Tampa park undergoes artistic renovation

Since 1979, Perry Harvey Sr. Park has been a staple in the Tampa Bay community. Named after the Bay’s first African-American councilman, the park has been a landmark for civil rights.

April 2 marked the grand opening of the park’s renovation. Various forms of artwork depicting civil rights leaders will be displayed throughout the park.

Photo by: Brian Fernandes

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Monday, March 21, Lara Alexander helps put the final touches on the art gallery at Perry Harvey Sr. Park, commemorating civil rights leaders.

Photo by: Brian Fernandes

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Michael Parker, the artist responsible for the renovation, labors under the sun. The commemoration took Parker a year to construct.

 

Photo by: Brian Fernandes

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Parker constructed a stone portrait of one of Tampa’s African-American pioneers, Georgette Gardner. Gardner was a principal of several African-American schools in the Bay area.

Photo by: Brian Fernandes

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Among other pieces of Parker’s work is this portrait of entertainer, Henry Joyner. Joyner established and owned the Tampa night club, Cotton Club.

Photo by: Brian Fernandes

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A portrait of Tampa’s Meacham School founder, Christina Meacham. For 40 years Meacham devoted her life to teaching children in Florida.

 

 

 

From Bikes to Books

 

One clear evening last February, amid the crowd of screaming fans and the stench of race fuel permeating the stadium, Bodie Colangelo walked away from his professional motocross career to focus on a new dream.

Having been dropped from his sponsors earlier that year, Colangelo was considered a privateer racer. Privateers paid for the sport out of pocket. With endless medical bills and large sums of money contributing to his profession, the wrist injury he suffered at that Supercross Arena competition had been the last straw.

“I realized the risks outweighed the reward,” Colangelo said. “I was constantly getting hurt and the money just wasn’t there.”

His success throughout his career had left him unprepared of what steps to take if it had ended. Attending a university after graduation had not been a consideration. The goal had been to focus on riding but Colangelo was forced to reconsider school as option after his injury.

“I felt if I wasn’t going to race anymore that I would go to school and pursue a degree in business,” Colangelo said. “At that point I was just ready to take it easy.”

Colangelo enrolled at Hillsborough Community College in the spring and has been focusing on completing his degree. The slower paced lifestyle gave light on how years of riding have affected his health.

“I’ve broken so many bones they have my racing jersey hanging in USF’s Morsani Center,” Colangelo said. “When the weather changes my bones will ache and I have constant back pain.”

David Colangelo, who served as a father, coach, mechanic and trainer while his son was a racer had also benefited from the change of pace. There were no days off between working as a supervisor at a Water Treatment Plant and traveling for races.
“Every sacrifice I made was worth it to see his dream come true,” David Colangelo said. “The focus is to now see him through school.”

On nostalgic days, Colangelo will take his bike out for a spin. He isn’t a stranger to his old racing track where he spent much of his adolescent years. Unable to stay away from hobbies that bring him a thrill, he has since shown interest in muscle cars and racecars.

Brandi Colangelo, the racers mother, has a hard time seeing her son in any dangerous sport. Staying home with the youngest sibling while her husband and son were away at races gave her plenty of time to worry. Now that the racing days are behind them she now faces a new wave of fear with her son’s new obsession for muscle cars.

“The first thing he did after he stopped racing was buy muscle car,” Brandi Colangelo said. “I don’t know what’s worse, worrying about him on that bike or worrying about him in that car.”

With the continued support of his family, Colangelo is set to graduate in the spring of 2018. Unsure of where his life will go now that racing isn’t the dream he’s following, he was hopeful for a bright future.

“Things didn’t go as planned for me but I know that somehow I’ll end up back on that track,” Colangelo said.

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USF medical student makes lifelong dream a reality

USFSP student Novonaca Touch fulfills one goal, one a her path to achieving her lifetime dream.
USFSP student Novonaca Touch fulfills one goal, one a her path to achieving her lifetime dream.

Early one spring morning, after taking a biology exam, Novonaca Touch decided to take the Bull Runner home instead of her usual route. She was dropped off in front of her home where she found a white envelope with her name engraved at the top right corner.

She carefully opened the envelope and began to read the letter. Her eyes filled with tears when she saw the words “Congratulations you have been accepted.”

The 22-year-old had applied for Yale School of Medicine during her fall semester at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg. She had dreams of attending a prestigious medical school ever since she was a little girl living in Cambodia.

“I never thought in my wildest dreams that something so monumental like this would happen to me” she said. “Throughout my four years in college I have worked extremely hard and it is just a blessing see how it has paid off.”

Touch was born and raised in Kampot, Cambodia. Her family moved to Tampa four years ago.

“I don’t consider myself a foreign exchange student, but I can relate to the culture shock,” she said. “Americans are open and liberal. People from my country, especially women are more reserved and want to live a private society.”

Touch is currently a senior and studying biomedical science. She plans to use her passion for emergency medical care to join Doctors Without Borders.

“I come from a country where medical care is not easily accessible to everyone in need,” Touch said. “My mission in life is to practice medicine in my home town and give back to as any people as possible.”

She has been accepted to numerous graduate medical schools, including USF College of Medicine. She has received scholarships and study aboard opportunities to further her career.

Myra Phal —a relative of Touch— has also graduated from USF, receiving her Bachelor of Science degree in Biomedical Science as well.

“I couldn’t be happier for Novonaca,” she said. “She has such a kind heart and loveable personality. I’m going to be a bit broken hearted when she moves out of Tampa, but I know she will make us proud.”

Touch will begin Yale School of Medicine fall semester of 2016. She will be graduating from USF spring 2016.

“Nervous is the only word to describe how I am feeling,” she said. “Yale is not just an ordinary school… it’s kind of a deal here in the states. I really just want to take this journey one step at a time and make my family and other students with the same background proud of my achievements.”

Touch’s younger sister Dara is next in line to attend USF. She hopes to eventually work side-by-side with her sister.

“Novonaca and I have always had a close relationship. It would be awesome to work under her practice,” she said.

Yale School of Medicine has already begun to make Touch feel like part of the community. She has received royal blue and white decorated care packages to match the color of her new school as well as welcoming her to the next chapter in her life.

“2016 is going to be my year,” she said. “I am so grateful to be a positive role model to young women who are working hard to further their education.”

 

Florida Focus News Brief April 13th, 2016

In this episode: surveillance video of suspected serial burglar released; high school student arrested for laced gummy worms; Allegiant Airlines adds two new St.Pete Clearwater airport routes; Dade City Police Department reveals safe space to exchange goods sold online; Amalie Arena pulls off quick turnaround for play-off game.

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Florida Focus News Brief April 12, 2016

In this episode: Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn addresses the state of the city; a Tampa home fire leaves 12 people homeless; a seven-year-old girl is dead after a Lake Wales crash; a man is dead after a visit to the barbershop; the Pinellas Department of Health gives food recommendations for hurricane season.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S_9EFT48SvA&feature=youtu.be

 

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USF Tennis Club Attracts Novice and Veteran Players

 

 

Every week, dozens of students take a break from classes and come together to enjoy a sport they love.

The USF Tennis Club has been a part of the sports club program on campus for over 10 years and has reached thousands of students over their time on campus. Whether you have played your whole life, or just started the sport, the tennis club has both a fun and competitive atmosphere to reach all levels of players.

“I’ve played tennis my entire life and I really love the sport. But when high school ended I didn’t think I would be able to play anymore,” said Nicole Viera, a member of the club for 2 years. “But joining the tennis club gave me the opportunity to continue playing in a very competitive atmosphere.”

The club is a completely student-run organization on campus. Every year members vote for officers for the club and training is done by the members themselves, rather than by a coach.

“We strive to make a competitive and social atmosphere for people that enjoy tennis,” said Samad Loa, the Vice President of the club. “Just come out and have some fun, play some games and play some matches.”

The tennis club at USF is one of the school’s most competitive clubs on a national level. The club finished second in the state of Florida last year, and also finished 20th at the national tournament.

“We try to just come out and make some friends that will last a lifetime,” said Loa. “Just enjoy tennis, that’s kind of what our club is all about.”

Dance club brings Argentine tango to USF

 

The Argentine Tango Club at the University of South Florida is bringing the intimate form of the tango to students on campus. Meeting every Tuesday night at the USF Campus Recreation Center, the class is open to both beginners and experienced dancers.

“With Argentine tango, it’s really cool that you’re always dancing with someone so close that’s also really a stranger,” Ryan Mack, Argentine Tango Club president said.

Lessons brought by the club focus on enjoying the experience of the tango, with partner switches and new activities every time.

“I find it one of the classiest dances,” said Miriam Mijares, who has been dancing with the club for over a year. “At the same time, it can be either fun, or formal, passionate, seductive, or just plain silly.”

The tango can be an intimidating dance, especially to students who do not have any experience. However, the club is welcoming to people of all experience levels, regardless if they come with a partner.

“I say close your eyes, pretend like you’re inventing this dance, and according to the music, just do what you feel,” Mijares said.

The club meets in room 033 at 5:00 PM every Tuesday. Admission to the recreation center is free for students and $15 for guests.

Tampa area celebrates 5th annual Black G.I.R.L.S. award show

Black G.I.R.L.S. Rock Tampa Bay is back again for the fifth year in a row, with a night full of glitz, glamour and awards.

The event was held on Saturday, March 5 at Shekinah Glory Cathedral Conference Center. The event consisted of dinner, the awards show, a display of products from various vendors and inspiring performances and speeches.

Black G.I.R.L.S. (Gifted. Influential. Renowned. Ladies. Showcased.)  Rock Tampa Bay is an awards show that was started by Michon Shaw, a sign language interpreter in the Tampa Bay community who cares about giving back to her community.

The idea came to Shaw one day after she was watching Black Entertainment Television, where they have the same award show on a grander scale.

“We saw the award show in 2011 and we said ‘let’s make it happen for 2012,’” Shaw said.

Shaw is not alone in her vision. She had a team of people behind her helping her create the event this year. One of those people was event coordinator, Catina Miller Holmes.

Holmes believes the work she is doing with Black G.I.R.L.S. Rock Tampa Bay has a significant impact on the community.

“I believe that if there was an organization such as this when I was growing up I would be able to find mentors,” Holmes said.

If you missed this year’s Black G.I.R.L.S. Rock Tampa Bay, the event is annual so look out for it next year.

 

 

The Bay Area Renaissance Festival is a step back in time

For the 38th straight year, the Bay Area Renaissance Festival is taking place. The festival, which moved to Tampa in 2004, is coordinated by the Museum of Science and Industry, across the street from USF.

The festival is open on weekends from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., until March 20. No matter a person’s age or interests, anyone who has been will tell you there is something for everyone.

For people looking for a taste of medieval athletics, the event goes above and beyond what would be expected at most renaissance festivals. Archery is available, but there is also an all-day Highland Games event, where visitors can try their hand at a number of activities such as stone throws and hay tosses.

If you’re looking for some new accessories, Kristiyan Bangov has you covered. Bangov is a vendor at a stand specializing in custom leather work, “I do mostly masks and crowns, but I also do armor pieces and anything in between really”, said Bangov. Bangov only got interested in working at fairs last year, he said “I love the whole feeling of the event, it’s a completely different world from the outside once you enter here.”

You can’t talk about a renaissance festival without mentioning the food. Head Chef Ruben Beltran has been working at the event for 15 years. Beltran is in charge of four separate kitchens, “We have the health department always checking on our four kitchens,” said Beltran.

While most would assume Shepherd’s Pie would be the most popular item on the menu, Beltran has a different answer.

“The most popular item is the pot roast sandwich,” said Beltran. When asked if that was his favorite dish, he didn’t hesitate, “Oh yeah, I love it.”

Life experiences help to heal the grief

If Alexis Mootoo, 49, a doctorate student in government and adjunct professor at the University of South Florida, could give her younger self some wisdom or advice, she would tell her 20-year-old self one thing: people love you.

One fleeting glance in her spacious office reveals a lot about the woman behind the instructor. Colors of gold and brown adorn the various ornaments in the room. On the top part of the wall facing her back is a painting, “No Man Band”, by Leroy Campbell.

She spoke of her love for jazz music after the death of her father. The music helped her deal with the grief. She used to drive to the record store to listen to the music, particularly from the Harlem Renaissance age.

Mootoo left the United States at a very young age with her parents to go live in Bordeaux, France. Of the 10 years that she lived there, she remembers how it felt to be a part of a community. She remembers how kind people were, the food, the neighbor she sometimes stayed with when her parents were at school.

She remembers how close she was to her teacher, to the point that she refused to leave and started to cry when her father told her it was time to move again. Perhaps it was a foreshadowing of how different her experience would be when they moved to the Republic of Congo.

Life in the Congo could not have been anymore different from France. Gone was the feeling of love and belonging. Gone was her nurtured yet ill-fated love for reading at least two books a week.

She was enrolled in a public school, and the experience was shocking to say the least.

“I looked different from everyone. It was much more striking than in France, maybe because of my hair being long and my complexion being different,” she said.

The difference extended to how everyone treated her as well. Teachers and students alike did not warm up to her.

She looks back at the experience now, and she wisely notes what it all meant. She realized that it was not about who she was as an individual, but what she represented.

“To them, I was supposed to be a rich person who didn’t need to be in a public school, but at the time I didn’t know the difference. It was a difficult time, and I was very upset,” she said.

Last year, Mootoo’s life came to a standstill when her mother died.

Even though she does not go to church, it gives her a sense of peace to know that her mother and father are finally together in heaven. In a way, she feels better knowing that her mother did not suffer that long through the cancer battle.

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Mootoo’s interests are as extensive as they can get. She smiles sheepishly and admits one of her guilty pleasures is watching all “The Real Housewives” franchises at the end of the day. A proud look replaced her smile when she said that she also loves crocheting. Her phone is full of pictures of all the things she has recently made, including a sweater for her son, Harrison, who will be attending a university in Colorado.

Her face lights up when she talks of Harrison. She is amazed by how charismatic and talented he is. The courage she sees in her son is reflected by the comparison she makes of what she wishes she could do.

“I wish I could sing and dance and be as charismatic as my kid. It’s amazing how he’s able to do that,” she said. “I wish I could stand up in front of people and belt out a song, but I could never do that. I’d throw up.”

When she was asked what some of her failures in life had been, she said she does not want to view them as failures, but more of things that needed to happen. She recognized the difficulties she had of being a single mother and of not having a degree.

“I believe that my humility has to do with all these things that I thought were failures, but in fact were just life experiences,” Mootoo said.

Two rooms before Mootoo’s office is one of her colleagues, Saviya Jean-Baptiste. They have known each other for more than five years.

Jean-Baptiste credits Mootoo to showing her the beautiful and yet-to-be discovered spots in Tampa.

“She had a dinner party for the Super Bowl. It wasn’t anything fancy, but just the bursts of laughter that we had was completely different. It was goofy and comfortable,” Jean-Baptiste said.

Both Jean-Baptiste and Mariela Noles Cotito, a graduate assistant at the Institute for the Study of Latin America and the Caribbean at USF, have one thing in common. They are in awe of the person that is Alexis Mootoo. Her story from studying for her bachelor’s degree all the way currently to her doctorate at a later age, and constantly breaking down social barriers as a black woman impresses the two to be inspired by her each day.

“She’s a great human being. We email back and forth sometimes and she uses this expression ‘cool beans’. Now that I know she’s older, it’s funnier to me,” Cotito said.

Photo: Sanders in Tampa

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders held a rally at the Florida State Fairgrounds in Tampa March 10, and the turnout was larger than expected. Supporters from all walks of life eagerly stood in line for the opportunity to see Sanders speak on his aspirations for the country.

MSC SkyPad gives students a place of escape

The University of South Florida has one of the biggest buildings called the Marshall Student Center, open from 7 a.m. to midnight on weekdays and varies on Saturdays and Sundays.  It would be very difficult to escort students out when closing time happens because students enjoy themselves in the SkyPad on the 4th floor assisted by Jennifer Hernandez, the Associate Director for Operations of the building.

“Based on some feedback from the students we did not provide enough relaxation space and gaming space,” Hernandez said. “So there were two meeting rooms that were in existence in that space when we first moved in, so it was a minor construction project that we brought online to add that gaming area and the place for students to study.”

The SkyPad is a place where students can have fun by plugging in their video games and play all by themselves or with friends, forming a group together to study and many other things to do.

The Video Game Club President of USF, Adham Hessen, has his experiences at the SkyPad by making friends.

“I particularly enjoy the SkyPad myself, because it’s a place where I actually met my friends and now I continue to meet them up here playing video games together,” Hessen said. “It’s tons of fun. We laugh, made a lot of jokes, but it was fun.”

The SkyPad was created in September 13, 2011 and founded by Joe Synovec, the previous director of the Marshall Student Center. It features a total of seven LCD screen televisions with multiple ways to connect electronics, two dry erase boards for multiple purposes, vending machines for refreshments, plenty of tables to work on studies, couches to recline on and a large studying space that is close to the railing of the building.

 

Rays Begin Spring Training

Port Charlotte- Fans couldn’t have been more excited as the Tampa Bay Rays baseball season officially began in southwest Florida. After a loss in their spring opener against the Nationals, Rays’ fans came to Charlotte Sports Park looking for a win against the Orioles on Friday.

“These games matter to us!” said Cynthia Howard, a Rays’ fan from Sarasota. “We love baseball so much that we want wins even when they don’t count.”

Howard was joined by William Hall, her boyfriend, who happened to be an Orioles fan.

“The Orioles will win today. We lost yesterday too, so we came here looking to win,” Hall said.

Howard’s team came out on top as the Rays defeated the Orioles 10-3. The Rays first win of the spring was highlighted by newcomer Corey Dickerson’s long home run in the 2nd.

Acquired in a trade from the Rockies in the offseason, Dickerson drilled a towering shot over the Rays’ clubhouse in right field. The Rays have reported that the ball stopped rolling in the parking lot 569 feet from home plate.

It was quite the debut for Dickerson; something Rays’ fans hope is a sign of things to come.

LEGO competition builds interest in STEM programs nationwide

An international robotics tournament geared toward promoting students’ interest in science and technology called FIRST LEGO League is holding a regional tournament in Winter Haven, Florida. Over a thousand participants came to compete for a chance to compete at the national level.

Students and their parents came from eight different counties in the region. The teams are composed of students between the ages of nine and fourteen.

We-Cycle is a team of gifted fifth-graders from Ormond Beach, Florida, that exemplify the type of students who attended the tournament. The students’ intelligence and determination shows on the competition floor.

“The first part of the season, they practiced maybe once or twice a week, but before the regional championship they practiced every single day after school about three hours,” said Steve Waterman, We-Cycle’s coach.

The main event is the robotics competition of the tournament. Teams have a set number of missions to complete using robots they have built in order to receive points within two-and-a-half minutes.

Additionally, teams were required to conduct a project that helps to solve a problem. Many teams geared toward recycling trash or lowering pollution. We-Cycle, for example, took used plastic bags and wove them into consumer goods like purses and floor mats.

The program has great influence on the children participating. Lead Programmer for We-Cycle, Matthew Monroe has been greatly influenced since getting involved with the FIRST LEGO League.

“I want to be a programmer. I want to program computers, games, anything really” said Monroe.

We-Cycle did not advance to the next level, but Coach Waterman was selected for the Coach/Mentor of the Year Award.

Bulls for Kids dances for dollars

William Purkey said, “You’ve gotta dance like there’s nobody watching.” Bulls for Kids President Tiffani Torres and over 1,300 participants embraced dancing for charity during Dance Marathon at the USF Marshall Student Center.

“All the hard work that I’ve done, and all the tears and all the stress is worth it because no matter what I’m going through right now it could be a lot worse,” Torres said. “What I’m going through is making what they’re going through a lot easier.”

Dance Marathon has members shake it for 12 hours while raising money for the All Children’s Hospitals across the country. What began as a small fundraiser 13 years ago has now turned into USF’s largest student-run philanthropy. Dance Marathon has continued to grow with every donation amount higher than the year before.

By the end of the day, Bulls for Kids collected over $130,000. That’s $27,000 more than last year’s record. Torres knows it’s not just about the money. The event’s real purpose comes from the emotional stories of the miracle children.

Alyson Schuch served as the director of family relations and was able to work hands-on with the miracle families throughout the year. Although the donations are great, Schuch said her satisfaction comes from seeing the children’s smiling faces.

“Not everyone realizes the huge impact that we have on the families,” Schuch said. “When they do come and they speak and they give their thanks, it’s like very eye-opening to everyone.”

With such a large total collected this year, Bulls for Kids hopes to raise over $200,000 next year.

USF Women’s Basketball Will Return to NCAA Tournament

The University of South Florida women’s basketball team is returning to the NCAA Tournament after earning a No. 6 seed during this year’s Selection Show on Monday.

The team joined fans at the USF Sun Dome for a selection show watch party. Players had front row seats to the screen, to watch the announcement was broadcasted nationally on ESPN.

“It was nerve-racking to think that you’ll be that next team called,” senior guard Courtney Williams said. “I’m excited that we finally got our name called and the teams that we’re playing.”

This year’s tournament begins for the Bulls in Los Angeles, where they will play a ranked Colorado State team currently on a 28-game winning streak. The winner of that matchup will go on to play either UCLA or Hawaii in the second round.

This group of seniors brings experience to the program’s twelfth post-season tournament appearance in 13 years. Three of the team’s four NCAA Tournament runs happened in the past four years.

“They’re a veteran team,” USF coach Jose Fernandez said. “They know what’s at stake. Your next game can be your last.”

USF opened the season with a victory over NCAA Tournament team Jacksonville before going on to eventually defeat top 50 rating percentage index teams Chattanooga and Oklahoma State. The Bulls maintained their AP top 25 ranking all season and finished the season with a No. 21 RPI.

The Bulls are scheduled to play Saturday.

Clearwater Comic Con: comics, anime and much more

Clearwater, FL-On March 19 at the Clearwater Public Library, comic and gaming enthusiasts came together for the third annual Clearwater Comic Con. This was a free event for all who attended. There was a myriad of booths and activities that catered to many interests, such as comics, gaming and anime.

The Clearwater Main Library is located at 100 N. Osceola Ave. Within these walls, geeks of all sorts gather to share their passions.
The Clearwater Library is located at 100 N. Osceola Ave. Within these walls, people of all sorts gather to share their passions. By Shelbi Hayes
Outside of the Clearwater Main Library sits the Suncoast Ghost Busters' Ectomobile. This is a modern day replica of the original Ectomobile, or Ecto-1, used in the original Ghost Busters movies.
Outside of the Clearwater Library sits the Suncoast Ghost Busters’ Ectomobile. This is a modern day replica of the original Ectomobile, or Ecto-1, used in the original Ghost Busters movies. By Shelbi Hayes
The 501st Legion, a Star Wars fan group that recreates characters of the series, travels around to conventions. Eden Fraizer, a double-major in physics and dance at the University of Tampa, and Dorothy Harrison, a University of South Florida master's student, cosplay Padme Amidala and a red Storm Trooper.
The 501st Legion, a Star Wars fan group recreates characters of the series, travels around to conventions. Eden Fraizer, a double major in physics and dance at the University of Tampa, and Dorothy Harrison, a University of South Florida master’s student, cosplay Padme Amidala and a red Storm Trooper. By Shelbi Hayes
While fun and games are key to Clearwater Comic Con, Gamers on the Edge brings charity into the main room. GOTE, which has raised over $20,000, holds gaming events in the Tampa Bay area to donate money to local children's hospitals. The gaming group will hold a large tournament to collect more donations on May 15.
While fun and games are key to Clearwater Comic Con, Gamers on the Edge (GOTE) brings charity into the main room. GOTE, which has raised over $20,000, for charity, holds gaming events in the Tampa Bay area to donate money to local children’s hospitals. By Shelbi Hayes
Brian Johnson is a one-man prop-making company out of Clearwater, Fl. His booth showcases his recreations of popular video game weapons as well as customized Nerf guns. "I work 90 hours a week and I'm not sick of it," Johnson said.
Brian Johnson is a one man, prop-making company out of Clearwater, FL. His booth showcases his recreations of popular video game weapons as well as customized Nerf guns. “I work 90 hours a week and I’m not sick of it,” Johnson said. By Shelbi Hayes
Kaitlyn Little showcases her ability to recreate the Borderlands character, Psycho, and stay in character in the final event of the comic con, the cosplay competition. "The voices," Little said when the competition host asked her why she chose this character, a nod to the character's personalty.
Kaitlyn Little showcases her ability to recreate the Borderlands character, Psycho, in the final event of the comic con, the cosplay competition. “The voices,” Little said when asked why she chose this character, was a nod to the character’s personalty. Little took first place. By Shelbi Hayes

Local YMCA program helps fight Parkinson’s disease

Parkinson’s disease is a brain illness that has four main symptoms. The four main symptoms of the disease are trembling, limb stiffness, impaired balance and slowness of movement. There is a program available at a local YMCA that can help reduce some of those symptoms.

The program is called Pedaling for Parkinson’s, and it aims to help improve the motor functions of people with Parkinson’s disease. The program’s website states its three goals.

The first goal is to improve the quality of life of Parkinson’s disease patients and their caregivers. The program’s second goal is to educate patients, caregivers and the general public about the benefits of maintaining an active lifestyle after a Parkinson’s disease diagnosis. The third goal is to support research dedicated to the prevention and treatment of Parkinson’s disease.

Pedaling for Parkinson’s is available every Tuesday and Thursday at 10:15 a.m. at the South Tampa YMCA. The class consists of a 10-minute warmup, 40 minutes of work and a 10-minute cooldown.

Melissa Brockman is a group coordinator for the class. The class is more than just riding a stationary bike twice a week, she said..

“We actually put the bikes in a circle so that there’s lots of cross-talking,” Brockman said. “It is a very social environment, which is very beneficial for some folks that are suffering from depression or mood disorders.”

Dave Lapides was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2008. He is a new participant in the class, and his favorite part of the class is getting the chance to interact with others.

“I’ve got an exercise bike at home, but this gets me out and meeting people,” Lapides said.

Contact the South Tampa YMCA if you are interested in more information about the class.