Tag Archive | alexandra stone

With More Complete Coverage..

Journalism 101.  Start every story with your best sound and your best video.  Don’t bury the lead.  With that… this month is my last at KETV, after 15 years as a journalist at the only station I’ve ever known.

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When I was a little girl, I used to sit on the stairs in our split level house in Papillion, with my legs dangling through the steps and a notebook in front of me.  I would just write.  I would write about my day.  I would play the game Life by myself, and use each space as a prompt to write a fictional story.  I’ve kept a journal since I had huge glasses and buck teeth.  In college, long-form essays and papers weren’t hassles, I relished them; I love letting the words just HAPPEN, and the surge of accomplishment when those words come full circle and everything just FITS.

I’ve always been a natural ‘performer’.  I was the ham hogging the attention for our 1st generation camcorder, jumping in front of my Dad with a goofy voice or song whenever he had the thing rolling.  I tried out for show choir every year I could, and joined the speech team my very first year of high school.  Speaking just came easily for me; and I was GOOD at it.  Forensics, theater and choir were my LIFE in high school.

I was never in journalism.  I didn’t carry around a Barbara Walters lunchbox.  I floated around my first year of college not knowing where I belonged or what my future looked like.  My sophomore year at UNL, I took Introduction to Broadcasting with Tom Spann, and was fascinated by a world of history, SHARING history, writing, and reporting.  Somehow the idea of an internship surfaced, and KETV was the station I grew up watching.  My mom bumped into longtime weekend anchor/reporter Pamela Jones at a city meeting, got contact information for the intern program, and I emailed Managing Editor Joe Kasmir the next day.  I showed up for my interview a good half an hour early.. and I will never forget walking through the Newsplex doors, overwhelmed to see the same set and newsroom I had watched on TV for so long.  Julie Cornell and Rob McCartney were just finishing the 6pm broadcast, and Julie looked up and smiled at me.

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How do you sum up 15 years?

My first breaking news live shot at NP Dodge Park… that was God awful.

Covering my first night of tornadoes as an intern, Scott Buer at the wheel of the car, and me in the passenger seat wearing a green skirt suit and heels, trekking around in mud and rain COMPLETELY unprepared, but willing to stay out as long as Scott did.

Talking to a suspect in jail dubbed the ‘Bare Butt Bandit’, and hearing later from my best friend’s now-husband: ‘I said, Please God, let Brandi be doing that story..’

An Iowa shooting late at night with photojournalist Mike Richard, and then lying in the backseat on the way home  with my eyes squeezed shut, battling a nauseous migraine.

Live shots on the field at Memorial Stadium with Rob on one side and Jon on the other.. when a stray football was punted right into the side of my face.  Hearing my Assistant News Director Vonn Jones yelling in my ear ’30 seconds!!’ as I tried to regain my composure.. as did Jon and Rob (from dying laughing…)

Driving 8 hours throughout the night with Justin Riviera to cover an arrest in the Jon Benet Ramsey murder in Boulder, Colorado.  I was overwhelmed by literally HUNDREDS of rabid reporters; he shoved me and said ‘get in there, Petersen!’

Covering an afternoon and evening of tornado threats across western Iowa with photojournalist Dave Hynek.  Laughs because of a nerve-wracking live shot.. laughing that turned to chaos and sheer sadness when we learned less than an hour later about the tragedy at the Little Sioux Boy Scout Camp.  We worked through the night side by side, waiting for the details that would shake our community and the country.

Countless tears when things went wrong.  Crying to my roommate, wondering what I should have done better.  Coming home and sobbing to myself, questioning my decisions as not only a reporter, but a human being.

Westroads.  Derek Ruth.  The Butternut fire. The paralyzed bride.  Clayton Hildreth.  Evan Sharp.  Pediatric brain cancer.  Amber Harris.  Baby Lawrence.  La Paz, Mexico.

JP Carter.  John Matya.  Trisha Meuret.  Tom Elser.  Joe Kasmir.  Cathy Beeler.  Jay Roberts.  Vonn Jones.  Jon Schuetz. Sean McMahon. Justin Riviera.  Renee Ludvik.  Kristyna Engdahl.  Jeremy Maskel.  Adrian Whitsett.  Andy Ozaki.  Natalie Glucklich. Melissa Fry.  ROB, ANDY, DAVE. My coworkers that have become my family.

Through KETV, I met my husband.  I was on air throughout my pregnancies with both of my boys.  We moved; twice.  This is where we grew up; this is home.

At KETV we lost Joe, my mentor who hired me, fueled my passion for journalism, and always, ALWAYS pushed me to be better, while making me feel like I was really something special.  I often wish he had been alive to see me anchor ‘the big show’.

We lost Jeff Frolio, the photographer who told me about jazz, and how special music was for him and his wife.  It was the music at his final service that broke me down.

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Just like my stories… in so many ways, THIS story has come full circle for me.  My sweet ‘baby’ boy Easton will start Kindergarten in a few short weeks.  Guys, I need to be here with my children.  I need to hear about their days, I need to be there for school concerts and carnivals and dinner on our deck.  I need to hear THEIR stories, and I need to be PART of their stories when they look back and share them throughout their lives.  News is a business like no other; it never stops.  Tornadoes don’t drop from the sky from 9-5, Monday through Friday.  Tragedies don’t happen just while we’re on the clock.  There will be another journalist, waiting and ready, to slide into that spot next to Rob to anchor our evening newscast every night, but I am my boys’ ONLY MOTHER.  I am the ONLY MOMMA they will ever have.

God works in mysterious ways; he always has a plan, though we may not understand it as it’s unfolding.  Next month, I will join the Communications team with Westside Community Schools.  I still get to tell stories; GREAT stories about incredible students, teachers making a difference, programs that impact generations of kids.  I get to showcase the GOOD in our world; I get to WRITE.  But every day, I also get to go home to my family.  We can eat dinner together.  We can play at the park, and watch the sunset, wake up the next morning and do it all over again.  I know I’ll be home every Christmas morning, I’ll get to watch fireworks with my kids every 4th of July, I get to stay at the pool with them Sunday mornings instead of putting on my makeup, straightening my hair and heading to the station.  I need to say this: I have SO MUCH RESPECT for working parents, regardless of their shifts.  People all over America work crazy hours, love what they do, and love their lives at home.  I work with many of them here at 7!

For me.. it’s just time.  Still, as I write this, I still feel the tears welling up behind my eyes.  I am so excited for this new opportunity and new chapter in my life, but it truly is so hard to say goodbye.  My fear is that I didn’t matter.  That time will go on and it will be like I was never there. That sounds really narcissistic and egotistical; truly, I’ve tried to make a point in my career to NOT make everything about me, to make our stories about THE PEOPLE, PLACES, AND ISSUES we are sharing.  But to everyone throughout these 15 years who’s made me feel ‘like a big deal’.. to everyone who has watched us, followed us, trusted us.. THANK YOU.  From the bottom of my heart, thank you.  I don’t have words beyond that.. but I hope you understand the deep gratitude from the bottom of my heart: THANK YOU.

WATCH KETV.  You will NEVER find a better journalist than Rob McCartney.  This dude is one of the best human beings I have ever known; he cares, he listens, he is always asking questions and trying to dig a little deeper to share the most complete story possible, and I’d argue NO ONE is trusted as a journalist in our state more than Rob.  He is noble, smart, a leader, compassionate.  He is a good friend.  Bill Randby is HANDS DOWN THE BEST meteorologist you could ever turn to; NO ONE cares more about providing people accurate information than this guy, and truly one of the most genuinely KIND people I have ever met.  Kristyna Engdahl is BRILLIANT.  Her writing is phenomenal, she’s fair, she has a GIFT for public speaking and thinking on her feet, and I WISH everyone at home could meet her and feel her energy in person.. because she makes EVERY DAY better when you’re around her.  Andy Kendeigh is the big brother I never had–always supportive, always caring, just an AMAZING GUY and such a wonderful friend.  And holy crap, is this guy GOOD.  Athletes and coaches LOVE him for a reason–he’s hilarious, hard working, devoted to what he shares every night and throughout every season.  In addition… our future is so very bright.  Alexandra Stone, Chinh Doan, Laurann Robinson, Sean Everson, Matt Serwe, Cem Brinklow, Ashley Nodgaard, Josh Gear, Davonte McKenith, David Earl, Katie Bane, Tanner Kahler, Matt Lothrop, Camila Orti… all of the people you see and many you don’t… they are HUNGRY for good journalism.  They want to tell good stories.  They are willing to sacrifice sleep, personal time, personal LIVES, to make KETV the best it can be.  This team IS TRULY THE BEST.  You will not find local news in our state that is better–YOU JUST WON’T.

***

I knew this day was coming.  I didn’t think it would be this WEIRD.  That’s the only word that makes sense.  I don’t have enough words, and at the same time, I feel like I’ve said too much.

We’ve got a few weeks left, Omaha–let’s make it awesome.  Westside, I hope to make you proud.  KETV, I hope I’ve made a mark, some kind of difference.

And to my boys.. I love you.  Let’s go hunt some pokemon and have a great morning together.

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Photo courtesy Photography By CB

Just Keep Swimming

There’s something special about swimmers..

These athletes are just wired differently than n0rmal human beings.  They’re up at 4am to put in hours at the pool.  They are SHEER musle and strength.  They don’t know failure, because when they’re not focused on the swimmer in the next lane, they are constantly racing their OWN clocks to top their personal bests.  All of these traits; dedication, health, perfection, also seem to translate to swimmers’ lives outside the pool.

Want proof? Meet Team KETV.

Before Melissa Fry was our 5pm anchor and one of our best reporters, she was the 2001 state champion in the 100m butterfly at Millard South High School (Melissa and her dad are the first father/daughter state champions in swimming!)  Melissa is still in the Patriot record books for several strokes, and went on to swim at Illinois State before transferring to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Before Alex Hoffman was our First News anchor, she was nothing short of a legendary swimmer in her home state of South Dakota.  In high school alone, she won four individual state titles.  At South Dakota State, Alex’s list of school records and career wins is TWO FULL PAGES LONG.  I’M NOT KIDDING.  She broke 9 school records her first season, was team captain her senior year and chosen as an NCAA Woman of the Year nominee.  Alex was also Miss South Dakota 2008 and a Top 10 finalist at the 2009 Miss America pageant.

Before Alexandra Stone became our First News Weekend anchor (and one of our star reporters!) she was swimming year-round for both school and club events, starting when she was a toddler.  Alexandra made the varsity swim team as a freshman, excelling in the 100M backstroke.

And finally..

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This INCREDIBLE young lady, Jojo Randby!  Jojo’s mom is Emmy-Award winning journalist Julie Cornell, and her dad is our Chief Meteorologist Bill Randby.  Jojo is making a name for herself.. representing Nebraska in the midwest regional 5-state All Star meet, where she won the 50m and 100m breast, clocking personal record times in both!

NONE of this is easy.  ALL of these ladies say they swim or swam 6+ days a week, often twice a day.  This all comes in addition to school, volunteering and other activities.

Want more proof?  Meet Hannah Miller.

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Photo courtesy Blinq Studio

“I’ve had a crazy swim season that just concluded with the state meet,” Hannah told me last month, after qualifying for two events at state as a sophomore.  (CLICK HERE to watch Hannah set a new personal record in the 100m butterfly in January!)  Hannah’s also a dancer.  And she works part time.  And she’s a student at Elkhorn High School.  And she’s Miss Omaha’s Outstanding Teen.

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Hannah spends almost three hours EVERY DAY swimming, in addition to everything else she’s got going on in her life.  How, and WHY add a crown and sash to the mix, and commit to competing for Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen in June?

“I got involved in the MNOT program because I love the values that it promotes: service, scholarship, style and success,” said Hannah.  “I have such respect for the titleholders who are volunteering in their communities and are role models for everyone around them.”

Hannah has also held the titles of Miss Nebraska Pre-Teen 2012 (ANTSO), America’s US Miss Nebraska Teen 2014, and as Miss Nebraska Junior Teen 2014 (ANTSO) she was named National Junior Teen 1st Runner-Up and National Spokesmodel winner for 2015.  Complete disclosure.. I know very little about the America’s National Teenager Scholarship Organization, but it seems Hannah knows what to prioritize as a new contestant in the Miss America’s Outstanding Teen club.

For starters, her volunteer work ties right back to where she’s most at home.. in the pool.

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“My platform is ‘Safe Splashes’, combining my love for the water with my passion for working with young children,” said Hannah.  “Drowning is the leading cause of accidental death in children between the ages of 1 and 4.  According to the CDC, in 10% of those drownings, the adult will actually be watching the child with no idea it is happening!  While complete ‘drown-proofing’ does not exist, parental water safety education and early childhood swimming lessons can reduce the risk of drowning.”

Hannah is hoping to make a difference both with with her words and action; she works part-time as a swim instructor, teaching kids and parents exactly what she promotes as Miss Omaha’s Outstanding Teen.  She’s also volunteered to read for local students, to ring bells for the Salvation Army, she’s been part of the Bid Buddy/Little Buddy mentoring program and helped as a math tutor.

Hannah has also lettered in Varsity Cheer, and she’ll dance at Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen.

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“I combine my two favorite dance styles (jazz and tap) into a fun, upbeat routine that I absolutely love to perform,” said Hannah.  Hannah also loves her family (just below, she’s emceeing part of Nebraska’s Miss Amazing pageant with her dad, Jim!) and friends, and says those relationships along with school are most important to her in her life.

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“From an early age, giving back to the community and volunteering have been important to me, so I look for role models who are reaching out and making a difference in real ways each and every day,” said Hannah.

Now, this 16-year old hopes to become a role model for someone else, and notes that her pageant-background has propelled her forward.

“I tell people about the community service I have become involved in through pageantry and the self confidence it takes to walk and talk on stage,” said Hannah.  “When I applied to be a swim instructor at the age of 15 I was interviewing with candidates that were as much as 6 years older than me.  I got the job because of the confidence and poise I had in the interview.  My ability to speak honestly and confidently to parents about their child’s progress earns me respect as an instructor.  The skills of communication and confidence are directly related to my involvement in pageantry and I am proud of that.”

And now, Hannah Miller wants to take her journey one step further as Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen.  After all, she’s a self-described well-rounded over-achiever.  If you ask Melissa, Alex, or Alexandra… I’m pretty sure that’s synonymous with SWIMMER.

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Photo courtesy Blinq Studio

“I have been preparing to represent our great state for some time now and I know I am ready to step up and be the best possible representative nationally for Nebraska,” said Hannah.  “I am a genuine person who connect with people easily and I have the ability to help make a difference.”

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To follow Miss Omaha’s Outstanding Teen Hannah Miller on FACEBOOK CLICK HERE.  To contact Hannah about appearances and events, email her at hl_miller@icloud.com or email Jim Miller at  jr_miller@cox.net.

For more information about the Miss Omaha/Miss Douglas County’s Outstanding Teen Pageant, visit THEIR FACEBOOK PAGE or THEIR WEBSITE.  For information on becoming a contestant, contact Director Kelsey Ellis by email at omahadouglascountyOT@gmail.com.

For more information on becoming a Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen contestant, contact Director Heather Edwards at heatheraloseke@gmail.com or Director Kali Tripp at kalinicoletv@gmail.com.

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The 2016 Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen Pageant takes place June 10 in North Platte, Nebraska.  Learn more on THEIR WEBSITE, FACEBOOK PAGE, or follow ON TWITTER and ON INSTAGRAM.

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PREVIOUS.. Miss Alliance 2016 Kate Lynne Duncan!

NEXT.. Miss Harvest Moon Festival 2016 Kara Kriha!

To read more about this year’s contestants, or the Miss Nebraska/Miss Nebraska’s OT classes of 2015 & 2014, click the THERE SHE IS link at the top of the page!

2014: Year In Review

I mean, really, what’s the point of having a blog if you can’t hand out imaginary awards that are voted on by only YOU?

I’m a big believer in recognizing the POSITIVE things going on in our world.  In news, we certainly see the bad.  A lot of it.  Day in and day out.  But I think KETV does a great job of also highlighting the GOOD.  The students who vote for a special needs friend for Homecoming King.  The community rallying around a family in their darkest hour.  A business finding incredible success through simple hard work and dedication to their craft.

As we close out on 2014, here are my Year In Review Local News awards.

(Thank you for continuing to read though you are probably doing so while laughing.. not with me, just AT me..)

2014 KETV REPORTER OF THE YEAR

KRISTYNA

KRISTYNA ENGDAHL 

This lady is just FANTASTIC.  I don’t have enough adjectives for her.  Beautiful.  HILARIOUS.  Sharp.  Well spoken.  Fearless.  Respected.  Kristyna’s stories are well written and solid; if she tells you something, you know it to be true and researched.  Kristyna’s live presence is just AWESOME.  She’s articulate, she gets to the point at a scene, she shares what viewers want and need to know.  When Kristyna’s in our newsroom, our coverage is GREAT.  We have so many incredible journalists on our team here at KETV, but for me, Kristyna is our 2014 reporter of the year.  Now, as a person.. SHE. IS. AWESOME.  My day is truly brighter when I come in to work and see that beautiful smile, then hear her joking at her desk.  (Then I usually snort coffee up my nose laughing, because she is HANDS DOWN the funniest person in our newsroom!)  Like I said, I don’t have enough adjectives for Kristyna.  I do have a message to her: THANK YOU for being you!

Kristyna’s work in 2014:

First interview with Nebraska Governor-Elect Pete Ricketts

$100 Reward offered for return of Baby Jesus

Survivor recalls Sunday morning crash

Follow Kristyna on Facebook and on Twitter!

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2014 KETV PHOTOJOURNALIST OF THE YEAR

DAVE

DAVE HYNEK (photo courtesy Jodi Hoatson, CHI Health)

Again, we have so many, SO MANY, incredibly talented photojournalists here at KETV.  Still, for me, Dave Hynek is THE BEST OF THE BEST.  Not just at KETV, but arguably, one of the best in the country.  Dave FEELS what he shoots–he captures moments with his eyes, his ears, and all of his senses.  I’ve been honored to share some INCREDIBLE stories this year and in 3/4 of those stories or more, Dave was the man behind the camera and in the edit bay, trying to piece together a vision I had written down on paper.  A brave, young woman speaking for the first time about the night her ex-boyfriend shot her in the face; Dave put the story together.  Our chronicle about Baby Lawrence, multiple stories spanning several months; Dave put the stories together.  Cassidy Collier, a teenager facing lifelong challenges after a terrible car crash; Dave put her story together.  The paralyzed bride who walked down the aisle, the Plattsmouth teenager who died from a mysterious illness, our one-on-one interview with former Nebraska football coach Bo Pelini–DAVE HYNEK was the man behind the scenes in each and everyone of these stories.  When we aren’t fighting over Dave in news, he’s also part of our sports team, often traveling with Andy to Nebraska football road games to shoot on the sidelines; AND he has his own production business, shooting weddings and special events.  Dave helped me put together my audition tape for the College World Series this year (singing, not playing baseball), asking nothing in return.  Dave may be one hell of a photographer, but he’s an even better FRIEND. Dave listens, works hard, he is KIND.  Hands down, he is THE BEST. (And a SUPERSTAR shortstop on the Team Paparazzi softball team!)

Dave’s work in 2014:

Cassi’s message

Saving Baby Lawrence

New mother battling terminal cancer

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2014 PRODUCER OF THE YEAR, ANDREW BEIN

No picture of Andrew, our Executive Producer in charge of our 10pm newscasts.. and that’s the way he likes it.  Andrew is always behind the scenes, plugging away at his computer or up in our master control booth, and the DUDE IS A MACHINE.  Andrew could hands down be working in any big market or network outlet in the country; his writing in concise, accurate, and entertaining.  The numbers show it–with Andrew in control, KETV has not only the #1 10pm newscast in Omaha.. but one of the most popular newscasts in the country.  Rob and I TRUST him.  We know his scripts don’t have typos that could trip us up.  We know he’ll guide us through breaking news, weather coverage and an ever-changing environment where situations turn in a heartbeat.  Producers don’t often get the credit they deserve in our business–they don’t get their faces and names on our stories and coverage when things go great.  Andrew deserves it–he’s one of the best, and we are VERY lucky to have him on the KETV team!

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2014 ROOKIE OF THE YEAR

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ALEXANDRA STONE

By ‘Rookie’, I mean new to us here at KETV, but certainly not new to this thing we call journalism.  This young woman is POISED, professional and quickly building a reputation in Omaha and beyond as a trusted journalist you can turn to for the story.  I recently put together a story with an interview Alexandra had conducted; she spoke with the mother of a young man who had been shot and killed.  These interviews are SO incredibly difficult.  What can you ask? What can you say? Alexandra was compassionate, caring, she asked the questions that we and our viewers wanted to know, but with tact and professionalism.  It was a lesson in how to conduct yourself in such a tough situation, to remember you are a fellow human being.  It was also Alexandra who, after 13 years in TV news, led me to CRY on air for the first time I can remember after seeing one of her stories.  Alexandra and photojournalist Matthew Lathan showed a young man with cerebral palsy, surprised on the field when his coach put him into the game for the first time all season.  It was just BEAUTIFUL story telling, and perhaps, a small glimpse of what incredible things this girl is capable of.

Alexandra’s work in 2014:

Bellevue football player receives sidelines surprise

Omaha native makes dream job reality

Women’s center helps immigrants escape domestic violence

Follow Alexandra on Facebook and on Twitter

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I wish I had an ‘in’ with a trophy maker so I could hand out a few more awards.  To photojournalist Tyler White for editing not one, not two, but nearly ALL of my Throwback Thursday Huskers stories (some of which required deep digging into the KETV archives, converting countless forms of video, and piecing it all together with my less-than-stellar knowledge of football).  To KETV’s official EVERYTHING Josh Gear, who produces, shoots, edits.. OK, the guy just does anything and EVERYTHING asked of him, literally, working every shift we have at KETV, with no complaint.  To legendary directors Tom Rock and Ruth Behrens, who are not only PHENOMENAL at what they do, but are always putting on a pot of coffee or bringing in made-from-scratch chili, because they are just KIND, WONDERFUL people.  We’ve just got a really, REALLY great team here at KETV.

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2014 STORY OF THE YEAR

For this one, I am completely, entirely, TOTALLY biased.  Because this one is very personal for me.  The story I will remember most from 2014..

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THE PARALYZED BRIDE WHO WALKED DOWN THE AISLE

Gina Giaffoliogne-Springhower stunned her wedding guests and 1.65 MILLION viewers by doing what so many brides take for granted, walking down the aisle on her father’s arm.  The KETV team (myself, photojournalists Dave Hynek, Ashley Nodgaard and Tyler White, and Assistant News Director Vonn Jones), along with the Giaffoliogne family and CHI Health’s Jodi Hoatson, spent weeks planning and working to share Gina’s story.  Gina spent YEARS preparing for this one moment, an instant that brought me to tears and inspired millions of people around the globe.  Gina’s story was shared by E! Online, People Magazine, Dr. Oz, CNN, ABC World News and World News Now, Good Housekeeping, Huffington Post, Courier Daily, and the NY Daily News, among others.  Gina–THANK YOU for sharing your story.  Your message, smile and spirit have no doubt changed lives, showing anyone facing a challenge that ANYTHING is possible.  You have given people hope.  To have any role in sharing your story is a blessing I can never say thank you enough for.  The world is at your fingertips, Gina–you are simple incredible.

My blog post previewing Gina’s piece: A Cinderella Story

KETV, Paralyzed bride walks down the aisle

KETV, Millions share paralyzed bride’s story

KETV, Paralyzed bride invited to Dr. Oz

Gina hopes to continue to speak across the Midwest and the country sharing her story and her inspiring message.  CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFORMATION!

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I have many goals for 2015.  I want to finish (and in some cases, START!) my boys’ Shutterfly books for each year of their lives.  I want to pick up again on one of my favorite hobbies, scrapbooking.  I want to FINALLY get back to XXX and lose all of my baby weight.  I want to be a GREAT wife, mother and friend.

Here at KETV, I just want to tell good stories.  Stories that inspire.  Stories that matter.  Stories that make us think.

It’s been a great ride, 2014.  Happy New Year.