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myra harper

Take a sweet, hard-working country girl from rural Watauga County, put her in a fast-paced marketing career — traveling thousands of miles each year in charge of corporate hospitality and guest services for clients in the racing world — and you’ve got Myra Tester Harper. While the closest that many women get to Shell, Pennzoil, and Quaker State is by reading roadside signs — not to mention NASCAR, Formula 1 and Indy Racing — Myra has a close working relationship with their corporate executives, representatives and race care drivers on a daily basis. As director of marketing and hospitality with Sport Dimensions since November 2003, Myra helps to fulfill the goals of the Colorado-based sports marketing agency with its commitment to clients through the motorsports world. Working between the Denver company headquarters, the regional office in Mooresville, and her home office in Boone, Myra’s dynamic personality and “can-do” attitude make her a favorite among clients, guests, track staff, coworkers, and just about anyone who meets her. “I’ve got a great job, “ she says, “though it requires a lot of long hours and time away from home. Sometimes, during a big event, I’m the first one out there and the last one to leave.”

Photos by Jeff Harper

Working closely with celebrities has its perks, Myra admits — and in a predominantly male industry, its share of challenges. “It’s hard work and not quite as glamorous as some people might think, but I love what I do,” she says. “As a kid, I was exposed to NASCAR through my dad’s love for Bill Elliott, but I never dreamed I would ever work in the industry.”


inspire | pat collins

pat collins Pat Collins has a passion for life — and especially for people with cancer. She spent 22 years as an oncology nurse in Miami, but she didn’t leave her compassion behind when she and her husband became seasonal residents of the High Country four years ago. Leaning on her knowledge and experience with arts in health care, Pat is primarily responsible for regenerating an arts program at the Seby B. Jones Cancer Center on the Watauga Medical Center Campus in Boone. Having gained support from hospital and center executives and members of the Cancer Resource Alliance, Pat revitalized a once viable arts program at the cancer center last year by introducing the “Art Cart.” Proving to be a successful part of the multi-disciplinary approach to the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancer, the arts program is coordinated by hospital chaplain, Melanie Childers, and local artist, Beth Andrews. Pat’s love for the area and its people took root much earlier and grew rapidly when, with three colleagues, she attended her first art workshop at Cheap Joe’s in Boone during one of her summers in residence with her husband. Since then, many friendships have flourished, as well as her love for art, the cancer center and those it serves. As a registered nurse with a masters of science in nursing and certification in advanced oncology, Pat continues to work part- time as a consultant for oncology, pain and palliative care for South Miami Hospital, a division of Baptist Health in South Florida. “I have worked full-time since the day

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SEPTEMBER 2011 | AAWMAG.COM

nursing with passion

I graduated from nursing school,” Pat says. “But, I have never viewed nursing as a job. Being a nurse is an identity — a way to define one’s self.” Caring for others at a critical time in their lives is a humbling learning experience, Pat says. “My patients and their families have taught me more than any of the classes I have had over the years. Nursing has been my passion and although I am still working part time, I am now available to give to the community in other ways.” Throughout her career as an oncology nurse, Pat has been a driving force for pain management, both locally and nationally. As a founder and former president of the Florida Pain Initiative, she was awarded the national Excellence in Pain Management Award by the Oncology Nursing Society. The award recognized Pat for her published articles, research, mentoring and advocating for patients in the area of pain management. Years ago, Pat created an interdisciplinary pain committee with a purpose to establish evidence-based pain guidelines. Most recently she, along with several national pain experts, published an article urging medical professionals to provide adequate pain relief to patients receiving painful procedures. Pat has published numerous medical journal articles and textbook chapters. She has been interviewed on radio and television programs and has presented

at numerous medical conferences throughout the US and the Caribbean. Pat has taught oncology courses at the University of Miami and was honored with their Alumnus of Distinction Award and was named Employee of the Year at South Miami Hospital. “Anyone who has the privilege of meeting Pat learns very quickly about her commitment to quality patient care,” said Wayne Brackin, hospital CEO. “She


pat collins | inspire shares her knowledge and experience with nurses, doctors, administrators and patients and we all learn how we can do things better.” Since she and her husband purchased a home in the High Country four years ago, Pat not only initiated the resurgence of the art program in the cancer center, but she has also volunteered with the Blue Ridge Parkway Interpretive Ranger division of the National Park Service for trail maintenance and other projects. She is the vice-president of the Blowing Rock Garden Club, which maintains the gardens at Memorial Park and hosts the annual garden tour. Pat is a current member and incoming secretary of the Blowing Rock Community Club and a member of the Blowing Rock Art and History Museum. “I feel very connected to this community — perhaps even more so than in Miami where I have lived for 30 years,” Pat says.

Pat plans to become more involved with additional activities as she learns more about what is needed in the community. Doing things better seems to be Pat Collins’ motto as a dedicated and caring nurse, published author, award winner, art practitioner and member of the community. We could all learn from her example. The Art Car at Work Seby B. Jones Cancer Center dispels any myth that a cancer treatment center has to be a sad place. The facility, located on the campus of Watauga Medical Center offers

In 2010, career oncology nurse, Pat Collins, a seasonal resident of the High Country whose permanent residence is in Florida, brought the concept of the Art Cart to Boone. The Society for Arts in Healthcare (www. thesah.com) describes art in the medical setting as “a diverse, multidisciplinary field dedicated to transforming the healthcare experience by connecting people with the power of arts at key moments in their lives.” The field includes literary, performing and visual arts and design in health care settings for therapeutic and expressive purposes. The Art Cart gives patients and their families opportunities to create art, while taking their minds off of their disease and treatment. Research has shown that such projects reduce stress and anxiety while the nursing staff expressed that it gives patients a sense of control and a feeling of accomplishment. Pat worked diligently to bring the Art Cart concept to life. In preparation, she cleaned and organized the cart and solicited donations from area art suppliers. Cheap Joe’s supplemented supplies that they had earlier donated. Appalachian Gallery and Frame Shop donated 4x6inch mono-print mats, which all helped to get three main art activity projects up and going again. With mono-prints, the participant chooses watercolors and, using paper to blot and move the paint around, creates an image that depicts special meaning in his or her life.

Photos submitted

Pat is “sensitive” to how Floridians are perceived locally, she says. “For example,” she said, even though I’m already a courteous driver, I am especially courteous here. Floridians bring a lot of business to this area and contribute to the quality of life through our contributions to the arts and community welfare projects.”

a welcoming atmosphere to its patients. Recliners line the treatment room, while patients converse freely with the staff and each other while watching television, reading, knitting, enjoying live music and creating art.

cut watercolor patterns and shapes and glue them to a ribbon which can be hung on their IV poles, in front of a window or anywhere he or she desires to see its beauty. One patient, a former art teacher, suggested the use of scrapbooking materials for the addition of greeting card projects. In addition to visual art, Carole Deans, a certified music therapist pursuing a master’s degree in clinical mental health counseling, serves as an intern at the cancer center. She plays guitar and sings chair-side to the patients during their chemotherapy treatments.

Within the mandala circle, the participant draws lines and shapes and colors them in according to personal expression. The third project — ribbon gems — allows the individual to choose pre-

Corrinne Loucks Assad is a broker, realtor, investor, GRI, ABR with Blue Ridge Investment Properties, 166 Boone Heights Drive Boone, NC 28607. SEPTEMBER 2011 | AAWMAG.COM

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Photos courtesy of Heather Brandon

Clockwise from top left: Rebecca and Heather at Red Rocks Park and Amphitheatre; New Belgium Brewery is packed on Saturday afternoons; Heather and Roger at Lucille’s; Day one in Colorado, (pictured from left) Roger, Heather, Rebecca and Mike; Snow with Heather for scale.


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All About Women September 2011