Hometown Tourists

By: Ashley Whisonant

congaree park

This past weekend, my boys and I had absolutely no plans. This is a very rare occasion. Between soccer games, play dates, vacations, and birthdays our weekends have been jam packed. My husband and I wanted to spend the free day as a family, outside enjoying the beautiful fall weather, but we didn’t want to drive too terribly far.

Enter Congaree National Park!

Just a 50 minute drive from Lexington, we packed the car and headed down to arrive at nine. With lunches in book bags, we first stopped at the Visitor’s Center. They had tons of displays for the kids to look at and learn from. We also picked up two scavenger hunts for them to complete as we “hiked.”

congaree parkThe trails were perfect for my two and five year old. There was tons to observe and only a small amount of mosquitos! The trails did have some roadblocks because of trees falling, but the boardwalk was amazing. It stretched close to a mile over some swamp areas. That area was my favorite!

After two hours of hiking around, we stopped at the picnic tables to have lunch before heading home. It was the perfect morning! Don’t miss out on this amazing park in our backyard!

Here’s Your Chance to Become an Every Woman Blogger!

Every Woman Blog Contest

We’re excited to announce that we’re sponsoring another Every Woman Blog Contest to select new bloggers to join our team! Women of all ages are invited to enter the contest from June 1st to June 30th. Each selected blogger will receive a $250 cash prize.

To enter the blogging contest, visit Lexington Medical Center’s Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/LexingtonMedical. Upload a video or post a short written statement on the Wall about why you would be a great blogger to represent and inspire women in the Midlands. Five women with the most persuasive, funny, touching or engaging posts will be selected to become featured bloggers on the Every Woman Blog.

Each featured blogger will write at least one post per month. The topics will vary greatly depending on the personalities of the bloggers and their daily experiences in the community. The bloggers will also meet in person at “blogger reunions” to share ideas and brainstorm topics.

Make sure to visit us on our Facebook page and leave us a message on the Wall stating why you think you’d be a great blogger – and you could win!

Lexington Medical Center Heart & Sole Women’s Five Miler Set for April 23 in Columbia

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Women of all ages will fill the streets of downtown Columbia as Lexington Medical Center presents the 15th annual Heart & Sole Women’s Five Miler on Saturday, April 23 at 8:30 a.m. A women’s only event, the race features a five-mile run, a five-mile walk and a three-mile walk.

The Lexington Medical Center Heart & Sole Women’s Five Miler celebrates women and the power of a healthy lifestyle. It also raises awareness that heart disease is the #1 killer of women. The picturesque course begins at the top of Finlay Park, winds around the South Carolina Governor’s Mansion, Main Street, Congaree Vista and into the historic neighborhoods next to the University of South Carolina campus. It finishes with a downhill stretch to the bottom of Finlay Park.

Launched by the Carolina Marathon Association in 2002, the Lexington Medical Center Heart & Sole Women’s Five Miler is South Carolina’s first women’s only road race. It has grown from fewer than 400 female participants in its first year to more than 2,300. Sponsored in conjunction with WIS News 10, the race offers women of all athletic abilities the opportunity to participate in a comforting, supportive environment. Elite athletes, as well as first-timers, enjoy the unique event that offers a red rose at the finish line and special refreshments that include chocolate-covered strawberries.

The event begins with an opening ceremony at 8:00 a.m. featuring Dawndy Mercer Plank and Judi Gatson of WIS News 10. The five-mile run begins at 8:30 a.m., and the walk begins at 8:35 a.m.  Race day registration will be held from 7:00 – 8:00 a.m. at Arsenal Hill, located at 1900 Lincoln Street near the start line and the Laurel Street entrance to Finlay Park.

“This women’s only run and walk helps us to spread the word that heart disease is preventable and controllable,” said Harriet Horton, vice president at Lexington Medical Center. “We encourage women of all fitness levels to come out and participate.”

Cash awards will be presented to runners in the following categories:

  • Top five overall finishers: $500/$400/$300/$200/$150
  • Top three masters finishers: $150/$125/$100
  • Top three grand masters finishers: $100/$75/$50
  • Top three senior grand masters finishers: $75/$50/$25

 Awards will be presented to the top three overall finishers in each age category: 14 and under, 15-19, 20-24, 25-29, 30-34, 35-39, 40-44, 45-49, 50-54, 55-59, 60-64, 65-69 and 70+.

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Walkers are eligible for prizes based on participation. All awards and prizes will be presented at the post-event ceremony in Finlay Park. After the event, participants enjoy special refreshments, entertainment and an expo featuring health screenings from Lexington Medical Center, and health and fitness-related services from local vendors.

Registration is $35 through April 22 and $45 on race day.

Participants are asked to bring “gently used” running or walking shoes to packet pick-up on Friday, April 22 or Saturday, April 23, at Arsenal Hill, located at 1900 Lincoln Street in downtown Columbia. These shoes will be donated to Christ Central Ministries, which serves people in need throughout the Midlands. Each year, participants donate nearly 500 pairs of shoes.

For more information, call the Carolina Marathon Association at (803) 731-2100 or visit www.HeartAndSoleRun.com  or www.HeartAndSoleWalk.com  to register online.

The Back Seat

By: Elizabeth Webber Akre

Life is a funny thing. It’s full of joy, laughter, tough decisions, mistakes, sadness, tragedy, rewards and fulfillment. You never really know what each day will throw your way. You just have to wake up and see what happens. Sometimes the events of the day, or days, make every woman blogit important for certain things to take a back seat. For me, it’s been cooking. I love to cook. It’s my hobby, my challenge, my catharsis, my fun. But since August 6th, I haven’t done much adventurous cooking. I’ve been pulling out old stand-bys, quick weeknight dinners, and easy meals simply because of all of the oddball circumstances that life has thrown my way.

August 6th was my mom’s birthday. My daughter and I were in Houston, enjoying a visit with my sister and NASA summer camp when we got the phone call. My mom had been hurt and was in the hospital with a brain bleed. A subdural hematoma. She was being admitted to the ICU, being CT-scanned every 6 hours and I wasn’t there. The course of the next month was a trying one. But, as life happens, there was a blessing in disguise. The doctors discovered an aneurysm hiding in my mom’s head. We would have never known it was there. It’s repairable, so that’s next on our family agenda.

As we began October, our whole town was turned upside down. 13 years ago, I sold my best friend and her husband their house on Timberlane Drive. Over the years, we all complained about the cost of the flood insurance they were required to have, but every time the street flooded, it was a reminder that if anything bad ever happened, they would be protected. Well, on October 4th, something bad happened. Something really, really bad. Were they protected? Yes, more so than lots of other people, but not enough. Flood waters completely overtook their tri-level home. Think about how many feet up off the ground a tri-level house is. Take a moment…it’s staggering. It’s a complete loss, no fixing it up, no moving back home. It’s gone.

So, we have all been very pre-occupied with my mom’s health and my friends’ recovery. Cooking has truly taken a back seat and I miss it. But, there is a light at the end of both of these tunnels, so before long, I will be back in the swing. In the midst of all this craziness, a friend from high school brought me a little surprise. She works for Congaree Milling and dropped a care package of grits, cornmeal and polenta for me to try. I already have some ideas of how I want to use them and, of course, write about them. And, Thanksgiving is coming. So yay! Prime time to get back in the front seat!

Elizabeth Akre writes “Gastronomy (by a Wanna-be Chef).” You can also follow on Facebook and Twitter.

Proud to Be a South Carolinian

By: Leah Prescott

I have lived in South Carolina my entire life. I have had a very blessed life, but I’m going to be completely honest with you: It has never occurred to me to be proud that I am a South Carolinian. I’ve been proud to be an American, proud to be Christian, proud to be a wife, a mom, a friend. This last week has fully changed my perspective.

SC Flood

SC Flood

This week, my heart is full and I am bursting with pride for my birth state. I suddenly feel I am living in the very best part of America. To those of you who haven’t followed the events, we have suffered historic rainfalls that have devastated our state. Roads have collapsed, dams burst, and buildings have crumbled. Beyond the initial rainfall, homes continue to flood a week later from the shifts of water as officials work to control the overage. Homes are being destroyed and there is no way to save them. Lives have been lost and families still search for loved ones that are missing as the waters recede. It’s been jaw-dropping to watch the devastation in an area completely unprepared for flooding of this magnitude. Knowing what my neighbors have been going through has broken my heart this week.

SC Flood

Now, to get to the joyful part. Get ready, because this is some good stuff.

I have seen unconditional love, boundless generosity, and Christ-like servant-hood like I have never seen before. I can’t even begin to tell all the stories that have been popping up across the Midlands and beyond of amazing rescues and sacrificial gifts. Victims were terrified and stranded. But help came, and it came with a force stronger than the rushing waters. Strangers helping strangers, rescuers laying down their lives, artisans and businesses pulling out all the stops to meet the needs of Columbia. From mega-donations by huge organizations to families cooking in their own kitchens for the first-responders, it seems like the entire city has contributed.

SC Flood Relief

Early in the crisis, I joined a Facebook group called “Midlands Flood Assistance” which quickly grew to well over two thousand members. As quickly as a need appears, there are dozens responding with ways to help. I’m blown away. I am so incredibly proud to be a South Carolinian today. I truly can’t imagine living anywhere else. We have a long way to go as we recover from this, but we will make it. Thank you to all who have helped; I’ll truly be thankful my entire life on behalf of my home town. What an amazing place to call home.

Food for SC Flood Relief

If you have been affected by the flooding in SC, please know my prayers are with you. And my prayers fly up with those of thousands and thousands of others. That’s a lot of prayer-power, people. God Bless South Carolina! If you would like to give to the relief efforts in the wake of this historic flood, you might look into Samaritan’s Purse or Harvest Hope Food Bank.

Home

By: Lara Winburn

Columbia was not supposed to be my home. I grew up in the Upstate, went to Clemson, married a fellow Tiger and don’t even look particularly good in garnet. But here I am 11 years later.

Our bridge

Our bridge

Over the weekend, the rains came down and the floods came up. The bridge closest to our house simply disappeared. Trees around us fell to the ground, the soil so wet that they just tipped over, roots and all. Friends who I hold dear and have collected here in this town suffered devastating loss. They swam away from their homes even though they were never really waterfront before. Friends I don’t know well (more the wave-to-at-Publix variety) have left their homes barely saved by boats. The stories of devastation are too much to bear sometimes, but there is another story too.

The aftermath

The aftermath

In the days since, all I have seen has been warm and loving neighborly assistance. We are new to our neighborhood (hence my absence from the blog), but Sunday night as we all feared evacuation and the creak of falling trees, we gathered in one kitchen. I watched as a full meal for a dozen neighbors suddenly, out of thin air, appeared. Straight loaves and fishes. Once it seemed the threat had passed for us, I gathered in my cow’s neighborhood, one of the worst hit in floodmaggeden.

There, I have witnessed men ripping their neighbors’ houses apart with their bare hands. My husband and his friends have emptied houses, all worldly possessions covered in something that can only be described as insulation/drywall mud (because the ceilings gave way and the insulation ended up on the floor). We have done loads of laundry in an effort to preserve everything from winter coats to smocked dresses that still had a chance against that sludge. We have spent hours delivering lunch, dinner, cold drinks, and the occasional beer to groups of helpers- their sole purpose to serve the need…whatever that need may be. Donations poured in. We mentioned we were making sandwiches or hot dogs or lasagna to serve to those whose stove was now sitting on the side of the road, and the deliveries rolled in. “I can bring salad, I can bring bread, I can watch all 11 kids,” were the words that rung out. As we walked these streets, armed with nothing more to offer than a cold drink or a sandwich, we were called “a blessing.” We encountered gracious families who had lost everything and were watching years’ worth of photographs dry on their lawn. With a smile and a thank you, those same people would point to other homes and ask, “Would you make sure they got some?” just as concerned for their neighbors as themselves.

The aftermath

A lasagna run

I tell you all of this to say, we were not alone. This was the norm. This is what the masses were doing to serve their neighbors and town – the people of Columbia and the people of South Carolina together.

I know this is not an unusual tale. We have all seen it on Facebook and even the nightly news. But this is not a story that gets old. Community should be celebrated again and again.

And with all of this, I know these are my people, my neighbors. This is my tribe. This is my town. And this is my home.

Celebrate Memorial Day

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Memorial Day is the unofficial start to the summer. We’ve rounded up fun events so you can enjoy the holiday weekend with your family.

Iris Festival – Sumter’s Iris Festival is South Carolina’s oldest continuous festival, and has even been featured in “Southern Living.” The 3-day festival includes concerts, an arts and crafts show, a flower show, a quilt show, car shows, contests, and children’s activities.

Friday, May 22 – Sunday, May 24
822 W. Liberty St., Sumter, SC 29150
For more information, visit http://www.sumtersc.gov/iris-festival.aspx.

9th Annual Jailbreak 5K – Family fun for everyone! People of all ages and fitness levels are invited to participate in the 9th Annual Jailbreak 5K for a morning of fun and friendly competition. All proceeds go to support professional law enforcement services in Lexington County.

Saturday, May 23
8:00am – 12:00pm
521 Gibson Rd, Lexington, SC 29072
For more information, visit http://www.jailbreaklexington.com/jailbreak-5k.html

Palmetto State Chili Cookoff Calling all chili fans! Take a drive to Fountain Inn for the first annual Palmetto State Chili Cookoff. Sponsored by the International Chili Society, this event will bring together the best chili cooks from all over the country, as well as local cooks. The event will feature arts and crafts vendors, live entertainment, and fun activities for kids.

Saturday, May 23
102 Depot St. Fountain Inn, SC 29644
9:00am – 4:00pm
For more information, visit http://www.palmettostatechili.com.

Honoring the Heroes: A Memorial Day Concert – Join the Palmetto Concert Band as they celebrate and pay tribute to our veterans with a free, public concert.

Sunday, May 24
4:00pm
Koger Center for the Arts
1051 Greene Street Columbia, SC 29201
For more information, visit http://palmettoconcertband.com/performances.

Honor WWI & WWII Veterans  Pay tribute to Lower Richland-born Veterans of World Wars I & II at the Historic Barber House in Hopkins. This family-oriented event will feature a free buffet lunch, entertainment by Mike Stone Entertainment, the Gospel Redeemers and others, mule-drawn wagon rides and vendors.

Monday, May 25
1:00pm – 5:00pm
Historic Barber House
116 Barberville Loop Hopkins, SC 29061
For more information, visit http://wis.eviesays.com/event/1108144/invitation-to-spend-memorial-day-in-hopkin-sc-honoring-wwi-and-wwii-veteran?tid=3253735.