Despite His Autism, Tampa Athlete Exceeds In Cycling During Special Olympics

Mark Zac, a Tampa native who was diagnosed with autism, has participated in special Olympic sports over the past few years ranging from a local level to the world level in the World Special Olympic Games.

Allen Zac, Mark’s father, trained with him for six months before the World Special Olympic Games. They lifted weights and cycled almost 10 miles a day to prepare Mark for the event.

“That year he went to San Diego on his own, on the plane with the team, did training for five days, and then went to Athens and was with the team for three weeks on his own. We never thought he could survive without us, somehow he did and he did awesome,” Allen Zak said. “He won a gold and a silver in cycling.”

Mark took home a gold and a silver medal and proudly wears them to this day. Although he plays many sports, cycling has always been his favorite choice.

Out of the wide range of awards he’s won, his gold medal is his favorite.

Mark Zac has proven to many people in his community and around the world that even with a disability, you can live out your dreams.

ISES Emphasizes The Impact Of Solar Panels During Solar Fair At USF

The International Solar Energy Society (ISES) hosted their third annual solar fair at the University of South Florida on March 21 in hopes to educate the community on solar energy. 

The event included free food, informational seminars about solar panels and tours of the on campus Flex house and solar panel field for the community.

Rick Garrity, an environmental scientist, estimates the payback on the amount of money owed by individuals for solar panels lies around eight years.

“Between 0 years and 8 years the payments are paying off the system but you are getting the electricity, so your energy bills from the Tampa electric company have gone down by a significant amount,” Garrity said.

USF student and vice president of ISES, Kahveh Saramout, plans on including more activities in the future for the solar fair.

“We think the solar fair went very well but we definitely have higher ambitions for next year,” Saramout said. “We want to have a tour that encompasses a larger part of Tampa, hopefully with busses that shuttle us around to different TECO power plants.”

ISES member Nicholas Hall felt that one of the most memorable moments of the solar fair included guest speaker and USF professor Dr. Goswami.

“He introduced the solar energy fair by himself he was one of the most revered speakers. Many of the vendors that showed up actually knew him and are very proud of the work that he has done in the community,” Hall said.

Keep an eye out for next year’s solar fair with even more activities and fun for the entire family.

Taste of Spain captivates Tampa

TAMPA – On N. Tampa St., Toma Spain offers savory Mediterranean dishes and is host to live Flamenco shows, a culture which Fred Castro and his family helped bring to the community 37 years ago.

“We are one of the older Spanish restaurants here in Downtown Tampa,” Castro said. “We like to push the independence because if you spend your money in an independent restaurant, it stays within the community.”

Among the members of Flamenco shows are dancer and choreographer Carolina Esparza, who has known the Castro family for many years.

“They have similar experiences where they’ve always traveled to Spain because of their family,” Esparza said. “The food here is amazing, the entertainment that they get is amazing and yet it’s still a night out so to speak.”

The motivation for the workers of Toma Spain is simple: provide an atmosphere reminiscent of southern traditional Spanish culture.

The Flamenco show on March 25th was met with a grandiose round of applause due in large part to the performance of Flamenco guitarist Javier Hinojosa.

“Our musician [Hinojosa] is in my opinion one of the best Flamenco guitarists around,” Castro said. “We kind of traveled Spain ourselves and seen a lot of Flamenco shows and he compares with the best.”

The customers left the restaurant following the show with smiles and cheerful conversation amongst one another.

 

Students work with service organization to give back to community

 

Many students from all over Tampa Bay have joined SALT (Serve and Love Together) and meet every Monday at St. James Church in Tampa to give back to those in need.

Mina Hanna and Maggie Attia are two of the volunteers at the organization, and SALT teaches them about how they can improve the city they live in one week at a time.

“Well this is a wonderful organization as you see it gives back to the community,” Hanna said. “It gives back to the community and we see our fruits produce more fruit.”

Everything is donated from people in the community who are willing to help out.

“We also teamed up with another organization that hands out blankets and toiletries and socks,” Attia said.

SALT partnered with Blanket Tampa Bay and they have access to many necessities to share with those in need throughout the Bay Area.

People like Hanna and Attia truly see the difference that the organization makes on people’s lives every day by talking to people about God and giving them hope. SALT is affiliated with a Coptic youth group in the area.

“There used to be a guy on drugs, and his whole life was messed up, and I cannot tell you how much this organization influenced him. And now this guy is the most spiritual guy you’ll ever meet,” Hanna said.

SALT does a small gesture once a week, but it leaves a lifelong impact on some of these people that they get the pleasure of serving.

To learn more about this organization, please contact Mina Hanna at (727) 333-5318

Feeding Tampa Bay, Home to Those Who Want to Help

Volunteers from all throughout Tampa Bay come out to give back to their community at Feeding America Tampa Bay every week Monday through Saturday.

Volunteers from throughout Tampa Bay come out to give back to their community at Feeding Tampa Bay every week Monday through Saturday.

Feeding Tampa Bay works with smaller organizations such as Metropolitan Ministries and Trinity Café to help distribute food to those in need.

The organization makes it easy for anyone who is willing to help out in the bay area to join.

University of Tampa freshmen, Peter Peirce and Kaelin Willette both volunteer at Feeding Tampa Bay. They learned about the organization through their school and have been coming voluntarily ever since.

“Every time that I’ve come since has been voluntarily just because the first time I did it I enjoyed it so much that I figured I’d keep coming back and it’s always been good to me,” Peirce said.

Feeding Tampa Bay is an enjoyable volunteering environment for all who come.

“I love the energy here, I think everyone that comes here has such a positive energy and vibe and they make it a lot of fun,” Willette remarked.

Megan Carlson the organization’s community engagement manager  has been working for Feeding Tampa Bay for two years now and enjoys her working environment immensely.

“There’s something for everybody and we kind of satisfy every desire that people might have to give back to the community which is really cool,” Carlson said.

To learn more about this organization, visit feedingtampabay.org

 

 

New multicultural health clinic breaks language barrier for patients

Tampa has opened its first multicultural health care clinic, which aims to help the Hispanic community get health care in their own language.

CliniSanitas Medical Center originated in Colombia and currently has locations in several countries around the world. The medical center is focused on giving quality and personalized care to every patient.

The Tampa clinic, located at 3617 W. Hillsborough Ave. between N. Dale Mabry Highway and N. Himes Avenue, opened in December of 2016 and has had over 3,000 patients in less than three months since its inauguration.

The Medical Center Manager, Delilah Rosa-Gonzalez, says that the city’s Hispanic community has welcomed them.

“The community is loving it,” Rosa-Gonzalez said. “Patients that come here say ‘Spanish speaking doctors, please schedule me.’ We also have a fluent english speaking RA, and we have staff here that translate for her whenever she needs it. We help everybody, and people like that.”

CliniSanitas offers a variety of services such as primary care, specialty care, lab and diagnostics. The Clinic also has its own urgent care.

The RA in charge of the health program, Andrea Nunez Fisco, has been creating programs that will teach people healthy eating habits, exercise routines and the dangers of diabetes. She said the most important part of their work is education and prevention.

“We get the patients right here, we have the opportunity to educate them, to teach them everything and have that preventing part,” Fisco said. “That is extremely needed.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

USF Events Featured in Social Media Campaign

Unation will soon be showcasing events that are happening around the USF campus.

Unation is a free mobile app for Android and iOS that discovers events near you. The app has featured the best attractions each day in big cities like Miami, Key West and Tampa.

The company wanted to further their outreach towards college students to help their brand awareness as well as to provide the opportunity for college students to become more social in their communities.

“I feel that when students come to a different college, such as me—I was an international student—you come into college without really knowing what’s happening,” said Augusto Vidales Martelo, a marketing manager at Unation.

This app differs from other social media with events, such as Facebook, because it strictly shows events in the area and who is attending them. You can see who is attending certain events by adding friends on the app.

“I usually just go to class and go home but it would be really cool to know what’s going on,” said Vanessa Londono, a student at USF.

 

 

Rowdies hope to be next team added to Major League Soccer

 

  1.  The Tampa Bay Rowdies hope to be the next Major League Soccer expansion team.

    The MLS is selecting two new expansion clubs in the second or third quarter of this year, and with St. Petersburg being part of the country’s 11th largest media market, it makes the Rowdies an attractive bid.The owner of the Rowdies, Bill Edwards, plans to spend up to $80 million in upgrades to Al Lang Stadium if the team is part of the MLS expansion. The upgrade would boost the stadium’s capacity from 7,500 to 18,000.

    Stephen Cundiff, president of the Rowdies’ fan group, Ralph’s Mob, believes that the energetic ownership is what will make the difference for the team’s bid.

    “You have an owner that’s willing to spend the money to make it happen,” Cundiff said. “Any sports fan of any team will ever tell you, the one thing they want their owner to do is spend money; and we got Bill Edwards and he’s spending the money.”

    There is excitement among the fans this season as the team has moved to the United Soccer League after spending six seasons in the North American Soccer League.

    Rowdies’ midfielder Luke Boden spent time at Orlando City when it made the transition to the MLS in 2015, and knows what the team has to do to obtain the bid.

    “It was exciting times,” Boden said. “It was down to us to start winning games and trying to win championships to recognition from MLS. With the MLS hopefully around the corner in Tampa, we need to try and win something this year, and as I say, get that MLS attention.”

    The Rowdies have started a social media campaign on Twitter with #MLS2StPete.

 

Clearwater Market Gives Local Businesses a Chance to Grow

The Pierce Street Market gives shoppers a unique experience and helps local businesses grow by interacting with the community.

Employee Brandon Hylton of Good Vibes Juice Company believes his employer has grown with the market.

“We’ve been here for a little bit over a year now and we kind of have started with them and now have created a nice, huge market,” Hylton said. “If you look around, there’s people everywhere, we started from a very small market and we have kind of grown with the market.”

The Pierce Street Market started in October 2015 when Natalie Nagengast, founder, was walking her dog around Clearwater and found an area that would suit a local market. 

“She lives in this downtown area,” Gutierrez said. “She thought, ‘what a great location to put a market,’ and from that idea we created Pierce Street.”

The waterfront market is located on Drew Street in downtown Clearwater under the Memorial Causeway Bridge. It has over 100 vendors where shoppers will find jewelry, clothes, art, produce, furniture, fresh flowers and food.

“We really pride ourselves on having a really good variety of vendors and really great quality as well,” Gutierrez said. “Our food trucks are to die for, so come hungry and you’ll leave happy.”

The market will be open the second and fourth Saturday of March from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. On May 13, it will run on the second Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. until September 9.

For any business interested in being a vendor at Pierce Street, submit an application form two weeks before the next desired day of the market. The vendor application form and FAQ page can be found at www.piercestreetmarket.com.

 

 

Setting The Biscuit Bar In Tampa

 

Kathryn Fulmer is a culinary school graduate who turned her childhood dream into a reality with her handmade biscuits.

Bayshore Biscuit Company, opened in November 2016, is a catering company that specializes in “biscuit bars.” The biscuit bars offer a unique catering experience to consumers, with the biscuit being the center of attention.

“You can give someone a biscuit but if you have the whole spread like a biscuit bar and you’re able to customize it with fried chicken, pimento cheese, sausage gravy. Really the options are endless” Fulmer said. “It gives a new experience and a new life to the biscuit that people maybe didn’t always think about.”

Fulmer’s passion for making biscuits started in her grandmother’s kitchen when she was only 10 years old. Throughout the years, she has perfected her recipe.

“Biscuits as simple as they are, can be quite complex because the littlest measurement off of your ingredients can really throw off the recipe,” Fulmer said.

In early March, Bayshore Biscuit Company was a first-time participant in the Hyde Park Market in Tampa, Florida. All 250 biscuits sold out in only three hours.

“The strawberry biscuit was the best I ever had,” Michael Raphaely said, a first-time customer.

Fulmer plans to continue to participate in local markets, but she also wants to focus on the catering experience that Bayshore Biscuit Company has to offer.

“It’s different, but people love it,” Fulmer said. “People love different foods. So I’m really hoping to grow the catering side of the business and really give people an experience that they won’t forget.”

If you’re interested in having a biscuit bar at your next event, you can visit www.bbiscuitco.com for catering information. Bayshore Biscuit Company is also on Facebook and Instagram where you can find information on upcoming markets.

 

 

New Lagoon Gets High Praise From Local Residences

 

Story by Dana Ferello

A crystal lagoon is under construction, and the neighbors are weighing in.

The 7.5-acre lagoon will be the centerpiece of over 2,000 homes being built in the new development called Epperson off of Curley Road. The housing complex currently has over 200 families on the waiting list.

The lagoon will be 200 feet wide and 8 feet deep.  It will also feature amenities for residents including a water slide and dock for paddle boarding, kayaking and small sailboats.

The lagoon can take up to three months to completely fill, in an effort to avoid any disruption that may impact the local water system.

Residents of nearby community, Watergrass, are interested to see how the location of the lagoon will play out for the value of their homes once it is completed.

“I feel like the lagoon is going to double or triple the value of my home,” Jennifer Hendricks, Watergrass resident, said. “The home values are just going to keep rising because it is going to be a local attraction.”

Epperson will feature an entrance and exit ramp for I-75, to clear up congestion that will occur once the homes are built around the lagoon.

“I think the promise for the area is impressive, what I think they are going to do for the community and what is surrounding the community,” Peter Castellano, Watergrass resident, said.

Construction of Epperson and the crystal lagoon is scheduled to be completed this fall.

 

 

Franchise a way to help center

By Ciara Cummings

TAMPA—This Dairy Queen franchise located on State Road 64 in Brandon works as a charity to financially support the Lakeview Center, a behavioral health and child protective services agency.

“We were on the way home from the golf course when we passed by,” said DQ customer Rita. “It looked like a really nice facility so we decided to stop here for dinner.

Like many customers, she had no clue that this franchise was purchased by Lakeview Associated Enterprises in order to keep their health center in Pensacola afloat.

The center that provides therapy, aid and treatments to abused children and adults who struggle with disabilities, needed some help of their own, more income revenue.

Instead of traditional methods of fundraising, they purchased an ice cream franchise. This Brandon location is just one of the three franchises the Lakeview Associated Enterprises owns. But in the future, they plan to own at least eight Dairy Queens.

All proceeds do in fact go to Lakeview Center, which makes DQ employees more motivated to come to work and perform their best.

Libby, a cashier, says “You come in, it’s not just like a normal job. It’s like you’re working for something and you’re helping out other people.”

Co-worker Hilary Borhas said seeing the customers reactions are even better. “I think the best part about it is when the customers read the plaque and they are motivated to keep coming back because they know their money isn’t just going to some big company.”

The employees receive their paycheck from Lakeview Associated Enterprises. If the store performs well during the quarter, the Enterprise has enough money to support their health center which allows them to take money from elsewhere, like state and federal funding, to support their employees.

 

CrossFit Aero Athletes Train for Reebok CrossFit Open

It’s 10 a.m. Monday; athletes from the Wesley Chapel and Tampa areas are using their mornings and bodies to the fullest potential at CrossFit Aero.

Wesley Chapel may still be growing, but it has been home to CrossFit Aero since January 2011.

CrossFit Aero, a privately owned and operated gym, offers challenges for people of all varieties. Whether you are new to CrossFit, or a certified trainer, CrossFit Aero has something for you.

Minnesota native, Jade Zeller, has been attending CrossFit Aero for the last four months since moving down south and shows no signs of stopping.

“I did a lot of research on google,” Zeller said. “I actually was talking to my sister who owns a CrossFit gym in Minnesota, and she was looking up all the coaches and their certifications and came across this one. I came in and did a free one day drop-in and I’ve loved it ever since.”

Many of these gymgoers are working toward their chance to compete in the 2017 Reebok CrossFit Open, which will begin on Feb. 23.

Jason Hamm, owner of CrossFit Aero, has incorporated a variety of workouts into the daily training that will also be included in the CrossFit Open.

Zeller said the daily practice helped everyone get more comfortable with these workouts.

CrossFit athletes like Jade, working toward their goals, become one step closer every day. But it is the progress along that way that makes it all worthwhile.

“I’m staying here for as long as I possibly can,” Zeller said. “This is my home gym. I’m happy here.”

For more information on CrossFit Aero and the 2017 Reebok CrossFit Open, please visit www.CrossFitAero.com and https://games.crossfit.com/.

Tampa Convention Center spices up menu options

The Tampa Convention Center will soon be partnering with a local restaurant to help further its menu choices.

Datz, a staple restaurant in the Tampa area, will soon be the new bistro for the Center. Datz has appeared on the show Food Paradise on the Travel Channel and is known for its creative food.

Doug Horn, the director of catering sales at Aramark for the Center, has worked with Aramark and the idea of bringing Datz into the 600,000-square-foot Center.

“Aramark has been trying to partner with local restaurants and local businesses to help develop, or further develop the local following for the Sail and the Convention Center,” Horn said.

The Center is located in the heart of downtown Tampa next to Amalie Arena, home of the Tampa Bay Lightning, and many people stay in the nearby hotels, which increases the demand for food in the area.

The amount of people visiting the Sail Pavilion, Tampa’s only 360 degree waterfront bar, which is attached to the Center is overwhelming, leaving its single kitchen overwhelmed with the demand.

“Once these renovations are done we’ll have two different styled menus,” Horn said. “Also, if The Sail is busy, Bay Bistro kitchen is also very busy so we will be able to handle a greater volume of people for a lunch rush because we will have two separate kitchens.”

The Center has been serving the public for over 25 years. As the area expands with new buildings and restaurants, due to Jeff Vinik’s $3 billion development plan, the Center hopes to be able to draw in more business with the new partnership with Datz.

USF student lends hand to community

USF business student Daniel Iskander is taking a new spin on New Year’s resolutions and his version is not for his personal benefit.

Every day Iskander plans to help as many people as he can. Whether it is a monetary gift or a simple gesture of kindness, Iskander hopes to impact the lives of many this year.

“From now on, any time someone is in need I go out of my way and maybe get them some food or $10, $15, and then their reactions would make my day,” Iskander said.

Living near campus, Iskander has no trouble finding people around the area who could use some kindness and a helping hand.

Iskander said his inspiration comes from watching his father’s kind gestures as he was growing up. 

“My dad used to always give donations to everybody there and they all used to line up in huge crowds because they all loved him,” Iskander said.

Just like his father, Iskander sees himself taking his kind gestures to a larger scale and helping people out in third world countries later on down the road.

Annual Christmas tree lighting collects toys for hospitalized children

The Marriott Waterside located in downtown Tampa held its annual Christmas tree lighting ceremony Dec. 1 and invited local vendors to join in the event.

Vendors and guests were asked to bring a toy to donate to the Miracle Children’s Network, a charity that raises funds and awareness for children’s hospitals for providing care for patients and furthering research.

After the event all donated items were gathered and shipped to the different locations for the toys to be dispersed.

“A couple of the local vendors we have out here are the Coppertail Brewing Company and the St. Pete Distillery,” Chris Adkins, the marketing and sales director, said.

The event included music, food and good spirits. There was also a Candy Land themed gingerbread model crafted with over 300 pounds of gingerbread by the pastry chefs from Marriott.

Sinai Vespie, the pastry chef at the event, credited his great team as the key to pulling off such a large event.

Vespie went on to talk about how the whole process started in August, but took until the week of Nov. 21 to start putting it together. The event happens annually on Dec. 1 and each year the theme of the gingerbread model changes.

The Marriott Waterside is located downtown on Old Water Street next to Amalie Arena.

 

 

Rocking the Curtis Hixon Park

 

Since 2010, Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park has held a “Rock the Park” monthly concert series that invites local bands, up-and-coming artists and vendors to come together and spend a relaxing evening with the community.

Held in the evenings on the first Thursday of every month, guests can sit in the amphitheater and enjoy the free and dog-friendly event with half a dozen decorated pop-up shops and local ska, alternative, or rock bands who hope to gain exposure.

First-time performer Shane Schuck, whose stage name is Pajamas, was thrilled to be able to play a set for his friends and new fans right in his own backyard.

“My buddy, Joe, does some of the promoting here,” the Clearwater resident said. “He just offered it to me a couple months back and it sounded like an awesome opportunity.”

One new business in particular was extremely excited to promote their brand at the concert. “Whatever Pops,” an ice pop-stand-turned-storefront, was selling organic ice pops to the audience.

“The Popsicles have natural ingredients with no added sugar,” employee Anthony Licary said. “Even the ingredients like the teas and fruit are locally grown in Tampa.”

Anyone who is interested in attending the event, booking a performance slot, or becoming a vendor can find more information on the Rock the Park Facebook page, or on their website  http://www.rocktheparktampa.com.

 

Wild Side of Ruskin

Nowadays, kids would rather stay inside than spend much time outdoors, but Camp Bayou is an outdoors learning center that wishes to change that.

The camp is a project by a Florida nonprofit, Bayou Outdoor Learning and Discovery, Inc. Camp Bayou has been open to the public since the year 2000. It is ran entirely by volunteers who dedicate time to the outdoor learning center.

“I find volunteering here at Camp Bayou very important,” volunteer James Lingles said. “I decided to find a place to volunteer because I had free time and I would like to work in outdoors.”

One of the duties as a volunteer is serving as a guide through the different trails the camp offers. Visitors can take a walk through the Tortoise Trail, Perimeter Path or Wetland Walk.

Ohio State University Professor Emeritus George F. Shambaugh mentioned a wide selection of activities visitors can choose from. Whether they want to do dip netting in the river or they want to see the native people’s village, there’s something to do for everybody. Visits from school groups are encouraged at Camp Bayou because of the amount of activities for students.

Camp Bayou is operated in partnership with Hillsborough County Parks, Recreation and Conservation and funded by the local community.

 

Tampa Gym Does Fitness Differently

 

Esther Solano and Tina Leon not only share a passion for health and fitness, they also share a friendship that stands the test of time.

Solano helped create Tampa’s very own Epic Boxing & Fitness, a full service boxing gym with a twist.

“We’ve been here for almost three years now,” Solano said. “It’s been great to watch us grow from when we first opened in 2014 until now.”

Located on West Kennedy Boulevard in the heart of Downtown Tampa, Epic Boxing & Fitness attracts all different kinds of clientele from around the Tampa area, like Solano’s regular, Tina Leon.

“I started coming to Epic around three years ago when they first opened up,” Leon said. “Esther and I have become great friends and workout buddies so I definitely love it here.”

The gym found its start with the help of co-owner Jaye Maddon, wife of Joe Maddon, the 2016 World Series Champion Manager of the Chicago Cubs.

“I was her boxing coach at the time and one day she came to me and told me she wanted to open her own boxing gym with a twist, and if I’d help her start on this adventure,” Solano said. “It’s been a blessing to work with her.”

Epic Boxing & Fitness will be celebrating its third anniversary next year.

“If you want to be challenged then come down and try out a session,” Solano said. “We welcome college students from UT as well as USF.”

For more information please visit www.epicboxingandfitness.com

International students bring unique perspective to USF

The University of South Florida is filled with students from all over the world, and if we took a closer look, we can see all of the amazing characteristics that the students bring with them.

Rafael Migoyo is a senior graduating Dec. 10, 2016 with a degree in Aging Sciences. His parents brought him to the United States from Cuba at the age of five so that he could receive a better education.

When he isn’t busy doing research, Migoyo enjoys photography and investing.

“I learned those things when I was thinking about the opportunity that I was given coming into the United States…” said Migoyo. “So I said to myself, ‘what’s something my mom and dad aren’t doing because they weren’t raised here?’”

Once he graduates, Migoyo wants to take a year away from school to work on some research with his friend, and research adviser, Angie Sardina. From there he will continue his education so that he can specialize in Geriatrics.

“Rafael has a bright future ahead of him,” said Sardina.

When asked where he would like to be in the future, Rafael stated that he wants to merge his two passions: Medicine and Photography.

“I would like to marry both of those things and travel the world as a doctor helping people, but also doing photojournalism,” said Migoyo