09/01/16 Human Interest
LEALMAN — In July, the Tampa Bay Times ran a story about a woman struggling with food addiction. Cheryl Dixon, 44, shared how she sometimes ate 14 times a day and struggled to stop herself from topping 300 pounds.
The day the story was published, Cheryl read it and saw what others saw. She felt sick.
"The article gave me a mirror to look at, where I saw how bad I got," Cheryl says. "I was in complete disgust, and it made me want to change my life."...
She's not at the Olympics — yet — but this 6-year-old swimmer is learning what excellence takes (w/video)08/17/16 Human Interest
ST. PETERSBURG — She's sitting on the pool deck, chin between her knees, gazing at her feet. She peeks at the swim heats written on her arm in black Sharpie. Time for her favorite, the butterfly.
Her father is volunteer head timer. He tries to stand there nonchalantly amid the throng of onlookers, but he is tense. Forty years ago, this was him. Now it's her.
Brinkleigh Bo Hansen, 6, dives into the North Shore Pool just as the whistle goes off, but she hits the water belly first, and there goes her momentum....
BROOKSVILLE — Tina Cash had already been up for two hours applying for jobs online when she heard her 20-month-old daughter crying in her crib.
She plodded in and tried to smile at the tousled-haired toddler. "Hi, Pumpkin," she said, giving the girl a kiss and lifting her out of the crib. "I love you."
Cash, 34, was six months pregnant, single, unemployed. She had 86 cents in her polka-dot wallet and had been evicted from her two-bedroom apartment. She had sold her couch, her bedroom set, her baby's bouncer and infant car seat and all her gold jewelry to live. She hadn't received an unemployment payment — nearly $2,000 in all — since late October....
The first to worry were her new online friends. Debra Ann Tuohy hadn't posted anything on Facebook in a couple of days.
Where were the translucent angels, the glowing sunsets, the kissing hippos? It had been days since she'd posted an inspirational quote or tried to cheer up a grieving mother.
Debra ... checking in ... I'm worried... hope you are okay, wrote a mother in Jacksonville who'd lost a 9-year-old to leukemia....
10/07/11 Human Interest
On a sweltering day in mid August, Anna Marques stood in the middle of her kitchen trying to decide what to do next.
She'd been packing all night long, ever since she'd learned the Internal Revenue Service was taking her home. She'd called friends to help her empty the house, and watched her possessions disappear out her beveled-glass front door, piece by piece. ...
One day four years ago, Bill Nelson logged on to ChineseLoveLinks.com for the first time.
Within seconds, a gaggle of boxes popped up on his computer screen, all of them with faces of women from China — all of them wanting to talk to him.
One woman waved. That's all she did.
Another got right to the point. She wanted to marry, move to the United States, start an export business....
This past week, the respected Pediatrics published a study that suggested child abuse had risen because of the recession.
The research focused on 422 abused children who lived in Kentucky, Ohio, Washington and Pennsylvania, and suffered some form of head trauma.
Lead author Dr. Rachel Berger of Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh said she decided to focus on young children who suffered abusive head trauma after noticing an increase at her hospital between 2007 and 2009....
09/10/11 Human Interest
In a small town of 22,000 on Florida's west coast, a group of earnest and aesthetically minded citizens gathered to talk about a new Sept. 11 memorial — something they thought they'd taken care of nine years before. Venice Area Beautification Inc. was in charge of the appearance of a 3.5-acre expanse called Patriot's Park. The park already had a small chunk of rubble from the Pentagon attack of Sept. 11, flags representing world wars and a star-shaped pad of brick pavers carved with the names of veterans. Many of the citizens who had spearheaded that project sat in the audience on this blustery August day, steely-faced. They had heard about the guy from Lakewood Ranch who wanted to put a memorial on their memorial. They'd heard he wanted to stick a steel beam from the World Trade Center in the middle of their star-shaped pad. ...
The bride entered the clubhouse and hugged a cousin she hadn't spoken to in seven years. She wore a knee-length white dress of tulle and satin adorned with white rosettes and purple flowers. She held a bouquet of lavender roses.
Celeste Little, a recovery nurse at All Children's Hospital, didn't care whether anyone saw her before the wedding. She wasn't even really sure what was going to happen next. ...
08/19/11 Human Interest
She first noticed him clinging to a window screen in her father's living room.
He was an inch long, a baby brown anole lizard.
Native of Cuba and the Bahamas. Common in Florida.
But she was in Wisconsin.
A St. Petersburg jewelry designer, Valerie Brandli, 38, drove to her dad's in Madison in early June to sell at the farmers market. The lizard must have hitched a ride. ...
Here's what's certain about the Hudson High School romance of Kris Bucher and Jessica Fuller:
They dated, on and off, for three years.
On Jan. 6, 2006, when he was still 17 and she was 18, they had sex in the back seat of a car and made a baby she named Joshua.
A paternity test confirmed Kris was the father.
Kris was not present at Joshua's birth.
He did not contribute anything — not time, not money — to Joshua's care....
ST. PETERSBURG — One sunny morning recently, Millie Galan-Aguirre pushed her 14-year-old son's wheelchair past an AMVET post and a tattoo parlor to a strip mall storefront called Chamber of Hope.
She rolled Manny inside and parked him next to a long, blue tube with a zipper along the top.
"Hi, Sunshine," she said, taking his hand. "You ready to go in?" ...
BUSHNELL — Outside the courtroom, a young woman hugged her mother. The women hadn't spoken in six months. They pulled apart and the young woman wiped away a tear.
Then Jaren Hare, 21, made her way back into the courtroom to face manslaughter, third-degree murder and child neglect charges in the death of her 2-year-old daughter.
She sat down at the table. Directly in front of her stood two pieces of evidence. A large glass tank, draped in a pink patchwork quilt. A snake's length away: a white crib....
07/11/11 Public Safety
Seven years ago, a man who sells prosthetic limbs for a living was barred from getting on the Montu roller coaster at Busch Gardens because he wore a prosthetic right leg.
Cary Frounfelter of Seminole sued under the Americans with Disabilities Act. He settled out of court for an amount that barely covered his lawyer fees. But amputees wearing prosthetic limbs above the knee are still not allowed to ride the 60-mph roller coaster on which riders' legs dangle freely....
07/11/11 Human Interest
Ryan Church walked with his wife, Jamie, toward the USS Ronald Reagan, docked in San Diego.
It was Feb. 2, and he was on his way to a distant war in the Persian Gulf. He felt uneasy, but not for the reasons you might think.
They stopped and kissed.
"I'll be right here waiting," Jamie told him through tears.
She was a recovering pain pill addict, sober for only a short time. What if she relapsed without him?...