Beginning with a bang… West University Softball Association decided to mix things up and toss the first pitch by offering a weekend of family fun. Headlining Friday night was the annual Father/Daughter Sweetheart Dance. While moms such as Vicki Grams, Keri Greenwalt and Cheryl Butler did the organizing, the dads and daughters enjoyed all the hard work. On the dance floor were Todd and Miranda Geenwalt, Dana and Darryn Grams, Dennis and Gwendelyn Butler, Sean and Ellery Wheeler, and Brett and Sophia Haugh. Saturday’s festivities offered a colorful parade of teams, which ended at West University Elementary for an all-day carnival. Popular sites were the coach-dunking booth and Texas Citizens Bank’s money grab, which allowed kids to capture dollar bills inside a windy booth with money swirling all around. Oh, to be a kid once again!
Won’t you take me to Funky Town… More than 650 ladies, including Susie Meischen, Louise Bannigan, Janet Theriot, Mills Toomey, Pauline Goodgame, Ann Hill and Susan Langerud, filled the ballroom of the Hilton Americas Hotel for Girls Just Wanna Have Fun benefiting Houston’s Ronald McDonald House, a home-away-from-home for families of seriously ill children receiving medical treatment. The Funky Town theme had guests in boas, tutus, hot pink wigs, cowgirl hats and flashing neon accessories. DJs spun ‘70s disco anthems while the all-female crowd danced and shopped at boutiques. Most memorable were the brave gals who played the supersized Twister game while giggling, stretching and ultimately falling for charity.
Sweetheart dinner… Being a teenage mom with a toddler can make Valentine’s Day a challenge, but not if you are a member of Lamar Young Lives. Led by sponsor Courtney Abernathy, girls and babies gathered for dinner and festivities at St. Luke’s United Methodist Church. Volunteers Melanie Dearden and Paige Guinn kept an eye on the kiddos so that the Lamar ladies could relax and have a rare night off. “Many girls who get pregnant drop out of high school,” said Abernathy. “We want these girls to know their lives and the lives of their babies will be better if they graduate. We provide fun monthly activities and adult support to help them stay motivated and able to stay in school.” In addition to the monthly social, girls have a chance to go to on a week-long summer trip with adult volunteers as chaperones and babysitters for the youngsters.
Bringing sight to the littlest eyes… Finding a cure for blindness in premature infants has been Dr. Helen Mintz-Hittner’s life’s work, and now her research is being published in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine. “It doesn’t get any better than this,” said Dr. Hittner as she recalled her work over the years. “My entire career has involved premature newborns in the nursery at St. Joseph Medical Center, and now, we get to publish our findings in a major landmark journal.” With the support of her co-workers in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at St. Joseph Medical Center, Dr. Hittner’s medical research study is poised to change the standard of care for premature babies. Her research shows the effectiveness of Avastin, a drug commonly used in large doses to treat cancer in adults, in bringing sight to newborns who may otherwise have been blind for life.
Blues traveler… Josh Davidson, billed as The Mighty Orq, was one of eight finalists out of 80 acts selected for the 27th annual Blues Challenge sponsored by the Blues Foundation in Memphis, Tenn., Competitors came from blues societies of 13 nations and 40 states across the country. Josh, 31, has played blues guitar professionally for 12 years. He discovered his passion for blues when, as a teen, he saw blues legend B.B. King play. “It was gut-level thing. That was it,” he said. Davidson attended Poe Elementary and Pershing Middle School and started playing clubs at age 15 while a student at Lamar High School. The Might Orq band plays locally at the Big Easy on Kirby and at other venues.
Books and baseball… Opening Day for West U Little League is always filled with family fun, but this year had a special addition. Local author Rodney Walther signed copies of his Little League-themed novel Broken Laces, donating $5 of every book purchased to the WULL Challenger program, which allows children with physical and/or mental differences to play baseball. Walther knows his way around the ballpark as he has managed baseball and softball teams for more than a decade. “I want to support this great game that teaches our kids strong values.” Reviews are strong for both Broken Laces and WULL’s spring season. Play ball!
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