Monday, January 5, 2015

End of the Year Thoughts

Dale Payne listened to Kiera Volz as she told him about her day after school his Huntingburg home March 20. Dale, who has known Kiera since she was born, has helped raise her since July 2010 and became her legal guardian in October 2011.

Dale gently put on Kiera's shoes as she slept before school Feb. 28. Dale, who works for the City of Huntingburg's Department of Parks and Recreation, usually dresses Kiera in his recliner while she continues sleeping, because of the early hour.
Dale leaned in to watch Kiera walk into the women's restroom during a Southridge boys basketball game at Memorial Gym in Huntingburg Jan. 31.
After her Drug Court graduation ceremony, Tara Volz, right, hugged her daughter Kiera with Dale and Kayley Payne, 15, left, at the Dubois County Courthouse April 7. Sober for more than two years now, Tara hopes to continue improving so she can become more involved in Kiera's life.

The photograph: Dale Payne of Huntingburg lifted Kiera Volz, 6, during the Celebrating Fathers event at League Stadium in Huntingburg on June 13. Dale, who has known Kiera since she was born, has helped raise her since July 2010 and became her legal guardian in Oct. 2011.

Comments: Really, I could pick any photo from Dale and Kiera’s story and the reason why it is one of my favorite stories from 2014 would remain the same. Sometimes it isn’t about a particular picture, but rather what the person in the photo represents. Dale is a maintenance foreman for the Huntingburg Parks and Recreation Department and is raising a young girl who wasn’t his own child. Dale’s personality and mannerisms reminded me of my dad, John Mummey. He passed away unexpectedly in February while I was working on this story. I saw so many similar personality traits between Dale and Kiera that reminded me of how my dad raised me. He was a big burly guy, a bit rough around the edges, and certainly not the type you’d expect to be raising a little girl. My mom worked mornings which left my dad to get me ready for school. You can imagine how watching Dale carefully getting a still-sleeping Kiera dressed for school could bring back memories, memories of how my dad had learned to do pig tails and pony tails only to have me carefully inspect his handiwork and demand a redo. Of course he’d always oblige. On dark, blustery winter mornings in Iowa as he’d warm up the truck to take me to school, he’d scrape smiley faces into the frost on the car’s windshield, then mimic those faces as he’d peer in the windows trying to distract me from the cold. Even Kiera’s cat Lollipop, which Dale did not care for, reminded me of how my dad brought my own cat, Dusty J. Tiger, into my second-grade class for show and tell. Looming over my classmates, my father, who stood more than 6 feet tall, reached into his coat pocket and pulled out the tiniest of kittens. He seemed larger than life at the time. At least he was to me. And I suppose that was the story I wanted to tell about Dale and Kiera — how important a father figure is in a young child’s life. How children, no matter how small, will carry those memories, no matter how small, with them for the rest of their lives. I know I will.

 The photograph: With hands clasped tight, Jean Powell of Huntingburg prayed with surprise visitors, the Spize Girlz from Salem United Church of Christ in Huntingburg, at her home April 6. Each month, the Spize Girlz visit homebound individuals in the community to offer friendship and fellowship.

Comments: I started working on a series of short stories about how people in the community help homebound individuals. Though no one else’s fault but my own, the story has been put on hold. But I enjoyed this assignment so much, and spending time with these ladies was such a joy, I couldn’t help but share this photo. The Spize Girlz’ visit, dress up in funny costumes, sing songs and pray with those they are visiting. Watching them perform is a hoot, but more than that, it’s uplifting and tenderhearted. On this day in particular, we first got stuck in an elevator at Stork’s Place. There were eight of us dressed up in costume stuck in an elevator. It was quite the sight. Once we finally got out, we were ready to go back on our mission of brightening people’s day. This moment is with Jean, who lost her husband, Jack, in February after 70 years of marriage. The outreach, the touch, the holding of hands and the prayer, all of it was so moving. It brought me to tears watching these ladies and the care they brought forth to Jean. To me, this photo shows strength. To me, this photo says, “Hey you’re not alone, we are here for you.” It was quite the roller coaster ride of emotions to experience in one afternoon. I’m lucky to be part of a community where people care so much about one another. I’m even luckier that I’m allowed to bear witness to these moments.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

1st football game of the season

Jasper's Dillon Hurst and Justin Goebel greeted fans as they ran onto the field at Jerry Brewer Alumni Stadium before  the start of Friday night's game against Evansville Memorial in Jasper. Jasper won 59-29.

Feature hunt

Laughter forced Tyler Herzog of Jasper, 12, to pause from hauling his brother Joey, 10, and sister Cadi, 7, on a sled through a trail of jumps hidden by his father Randy Herzog's corn field along 190S in Jasper on Monday. The jumps stay year around, even during the growing season, so the kids have something to occupy their time.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Molly Brunsman - A Portrait of Persistance

Molly Brunsman of Huntingburg, 14, huddled with her teammates in a pre-game cheer at the National Wheelchair Basketball Association's Junior National Invitational Tournament in Louisville on April 18. It was her first season participating in the wheelchair basketball league, and her first opportunity as someone with a disability to fully participate in a team sport. When Molly was 5, a farm accident left her with a crushed pelvis. She hasn't let the disability define her and pushes the boundaries of her capabilities.
Molly, third from left, exploded into cheers alongside her wheelchair basketball teammates as their team rallied points during a game in Louisville on April 18.
Molly stood on the periphery of the Southridge Middle School track team as the girls prepared to load the buses to depart from the school for an away track meet May 1. Because she can't participate in many organized sports, Molly, now a freshman at Southridge High School, was the student manager for the volleyball, basketball and track teams throughout middle school.

Sitting behind her father and school bus driver, Donovan Brunsman, right, Molly greeted members of the Southridge Middle School track team as they loaded the bus at Southridge for an away track meet May 1. Molly was the team manager.
Molly paused for a moment while students took turns jumping off the diving board during gym class at Southridge Middle School on May 10. Swimming is one of Molly's favorite physical activities because the water makes her more buoyant, which takes the pressure off her hips and allows her to move more freely.
Molly carried bottles of milk to the barn to feed a pair of calves at her father's farm in Huntingburg on July 11. She said she likes taking care of the calves because it teaches her responsibility. "Taking care of the calves, in a way, teaches me to take care of myself," she said

As she completed her eighth-grade year, Molly glanced into a classroom while on a tour of Southridge High School with her father, Donovan, and guidance counselor Amanda Pulley on May 17. Molly and her parents were concerned that her classrooms in the new environment might be too far from each other and she wouldn't be able to make it from one to another without being tardy.
During her first homeroom period as a freshman at Southridge High School on Aug. 8, Molly talked with classmate Jazziman Cissell.

After returning from a church camp in Merom, Molly was greeted by members of her congregation at Salem Church of Christ in Huntingburg on July 21. Faith has been a large part of Molly's life, and she goes to church with her mother, Deb, and her brother, Derek, every Sunday.

Freedom Reins Therapeutic Riding Center instructor Jennifer Branch of Huntingburg helped Molly dismount her horse, Rex, during a riding lesson at the Jasper center June 27. Getting on and off the horse are the most difficult parts of her riding lessons, but Molly recently has been able to accomplish the feat by herself.
Molly walked with her mother, Deb, after finishing her riding lesson at Freedom Reins Therapeutic Riding Center in Jasper on June 27.

Monday, June 17, 2013

A trio

Dale Payne of Huntingburg smiled as he, Hello Kitty and Kiera Volz, 5, ate hot dogs during the Celebrating Fathers event at League Stadium in Huntingburg on Friday. “We always go as a trio,” said Payne, who has been Kiera’s legal guardian since October 2011. It was the second year for the free event for families that included a cookout with music, a flag parade and a movie.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Shaving for support

Karen Kolb is a nurse at Memorial Hospital in Jasper. On March 14th of this year she was diagnosed with breast cancer. To show their love and support, her friends, family and co-workers gathered on the eve before her first chemotherapy treatment and all shaved their heads with her.