Hospice of Limestone County: Meeting The Challenge Through The Chili Challenge

Athens, Ala. – The doctor walks in and breaks the news.  “We’ve done all we can.  Our recommendation is now palliative care.  “Palliative care?”, you ask.  “There’s nothing else that can be done?”  The doctor responds, “Our goal now is to keep your loved one comfortable.”
It’s never easy to admit that nothing else can be done and you would do anything to take away the illness, but you can’t.  The question that now remains is how do you make your loved one as comfortable as possible while they are here with us.  Enter Hospice.  The paperwork is signed and a few short hours later, equipment arrives and caring individuals are now at your home ready to serve.  Along with your love and concern, these are now the resources to make your loved one comfortable.
The following is the mission statement of Hospice of Limestone County:
“Hospice of Limestone County is a care system for the terminally ill patient and their families. Care is provided by a team of professional and trained volunteers. The goal of Hospice of Limestone County is to help the terminally ill patient and family live as fully and comfortably as possible the lifetime remaining through pain and symptom control, counseling and spiritual support.

Hospice recognizes that we cannot cure the dying person nor remove the pain and grief, but, we can care enough to be there. Hospice offers the healing grace of compassionate presence.”

In an effort to explain what they do, Hospice of Limestone County website reads, “In simple terms, hospice is home-based care for the terminally ill. At the Hospice of Limestone County, we provide pain control, medical assistance and emotional support for our patients 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Our focus is the patient, and our goal is to restore as much dignity, comfort and peace as possible to the time he or she has left.

At hospice, we accept that there are some things we simply cannot do-like remove pain or grief, or prevent the terminally ill from dying. Instead, we focus our energy on what we can do: reduce physical pain, control symptoms, provide spiritual counseling and lend emotional support.”

Hospice offers adult support like widowed person’s support group, adult grief groups, parents and families group for loss of a child, and individual counseling at the Loft or at home.  When it comes to young people, they offer Camp Hope, “Good Grief Club”, groups at The Loft, and individual sessions for teens and children at The Loft, school, and even at the home when appropriate.

In addition to the above, Hospice of Limestone County offers: crisis response, training for managers on how to manage grief in the workplace, special events serve to provide opportunities for remembering lost loved ones, educational workshops and presentations dealing with death, dying and grief issues, as well as a library of books, videos, and pamphlets geared toward all ages and addressing all types of losses.
Each year, Hospice of Limestone County organizes the Chili Challenge to meet the challenge of carrying out the above services.  The event brings businesses and individuals alike together to support a great cause.  Funds are raised in various ways.  From tickets at the door to booth spaces and a silent auction, there are many ways to contribute.
This year is the 29th edition of the Chili Challenge.  It will be held on Saturday, February 18th, in the Athens High School cafeteria and gymnasium from 10am-2pm.  Booth spaces are still available and donations are still being accepted for the silent auction.  Last week, Applebee’s Tailgate Talk announced that they would be doing a “live remotchilie” from 10am-12pm at the Chili Challenge this year.  The guys at Applebee’s Tailgate Talk hope that this will help spread the word even further and encourage friends in the community to come out the day of the event.  It takes many businesses and individuals throughout the Limestone County area to make this event a success.
If you would like to participate in the Chili Challenge or donate to the silent auction, you can contact Hospice of Limestone County by phone at (256)232-5017 or by email at hospice@hiwaay.net.
Find a way that you can contribute and make your plans to be at this year’s Chili Challenge on Saturday, February 18th.

NBA All-Star Player & World Championship Basketball Coach Rudy Tomjanovich Actually Started Out Playing Baseball

Coach Rudy Tomjanovich and his Houston Rockets celebrate after defeating the Orlando Magic for the NBA World Championship on June 14, 1995.  Photo: Getty Images

Los Angeles, CA – In a recent interview on Applebee’s Tailgate Talk, five-time NBA All-Star player and two-time NBA World Championship Coach Rudy Tomjanovich said that his first love actually wasn’t basketball, but baseball.  Tomjanovich grew up in Hamtramck, Michigan, which is surrounded by the City of Detroit.  He said the recreational programs in that city were outstanding, especially when it came to baseball.  In a city where it seemed all the boys grew up wanting to play baseball, young Rudy Tomjanovich went right along with them.  When Tomjanovich was around 11 years old, Hamtramck won the 1959 Little League World Series.  Some of the older boys that he played with, including a cousin, were a part of that championship team.  As a side note, a team from Gadsden, Alabama made it to the quarterfinals of the same tournament, but never faced Hamtramck.  Tomjanovich said the guy that really encouraged him was his Uncle Joe.  His uncle bought him his baseball spikes, gloves, and other equipment because Tomjanovich’s family didn’t have much money.   Tomjanovich took to baseball, even becoming an All-Star. Tomjanovich said he played baseball in high school, but, unfortunately, he had a baseball coach who he described as a “sarcastic guy.”  He said because of the coach’s personality, he quickly lost his love for the game.
Tomjanovich’s Uncle Joe had always told him it would be good for him to play a sport and keep his grades up, because of the possibility of getting a scholarship.  When he told his uncle he wanted to give up baseball, his uncle wasn’t happy about that.  At that time, Tomjanovich said that his uncle was concerned about his future if he didn’t pursue baseball.  When he told his uncle that he wanted to play basketball Tomjanovich said that this announcement garnered a strange look from his uncle.  While he had played on the basketball team, he had never actually played in a game. Tomjanovich started practicing on a basketball court at a junior high school.  He said the basketball court where he practiced happened to be the “hot spot” for all the great players in Detroit.  He said he started at one of the smaller baskets and moved up to the big baskets. Tomjanovich said that the day he got to play on the big baskets with the high school players and the college players was “like going to Madison Square Garden.”
Although he was enjoying honing his skills on the basketball court, Tomjanovich’s pursuit wasn’t met without some resistance.  In the process of trying to play basketball, he had those who told him that he shouldn’t waste his time and even pursue the sport.  After he had told his uncle he was going to play basketball, he went out for the freshman team the next year. Tomjanovich said that the freshman basketball coach was a new teacher at the time.  The coach was an ex-football player, a linebacker.  After trying out for the freshman team, Tomjanovich was in homeroom class when a classmate came in the room and informed him that he had seen the list of the players who made the team, and his name was not on the list.  That was something that didn’t sit well with Tomjanovich.  Before the next practice the next day, and before the coach could do anything, he challenged the coach to a game of one-on-one.  Tomjanovich said the coach, coming from a football background, didn’t know how to play basketball. He said every time he dribbled the ball, it was like a fumble to the coach.  The coach would lunge at him and he even had to jump over him a couple of times. After the match up, the coach saw that he had a passion for the game and put him on the team.
After freshman season, Tomjanovich signed up for a gym class that the varsity boys were in. Tomjanovich described himself as the “scarecrow” with “wobbly legs” as a young man.  He said, the varsity coach pulled him to the side and asked him what he was doing there.  He asked him if he was thinking about going out for the team.   He said, “Yes, sir”.  The coach, who Tomjanovich described as “the king”, responded, “Well, don’t waste your time.”  At that moment, Tomjanovich said, “My heart dropped out of my chest.”  After that experience, he said he made up his mind that he loved the game of basketball and that his love of the game was so strong that he was going to play wherever and whenever he could, even if it meant playing in leagues outside of school.  By the end of the year, the head coach had moved Tomjanovich up to varsity.  In high school, Tomjanovich was an All-State basketball player.
Upon graduation from high school, he went to the University of Michigan to play basketball. rudy Tomjanovich said that Michigan “didn’t make a lot of noise” as a team, but they did get to play the number one toughest schedule in the country his junior year and the second toughest schedule in the country his senior year which meant that when all the NBA scouts were coming to watch players from the other team, they were watching him on the court as well.
In 1970, the NCAA All-American was the number two draft pick by the San Diego Rockets.  After being drafted, the San Diego Rockets were sold to Houston.  At that time, no one thought they were going to make it in Houston because Texas was a football state. Tomjanovich said they hung around and built the program and laid the foundation for the great franchises found in Texas today.  He said it was pretty cool to be a part of that process.
Although Tomjanovich had great success as a player and a coach, he said that one of the most important moments of his career was when his former player, Akeem Olajuwon, was being inducted into the hall of fame. Tomjanovich said that he gave Olajuwon a call. rudy1  During that call, Tomjanovich said that Olajuwon was so gracious. Olajuwon told him, “This is for you too, Coach.” Tomjanovich said that Olajuwon saying that was an incredible feeling, it was the greatest moment in his career. Tomjanovich said, although he wasn’t the one who traded Olajuwon, he wasn’t sure about how felt about him until that moment.  A reporter who was there told Tomjanovich how happy Olajuwon was that he had called him. Tomjanovich said that having a connection with someone you’ve gone through the wars with and then them show their appreciation for your support, that’s his most rewarding moment.
In December 2016, Tomjanovich returned to the list of nominees for induction into The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.  With Tomjanovich being an All-American at Michigan, a five-time time All-Star with the Rockets, nominated by the coaches committee as the winning-est coach in Rockets history, having led the Houston Rockets to two NBA championships, USA Basketball to an Olympic Gold Medal, and a team of replacement players to a World Championships Bronze medal, it seems that his resume warrants induction.  The finalists and direct-inductees will be announced on Feb. 18 in New Orleans. The entire class of 2017 will be announced on April 3 during the Final Four in Phoenix, Arizona.  The induction of the class of 2017 will take place from September 7th through the 9th at the Hall of Fame in Springfield, Massachusetts.
“What I’d like to say to the non-believers is never underestimate the heart of a champion.” – Coach Rudy Tomjanovich

The Day My Daddy Met Paul "Bear" Bryant

Daddy’s autograph from Coach Paul “Bear” Bryant. Circa 1973.

Athens, Ala. – As he laid there in Athens-Limestone Hospital, a nurse walked in and introduced herself as Pam Gaston.  “I’m one of the nurses here and patient liaison…” Daddy interrupted, “Are you related to Greg?”  She responded, “Which one?”  Daddy said, “The one with one eye.” Pam said, “Yes, that’s the one.  He’s my husband.  We’ve been married 34 years.”  As daddy enjoyed doing, he began to tell a story.  “I guess we were about 15 or 16 when Greg and I went down to The University of Alabama…”  I knew this story.  Daddy had told it many times before, but this time seemed more special.  Daddy continued, “Greg and I were in the Athens High School Concert Band together and we went down there for a concert.  We both played football for Athens too and decided to run all over the college until we found Paul “Bear” Bryant’s office.  We went through every building and opened every door until I saw that ol’ checkered hat.  I told Greg, ‘This is his office!  This is his office!’  I asked the secretary if it was Coach Bryant’s office and she said, ‘Yes.’  We asked if we could see him and she said, ‘Yeah, you can see him.’  She opened the door and we sat down and talked to him.”  Daddy paused and told Pam, “Ask Greg if he still has that autograph.”  I knew daddy had saved his.  Daddy said, “Dan Havely, the band director, gave us a paddling over that, but I met Coach Bryant and got my autograph!”
Three days later, daddy was diagnosed with Stage IV gallbladder cancer.  While it was suggested that he might have months to live, he actually had less than a month.  He had a few more stories to tell, but that would be the last time he would tell his Coach Bryant story.
On September 3rd, Alabama was set to take on USC.  Daddy woke up asking, “Where’s the counter?”  I asked, “What counter?”  Daddy responded, “The counter to sell tickets at the door! Ten dollars to get in and five dollars for popcorn!”  We had a laugh.  He was in good spirits that morning and ready to watch the game that evening.  By kickoff time, daddy had the “death rattle” coming from his chest and wasn’t alert enough to watch the game.  Laying in his Hospice bed, with family by his side, we watched the Tide roll against the Trojans.  Two days later, on September 5th, daddy was gone.   For the next several weeks, I had no interest in football and I had no interest in going on the radio show I co-host called, “Applebee’s Tailgate Talk”.  While he was sick, daddy had asked me why I was missing the show.  I told him that I was going to stay with him.  He wanted me to go on, but I also knew I’d have very little to contribute with daddy’s condition.  Although I felt like I was drowning, the Crimson Tide kept rolling.
Here we are 14-0 about to take on Clemson for the second time in two years for the College Football Playoff National Championship.  Win or lose, it will be a season I’ll always remember.
Wearing daddy’s houndstooth cap on Applebee’s Tailgate Talk.

Like Coach Bryant, daddy had his own style of checkered hat.  I wear it now in my daddy’s memory.  I’ve worn it around town, I’ve worn it on the radio show, and I’ve worn it to a couple of Alabama ballgames this season.  At the Alabama vs. Auburn game, an older gentleman sitting behind me asked, “Where did you get that cap?”  I told him it was my daddy’s.”  He said, “It’s a cool hat.”  I said, “My daddy was a cool guy.”
I never met Paul “Bear” Bryant, but I knew Mark White, Sr.
Me and my daddy, Mark White, Sr.

As with any of us, he had his flaws, but he was a good daddy.  Football was one of our many common interests, namely Alabama Crimson Tide football.  On Monday night, I’ll have daddy right with me in my heart.  You can mark it down.  Roll Tide Roll!

Former Florida State Player, Coach Kez McCorvey, Finds True Hero In Brother

Former FSU WR Kez McCorvey makes a grab against the Miami Hurricanes. Photo courtesy of Florida State Archives/Christopher Holder Photographer & Collections

Murfreesboro, Tn. – As a wide receiver for the Florida State Seminoles, Kez McCorvey had a knack for finding the end zone.  An all-around athlete, he had a pair of younger eyes watching him as he found success in athletics.  That pair of younger eyes was his brother, Camron Packer.  Speaking of his younger brother, McCorvey said, “I was his hero when we were growing up. He saw me hit home runs in baseball, play basketball, and go off to play college and professional football.”  On Applebee’s Tailgate Talk this morning, McCorvey said that when his brother was about to graduate from high school, he encouraged him to join him at Florida State, but Camron Packer had different plans.  For Packer, his mission was to serve his country by joining the Navy and that’s exactly what he did.
Over the next twenty years, Packer served in several places around the world including the Iraq War.  During his brother’s years of service, Kez McCorvey found something much more valuable that the end zone, he found a hero.  McCorvey recalls a phone call with his brother while he was serving in Iraq.  One minute McCorvey was talking to his brother and the next minute Packer was calling off numbers as he was carrying out his Naval duties.  Not only did McCorvey’s brother commit to a life of service in the armed forces, but his sister-in-law, Divina, as well.  For McCorvey, he has seen his brother and sister-in-law’s sacrifices and it has earned his utmost respect.
Camron Packer and wife, Divina, as he retired from the Navy. Photo courtesy: Kez McCorvey

After retirement, McCorvey says that his brother continued to put into practice the skills that he learned in the military, namely his skills as a leader.  McCorvey says that his brother is the go-to guy for answers.  McCorvey acknowledges the incredible job that his brother and sister-in-law have done with children over the years as well.
The service of his brother and sister-in-law in the armed forces has given McCorvey an even greater appreciation for those who serve.  He knows that many make sacrifices when it comes to family and other activities that we as civilians often take for granted.  I imagine that through the years, McCorvey has done something for those who serve as well.  We’ve all seen pictures of troops around the television watching their favorite football teams on the field.  Through McCorvey’s athletic success, he has offered troops, especially those who wear the garnet and gold,  the feeling of being back home.  That’s important too.  You can “Mark It Down”.

For Dennis Homan, It's About The "Four F's"

Dennis Homan pictured during his playing days at Alabama.

Muscle Shoals, Ala. – The field at Muscle Shoals High School bears his name.  The first player from Muscle Shoals to be drafted in the NFL, Homan was an exceptional all-around athlete.  After graduating from Muscle Shoals High School, Homan went on to play for Paul “Bear” Bryant and the Alabama Crimson Tide.  In the days when Homan played for the Tide, freshmen did not get to play.  As a freshman in 1964, Homan said, “We got beat around by the seniors to help them win the national championship.”  Homan’s freshman year, Joe Namath was under center for the Tide.  Waiting in the wings was Homan’s roommate, Kenny Stabler.  When asked about staying out of trouble with Stabler, Homan jokingly said, “I tried my best with Kenny, that’s for sure!”  As a player, Homan originally came in as a running back, but became a two year starter at split end.  On the other side of the field was another great receiver in Ray Perkins.  As for Coach Paul “Bear” Bryant, Homan said, “That was a man I feared more than any man in my life.  A lot of our motivation was out of fear.  We lost three games in four years and I remember the price we paid after each loss.”  As a matter of fact, Homan said that before his senior year, he and his, now, wife of 48 years wanted to get married, but Homan said, “Coach Bryant put a squash on that.”  Taking Coach Bryant’s advice, they waited until after his senior year to get married.  In his time under Coach Bryant’s guidance, Homan was a two time SEC performer and was also named an All-American and Academic All-American his senior year, after making 54 receptions for 820 yards and nine touchdowns.  The Tide won the national championship in 1965 and was undefeated in 1966.  After Alabama defeated Nebraska 34-7 in the 1967 Sugar Bowl and Vince Lombardi and the Green Bay Packers went on to defeat the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl I, Coach Lombardi was asked how it felt to be the best team in the world.  His response was, “I don’t know, we haven’t played Alabama yet”.  In the Senior Bowl, Homan was named the MVP of the South team.  In 1968, Homan was selected in the first round draft by the Dallas Cowboys.  Of his time in Dallas, Homan said, “I tried my best and did everything I could do”.  His 1969 season with the Cowboys was his most productive on the field with 12 catches and 240 yards.  While Homan was in Dallas, another familar Alabama name, Lee Roy Jordan, was there as well.  Homan said, “Lee Roy was a great friend in Dallas and took me under his wing.  He showed me what I needed to do and what I didn’t need to do.”  Homan went on to say, “It was great having someone out there who came from the same place I came from.  Lee Roy Jordan and his wife were good to both Charlotte and I.”  On his years of playing football, and his life in general, Homan said, “The Lord has blessed me”.  He went on to say that he wouldn’t take anything for the relationships made at Alabama, Dallas, and the Kansas City Chiefs.  For his success on the field Homan was inducted into the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame in 1999.  On or off the field, Homan said that he lives by the “Four F’s”.  They are faith, family, friends, and football (in that order).  Being able to use his success as a platform to share his faith is important to him.  He said, “I’ll be stopped by someone in a store and it gives me an opportunity to share my faith with them.”  Looking back, Homan said, “I wouldn’t change my life.  I don’t believe I could’ve planned it any better.  I’ve got the most beautiful wife, I’ve got a beautiful daughter, and I have a great son.  When talking about the grandchildren, Homan said that they are all great athletes as well, but they don’t have to play sports to make him happy.  In 2015, Homan’s wife, Charlotte, was included in Bill Norvell’s book “Inspiration From Anytown, USA.”  Appropriately, her story was placed in chapter 25 of Norvell’s book which was Homan’s football number.  As for his thoughts on Coach Nick Saban and what he’s done at Alabama, Homan said, “He has a great philosophy in what he’s doing.  He’s bringing in great players and teaching them what it takes to win.”  Having been coached by Coach Paul “Bear” Bryant himself, Homan is certainly no stranger to coaches who know how to win.  Speaking of people who know how to win, it was Coach Paul “Bear” Bryant who famously said, “I ain’t never been nothin’ but a winner”.  Well, Mr. Dennis Homan is among those winners.  You can “Mark It Down”.