, Bridges & More — Zoom! ® Whitening — Sedation It's time to get the Smile you always wanted.

an you believe it’s August? It seems like just yesterday we were getting ready for summer, getting pools ready (or not, if you follow me on Facebook LOL), planning beach trips and planning out a few of your favorite adventures. One thing I’m sure we weren’t ready for was the exhausting heat. This must be the HOTTEST Summer ever. Even though it’s been a hot summer, we hope you have enjoyed your time with family & friends.

If you have young ones in the house, August is, back to school time. It doesn’t mean summer is over but time for daily schedules. I know as parents you must decide which school system is best for your children. Rebecca Maglischo has shared in her story, Big Steps for Education Options, with information on how you can choose a type of education that best fits your child. Each child is unique, and it isn’t always the same fit for all students and situations.

I hope you enjoy all our stories in this issue that my team and I have worked on to create for you. I have learned in the twelve years as publisher and researching for features, that every person on this planet has a story to tell, something that makes him or her unique. We are all unique in our own way, just like our children, adding something to the world.

Again, everyone has a story to tell if we take the time to listen. We are so accustomed to hearing stories in the news of people all over the world that we sometimes lose track of the fact that the random stranger in or community also has a fascinating story about where they came from and how they got to be where they are. The sheer variety of paths taken in this world, from farmers to CEO’s to homeless people and to world travelers, is indicative of how much we can learn. Sometimes the shy, quiet person has the most amazing life story with the biggest dreams. It is up to us to take the time to find out.

Hopefully this issue inspires you to find your personal gratitude, reflect on all the things that matter in life, and be the best version of yourself you can be. Let us know what your favorite is after reading this issue of Heartland LIVING.

You will also see we have new advertisers in this issue and I’m so thankful they chose Heartland LIVING to share their businesses with our readers. We wish them much success and please go by and shop with all our advertisers and let them know you saw their ad here. Supporting local is so important.

We learn from you each issue when you send us your feedback and ideas. Please let us know what you like to do best here in the Heartland, tag us on social media, and you can always send me a note to cindy@heartland-living.com.

God Bless,

10 Heartland LIVINGMagazine.com
C

Heartland

Publications & Marketing, Inc.

August & September 2023

Volume 12  Issue 4

CEO | Publisher

Cindy Sebring Adams

Editor

Christy Swift

Digital Media Coordinator

Kelsey Schauf

Feature Writers

Rebecca Maglischo

Ladonna Paedae Rodriguez

Kelsey Schauf

Christy Swift

Bridgette Waldau

Photography Director

Rafael Pacheco

Cover Photographer

Matt Paskert

Feature Photographer

Jerry Eang

Distribution

Lisa Griffin

Contact: 412 Rest Haven Road, Zolfo Springs, FL 33890 863-781-0344

E-mail Cindy@Heartland-Living.com

August & September 2023 Heartland LIVING

Homemade

Published

Proud Recipient of 18

Charlie Awards

2014 - 2021

In the Following Categories:

Best Overall Design

Best Department Design (2)

Best Feature Design (4)

Cover Photo Illustration

Best Traditional Illustration

Best Self-Promotional Ad

Best Table of Contents

Best Department Design

Best Photography Image (3)

Best Overall Writing

Best Custom Publication (2)

Florida Magazine Association

All articles, descriptions and suggestions in this magazine are merely expression of opinions from contributors and advertisers and do not constitute the opinion of the publisher, editor or staff of Heartland Living Magazine, and under no circumstances constitutes assurances or guarantees concerning the quality of any service or product. Heartland Living Magazine specifically disclaims any liability related to these expressions and opinions. Heartland Living Magazine is not responsible for any unsolicited submissions. The advertiser agrees to hold harmless and indemnify the publishers from all liability.

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LIVINGMagazine.com
Heartland
Become a fan on facebook www.HeartlandLivingMagazine.com by Heartland Publications & Marketing, Inc.
Country Singer Jake Owen
Heartland Living Magazine is published bi-monthly by Heartland Publications & Marketing, Inc. Copyright 2023, all rights reserved. Reproduction of contents in print or electronic transmission in whole or in part in any language or format must be by expressed written permission of the publisher.
Creative Director
Messieh Orthopedic Clinic 863-419-9301 1601 6th Street SE WINTER HAVEN 863-471-9700 3200 Physicians Way SEBRING Dr.
M.D., F.R.C.S. (C) F.A.A.O.S , . Leader in Hip & Knee Replacement Surgery in Central Florida since 1991 Offering a variety of Hip & Knee Replacement procedures including Direct Anterior Approach to the Hip The Anterior Hip Replacement Approach causes less trauma than traditional techniques, making recovery easier for the patient.
Samuel S. Messieh
Locally RestaurantOwned and Bar (863) 314-9459 Hours: Monday - Thursday 11-9 pm Friday - Saturday 11-10 pm Sunday - 11 am-8 pm 6813 US 27 South - Sebring, FLorida Steaks - Seafood - Pasta We serve Chairman’s Reserve Certified Premium Steaks! SEPTEMBER 4TH A SPECIAL THANKS TO ALL OUR EDUCATORS AS WE GET READY TO HEAD BACK TO SCHOOL!

CHRISTY SWIFT has been a freelance writer for over 13 years, working as an award-winning newspaper correspondent, magazine article writer, and web and social media content provider. She is also a soonto-be published author of Young Adult and Adult fiction. You can find her at www.christyswift.com.

Writer

REBECCA MAGLISCHO is a wife and mother of two boys. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Early Childhood and Elementary Education and a Master's Degree in Human Movement with an emphasis on Corrective Modalities. She has completed a two year study in Full Body Systems through the Holistic Nutrition Lab and a certification in Functional Range Condition through the Functional Anatomy Systems.

Writer

LADONNA PAEDAE RODRIGUEZ has written newspaper articles about Sebring, its people and its history, and finds joy in sharing with her community. Her passion for writing connects to her love of the arts. She is also a visual artist, using colored pencil as her medium. Her roots are deep in Highlands County; her mother was born in a house in DeSoto City in 1928, and her relatives were among the firefighters who went to rescue those in Moore Haven during the hurricane of 1926, giving her a unique perspective into our culture.

Digital Media Coordinator | Writer

KELSEY SCHAUF was born and raised in Sebring and currently resides in Mooresville, NC. For the past eight years, she has worked as a Public Relations Representative. Kelsey left the industry in 2022 to spend more time with her husband, Jacob, and son, Kolbey. One of her passions is project management and being able to see a project through from start to finish. She is currently working at Carolina CAT in Charlotte, N.C. with the Vice President of the Rental Store.

Creative Director

BRIDGETTE WALDAU has been a graphic and fine artist for over 40 years. She received her A.A. from the Ft. Lauderdale Institute of Art and a Bachelor of Fine Art degree from Stetson University. She moved to Okeechobee in 1994 where she opened her art studio. Bridgette has been creative director for several publications, working with Heartland Publications & Marketing as art director since 2011, winning eleven Florida Magazine Charlie Awards (2015- 2021). She is Arts & Culture Alliance Director (19 years) for Okeechobee Main Street. Bridgette is married to James Waldau, a retired firefighter from the City of Hialeah.

Photography Director

RAFAEL PACHECO I am a Pisces and was born on the island of Puerto Rico. My dog thinks I am crazy for locking the door so many times in 10 seconds and my cats think I am made of catnip. Everything I wear is black, gray or blue. If I put on something colorful I must have been in a hurry. Photography is how I have let my artistic visions come to life since the early 90’s. Patience, kindness, sharing, sacrifice, love and not to judge- I saw my mother practice these and they stayed within me. We are collective energy and all from the same Source. I don’t see the world through my eyes. I see it through my soul.

Photographer

JERRY EANG is a freelance photographer serving the Tampa/ Lakeland/Orlando area. He loves food, photography and Jiu Jitsu. He cooks from scratch daily. He teaches and trains Brazilian Jiu-jitsu and loves taking photos. He has always had a passion for photography. If you have anything you love doing and want photos of it, he is your guy. The kids don’t stay little, tomorrow isn’t promised and photography lasts forever. Take the photos!

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16 BEHIND THE SCENES August & September 2023
"Every GREAT design begins with an even BETTER story."
Lorinda Mamo, designer
17 August & September 2023 It’s a beautiful time to take care of Visit Florida Lakes Spa for all your aesthetic and wellness needs! This is the perfect time of the year for peels, microneedling, and Tetra Cool Peel. Plus we’re one of the only spas in the area to offer the CO2 laser! Tetra CO2 laser treatments eliminate signs of aging like wrinkles, sunspots, uneven texture and age spots for dramatically smoother, brighter, younger-looking skin. Our ServiceS Include: • Facials • Botox • Filler • PDO Threads • Emsella • CoolSculpting Elite • EmSculpt Neo • Massage • Microneedling ...and mOre! (863) 777-7772 4741 Lakeview Dr., Sebring, FL 33870 (941) 777-7772 19790 Wellen Park Blvd., 201A, Venice, FL 34293 you WWW.FLSPA.COM

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next to Lowe’s in Sebring! FEEL GOOD about your SMILE and your dentist. CHEN DENTAL® DR. ANNA OLAES | DR. BILL CHEN | DR. MATT GREEN | DR. KEN CHEN | DR. JERE SERALDE | DR. ALAN WARD Honored to have been awarded Greater Sebring Chamber of Commerce BUSINESS OF THE YEAR 2023 $79 * COMPLETE EXAM & DIGITAL X-RAYS A $165 VALUE special *Non-insured patients only. Must present the coupon on first visit. (D0150, D0210) Exp. 9.30.23

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Lisa Taylor Hall

Absolutely precious! Loved being a part of this super adorable and colorful shoot! - Caroline Maxcy Fox

A Note from Linda Kolerik

Dear Cindy, On behalf of everyone in our Highlands Co. Community, we can't thank you enough for your outstanding article on the Homecoming of 2nd Lt. Pharis Weekley. It was such a well-written article and the pictures were excellent. My, what a great job you did! Thank you!

Our Auxiliary played a small part down at American Legion in LaBelle the Sat. before the funeral and it was so inspiring to be a part of something that America does so well... welcoming Heroes Home! Thanks for being a part of such a wonderful occasion. It is much appreciated - everyone.

My kids [Jones and Jo] couldn’t wait to see themselves! Jones said “I’m famous". They loved it. -Jodie Deloach

Jones Deloach

If you would like to share your thoughts, please leave a post on our Facebook page or email us at Cindy@Heartland-Living.com

20 Heartland LIVINGMagazine.com
READERS
June & July 2023 Heartland LIVING
Heartland
June
Summer Lovin' 57
LIVING It’s been 80 years since U.S. Army Air Forces 2nd Lt. Pharis E. Weekley went Missing in Action during World War II. Now, through DNA analysis and the efforts of the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency, he has finally come home to his family in Avon Park. & July 2023 By Dale Bliss and Christy Swift Photography by Lisa Taylor Hall from our 8 DECADES LATER 56 „ Lt. Pharis E. Weekley Love this! -Diana Buffington Albritton
So exciting to be a part of the fun!
Jo Deloach
21 August & September 2023 1. Offer valid as of July 1, 2023, and may be canceled at any time without notice. Eligibility requirements apply. See associate for details regarding fees and terms. To qualify for the $200 incentive, you must open a new Free Checking account with direct deposit ($500 cumulative which must post within 45 days of account opening), as well as accept and open online banking, online bill payment, eStatement, eNotice, and a debit card. No dividends are paid on Free Checking. Annual Percentage Yield is 0.00%. Anyone who has held a checking account with MIDFLORIDA in the past year will not qualify for the incentive. The incentive will be deposited to new Free Checking account after the quali cations have been met and will be reported to the IRS. Minimum to open Free Checking is $50. 2. ATM transactions are free at any MIDFLORIDA proprietary ATM or when using a Publix Presto! ATM. Insured by NCUA.
22 Heartland LIVINGMagazine.com
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Jake Owen

Country Singer Jake Owen

Growing up in the Heartland, Joshua Ryan Owen

(Jake Owen) didn't always know that he wanted to be a country music sensation. Jake and his twin brother Jarod were born in Winter Haven, Florida to Steve and Mitzi Owen on August 28, 1981. The Owens family left Winter Haven when the boys were five years old and made the move to Vero Beach, Florida.

25 „
Photo Credit: Matt Paskert

tthe age of 15, Jake knew he wanted to pursue a golf career after taking home a trophy at the Indian River County Junior Invitational at Indian River Club in Vero Beach. The Owen brothers attended Vero Beach High School and then went on to Florida State University. Jarod went to FSU on a full tennis scholarship, and Jake was a Political Science major and also planned to walk-on to the FSU golf team.

His dream of going pro in golf was quickly halted after Jake suffered a wakeboarding accident in Vero Beach at the age of 19. The serious incident required him to have reconstructive surgery on his left shoulder. The injury would put a hold on his golf career, but he was unsure for how long. After a year of not swinging a golf club at one hundred percent, Jake found himself in a place of frustration and anxiousness.

Prior to this career-changing injury, Jake didn't see himself as a musician. During that downtime from golf, he found a guitar in his roommate's closet. He taught himself how to play, which helped with the sadness he was feeling post-injury. After six to eight months, Jake began playing at local venues in both Tallahassee and Vero Beach. The Florida native frequented local hot spots such as Parrots and Potbellies (Tallahassee) and The Riverside Café in Vero. There was a light at the end of this tunnel, and it was a future career in music.

“I couldn’t dream of all the success I’ve achieved today. It’s taken a lot of hard work and many years to get where I am, and I wouldn’t have it any other way,” Owen said. “All of my obstacles, including the injury, led to where I am today.”

26 Heartland LIVINGMagazine.com „
Photo Credit: Joseph Llanes
27 August & September 2023
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Photo credit: Daniel Chaney

the blessing from his parents, Jake packed up his belongings and moved to Nashville, Tennessee. Not long after he landed in Nashville, Jake signed a contract with Music Row, and less than a year later in 2006 he inked a deal with RCA Records. Later that year, he released his debut studio album, Startin’ with Me. Jake’s first album peaked at eighth on the US Country music charts. The Florida native wrote all of the songs on his debut album.

"I put aside a lot of my own songs that I had written and started recording some outside songs that I thought were better," Owen told CMT in 2011. "That's kind of risky when it comes to your own. Most people think in order to validate yourself as an artist, you have to write your own songs. I commend the guys that do. I've done it. But I also think that you can pick great songs outside that you didn't write that can help your career."

Of his seven studio albums, he has nine singles that reached number one on the US country charts: “Barefoot Blue Jean Night,” “Alone with You,” “The One That Got Away,” and “Anywhere with You,” from his third album, Barefoot Blue Jean Night; “Beachin” from his fourth album, Days of Gold; “American Country Love Song” from his fifth studio album, American Love, and “I Was Jack (You Were Diane)” and “Homemade” from his sixth studio album, Greetings From…Jake

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Photo Credit: Erika Goldring/WireImage
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2010, the Jake Owen Foundation was established as a registered 501(c)(3) private nonprofit foundation. Jake initially created this foundation to offer financial support on a national level to children battling cancer and other catastrophic childhood diseases through St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee. In addition, the foundation also aids various youth organizations and charities in Jake’s hometown of Vero Beach, Florida and surrounding Indian River County.

“The Jake Owen Foundation is one of the most fulfilling things I have ever been involved with. What matters is the kind of person you are. Your character ... Your legacy. What have YOU done for others? Music in my life has been great to me but the one thing I will always be most proud of and look back on ... and be able to share with my daughters ... are things that compliment your character. Giving back has always been important to me in everything I do,” Owen states on the Jake Owen Foundation website.

These days, the Jake Owen Foundation has been able to expand their mission of helping people in places they call home, all while supporting the beneficiaries who have been a part of the Foundation since it began 13 years ago. Funds are raised through private donations, brand partnerships, and special events assisting child and youth programs, education, healthcare, and more. To date, the Jake Owen Foundation has raised more than $3 million dollars for nonprofit organizations.

The Foundation raises money through events such as the annual Jake Owen Benefit Concert, Songwriters Showcase and the Jake Owen Flamingo Golf Classic, which is held annually in Vero Beach. In 2018, Jake was honored with the Jake Owen Field by the Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation and the Kevin Harvick Foundation. The field is a state-of-the-art synthetic turf youth baseball field at a sports complex in his hometown.

31 August & September 2023 Sales  Service  Installation  Dryer Vent Cleaning Passionate About Customer Satisfaction 24 Hour Emergency Service www.MillersCentralAir.com LIC. NO. CAC058675 The Wells Fargo Home Projects credit card is issued by Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., an Equal Housing Lender. Special terms apply to qualifying purchases charged with approved credit. The special terms APR will continue to apply until all qualifying purchases are paid in full. The monthly payment for this purchase will be the amount that will pay for the purchase in full in equal payments during the promotional (special terms) period. The APR for Purchases will apply to certain fees such as a late payment fee or if you use the card for other transactions. For new accounts, the APR for Purchases is 28.99%. If you are charged interest in any billing cycle, the minimum interest charge will be $1.00. This information is accurate as of 01/01/2022 and is subject to change. For current information, call us at 1-800-431-5921. O er expires 12/31/2023. 863-699-5455 863-385-4909 Tuesday-Friday 10am-5pm Saturday (Showroom only) 10am-2pm - Closed Sunday & Monday Family Owned for 50 Years! Fairmount Cinema Square, Sebring www.highlandsjewelers.com – MEMBER AMERICAN GEM SOCIETY –
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yis a priority for the 41-year-old musician. Owen married model Lacey Buchanan on May 7, 2012, in Vero Beach. Their first daughter, Olive Pearl (Pearl) was born on November 22, 2012, Thanksgiving Day. The couple later divorced in August 2015 after three years of marriage. In 2017, Owen met Erica Hartlein, and the rest is history. The two welcomed a daughter, Paris Hartley, on April 29, 2019, and got engaged in December 2020.

“I always try to make family time my number one priority. That being said, I love having my girls at shows with me,” exclaimed Owen. “Looking offstage and seeing them singing along is the best feeling as a dad, and it makes me cherish both my time at home and on the road with them.”

Just over four years since his last album was released, Owen released his seventh studio album titled Loose Cannon on June 23, 2023. This 16-track album features some of Nashville’s most talented writers including Ashley Gorley, Brent Cobb, Rodney Clawson, Jessie Jo Dillon, Luke Laird and many others.

“I can’t wait to share this new wave of music with my fans,” Owen stated when speaking about the album. “This album is a long time coming and feels like the best version of me. Grab your buddies, put the boat in the water, pour a cold one out and we’ll catch y’all out on the lake. It’s the best time of year and we’re ready to celebrate.”

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Jake with fiancée Erica Hartlein with their daughter Paris Jake and his daughter Pearl Jake's parents, Steve & Mitzi Owen

s Florida native country music sensation is proud of his latest album of summertime country lyrics and is going on tour! You can see Jake in his upcoming headline Loose Cannon tour starting off in Cleveland, Ohio on September 7. You can visit www. jakeowen.net/events to see where you can find Jake showcasing his musical talents.

33 August & September 2023 insightauction.com Call for information: (863) 386-1225 SEEKING CONSIGNMENTS! Specializing in Agricultural & Construction Equipment Come into our location or contact us to complete the consignment application. Bring items to our location or we can provide transportation. Recieve payment 10 days after auction! On the second Tuesday after Auction you can pick up checks from 1–4 p.m. After 4 pm checks will be placed in the mail. WE BUY EQUIPMENT!
M. Jones, REALTOR® Buying or Selling a home is one of the most important nancial decisions that you make in your life. Helping you succeed in buying or selling a home is my profession and my passion! 863-446-3246 emilyjones@remax.net 809 U.S. 27 South • Sebring, FL 33870 Finalist Award Winner for 2022 Best of Highlands Residential Real Estate Agent!
(Above and below) Jake and twin brother, Jarrod
Emily
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Florida will always feel like home to me. Being there with my family, especially on the water is my version of paradise. I’m so glad my girls are getting to experience it as well.
-Jake Owen
Photo credit: Danny Clinch
36 Heartland LIVINGMagazine.com Call the Mixon Team of Professionals! When Results Matter ... Mixon Delivers! www.MixonGroup.com Lori Mixon Owner/Lic. Real Estate Broker 863.634.1457 Residential | Commercial | Vacant Land | Agriculture Okeechobee’s Premier Residential Specialist Offering 1306 SW 2nd Avenue | Okeechobee, FL 34974 863.763.6000 Se Habla Español Read our Google Reviews! 2023 Best of Lake Readers Choice Awards: Best Real Estate Company Best Real Estate Agent 2023 Okeechobee County Rate My Agent Award Winner PLANNED PIONEER ACTIVITIES Fossil Dig Clothes Washing Typewriter & Dip Pen Pitcher Pump Fire Hose Demonstration Orange Juicing Hat tossing Quilting and Basket Weaving Demonstrations! Children’s Area: “Passport To the Past” Save the Date! More Information to follow! www.SebringHistoricalSociety.org 863-471-2522 info@sebringhistoricalsociety.org Alan Jay Arena Highland County Fair Grounds October 21, 2023 10:00 am -4:00 pm Vendor Locations Available

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37 August & September 2023
F. Brett Shannon, DO, Amy J. Harlow, MD, Kristin M. Cola, DO, Jordan R. Vokes. MD, Robert (Bobby) Palmer, MD, Ashley C. Ringland, PA-C, Tiffany J. Mossman, ARNP, Abigail M. Ray, PA-C, Collin M. Brown, PA-C, Payton Cathey, PA-C
38

Young Girl With Down Syndrome Redefines Possibilities

Jenifer Mahannah found out her daughter Penelope was going to have Down Syndrome before she was born. It was difficult news for a mom-to-be to receive, but nine years later, she can’t imagine life without her special daughter.

“I want people to have more understanding of people and children with disabilities,” Jenifer says. “They may have limitations, but they have the capability of doing amazing things!”

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Courtesy Jenifer Mahannah
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Jenifer Mahannah and her daughter Penelope

When Jenifer was pregnant, her quadruple screen test for potential birth defects came back 99% positive for Down Syndrome. She decided to forgo a definitive diagnosis via an invasive amniocentesis test, but a specialist at Shands hospital confirmed her unborn daughter had a heart defect consistent with Down Syndrome.

“I was heartbroken,” Jenifer recalls. “I had never been around someone who was disabled. I didn’t know much about that community. I called my aunt, who had some experience with people with disabilities and told her about the diagnosis. Her words were: you just got a gift from God.”

Her aunt went on to tell Jenifer that children like these were special and soon she would find out why. Those comforting words lifted a burden from Jenifer, and she went through the rest of her pregnancy with a sense that everything was going to be okay. Her family also came together and supported her. Penny was born with Down Syndrome and had open heart surgery at four months old. “The surgery was such a success. She was in and out of the hospital in a week. She’s a little miracle,” Jenifer says.

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Jenifer signed up for the Early Steps program, the free early intervention system that offers services to eligible infants and toddlers who have or are at-risk for developmental disabilities or delays. A physical therapist came to the house to work with Penny, which was great, but Jenifer felt like she and her daughter were in “a lonely little world.”

“I didn’t know anybody else in the same situation,” Jenifer recalls. “I asked the therapist, ‘Do you have other families that would want to connect for friendship? Even a support group?’” Before long, her phone was ringing and she was connecting with other parents over Facebook. The need was present in the community, and so was the desire, so Jenifer decided to organize an event for families of children with disabilities. She held it on World Down Syndrome Day, March 21st (chosen because the date is 3-21, representing a third copy of the 21st chromosome). The event was organized in a local park, and Jenifer’s mother helped her put together goodie bags for each family that attended.

It was a great success, so she began to hold more of them. She also attended every Early Steps resource fair she could. “I was in Ocala at the time, but I would drive to Gainesville, Crystal Lake, and other nearby places. That’s how I started meeting the organizations that help kids and adults with disabilities, all kinds of disabilities.” She started her own non-profit, called Just As I Am. Partnering with the Olive Garden, where she worked as a server for 10 years, she organized larger events that provided free food, a DJ, a photographer to take free family portraits, and a place for children and adults with disabilities and their families to have fun and connect. While COVID put an end to those types of events, Jenifer plans to start them up again in her new community in Sebring. „

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They’ve helped to connect families with disabilities with resources, support, and one another, but Penny and her mom have made a difference in another big way, too—by breaking boundaries: Penny was the first child with Down Syndrome ever to be featured on the cover of the Ocala Family Times Magazine.

Penny was four years old when Jenifer saw the cover contest come across her Facebook feed. She saw it as not just an opportunity for her adorable little girl to be a cover model, but as a way to spotlight diversity in beauty. She brought Penny to the photo shoot to have her head shot taken. Ocala Family Times posted the head shot on their Facebook page along with the other photos taken that day, stating that the model who received the most “likes” would be their cover model for the December 2018/January 2019 edition.

“I gathered all my friends to share it, and we got over 4,000 likes,” Jenifer recalls. With that much support, they won the contest easily. A few months later, the official photo shoot was held, and the magazine was published featuring a cherubic Penny in a white knitted winter hat and scarf on the cover. Immediately afterward, Jenifer began receiving phone calls from people who had recognized Penny, as well as the local newspapers and radio stations. Everyone was excited to see this beautiful little girl with Down Syndrome on the cover of a popular local magazine.

“She was the first girl with Down Syndrome to grace the cover,” Jenifer said. “We’re changing the face of beauty. Beauty can come in all shapes and sizes and looks.”

43 „

This wasn’t just a win for Penny and other kids with Down Syndrome, it was a win for the community at large. Often, discomfort or fears about interacting with people with a disability are based on lack of knowledge, uncertainties, and stereotypes. Regardless of disability status, everyone possesses unique talents and has something to offer. By encouraging inclusion and allowing people of all abilities to interact, everyone’s lives are enriched.

“Before Penelope, I had never interacted with the disabled community,” Jenifer says. “Now we are seeing more people like Penelope on TV. Mattel has a Barbie doll with Down Syndrome. There’s the movie Champions with Woody Harrelson.” Champions is a 2023 comedy about a former minor-league basketball coach who is court-ordered to manage a team of players who have intellectual disabilities. The cast includes ten extremely talented disabled actors chosen out of hundreds who auditioned.

“(Things like this) open up the conversation,” Jenifer explains. “Ultimately it’s about awareness and inclusion, however that may look. Equality is not giving everybody the same thing; it’s giving each individual the tools they need to succeed. There are people with Down Syndrome who own a house and drive. Penelope might be at a different learning level, but there is a place for her in the world, and she deserves every opportunity to live a fulfilling life, whatever that may look like.”„

44 Heartland LIVINGMagazine.com
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46 Heartland LIVINGMagazine.com

Part of what that looks like is bodysurfing! Penny loves to lie on a boogie board and ride the waves into shore. She participates in adaptive skiing through a special program and loves anything to do with the water. Penelope is also autistic and nonverbal, but that doesn’t stop her. “She loves music. She loves sounds. She loves to play with other children. She’s very social and loves to interact. Even though she can’t speak, she expresses herself,” her mom explains. Penny also has a special IPAD program she uses to communicate.

Penny will be attending the second grade at Woodlawn Elementary in Sebring this fall, and Jenifer cannot say enough good things about the teachers, staff, and administrators there. “It has been such a blessing in her growth,” Jenifer says, mentioning how helpful both the principal, Jerry Wright, and the assistant principal, Christine Gilbert, have been, along with Penny’s teachers and aides. “They have completely embraced Penelope. The teachers and the kids all know Penelope. She is so happy to go to school; she walks in there so proud!”

Jenifer intends to establish a Just As I Am program in Sebring, mirroring her successful efforts in Ocala. She says she’ll start from scratch, first by connecting with other families. “Connecting with people is my thing,” she says. “All it takes is a few. The few turn into more and more.” The mission will be to offer friendship and resources to families with all types of disabilities, not just Down Syndrome. Just As I Am can be found at www.facebook.com/justasiamkids.

Nine years ago, Jenifer’s aunt told her that her child with Down Syndrome was a gift from God. “She was more than right,” Jenifer says confidently.

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Penelope is necessary in this world. She has this essence of humility that can never be taken away from her—that’s something we sometimes forget in this world. God’s ways are not ours, and He doesn't make mistakes.

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The headline might read, “Father takes eight year old daughter to a local clay-shoot and a whole new world opens to her.” Of course, the next line should read, “Parents had no idea of how dramatically their lives would change as well.”

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Molly Elliott
54 Heartland LIVINGMagazine.com

Thefather is Matt Elliott, of Lake Placid, and Molly is his daughter. What began as simply a fun father-daughter day out giving clay shooting a try, became an exciting, all-consuming, rewarding and demanding sport in which Molly, now sixteen years old, excels nationally. Molly and Matt attended the local shoot, then soon after, she joined the Young Guns of Quail Creek shooting club in Okeechobee. Mr. Elliott was so dedicated to the young Elliott’s newfound hobby that he then created the local Ridge Clays shooting club. Within two short years, Molly, who was then just ten years of age, entered and won a local clay-shooting event, competing against boys and girls her age and younger. The fire was lit.

Fast-forward to present day, and Molly Elliott is making a name for herself in the world of competitive clay shooting. Her whirlwind schedule would make most catch their breath. In early June, Molly competed in Hillsdale, Michigan, participating in her favorite discipline, International Bunker Trap. This discipline has fifteen machines, and the competitor moves to the next station after each shot taken. The target is projected from unknown angles in front of the shooter, traveling at 68 mph. In the qualifying event, Molly won a silver medal. Overall, she finished in the top six out of eighty and was the youngest of the top scorers. This competition was to qualify for the National Junior Shooting Olympics team, of which the top three finishers qualified. „

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56 Heartland LIVINGMagazine.com

In late June, Molly, accompanied by her coach, Scott Layer, and her parents, Matt and Sharla Elliott, traveled to Italy to compete in an invitationonly shoot of the same discipline at the renowned UmbriaVerde shooting club. Molly competed in a mixed team event. In the main event she shot well enough to rank in the top eight. Molly remarked that the skills demonstrated by competitors in Italy were “next level.” Among those competing at the meet was Michael Diamond, a well-known Australian shooter. He has competed in several Olympics and won every Bunker Trap competition in which he participated. Molly considers him one of her role models. Molly did manage to fit in a little sightseeing with her parents in Italy, and she knows how very fortunate she is to have these experiences at such a young age.

July took Molly and family to Ohio for the year’s final meet, where again she competed in team and individual International Bunker Trap, as well as Skeet, Trap and Sporting Clays. Molly earned the title of “Women’s Varsity National Champion” in International Bunker Trap. Skeet involves shooting at clay targets which are mechanically flung from two fixed stations into the air at high speed and at a variety of angles. In the two-day competition of Skeet, she scored an impressive 186 out of 200. „

57 August & September 2023

“Ilove a good challenge, and Bunker Trap clay-shooting is very challenging,” said Molly. It seems that she thrives on fast-paced challenges. With no idea from what direction the airborne clay targets will appear at any time, she progresses through five different stations, laserfocused on the combined fifteen traps at which she takes aim quite effectively. The challenges that Molly faces with gusto have enabled her to be a national champion each year, in one discipline or another, since she started going to SCTP nationals at age eight. Her “aim” is now focused on making it to the Olympics when she is 21. Having this confidence and this goal at a mere 16 years old is remarkable.

Molly’s shotgun of choice is the Krieghoff 12-gauge. This type is the most popular choice for clay target shooting, offering the most power and versatility. She appreciates its “consistency and reputation and the way that it fits me.” The consummate professional, Molly is sure to clean and prep her shotgun after every shoot, ensuring that it is win-worthy for the next competition.

Scoring in Molly’s preferred clay-shooting discipline varies depending on whether she participates at a “junior” level of competition, for which the perfect score is 125 points, or if it is an “open to all ages” event, where the perfect score is 250. Molly was pleased that she maintained her average score when recently competing against all ages. Again, quite remarkable. „

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59 August & September 2023

The support of her mom and dad does not go unappreciated by the young rising star: “They both help with everything. I’ve never had to struggle. They are always willing to do whatever it takes,” noted Molly. Indeed, both Matt and Sharla Elliott are very devoted to helping Molly succeed, traveling across the country for events, rearranging schedules, making sure she gets plenty of practice time and schooling while on the road, as they also juggle business needs back home in Lake Placid. Molly’s grandparents, Donald and Debra Elliott, also of Lake Placid, attend as many events throughout the country as possible to support their granddaughter as well.

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Molly Elliott with her parents, Matt and Sharla

Molly said that she and her grandfather Donald practice shooting sporting clays, and that “he’s actually a good shot.”

When reflecting on this road she is traveling and this passion of hers, a remarkably mature Molly stated, “I realize how far I have come, and that while there are people who are better at shooting than me, I am determined to go far, and to do so I have to keep working at it.”

While Molly is fully dedicated to this passion for now, she has plans to attend college to study medicine or law in the near future. Molly’s advice for other kids and teens hoping to pursue a similar dream: “Don’t give up when it gets hard. There were a lot of circumstances when I wanted to completely quit and thought I wouldn’t get better, but with dedication and practice you’ll get there!”

So how does Molly keep her energy up, her confidence high, her nerves at bay, and her focus on getting better and better? She finds a quiet place, puts her earbuds in, and listens to the words of Lainey Wilson’s country song, “Atta Girl.”

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Lani’s Rental for Wedding & Special Events, LLC specializes in wedding and event rentals providing anything from tablecloths, linens, fine glassware, candle holders, custom -made banners etc. for any theme/event. Certifying your wedding/special event has a terrific outcome is our main priority. At Lani’s Wedding & Special Events Party Rental We look forward to helping you create memorable moments that will live on forever.

Our Mission is to provide the highest customer satisfaction with our superior service and finest quality products to fit any size event.

We now own a building located on Main Street in Avon Park. We have plans of creating it into a small venue for events and our official showroom.

“We know that we work a lot of events on a regular basis but also keep in mind that every wedding is that bridal couple’s most precious day and that we need to strive to make their special day be nothing less than perfect for them. This includes being enthusiastic and fun, respectful and understanding of others.”

64 Heartland LIVINGMagazine.com
Owners: Lani & Ricardo Rivera
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Mark Maglischo and Fabio Novaes

The man at the front of the room says a few funny comments and then calls my husband’s name in a thick Brazilian accent, “Mark!” Amidst the clapping, a few whistles and a lot of pats on the back, Mark walks to the front of the room. No one else would notice, but I see the slight swell of my husband's chest. Pride. This is the most humble man I know and a little pride looks good on him. The instructor, Fabio Novaes, removes the white belt from around my husband's waist and replaces it with a blue one. Then, just as importantly, he wraps Mark in a hug and congratulates him. This has not been an easy road, but nothing about Brazilian jiu-jitsu could be described as easy.

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70 Heartland LIVINGMagazine.com

Aquick glance at Wikipedia will tell you, “Brazilian jiu-jitsu, BJJ, is a self-defense martial art and combat sport based on grappling, ground fighting, and submission holds. BJJ approaches self-defense by emphasizing taking an opponent to the ground, gaining a dominant position, and using a number of techniques to force them into submission via joint locks or chokeholds. Brazilian jiu-jitsu was initially developed in 1925 by Brazilian brothers Carlos, Oswaldo, Gastão Jr., O'Brien, and Hélio Gracie, after Carlos was taught jiu-jitsu by a traveling Japanese judoka, Mitsuyo Maeda, in 1917. Later on, the Gracie family developed their own self-defense system, and published Gracie Jiu-Jitsu. BJJ eventually came to be its own defined combat sport through the innovations, practices, and adaptation of Gracie jiu-jitsu and judo, and became an essential martial art for modern MMA. This seems to be a good summary of the sport. But for so many people, jiu-jitsu is so much more.

71 August & September 2023 „
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From the corner of my eye, I see two blonde, curly heads peek through the doorway and weave their way to a good viewing position. My sons. They know the significance of this moment because they practice jiu-jitsu, too. Mark and I married late, and, under the pressure of time, quickly had two children back to back. We ran a gym, worked long hours, and I have no doubt he often wondered why in the world he left his calm bachelor life for all this chaos. I teased him, maybe a bit too much, when he decided to visit Fabio Novaes Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. He told me later he almost didn’t return after the first day. It was hard... and frustrating... and overwhelming... and it exposed every weakness, physically and emotionally. He feared my eye rolling and “I told you so” even more.

73 August & September 2023 „

Fabio Novaes and Roberta Capeluto are the owners of Fabio Novaes Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu in Lakeland, Florida. Fabio started training Brazilian jiu-jitsu in 1992. Ten years later, he was awarded his black belt by instructor Marcelo Saporito, head instructor of Carlson Gracie School in Copacabana, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Fabio is recognized by the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Confederation, (Confederacao Brasileira de Jiu-Jitsu – CBJJ), The Rio de Janeiro Jiu-Jitsu Federation (Federacao de Jiu-Jitsu do Rio de Janeiro – F.J-J.RIO), The Olympic Jiu-Jitsu Federation of Rio de Janeiro (Federacao Olimpica de Jiu-Jitsu do Estado do Rio de Janeiro – FJJORJ) and the Brazilian Confederation of Olympic Jiu-Jitsu (Conferacao Brasileira de Jiu-Jitsu Olimpico – CBJJO). Fabio is a two time Gi Pan Am champion and a No-Gi champion. His hard work and dedication to the sport of jiu-jitsu has placed him on the podium in the most important BJJ competitions in the world. This list of accomplishments might bring people in the doors of the jiu-jitsu school; it is something entirely different, however, that keeps them coming back.

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Roberta Capeluto and Fabio Novaes
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Two months into my husband’s jiu-jitsu journey, I told him he couldn’t quit. We’d make every accommodation as a family to honor and support that time for him. The changes in Mark were incredible. The frustration that hung just under the surface of his demeanor began to settle. He had an outlet, a healthy way to vent, and a new challenge for his mind as he worked to grasp the chess game of grappling. Soon, I caught him playing jiu-jitsu games with the boys, wrestling with them and teaching them little basics.

My husband had a way to engage with my children, a new language that they could share when words just wouldn’t fix the problem. And as soon as the boys were old enough, they joined Mark on the mats. In the beginning, my oldest struggled. Naturally athletic and admirably strong-willed, he pushed hard against the inevitable humility that comes with jiu-jitsu. My youngest, much more complacent and tender than his brother, found himself overwhelmed in difficult physical situations. The emotions were intense. Each time things got tough, Mark pulled the boys out onto the garage mats. “Let’s drill a bit, maybe we can roll around and figure it out together...”

77 August & September 2023 „
Colt Maglischo (L) Brix Maglischo
78 Heartland LIVINGMagazine.com
Rebecca and Mark Maglischo

The door of the Fabio Novaes Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu School reads “When you step on my mats, leave your pride outside.” This is undoubtedly the first step of Brazilian jiu-jitsu. “You will not survive if your ego is in the way,” says Roberta Capuleto, Fabio’s wife and a brown belt in jiu jitsu. “You will not persevere because you will not be open to learning.

Brazilian jiu-jitsu teaches you to remain calm under pressure and to think before making a move. You learn more about your own body and become equipped to face fears and overcome frustrations.” Fabio and Roberta have lived these principles on and off the mats.

A young couple struggling with limited opportunities in Brazil, the two set out on the adventure of a lifetime. They moved to America. It took some hard knocks, serious determination, and a lot of work before they landed in Lakeland and decided to open a jiu-jitsu school. The school, which now also has a Brandon location, has thrived because every student that hangs in there becomes like family.

My husband asked repeatedly for me to come try a class with him. He opened the door to his little world and invited me in. It took me over a year to finally take him up on the offer. He knew what I didn’t... I needed this. I had lost myself in child rearing. I had also closed the doors of my gym in the wake of the pandemic. I was angry at life and fumbling to figure out what was next. My pull-up-yourbootstraps attitude didn’t work in jiu-jitsu, and after every class, I sat in my minivan and cried. Decades of angry frustration poured out of me. Then I’d go home, shower, and show up again.

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Rebecca and Fabio Novaes

Fabio calls my name next. He replaces my white belt with a blue one and hugs me. “The Tasmanian Devil,” he says with a smile. That’s what he calls me. Each person in the room comes through the line to hug and congratulate my husband and me. They all know. They are either on the journey to this point or well beyond us on the road. The people in this room are so different from one another. They have shared sweat and occasionally, a little blood. They have been humbled and they have done the humbling. We all know how it feels. We all have immense respect for one another just because we keep showing up to do the hard thing. There is not a person in the room that has not considered quitting jiu-jitsu, and some here have considered quitting life. Fabio likes to say “We’re all the same, the white belt and the black belt. The black belt just has more experience. But we are all still learning. We are all still pushing and we need each other to push against.” When the last person passes through the line, my husband turns to me for a hug. My kids run in and wrap their little arms around our legs. We're still learning, too, together, as a family.

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When you step on my mats, leave your pride outside. You will not survive if your ego is in the way

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-Roberta Capuleto
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CHANGE UP YOUR BREAKFAST

Eating a hearty breakfast will set you up for a day filled with energy and positivity. It’s important to make sure you take the time to eat breakfast each morning. It can, however, be very difficult to come up with new and unique ideas that you and your family will love. Luckily, we’re here to help.

We are sharing four breakfast recipes! From super healthy to easy breakfast recipes ideas, we’ve got you covered!

Try them out and enjoy!

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A breakfast worth waking up for! With fresh greens, crispy bacon, jammy eggs, and a zesty, tangy mustard vinaigrette!

INGREDIENTS

8 slices bacon

1 1/4 pounds baby gold potatoes, halved

1 bunch arugula, washed, dried, and torn

8 soft boiled eggs, halved

1 avocado, halved, seeded, peeled and sliced

1/4 cup shaved Parmesan

Mustard Vinaigrette

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

2 1/2 tablespoons white wine vinegar

1 tablespoon whole grain mustard

1 small shallot, diced

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

INSTRUCTIONS

Heat a large cast iron skillet over medium high heat. Add bacon and cook until brown and crispy, about 6-8 minutes. Drain excess fat; transfer bacon to a paper towel-lined plate.

Place potatoes in a large saucepan and cover with cold salted water by 1 inch. Bring to a boil and simmer until just tender, about 7-10 minutes; drain well.

To assemble the salad, place arugula in a large bowl, top with bacon, potatoes, eggs, avocado and Parmesan. Pour the mustard vinaigrette on top of the salad and gently toss to combine.

For the Mustard Vinaigrette

In a medium bowl, whisk together olive oil, vinegar, mustard and shallot. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

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An absolute crowd favorite! Served in warm tortillas with crispy bacon, potatoes, scrambled eggs and your favorite toppings!

INGREDIENTS

6 slices bacon

1 russet potato, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

6 large eggs, lightly beaten

1/2 cup shredded Mexican blend cheese

For Serving

Tortillas, warmed

Pico de gallo

Shredded Mexican blend cheese

Chopped fresh cilantro leaves

INSTRUCTIONS

Heat a large cast iron skillet over medium high heat. Add bacon and cook until brown and crispy, about 6-8 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate, reserving excess fat in the skillet.

Add potatoes to the skillet and cook, stirring often, until golden brown and crisp, about 12-14 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate; keep warm.

Reduce heat to medium. Melt butter in the skillet; add eggs, and cook, stirring occasionally, until they just begin to set. Stir in cheese and continue cooking until thickened and no visible liquid egg remains, about 3-5 minutes; season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Serve bacon, potatoes and eggs in tortillas with desired toppings.

89 „

The most impressive make-ahead breakfast! So easy with 15 min prep. Just pop it right in the oven before serving!

INGREDIENTS

1 16ounce loaf brioche bread, cubed

1 8 ounce package cream cheese, cubed

1 pound strawberries, diced and divided

12 large eggs, beaten

2 cups whole milk

1/3 cup maple syrup

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1 tablespoon confectioners' sugar

INSTRUCTIONS

Lightly coat a 9×13 baking dish with nonstick spray. Place a layer of bread cubes evenly into the baking dish. Top with cream cheese and half the strawberries in an even layer. Top with remaining bread cubes to completely cover the filling.

In a large glass measuring cup or another bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, maple syrup, vanilla and salt. Pour mixture evenly over the bread cubes. Cover and place in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours or overnight.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Remove baking dish from the refrigerator; let stand 30 minutes.

Place into oven and bake, covered, for 30 minutes. Uncover; continue to bake for an additional 25-30 minutes, or until golden brown and center is firm.

Once this has finished baking, sprinkle the strawberries, dust with confectioners’ sugar and boom. Brunch is served. Serve immediately!

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A protein-packed healthy yet equally tasty breakfast that can be made in just 5 minutes. And you won't even taste the kale!

INGREDIENTS

1 cup frozen blueberries

1 cup baby kale

1 cup plain yogurt

1 banana

1 scoop protein powder

2 tablespoons old fashioned oats

1 tablespoon chia seeds

INSTRUCTIONS

Combine blueberries, kale, yogurt, banana, protein powder, oats, chia and 1/2 cup ice in blender until smooth. Serve immediately.

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(407) 637-4756 “Southern Fare with a Modern Flair” Personal Chef Baby & Bridal Showers Weddings | Special Events Business Meeting Holiday Parties Jessica Pleger, Owner info@pinkpineapplecatering.com Catering Company Pink Pineapple
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Big Steps for Education Options

In the decade prior to 2020, public school student enrollment rose steadily until government response to the COVID-19 pandemic included public school closures. Upon reopening, the number of students enrolled nationwide in elementary and secondary schools had dropped by 1.4 million. The National Center for Education Statistics reported a slight increase in enrollment in 2021, but numbers again plummeted for the 2022 school year. While no data can account for all of these missing students, reports are clear that the number of families choosing private school, home school, or a variety of alternative school options has drastically risen. Families are choosing new education options that better suit their needs and schedules, despite the increased financial responsibility that comes with these choices. Families who can afford to make these choices have done so. But on March 27, 2023, policymakers set into action House Bill 1 which will change the landscape of education in Florida in drastic ways.

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Florida’s Family Empowerment Scholarship for Educational Opportunities (FES-EO) Education Savings Account Program (ESA) is now the most expansive ESA program in the United States, with nearly 3 million eligible students funded for a flexible education, chosen by their parents. It allows K–12 students to receive an ESA funded by the state and administered by an approved scholarship-funding organization (SFO). Families can use the funds to pay for a variety of educational services, including private school tuition and fees, tutoring, online education, home education, curriculum, unbundled courses and services at a public school, tuition and fees for a choice navigator, therapy, postsecondary educational institutions in Florida and other defined educational services. The program is not income-based, seeking to help all families make choices in education that align with their personal family structure and beliefs. Additionally, the program helps tens of thousands of low income families gain access to schools that meet the needs of their students.

Florida’s Family Empowerment Scholarship Program is funded through the Florida Education Finance Plan, and the per-pupil amount varies according to grade, county, and a few other factors. In 2021-2022, that amount was $7,612 divided and deposited quarterly into participant ESAs from the state’s general revenue fund. Parents can utilize this money through direct pay to approved providers or private schools or by submitting invoices and other documentation for reimbursement. Additionally, families can opt to direct some of the funds into Florida Prepaid college accounts or Florida 529 Educational Savings Plans. „

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Children with unique abilities may have different educational needs. Families supporting alternative education options for these students can apply for the Family Empowerment Scholarship for Unique Abilities (FES-UA). This program is for students from age three through grade 12 or age 22 (whichever comes first) who have a specific diagnosis including speech impairment, autism spectrum disorder, specific learning disability, visual impairment, orthopedic impairment, emotional or behavioral disability, and many more. This program allows families to opt out of public school and use the ESA to privately pay for the therapies and educational needs that are best suited for the student. Prior to House Bill 1, growth in this program was capped at one percent annually. The new policy allows funding for more families by increasing the cap to three percent annually.

The Family Empowerment Scholarship for Educational Opportunities serviced just 15,000 students in 2020. Over the next 2 years, that number grew to 35,000 and 85,000 students, respectively. The 2023-2024 school year will undoubtedly show exponential growth again in light of the expansion of these programs. The application process for both programs is simple, and though families are required to complete an annual renewal, the programs generally avoid unnecessary and counterproductive regulations. Families in Florida are speaking with their keyboards. They want choices when it comes to education... and policymakers seem to be hearing that cry.

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101 August & September 2023 237 US Highway 27 N, Sebring Blinds ASAP 863-314-9790 Ask about our Summer Special Veteran & First Responder Discounts Available Proud winner of the “Best of Highlands” for 9 years & Counting office@blindsasap.com H - 2019 N - 2019 H h - 2019 - 2019 - 2019 - 2019 N - 2019 g - 2019 H Nw - 2021 is an internationally recognized structural repair company with the latest foundation repair technology and a tradition for the highest standards in customer care. Our patented ICC-ES approved helical anchor and driven pier systems have been proven on countless homes and in a wide variety of pre-construction & commercial applications." FOUNDATION SOLUTIONS Call Today to Schedule an On-Site Evaluation. 935 Sebring Square - Sebring, FL George A. Hall Devon P. Donaldson GeoDev Pizza, Inc. 863-386-1177
2751 US 27 South - Avon Park, FL 33825 Locally Owned and Operated Serving Highlands County for over 40 years www.WildTurkeyTavern.com Outdoor Dining Area! Try our new online ordering! Go to our Facebook page to check it out. Watch your favorite Sport Event on one of our 5 TVs in the Tiki! Dog Friendly Patio Try our Jumbo Pretzel with Beer Cheese A Unique & Friendly Neighborhood Restaurant & Tavern Best Gatortail, Wings & Burgers in town! Now Serving Breakfast! Saturday & Sunday Starting at 7:00 am Now added Parking for RV’s and Large Trailers Also... 8 Indoors TVs! 13 TV’s Total for your sports viewing! Check our Facebook for hours.
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Marketing Ideas Need A Good Design! Our Design Team Will Help You Stand Out! Flyers | Post Cards Magazines | Catalogs Brochures | Publications Phone: Email: How would you like your name to appear on the “Giving Tree”? Please make check payable to General Conference of SDA For: Phuket, ailand, Mission Hospital Expansion, SSD Attention: Stanley Paniah 12501 Old Columbia Pike Silver Spring, Maryland 20904 Phone: 301.680.6226 Our Gi Of Love At is Time Is: 2020 Annual Report Heart & Vascular Center AdventHealth Sebring Help Us Grow Phuket MissionHospital South Florida State College Fifty Years of Educational Opportunities in Our Community It is a high honor to serve the students, faculty, and staff of South Florida State College. This outstanding institution has been meeting the higher educational needsofHardee,DeSoto,andHighlandscountiesforover50years. Thesupport wereceivefromourcommunityisunprecedented. Thatsupporttranslatesdirectly toourstudentsthroughthecurriculum,deliveredbyacommittedteamofhighly skilled faculty who believe in the instructional mission of our college. Weareseriousaboutourmission,backedbystrongandmeaningfulcorevalues. Theinspirationtogobeyondnormalexpectationscomesfromournewlycreated visionstatement:tobecomeagloballyawareacademicdestinationdrivingregional transformation through innovative collaboration. Theseelementsfromourvisionstatementinspirelearningandmoveallconstituents innewdirectionstomakeourregionsuperiorineverywaythroughqualitylearning initiatives and an engaged student experience. It is with profound joy and gratitude that all members of the SFSC team pledge to continue to uphold quality academic practices that have been the hallmark throughoutourproudhistoryasweleadandservetobuildastrongerandbetter community for the benefit of everyone. With humble gratitude, Thomas C. Leitzel, Ph.D. President Messagefrom the President South Florida State College Celebrating 50 Years 1965-2015 Chamber of Commerce 2023 Community Guide & Business Directory www.hardeecc.com
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