Members of the VFW and American Legion were present to encourage donations for the Utah Honor Flight.
Box Elder County Fair Opens with the All-American Country Tour August 22, 2018 • Richard Carr • Staff writer
The Box Elder County Fair was opened before an enthusiastic and welcoming crowd at the fair’s rodeo arena Saturday evening. With a sound stage set up in the middle of the arena, part of the audience spread out in lawn chairs in front of it, while the rest were in the grandstand. The crowd enjoyed music from three separate bands. The purpose for the concert was to support the All-American Country Tour fundraiser that benefits the Utah Honor Flight, an organization helping veterans see the memorials dedicated to the conflict in which they served. The concert headlined with Keith Anderson who has the hits “Pickin” Wildflowers”, “I Still Miss You” and “Lost in the Moment” with special guest Chance McKinney who has the hits “Hittin’ the Road”, “Be Real” and “Think About That.” A local talent, Caleb Bennett, and his band warmed the audience up before the main concert begin. They also were present for the raising of the flag to open the event and the recognition of veterans, which included the Fallen Soldier Ceremony. The mission of the Utah Honor Flight is to enable veterans to visit the war memorials built in their honor with respect and gratitude for their service and sacrifice. For most veterans, visiting their War Memorial is a truly profound experience, a time to cherish, remember, honor, and heal. The Utah Honor Flight program is run solely on donations, and organizers appreciate all who have participated in making flights possible and who continue to make this opportunity available for many veterans. Singer/Songwriter Anderson’s latest song “I’ll Bring the Music” describes his approach to his craft. This academic athlete from Miami, OK has always excelled at anything he has put his mind to accomplish. Anderson has appeared on programs such as “Today, Inside Edition, Access Hollywood, and Grand Ole Opry Live.” He has earned a coveted slot as one of country’s hottest new talents performing for radio as part of the Country Radio Seminar in Nashville. McKinney, who was born and raised in Montana, brought his unique style of music he calls “Industrialized Country” to the stage. It is a country lyric and vocal mixed in with metal guitars, pops structure, and industrial layers which produces the effects of what he called “dumpsters and hammers.” This approach was evident in the songs he sang which included “I” and “She Wrecked This Town.” Bennett is very familiar with the local area having attended Bear River High School and studied music at Utah State University in Logan. His band’s musical selections cover a wide range of styles going back to Hank Williams and Johnny Cash with newer selections folded into his performance.
Annie Parrish plays with African children in Zambia, Africa in July.
Dreams of Africa become a reality for BC photographer through humanitarian program August 15, 2018 • Hailey Hendricks • Staff writer
Growing up, Annie Parrish, formerly known as Thurgood, dreamt of visiting Africa. That dream came true when Parrish signed up to go on a two-week trip in July with Somewhere Divine – a husband-wife filmmaking team who also host service projects around the globe – and I am Zambia, a humanitarian organization. While getting to take pictures of the people and places around her, Parrish was also able to help build a medical clinic in Zambia, Africa, as well as to teach children English. “I am only 19...and I get to help others and of course, capture all the moments as well with my photography skills,” Parrish said. “Hailey Devine was a great example to me of that, being a Mormon mom of two, traveling the world and filming it along the way.” By getting to see and experience another part of the world, Parrish said it brought great memories, but also helped her to be more grateful for the things she takes advantage of at home. On the first day in Africa, Parrish said she and a few others were asked to fill up two barrels full of water at the water pump a half mile away. She said pumping the water was not easy and that the young children thought it was funny when she couldn’t pump. “It made me feel bad because at home, all we have to do is turn on the faucet and we get water,” Parrish said. “It really made me appreciate what we have and to put more thought into the things I do at home.” Spending most of her time in the country’s capital, Lusaka, Parrish said the city was not very well-kept, poverty was everywhere, and disease is great; but yet, the people are “so nice and very welcoming.” “They suffer from prostitution, sex trafficking, poverty and much more,” Parrish said. “I was really taken back by the stories and observing the life these children live every day.” In Lusaka, Parrish said there’s a technical school for young girls that teaches them how to be successful and run their own business, and another for kids ages 4 to 18 that teaches them English as well as other subjects. While visiting with the girls in the technical school, Parrish said the African girls had written “powerful poems” that talked about how they are women with dreams just like other women around the world. “One of the girls ended her poem saying, ‘I’m powerful, I’m bright, I’m a woman and I know what’s right. I’m a cycle-breaker,’” Parrish said. As one of about 45 volunteers on the African expedition, Parrish said she hopes to have made a difference in the lives of those in Africa, because they’ve made a difference in hers. “It’s easy to pretend situations like this aren’t real until you actually see it for yourself,” Parrish said. “But this has been the most rewarding experience – life changing to say the least, and something I will hold close to me forever.” After returning home to Brigham City, Parrish said seeing how others live has really opened her eyes to how blessed she is to live in America. “To see the way these people live day-by-day, and yet, they are some of the happiest people you will ever meet,” Parrish said. “One lady welcomed me into her home and they don’t have much, but she was so happy to show me her home and was proud of it as well.” Parrish said for anyone interested in a humanitarian project, she recommends doing it, because for her, it helped her learn and grow as a person, as well as making relationships with people around the world and knowing she can make a difference.
Community organizers put together a family event to combat bullying in Box Elder County
August 1, 2018 • Loni Newby • Associate editor
“Break the Silence of Suicide and Bullying Box Elder” will be held at Jeanie Stevens Park, Tremonton, on Saturday August 11 from 10 a.m.-10 p.m. The event is free to the public and families are encouraged. It is the first of its kind created separately from any formal organization rather just as a group of community members who have united to shed light on a cause close to their hearts. There will be resource booths, craft booths, delicious food, face painting, a kickball tournament, Locked in Logan Escape Room, Pictures with Princesses from Northern Utah Princess Parties, live entertainment, and more. Organizer Nicole Kaae, who also works with Brigham City Suicide Prevention Coalition, has been working with a team of nine people coordinated the efforts to present this experience to the public. “The goal for this event is to come together as a community for a fun family event and make resources that are available better known, such as: National crisis hotlines, health department resources, mental health resources, mental health professionals, New Hope Crisis Center, Family Support Center, American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP), The Northern Box Elder County Suicide Prevention Coalition, and Brigham Suicide Prevention Coalition. The more we talk about suicide the less power we give it, said Kaae. The fees for the park were covered by Tremonton City. Many community members have donated their time and talents for this event. There will be a kickball tournament, craft booths, resource booths, food trucks, live entertainment, and wrapping up with a DJ and a photo booth at the end of the night. Kaae and other event planners had been approached by Jennifer Thompson, of Tremonton, who is the mother of a student, Shawnee, who was bullied within the school district. Since that challenge their family has worked to overcome those challenges through the school system, through creating a bullying resilience program and through mentorship programs. Thompson had gathered multiple donations from the community for a benefit that her daughter was involved in that took place in Salt Lake City, she wanted to be able to use those donations specifically within the community from which they came. Thompson said, “I think one of the most important things I want parents to understand that it is absolutely okay to get your child help. Don’t hesitate, don’t risk your child’s life by hoping things will get better. The more people that get help, the more people will start feeling comfortable getting help, the more the stigma is reduced around mental health. And that is what really it comes down to when a child is getting bullied. They will always be more resilient if they have a positive mental health foundation.” Parents are often not aware of the resources available for their students, if bullying or other crises situations arise. “The Safe Utah App is an incredible crisis resource that I would recommend. Shawnee was just approved as a Be Strong Representative for the state of Utah. She will be starting the first Club in Utah, at BRHS this fall. I would recommend parents downloading the app, Be Strong. It helps parents know how to help children that are being affected from bullying,” said Thompson. “I also highly recommend an open conversation of self esteem and mental health every single day. Parents being open about to their kids about having confidence inside themselves to be the person they were meant to be, not who their friends want them to be is a healthy daily conversation we now have. Living life is just flat out hard sometimes, seriously. And I think these kids need to know that they have the power to overcome anything that comes their way,” Thompson said. Kaae reached out to her extended network and planning efforts began, “[Thompson] asked us to help her put together an event that would bring more awareness to the issue of bullying and suicide affecting us all here in Box Elder County. We reached out to additional community members who were interested in joining in our efforts. They have been touched either personally or professionally by suicide in profound ways and want to be a part of a solution.” Credit for programs within the school district is given by the organizers of the event, there is no finger pointing, rather building upon existing resources and growing them to reach more vulnerable youth. “The schools in our district are doing the best they can within the parameters that they are given but there is no one entity that is going to solve this problem,” said Kaae, “We need to come together as individuals, communities, coalitions, and organizations to bring awareness, better resources, and reduce the stigma surrounding suicide and mental illness. Just as the fingers on a hand work together, we can accomplish so much more if we integrate our efforts toward reducing bullying and suicide in our communities.” “Many of the people who will be coming to offer their services have also been impacted by bullying and/or suicide.,” said Kaae. Kaae and Carrie Rathbone, also of Brigham Suicide Prevention Coalition, came together in a joint statement which reads: “As members of The Brigham Suicide Prevention Coalition we offer a monthly support group for Survivors of Suicide Loss. We are working toward a support group for survivors of suicide attempt, and we offer multiple suicide prevention trainings taught by certified trainers. “The state of Utah lost 620 people in 2017 alone. Statistically over 100 people are affected by a single suicide. For every suicide there are 25 others who attempt. Doing the math that is 15,500 people who attempted suicide last year in our state. To put that in perspective: the population of Brigham City as of 2017 was 17,899. One in twenty people are thinking about committing suicide right now. How are you (the reader) going to help?” Those who are interested in volunteering or providing educational resources may direct questions to Kaae’s email at email@example.com.
Shawntae Lund smiles with a Haitian boy while they play outside on a hot summer day. Former Peach Queen gives service teaching English in Haiti
July 25, 2018 • Hailey Hendricks • Staff writer
Former 2016 Peach Queen, Shawntae Lund went from pageant life and serving the people of Brigham City to a third world country to teach children English in an orphanage. Lund has been living in Saint Marc, Haiti, for the summer as part of an international language program at Southern Utah University. The 15-week humanitarian trip wasn’t something Lund had ever considered doing, prior to her role as Miss Brigham City and the opportunities for service that provided. “I feel like the lessons about service I learned during my reign have helped prepare me not just to do the service, but to have the desire to do the service here, in Haiti.” Lund said serving in a foreign country hasn’t been the easiest thing she’s ever done, but it has been the most rewarding and humbling. “I wanted to travel, I wanted to see how other people live in the world,” Lund said, “I wanted to do a service that was bigger than what I normally do at home. I really wanted to push myself to do something that would genuinely challenge my comfort and allow for real growth.” And Lund said she’s grown personally by living with children in the orphanage and experiencing a different kind of lifestyle than what she’s been used to. Shortly after arriving in Haiti, Lund and some of her fellow English teachers went to a Haitian slave sugar cane plantation, where a man selling things asked one of the teachers if she wanted anything and the woman replied, ‘No thanks, I’m poor.’ Lund said the man turned to the teacher and said,”‘Don’t say poor. You are not poor.” “That pierced my heart,” Lund said. That experience alone was an eye-opener for Lund because of how her definition of poverty in America compares to it in Haiti. “For me, in my life at least, poor means not being able to go out to dinner with your friends or borrowing some money from your parents for gas,” Lund said. “But in Haiti, it means your one-year-old baby might have to be dropped off at an orphanage – literally starving to death, because you cannot feed them yourself.” Despite the hardships Lund has seen, she said she’s gained a greater appreciation for the things she once took for granted. “Never in my life have I been more grateful for the things I have so accessible to me in my home country,” Lund said. “Things like long showers, hot water, A/C, the food, washers and dryers and being able to flush my toilet paper instead of throwing it away in the trash can.” And while Lund will be able to come home to the comforts of her every day life, the children in Haiti will not. So to make sure they can have happy lives, she hopes to help inspire them to be their best selves – and this includes teaching them English. While focusing on teaching 14 Haitian orphans, ages 4 to 15, the English language. Lund said she and other English teachers teach the kids for two hours a day. And after class, she and the other nine teachers get to play with the kids and help them learn important life skills. “The kids fight, they play and they learn,” Lund said. “We, as teachers, hold them, we play with them and we love them. They don’t have anybody else in their lives to teach them the things that they, as children, simply need to be taught. And I feel so blessed to be able to play a part in fulfilling some of their needs.” While Lund spends a majority of her time with the children in the orphanage, she said she’s been able to experience the country and culture, too. “People are always outside on the street, playing soccer, women carry large loads of things on their heads and people are always asking for money,” Lund said. Every day is a new experience for Lund and one thing she always finds to be interesting is the food. “The portion sizes are smaller,” Lund said. “For example, for lunch in America, I might eat a sandwich, a fruit, some chips and juice or some beverage. But in Haiti, it’s a small roll with half to a full egg scrambled and poached. And that’s all. No sides or anything like that.” Although Lund is experiencing a different lifestyle, she said she is loving every minute of her time there. “It’s opened my eyes to what poverty and hunger looks like,” Lund said. “It’s been very humbling and has helped me to learn more about the love of God for each of his children.” For anyone considering serving a humanitarian trip, Lund said they should always remember that the service they are doing isn’t about them. When first arriving to Haiti, she said she struggled with challenges of being in a foreign country, but she was reminded that the trip wasn’t about her, it was about the people she was helping. “This trip has made me so much more grateful for the things I have, and it has shown me so much of what I don’t need to be happy,” Lund said. “I am forever grateful for the lessons of love, patience, perseverance and humility that I have learned from being here.” Lund began her humanitarian trip in May and will return to Utah at the end of August, where she will continue her education at SUU.
Director Peter Sullivan gives notes to the talent hidden behind lighting flags at the counter of Idle Isle where interior diner shots were filmed.
A behind the scenes look at Brigham City’s Winter themed filming experience for upcoming made for TV movie
July 18, 2018 • Loni Newby • Associate editor
Movie magic has been unfolding throughout the Main Street corridor since last week. While some local residents have taken advantage of the opportunity to be a part of the production as background talent, with hopes of being able to freeze frame their moment in the spotlight of the production “Miracle of Music” for bragging rights, others who have missed the casting calls and announcements in the News Journal have been confused by the sudden shift in seasons. Saturday’s Farmers Market was bustling with people curious enough to take a look at what was unfolding, while using that legitimate excuse to be near the filming vicinity. Some cruised Main Street trying to spot actors, others used car radios or revved motorcycle engines as intentional attempts to make their mark on the filming. Longtime residents were quick to compare this experience to that of the 1997 filming of “Clay Pigeons.” Trailers filled the parking lot of Forest Street and 100 West, as a central camp for all crew and featured talent. The trailers serve as green rooms, costume shops, make-up and dressing area, along with a space for relaxation and cooling off from the heat of the day. Moving trucks full of gear and set dressings were parked throughout downtown, and snow machines were used to create a world fit for a feel good Christmas tale, although Brigham City’s oft recognized historic charm gives a healthy head start to the small town feel which transformed the city to fictional “Masonville.” Residents took to social media to note the season change from the dog days of summer to artificial snow in place along the sidewalks of Main Street, where store fronts were decorated in festive Christmas themes. It turns out that nearly all Christmas themed movies are filmed during the summer break when actors are on hiatus from other productions, filming rarely takes place during the actual winter season due to schedule conflict with actors and crew as well as a number of environmental factors that can affect the quality of cinematography and make sets more difficult to manage. It is often easier to fake winter than to actually shoot in winter conditions. The cast braved the hot days wearing winter clothing and outerwear, meanwhile the crew ran behind the scenes creating the world where a mid July day could easily pass as a December day. Interior shooting took place on Friday in Idle Isle cafe, which was closed to the public. This behind the scenes visit for the News Journal included meeting Production Manager and Associate Producer, Jarrod Phillips, on set. Out of respect for the talent Phillips advised not to use any identifiable photographs or to release the names of the talent as a general security concern. Additionally, use of their likeness in non-promotional matters falls outside of their contracted obligations, and can be costly. Walking through the trailers to the back entrance of Idle Isle, a door entered countless times, felt different, in place of the salad bar were crew members and production assistants waiting on their next assignments. Pelican cases and gear filled the back dining area, the door frame opening to the main dining area booths became a demarcation line between active playing scene and the technical gear and crew. The evergreen boughs and lighted garlands with ornaments created a warm festive ambiance to the restaurant. In the front half of the north rooms the crew watched monitors for playback assessing everything from lighting, sound, continuity, framing and more. When the call goes out, from director Peter Sullivan, “Rolling! Rolling!” silence befalls the entire space. Interfering with filming by being in the wrong place at the wrong time is a punishable offense on set, and even walking in the separate tech space was a gamble in the nearly century-old building, a misplaced floor squeak will draw the ire of fellow crew members. At this point in filming the talent completes their scene including any blocking, take after take when necessary. Sullivan popped in to give dialogue notes or any suggestions for different ways to play the scene and the filming continues, once the director is satisfied with what has been captured and calls cut, the real transformation begins. The bustle of technical crew quickly shifts the entire perspective of the cameras into the alternative view, this means a complete shift of lighting equipment. Stand-ins are called in so that the framing can be set, as well as lighting consistency can be carried over while the talent takes a quick break. All this unfolds as quickly as possible, because the quicker the shot is attained the quicker they can move forward—although the haste is to comply with their shot list schedule, it doesn’t help that interior shoots are done without the use of air conditioning because the potential for sound interference--in a closed in space with full crew, mid-summer, in winter clothing. Once the scene is set, the actors are called back in and given additional notes to remind them of anything that might create issues with continuity. And the process begins again, for each and every scene, in each and every location. Artificial lighting is used to turn day into night on exterior shots like those that took place on the courthouse lawn. Background actors stay in their designated places throughout, in this case as diners simply had to remain seated at their tables; featured background might have a blocking movement where they interact with the actors in the scene. Every shot is filmed with the idea in mind of avoiding the necessity of re-shooting, especially when on location. Reflections in mirrors and glass or a stray cord powering equipment could effect the ability to use an entire take, therefore precision is required in setting up the scene and multiple eyes are on each monitor before they roll. Phillips is Salt Lake City-based and has worked many productions throughout the state. He said that everyone he had interacted with from the county level on down to extras had been very helpful in the organization and getting the approval for filming to take place. The use of local talent as background can make a huge difference in the filming budget, considering that a typical union standard day rate is roughly $100, but if 100 extras are needed that adds up very quickly and would take funding from other aspects of filming. The people of Utah have been very friendly and generous in donating their time and at times props and set pieces, like the 20-foot Christmas tree which was placed on the Box Elder County Courthouse lawn and had been loaned out by Trolley Square Mall. Phillips acknowledged that the local response to casting calls was overwhelming and they had their choice of talent to fill the background of the city scenes. Release date has not been finalized but this a made-for-TV movie and will not have broad release in a theater setting, however there is hope that it will be a hit and become part of the Christmas movies that replay from year to year on a family-friendly network.
Khloe Dubois has started a path to pay-it-foward to other children who are patients of Primary Children’s Hospital where she received treatment as she battled cancer.
Paying forward kindness is 'Easy peasy lemon squeezy’ July 11, 2018 • Loni Newby • Associate editor
Khloe Dubois is a lot of things, she is a six-year-old girly-girl who loves to wear dress-ups and changes her outfit over and over each day, she is a protective big sister who is always the first to share with her two younger brothers, and she is a cancer survivor, in remission, who is spending her summer raising money to donate to brighten the days of other families like her own who have spent countless days and weeks confined in the sterile environment of hospitals while battling childhood disease or injuries. Khloe is the daughter of Kevin and Erika Dubois, of Tremonton. At the age of three a bump appeared under her rib cage, showing no other signs of illness she was diagnosed with a Wilms tumor, a form of childhood kidney cancer also known as nephroblastoma. “She showed no signs and no symptoms whatsoever, other than a lump under her ribcage,” said Kevin Dubois, “They removed the kidney with the tumor in it, then we found out it had spread to her lungs. They had to remove her lung...She went through some pretty harsh chemo, that was when it was the hardest” Khloe’s treatment was provided at Primary Children’s Hospital where her longest inpatient stay was nearly a month, and during her chemotherapy she would spend one week every three weeks enduring chemo and multiple rounds of antibiotics. This was the most challenging for Kevin Dubois to witness, as a father, because his strong, spirited girl was fighting for her life, at times in the intensive care unit. Khloe has had multiple surgeries, about five so far, and the family was preparing for a final surgery to remove a port-a-cath, a chest catheter used to give intravenous fluids, blood transfusions, chemotherapy, and other drugs. The surgery would also remove some residual hardware. However, the surgery was put on hold due to a revelation that the state medicaid coverage had been cut. A number of financial burdens had been placed on the family due to medical expenses and traveling, and as one who struggles with the idea of handouts Kevin Dubois worked additional shifts in order to try to help dig the family out financially as much as he could manage. These extra trips as a truck driver added up and the family then exceeded the income allowance for state assistance, her policy was cancelled without prior notice. The family has searched for affordable health insurance, but given her pre-existing condition they have hit wall after wall. But, Kevin Dubois has hope that they will find something and be able to relieve her of the port-a-cath in her chest, which isn’t a huge burden for a girl already living with only one lung and one kidney, but limits her ability to do fun activities like slip ‘n slides. “We have to keep an eye on her, she always tries to keep up with everyone on the playground. Relax catch your breath, having one lung she can’t do everything that the other kids do, they have to put limits on her so she doesn’t get overworked,” said Kevin Dubois. Despite all of her struggles Khloe wants to help others. She remembers her time in the hospital and how challenging it was for the family. So, when she suggested making a lemonade stand this summer her parents thought that she might raise some spending money. But, Khloe had something else in mind. “She wasn’t even worried about raising money for herself, she wanted to raise money for the other kids in the hospital,” said Kevin Dubois. Khloe set a goal of raising $10,000 to provide things like toys and stuffed animals for children in the hospital, and gift cards and small treats for their families. The Ronald McDonald House was a blessing for the Dubois family, and she wanted to pay-it-forward to other families like her own. “She wants to go to Walmart and buy all the Barbies to pass out at the hospital. She wants to put together care packages and buy gift cards to give to the families,” said Kevin Dubois. Her father began to build her a lemonade stand. Not long after, the family had encountered Henry Gordon, a roofer, who inquired about Khloe’s condition and her plans for the lemonade stand. Gordon was so touched, he immediately shared the story with his wife, Kiyo Hashimoto. Hashimoto is well-connected with many charitable endeavors of her own, she immediately took the Dubois family under her wing and used her established social network of givers to get word out about Khloe’s philanthropic entrepreneurial idea. Hashimoto helped to decorate the lemonade stand with oversized flowers to reflect Khloe’s spirited personality. Donations of cups and powdered lemonade arrived from businesses like Paul Jones Trucking, and Ridley’s Market. Greer’s Hardware had already donated lumber for the stand, personal donations also came through. By the time Khloe’s Lemonade officially launched her opening day she served over a hundred customers. “It’s people that we’ve never met before coming out. She doesn’t care, she calls them her friends. She’s selling lemonade to her friends,” said Kevin Dubois, “People are coming out of the woodwork. People were coming in droves.” Along with the support are requests for the ability to make online donations, but the Dubois family has to be careful in their acceptance of funds due to it counting against their income making it potentially more difficult to secure insurance or disability for Khloe. There is a steep legal learning curve, but the family is already coordinating their efforts as part of the adopt-a-meal program through the Ronald McDonald House, their first meal delivery will take place in August when the family returns from the Make-a-Wish foundation trip to Hawaii, later this month. Khloe grew to love the idea of island life with Disney’s Moana. When they return the family will be back in business, they are trying to secure a food handler’s permit and get a hand washing station so that they can qualify for proper permitting to participate in bigger events. Kevin Dubois said that they will do whatever they can to help their daughter reach or even exceed her lofty goal, as long as it is something that she wants to pursue.
Christopher Harrison hangs from steel beams in an AntiGravity hammock, of his own design, this innovation has created a worldwide fitness buzz.
World renowned dancer, gymnast turned fitness innovator has roots in Brigham City July 4, 2018 • Loni Newby • Associate editor
New York City’s Christopher Harrison is a highly accomplished performer and successful businessman whose work is known around the world, even if people don’t immediately recognize it. Harrison has performed in and choreographed multiple Broadway productions, including “Meet me in St. Louis,” “Cats,” “A Chorus Line,” and “Damn Yankees!” He did aerial choreography for the Tony Award winning revival of “Nine.” Harrison has also choreographed for performers including Sean “Puff Daddy” Combs, Busta Rhymes, Usher, Pharrell, No Doubt, Michael Jackson, Nelly, Fergie, 50 Cent, and more for the MTV music awards. He founded, produces and has performed in AntiGravity, a world-renown aerial acrobatics and performance group, which has performed in three Olympic Games, six Broadway shows, 15 seasons with the Metropolitan Opera and numerous television appearances including: the Grammy Awards, Video Music Awards, Academy Awards and President Barack Obama’s Inauguration and over 500 productions in over 25 countries. Finally, from AntiGravity Harrison innovated the use of aerial hammocks for physical therapy and health and wellness programs for AntiGravity Fitness, which now has nine fitness programs developed by Harrison with over 7,000 certified instructors in over 50 countries. And all of this success stems from being driven by the challenges he faced growing up gay in Brigham City, and the unconditional support from his family. “I was a round peg being squished into a square hole,” said Harrison, who was raised in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and has a rich pioneer heritage as a fifth generation Mormon. “No matter which way they tried to squeeze me I didn’t quite fit...I knew I didn’t fit inside the box I was trying to be squished inside of...I cared about theatre, fashion, gymnastic, beauty, and dance and art....and it was a football, basketball, and hunting society.” said Harrison, “My parents knew I was different. They didn’t know how to name it.” Harrison has no qualms about standing out. In his youth as a dance, theatre and gymnastics lover, he always felt that he didn’t quite fit in to small-town Utah life. He was the first male dancer in the dance club at Box Elder High School, and had tumbling skills that made him a standout cheerleader, which earned him scholarships to further his education. Harrison’s parents didn’t try to change him, and instead loved him for who he was and encouraged him in his pursuits. And what he loved most was running, jumping and pushing kinetic energy to the limit. “My mom saw skill, and she nurtured that skill. I took tumbling classes at Rozell Henrie’s Dance, Tap and Acrobatics.” Despite being the only boy in the class, he was enthralled and he excelled. In 1978, Harrison took fourth place at the World Games in Hawaii for tumbling. Harrison eventually found a similar passion and talent for the theater, and was a founding member of Palace Playhouse, organized by Fontell Meservy. “Theatre gave me an outlet to be able to embrace more of my own true self, and the things that make me tick,” said Harrison, “Palace was a safe place, as safe as it could be at the time. I genuinely thought that I was the only gay person in all of Utah. I really did.” After high school Harrison went on to cheer for University of Utah. While there, he was cast in the movie, “Footloose,” which tells the story of teens who were not allowed to dance by the decree of a local pastor. Harrison found parallels in the film to his childhood. “My grandpa Harrison was the bishop in the 8th Ward and he...banned dancing at church functions.” It’s also where Harrison’s drive to succeed was fueled by a society and community that didn’t support the authenticity of who he was, and he used the social challenges thrown at him as fuel to reach for his dreams. With dreams of making it in the Big Apple, Harrison asked leading man Kevin Bacon how to succeed in New York City. Bacon said, “Ya gotta go and you can’t give up.” With money he earned performing as a featured dancer in a movie, Harrison pursued his dreams of dancing on Broadway stages, when he exceeded that goal his innovations allowed him to take to the skies. Harrison made the move to New York City during the peak of the AIDS epidemic. He found a shared apartment with strangers who were crack addicts and prostitutes—but the rent was only $400. Over time, Harrison watched friends and lovers die from the disease, but he survived because of the message his father sent him in a letter not long after Harrison left Utah. “My father wrote me this letter that basically said, ‘Be authentically you. We love you exactly as you are.’ He saved my life...friends and lovers around me would all die—they all had a common thread of not feeling loved or supported. The one thing I had, is that I knew that I was loved. I survived because I knew that.” Harrison was eventually cast in his first Broadway production due to his combined dancing and tumbling skills, and Broadway quickly became a supportive community—the right community for him. In his down time, he coached gymnastics at Sutton Gym. There he began to network with other dancers and gymnasts who would stay after classes to work on combining gymnastics and dance in unique ways, adding aerial cartwheels into pirouettes and anything to bring some innovation using their athleticism and creativity. That work in the gym and an opportunity to choreograph a high-energy performance for the New York City Marathon after party, turned into the performance group, AntiGravity. AntiGravity brought edginess and an urban feel to the gymnastics and dance communities. “We booked many shows and ad campaigns and filled a gap that no one knew was there,” said Harrison. Following a show at a nightclub that forced the troupe to get creative and use the space above the stage—“We can’t use the stage but we can go up in the air...Hang from hammocks,” Harrison said—AntiGravity created a new aerial art form that became a hit and sent the troupe traveling. “Next thing I knew we were touring the world again with aerial choreography,” said Harrison. Meanwhile, Harrison was choreographing not only for his troupe but for other productions on Broadway. Harrison said the tragedy of Sept. 11, 2001, changed everything for his company in the heart of New York City. Funding began to disappear because performance simply took a backseat in the ‘new’ America. With no choice but to downsize, Harrison moved the troupe to Orlando where they created a performance school. Harrison, however, had grown to be a true New Yorker and decided to stay where he felt at home, though he still traveled with the troupe. The physical work took it’s toll, however. “We found that we were beating our bodies up kind of hard, so we had to figure out a new equation,” said Harrison. While standing on the shore of the Indian Ocean, “I made a deal with the universe. Let me remain physically active in my passion and I will, in turn dedicate my life to sharing the knowledge I gain.” Harrison had come across yoga during his time in India choreographing the Miss India pageant, and he recognized the power in slowing movement down with great intention. Also, the performers had long noticed that their bodies felt relief from the standard aches and pains of athletes when they used the aerial hammocks. This was the beginning for AntiGravity Aerial Yoga and all AntiGravity Fitness techniques. While thinking about the potential physical therapy value of the hammocks, Harrison hung one in his home at ballet barre level, designed at hip crease height. He began to develop a warm up program for his performers to alleviate their physical discomforts and realized that there was a great deal of potential fitness value for non-athletes as well. Also, Harrison’s back and partially reconstructed knees were much improved with the use of AntiGravity hammocks. Harrison went public with his first fitness program, AntiGravity Yoga in 2007. The concept exploded practically overnight and he was able to franchise it to studios worldwide and acquire his own building in the heart of the garment district. The AntiGravity hammocks enabled the body to move freely in a way that was formerly only accessible underwater, movement that could only be done vertically could now be performed horizontally or even inverted in a safe home or class environment. The results are not only causing clients to gain more physical strength and endurance, the programs are helping people reconnect their minds and bodies. “We’re doing more than just decompressing the spine, there is actually an element that you are reconnecting your body and your mind,” said Harrison, “it actually helps you remember who you are—your spirit.” The techniques are also now being developed with Mt. Sinai Hospital for use with patients with disabilities, and the program has shown improvement for those suffering from PTSD, particularly veterans. Participants have indicated that they have been able to limit pain medications. Harrison said he hopes to open a studio in Brigham City someday, just to bring his experience full circle with the memories of his youth. “I was raised in the mountains, I now live at the top of a mountain in NYC. They are a little different—they are made of glass and concrete—but I’m still surrounded by mountains,” Harrison said. Harrison is more humble than might be expected of a man who has achieved his level of success. What he contributed to the world of aerial arts, is comparable to the innovations the Christensen brothers brought to dance in America. At just 14 years old on a stage in Brigham City, Christopher Harrison first embraced taking flight while playing Peter Pan, and in a way he never grew up. He is a man who loves to dance, to fly, and to provide joy to those who cross his path, whether it be as a performer or from his Segway with his rainbow-dyed dog, Newton, during the Pride celebration in New York City. Now, from afar, Harrison is planning the upcoming 40th class reunion for the Box Elder High School class of 1979, registration is available at www.behs1979reunion.com. He is reveling in the nostalgia of growing up in Box Elder County: a place home to the famous fruit way, one of the largest bird refuges in the world where beautiful birds take flight, and where the Christensen brothers brought new life to the dance industry with their contributions to ballet. His own cultural impact with innovations known around the globe aren’t often recognized in the city that helped shaped his persevering drive for success and expression. Harrison’s life has been exceptionally full, and he plans to share it with the world in an autobiography for this 60th birthday.
Miracle within a miracle Woman seeking neonatal care for expected complications delivers healthy baby on I-15
Derek Vogel, Larissa McCollum, Finn and their newborn son pose for a family picture after a complicated ambulance delivery, in recovery at Bear River Valley Hospital.
June 27, 2018 • Loni Newby • Associate editor
A couple from Bozeman, Montana knew that delivery of their baby was near, due to anticipated medical complications for their unborn son they had carefully planned to utilize the services of the University of Utah’s neonatal intensive care unit to prolong the life of their baby who was given less a 5-percent survival expectation. Due to the high risk level of complications at birth, plans were made to travel to Utah well in advance of the due date, in case of an early labor. On Monday, June 18, at 37 weeks gestation Larissa McCollum and Derek Vogel, along with their two-year-old son Finn, began their journey south expecting to spend the last several weeks remaining of the pregnancy in Utah. The family made it to Pocatello, Idaho, before contractions began to indicate active labor. Because of multiple complications throughout the pregnancy McCollum had done extenstive research on possible complex obstacles they could potentially face, in order to enable the best care possible advocating for herself and her baby. This knowledge would become paramount in time of crisis. When the contractions became regular the couple was in direct communication with their Maternal Fetal Medicine team who advised that they continue driving, as they were only two hours from their intended destination. They hurried down the interstate, but soon after entering Utah that urgency turned into emergency. “On Monday during the drive down, my contractions started to get somewhat regular around Rexburg. I’d been having stronger Braxton Hicks for the last couple days, but this is very common. My OB appointment on Thursday showed no signs of impending labor, and I had a good sense of my body after having my first son. It’s wasn’t anything serious,” said McCollum, “Knowing Idaho Falls and Pocatello were our only major hospitals until the Salt Lake area, we timed my contractions and consulted with the MFM team. As I suspected, the contractions were too far apart and they advised us to continue to drive down and come straight to the hospital. As we reached Pocatello, about two hours away from Salt Lake, I knew I was in active labor. It wasn’t hard labor, so I expected to have baby later that night.” McCollum said, “We sped up and continued on. Just outside of Tremonton, my water broke. As my water broke, I felt the cord prolapse. I screamed at Derek to pull over and tell me what I felt: he confirmed it was the cord. That was when I realized we weren’t going to make it to the hospital, or if we did, we would likely lose baby to an unrelated complication.” Cord prolapse is an obstetric emergency, there is typically only 7-12 minutes for a safe delivery because the pressure on the cord causes the blood flow to to the baby to decrease or cease altogether. McCollum tried to position herself to relieve pressure on the cord, while Vogel relayed the information to 911. Based on what she was feeling and a check from Vogel of the baby’s status it didn’t appear that natural delivery was imminent, so the best option was to fight the urge to push and keep the baby inside as long as possible until help could arrive. “I knew every minute mattered, and as time went on I grew more and more worried. Since I appeared to understand prolapse better than anyone at scene, understandably! I just kept asking questions about how things looked--I couldn’t see with my belly.” McCollum said, “When EMS arrived I continued to ask questions and ask for instructions. Understandably, they weren’t comfortable telling me whether or not I had fully dilated and should push or wait for a [Cesarean] section because on OB needs to make that decision based on the situation.” First responders, including EMT Kortney Thompson from Plymouth were able to reach the family’s vehicle, assess the situation and load McCollum into the ambulance with plans to take her to Bear River Valley Hospital. But, the baby did not wait for that arrival. A healthy boy weighing 6 pounds 8 ounces, measuring 19.5 inches long was born in the back of the ambulance on I-15 at 4:36 p.m. McCollum said, “After my water broke, I had very strong contractions and things progressed very quickly. In the ambulance, I knew baby was very close. I frantically asked ‘what do you want me to do!?’ as another contraction came, and shortly after Kortney called out ‘that’s the head!’ and I knew our best option was to have him and relieve pressure from the cord immediately.” The entire process from water breaking to delivery was only 16 minutes, but with the cord prolapse that still held risks. The baby was pink and breathing, which gave not only relief but hope in longevity. “I kept asking if he was breathing, and Kortney kept telling me that he was. I finally heard him let out a small, small, cry and knew he was going to be okay. Doctors predicted that his lungs would immediately collapse if he wasn’t able to make up for the lung tissue that he couldn’t grow for the nine weeks he spent without fluid. I was shocked but so, so relieved. I didn’t stop smiling after that moment for a few hours,” said McCollum. “Early on, we were given a 5-percent chance that our baby would survive, and told he would have severe lifelong complications if he did,” McCollum said. “We spoke with a lot of specialists, and they gave him less than a one percent chance of ever being healthy. At 9 weeks, McCollum had started to bleed and feared a miscarriage, at the Emergency department they learned that she had a subchorionic hemorrage, part of her placenta had peeled up causing blood to pool in her uterus. When the bleed didn’t appear to resolve after a few weeks McCollum was referred to a Maternal Fetal Medicine specialist. Her assessment was that there was still a 33% chance of losing the baby, and that overall the pregnancy looked healthy. This would normally be great news, but McCollum left in tears because she had additional concerns that weren’t addressed and she was feeling uncertain. That night, at only 15 weeks, McCollum was awakened from her sleep with a gush of water. She had experienced a previable premature rupture of the membranes, a condition that only affects less than one percent of pregnancies. Normally this triggers premature labor, but McCollum was one of the approximately ten percent of women who continue to carry the pregnancy despite the ruptured membrane. “At 24 weeks, or “viability” (when baby is mature enough for neonatologists to take life saving action in the NICU) I was going to be hospitalized at University of Utah until I delivered, likely a very premature baby. At 24 weeks, our weekly ultrasound showed the seemingly impossible: after 9 weeks without fluid, baby suddenly had normal fluid. We watched cautiously, but I was able to maintain normal fluid and not leak, an extremely, extremely rare “reseal” with no scientific explanation,” said McCollum. “Despite what he was up against, he kept fighting. We chose to keep fighting for him and with him. We loved every day that he spent with us. There were good days and bad days, but over weeks and months, he beat every odd,” wrote the Vogel family on facebook, “Our doctors shook their heads in disbelief and told us “sometimes, science doesn’t always work.” However, doctors couldn’t predict what would happen after he was born.” “I don’t even know how to put it into words,” Vogel said. “I’m just really glad he’s here in one piece, and we’re so grateful for all of the people who helped us get him here safely. We’re so grateful for all of the first responders and everyone at the hospital who helped make that happen.” McCollum and newborn son were treated and admitted for post-partum care at Bear River Valley Hospital under the care of Dr. Todd Miller and the team of caregivers. “We are so grateful for such a positive outcome for this little baby and his family, and happy that we could be a part of it,” said Rhonda Merryweather, manager of the emergency and labor and delivery service lines for BRVH. She said given the circumstances, Vogel and McCollum did all the right things to achieve a happy ending to this story. Thompson is also credited along with the safe delivery of a baby who was given dire odds of survival and had a list of potential lifelong complications if he did survive the process of child birth. Through their swift thinking relying on copious research and action, a new life was brought into the world. Thompson had just completed a course in St. George the previous month on childbirth. At the time of press the baby has yet to receive a formal name, because it is difficult to find the perfect fit for someone who beat the odds of of survival and life-altering complications during pregnancy, and then beat the odds again arriving safe and sound in a high-risk delivery situation is like a miracle within a miracle.
Colorful chalk toss to raise money for three BC organizations June 20, 2018 • Loni Newby • Associate editor
The Brigham City Fine Arts Center in conjunction with Brigham City Rotary Club and Box Elder Community Garden are hosting the second annual Chalk Toss and Fun Run event on Saturday, June 23, behind Member’s First Credit Union, 120 East 1000 South, Brigham City. The event is in its second year, Susan Neidert of the Fine Arts Center, said she is hoping that the increased visibility of this year’s event will improve attendance over the inaugural chalk toss last year which was held at Watkins Park. The event will begin with 5K race check-in at 7 a.m. Register now on line for a discount on shirts and the 5K registration. Check-in and on-site registration for the 5K opens at 7 a.m. with runners/walkers setting off at 8 a.m. Activities will commence with chalk tosses throughout the day until 4 p.m. Chalk toss events have gained notoriety and popularity through the spread of social media photos with families covered in multi-colored chalk thrown by other participants. Participants typically wear white or light colors so that the colored chalk shows up. Many residents have traveled to more metropolitan areas to participate in these events, Neidert said she is hoping to encourage fun family engagement through providing a local opportunity in Brigham City. The Chalk Toss and Fun Run is family-friendly: there will be children’s activities, live entertainment, local crafters vendor booths and chalk tosses every hour. The cost is $6 per person, or $25 per family, and children 5 and under are free. The entry fee includes a package of chalk, masks, activity tickets (2 per individual entry, 10 tickets provided for family tickets) and a water bottle. Additional chalk will be available for sale between $2-$4 per bag. Although most wear their colored chalk with pride, those parents who might want to protect clothing can request a cloth drape. “Come have fun and help three awesome community programs. We’re doing a combined fundraiser splitting it three ways, between the community garden, fine arts center and Rotary club,” said Neidert, who explained that her portion of funds raised will go toward scholarships and kids programming to keep costs down. Booth and race sponsorships are still available, those interested should contact Janet via email, janet@firstname.lastname@example.org, cash or check donations are also accepted at the Fine Arts Center, 58 South 100 West, Brigham City, or by calling 435-723-0740. New this year, the “Rock Monster” will be in attendance, this oversized puppet-like character uses ordinary pebbles which will be provided, the jaw moves and chews up gravel and returns a nicely polished rock to the children to keep as a souvenir. Prices for activities will vary there will be five free activities, and eight activities that cost one ticket each. There will be face painting, ring toss, mini car races with New Hope Crisis Center, sensory challenge boxes, water bottle puppets and more. Vendors will be selling small crafts and slime. Alpine Gardens with community gardens will be creating fairy garden crafts. Neidert said that the activities should easily entertain families for an hour or more, but they are welcome to stay and play all day. “We try to make it as fun as possible, we will have a chalkboard wall where they can leave their mark, and make artwork on,” said Neidert. Returning is a crowd favorite activity: Cardboard box car designing and a race. Neidert would like to encourage attendees to bring an extra grocery box to decorate as there will be a limited number of boxes provided, but plenty of decorating materials on site. The children can spray pain them or decorate them with tape and other craft items. “That was really a hit last year, they will make them at 10:15 and race at 10:45, then they can race over and see Alan [Dial]...he is a family oriented comedian,” Neidert said that she is excited to see his act as she has heard wonderful things. Neidert said that mid-morning timeframe will have the most appeal for those with young children as far as the live entertainment goes, but the whole day will be bustling with activities.
Local 10-year-old recovering from traumatic brain injury
Another ATV accident with no helmet or seatbelt to blame June 13, 2018 • Nancy Browne • Staff writer
Left with a traumatic brain injury (TBI) after a RZR side-by-side all terrain vehicle turned over during a family camping trip May 27, 10-year-old Lizzie Anderson finally went home last Friday. Although she was well enough to go home, her mother Jessica May Anderson, said it will take a full year of continuous physical, occupational, cognitive and speech therapy to get the Mountain View fifth-grader back to normal. And even then, there’s no guarantee. With a moderate to severe TBI like Lizzie’s, the first year is the most critical, Anderson said. The therapy will be long and hard. The accident occurred near Spencer, Idaho, while Lizzie was camping with her aunt and uncle and several other individuals. Her mother was not on the trip. Because Lizzie was not wearing a helmet or seat belt, when the driver of the RZR swerved on a dirt road to avoid a head-on collision with a dirt bike, he hit a rut, which overturned the vehicle. Lizzie was thrown out and the vehicle landed on top of her. The youngster was life flighted by helicopter to Barrett Hospital in Dillon, Montana, and then flown by a fixed wing Life Flight carrier to Primary Children’s Hospital in Salt Lake City. She remained in the PICU (Pediatric Intensive Care Unit) where she had surgery to stop the bleeding on her left temporal and frontal lobe. She was also on a ventilator to help her breathe for five days. When she woke up on Friday she started all the therapy needed to help her body heal and help her speech and memory functions return. Jessica said her daughter has never remembered the accident and is able to walk but gets dizzy and tired easily. She can’t pronounce a lot of words and can’t remember things like telling time so is getting help relearning those kinds of things. While at the hospital she kept saying it was 2017 and was sad about having her hair shaved off, recalled her mom. The staff at Primary Children’s told her that Lizzie’s recovery “‘was the fastest recovery they’d ever seen.’ Of course, she’s still got a long way to go with lots of outpatient therapy, but it could have been so much worse.” During her hospital stay, Lizzie, who studies martial arts, “had a fighting attitude,” said Jessica. “She would fight the doctors and nurses because she just didn’t understand what was going on. But now she has a very positive attitude although she does have good and bad days. They say mood swings are normal but she’s mostly very positive.” Because Jessica is a single mother with no health insurance, friends have started a go fund me page where they’ve raised $7,000 so far. Those who would like to contribute can go to www.gofundme.com/5m6ewoo. She said she is so appreciative of the financial and moral support of friends and family and is working with the hospital over the costs. Donations in the account have “taken the pressure off me so I can focus on Lizzie.” In a Facebook post, Jessica said her heart aches “for the young man that is struggling with his own emotions being that he was the driver. I hold no hard feelings towards him. Accidents happen and it doesn’t do anyone any good to hold on to anger or guilt over an unavoidable situation. I hope that he can find peace.” As to whether she’ll let her daughter ever get on an ATV again, Jessica said, “My first instinct is to not let her back on an ATV but I told her she can choose for herself.” Lizzie did learn something from this experience even though she doesn’t remember the accident. She often says “’I was dumb and should have been wearing a helmet and had a seatbelt on,’” said Jessica. She said her job as an independent contractor with Powell Resources lets her create her own work schedule so she can work around her daughter’s therapy appointments in Logan. Her mother is also able to stay with Lizzie while Jessica is working. “I think where my family is so supportive, I don’t feel all alone in this,” she said. “With the financial aspect, I definitely feel out on a limb but emotionally, I don’t feel alone at all.”
“Alpaca’s Salad” by Barbara Barrick McKie, Connecticut
International Art Quilt Invitational Exhibition at BC museum June 13, 2018 • Mary Alice Hobbs • Guest writer
Quilt art generally has more in common with fine art than it does with traditional quilting as displayed in the “soft paintings” in the Brigham City Museum’s International Art Quilt Invitational Exhibition on view June 16 through Sept. 1, 2018. The prized quilts are by artists from Italy, the Netherlands, Germany, Australia, the United Kingdom, Canada and the United States. Quilts that are sculptures in motion are a floating iceberg, a child somersaulting into spring, Sandhill Cranes pecking at red chile pods in a field, a red wheelbarrow glazed with rainwater and cool camels in Egypt. Barbara Barrick McKie of Connecticut visited Egypt in 2007, and the comical expressions of the camels with their pompons and tassels as well as the hieroglyphics seen everywhere fascinated her. She recorded the sights with her camera and used them as reference material for her quilt. Two foreign subjects sewn into the quilts are “Orvieto Memories” and “Gossiping Ducks and Hungry Tiger.” Lisa Walton of Australia taught quilting workshops in Orvieto, a small city perched on a rock cliff in Umbria, Italy. While drinking coffee in a local shop, she saw a distinctive, semi-circular, wrought-iron frame over the door and decided to incorporate the motif into a quilt. Linda Anderson of California visited China in 2016 and attended a performance of Tang Dynasty dance and music. Three men, part of a percussion group, were dressed in clothing and using instruments of this historic period in Chinese history. The title of her quilt reflects the back and forth exchange of sounds between gossiping ducks, while a growling tiger, spoken by the large drum, waits nearby, hoping for his meal. Anderson created the quilt image from three different photographs she took at the performance. Stateside subjects include “Poppy Dreaming” and “Waterwheel, Berry College, Roan, Georgia.” There is a poppy reserve north of the Los Angeles basin and, in a good year, it is covered with poppies from hillside to hillside. The reserve has influenced many of Rose Hughes’ quilts. Hughes resides in Kentucky. Stephanie Wilds of North Carolina constructed the waterwheel quilt for her husband, who is passionate about alternate energy. The quilt is based on the waterwheel at Berry College. The wheel was originally built by students in 1930 using an old iron hub donated by automobile magnate Henry Ford. At 42-feet in diameter, the waterwheel is abnormally large. McKie is the Featured Art Quilter in the exhibition. She has had many careers, including research microbiologist, bridal gown designer/manufacturer, homebuilder, computer consultant and professional art quilter. McKie has won awards at the American Quilter’s Society show in Paducah, Kentucky, the International Quilt Festival in Houston, Texas, and the Denver National Quilt Festival, to name a few. Characteristics of her work are strong texture, contrast, graphic appeal and either nature’s colors or vibrant color contrasts with a rhythmic movement that comes from an inner musical sense. Her themes involve nature, still life and people. Five of McKie’s quilts will be presented in the exhibition. Funds to support this exhibition have been provided by Village Dry Goods and the Box Elder County Tourism Tax Advisory Board. The museum is located at 24 North 300 West. Admission is free. Hours are Tuesday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday from 1 to 5 p.m. For further information, please phone 435-226-1439 or visit www.brighamcitymuseum.org.
Finding the right match
Bone marrow transplant needed to save life of seven-year-old BC girl
June 6, 2018 • Nancy Browne • Staff writer
Despite battling cancer for 2 1/2 years and unable, so far, to find a perfect bone marrow match, 7-year-old Ali Herbert smiled broadly when asked how she was feeling and cheerfully responded “fine.” She gave another one-word answer—“happy”—when asked how it felt to have so many people praying for her. The little trooper “is amazing,” said her mother, Heather Herbert. “Except for her little bald head, you’d never know she’s sick.” But unfortunately, Ali is very sick with acute lymphoblastic leukemia, a cancer of the blood and bone marrow, and because chemotherapy hasn’t worked, she now needs a bone marrow transplant. So far, the blended family of eight has not been able to find a perfect match and so on Saturday, they held a Team Ali Marrow Donor Registry Drive in Brigham City and Clearfield. Ali’s mom is a 50 percent match for bone marrow and will be the donor if a perfect match can’t be found. Even with a perfect match, Ali only has a 50/50 chance at surviving, said Heather. “It’s devastating for me to know that we have zero matches,” she said. “A friend of mine has a boy going through the same thing and they had over 10,000 perfect matches.” Ali’s cancer was diagnosed in February 2015, and treated with chemotherapy at Primary Children’s Hospital at least once a week, and sometimes for several days in a row, depending on what treatment phase she was in. Heather recorded on her blog, “Ali’s attitude has remained so positive through this whole life change. She absolutely loves her nurses. She refers to them as her friends. When we are at her appointments she sees other children there crying. She goes up to their parents and asks their parents if it would be okay for her to give them a hug. She just amazes me.” Ali finished her treatments in June 2017, and was considered cancer free, but after 10 months of regular check-ups, the doctors announced on April 11, she had relapsed. Two days later, she was back in the hospital undergoing intense chemotherapy for the next 35 days. Heather explained that this is called the re-induction phase to get her back into remission. Unfortunately, it didn’t work and so the next step is a bone marrow transplant, which also can’t be done unless the patient is in remission, therefore, treatment will continue. If remission is not attained the only other recourse is “going into experimental chemo, but it’s only been out for a year,” she explained. When the doctor told her the cancer was back, Heather said, “My heart sunk. It was hard to breathe and I couldn’t hold back the tears.” She recorded in her blog, “Each night I would try to hurry and go to sleep before my thoughts took over. Unfortunately, many nights I was stuck with my thoughts and couldn’t stop crying. The pain of feeling like my Heavenly Father had forsaken me was like no other.” But she managed to overcome that feeling of abandonment and credits her faith in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints with helping her find strength to control the grief. She wanted to be strong for Ali and to keep up the demands of running a household with a husband and six children to care for. She said she’s thankful for her church ward, family and friends who fasted and prayed for Ali. “I am overwhelmed with how much love and support our family has. Everyone loves Ali. To know her is to love her.” She said her husband, Jess, has been a rock for the family, taking off work to help with the chemo treatments and keeping the family moving forward. The couple has been married for five years and between them, their six children range in age from 7 to 14. “My poor husband holds a lot in,” Heather said. “He sees me crumble and does his best to be there for me even though he is crumbling as well.” If Ali makes it to remission and a perfect match is found, in addition to a dismal 50 percent survival rate, there are other complications that could set in. This includes graft vs. host disease, where the body tries to attack the foreign transplant. Many family and friends have already been tested for a bone marrow match to no avail but even if they can’t help Ali, they could be the means of helping another child with the disease, Heather said, encouraging people to be tested. Lauri Merrill, a friend who lives across the street from the Herbert family, registered and was tested and so were her two children who live in Portland, Oregon. Merrill was on hand to show people how to fill out the required registry paperwork. “I think finding someone who could actually save her life is something you can’t put a price on,” Merrill said. “We can donate meals, time and money but finding an actual match would be amazing.” One of those already tested—and not a match—was Tiffany Patterson, who’s son is Ali’s age. She tested 7 years ago when her sister-in-law had leukemia and came to the Saturday event to lend support for the family. Michael Dash of Salt Lake City attended the registry event after having met the Herbert family while raising money in 2016 for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Ali had been named the society’s Girl of the Year. Dash had been named the society’s Man of the Year for personally raising $75,000 in 10 weeks. Eight people had participated in that fundraiser and between them raised $575,000.
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