Author: Darla Parris Smallwood

Up In The Air

You can fly a small one around in your living room, send one off for a spin around the local park, or even dispatch a camera-equipped one on a pre-mapped autonomous flight to bring back breathtaking aerial photos. And what are “they?” Drones. And they’re taking off in Vero Beach.

A Vero Beach Knockout

Gus knows firsthand how addictive training and boxing can be. At age 18, he had no real boxing experience other than a little kickboxing that his uncle had introduced him to when he was just nine or ten. But Gus wanted to get in shape, so he joined Claymore Boxing, a Vero Beach gym owned by Frank Lassaso.

An Unforgettable Chapter

Saint Augustine described the world as a book. “Those who don’t travel,” he explained, “read only a page.” But 19-year-old Dartmouth freshman Will Tremml plans to read that book cover to cover. He’s already seen quite a bit of the world – Russia, Ireland, Costa Rica, Tanzania and Sweden – and formed friendships with people from all over. So when President Barack Obama announced an easing of the embargo against Cuba in December 2014, Will couldn’t wait to plan a trip with his mom Emily and dad Glenn.

No More Secrets

“Stigma kills.” Kathy “Kate” Cronkite is on a mission to drive home that message. The secret shame that prevents clinically depressed people from seeking treatment can not only destroy quality of life, she says, it can take life. This November, Kathy brings her powerful message to Vero Beach and Palm City, when she headlines Suncoast Mental Health Center’s two-day “Finding Peace Amid the Chaos” fundraiser.

Progress Doesn't Mean Burning Bridges

Crossing from one beautiful place to another. That’s what it means to drive over the Merrill P. Barber Bridge. Similarly, when you consider its evolution from a simple, wooden drawbridge created for a fledgling Vero, to the concrete-and-steel structure serving today’s Vero Beach, you may find a kind of beauty both on the “then” and the “now” sides of the bridge’s rich history.

Shine On

The Medical Center’s patient navigation program pairs a patient with a knowledgeable, compassionate professional “navigator” to provide guidance through and around the many barriers in what some have dubbed the “maze” of cancer care. Financial challenges, language and cultural differences, communication problems, and transportation issues are but a few of the obstacles that can seem insurmountable to a patient. Even under the best of circumstances, the innate complexity of the health care system alone can be incredibly daunting to someone who has just heard the words, “You have cancer.”

The Power of 2

Giffords is a third-generation Arizonan and a self- described moderate Democrat. In 2000, at age 30, she began her political career by serving a single term in the Arizona state house. Just two years later she became the youngest woman ever elected to the Arizona state senate. A year after winning reelection in 2004, she resigned to run for, and subsequently win, a vacated seat in the U.S. House. She was re-elected twice. A champion for border security and comprehensive immigration reform, an advocate for the needs of veterans and military families, and an outspoken supporter of energy independence, Giffords was considered a rising star for the Democrats.

Pure & Simple

Mary Ann Hilton, president and co-owner of Blue Dolphin Soap LLC, started hand-making her natural soap 25 years ago. Although she and her husband, Bill, both grew up in Florida, they were living in California when she and a friend first signed up for a soapmaking class. One class led to another; and before they knew it, Mary Ann and her friend were devoting so much time, energy and space to making their soaps for family and friends that their husbands issued an ultimatum, “Back off or start selling this stuff!” They chose the second option and began carting their soaps off to Bay Area green markets and craft fairs.

A Historic Gathering At Historic Dodgertown

Last November, three generations of O’Malleys gathered at Historic Dodgertown for their first-ever family reunion of such magnitude. Finding a time when the schedules of all 46 people jibed and getting everyone together in the same place at the same time was no simple feat; but if anyone could make it happen, it was the O’Malleys. After all, their family has a pretty impressive track record when it comes to uniting people.

A Diamond In The Rough

In 2013, Hugh Aaron moved to Vero Beach from Richmond where he had been president of a more than 1,100-member bike club. Eager to connect with other area cyclists and begin enjoying group rides, Aaron soon met Giorgio Res who was already working on organizing Vero Cycling Inc., a club for cyclists of all levels. The two joined forces to get the group incorporated, and they began organizing more and more group rides as the club’s membership steadily grew.

Honor The Fallen, Celebrate The Living

A seemingly limitless line of blossoms and bouquets and letters at the base of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial wall. The solemn wreath-laying at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Such images are inexorably tied to Memorial Day, originally dubbed Decoration Day, the day set aside to remember those who died while serving in our armed forces. The ancient custom of adorning with flowers the graves of those who made the ultimate sacrifice lives on, and Lincoln’s famous words from the dedication of the Soldiers’ National Cemetery at Gettysburg echo in the background: “It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.”