Dream Big and Achieve Big Goals Collier Runs into a Happy and Healthy Future 

Dream Big and Achieve Big Goals

Collier Runs into a Happy and Healthy Future 

BY JAMES COLLIER

THE ASHLAND BEACON

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If your goals do not scare you then they are not big enough.

This column is a first for me because of who it is about. My wife Falecia made a courageous decision in 2020 that has changed her life forever. After years of struggling with obesity and failing at every possible diet she tried, Falecia elected to have weight loss surgery in August 2020. But the decision and the outcome were two points along a path that were very far apart.

 

 

Her journey started with a weight of 308 pounds, the heaviest she had ever been in her life. Physical activities for her were a challenge. Any form of exertion would quickly tire her out. After sitting and watching from the sidelines for many years, Falecia decided to flip the script with some life-changing goals that would change her life—and our family’s—forever.

Falecia was required to go through six months of classes to learn about the process of her surgery and to learn how to begin a new lifestyle post-surgery. Attendance was required for every session and one absence resulted in starting over at meeting No. 1. She never missed a session and had more notes about the process than a college student cramming for a final exam. She had to learn a new way of how to eat—which was a change for both of us—and how to be successful throughout the process. Her final decision prior to the surgery, set a new goal weight and she went big.

Her goal weight was to get down to 150 pounds—losing an astounding 158 pounds in this process. This August marked her third anniversary. It is safe to say, Faleica is a different person. Her total weight loss so far has been 155 pounds…and counting. More importantly, she has shed the weight while keeping it off by changing her lifestyle. Her eating habits are as disciplined as a soldier in the military. Certain foods are simply not in her vocabulary anymore. Fried foods and greasy snacks have gone by the wayside, being replaced by fruits and vegetables. Soda has become water and sitting on the couch and watching television has been replaced by exercising. But, she set another goal in the summer of 2021, which has given her a new lease on life.

While covering a 5K race in downtown Russell for the newspaper, Falecia said she wanted to run the race the following year. The word running anything had never been in her vocabulary, leaving me a little bit off guard when she claimed she wanted to run over three miles. Her exercising continued and became constant while becoming a regular part of her day, but the running part had not worked its way into the mix. In 2022, instead of running the 5K in Russell, we were covering it for the newspaper. This was a defining moment in her process because she was at a crossroads. It was time to go get that goal or to backslide into previous habits that could have been detrimental to her journey.

The next race was the Summer Motion 5K in downtown Ashland leaving her only three weeks to train. She started off running for one minute and walking for a minute until she built up to running a mile. Continuing her walk-and-run combo, one mile became two, and two became three. I tried to push her as much as I could while supporting her journey as we prepared for race day. I ran with her on race day to help her with her pace and to be there to urge her on. We crossed the finish line together—her one step ahead of me—with a time of 35:35, which at the moment was irrelevant. I grabbed her and hugged her in celebration. She had done it, but she was ready for more. She was eager to run another one, which we did two days later in Greenup at the Firecracker 5K. Her time, 27 seconds faster. Fast forward to the end of July and she had trimmed over three minutes off her time with a finish of 32:19.

It would have been easy for her to be content with just running a 5K and saying she achieved that goal, but she kept setting new goals and striving to be successful just as she had been in her weight loss journey and the goal for the 2023 season was to run a 10K. 2023 was not as welcoming as 2022 had been as Falecia had to battle through more challenges than ever, but she was not going to be stopped, even while battling her first serious injury as a runner.

We entered the Hot Chocolate 10K in Columbus the Sunday before Thanksgiving and started a six-week training program in preparation for the event. She worked to build her distance and endurance as she got out to running six miles one week before the race. Her best time for the 6.2 miles during training was 1:18. Again, this is someone who would struggle to walk a short distance outside without losing her breath and is now running for over an hour. The course was challenging with several hills throughout—unlike anything we had run in before—including a half a mile incline in the final mile of the course. I finished my run but had no way of going back out on the course to encourage her to the finish line with a field of over 8,000 runners. My only option was to send her a text message in hopes she would hear in her Air Pods.

I waited near the finish line and to my surprise, she started the descent down the long sloping hill to the finish line well ahead of schedule. She sprinted past me as I cheered for her finish, but I was overwhelmed when I saw her time.

1:07.

11 minutes better than her fastest time during training. But the time was irrelevant to me because, once again, she had done it. Another goal was achieved. Once I got to her among her fellow runners, all I wanted to do was hug her and tell her how proud I was for what she had just accomplished. I was in tears with joy.

I hope this story is one that someone like Falecia can read and find hope and motivation to make that first step toward that goal that you never thought was possible. Regardless if it's with weight loss or anything within your life, her journey over the last three years has been one that deserves to be chronicled. Life is a journey of failures, but pushing through those failures is what allows those small wins to become remarkable victories.

There are so many people who I must thank for their support with her journey. Alan O Such and O Such Tri State Race Planners for all the great events they organize in the area. Malcom Byrd for helping us with the best approach for training. Dave Coburn for taking care of rehab when injuries came along. Fellow runners Jim Cremeans, Ron Simpson and Neil Johnson for all their encouragement and positivity while welcoming us both into their running family.

As for Falecia, who has checked off the boxes of a 5K and 10K, she wasted little time setting another goal after we finished in Columbus. Up next is a half marathon next November in Huntington and who knows, she might even land in a major marathon sometime in the future.

Like I said in the beginning, if your goals do not scare you, they are not big enough. Dream big and go get your dreams.

Ashland Cheerleaders Shoot for the Stars: Donation Cheers on Nationals Trip

Ashland Cheerleaders Shoot for the Stars: Donation Cheers on Nationals Trip

Gwen Akers

The Ashland Beacon

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Monday night, the crowd was cheering for Blazer as the Ashland Varsity Cheerleading team was given a generous $10,000 donation in order to shoot for their chance at a national title.

“It means everything to the coaches. We were just struggling trying to get money to even get there. The kids raised $30,000 throughout the year on their own selling stuff, and this last 10,000 we just couldn't get,” expressed cheerleading director Cathy Goble, “We were just thrilled. I mean, I cried when David [Early] told me.”

 

 

After working hard all year fundraising, the Ashland Cheerleaders were surprised Monday night at their last practice before Christmas break with a donation from the AES Foundation. This donation marked the last bit the cheerleaders needed for their trip to nationals, hosted in Florida. Both the students, coaches and parents could not be more grateful. Cathy Goble, who has been with the Ashland cheerleaders for over 40 years, could not be more thankful and excited to see the team go for a shot at a national title.

The donation was given by the AES Restaurant Group, which locally owns and operates the Ashland area Arby’s Restaurants.

“The AES foundation started four years ago, and we put the charter together to be able to give money back to the customers that we serve, in the communities that we serve,” explained David Early about the foundation.

Since its founding in 2019, the AES restaurant group has worked to support local programs and the community–and this particular donation was a surprise spurred on by two proud Blazer graduates. Employed by AES, David Early and Michelle Carter, alumni of Paul G. Blazer High School, were honored to present this award to the cheerleaders

Carter reached out to Early at the beginning of last week concerning the cheerleaders' national trip, and soon the plan was set in motion led by several other Blazer graduates and close friends of Early.

“We all have great roots here," explained Early. “It's just special to be able to come back and do something that makes a difference.”

Early noted that he could remember all the great memories he has with Ashland, brought back by getting to be with the cheerleaders Monday night with just a dusting of snow on the ground.

“We appreciate the customers in this part of the world,” expressed Early. Early was honored to be able to help the community he grew up in and could not be prouder of the cheerleaders and their efforts.

Truly, through the work of the community and the generosity of its people, the Ashland cheerleaders will be able to attend their national competition in Florida in the coming weeks.

“We have two really excellent coaches that do the coaching, and we're very fortunate to have them. They’ve been on board with us for about eight or nine years,” commented Goble about the strong leadership and great things happening with the Ashland cheerleading team.

Overall, with the first snow of December on the ground, the Ashland cheerleaders will embark on their trip to nationals, continuing the Ashland motto: “A proud past and a bright future.” Go Tomcats!

The Faces Behind Boyd County’s Light Trail 

The Faces Behind Boyd County’s Light Trail 

Lora Parsons

The Ashland Beacon

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If you’ve traveled the backroads of Boyd County and the city blocks of Ashland following the BOCO (Boyd County) Light Trail, you’ve seen the homes, twinkling lights and blow-up contraptions that decorate our town at Christmastime. But, you’ve likely missed the behind-the-scenes details that make the viewing possible. While there are hundreds of families in our area who participate, three stand high above the rest (sometimes literally). The BOCO Grinch, the Ward Family Light Show (both with a Facebook presence), and the Tacketts on Willow Drive in Catlettsburg, are all stops you won’t want to miss!

 

 

This time of year, one corner lot in Westwood magically transforms into a mini Whoville. Viewers are welcome to get out and chat with the Grinch or just drive on by, likely being ushered past with a little Grinchy traffic directing and maybe even a fun-filled extra special green “moon” to REAR your Christmas spirit right up!  Light enthusiasts would normally have to find the BOCO Grinch perched high above the city on Mount Crumpit. But, a couple of years ago, the Grinch reported that “those joyous Who’s down in Whoville became eerily quiet…TOO QUIET.” He “decided to sneak into town at night and attempt to remind them all how they made [his] heart grow three sizes.”  He just wanted to share the love, hope, and Christmas spirit that had impacted him so much. What he wasn’t prepared for was his heart growing a fourth size due to the Who’s that he sees along the BOCO Light Trail. Their smiles and hugs continue to bring him off Mount Crumpit every evening in Dec.  from 6-8 p.m., weather permitting. You can find the Grinch and stop for pictures and a hug at 442 Bellefonte Road, in Westwood. Cara and Patch Conley would love to snap your photo and laugh along with you as you chat with their favorite Grinch. Follow our own BOCO Grinch on Facebook for updates on times and special appearances. If you’d like to vote for our Grinch, despite his sometimes stink-stank-stunky antics, he is stop #22 on the trail. He’ll “thank you from the bottom of [his] 4XL heart!” #ConleyChristmasCorner

If the size of decorations is what matters to you, then a stop by Willow Drive to view #44 is a must for your family!  A house-sized, 20-foot Santa and snowman dwarf most other inflatables. While these are definitely the largest in the Tackett’s yard, the two are not lonely, with 34 others joining the show. The total collection began more than 20 years ago, increasing annually as new pieces are added. The setup begins the first weekend in Nov., takes a couple of days to complete and is a whole-family effort with the Tackett’s sons and grandchildren joining forces. Unique Disney-themed pieces can also be found in this display as well as other characters representing their grandkids’ interests. Due to the size and number of inflatables, it is important for the Tacketts to carefully monitor weather conditions. Linda recounted that “On more than one occasion, we’ve had to chase down a runaway snowman.” While their yard is covered in Santa, snowman, and Disney-themed pieces, their one must-have is always a Nativity scene to “show the true meaning of Christmas.” The lights, inflatables, and the sheer size of their giant pieces make this a home to put at the top of your to-see list!

To get a full dramatic evening bathing in sparkle, Light Trail visitors should swing by last year’s winning home, #39, located at 4924 Taylor Lane in Catlettsburg. The Ward family participates for one reason alone: “We just love looking outside at night and seeing cars lined up watching our show. That’s a better feeling than winning will ever give us.”  Winning an event with so many participants requires sweat equity which starts for the Wards in Jan., making this a year-round endeavor. Their show began in small form when they lived in the apartments near Cannonsburg Fire Department, grew a little with a move to West Ashby Drive, and then became part of the consideration when searching for their current home at Lakinview in Catlettsburg. The storage in the attic and basement were perfect for their outdoor decor and 15 interior trees. Part of the growth in their light show has also been transitioning from older to newer LED lights, resulting in a brighter display. They were “expecting them to be brighter--but nowhere near how much brighter they ended up being!  It was like high noon at night with these new lights.” This led to the decision for a full-fledged light show, consisting of approximately 10,000 lights, with 2,100 of them being RGB pixels. While putting out this vast number of lights takes time on the exterior of their home, neighbors and passersby fail to see that there is interior work to be done as well. Only the Ward family sees “the insane amount of hours late at night sequencing the lights to music. Our system isn’t plugging into a little box that makes lights go on and off. It’s running networks, making sure lights are plugged into the right channel, making sure you get controllers as weatherproof as possible, and troubleshooting so that you get the result of what you saw on a computer screen when you watch it from the road.” The prep work for this system is what begins in Jan., with purchases starting in April and physical setup beginning by at least Nov. The mega tree is a new addition since last year, and plans are already underway for another new addition next year. To top off the show of lights, viewers can tune their radios to 89.5 FM to hear the songs that the lights strategically “dance” to, including traditional Christmas songs as well as current pop hits.

Whether you’re young or old, in search of size or a show, want to drive alone or with a vanload, there’s something for everyone along the trail! Take dinner to Taylor Lane and sit in the car with the radio on and a light show in front of you.  Drop in for pictures with the Grinch in Westwood. Check out the two-story inflatables and Christmas countdown clock at the Tacketts. Just don’t miss the twinkle and sparkle that can be found along this year’s BOCO Light Trail!  An interactive map, the list for voting, and addresses can be found at https://visitboydcounty.com/holiday-trail/. The 55 homes will leave you with a sparkle in your eye and a little extra Christmas spirit reflecting in your rearview mirror.

The Trifecta of Peanut Butter Patty

The Trifecta of Peanut Butter Patty

 Deidra Bowling-Meade

 The Ashland Beacon

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To leave a lasting impression means you will never forget. Many of my fondest memories have a story with food.  I love good food; however, the food I like the most is special due to who makes it, not the food itself.  Chef Thomas Keller stated, “A recipe has no soul.  You, as the cook, must bring soul to the recipe.”  No one has more soul than Peanut Butter Patty, a.k.a, Patty Umberger Stanley, whose peanut butter fudge has been a staple to several members at Meade Station Church of God and other recipients across Boyd County. 

Patty’s fudge is the perfect creamy texture with rich peanut butter, cut in perfect small cubes and placed on a glass plate ready for delivery.  Patty delivers her fudge for church dinners, funerals, holidays, birthdays, illnesses, or just to put a smile on someone’s face.  Her fudge is legendary to those who have had it before.  As soon as someone sees it, he/she knows it’s Patty’s.  Desserts will line a table, and I will eye the plate from afar.  There’s no doubt I will need a piece of that fudge! 

 

 

Patty always shared recipes with me when I first got married to make sure I could cook more than chicken.  She would tease me often about my cooking skills. I would try Patty’s recipes such as her cheesy corn or her icey punch, but they were never as good as what she made.  Some things just cannot be replicated.  What’s more special than the taste of the Patty’s fudge and other dishes is how much love goes into it.   

Patty can best be described as positive, powerful, and prayerful.  Her infectious smile lights up the room and her funny wit always makes one giggle. She is a constant encouragement to others and never lets things get her down.  She has lived her life always on the go with most of us trying to catch our breath to keep up.  Whether it be cleaning, cooking, running errands, taking care of her family and friends, Patty selflessly works hard to make a difference. 

Paula Shockey, who is one of Patty’s closest friends, shared, “Patty has given so much of her life for me by standing by my side when my husband died and taking care of me when my body was broken.  We have shed many tears, laughs and prayers.”

Margaret Tucker, who has known Patty for over 40 years, described Patty as “someone who makes you a better person just by being around her.  She is a friend to everyone, and no one is a stranger.  I’m so blessed she picked me, a stranger, to be her friend.” 

Above all, Patty’s Christian attitude and daily living are a witness to others. Patty was baptized April 11, 1965 at South Ashland Methodist.  She rededicated her life and was baptized Mother’s Day on May 11, 1980 at Meade Station Church of God. 

Margaret got to know Patty well through their time working at church.  Margaret shared,

“Patty always said she was just a worker and not a leader.  By being just a worker, she became a leader. She is one who is always there to help whenever there is a need, a job to be done, or a dinner to be prepared. She has always seen the best in people and goes out of her way to help anyone she can. Patty was there for me when tragedy struck my family. If we didn’t see one another, she would call and always told me she was praying for us. She sent me cards weekly, which meant so much to me.”

Patty’s life has been Christ-centered from raising her family to witnessing to others.  Countless examples come to mind of her positive outlook, prayerful heart, and power that can only be found in God.  She was constantly praying for her husband, Jim Stanley, to be saved.  There was so much celebrating when Jim finally accepted Christ as his savior in March of 2015. Patty’s faithfulness and prayerful spirit make her a witness to those around her.

Patty suffered a seizure this summer and was rushed to the hospital.  She was soon diagnosed with a brain tumor and had two surgeries within a month due to a second tumor being found.  When others would have seen only the negative, Patty’s response was one of praise. Patty shared, “God has been with me every step of the way. Had it not been for me having that seizure, the tumor wouldn’t have been found. God didn’t want me to have to wait any longer for a second surgery.”  In August, Patty was told she had lymphoma of the brain.  Despite this diagnosis, Patty stayed strong in the Lord. 

Her emotions were intensified from the surgery and treatment. Patty was actually more outspoken about her faith than ever before. Even after her brain surgery and during her chemo treatments, she was writing cards to others facing struggles and encouraging them. She attended church the few Sundays she could and would testify of God’s goodness to allow her to be able to attend.  She proudly wore to church the bonnet her friend Paula Shockey had made for her with a ribbon that read, “God Will Make a Way.”  

Patty found comfort through listening to Christian music.  “God Will Make a Way,” by Don Moen is her favorite.  Some of the lyrics written include,

“God will make a way

Where there seems to be no way

He works in ways we cannot see

He will make a way for me

He will be my guide

Hold me closely to His side

With love and strength for each new day

He will make a way.”

While lying in her hospital bed, Patty would let the words to the music soothe her soul. She would gently lift her hand to offer her praise.Patty has suffered highs and lows on this journey. In just the last five months, Patty has not only had her cancer to battle, but also the rupture of her colon, continuous tremors of her body and Covid. Patty told her husband Jim, “I want to go home.”  She is now resting in the comfort of home waiting for her heavenly home. This is a difficult time for her family and friends as well as hard to understand. Patty’s fight is not in vain.  Her body is getting weaker, but her soul has not left her. Patty embodies the trifecta of being positive, powerful, and prayerful. More importantly, she has the Father, Son and Holy Spirit in her corner. She has the promise of eternity. 

In his powerful speech after receiving a cancer diagnosis, American Sports Commentator Stuart Scott wisely stated, "When you die, it does not mean that you lose to cancer. You beat cancer by how you live, why you live, and in the manner in which you live." Without a doubt, Patty beat cancer. She lives her life as an inspiration to others as she praises God even through her terminal cancer battle.  She loves–she gives–she encourages–she serves– she prays. Patty does it all in honor and praise for the Lord.

Patty has always been a strong supporter of my writing and loves reading my articles in the Ashland Beacon. I wanted to honor her with her own article. She is a dear friend who will leave a lasting impression on me.  Thank you Patty Umberger Stanley for making a difference in the lives of others who have crossed your path. May we all strive to have the soul of Peanut Butter Patty, whose “soul is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.”  Let’s all remember to stay the course and finish the race.

Boyd County Extension Services Offers Holiday Wreath-Making Program

Boyd County Extension Services Offers Holiday Wreath-Making Program

Lora Parsons

The Ashland Beacon

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The “hustle and bustle” of the Christmas season may bring to mind images of crowded shopping malls, busy parking lots, and lots of parties to celebrate family and friends. What likely doesn’t come to mind is the scent of fresh-cut pine, piles of cedar clippings, and hundreds of yards of ribbon. If you’re a Boyd County Master Gardener or someone who’s participated in their annual wreath-making extravaganza, then you know full well that “hustle and bustle” is exactly what happens at the Boyd County Extension Education Facility. This year, from Nov. 27 through Dec. 1, and again from Dec. 4 through the 8th, Master Gardeners have been and will work tirelessly to provide this opportunity to our community.

 

 

Organizers recognize that the purpose of their hard work is twofold. Of course, they want to share their love of horticulture and agriculture with community members who come to make wreaths, but most who work the event say their purpose goes far beyond that. Rhonella Chaffin, who has been working the event for around 15 years, said a highlight of her long days giving instructions to participants and stocking supplies is that she enjoys “meeting all the different people who come in to make wreaths, whether this is their first time or they have been coming for years. I love seeing the joy on peoples’ faces.” Other Master Gardeners who work the event must share that same love for the community to put themselves through the grueling pace of the workday they commit to. The wreath-making runs from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. each day, for 10 days. Volunteers arrive early and stay late to prepare. For most of these nearly 12-hour days, volunteers are on their feet, focused on either giving instructions to new wreath-makers or stocking the constantly-depleting piles of evergreen laid across tables in the former Boyd County Fairgrounds Expo building on Addington Road, in Rush. The only chairs used are by the volunteers taking money at the entrance and by Lori Bowling, Boyd County Extension Agent for Horticulture, and Tina Badgett, Master Gardener President. While they may have the luxury of sitting while they work, they by no means will be found at rest. The pace of taking money and writing receipts is nearly nonstop, and the bow-making is a never-ending (sometimes impossible-seeming) swirl of helping participants choose three perfect ribbons to turn into professional-level bows that are the cherry on top when it comes to wreath design. Those volunteering their time to pull off an event of this magnitude rival Santa’s elves in this pine-scented workshop!

Upon arrival, participants are greeted with detailed instructions, hands-on coaching, and experienced suggestions to help ensure their success, and they are outfitted with an apron and gloves to avoid the sticky resin that is a byproduct of the evergreen cuttings. They are then guided to the front of the room to choose ornaments and a bow. After these choices are made, the gathering begins — approximately 140 pieces of white pine and 30 pieces of cedar. Dividing those into 10 bundles and placing them into an open wreath form for crimping wraps up the process. And, volunteers are present and easily accessible every step of the way to help with the bundling, placing, crimping, shaping, bow-making, and picture-taking once the wreath is finished. To purchase a wreath with the size, shape, ornament detail, and bow that comes with these, one would easily pay between $50 and $75. But, participants of this event walk away not only with a gorgeous wreath but also with the memory of a fun experience and the pride of having made it on their own, all for only $20.

Bowling said this event isn’t at all about making money; it’s more about growth. The holiday wreath program “began in 1999 when the extension service was in the basement of the courthouse and offered two classes of 10 people.” Bowling and other Master Gardeners harvested the greenery from wherever they could find it. The program has grown exponentially since then, making it necessary now to purchase the evergreen. The Hutton-Loyd Tree Farm in Fleming County has supported the program for many years, originally with a purchase of 12 boxes of greenery. Bowling commented she has had to order “192 boxes of greenery the past few years and still [has] to harvest some” locally when the stockpiles get low. Greenery isn’t the only bulk purchase needed to pull off this event. Nearly 1,000 spools of ribbon for bows, somewhere near 3,000 ornaments, and as many as 900 wreath rings are also purchased to execute this program. And, that doesn’t include the floral wire, nitrile gloves, pruners, hand sanitizers, and daily lunches for the volunteers. The funds that foot the bill for all these supplies come from the Programming Budget of the Boyd County Extension Services — money that is set aside to offer residents of Boyd County quality horticultural experiences. Bowling stated, “The wreath program is one that we view as a community-building program and kind of as a thank you to the residents.” It also doubles as a way she can share with the community the many services the Extension Office has in place for residents. An advertising source for the Extension Office, this holiday program is, in short, a win-win for all those who participate. And, the community impact due to their efforts is significant.

More than 850 wreaths are created by excited members of the community, many that have made this a regular part of their Christmas-season kickoff. Those in attendance seem to enjoy the opportunity to slow down a bit and create something with their own personal touch that they can enjoy for weeks to come. Families, friend groups, office staff, individuals, church groups — all kinds of configurations of members of the community join one another for a fun way to kick off the holiday season. An evening with the Boyd County Extension Master Gardeners crew is a fun way to usher in a little Christmas spirit in a laid back environment, surrounded by a sense of neighborly goodwill.