OTMJ 5.30.24

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To Dream the Impossible Dream

Moondance Adventures is About the Destination and the Journey

May is a busy time for Moondance Adventures founder Hayes Hitchens and his 180 leaders. They are in staff training at Camp Wayfarer, in North Carolina, preparing themselves mentally, physically and phil-

osophically for the nearly 2,000 students they will lead on a cornucopia of travel adventures this summer from Alaska to Zanzibar.

This may sound simply like a cool summer job, and it definitely is that, but it’s also something more to these leaders. It’s their chance to help teenagers have life-changing travel experiences, embrace

the value of teamwork, overcome obstacles and communicate in the ancient ritual of conversation.

LEAP OF FAITH Mountain Brook native Corley Haynes, a Moodance leader, traveling with students in Spain.

“Being a Moondance leader taught me how to be independent in variable envi-

See MOONDANCE, page 7

A Legacy of Nature

Bill Ireland Named Antiques at the Gardens Honoree, Says He’s Continuing Family Philanthropic Legacy

Bill Ireland jokingly calls himself a “reluctant gardener,” but as he scrolls through photos of flowers in bloom and freshly cut boxwoods in the English-style gardens at his recently purchased Redmont Park home, it’s clear that an appreciation for gardens was passed down from his mother, Fay, a prodigious gardener with deep roots in Birmingham Botanical Gardens history. “What they don’t tell you about gardening is that it’s never done,” Ireland said. “There is always something that needs attention, whether it be upkeep or adding and subtracting from the landscape. Just because you inherit a garden doesn’t mean that the job is done,” he mused. It’s much like that with his family’s philanthropic work, in that he sees himself as inherit-

See IRELAND, page 5

Courtesy Friends of Birmingham
Courtesy Moondance
Bill Ireland


Kayaker paddles solo down length of Cahaba River in 11-day trip PAGE 6

‘YOU CAN DO THIS’ Septuagenarian sets record as Make-A-Wish Alabama’s oldest trailblazer PAGE 18






Turning old Airstreams and school buses into second homes PAGE 14


Festa Italiana will bring authentic food, cultural experiences to Birmingham PAGE 21




Five Things My Father Taught Me

Ilost my dad in 2002. He was a humble man in many regards. At his funeral, it was said by many that he was ahead of his time in fathering. What they meant was that he was an involved dad.

My mother did not love the “baby stage” my brother, sister and I went through. She preferred more developed human beings. My dad knew this and stepped up to the plate. He diapered, did midnight feedings with a bottle, got up early and did his fair share of meal prep and cleanup. This was not always typical of fathers in the ‘50s and ‘60s.

One thing he made sure we all knew growing up was that my mom came first and the kids came second. Neither of my parents lived their lives through the window of their offspring. This is not one of my Five Things, but it was a valuable lesson to us all. I believe our two daughters have followed in this with their husbands and young offspring.

Be known for what you do, not what you say you will do.

As my senior year in college was coming to a close, my parents came to campus and took me out for dinner. It was not exactly what you would call a graduation celebration. My father took the opportunity to give me a “Welcome to Real Life” soliloquy. He talked, I listened. He covered some of what is below and much more about personal responsibility, accountability and avoiding major, life-altering mistakes.

The five things below are something I have shared with nieces, nephews and my own children. If I live long enough, grandchildren will be next. These are in no particular order.

• Never co-sign on a note. If this isn’t obvious to you already, please take “note” of it now. An exception might be a child, but even that depends on the child. The fact that someone needs a co-signer means they are a credit risk so now you are putting your credit at risk. It is entirely possible my dad learned this the hard way early in life. He didn’t say.

• Don’t spend more than you make. I know this sounds un-American, but once you get in a hole it is hard to get out. As I write this, credit card debt is at an alltime high again. We put groceries on a credit card we don’t intend to pay off that month. My starting salary for my first full-time job in 1976 was $9,900 – a year. That is not a typo. My parents helped me write something of a budget which had to include at least a little put into savings regularly. I did not have a car when I graduated from college, so I needed to purchase one. Pontiac, a now extinct brand, made a car called a Firebird. Very sporty. It was $5,400 brand new. I could fit the car payments into my budget with pretty much nothing to spare. I opted for a 3-year-old Chevy Vega that was $900. My car payments were $43 a month. Good decision.

• Never stop being a student. This could also be read as ‘stay curious.’ This tidbit of advice is multi-faceted in benefits. First of all, you will be more valuable as an employee or business owner if you are always learning. Second, it will make you a more interesting person when in the company of others.

With everything that’s happening “Over the Mountain,” it can be difficult to keep up. That’s why we have launched the OTMJ newsletter.

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To sign up for our newsletter, visit otmj.com.

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Publisher & Editor: Maury Wald

Copy Editor: Virginia Martin

Features Writer: Donna Cornelius

Staff Writers: June Mathews, Anne Ruisi

Photographer: Jordan Wald

Sports Editor: Rubin E. Grant

Contributors: Evelyn Byrne, Solomon Crenshaw Jr., Madoline Markham Koonce, Susan Swagler, Lee Hurley

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• Be known for what you do, not what you say you will do. This should be self-explanatory, but how often do we follow this advice? We tell our kids to do something a certain way and then they see us contradicting ourselves. We teach and preach the Golden Rule. Do we adhere to it ourselves? Perhaps they hear us telling someone we will do something and we don’t follow through. In the end, people simply remember us for what we actually did. What else is there?

• When you search for a company to work for, look for the best in their field for product and work environment. My dad’s point was that the reputation of that company will shed light, or dark, on me. I believe this is called the Halo Effect. The very first company I worked for turned out to be a “bright light” in their field. Whenever people saw it on my resume it made me look better than I probably was.

Over the Mountain Views

Being a father never stops. I sought my dad’s advice even into his final years. I often fail in following his example. God gave most of us two parents because each one brings essential skills to the position. My dad never achieved fame or fortune, just the lifelong admiration of his wife and three children.

Side note: Thank you to all the veterans who have served our country. My dad loved Memorial Day (he called it Decoration Day, the original name) and made sure our flag was flying. He knew the sacrifices. If you have watched the Apple+ series Masters of the Air, you have some idea of what my 22-year-old father went through. He was a first lieutenant navigator on a B-17 bomber flying missions over Germany in 1944-‘45. I now have some idea of what he saw and why he never (ever) talked about it.

Summer Magic

Children and their families gathered at the Hoover Public Library on May 24 for the library’s Summer Reading Kickoff. The party marked the transition from spring to summer mode with crafts and games for the family along with performances by special guest Doc Magic, right, with guests Lucy, Maggie, and Hunter Osborne

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A Night of the Arts

LeAnn Rimes to Give Performance as Part of VIVA Health Gala to Raise Funds for UAB Arts Programs

A private performance by Grammy Award winner LeAnn Rimes (above) and a dinner by Helen restaurant will be the highlights of the 2024 VIVA Health Gala: A Night of the Arts.

The black-tie event raises funds for UAB’s Abroms-Engel Institute for the Visual Arts, Alys Stephens Center, ArtPlay Community Education and UAB Arts in Medicine.

“Our relationship with the Alys Stephens Center goes back many years. It has been a joy to see the organization evolve into what it is today – the UAB Arts Alliance,” which includes all four entities, Melissa Strange, who is chairing the event along with her husband, Luther, said in a press release from UAB.

The gala, being held Sept. 6, will showcase the best of these four entities and their programming by creating an immersive night full of arts experiences.

The gala will kick off with a reception offering beverages and hors d’oeuvres in the Alys Stephens Center lobbies. While there, guests will be invited to help select a work of art to be added to the visual arts institute’s permanent collection. Arts in Medicine will offer an immersion into the healing power of music, as select UAB health care professionals and medical students who also are musicians play during the reception.

Then Rimes will give her performance in the Jemison Concert Hall and dinner will be served in a transformed space in the Alys Stephens Center.

“There is truly something for everyone at ‘A Night of the Arts.’ We are thrilled to have the opportunity to support this cultural center that presents artists of the highest merit, provides innovative educational opportunities and enhances well-being through the arts,” Luther Strange said. “The funds raised by this gala, as well as other generous supporters, make this programming possible.”

For information on sponsorship opportunities or to buy tickets, please contact Savannah DeRieux at sderieux@uab.edu or 205.934.9900 or visit alysstephens.org/gala.

Thurs., May 30

Distinguishing News from Misinformation

While misinformation has always existed, its power has grown exponentially in recent years and experts in multiple fields are warning it poses an unprecedented threat to elections in 2024. Join Alabama Media Professionals for a panel discussion featuring local reporters

and editors as they explain their processes, provide insight into ethical journalism practices, provide an in-depth look at how current technologies are expected to affect the information landscape this year and answer audience questions. When: 6-7:30 p.m. Where: Hoover Public Library

S’mores and Pours

The BridgeWays Junior Board will hold the 12th annual S’mores and Pours fundraiser to support the nonprofit organization that seeks

to provide programs and expertise relevant to the needs and emerging issues affecting young people. Feast on food from Taco Mama, enjoy popup shops, artwork from local artists, live music, activities for children and more! When: 5-9:30 p.m. Where: Avondale Brewing Company

May 30 - Sept. 11

Vestavia Hills Farmers Market

Live music, fresh produce, jewelry, baked goods and many other items will be on hand every Wednesday at

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the Vestavia Hills Farmers Market. The market is a mission of Vestavia Hills Methodist Church, with funds from the market used to supply the church’s food pantry with fresh fruit and vegetables. When: 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Where: Scout Square, 2061 Kentucky Avenue

May 30 - June 9


This play is a howlingly funny romantic comedy about a marriage and the dog that comes into a couple’s life.

Thursday, May 30, 2024 • 3 OVER THE MOUNTAIN JOURNAL ABOUT TOWN MAY 30 - JUNE 13 The Wald Group MIKE WALD HAYDEN WALD STACY MITCHELL 205.541.0940 205.919.5535 205.994.5903
Center. = Courtesy
Private performance by LeAnn Rimes in the Jemison Concert Hall at the Alys Stephens

Greg brings home a dog he found in the park - or that has found him - bearing only the name “Sylvia” on her name tag that becomes a major bone of contention between husband and wife. The show contains adult situations and strong language When: Various showtimes Where: Homewood Theatre

May 31 - June 30

Mary Poppins

Gliding into the lives of the troubled Banks family, Mary Poppins uses a combination of magic and common sense to bring young Jane and Michael around. But even the grownups get a lesson or two in life, love, and old-fashioned manners from their new nanny. With all the unforgettable songs and dance numbers, plus astonishing stagecraft, it’s a theatrical event for the whole family. When: Various showtimes Where: Red Mountain Theatre

Fri., May 31

Mason Music Fest

Enjoy the food trucks, cold brews and an incredible lineup of student, local and regional musicians at the music festival that earmarks 100% of its proceeds to benefit the Mason Music Foundation. The nonprofit provides scholarships for music lessons to families who qualify for financial assistance. When: Doors open at 4 p.m., with the show starting at 5 p.m. Where: Avondale Brewing Company

Moonlight Movies

Bring a blanket or lawn chair to enjoy a screening of Disney’s “Encanto,” an animated musical fantasy for the whole family. Drinks and dinner will be available from Lane Parke’s restaurants. When: 6-9 p.m., with the movie beginning at 6:30 p.m. Where: Lane Parke

June 1-2

Iron City Comic Con

Science fiction and comics fans will gather for two days of panel discussions, cosplay, celebrity appearances and more. When: June 1, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.; June 2, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Where: Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Center

Sat., June 1

Funky Food Truck Festival

Keep on truckin’ with some of Birmingham’s best mobile meal


makers! Relax on the patio and enjoy your favorite Cahaba Brew or shop local artisans, vendors, and pop-up shops. When: 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Where: Cahaba Brewing Company

Sun., June 2

Vulcan 120th Birthday Bash

Grab your party hats and celebrate the big guy’s 120th birthday! Vulcan, set in a beautiful park atop Red Mountain, is the largest cast iron statue in the world and is city symbol of Birmingham. When: Noon-4 p.m. Where: Vulcan Park and Museum

June 7-28

Free Friday Flicks

Head to CityWalk in downtown Birmingham every Friday evening in June for a free family-friendly film to delight everyone! The movie lineup includes: “Barbie” on June 7; “Kung Fu Panda 4” on June 14;

Alabama Ballet’s Bonnie & Clyde

May 31 - June 2

The Alabama Ballet takes you on Bonnie and Clyde’s journey leading to their demise on May 23, 1934.

Van Fleteren’s clever use of music, both classical and popular from the 1930s, brings a modern feel to the chronicled tale. When: Various showtimes Where: Alabama School of Fine Arts Alabama Ballet

“The Princess Bride” on June 21 and “Wonka” on June 28. When: 7 p.m. Where: CityWalk

June 7-Aug. 6

West Homewood Farmer’s Market

Fresh farm produce and other goodies will be on hand every Tuesday as the West Homewood Farmer’s Market opens for another summer season. When: 5-8 p.m. Where: 160 Oxmoor Road

Fri. June 7

Art After 5 Wizard of Oz

Follow the yellow brick road to the Birmingham Museum of Art for an Art After 5 event that’s over the rainbow! This June, the art museum is celebrating Pride Month with the timeless charm of “The Wizard of Oz.”

Dive into a night where art, music, and pop culture merge, featuring Oz-inspired art activities, a costume

contest and more. When: 5-9 p.m.

Where: Birmingham Museum of Art

Sat., June 8

Zoo Brews

Experience breweries from all over Alabama and the southeast while traveling through the Birmingham Zoo! This signature event for adults 21 and up operates via a “Penny-a-Pour” system, with each sample available for one cent. Food trucks will be on hand and the zoo’s Nourish 205 restaurant and the Flamingo Cart on Henley Lawn will offer full-size wine and beer for an additional charge. When: 6-9 p.m. Where: Birmingham Zoo

Friends of Children’s Harbor Auctions

Join us for our 18th Annual Live and Silent Auction and make a difference in the lives of Children’s of Alabama’s seriously ill patients and their families by raising funds for camps at Lake Martin. The camps offer refuge, respite and resources. When: 6-8 p.m. Where: Willow Point Golf and Country Club on Lake Martin

June 13-30

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, The Musical

Our truly scrumptious season concludes with the Birmingham premier of the smash hit London musical, “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang”. When: Various showtimes Where: Virginia Samford Theatre


Entrepreneur, artist, and author of the inspiring book Why Not Win, Larry Thornton is a trailblazer who believes in paying it forward. That's why he is investing in Birmingham's future by leaving a legacy gift to the Community Foundation of Greater Birmingham.

Larry has been a servant leader throughout his career, providing opportunities for others to succeed and build a stronger community. "When you are as blessed as I have been, what better place to share the bounty than in the community that made it possible," he says.

Trusting the Community Foundation with his legacy was a natural step for Larry because he knows our work is vital to building a better future for years to come.

Visit cfbham.org/legacy to learn how you can join Larry and create your lasting legacy.



From Page One

ing and representing a broader Ireland legacy.

“As honoree, I hope it to be a celebration of my mother and the philanthropic legacy of the Ireland family. My function is carrying forward that legacy and honoring their passion and vision,” Ireland said.

Ireland will be recognized as honoree during the 18th annual Antiques at the Gardens, set for Oct. 3-6.

“My family – my grandmother Kitty; my Aunt Mallie; my cousins, Kacy, Mallie and Nonie; and especially my mother, Fay – they’ve all been supporters of the Gardens, so I’m really continuing and preserving a family tradition,” Ireland said.

on the master plan committee throughout most of the 1980s and later serving on the board of directors. Ireland continues to honor his mother’s legacy by serving multiple years on the executive board and the board of directors for the Friends group.

Birmingham Asset

‘As honoree, I hope it to be a celebration of my mother and the philanthropic legacy of the Ireland family.’

Visitors to the Birmingham Botanical Gardens see the impact of the Ireland family in obvious ways –the Ireland Iris Garden, the Ireland Old-Fashioned Rose Garden, the Ireland Room, for instance – but they may not notice the more subtle influences. For example, the turkey statue in the Ireland Iris Garden and the heron sculpture “Interlude” in the Hill Garden are both gifts to the Friends of the Birmingham Botanical Gardens from the Ireland family and a nod to Ireland’s father’s love of Alabama wildlife and wildlife art.

But it’s Fay Ireland’s contributions that breathe literal life into the Gardens. The Shumard oaks at the Gardens’ entrance were donated by Fay Ireland in honor of her grandchildren. Other contributions were even more personal.

“Mother loved digging in the dirt,” Bill Ireland said. “You could often find her working in the potting shed with other volunteers and city employees. That’s what she liked the most.”

Many perennials in the Gardens are plants that Fay Ireland gifted to the Gardens. The popular Fall Plant Sale evolved from the Fall Fiesta, started by Fay Ireland. She also lent her talents to leadership roles, serving

“I come from the perspective that the Gardens are great for Birmingham. They are an asset for economic development and certainly for quality of life here. I understand that the better the Gardens become, the better Birmingham becomes,” Ireland said. “So many people walk the Gardens and enjoy it as an attraction. If they are local, it enriches their lives; if they are visiting, it enriches their opinion of Birmingham. It is another jewel that makes Birmingham a better place.”

He continued, “Any improvements made to the Garden will improve Birmingham. My father saw that. He was very community-oriented – and supporting the Gardens was supporting my mother’s vision.”

The Irelands’ philanthropic roots run deep.

“My grandmother, Kitty (Katharine Ireland), came up through the Depression. Her sons, Glenn and my father, ‘Little Bill,’ pulled her into philanthropy from a place of hardship and that brought her joy,” Ireland said. “I believe philanthropy is a learned behavior. Someone has to model that for you.”

He said his models were exceptional.

“Dad and Glenn typified the moniker of the ‘Greatest Generation,’ becoming the driving forces in philanthropy in our family, and of course, that was taught to the next generation. I am proud to carry that torch for my family.”

“It’s not by happenstance that all of the things that I work on philanthropically are extensions of my parents’ passions,” Ireland said. “I’m also currently raising money for The Nature Conservancy. My father was

one of the premier conservationists in Alabama. Through the Ireland Opportunity Fund, we are buying and protecting strategic and vulnerable pieces of land to preserve key habitats for endangered species or important plants. That’s conservation in perpetuity, which I think is very valuable. And it’s complementary to the Gardens and the work the Gardens does to showcase Alabama’s biodiversity.”

Like his garden at his new home, Ireland knows that work at the

Birmingham Botanical Gardens will never be done. He believes that the best days for the Gardens lie ahead.

“I see wonderful things on the horizon for the Gardens. We have the opportunity to elevate the Gardens’ stature as one of the premiere gardens in the Southeast, if not the nation.”

“The devotion that my mother had for the Gardens is shared by so many,” he said. “The many hours invested by the team of chairs, volunteers and staff to bring Antiques at the Gardens to fruition demonstrates that.”

“I appreciate the kind recognition of my family’s support of the Gardens. It’s meaningful. Not only is this event an important fundraiser for the Gardens, but it serves to showcase this oasis in our city. There is potential to be unleashed that will be ignited by people’s passion for the Gardens.”

For more information and updates about the Antiques at the Gardens event, visit bbgardens.org/antiques.


Artistic Inspiration From the River

Kayaker Paddles Solo Down Length of Cahaba River in 11-Day Trip

Kayaking on the Cahaba River makes for a great day for most outdoors enthusiasts, and some may even extend their trip to an overnight camping trip.

Then there’s Halley Cotton, a University of Alabama at Birmingham English instructor who kayaked the length of Alabama’s longest stretch of free-flowing river and one of its most scenic and biologically diverse.

Her 11-day adventure on 180 miles of the 194-mile river began at the Grants Mill access point in Irondale on May 25 of last year and ended where the Cahaba flows into the Alabama River in Dallas County.

Water has long been an integral part of recreation in Cotton’s life. Her family was frequently out on a lake or other bodies of water, and they had a canoe when she was growing up. Her first real experience with kayaking happened in 2018, when her parents gave her a kayak for Christmas.

It was a good gift for someone who was just starting to paddle in Alabama, which has more than 1,400 miles of navigable waterways – the highest number among all 50 states.

Cotton kayaks mostly on day outings in Central Alabama, and the trip down the Cahaba was her biggest challenge yet on the water. It also was the first long-distance solo trip that involved camping overnight on the riverbank.

“It was a lot of new for me all at once,” Cotton said.

An Inspiring Journey

Cotton, 33, is a writer and a poet who teaches English literature, creative writing and composition at UAB. Her love for the Cahaba and poetry led to her remarkable river journey, which was funded with a $5,000 grant from the Alabama State Council on the Arts. Cotton wanted to paddle the river and use the experience as inspiration for her writing and poetry.

“I want people to see the Cahaba the way I see it, so that maybe we can conserve it and we can take care of it because it provides drinking water for 60% of Central Alabama, and it’s an important river,” said Cotton, who is on the board of the Cahaba River Society and serves as secretary.

She applied for the grant at the suggestion of her friend and fellow writer Randi Pink, was notified in June 2022 that she’d won it and received the funding that November. With a target launch date set for the

following May, she had about six months to plan her strategy to safely make the trip.

Preparation Strategy

“I had to figure out exactly how I was going to tackle this,” Cotton said. “I knew that I could do it.”

Water levels on the river were an important consideration. Those levels are optimal in April and May, but it tends to be very rainy and the Cahaba is “very sensitive to flooding. One flash flood incident can make that river so incredibly dangerous,” she said. But the river’s water levels sometimes can be too low, and the first one-third to one-half of the river’s bottom is all rock, which would impede her ability to navigate her craft.

Once underway, the trip took 11 days, which included one day when she simply rested.

Everything she needed was packed in the kayak. A flat bottom hammock that operated like a tent or could be strung between trees was her bed each night she camped along the edge of the river.

She brought her own food, including “those fancy freeze-dried backpacking meals … you add two cups of water and pour it in a little pouch and wait for it to rehydrate,” she said.

“It tasted like boiled sadness.”

By the fifth day of the trip, she was begging her friends to bring her apples and granola bars. On Day 7, Pink contacted her and asked if she needed her to bring Cotton anything.

“I was like, ‘Lady, bring me a cheeseburger. I’ll be grateful,’” and Pink did, Cotton said.

Cotton carried a satellite communicator in case of emergency. It was equipped with GPS so her support team of 25 people could track her location in real time. They also helped her by tracking the weather and were available to pick up supplies if she needed them.

“Once I was on the trip, I was basically as well prepared as humanly possible and now whatever happens, happens,” she said.

One morning after spending the night on the riverbank, she noticed bobcat tracks around her camp but no other sign of the big cat.

The other animal that gave her pause when she spotted it in the water was the alligator.

“Alligators made my toes curl a bit,” Cotton said, noting she saw two as she paddled downriver from Centreville in Bibb County, the farthest north on the river where the reptiles can be found.

She saw many more when she ended her journey where the Cahaba flows into the Alabama River.

‘I had to figure out exactly how I was going to tackle this. I knew that I could do it.”

There was a profound sense of freedom on the river, and the area around it teemed with wildlife, Cotton said. Deer, bald and golden eagles, herons, hawks, frogs, snakes, mussels, snails, hummingbirds, butterflies, turtles, otters, wild pigs and “more fish than I know how to name,” were among the animals Cotton said she observed.

“I basically ended my trip in, like, an alligator hatchery with tiny little alligators,” she said, including when she was dragging her kayak out of the water to get to her takeout point.

“They’re adorable until you realize you are in the water with them.”

Telling the Story

Since her return, she’s been blogging about the experience on Substack and written articles for Alabama The Beautiful and UAB

magazines, plus made dozens of presentations to groups. One of her most recent was to the Hoover Historical Society on May 21 at the Hoover Public Library.

In those appearances, Cotton said, she not only wants to share the trip’s experiences but wants to let those in the audience know about the threats facing the Cahaba. Flooding, for example, is a threat with complex facets that negatively affect the river. Development and lawns of nonnative grasses with roots that don’t sink deep enough in the soil lead to silt and sediment runoff that muddy the river’s water. Flooding erodes the riverbanks and the sediment leads to conditions that deplete oxygen and suffocate river mussels, which act as water filters to keep the river clean.

As for her poetry, Cotton will be working on it. She’s in a recollection phase of the journey as it relates to verse, she said.

If you’re interested in reading more about Cotton’s experience kayaking the Cahaba River, her day-byday journal with in-depth details and photos of the journey, a playlist of songs she listened to on the trip, a reading list and other posts are available on her blog, The Cahaba Project, at thecahabaproject.substack. com.

6 • Thursday, May 30, 2024 OVER THE MOUNTAIN JOURNAL LIFE
UAB Marketing and Communications/Andrea Mabry Halley Cotton, a University of Alabama at Birmingham English instructor, kayaked the length of Alabama’s longest stretch of free-flowing river and one of its most scenic and biologically diverse. Her 11-day adventure on 180 miles of the 194-mile river began at the Grants Mill access point in Irondale.

Oh, the Places You’ll Go

From Page One

ronments,” Mountain Brook native Corley Haynes said. “I could not imagine a more fulfilling job than helping students gain perspective about themselves, regardless of the destination.”


Growing up, Hitchens spent his summers at Camp Deerhorn in Rhinelander, Wisconsin, which his grandfather founded in 1930. He started as a camper, then became a counselor and finally a dreamer of owning his own camp. He got close to realizing that dream when, in 1995, he found the perfect small camp to buy in North Carolina. Yet fate stepped in when someone else bought the property.

As Leonard Cohen says, “Everything is cracked, that’s how the light gets in.”

Leaning on his camp experience as well as a dozen years as the dean of students and director of summer programs at the Lovett School in Atlanta, Hitchens saw travel as a way to positively affect young people. That light became Moondance Adventures.

The first Moondance summer, in 1996, attracted 34 teens to two summer trips, Wyoming and North Carolina. Fast forward to this past August, when registration for the 2024 summer sessions opened and 1,000 teenagers signed up in the first 30 minutes for travel to five continents, 22 countries and nine states, briefly crashing the website.

In the intervening years, Hitchens and his growing staff recruited students throughout the South – from Richmond to Birmingham to Dallas – presenting slide shows in private homes, promising parents a safe, cell phone- and social media-free experience and teenagers the adventure of a lifetime and the chance to forge deep friendships.

ing, plus anything else the local milieu offers.

Service is another important activity and often voted the most meaningful part of the trip.

Vestavia Hills graduate Sara Hattaway served in Thailand on an elephant sanctuary in Chang Mai.

“We made food for two elephants, one who was blind and the other who had a hip disability. Getting to see these animals up close was amazing and learning about the abuse they go through changed my point of view on elephants.”

The Beginning of a Big Shift

The first 24 hours after the students arrive at their destinations can be awkward. That’s why leaders work hard to acknowledge and encourage every person and promote togetherness as quickly as possible to break the ice.

Each night, students and leaders engage in what’s called a “moonup,” which is a roundup of the day and a discussion about anything anyone is thinking or feeling.

Trip leader Kelly McFarling, now a singer songwriter in

California, wrote of her moonup, “As I gathered in the circle for the first time under the stars listening to strangers discuss their biggest fears, I felt the beginning of a big shift.”

Hitchens summarizes his current outlook this way: “Moondance is about face-to-face communication and the joy of being young. As older people, we are able to look back and realize how precious and fleeting time can be. Our goal is to give these young people life experiences that will stay with them forever.”

As the years went by, the demand for international travel became stronger. Trips to places such as Iceland, Fiji, Thailand, Africa and Croatia now complement Alaska, Yosemite and the Pacific Northwest.

There also is the “Mystery Trip.”

Students are told what to pack but have no idea where they are going until they get on the plane.

“Madeira and Slovenia were two beloved Mystery Trips. At first, I couldn’t find Madeira on a map,” Hitchens laughed.

At home or abroad, the trips continue to challenge and change perspective. Mallie Bromberg asked her parents, Frank and Anne, for a Moondance trip to Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming as a Mountain Brook High School graduation present.

“I had never backpacked, camped or slept in a tent, but I wanted to do something ‘big’ before going to college,” she said. “After sleeping in a tent for 21 nights, nine of which were in the backcountry, I can confidently confirm that I did it much bigger than anticipated. It changed the trajectory of my life and gave me confidence to do things that are out of my comfort zone.”

Group sizes are intentionally small, around 12, and made up of boys and girls with no three from the same town. Grades accepted are from the seventh to 12th, and prices start in the low $5,000s and run through the low $9,000s.

Trips vary from two to three weeks. Accommodations include tents, hostels and hotels, depending on the circumstance. Food varies from local fare cooked at hostels and small hotels to self-prepared meals on the trail. It’s all about culture adaptation.

Activities include scuba certification, rock climbing, hiking, mountaineering, fishing, kayaking, zip lining, game watching, surfing and snorkel-

Thursday, May 30, 2024 • 7 OVER THE MOUNTAIN JOURNAL LIFE
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‘Moondance is about face-to-face communication and the joy of being young. As older people, we are able to look back and realize how precious and fleeting time can be.’ Courtesy Moondance
Moondance Adventures founder Hayes Hitchens, left, with his daughter Hunter and wife Michael. The first Moondance summer, in 1996, attracted 34 teens to two summer trips, Wyoming and North Carolina.

Music and animal encounters were among the highlights of ‘Tails in the Trails, a fundraiser at the Birmingham Zoo on May 10.

Guests were offered small bites from area restaurants, beer, wine and specialty cocktails and a silent auction amid the ambiance of the zoo’s Trails of Africa exhibit.

Money raised at the fundraiser will benefit Carlito’s Casa, the giant anteater’s habitat. ❖

‘Tails in the Trails

Africa Exhibit Provides Backdrop for Fundraiser

Journal photos by Jordan Wald
Matthew and Alex Graham, Sally and Steven Thompson
Leigh Ann and Tommy Sisson Amanda Haney, Vaughn Moore MacKenzie Brown, Caurie Schonder Elizabeth and Brandon Stewart, Gifford and Mallie Taylor Laura Wisdom, Caroline McClain, Sarah Capra Noelle Geeslin, Lucy Marks, Connor O’Brien Kimberlynn Bush, Marsena Morgan, Amanda Ford Jamie and Lee Alice Monroe Sofia with Eastern-Screech Owl Cayenne

Lasting Beauty

Belvedere Study Club Marks 75 Years and Continues Goal of Fun, Friendship and Thought

Members of the Belvedere Study Club gathered for a birthday party May 1 to celebrate the club’s 75th anniversary.

When the club was founded in 1948, things were getting back to normal after World War ll, but the Cold

War was just getting started. Truman defeated Dewey to become president and Ronald Reagan won an Academy Award for acting.

In California, the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club was founded, and in Birmingham, a group of recent

Birmingham-Southern College graduates who were Panhellenic friends decided to organize a study club. They called it Belvedere, which refers to a beautiful view from a high place, chose green and yellow as club colors, and chose daffodils as the offi cial flower. The club motto was Keats’ quote, “A thing of beauty is a joy forever.”

Now, 75 years later a new generation of members is carrying on the original goal of fun, friendship and intellectual enrichment through monthly meetings. Several current members are daughters of charter members.

The club makes annual charitable contributions, and members share their time and talents with various community endeavors.

Current President Judy Jackson presided over Belvedere’s birthday party, hosted in the Wellington Park home of Margaret Rogers.

Focal points were the table centered with a decorated cake and a bouquet of white and yellow flowers that also displayed brunch delicacies prepared by members. Also inspiring conversation on the past was a display of minutes and other memorabilia.

Agreeing that time flies when having fun were members Margaret Rogers, Judy Jackson, Ginger Brown, Margie Curry, Kay Davidson, Gail Garner, Dale Miller and Shelley Schneider, along with associate members Susie Elliot, Judy Harvey, Bobby Jean Tucker and Janis Zeanah. ❖

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Club President Judy Jackson, Margaret Rogers, Shelley Schneider, Gail Garner, Ginger Brown, Dale Miller. Courtesy

Flowers and Friendship

Mountain Brook Garden Club Celebrates 50th With Dinner

President Weesa Matthews welcomed the guests. Charter member Dorothy McDaniel provided the spring flower centerpieces.

Following cocktails and a steak dinner, Anne Lamkin, party chairman, gave a brief history of the club, which was founded in 1973 to stimulate an interest in gardens, homes, neighbors and the community.

Alice Schleusner entertained members and guests with trivia from the ‘70s.

Members attending the anniversary party were Lucy and Dan Allison, Peggy and Michael Balliet, Mary Alice and Donald Carmichael, Karen Chapman, Faye and Bill Clark, Louise and Butch Clayton, Susan and Charles Dasher, Florence and Ty Dodge, Judy and John Feagin, Linda and Sam Fisher, Anna and Hugh Gainer, Louise and Boots Gale, Carey and Bill Hinds, and Dottie and Raleigh Kent.

Others in attendance were Mildred Knight, Anne and Tom Lamkin, Trudy and Russell Levenson, Carolyn and Thad Long, Jackie MacClary, Celeta and Duncan Manly, Weesa Matthews and Tom Roberts, Betty and John McMahon, Ann Relfe, Betty Renneker, Ginni and Adam Robertson, Alice and Bob Schleusner, Marianne and Paul Sharbel, Louise Slingluff, Becky and Bill Smith, and Barbara and Cris Stone. ❖

Members of the Village Garden Club of Mountain Brook celebrated 50 years of friendship on May 9 at the Mountain Brook Club. Journal
10 • Thursday, May 30, 2024 OVER THE MOUNTAIN JOURNAL SOCIAL
photo by Jordan Wald Tom and Anne Lampkin, Alice and Bob Schleusner Cris and Barbara Stone Leesa Matthews, Tom Roberts Lucy Allison, Dorothy McDaniel, Sterling McDevitt Susan Dasher, Marianne Sharbel Louise and Boots Gale cookmuseum.org

Pool Party Time!

The Coronets Dance Club gathered May 9 at Vestavia Country Club for a Poolside Party to usher in the summer session.

Club President Carol Powell and her husband, Phillip, welcomed members and their guests. These included India and Bill Askew, Joy and Steve Wilkes, Nancy Becker, Shelley and Steve Watkins, Cheree and Eric Carlton, Joyce and Jim Talbot, and Ashley and Troy Carmichael.

Also partaking of hors d’oeuvres and drinks were Redonda and Lowell Broom, Kathy and Bob Tracy, Bettie Davenport, P.A. and Beatty Carmichael, Becky and Richard Padgett, Sharon Ellis and Tom Edmonds, Marsha and Buford McCarty, Beth and Charles Glisson, Linda and Mike Gooldrup, Jean and David Hendrickson, Marsha and Don Hire, Dianne and Richard Horn, Judy Long, and Cathie and John Amos.

Thursday, May 30, 2024 • 11 OVER THE MOUNTAIN JOURNAL SOCIAL
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Coronets Members Welcome Summer With Drinks and Bites
Michael and Linda Gooldrup, Sharon Ellis and Tom Edmonds Cathie Amos and Bettie Davenport Nancy Becker, Bill and India Askew David and Jean Hendrickson, Joy and Steve Wilkes Beatty and P.A. Carmichael Journal photo by Jordan Wald Carol and Phillip Powell Richard and Dianne Horn

Young women donned Kentucky Derby-style hats and dresses in the Camellia colors of white and shades of pink for the Third Annual Camellia Court presentation May 5 at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens.

The Camellia Court is a service organization in which 17- and 18-year-old girls assume civic responsibilities. Through their volunteer efforts, the girls gain knowledge about their community and enjoy the rewards of volunteering as they give back to their community.

The Camellia Court will make a donation to the Birmingham Botanical Gardens, and a Camellia tree will be planted in the Camellia Gardens in honor of the Camellia

Camellias Bloom

Newest Members of the Camellia Court Presented in Rainbow of White and Pink

Court of 2024.

The 2024 members are Eva Marie Andrews, Marisa Breeze

Ajlouny, Lauren Elaine Barksdale, Mary Carleton Baynes, Zoey Brooke Bloomston, Sara-Katherine Bowman, AnnMassey Bowman, Elizabeth Barnes Brewer, Laura Burr Buha, Mary Jane Wortham Bussian, Lula Clayton Byars, Lauren Elizabeth Clark, Ann Oliver Coleman, Mary Mackenzie

Colvin, Ella Cobbs Cook, Kate Darden Cotton and Lillian Marie Cutshall.

Membership also includes Mary Margaret Dorough, Marlea Katherine Drinkard, Carolyn Elizabeth Dunn, Alice Mae Estes, Helen Morrow Ezelle, Elizabeth Patricia Faulkner, Holland Sellers Finch, Anne Lawson Finch, Taylor Evans French, Alice Bellingrath Garzon, Ava Catherine Gillis, Addison Stearns Houser,

Charlotte Durand Illges, Amelia Gates Jordan, Marrison Nell Kearse and Carolyn Jame Kelly. Also joining the court were Anne Lindsey Lacey, Mary Ganser Lacey, Harper Kathryn Lee, Caroline Cates Lyman, Mary Katherine Malone, Amelia Frances Maziarz, Allison Jane McAlister, Grace Elizabeth Meadows, Lucille Delane Pankey, Margaret Rebecca Pelekis, Frances Nicole Pilleteri, Mary

Neale Polk, Eliza

Rome and Anna

More members are Elizabeth Everett Sandner, Adah Evelyn Agrippa Schilleci, Abigail Elizabeth Sharp, Anne Bonds Simmons, Mary Caroline South, Emma Danielle Stearns, Samantha Grier Stewart, Madeline Jean Still, Reese Evelyn Thompson, Mae Helen Tomlin Toranto, Katherine Baker Vardaman, Sarah Frances Walker, Katherine Murray Wann, Louise Langston Ware, Katherine Grace Whatley, Rachel Claire White, Reagan Lindsey Whitworth, Sherrod Elizabeth Wilbanks and Mary Russell Wood ❖

Photo by Dee Moore
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Stewart Rice, Susan Lucille Ritter, Hillary Louis Madailein Ryan.

Centennial Celebration

Sisters came from near and far to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Alpha Delta Psi High School Sorority during a gala luncheon at Birmingham Country Club on May 9.

Alice Herren Schleusner was master of ceremonies for the luncheon and led the alumnae singing sorority songs.

Decorations included sorority memorabilia such as a framed poster from the late Ann Brooks McDavid showing a page featuring a sorority from Life Magazine in the early 1930’s.

the farthest; and Lu Yeilding Downey from the class of 1948 was recognized as representing the earliest class.

Before the reunion, a group of about 10 cars that were decorated with the sorority’s colors of lavender and green caravaned through Crestline Village and approached the Country Club giving the sorority honk.

Ashelynn Falkenberg was the chairman of the event and already has begun to plan the next reunion, which will come around in five years.

Beverly Reeves Knott of Texas was recognized for having traveled

Family groups included motherdaughter past presidents Ann Dial McMillan and Ann Dial Sims; sisters Debbie Davis Denson and Patsy Davis Dreher; Linda Bostwick Arnold and sister Alene Bostwick Zvana from Florida; Caroline Massey Daniel and sisters Cynthia Massey Parsons from Huntsville and Beverly Massey Bell from Mobile; Lynn and Jean Hipp; Eunie Currie Healey and Billie Currie Pender; cousins Mena Hazzard Brock and Mallie Burr Smith.

Alpha Delta Psi was founded in 1924 by the late Mrs. Walling Keith (Mary Jenkins), Mrs. Hubert Goings (Martha Henderson), and Margaret Shannon. It was patterned after Keith’s brother’s college fraternity. Their sisters and cousins and their allied families made up most of the

early members – Estes, Munger, McDavid, Brooks, Tutwiler, Cabaniss, Leary, Tynes, Stockham, McWane, Oliver, Jemison, Earle, Culp, Walker, Throckmorton. ❖

Right, Murray Phillips, Caroline Massey Daniel, Kelly Shaw Gage, Greer Knapp Curry, Linda Logan Turner, Betsy Kinney Daniels, Murray Spencer South and, kneeling, Garland Cook Smith. Below, Lu Yeilding Downey, Alice Herren Schleusner, Jane McLaurine Trammel, Grace Brady Bentley, Janie Tanner Henderson, past President Beth Norville Henry, Kirke White Cater. Eunie Currie Healey, Billie Currie Pender. Left, Ann Dial McMillan and Ann Dial Sims.

Thursday, May 30, 2024 • 13 OVER THE MOUNTAIN JOURNAL SOCIAL
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Alpha Delta Psi Welcomes Sisters for the Sorority’s Anniversary

At Home on the Road

Revamped School Bus Becomes Second Home for Avid Travelers

Imagine a vacation minus the prospect of canceled flights, expensive accommodations, rental cars and heavy luggage – a trip that can move at a relaxing pace, or not, and that the whole family can enjoy.

Sound appealing? Then you might want to consider a road trip by school bus. Not just your regular run-of-themill school bus, but a retired school bus converted to serve as a homeaway-from-home on wheels, complete with a kitchen area, a compact lavatory and space for sleeping.

Known as a “skoolie” in camping and conversion circles, such a bus

See SKOOLIE, page 15

The owner liked the idea of a camper he could drive instead of towing but was unimpressed with the quality of materials used in the manufactured RVs they considered. But the more they looked and learned, the more they realized that a skoolie would be the best fit for their family.

Journal photo by Maury Wald 14 • Thursday, May 30, 2024 OVER THE MOUNTAIN JOURNAL HOME
Gavin and Caroline Trinoskey at their Silverliner Custom Trailer Designs shop where they primarily focus on Airstream restorations.
Courtesy Silverliner Custom Trailer Designs


allows an Over the Mountain family of five to take classic all-American road trips, stopping anywhere and anytime they please while having the comfort and convenience of living in their own tiny home.

“We were a young family with three kids, and on multiple vacations, mainly out West, we had rented either an RV or an Airstream trailer,” said the father in that family, who asked that his name not be used to protect his privacy. “We were familiar with them, and we enjoyed those vacations. So, my wife and I began shopping around for something of our own.”

He liked the idea of a camper he could drive instead of towing but was unimpressed with the quality of materials used in the manufactured RVs they considered. But the more they looked and learned, the more they realized that a skoolie would be the best fit for their family.

“I was attracted to the robustness, durability and ground clearance of a school bus,” he said. “River raft companies use them to transport people and equipment on steep dirt roads, which appealed to me. I knew it would be good for camping and on dirt roads.”

And so began a search of the rather extensive retired school bus market.

“Every school district in this country has a budget for school buses, and they replace them after a certain mileage,” he said. “So this country is loaded with used school buses, and there’s a nationwide network of used school bus dealerships.”

He was looking for a bus no longer than 29 feet, so it would fit into most national park campground spaces. He finally found what he wanted –a 2009 Thomas Built flat-nose 28-foot passenger bus – in Tampa, Florida. He flew down and drove it home, and from there Silverliner Custom Trailer Designs took over.

“Airstreams are our primary focus, but we can design and build any small space desired for mobile use,” said Silverliner President Gavin Trinoskey of Mountain Brook, who is not easily rattled by customer requests.

“I’ve been asked to design trailers for recreational travel and guesthouses, as well as mobile businesses and offices.

“One lady wanted to install a

piano in a trailer so she could give mobile piano lessons, which would have involved disassembling and rebuilding the trailer around the piano since it wouldn’t fit through the door. She ultimately went in another direction, but we were ready to do it!”

So, when approached about outfitting a bus for family road trips, Trinoskey didn’t bat an eye. He sat down with the family to determine their exact needs, wants and tastes, and the all-important planning process began.

“We started with questions about the use so we could understand the functionality needed, but we quickly began discussing how to personalize the skoolie,” said Trinoskey. “We used design boards for inspiration from RVs and home designs.”

The next step was to remove everything from the bus, inside and out, then rebuild, refurbish and replace everything with its new components. The entire process took 14 months.

“We don’t use outside crews or subcontractors,” Trinoskey said. “We do just about everything in-house.”

When all was said and done, the customers were thrilled.

“Gavin did a fantastic job,” the skoolie dad said.

Freedom and Flexibility

The family has since driven the bus from Birmingham to Acadia, Maine, back down through New York, along the Eastern Seaboard, and down through Ohio. The customized bus has also journeyed to Key West, North Carolina, Tennessee and Florida.

“I can’t say it’s not a tight fit,” the father said. “When we started this project, our kids were in middle school. Now one’s going to college, and the other two are in high school, so the space can get small pretty quick. But the boys are happy outside in a tent if the weather is nice, so it works out fine.”

But the best part of having a skoolie?

“The freedom and the flexibility of it,” he said. “You can go anywhere you want to, and you can leave when you want to. I also like seeing the inbetween spaces, the journey from home to destination. I like seeing the country along the way.

“It’s a dramatic upgrade from camping, and it’s a lot more rustic and primitive than a hotel. It’s kind of a middle step, but it’s one that works well for us.”

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your living space with an outdoor kitchen.

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Thursday, May 30, 2024 • 15 OVER THE MOUNTAIN JOURNAL HOME
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TILE AND COUNTERTOPS FOR OVER 90 YEARS ADDITIONAL LOCATIONS Montgomery • Huntsville Tuscaloosa • Nashville Memphis • Baton Rouge • Pensacola To: Attic Antiques From: Over The Mountain Journal, PHONE: 205-823-9646 FAX: 205-824-1246 Date: May This is your AD PROOF from the OVER THE MOUNTAIN JOURNAL June 2, 2022 issue. Please fax approval or changes to 824-1246. Please make sure all information is correct, including address and phone number! Please initial and fax back within 24 hours. If we have not heard from you by 5 pm of the Friday before the press date, your ad will run as is. We print the paper Monday. Thank you for your prompt attention. Tues.-Sat. 10-4:00 5620 Cahaba Valley Road 991-6887 Wonderful Shipment of Furniture Loads of Country and Lake
small space desired for mobile use.’ GAVIN TRINOSKEY Read about this
renovation on page 16.
‘Airstreams are our primary focus, but we can
and build any
From page 14 Courtesy Silverliner Custom Trailer Designs

Silverliner Custom Trailer Designs breathes new life into old travel trailers and motorhomes, converting them into homes on wheels, mobile offices – anything someone needs to be compact and mobile.

Owned by Mountain Brook-area couple Gavin and Caroline Trinoskey, the company recently did a dramatic redesign for Georgia golf pro Bill Connally. Connally, who also is an

New Life Granted to Old Airstream

avid sports fisher, wanted a nauticalthemed custom Airstream.

The trailer that Silverliner converted for him is a 1968 Airstream Ambassador. It was rescued from a backyard in Thomasville, Georgia, for the price of $1,200, Gavin Trinoskey said.

Now it sits on the coast in Bristol, Maine, 1,300 miles north of here (right).

Oh, and Connally named the Airstream “Ono,” after the fish, of course.

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‘You Can Do This’

Septuagenarian Sets Record as Make-A-Wish Alabama’s Oldest Trailblazer

Perhaps Susan Vines should have chosen something less strenuous and more age appropriate when she decided she needed to stay more active.

But after attending the Make-A-Wish Alabama Trailblaze Challenge info meeting in January and hearing the stories of wish recipients finding hope and strength through their granted wishes, the septuagenarian decided to take on the arduous 26.3-mile hike on the Pinhoti Trail in the Talladega National Forest.

“At the meeting, a mother whose child has brain cancer explained how his wish had truly helped him with his treatment,” Vines said. “Evidently, the research backs up the obvious positive connection between happiness and overall physical health. This did not surprise me because I have always felt that our mind and physical body cannot be separated.

“As a retired elementary teacher, I remember students facing critical illnesses, and I can imagine how a ‘wish’ could be so helpful for them.”

So, on May 4, the 76-year-old Vines, who lives in Birmingham near Acton Road, made history with Make-A-Wish Alabama by becoming the oldest Trailblazer ever by hiking a marathon.

Her journey was not without challenges.

It began with modest training hikes at Red Mountain Park, starting with a 3-mile trek. Having completed two marathons in the past, Vines quickly realized hiking is more strenuous than running.

“I showed up in tennis shoes with no water,” she said. “Of course, after that, I realized I needed to ‘get my act together.’ Back 40 years ago, I could easily run several miles without stopping or getting water.”

Dealing With Knee Pain

Equipping herself with walking poles, a water bladder vest, snacks and hiking boots, Vines tackled a strenuous 13-mile hike at Oak Mountain, impressing herself and the trail team volunteers. However, a couple days afterward, she began experiencing severe knee pain.

After a visit to urgent care, she was referred to seek specialized care at OS1 Orthopedic & Sports Injury Clinic in Hoover.

“At OS1 I met Bryan Wimbish, who shared that I had a ‘frayed’ meniscus in both knees,” Vines said. “Bryan’s connection to the MakeA-Wish program through his undergraduate fraternity made me realize this is a ‘God thing’ for me. He gave me an injection in my knee for pain relief and ordered some very substantial knee braces for me to wear.”

Vines has been diligent about following Wimbish’s recommendations, which includes physical therapy with Therapy South two times a week.

With OS1’s guidance and treatment, Vines continued her training, which included a 16-20-mile hike.

‘At the meeting, a mother whose child has brain cancer explained how his wish had truly helped him with his treatment. Evidently, the research backs up the obvious positive connection between happiness and overall physical health.’

Vines received unwavering support from friends, family and her community throughout her training.

“My family and friends have been super supportive, even though some can’t believe I am doing this,” Vines said prior to the Trailblaze Challenge. “Since I am retired, I have been relying heavily on family and friends for donations. My Sunday School class at First United Methodist Church is all in, praying for

Susan Vines began her hike at 5:30 a.m. (below, far right) and finished 15 hours later, at 8:30 p.m. (left).

my health and ability to achieve my goal. Some have even said that they are now trying to walk more.”

Hiking a Marathon

Finally, in the predawn hours of May 4, Vines took on the challenge of the Pinhoti Trail, which meanders through mountains and valleys. It winds through rugged pine and hardwood forests, runs along ridgetops and passes through shady hollows and mountain streams.

Vines began her hike at 5:30 a.m. and finished 15 hours later, at 8:30 p.m.

“When I started training to do the hike, they told us if you can’t keep pace, they would put you in a van and take you to a mile before the finish, so we could hike the last mile,” Vines said.

“The most I’d ever hiked was 20 miles, so I knew doing 26.3 miles was going to be tough, but I was determined to do all of it.

“Every six to eight miles, there was an aid station and the volunteers kept checking on me. They knew I was one of the slower hikers, but they kept telling me, ‘You can do this.’” Vines, whose husband, Larry, died in

September 2022, drew inspiration from the ham radio operators along the trail.

“My husband was an avid ham radio operator,” Vines said. “There were ham radios throughout the woods, so it was like he was with me.”

As she neared the end, Vines was behind pace, but the volunteers ensured her she would finish.

“They said, ‘We’re going to make allowances for you because we know how much it means to you to do this,’ Vines said. “The last three or four miles I was so tired.”

With encouragement from volunteers and other hikers she pressed on, while also drawing strength from the stories she had heard at the info meeting about Make-A-Wish children overcoming challenges in their treatments that no one expected them to.

“It was inspiring to hear their stories, so I had to finish,” Vines said.

Vines completed the challenge and raised more than $5,200, more than doubling her goal of $2,500 for Make-A-Wish Alabama.

“It was really, really one of the most exciting things I’ve ever done,” she said.

18 • Thursday, May 30, 2024 OVER THE MOUNTAIN JOURNAL

Senior Placement Services

Finding the right retirement community for yourself or a loved one can be a difficult task. The Birmingham area is blessed with an abundance of excellent retirement communities, but for seniors, the process of locating the community that matches both their lifestyle needs and their budget can be overwhelming.

Fortunately, there is a solution for those considering the move to a retirement community. Senior Placement Services, LLC has helped hundreds of seniors find the perfect fit for their clients since the company’s founding in 2018.

bring decades of senior care industry experience to the task of helping seniors locate the best fit for their needs. “Because we know the industry and have worked with the local communities,” said Tim, “we are able to assess our clients’ needs and narrow their search to those communities that offer the best fit in terms of budget, location, lifestyle and health care needs.”

find the Independent Living, Assisted Living or Memory Care that is right for

Senior Placement Services helps seniors locate the retirement option that best suits their needs.

Our service is 100% FREE. You will never be charged for any of the work performed by Senior Placement Services.

To learn more about us, call one of our local Placement Specialists or visit us online.

Best of all, said owner Tim Meehan, (above) the service is absolutely free. Clients of Senior Placement Services will never pay a fee either to the company or to the retirement community they choose as their new home. “Many people find it hard to believe,” said Tim, “but our services are actually 100% free to our clients.”

Tim and his team arrange facility tours, accompany clients on these tours, and perhaps most importantly, serve as their clients’ advocate throughout the process. The goal, Tim said, is to help his clients find the answers they need to make the best possible decision for themselves and their loved ones.


Tim and his team of Placement Specialists

“We’re proud of our reputation within the senior community and the local senior care industry,” said Tim. “We believe we’ve earned that reputation by truly working to serve the best interests of our clients and their families.”

For more information about Senior Placement Services, call Tim Meehan at 205913-3902, or visit www.seniorplacementservicesllc.com.

where family, friendship, independence, and health converge. With expanded options like Cottage Living and enhanced dining, Kirkwood ensures peace of mind and personal security while you cherish life’s priorities.

To learn more or to schedule a tour today, call 205-956-2184 or visit kirkwoodbytheriver.com

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Chris Blackerby Vice President, Sales 205-533-2127 Arlene Hicks Birmingham-Auburn 205-410-9260 Melissa Cooper Birmingham 205-356-2476 Mitzi Knox Birmingham 205-999-7525
President 205-913-3902
Tim Meehan

In front, Rotary Club of Vestavia Hills’ scholarship winners Gabriela Ramirez, Adam Watson and Katie Huang. Back row: Dave Mason, Vestavia Hills Rotary Club president; Greg Ruff, representing Raymond Hurlbert; Micheal Gross; David Martin, representing his father, Lindy Martin; Oliver Aaron, Vestavia Hills High School Scholarship chairman; Dr. Todd Freeman, Vestavia Hills City Schools superintendent.

Rotary Club Awards 3 Scholarships to Vestavia Seniors

The Rotary Club of Vestavia Hills recently awarded $2,000 scholarships to three Vestavia Hills High School seniors.

Gabriela Ramirez, who is undecided on where she will attend college, received the Raymond Hurlbert Strive for Excellence Scholarship.

Hurlbert was a teacher and principal who has been recognized as the “Father of Alabama Education TV.” As an avid Rotarian, he established 28 Rotary Clubs, including the Vestavia Hills club in 1971.

Adam Watson, who will attend North Central College in Illinois, received the Michael Gross Service Above Self Scholarship.

Gross served as principal of Vestavia High for 14 years. When he was principal, Gross was a huge part of the annual Rotary Roasts held at the high school that raised more than $250,000 for the math and debate teams. He’s also been a Rotarian in the Shades Valley Rotary Club for 51 years.

Katie Huang, who will attend Auburn University, received the Lindy Martin Builder of Goodwill Scholarship. Martin, known as the “chief,” was a pastor who worked at Samford University in the Division of Student Services, including dean for 13 years. He was a charter member of the Vestavia Hills Rotary Club known for his friendly and helpful approach who mentored many Rotarians as they grew in their Rotary service.

Hoover Service Club Makes Awards to Hoover and Spain Park Students

The Hoover Service Club held its final program of the 2023-2024 year with its annual Scholarship and Awards Luncheon Program at the Hoover Country Club on May 9. Guests were welcomed by club President Bonnie Campbell, and club Chaplain Rhonda Boyd led the invocation.

Hoover Mayor Frank Brocato and Hoover City Schools Superintendent Kevin Maddox offered remarks during the event, which featured the awarding of more than $48,000 in scholarships to students from Hoover and Spain Park high schools.

Hoover High students receiving scholarships were Garret Brasher, Kenia Perez Castillo, Michael Fleming, Sara Hancock and Aden Walton. Spain Park recipients were Madison Broadnax, Zoey Benda, Irene Kihara and Natalia Gomez Sandoval. Students in Hoover’s middle schools were recognized with academic and citizenship awards. Natalie Bishop at Berry Middle, Hamzah Zahid at Bumpus Middle and Colin Keppley at Simmons Middle received Academic Awards. Recipients of the Citizenship Award were Matthew Asher McBride at Berry, Vedika Sharma at Bumpus and Christian Alvarez at Simmons.

The luncheon also marked the installation of the club’s officers for


Incoming officers are president, Debra Taylor; first vice president and program chair, Rachel Trowbridge; second vice president and membership chair, Bernadette Beavers-Forrest; third vice president, Lori Callahan; corresponding secretary, Heather Pierce; recording secretary, Elaine Thompson; and treasurer for a two-year term, Kacy Wood.

Club members made donations that will be given to Grace House Ministries for its graduates. The club’s community service chairs, Lori Heglas and Betty Moulton, hope to raise enough to present gift cards and a personal tablet or laptop to each graduate.

Baby Boomers don’t want to be like their parents. They want to play more, travel more and do more with their life.

But what happens when there’s a fall?

Statistically one in four people over 65 are going to fall in any one year and it’s the number one cause of injuries to seniors that land them in the hospital. Some never go home, ending up in nursing care for the rest of their lives.

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Their quarterly Maintenance Plan Subscription provides a handyman to do a series of jobs such as changing lightbulbs, smoke

alarm batteries and filters in high ceilings.

One of the most sought after services provided by Trublue is senior home modifications. Smart seniors are starting to prep their home now before it becomes critical after hospitalization or surgery.

Grab bars are a top request. Also tub cutouts which save thousands over removing a bathtub and installing a new shower.

Other changes that are so helpful for seniors are changing out door knobs and faucet handles to lever handles that are easier to use. Nonslip coatings can be added to steps and bathroom floors to prevent falls. Widening doors and sliding barn doors in front of bathrooms is another highly requested service.

To discuss your needs or for a home modification estimate call Trublue at 205-839-3818.

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TRUBLUE MISSION TO HELP SENIORS AGE IN PLACE Statistically one in four people over 65 are going to fall in any one year ...


Buon Appetito!

Festa Italiana Will Bring Authentic Food, Cultural Experiences to Birmingham

Kay Bruno Reed, owner and head chef of Birmingham’s Café Iz, has fond memories of growing up in a closely knit Italian family – especially of making bread with her grandmother on Saturdays and eating together on Sundays.

Today, she’s extending the fun to a new generation by teaching her granddaughters how to make pasta.

“I don’t want our traditions to go by the wayside,” Reed said.

Because of her dedication to keeping Italian culinary customs alive, she was happy to be asked to help with the newest cultural festival in town: Festa Italiana, set for June 15 at Sloss Furnaces. The event is the project of Birmingham’s Italian America Heritage Society, of which she’s a member.

Tina Savas, festival co-chairman, is a friend of Reed’s from their elementary and high school days and called Reed more than a year ago to ask her to participate. Other event leaders are cochairman Andy Graffeo, Denise Lovoy Koch, Michelle Lorino, Deanna Cataldo, Tina Liollio, Lindsey Noto King, Traci Bratton, Anne Marie Urrutia Whatley, Isabella Sutherland, Kerri Sutherland, Kristen Letcher and Marena Molay Messina.

“The purpose of the Italian American Heritage Society of Birmingham is to encourage, promote and preserve Italian culture and heritage with its activities centered upon Italian traditions,” Savas said. “We are thrilled to bring Festa Italiana to the Birmingham community to celebrate and honor our heritage and traditions.”

Those who attend can look forward to eating and drinking their way through a day of fun – and learning something about Italy.

The main stage emcee will be media personality Niki Noto Palmer, a Birmingham native and University of Alabama graduate who’s looking forward to coming back home for this inaugural event. The festival also will feature live musical performances, showcasing Italian-inspired acts.

Attendees can try authentic Italian cuisine, with more than 40 merchandise vendors and dozens of food vendors serving up a wide variety of

favorites ranging from espresso to gelato. Reed plans to make arancini and tiramisu, and her cousin, Mary Lynn Bruno, plans to serve homemade focaccia squares. Also on the menu are pizza, sandwiches, cannoli, Italian sausages and much more.

Those providing tasty treats include the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul, the Italian American Heritage Society of Birmingham, Tre Luna Bar & Kitchen, Uncle G’s Pizza, Da Big Italian, Pazzo Big Slice, D&M Snow Cones of Alabama, Vecchia Pizzeria, Graffeo Brothers Sausage, Cafe Iz, Carrabba’s Italian Grill, Arnone’s Italian Sausage, Slice Pizza & Brew,

Teams Take Home Wins After CahabaQue BBQ Cook-Off

The Spring CahabaQue BBQ Cook-Off drew an estimated 1,300 guests to Cahaba Brewing Company during its April 15 event and raised $31,337 for breast cancer research in Alabama.

Eric Meyer, chief operating officer and co-owner of Cahaba Brewing Co., said he was “ecstatic” about the funds raised during the event.

“We hold this event near and dear to our hearts because we know just how important it is to support those affected by breast cancer.”

Funds raised are donated to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation of Alabama, which uses the money for breast cancer research, treatment and

of Healing Properties, Costa Olive Oil, Emily’s Heirloom Pound Cakes, Cafe Iz, Vecchia Mercato and D&M Snow Cones.

• The Sugo Showdown is for cooks who think their recipe for this traditional tomato sauce has what it takes to take top honors. Judging kicks off at 4:15 p.m., and the winners will be announced at 7:10 p.m. on the main stage.

• The Spina Stomp Grape Stomping Competition celebrates the traditional method for extracting juice from grapes, which dates back to ancient Rome at about 200 B.C. Stomping competitions, hosted by Louis Ardovino and Abe Boackle start at 3:55 p.m. Teams of Stompers and Swabbies will face off against each other to produce the most grape juice in a three-minute stomp session.

• Festa Italiana Villaggio Culturale is a replica of an Italian village crafted by the Tortorigi and Traina family. The quaint setting features a fountain surrounded by essential elements of Italian life: a church, a bakery and a museum among them. Resources for ancestry research and information about dual citizenship also will be available. Entertainment includes Italian singers, an accordion player and jugglers. At 5:15 p.m., a procession around the village will honor Italy’s patron saints alongside musicians, singers and dancers.

• Other features are a children’s village, bocce ball tournament and Italian auto display. A scholarship winner will be announced on the main stage during the event. And one lucky attendee will have the opportunity to win a trip for two that includes nine nights in Italy, roundtrip airline tickets, transportation and breakfast throughout the trip. This prize is valued at $11,000. Raffle tickets will be on sale online and at the Italian American Society booth for $50.

Nor-Joe Imports, Dryft Coffee and Luca.

To wash everything down, attendees can choose limoncello or Italian beers, sodas and wines.

There’s lots more to experience at the festival:

• Vendors at the event include Walk the Way Pilgrimages, Elemental Designs, The Italian Cookie Company, Happy Links, Cottage Industry Soap Company, De la Cruz and Beauty Studio by Elvia, Be the One by Bernice, Joyful Bird Designs, Designs by GG Decatur LLC, The Fro Co, Rhondkreations, Rami Awwad, Vita Pacifica, Simply Infused Olive Oil Shop, Soaps

prevention in-state.

“We are incredibly grateful for our long-standing partnership with Cahaba Brewing Company, who have generously supported us in our fight against breast cancer,” Beth Davis, the foundation’s president and CEO, said. “Every dollar raised at CahabaQue brings us closer to a future where this disease is no longer a threat.”

Since 2013, CahabaQue has raised more than $288,000 for the Breast Cancer Research Foundation of Alabama. Breast cancer affects an estimated 1 in 8 women and 1 in 833 men at some point in their lifetimes. About 4,500 Alabama women will be diagnosed this year alone.

The next CahabaQue will be held Oct. 5. For more information on the event and other BCRFA fundraisers, visit bcrfa.org/events.

Kay Reed said that she and other festival supporters “are getting more and more excited as it approaches.”

“I’ve gotten friends involved in the sugo competition,” she said. “And we’re really hoping to get lots of younger people involved and to be proud of their heritage.”

The festival is set to run from 3 p.m. to 10 p.m. on June 15 at Historic Sloss Furnaces. General admission is $10 in advance and $15 at the gate. Children 10 and younger can enter free.

For more information or to register for competitions, visit festaitalianabham.com. To learn more about the Italian American Heritage Society of Birmingham, go to iahsbham.com.

Spring 2024 Winners

Best CahaBUTT

• First place: Uproot Brewing

• Runner-up: Pitter Patter BBQ

• Third place: Pork Around & Find Out

Best Sauce

• First place: Uproot Brewing

• Runner-up: Stone Building Company

• Third place: A Pitmaster Looks at 40

People’s Choice Butt

Chief Grill Daddy & the Hose Draggers

People’s Choice Side

A Pitmaster Looks at 40

Most Creative Team Name

Smoke Your Butt Whole

Thursday, May 30, 2024 • 21 OVER THE MOUNTAIN JOURNAL
CahabaQue drew an estimated 1,300 guests to Cahaba Brewing Company, including Jimmie and Chris Bottcher. Journal photo by Jordan Wald Journal photo by Jordan Wald Kay Bruno Reed, owner and head chef of Birmingham’s Café Iz, plans to make arancini for Festa Italiana to be held at Sloss Furnances on June 15.

Sweet Repeat

Kyes’ Second Individual Golf Title Comes with a Cherry on Top as Spain Park Claims Class 7A Crown

Spain Park junior golfer Chase Kyes won his second consecutive Class 7A individual state championship, but he was more excited about what his team accomplished.

The Jaguars finished with a 5-over 439 total to close 10 strokes ahead of three-time defending champion Vestavia Hills, which shot 449, and claimed the Class 7A state title in the weather-shortened 2024 AHSAA State Golf Championships May 13-14 at the Robert Trent Jones Trail Golf Course in Florence.

reduced from 36 holes to 27 because of the weather.

Kyes came in 5-under par overall with a two-day 105 total to earn low medalist honors. He shot a 71 the first day and carded a 34 with four birdies over nine holes the second day.

‘It’s pretty cool to win the individual title, especially this time doing it with the team. That makes it more fun.’


“It’s pretty cool to win the individual title, especially this time doing it with the team,” Kyes said. “That makes it more fun.”

Dethroning Vestavia Hills made it extra sweet.

“They’ve gotten us the last few years, so it was good to finally get them,” Kyes said.

The state tournament had to be

“The first day I didn’t putt well,” Kyes said. “I hit the ball good, but I just couldn’t make any putts. I knew if I made more putts I could win it. When I made one or two putts the second day that gave me more confidence.”

Kyes, who has committed to Alabama, was a little disenchanted he didn’t get to play a full round on the second day, but he’ll take the win.

“I was disappointed it ended early cause I wanted to get back at the course, but I have no regrets about how it ended,” he said.

The title was Spain Park’s first since 2016 and eighth overall.

While Kyes led the way, Spain Park coach Keat Litton said the Jags’


Lowery Leads Homewood to Class 6A Boys Golf Title

Homewood sophomore golfer Jack Lowery couldn’t have picked a better time to have his best round of golf.

Lowery fired an 8-under par 64 on the opening day of the Class 6A state tournament and then came in with a 35, which was 3-under par, on the next day. He finished with a 27-hole total 99, 11 under par, to capture low medalist honors in the boys competition in the weather-shortened 2024 AHSAA State Golf Championships at the Robert Trent Jones Trail Golf Course at Florence.

“That’s the lowest round I’ve ever had, by one stroke,” Lowery said. “I hit the ball really good, and I didn’t make any mistakes.”

Homewood coach Jason Haithcock has come to expect great things from Lowery, but even he was impressed by Lowery’s 64.

“To see Jack score 8-under, I wasn’t surprised, but to see him do it on the biggest stage in high school was impressive,” Haithcock said.

Lowery, who has been on the Patriots’ varsity golf team since the seventh grade, became the first Homewood golfer to win an individual state title.

by Laine Litton

He finished one stroke ahead of Cullman’s Ben Shedd, who shot a 65 the first day and a 35 the next day for a two-day total of 100.

The tournament had to be reduced from 36 holes to 27 because of weather.

Lowery’s performance enabled Homewood to finish with a two-day 424 total and edge UMS-Wright (438) and claim the 6A boys state championship. The title is only the second in school history for the Patriots, with the first one coming in 2016.

“It took a special two days,” Lowery said. “We knew we had to play our best. We played our best round of the year when it mattered the most.

“It means a lot to win it individually, but it wouldn’t have meant as much if the team hadn’t won. To have the team win is awesome.”

Homewood senior Jonathan Peters shot 70-37 – 107 to finish fourth.

“Jonathan led us in scoring most of the season,” Haithcock said. “He’s one of the greatest leaders on any team I’ve ever coached. We had a such a young group with three sophomores and a junior, and he treated them on the same level as him.”

Junior Kaman Rouse tied for sev-

other golfers deserve credit, too.

“It helps to have the best player in the state and him playing well, but if we didn’t have the other scorers, we wouldn’t have been able to pull it off,” Litton said. “All the scorers have played for four years, and they played well when we needed them to.”

Wes Sauceda shot 74-39 for a 113 total to finish ninth. Ian Norman finished with a two-day total of 116 for 11th place. Luke Ballentine and Davis Gurley both had a 121 total to finish tied for 17th.

Vestavia Hills’ top finisher was

Pierce Baker, who shot 69-40 – 109 to finish tied for fourth. The Rebels’ Gus Darnell finished with a 115 total for 10th place and teammate Clark Brown was a stroke back at 116 to place 11th.

Litton said the Jags entered the tournament brimming with confidence after finishing ahead of Vestavia Hills the previous week at the Class 7A, North 6 Sub-State tournament at Timberline Golf Club in Calera.

Kyes and Ballintine both finished 6-under with rounds of 66 at sub-

state, leading the Jags to a round of 12-under 276. The Rebels were second at 285.

“At Timberline, we beat Vestavia for the first time,” Litton said. “They had won the other three times we had played them, including sectional. Beating them at sub-state gave our kids confidence.”

Litton enjoyed watching his golfers revel in their state championship triumph.

“It was a lot of fun to see them celebrate,” he said. “They’re so close and such good friends.”

with a two-day 424 total to edge UMS-Wright

enth with a two-day 112 total. Sophomore Andrew Woods tied for 12th with a 114 total. Rounding out the Patriots’ group was sophomore Alex Wahl, who had a 121 total.

“It was pretty special to see our five guys come together and shoot the scores they did down the stretch,” Haithcock said. “We had a good season, but we didn’t become a top tier team until the last four weeks when we caught fire. I had not seen the potential

and claim

of winning the state championship until then.”

Peters said, “We had something to prove. No one would have thought that we would be in this position at the beginning of the season. I think it was clear we wanted it the most.”

Mountain Brook had two golfers finish in the top 10. Ryan Pugh carded a two-day total of 109 to take fifth place and Jackson Skinner totaled 111 to finish sixth.

‘It means a lot to win it individually, but it wouldn’t have meant as much if the team hadn’t won. To have the team win is awesome.’


by Laine Litton

22 • Thursday, May 30, 2024 OVER THE MOUNTAIN JOURNAL SPORTS
Photo The Jaguars finished with a 5-over 439 total to close 10 strokes ahead of three-time defending champion Vestavia Hills, From left, Spain Park Head Coach Keat Litton, Davis Gurley, Chase Kyes, Wes Sauceda, Ian Norman, Luke Ballintine, and Assistant Coach David Bush. Photo Homewood finished (438) the 6A boys state championship. From left Homewood Coach Rick Baguley, Alex Wahl, Kaman Rouse, Jonathan Peters, Jack Lowery, Andrew Woods, and Coach Jason Haithcock.

Garrison Tabbed to Replace Shepler as Homewood’s Boys Basketball Head Coach

Retiring Homewood basketball coach Tim Shepler lobbied for his assistant Elijah Garrison to be his successor.

Shepler’s campaign turned out to be successful when Garrison was named the Patriots’ new boys head coach last week.

“I am superexcited and very thankful and grateful for this opportunity,” Garrison said. “I have been here the last years under coach Shepler. The biggest compliment he could have given me is endorsing me for the job.

“He deserves all the honor in the world for his leadership of this program the last 29 years. He built a standard of excellence that I’m hoping to build on. I’m not planning on

Oak Mountain’s Cothran Finishes Second in Heptathlon

Oak Mountain’s Sara Cothran finished second overall with 4,062 points in the 2024 AHSAA Heptathlon, held May 15-16 at Hoover High School.

Cothran won the javelin with a throw of 12304, finished second in the 800 meters with a time of 2:24.61 and was third in the long jump with a distance of 5.08 meters.

Janie Ford of St. Paul’s Episcopal set a new AHSAA points record with 5,257 points to win the heptathlon for the second consecutive year. Ford won the long jump with an 18-09.75 leap and the 800 meters in 2:17.60. She finished the two-day event winning six of the seven events overall. She beat the previous AHSAA points record (5,118) that she set in 2023.

Vestavia Hills had two athletes finish in the top 10. Christiana Belcher was fifth with 3,905 points and Emily Spooner eighth with 3,712 points.

Hoover’s R.J. Torbor finished

From page 23

er, Lewis noted it was a team effort.

“We won 23-7, so we had a lot of players who contributed,” he said. “Our defense didn’t allow any goals in the second half. We outscored them 13-0 in the second half, so it was not only offense.”

Attacker Regan Lewis, the coach’s daughter, scored four goals, and attackers Ruthie Armstrong and Wilkes Nichols tallied three each.

changing anything, but it’s just going to be a different voice.”

Garrison, 28, is a former college basketball player at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, collegiate assistant coach at UAH, and high school coach as an assistant at Arab and head coach at New Hope. He also has been executive director of the Alabama Basketball Coaches Association.

in exercise science from UAH and a master’s degree in secondary education from The University of West Alabama.

In his two years as an assistant at Homewood, Garrison was instrumental in practice planning and drills, as well as overseeing offensive strategies and strength and conditioning for the players.

Garrison holds a bachelor’s degree

eighth in the boys decathlon with 5,325 points. Torbor won the shot put with a toss of 43-01.75. The Bucs’ Christopher Lawley was tops in the high jump, clearing 6-01.5.

Northridge junior William Numnum turned in a strong finish to win the discus and pole vault competition and claim the decathlon title with 6,494 points.

Fifty boys and 44 girls competed in the two-day event.

Vestavia Anglers Shine at ASABFA Final Tournament

The Vestavia Anglers, representing Vestavia Hills High School, made an impressive showing at the Alabama Student Anglers Bass Fishing Association final tournament May 10-11 at Lake Wheeler in Decatur.

Entering the tournament ranked ninth among the 26 qualifying

“Coach Garrison brings tremendous energy to the court and possesses exceptional vision and expertise in basketball, which will be instrumental in the continued success of the boys’ basketball program,” Homewood principal Joel Henneke said. “He is passionate about developing not only our players’ basketball skills but also their character, teamwork and leadership abilities. We look forward to the great things coach Garrison and his team will accomplish on and off the court.”

teams, the Anglers aimed to build on their 2023 season, in which they finished seventh overall and 23rd in the Largemouth Division.

The team fielded six boats, led by juniors Emory Carver and Daniel Dillon, sophomores Anderson Thrower, John Paul Nelson, Sam Wisdom, Afid Khan, Miller Goggans, Owen Tidwell and Gibson Overby, and freshmen Wade Spooner, Cooper Moore and Rip Griffin.

The tournament began under severe windy conditions because of a strong thunderstorm that caused multiple tornado warnings the night before. Despite the challenging weather, Thrower and Spooner

Armstrong was named first-team AllState.

Junior defender Ashby Russell spearheaded the Spartans’ defense. She was named first-team All-State.

“Ashby can stop anybody on the field,” Lewis said. “She’s athletic, but she’s also smart. She can see a play developing and immediately reacts.”

Goalie Addison Hardee had 11 saves and was named second-team All-State.

“You can’t win without a great goalie,” Lewis said.

Mountain Brook midfielder Nancy

excelled, catching 12.18 pounds of fish, securing a second-place finish out of 204 boats. Thrower also weighed in a largemouth bass at 4.94 pounds, earning recognition in the big fish category.

The next day brought calm waters and better fishing conditions. Carver and Dillon led the team with a total catch of 16.11 pounds, finishing 19th overall. Thrower and Spooner followed closely, placing 23rd with 15.21 pounds.

Other notable finishes included Windom and Khan at 51st, Goggans and Nelson at 72nd, Griffin and Moore at 90th, and Tidwell and Overby at 158th.

The collective efforts of the Vestavia Anglers resulted in a fourthplace team finish for the Lake Wheeler tournament and a seventhplace overall finish for the 2024 ASABFA season. It was the second consecutive year the Anglers finished seventh overall.

The Vestavia junior team, composed of eighth and ninth graders, secured the first-place title in the Junior Division for the 2024 season.

Super Soccer Players Chosen From OTM Schools

Over the Mountain schools were well represented on the Alabama High School Athletic Association Soccer Coaches Super All-State teams, chosen regardless of classification.

Oak Mountain, the Class 7A champions, dominated the boys first team with five selections: senior forward Aidan Riley, junior midfielder Gabe Capocci, senior midfielder Nate Joiner, senior defenseman Om Shrestha and junior defenseman Luke Jovanovich.

Homewood senior forward Will Jackson, who led the Patriots to the

Class 6A boys title, also was named first time, as were Mountain Brook junior defenseman Jude Smith and John Carroll Catholic senior defenseman Charles Farr.

Chosen to the second team were Homewood senior midfielder Charlie Herring, Mountain Brook junior midfielder Will Woodke, Hoover junior defenseman Conrad Hernandez and Westminster-Oak Mountain junior forward Aiden Gamble.

Oak Mountain’s David DiPiazza was tabbed large school (Class 6A-7A) boys coach of the year.

Westminster-Oak Mountain’s Cody Baxter was voted private/parochial school coach of the year.

Mountain Brook, the Class 6A champions, had two players selected to the Girls Super All-State first team: junior midfielder Langston Lilly and junior goalkeeper Laine Minich.

Spain Park also had two players voted to the first team: senior midfielder Tatum Ahlemeyer and sophomore forward Reese Oldfield.

Homewood junior midfielder Annie McBride, Briarwood Christian junior midfielder Taylor Leib, Vestavia Hills senior defenseman River Riley and Oak Mountain senior defenseman Avery Smith also were selected to the first team.

Oak Mountain had two players voted to the second team: senior forward Raegan Whitaker and freshman midfielder Kati Ann Shepherd. Hoover’s Destiny Udeh, a freshman forward, and Lane Morton, a freshman goalkeeper, also were chosen to the second team, as were Spain Park junior midfielder Addy Soehn and Briarwood senior defenseman Erin Gilbert.

Mountain Brook’s Adam Johnson was selected as Large School (Class 6A/7A) Coach of the Year.

— Rubin E. Grant

Ryals Little and defender Lexi Smith also were named second-team AllState.

Spain Park had four players tabbed first-team All-State: attacker Rory Payton, midfielders Jenna Kate Hutchison and Elizabeth Thomas and goalie Zyian Heyligar.

Lewis was named 2024 Alabama Girls Coach of the Year. He believes the Spartans will be the favorites to claim a fifth straight crown in 2025.

“Wilkes is our only senior, so the team looks to be in good shape for next year,” Lewis said.

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Elijah Garrison Sara Cothran Vestavia’s Wade Spooner and Anderson Thrower

State Golf: Sweet repeat for Spain Park; ‘Impressive’ Lowery leads Homewood Page 22


Garrison tabbed to replace Shepler as Homewood’s boys basketball head coach Page 23

The Vestavia Hills High School boys lacrosse team had to wait six years between their first state championship, in 2017, and their second, in 2023.

The Rebels didn’t have to wait that long to add their third crown.

Vestavia Hills defeated Briarwood Christian 13-7 in the 2024 Alabama Lacrosse Championships final on May 4 at Buccaneer Stadium to repeat as state champs.

“It’s hard to win back-to-back,” Vestavia Hills coach Randy Nace said. “The kids worked hard. “I think it means more for the kids, but I am appreciative.”

Junior attacker Zane Czeschin led the Rebels with five goals and an assist in the championship game. Senior attacker Riley Pierce had four goals and two assists and senior midfielder Owen Scott


Rebels Repeat as State Boys Lacrosse Champions

scored two goals.

Brooks Belski and Anderson Glen both scored one goal.

Vestavia Hills (14-1) avenged its only loss of the season in the final. Briarwood (13-2) defeated the Rebels 13-12 during the regular season.

The Rebels were well prepared for the rematch.

“It was a great game,” Nace said. “My coaching staff was awesome, watching video and getting our guys ready.

“We lost to them early in the season and we knew they had a great offense and a great


Mountain Brook’s Girls Claim Fourth Straight State Lacrosse Crown

Mountain Brook experienced plenty of adversity during the 2024 girls high school lacrosse season but not

enough to keep the Spartans from maintaining their stranglehold on the state title.

The Spartans routed Spain Park 23-7 in the 2024 Alabama Lacrosse

defense, and it would come down to who could win the ground balls. It could have gone either way.”

Nace said the Rebels’ defense, particularly their goalies, senior Carson Schick and junior Jimmy Moxley, were the difference.

“Give credit to our goalies,” Nace said. “They played great. Carson played the first half and Jimmy played the second half.”

The Rebels defeated Spain Park 18-5 and Auburn 13-2 in the first two rounds of the playoffs to set up their rematch with Briarwood.

Vestavia Hills also defeated Briarwood to win

Championships girls final on May 4 at Hoover’s Buccaneer Stadium to earn their fourth consecutive state crown and eighth overall.

“I’ve got some very hard-working young ladies,” Mountain Brook coach Tom Lewis said. “If you didn’t see us play, you wouldn’t know about the trials and tribulations we had this season. We had about one-third of our players injured and on the sidelines throughout the season. We played a

their first state championship in 2017. In 2023, the Rebels ended Mountain Brook’s streak of four consecutive titles.

Czeschin, Pierce and Scott were named firstteam All-State. Czeschin has committed to Jacksonville University. Pierce has signed with MIT, and Scott has signed with Lenoir-Rhyne.

Vestavia Hills defender Cameron Po and long stick middle Drew Vercher were named secondteam All-State.

Briarwood also had three players named firstteam All-State: attacker Spencer Dickinson, defender Jack Cornish and goalie Ford Smith. The Lions landed attacker Luke Dickinson on the second team.

Scott and Spencer Dickinson were tabbed 2024 Alabama All-American recipients by USA Lacrosse. Briarwood’s Justin Kane was selected 2024 Alabama Boys Coach of the Year.

good number of games with just the girls on the field and in some games we had no subs and in others fewer than three subs.

“The championship game was the first game since the first game of the season we had everybody back. We had two girls who we let play – I’m sure to the chagrin of their parents –for about 30 seconds. One had a torn ACL and the other had sustained a knee injury.

“It’s a testament to the girls, doing whatever they could to come out on top. I’ve very proud of them.”

The Spartans (15-0) finished the season undefeated.

Spain Park finished 12-3 with all three losses coming against Mountain Brook, including twice during the regular season, 16-8 and 13-9.

Mountain Brook knocked off James Clemens 18-3 and Auburn 18-7 in the first two rounds of the playoffs.

Junior midfielder Olivia Heaps scored five goals to lead the Spartans in the championship game. She was named the Alabama All-American recipient by USA Lacrosse for the

Junior midfielder Olivia Heaps scored five goals to lead the Spartans in the championship game.

third consecutive year and was selected first-team All-State.

“She takes coaching pleasantly and what people don’t see is how hard she works,” Lewis said. “She practices when nobody is watching.”

While Heaps was the leading scor-

Thursday, May 30, 2024
See SPARTANS, page 23
Courtesy The Spartans (15-0) finished the season undefeated. Vestavia Hills (14-1) avenged its only loss of the season in the final.

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