Last week, I met 7-year old, Teagan Boyd. She decided to do something special for her most recent birthday. At an age when most youngsters crave presents on their birthday, Teagan gave back by asking her friends to help her donate to the Superhero Kids program at the Children’s Blood and Cancer Center of Dell Children’s Medical Center. The fund helps patients and their parents. Teagan raised $1000, and she was matched by Austin Philanthropist Milton Verret and the co-founder of the Superhero Kids Endowment, John Joseph. The total was over $4000.
With a little gaffer’s tape and a lot of patience I imagine. Jim Swift and I visited a local hi-tech gaming company that utilizes a unique method for the boss to stay in touch with creative team members while he is away. Bridging the gap between Austin and New York with a robotic twist…be sure to catch this fun story atthe following link: http://www.kxan.com/dpp/news/local/robot-put-in-charge-of-austin-office
Sometimes stories come around that are truly one of a kind in a photojournalist’s realm of experiences. Yesterday’s Michael Morton bond hearing in Williamson County was just such a story for me. Watching a man gain his freedom after nearly 25 years in prison for a crime he did not commit was a rare opportunity. Even seasoned photogs like myself drop their “seen it all” attitude and admit to the emotion of the event. Hearing the judge set Michael free, watching him exhale repeatedly in disbelief, and finally succumbing to the poignant picture of him hugging his mother all made for highlights of a truly long and busy day. Behind the scenes, the media’s work diligently and quietly moves along to a mutual end. What starts as organized work spaces soon morphs into an organized chaos of twisted cables and tripod spaces all in search of that singular shot . “Mark your spot, watch your step, and stay out of my shot!” is the shared mantra! These pics hopefully will give you a hint of the activity behind the lens and the energy in the room. Professionally, days like this are ultimately rewarding for a variety of reasons, especially when you make slot. Personally, it makes you count your blessings.
Zane Hartman visits with Lamar, a black Lab puppy, at the Austin Humane Society.
I visited two pet adoption drives this past weekend. At both events, one at the Austin Humane Society and the other at Austin Pets Alive, I saw many people visiting the animals, caring for them, and adopting them. Austin is definitely a pet friendly city. At both places, the workers, who are so dedicated to their cause to find these dogs and cats good homes, stressed the need to take special care of our pets at home during this exceptional heat wave in central Texas. If your pet does not stay inside your home, here are some tips to secure their well being during the day:
1. Provide some shade or cool area out of the sun
2. Make sure your pet has plenty of water to drink
3. Provide a small wading pool with water to cool off in, even freezing a jug ice to insert in the pool
4. Avoid exercise during midday, best early or late in the day
5. Never leave pet alone in a parked car
Melissa Miller with Austin Pets Alive thinks the heat has definitely played a part in renewing interest in pet adoption recently. Concerned Austinites want to make sure pets are finding their way in to air conditioned homes, and staying out from under triple digit temperatures. The free adoption fees during the drives does not hurt either.
Check out the City of Austin Town Lake Animal Center’s Pet Tips here.
Check out KXAN’s coverage of the Austin Pets Alive adoption drive here on our YouTube channel.
(The Texas 4000 riders participate in the Ride Dedication Circle on the UT campus Friday morning. )
The longest charity ride in the world took off from the University of Texas campus Friday morning. The Texas 4000 ride includes 45 bike riders committed to raising funds to fight cancer and raise awareness by making the long trek from Texas to Alaska. With a police escort, they made their way through downtown Austin making stops at Livestrong headquarters, and Jack and Adam’s Bicycles shop. These young people are really inspiring as they accept the challenge of a 70 day ride without really knowing what lies ahead. As they prepared for the mental and physical challenge, they engaged in a Ride Dedication Circle, pictured above. Trading stories about why they are doing what they are doing and sharing their individual inspirations. Almost everyone of them without fault had someone close to them who had been impacted by cancer. I wish them all the best on their journey and hope their summer ride is safe and successful. Watch their story tonight on KXAN Austin News at 6pm with Jim Swift.
Today was a beautiful Spring morning to be on the trail at Ladybird Lake near Lou Neff Point. The runners and bikers were out in full force, and so were the fishers…well, one fisherman at least. But, Keith Miller from Waco hopes to change that soon. He is on a quest to raise awareness about the benefits of the great outdoors for the younger generation. Jim Swift and I visited with him as he cast his lure among the reeds in Barton Creek waiting for that elusive bass to bite. He’ll incorporate social media to get the word out and to track his progress on a “year long fishing trip”. Watch his story tonight at 6pm on KXAN Austin News and later online at KXAN.com.
Keith Miller angles for a fish while Jim Swift captures the moment. (Ed Zavala/KXAN)
Gary Lavergne has written a book about Hemann Sweatt. (Ed Zavala/KXAN)
Tonight at 10pm, Jim Swift revisits the story of Heman Marion Sweatt, the civil rights pioneer who opened the doors of the U.T. School of Law to African-Americans in 1950. I was present when we interviewed Gary Lavergne, a director of admissions at U.T. and the author of a recent book on the Sweatt saga, Before Brown. The story comes in advance of the 25th Heman Marion Sweatt Symposium which starts Thursday, January 27th at the University of Texas. I have known about Mr. Sweatt for a few years now and of his importance to the civil rights crusade and of his Austin ties. I remember covering the renaming of the county courthouse to the Heman Marion Sweatt Travis County Courthouse back in 2005. What I did not know and found an interesting factoid was that a house off 12th Street on San Bernard hosted Sweatt and his attorney, ThurgoodMarshall, as they planned their strategy to take on the constitutionality of segregation all those years ago. Marshall of course went on to be a distinguished U.S. Supreme Court justice. In retrospect, their meeting was a momentous occasion indeed, all done in a quaint, unassuming, wood-framed house in east Austin. I have driven all over this city covering news and I’m sure I’ve driven past this home more than a few times. Just goes to show that you never know where history lies. Catch the full story online now and the televised version tonight at 10pm on Austin News.
We had a good turnout for the station’s first chili cook-off earlier this week. The weather cooperated with mild Fall temps so the sales parking lot was full with hungry onlookers. 15 entries were a lot of chili crock pots to wade through and to judge, but our tasters did fine. There was just a general sense of goodwill all around I think. It had been a while since we had all grouped together like this, outside of a regular staff meeting, so I believe everyone was looking forward to it. I know I was. An added bonus was that many of my fellow news photographers were able to take part. Early shoots, editing stints, and the perfectly time lunch break cooperated to give us a rare chance to eat together and enjoy each other’s company. Good times for sure. Now, if we could only exchange all those recipes…
I had laparoscopic gallbladder surgery over ten years ago. It was a minimally invasive operation that saw me back on my feet 4 hours after surgery. I remember walking the hospital hallways for exercise….slowly of course, but I was moving around. Despite some soreness, I was back to normal with my daily routine in about 4 days. I was glad then for breakthroughs in medical technology which allowed for my quick recovery time, a tiny scar, and for, most importantly, less pain. So I was intrigued when our reporter, Dave Scott, said we were going to tell a story about a new procedure offered at the Heart Hospital of Austin. The surgery repairs heart valves, like the aorta and the mitral, endoscopically…no major incision or sternum splitting (ick, sorry) required. New elongated tools made of stainless steel make this possible. It’s just very cool. Heart patients are up and around within days, not months…indeed, a true breakthrough. Watch Sunday night after the football game on KXAN, or catch it online afterwards.
Dr. Faraz Kerendi examines heart patient, Richard Clark. (Ed Zavala/KXAN)
Capturing the Blue Lapis Light dance group in downtown Austin. (Ed Zavala/KXAN)
I look forward to shooting with KXAN reporter, Jim Swift, from time to time because he so often spotlights the Austin arts community. Live music, community theater, new artists and photographers, artisans in craft work from knitting to glass, Jim has done it all. And I have been lucky enough to help him shoot his profiles occasionally. Wednesday saw us head to one of my favorite venues, the Long Center at Auditorium Shores. There, we were treated to a behind the scenes look at the Blue Lapis Light dance group’s latest production, One. It was hot at midday in downtown Austin. The breeze off Ladybird Lake was welcome, especially with the random rain falling and making it more humid than it needed to be while we walked all over the Long Center’s Plaza. I followed Jim with the boom mic getting crisp audio of the music playing from the company’s MP3 player. For the majority of our shoot, maybe an hour, dark clouds hung overhead and it seemed to work to set the mood for the company’s rehearsal. The long, flowing silks that descended from the familiar Long Center ring of columns billowed in the wind. The hanging silks were an odd contrast to the rope and steel harnesses needed to complete this aerial dance. It worked…boy, did it work. The combination of the music and the graceful dancers going through their carefully choreographed moves was calming and beautiful…even in the harsh light of day with the din of construction and traffic giving no quarter. I was impressed at how beautiful the sneek peek turned out to be, and I can only imagine how impressive the full effect will be at night with all the proper lighting and dress! I felt good about my morning shoot when I returned to the television station later that day. I was reminded why I still enjoy doing what I do and why I love living in Austin. The Blue Lapis Light production of One runs at the Long Center from September 27 through October 3. Look for Jim Swift’s story previewing this latest production on Thursday evening. For more information, go to the following links: