Video: Office of Multicultural Affairs aimed to promote gender equality by celebrating Women’s History Month in March

The Office of Multicultural Affairs helped spread the word about Women’s History Month in March.

The office set up a booth in the atrium of the Marshall Student Center with stacks of blank cards for students to fill out with their reasons for why they support women. Free pins were also handed out to help spread awareness around campus.

According to Caitlin Jones, a coordinator for the LGBT programs and services for the Office of Multicultural Affairs, the objective of the event was for students and other passersby to understand the importance of the movement.

“Why does this matter?” Jones said.  “Why do people support women? Have people even thought about why they support women? So, we’re using this to start that thought process.”

Throughout the event, many people stopped by to offer their thoughts. At the end,  all completed cards were hung up along the office’s window on the third floor of the Marshall Center.

“Supporting women is more than wage equality,” Jones said. “It’s more than saying, ‘Oh, yes, women are important to me,’ but actually looking at class and race and some other pieces to be able to say, women matter.

“They deserve the same rights. The same equality. The same equity. And I’m willing to stand up and do that.”

Photo gallery: Colby Parrish and Dunedin’s Enchanted Earth represent the softer side of witchcraft

Going to Enchanted Earth and talking with Colby Parrish was unlike any experience I’ve ever had. Though I’m Christian, and this way of life has never fallen under my beliefs, I find it interesting in getting to know people and trying to understand their mindset on spiritual matters. Colby said his clients are wide-ranging, and many seek out his services if only for an opinion or advice. From a Mormon family, he said nothing has ever spiritually and emotionally connected with him as his current beliefs and practices do. Meeting the owner of the shop, a Stevie Nicks with red hair, as well as some of the other “witches”, I was surprised at how content they seemed. They say they believe there was a Jesus, which shocked me, but that he was just one of the many gods and goddesses that make up the universe. It was clear to me by the end of the conversation that all people, no matter beliefs and practices, simply want to find some kind of comfort in something and the people that share in the same ideologies. Believing is truth in the minds of us all.

 

Going to Enchanted Earth in Dunedin and talking to Colby Parrish was unlike any experience I have ever had.

Though I believe in Christianity — and this way of life has never fallen under my beliefs — I found it interesting getting to know these people and trying to understand their mindset on spiritual matters.

Parrish said his clients are wide-ranging, and that many seek out his services only for his opinion or advice.

Born into a Mormon family, Parrish said nothing has ever spiritually or emotionally connected with him like his current beliefs and practices.

Meeting the owner of the shop — a Stevie Nicks lookalike but with red hair — as well as others that identify themselves as, “witches,” I was surprised at how content they all seemed.

The witches said they believe there was once a Jesus, which shocked me. But they believe that he was just one of the many gods and goddesses that make up the universe.

It was clear to me by the end of our conversation, that all people — no matter beliefs and practices — simply just want to find some kind of comfort in something, and the people that share in the same ideologies.

To me, believing is truth in the minds of us all.

Video: For Thelma Thompson, family is top priority

Thelma Thompson has demonstrated during the past three decades that family is the most important thing in her life.

Without hesitation, the Temple Terrace resident has seemingly always put her needs aside to help the ones she loves.

It started, Thompson said, after realizing her two grandchildren were not being cared for properly. Thompson — along with her late husband — decided to take on the challenging task of raising them.

But it wasn’t easy.

In 1985, when her husband became paralyzed from the neck down, Thompson faced the difficult reality that she would have to be the sole provider for the family in addition to raising the two children and caring for her husband.

“A lot of worry went through my mind,” Thompson recalled. “How was I going to take care of him? How was I going to meet my bills, since his pay was no longer there? How was I going to take of these two babies? But it all seemed to work out.”

Despite the struggles she faced, Thompson continued to help those in need. Her loving demeanor also drew in several troubled children outside her family.

Thompson received financial and physical aid from her daughter and son-in-law.

“I’ve always taken in kids who seemed to have problems. … ” Thompson said. “I guess it turned out to be between five and 10 kids that I have taken care of that were not mine in any shape or form.”

Nikki James, Thompson’s granddaughter, said she and her younger brother could have potentially lived drastically different lives if it weren’t for Thompson’s generosity.

“They (Thompson and her husband) were always there, and they took me in when the younger parents couldn’t handle the responsibility, and they have made a huge difference in my life,” James said.

Though there were plenty of hardships along the way, Thompson, now 80, said she always remained upbeat.

“I wouldn’t trade it for the world,” she said.

Video: C.R. Willey brings championship pedigree to USF disc golf team

C.R. Willey is not your average USF coach. He is a four-time disc golf champion.

And with Willey’s help, the USF disc golf team has a chance at the top 10 this year and — possibly — a national title.

Willey, a veteran of the Professional Disc Golf Association, has trained some of the top professionals in the league, including 12-time champion, Ken Climo.

“It’s nice that you are actually learning from somebody that has actually won (championships),” said Chris Crist, USF’s team founder and captain.  “He’s been playing for so long. He’s taught a lot of people how to play and a lot of pros how to play.”

While Willey was on the PDGA tour, he was approached by some of USF’s players, who asked him if he would be interested in coaching the team.

Willey didn’t hesitate in saying yes.

“Heck, yeah,” Willey said. “I would like to see USF win a national championship in disc golf. I’d like to see them win it in football, too — baseball or anything for the university. Let’s take it to the next level.”

Willey also played baseball at USF for a time. But one day, when he saw students playing ultimate frisbee, Willey knew his love and passion was for disc golf.

With more than 40 PDGA victories, he is considered the best thing that has happened to USF by its young group of players.

“We’ve qualified for the National Collegiate Championship, and we almost beat the reigning champs in a qualifying tournament that the USF team ran in Largo,” Willey said.

The National Collegiate Disc Golf Championship starts on April 15 in North Augusta, South Carolina.

Video: Christopher Hethcox turns lifelong passion for cheerleading into remarkable career


TRINITY — As an aspiring male cheerleading coach, Christopher Hethcox seemingly had the odds stacked against him early in life.

“The stigma of being a male cheerleader was something that was rough in the rural parts of Alabama,” Hethcox said.

But Hethcox didn’t let it bring him down. At age 13, Hethcox knew he had a passion for tumbling and gymnastics.

Twenty-two years later, Hethcox has turned that passion into a career as an instructor with All-Star Cheerleading at the Suncoast Gymnastics Academy in Odessa.

Though the profession does not necessarily have a large salary, Hethcox said he isn’t in it for the money — he just wants to help his athletes grow.

“I think I love the process of the training, performing, watching the development over the year of an athlete that’s had this place where they started,” Hethcox said.  “And then, where they end up.”

Hethcox coaches multiple levels of cheerleading with All-Star Cheerleading and has won multiple championships.

Competing at that level, Hethcox said,  is something that can give competitors butterflies. But for him, it’s all about keeping his team calm.

Mark Sczcepanik, whose daughter is coached by Hethcox, described him as passionate and driven.

“Coach Chris has done an incredible job with our daughter,” Sczcepanik said. “She went from never cheering ever six months ago to just doing an incredible job, thanks to his fine coaching.”

Hethcox doesn’t need praise, though. He just wants it to be about the kids.

“I want them to become sisters that they would do anything for each other,” Hethcox said.

Florida Focus 02-10-2015

In today’s episode of Florida Focus: doctors say St. Pete man is too incompetent to stand trial; Jeb Bush releases thousands of e-mails to the public; Home Depot adds over a thousand jobs to the Tampa Bay market; Feeding America Tampa Bay teams with the State Fair; the USF women’s basketball team makes history.

 

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Florida Focus: 10-27-2014

In this episode of Florida Focus: An American Airlines pilot was sentenced and charged with possession of child porn; a twelve year old Palmetto boy bought illegal drugs to his middle school; prices at the pumps hit a four year nation wide low; a broken water main in Tampa; “Pink heals” tour at Moffit cancer center.

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Florida Focus: Hillsborough County high school receives honor from Nike; Humane Society holds pumpkin patch fundraiser

In this episode of Florida Focus:

  • Nike pays homage to the success of Plant High School’s football team through a special Plant Panther shoe.
  • A St. Pete man is in critical condition after his girlfriend allegedly set him on fire. The girlfriend will be charged on aggravated battery.
  • South Florida wants to become the 51st state.
  • The Humane Society of Tampa Bay offers a pumpkin patch promotion to raise money to help support the animals at the shelter.

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Florida Focus: 10-20-2014

In today’s episode of Florida Focus: A quadruple homicide suspect pleads not guilty in a Pasco County court room; an overnight fight in a McDonald’s parking lot led to a smashed car and gunshots in St. Petersburg; a 20 ton tree removal crane toppled over yesterday in Largo; a man died after losing control of his vehicle in Port Richey; good news continues at the pumps as gas prices are the lowest we’ve seen since 2010.

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Clearwater Voters Receive Mail-In Ballots

This episode of Florida Focus, for Oct. 6, covers news from around the region and state.

Thousands of Hillsborough County voters received mail-in ballots this week. Voters will be able to request mail-in ballots until Oct. 29.

Clearwater Police are searching for two suspects using stolen credit cards from vehicle burglaries.

A 15-year-old Tarpon Springs girl was the victim of a hit and run accident. The girl was seriously injured and airlifted to a nearby hopsital. The driver later returned and was arrested for fleeing the scene of a crime. 

A seaplane crashed during a lesson near Davis Islands Park, police reported that two people were rescued and they are in good condition.  

East Lake Community Library offers a Halloween costume swap for parents. Costumes can be swapped or bought new for $5. All proceeds will go to the library. 

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Pasco County officials warn about mail ballot scams

This episode of Florida Focus covers news from around the region and from around the state for Wednesday, Oct. 1.

Pasco County election officials issued a warning about mail ballot scams.

A wrong-way driver was charged with a DUI on the Veterans Expressway.

Red light cameras in St. Petersburg were deactivated.

A suspicious white substance resulted in an evacuation, and a homeless shelter in St. Petersburg received $6 million.

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Ruptured Sewer Line Closes Roads

In this episode of Florida Focus:

  • A ruptured sewer line spills more than half a million gallons of waste water  in St. Petersburg;
  • Arson is believed to be the main cause of a vacant East Tampa home fire;
  • Fire destroys an apartment home;
  • Charlie Crist visits homes in Holiday and Sarasota;
  • National Coffee Day brings freebies and discounts to coffee lovers.

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