03/02/13 Human Interest
On most weekday afternoons, Cory Poole can be found on the basketball court at the Zonta Branch Boys & Girls Club, rebounding shots taken by kids half his age and half his size. Poole, 18, can also be found inside the club helping those same youngsters with their homework or leading them in another activity. "He's a very positive influence," says Michael Trujillo, senior director at the Zonta Branch on W Sligh Avenue across from the Lowry Park Zoo. Those are among the qualities that helped Poole, a senior at Chamberlain High School, win "Youth of the Year" for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Tampa Bay, the highest honor a club member can receive. The award comes with a $1,000 scholarship and the chance to compete for state, regional and national "Youth of the Year" honors and more scholarship money. Poole says his five years with his local Boys & Girls Clubs have helped keep him "out of trouble," something his two older brothers — who are in prison — have not been able to do. The soft-spoken young man carries a 3.2 grade-point average and, after graduation in June, is scheduled to leave for Marine Corps training at Parris Island, S.C. On a sunny afternoon this past week, Poole took time out from basketball to speak with City Times/North of Tampa Editor Richard Martin about his time in the club, and his bright future....
12/29/12 Human Interest
WESTCHASE — A year ago, around this time, Ayushe Misra admitted getting a bit emotional. After all, Christmas was a time for family, and hers had tragically been taken from her.
Her mother, Anshul Misra, was killed during a family vacation in their native India just months earlier. And her father, Ganesh Dutt, was arrested there in connection with the crime.
Facing an uncertain future, Ayushe and her younger sister returned home to Tampa as wards of the state. But over the course of the past year, the two were helped by a small network of people, including a caseworker, legal advocate and some family friends....
January: After being denied a federal grant, city officials pledged to continue efforts to secure funding to complete the remaining sections of the 2.6-mile Riverwalk. In June, they would get their wish.
February: Just days after the Florida Senate, led by Lake Wales Republican J.D. Alexander, proposed spinning off the University of South Florida's Lakeland branch campus into the state's 12th university, Senate budget writers proposed slashing USF's state funding nearly 60 percent....
11/17/12 Human Interest
Matt Weihmuller thought he was going to be a lawyer. After all, his father is a lawyer, and his mother was studying to be one before she put her plans on hold to take care of him. ¶ And he probably would be a lawyer, if not for his grandmother's organ, which he began "messing around" with when he was 9. ¶ Nineteen years later, Weihmuller is an accomplished saxophonist who is also teaching the next generation of jazz musicians at the Patel Conservatory at the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts. ¶ Weihmuller was born with Leber's congenital amaurosis, a degenerative disease characterized by severe vision impairment at birth. Though being blind poses many challenges for a musician and teacher, he says there are a few advantages. ¶ "Jazz music is not about what's on the page," Weihmuller says. ¶ Weihmuller, 28, earned his bachelor's degree in jazz studies from Florida State University in 2007, and his master's degree in music performance from FSU in 2010. He played with various jazz groups while at FSU, and was also a regular performer at various jazz venues in the Tallahassee area. ¶ He relocated back home to Tampa last year, and since May has worked as a saxophone instructor at the Patel Conservatory. ¶ He's preparing a quartet of teenage jazz musicians that will perform Dec. 1 at the Straz Center's 25th Anniversary Gala. He recently sat down with City Times/North of Tampa editor Richard Martin to talk about his early experiences, his influences and his goals....
10/11/12 Human Interest
TOWN 'N COUNTRY — Chris Gonzalez can't help but laugh when he talks about how he built his own gym in a matter of weeks. How he drove by a soon-to-be-vacated 2,000-square-foot building in July and signed a lease on it five days later. How he stretched his savings by buying weights and other equipment from Craigslist and a local used sporting goods store. And how he turned to Facebook to let his personal training clients know he was open for business....
Medicaid is about to take a starring role in the national health care debate.
Today, only certain people qualify for the health insurance program for the very poor: the elderly, the disabled, pregnant women and children. Under its proposed expansion, any poor American could qualify — a key part of health care reform.
But thanks to the recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling, decisions about expanding Medicaid have been left to the states. And Gov. Rick Scott was the first governor in the land to declare he wouldn't do it....
TAMPA — The first person showed up about 5:30 a.m. Ninety minutes later, the line resembled something you might see at a concert arena, not a hospital.
But this was no ordinary day at Florida Hospital's Pepin Heart Institute, which on Thursday hosted a visit by Dr. Mehmet Oz, who is as close to a medical rock star as you can get.
Oz, host of the Emmy Award-winning medical program The Dr. Oz Show, was in town giving "15-Minute Physicals" to people who signed up for them in advance on his website....
TAMPA — Is H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center, with its 16 affiliates, tax-exempt status and public research funding, trying to muscle out competitors in the lucrative cancer market?
Or is Florida's most prestigious cancer institution sharing its expertise as it seeks to treat, prevent and cure some of our most feared diseases?
That's the heart of a controversy that has erupted since Florida Gov. Rick Scott wrote a letter to Moffitt and two other Florida cancer centers warning that they risk losing state research dollars if they do anything to expand their brands to other institutions....
TAMPA — In a darkened room inside the Museum of Science and Industry lie the mummified bodies of the Orlovits family: Michael, 41; his wife, Veronica, 35; and the couple's young son, Johannes, age unknown.
Their bodies were among more than 200 discovered inside a secret crypt beneath a church in Vac, Hungary, in 1994.
It wasn't immediately clear how the young Hungarian couple and their son died. But recently, using the latest advances in computerized tomography, or CT scanning, scientists have been able to determine the likely culprit: Veronica Orlovits had severe tuberculosis, and likely gave it to her husband and son. All three died around the early 19th century....
ST. PETERSBURG — Dr. Ajoy Kumar sees about 20 to 25 patients at day at Bayfront Family Health Center, but he knows of other primary care doctors who see as many as 40 a day.
So for him, the prospect of 30 million more people gaining health coverage starting in 2014 is daunting.
"One of the biggest challenges will be finding a primary care practice that is accepting new patients,'' said Kumar, assistant director of the family medicine residency program at Bayfront....
In Florida, where about 3.8 million residents have no health insurance and millions more have feared losing coverage, the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling on the Affordable Care Act on Thursday could bring relief to many — but continued uncertainty to others.
"It creates a bona fide safety net that we didn't have before," said Jay Wolfson, a health policy expert at the University of South Florida....
Tropical Storm Debby has flooded streets throughout the Tampa Bay area, creating havoc for motorists.
The best thing to do is avoid driving through floodwaters at all. "It doesn't take real deep water to cause an engine to stall, especially with today's cars being so close to the ground," said Max Lewis, manager of Downtown Auto in St. Petersburg.
But if you must drive, here's advice to keep from getting stuck:...
TAMPA — Imagine being able to use a person's unique genetic code to find the right treatment for heart failure, asthma or even the dreaded common cold.
That's the focus of Dr. Stephen Liggett, one of the newest additions to the University of South Florida's Morsani College of Medicine.
Liggett, 57, began work this month as director of the USF Health Personalized Medicine Institute. He is a national leader in the emerging field and has attracted millions in research dollars from the National Institutes of Health....
ST. PETERSBURG — Sheryl Crow was performing at Taste of Pinellas last month when, inexplicably, she forgot the words to one of her signature songs, Soak Up the Sun.
"Oh, what's the words?" she said.
Then she told the audience, "I'm 50, what can I say? My brain has gone to s---."
Now, Crow has revealed that she has a benign brain tumor that is affecting her memory. Specifically, it's a meningioma, a tumor growing in the protective lining of the brain....
06/05/12 Human Interest
TAMPA — It was a trip of a lifetime for Ayushe Misra, a monthlong tour of her native India with her family, filled with five-star hotels, sightseeing and shopping.
She had asked for the vacation, and her parents happily obliged. They made a good living, and Ayushe was near the start of her senior year at Tampa's Alonso High School, where she was ranked first in her class.
Toward the end of the trip, something strange happened. On July 26, while the family was shopping in a city close to her father's hometown of Auraiya, Ayushe noticed a man following them from store to store....