Monday, July 16, 2018
News Roundup

Cancer survivor sticks to life of adventurer as sailor, trekker, writer, nurse

TAMPA — When Alder Allensworth achieves one audacious goal, she goes after another one.

So far, the 60-year-old cancer survivor has sailed 1,200 miles solo on a small boat, backpacked 500 miles alone on a pilgrimage from France to Spain, become a registered nurse, written an award-winning book, and worked with a sailing foundation for disabled veterans.

"I’ve always had a zest for life," Allensworth said.

If anything, her zeal has grown since met death eye to eye and emerged with just one left.

Born into a military family at Camp LeJeune, N.C., Allensworth is the daughter of a Navy dentist who served in the White House during the Richard Nixon and Lyndon Johnson administrations.

Her mother was a coal miner’s daughter raised in the mountains of Tennessee who rose from poverty to receive her college degree.

The family moved from city to city, and Allensworth graduated from high school in Scotland.

She received her bachelor’s degree at Stephens College in Columbia, Mo., and her master’s degree in music at the University of Miami.

Then in 1990, at 33, she was diagnosed with a rare cancer known as adenoid cystic carcinomain her left tear gland.

She was the only survivor of the disease at the time, but lost her eye to it.

She rallied her spiritual energies and sought new ways to overcome the disability, returning to work as a music therapist and pondering life with an eye patch.

Next she headed south to Key Largo to become a dive instructor, teaching music to young students and working with therapy groups that used dolphins.

After two years, Allensworth once again packed her bags and returned to the Tampa Bay area to do music therapy with at-risk children.

An encounter with a student at that time changed her life. It came as she tried to help the student overcome scars from a crisis.

"I will not be ashamed of my scars," the student said, "if you take off the eye patch and not be ashamed of yours."

Now she only wears it during festive events like Tampa’s Gasparilla festival.

She learned from her father early how to sail.

In 2000, a sailing program asked her to take a 12-foot dinghy named Prevail 2,000 miles to raise money and awareness for sailors with disabilities. She accepted the challenge. CNN chronicled the journey down the Gulf of Mexico, around the Keys and up the Atlantic until the trip ended after 1,200 miles at Moorhead, N.C.

"I stopped the trip early as I realized I needed to return to my community and start a community sailing program for people with disabilities," Allensworth said.

When she returned home she joined a group of like-minded friends and in 2001, formed the private, nonprofit Sailability Greater Tampa Bay, helping people with disabilities learn to sail on their own.

At the time, the special boats they needed were being made in Australia and would cost $25,000.

Allensworth took the CNN video and got the okay from the city for of Clearwater to use the sailing center on Sand Key for the community sailing program. She got donations from local organizations to buy the first six boats.

During this time, Allensworth met and married disabilities advocate Ben Ritter.

Life took a twist in 2003 when her mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. With her father, became a caregiver. Her mother died a few years later, then her father needed her full-time care. She provided it until he died 2017.

During this time, she still managed to obtain a degree in nursing. She also used her time off the road to write her memoirs.

Then again, she took up her adventurous ways.

She tackled the Camino de Santiago, the Way of St. James — the 500-mile religious pilgrimage that takes participants from St. Jean Pied-du-Port in France, westward across the Pyrenees Mountains to the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia in northwestern Spain.

"I built incredible friendships as I walked with others," she said. "We ended up calling ourselves a Camino family."

Along her journeys, she met sailor and former News Channel 8 anchor Bob Hite.

"Alder’s a remarkable woman," Hite said, "who has taken on many challenges and still remains one of the most modest and humble individuals I’ve ever known."

The memoir, Prevail: Celebrate the Journey, was awareded a 2017 book contract through the Richter Publishing 2017 Writing Contest. The book was published in February and is available on Amazon.

She is also about to start her first job in nursing.

Said her husband, Ben Ritter: "Never a boring moment when living with Alder."

Contact Mike Merino at [email protected]

Comments
Bryce Harper wins All-Star home run derby

Bryce Harper wins All-Star home run derby

WASHINGTON — Nationals star Bryce Harper has not had a lot to enjoy in his last season before free agency, struggling — at least by his usual standards — with a .214 average and other deficiencies in his game.Monday turned out to be...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Rays journal: Some warn that pitching strategy comes at a price

Rays journal: Some warn that pitching strategy comes at a price

WASHINGTON — The success the Rays have had during two months of using a game opener followed by a relieving starter seems to have tamed some of the criticism of the unusual plan.Until Arizona ace Zack Greinke, a Cy Young award winner and five-t...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Rays’ Blake Snell now in a starring role

Rays’ Blake Snell now in a starring role

WASHINGTON — Blake Snell first got the feeling after arriving at the All-Star hotel late Sunday night. He'd shared the first-class cabin on the Delta flight from Minneapolis with Rays teammate Wilson Ramos plus manager Kevin Cash and his wife, ...
Updated: 4 hours ago

ORLANDOwoman killed, 2 passengers hurt in crossfireAuthorities said a pregnant woman was fatally shot and two children were wounded Monday as someone fired from a moving vehicle during a chase in Florida. The Orlando Sentinel reported that the shooti...
Updated: 5 hours ago
More than 30 Riverview residents awaken to broken car windows

More than 30 Riverview residents awaken to broken car windows

RIVERVIEW — Residents in more than 30 households woke up Monday morning to find their car windows had been smashed in.The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office said it is searching for a pair of males who may be connected to the incident.The vehicles,...
Updated: 5 hours ago
DNA site helps make arrest in 1988 slaying

DNA site helps make arrest in 1988 slaying

The last time 8-year-old April Tinsley was seen alive, a man was dragging her into a beat-up blue pickup truck in Fort Wayne, Indiana.Police and her family fanned out that Friday afternoon in April 1988, searching through the weekend, but there was n...
Updated: 5 hours ago

FHP: Tampa motorcyclist fatally struck by driver who ran red light

TAMPA — A 54-year-old motorcyclist was killed Sunday night after being struck by a driver who ran a red light, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.The crash took place at about 9 p.m. at the intersection of Bearss Avenue and Interstate 275.Motorc...
Updated: 6 hours ago

Lutz man dies in motorcycle crash on I-275 in St. Petersburg

ST. PETERSBURG A 38-year-old man died Sunday night after the Florida Highway Patrol said he lost control of his motorcycle on Interstate 275.The crash took place just before 8 a.m. Michael Coniglio, of Lutz, was traveling in the northbound inside lan...
Updated: 6 hours ago

Gun-rights lobbyist’s TV promo misfires

RICHMOND, Va. — One of Virginia’s top gun-rights lobbyists drew criticism from his own supporters Monday after he was duped into promoting guns for children as young as 3 and hawking toys such as a teddy bear with a concealed pistol on a television s...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Hillsborough deputies locate owner of wandering horse

Hillsborough deputies locate owner of wandering horse

DOVER — Tampa Bay may be one of the fastest growing metropolitan areas in the nation but, in certain places, it stubbornly remains a little bit country.Proof of that came on last week when the Hillsborough County’s Sheriff’s Office was called to the ...
Updated: 6 hours ago