Wednesday, July 23, 2014
For the 12,000-plus blood cancer patients in the United States, their only hope for a cure lies in the hands of transplant donors — often from outside the patient’s family. On July 26, Be the Match will host a Walk+Run event at Brown’s Island, inviting both donors and transplant patients suffering from diseases such as leukemia and lymphoma to come together.

Be the Match strives to raise funds to support marrow transplant research, help patients with their treatment costs and build up the registry of volunteer donors.

Be the Match Walk+Run events launched in 2011 in just three cities. This year, 17 cities are taking part, including Atlanta, Charlotte, Chicago, Sacramento, Dallas, St. Louis and Philadelphia. “Be the Match began connecting patients with unrelated donors in 1987 with a registry of just 10,000 volunteers,” says Dan Gariepy, a community engagement representative in Richmond. “The registry has grown to more than 11 million donors and 193,000 umbilical cord blood units, the largest and most racially and ethnically diverse registry of its kind in the world. Since we began operations in 1987, we have facilitated more than 61,000 transplants to give patients a second chance at life.”

Those interested can join the Be The Match Registry in person or online at BeTheMatch.org; there are age (18 to 44) and health requirements, and registrants must be willing to donate to any patient in need. Attendees at the Walk+Run event will also have a chance to register.

The opening program will begin at 8 a.m.; the Tot Trot will kick off at 8:20 a.m., followed by the 5K, which starts at 8:30 a.m. A closing ceremony, held after the Walk+Run, will conclude the day, during which one bone marrow recipient will meet his donor. “They have never met before and will be meeting in front of the race participants,” Gariepy says. “We are lucky to be a part of this special, emotional memory.”

To participate in the Walk+Run, register online at BeTheMatchWalkRun.org/Richmond, or in person at the event. It costs $30 to register online for the 5K, $15 for the 1K Youth race and $10 for the Tot Trot for children ages 5 and younger. 

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The Little Clinic at 9000 Staples Mill Road opened June 30.
The Little Clinic, owned by Kroger Co., has opened its first locations in the Richmond area at 9000 Staples Mill Road in Henrico County and at 7000 Tim Price Way in Chesterfield County.

Located near pharmacies inside select Kroger Stores, The Little Clinic aims to deliver affordable, convenient health care to consumers who need quality service close to where they live and shop. The clinics are open seven days a week, including evenings, and no appointment is necessary. “We want to be the ‘one-stop shop’ solution for our loyal customers, says Carl York, Mid-Atlantic Division spokesman for Kroger. “We believe that The Little Clinic offers a needed service to those families that are on the go and busy.”

The Little Clinic first opened in 2003 in Louisville, Kentucky. Since then, clinics have emerged in seven more states: Tennessee, Ohio, Georgia, Arizona, Colorado, Indiana and, most recently, Virginia. Staffed by board certified nurse practitioners and specialists in family practice, the clinics provide non-emergency care to anyone over 18 months of age, covering common illnesses such as ear infections, strep throat and pink eye to physicals, health screenings and tobacco cessation services.

In terms of affordability, The Little Clinic accepts patients with and without insurance. If a patient has a copay, that amount will be the same at the clinic. For those who pay with cash, service prices are available at the clinic and online at thelittleclinic.com.

Looking to the future, the Little Clinic aims to expand to other parts of Virginia, including new locations in Mechanicsville and one in Virginia Beach in August.

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Residents look over and comment on Floyd Avenue plans.
City officials on Tuesday unveiled the proposed design for the Floyd Avenue bike boulevard project that aims to slow motorists, increase visibility and ultimately make the street more bike and pedestrian friendly.

Debuted to a crowd of more than 300 people at the Virginia Historical Society, the design would add curb extensions (or bump-outs) to four intersections and traffic circles at 10 others along the two-mile avenue straddling the Fan and Museum districts.

“Essentially, we’re not touching anything between the intersections,” says Thomas Flynn, a transportation engineer in the city’s Department of Public Works. “Everything will remain as it is today.”

Public comments were collected at an initial meeting in late May, when officials tried to gauge support and listen to residents’ concerns about the project. Based those comments, 82 percent of attendees supported the use of traffic circles in the plan. Seventy-four percent supported the use of bump-outs, with some stipulating that parking should not be eliminated. Under the proposed design, 15 parking spaces would be lost near intersections, which organizers pointed out were technically illegal spaces based on state and local law.

The design would replace traffic signals or four-way stops at 10 intersections along Floyd — Morris, Harvie, Plum, Vine, Allen, Rowland, Strawberry, Davis, Belmont and Dooley streets —  with traffic circles. Bump-outs would be added at the intersections of Floyd and Cherry, Linden, Harrison and Auburn streets.

Traffic diverters were ruled out of the design based on Floyd’s relatively low daily traffic volume (about 1,000 vehicles per 24 hours), Flynn says. Sixty-two percent of attendees of the May meeting supported the use of diverters to preserve low vehicular traffic.

Painted or protected bike lanes weren’t included in the design to preserve as much parking as possible, officials told the attendees.

The survey, final design, utility coordination and construction of the project is estimated to cost $521,250, with the city footing $104,250 of the bill.

During a public comment period, some attendees questioned whether the plan would create more liability for motorists by encouraging heavier cycling traffic without increased enforcement of traffic laws.

“Folks in cars and folks on bikes are all on the same roads. I know it sounds ‘kumbaya,’ but we’ve all got to follow the same rules,” says City Council President Charles Samuels, 2nd District. Samuels, along with Councilman Parker Agelasto, 5th District, and Councilman Jon Baliles, 1st District, held the meeting.

Many spoke in support of the plan during the public comment period, but others weren’t wowed by the design.

“I was kind of disappointed, because it seems like they’re just going to plop some traffic circles down and there’s not going to be that much of a change,” says Fran Jackson, a resident of the 2200 block of Floyd Avenue.

A recommended design of the project will be submitted to the Urban Design Commission this summer, then the City Planning Commission, and eventually City Council. If approved, construction will likely begin in the spring of 2015, so the work can be completed ahead of the 2015 UCI World Road Championships, Flynn says.

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Joey Cook of Norfolk was among those to make it to the next round. Photos by Ash Daniel

The mid-July heat beat down on hundreds of American Idol hopefuls this morning as they stood in lines wrapping around the block at the State Capitol. Richmond was chosen as one of 11 stops on the Idol Bus Tour Auditions because it’s the hometown of Elliott Yamin, who was a finalist in the show's fifth season. (Our July issue contains an interview with Yamin, who will be performing at a concert in Mechanicsville on Friday.)

Contestants between the ages of 15 and 28 began lining up on Bank Street as early as 4 a.m. today. By mid-morning, the line stretched from Bank Street down to 14th Street and up to East Broad. Auditions began at 9 a.m. outdoors under two tents, and were expected to last until at least 8 p.m.

During the bus tour, each contestant is given a short amount of time to perform, and is judged by some of the producers of the show.

Joey Cook, a 23-year-old musician from Norfolk with bright blue hair and fingernails to match, spent her few seconds to shine singing “Tallest Man On Earth” by King of Spain, accompanied by her own accordion.

“I was going to do a bunch of other songs with my ukulele, but they didn’t want to hear it today,” Cook says. Aside from the accordion and ukulele, she also plays the piano, banjo and mandolin.

“All I’m good at is music,” Cook adds. After making the top 150 in The Voice two years ago, Cook came into this knowing what to expect. She made it through to the next round of auditions, which will be held in Kansas City, Missouri.

Lauren Reedy, 28, came from Ashburn this morning to audition for the second year in a row. Last year, Reedy made it to the executive producers’ round in a duet before being turned down.

“It’s always like a time warp when you do these kinds of things — it feels like we’ve been here for 10 hours,” Reedy says, a couple of hours in.

This year, she came in with a peppy attitude, a confident smile, and a bottle of olive oil (to sooth her voice) — but was turned down again. “[The judge] said my vocals were great — some of the best he’s seen for some of the songs he hates the most. He said I made him smile, and it seems like I have an awesome personality and the voice to go with it; he thinks I’m the whole package, but my energy is too high,” Reedy says.

“When I come to an audition, I’m not the kind of person to sit with a scowl on my face,” Reedy continues. “The point is to enjoy it, and if you don’t enjoy it, it’s kind of miserable. Even if you get through, if you don’t make friends along the way, then what’s the point?”

Felicia Hoyas of Newport News also made the cut.

One friend Reedy made while waiting in line was Felicia Hoyas, 28, from Newport News. Hoyas made it through to the next round with her own version of Britney Spears’ “Toxic.

“I think [the judges] decided to give me a chance since it’s my last year to audition,” Hoyas says. “I always enjoy coming out and seeing how many people are really talented. I got through and all of these people have so much talent; that’s just crazy.”

Hoyas, who has been writing and performing music since she was 16, walked away from her audition with her guitar slung over her shoulder, letting the nerves fall away.

Colby Seagram of Powhatan waits for his audition.Photo by Leslie McCrea

“I tried so hard not to be nervous but I was a little bit,” she admits, laughing. “I play music for a living, so I kind of prepared that way. I thought it was cool that everyone was encouraging each other.”

For the hundreds of contestants left to wait in line the rest of the day, the mood remained confident and excited. 

Colby Seagram, 21, of Powhatan County, started his Idol journey by getting in line at 5 a.m. “It’s been extremely fun listening in the line to different genres and different styles of music, and meeting different people,” he said. “I’m most excited for sharing my own music that I’m about to perform.”

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Mayor Dwight Jones on Monday asked members of the Richmond School Board to back key educational initiatives central to the city’s anti-poverty efforts. Jones and Thad Williamson, director of the Office of Community Wealth Building, implored the School Board to help appoint members to two task forces that would spearhead early childhood education initiatives and a Promise Scholarship program, which would guarantee scholarships to all Richmond Public School graduates accepted by a college or university. 

“Underperforming schools is not an option for us,” Jones says. “When we lose a young person, it affects them, their family and everyone in their community.”

In April, Jones tapped Williamson, a University of Richmond professor, to head the Office of Community Wealth Building and coordinate the city’s anti-poverty initiatives. Williamson started on the job in June, and the office opened at the beginning of the month with a $3.4 million budget.

Williamson says that the Richmond Public Schools and School Board need to be “full partners and owners” and help create a “cradle-to-career pipeline” for RPS students.

“Poverty is as much about human development as it is about resources,” he says. “It’s about not being able to be all you can be, which is a tragedy for individuals, but also a detriment to communities.”

What Williamson calls a “two-generation strategy” aims to provide child-care support for working parents in the Center for Workforce Innovation. The city budgeted $182,000 for participating families. An additional $73,000 investment in early childhood development programs will supplement the CWI funds, according to the Office of Community Wealth Building’s budget summary.

“To reach the kids, you have to reach the parents, too,” Williamson told the School Board. “If the parents are struggling, that’ll rub off on the kids.”

The city also budgeted $7,500 to fund a feasibility study of a Promise Scholarship program for Richmond Public School graduates, according to the budget summary. A similar program in Kalamazoo, Michigan, that was established in 2005 led to a near-25 percent increase in college enrollment among public school graduates in the last nine years, Williamson says.

He says it could take six months for a task force, once formed, to make recommendations about the Promise Scholarship program.   

Richmond Public Schools Superintendent Dana Bedden says he’s excited about the Promise Scholarships, adding that the School Board “should probably be the biggest stick” in the city’s anti-poverty efforts.

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