TAMPA — The last thing Charlie Curtis remembers from that day is roll call.
It was the start of gym class one morning last week. The Plant High School freshman was preparing to do a 1-mile fitness test on the track.
Hours later, he awoke in the hospital — recovering from sudden cardiac arrest. Curtis, 15, had collapsed as he rounded the first corner of his third lap.
On Thursday, with his arm in a sling to protect his new pacemaker, he returned to school and thanked those who saved his life....
It's monsooning outside my office windows, but my mind is dreaming of beautiful hats.
Why? Because tomorrow is the 140th running of the Kentucky Derby.
While I know almost nothing about horse races, I do know that this is one of the only occassions where Americans religiously break out our faniciest headgear.
Fascinators! Top hats! Wide-brimmed Pretty Woman style chapeaus!
Take a spin through the photo gallery above with me and leave your weather woes behind....
TAMPA — Thomas Quigley doesn't have all the answers.
He doesn't know whether Floridians will vote to legalize medical marijuana in November. And there's no guarantee of what the law will look like if passed.
But, that doesn't mean he can't start doling out advice now.
Earlier this year, Quigley founded the Florida Cannabis Coalition, a Tampa-based consulting group aimed at educating entrepreneurs interested in the medical marijuana industry....
We may not have Coachella but Tampa Bay is home to its fair share of music festivals. And they all seem to take place in May.
There's the new Big Guava Music Festival (May 2-4), WMNF's annual Tropical Heatwave (May 9-10) and the Sunset Music Festival (May 24-25).
So what does this have to do with Deal Divas, you ask. Everything....
TAMPA — On a recent Tuesday evening, I set out on a mission.
Travel from the University of South Florida to Ybor City and back by the end of the night — without using my car.
Sure, I could have called a cab or taken public transportation. But this was an opportunity to test two ride-sharing services new to Tampa Bay, Lyft and UberX.
Launched here in the last two weeks, Lyft and UberX use smartphone apps to connect passengers with drivers who use their own vehicles. The services, both from San Francisco tech startups, have come under fire for their refusal to comply with the Hillsborough County Public Transportation Commission, which regulates taxis....
As I was typing the headline to this post, I added an extra s to desert and got really excited about the possibilities of a dessert island. Chocolate volcanoes! Crushed graham cracker sand! Key lime pie palm fronds!
But, I digress...this is Desert Island Week. Still exciting, though not as delicious.
Choosing my product was a no-brainer for me. Fair-skinned with red hair, I would burn to a crisp without sunscreen. Even a trip in my car with the window down can cause my skin to turn red. Plus, there's the risk of skin cancer....
TAMPA — Despite repeated warnings from the county's taxi-regulating agency, two ride-sharing services continue to operate in Hillsborough County with no regard for its rules.
California-based companies Lyft and Uber, which use smartphone applications to connect passengers with drivers who use their own vehicles, launched services here in the last two weeks without proper certification....
Do you ever look in the mirror and realize with horror that there are two caterpillars crawling across your forehead? It's like one day your eyebrows are totally fine, shaped just the way you like them and then BAM! they are out of control.
I had one of those realizations the other day and needed a fix fast.
Tweezing was an option. But, besides cleaning up a few strays, my brows also needed some shape, something I'm not comfortable doing myself. I fear I'll get too zealous and be left with nothing....
TAMPA — Tara Hartman waited in line for more than eight hours Tuesday, clutching a worn copy of Footloose in her hands.
"I think I've owned this DVD for 15 years," said the 21-year-old University of South Florida student. "Kevin Bacon is timeless."
She brought along the movie just in case an opportunity for an autograph arose.
After all, she was about to spend an evening sitting mere feet from the man....
04/08/14 Human Interest
TAMPA — As the final free training session began Tuesday at the Nonprofit Leadership Center of Tampa Bay, the teacher made an announcement.
"We have a special guest," Sara Leonard told a class of two dozen.
In walked a slim man dressed in a black leather jacket and dark jeans.
The room erupted in screams.
"I'm your teacher for the day," said actor Kevin Bacon, who currently stars in the television show The Following and is perhaps best known for appearing in movies including Animal House, A Few Good Men and Footloose....
PORT RICHEY — Jennifer Paige heard the squeal of tires first. Then, a loud boom.
By the time she got to the end of her driveway, flames were visible. A van had hit a tree dead on, branches sprouting out where the windshield should have been.
Inside, four teenagers screamed for help.
Paige's father, Jim Dowd, grabbed a crowbar and called 911. Paige began smashing windows. One by one, she pulled the three passengers out, dragging them away from the flames....
TAMPA — Lyft is going rogue. The ride-sharing service, which uses a smartphone application to connect passengers with drivers who use their personal vehicles, began accepting passengers in Tampa on Friday evening.
That happened despite a letter sent last month to Lyft by the Hillsborough County Public Transportation Commission that made it clear the San Francisco-based company does not meet the requirements to operate legally here....
04/04/14 Human Interest
TAMPA — For many years after the Holocaust ended, Jerry Rawicki remained silent.
A survivor of Poland's Warsaw Ghetto, Rawicki didn't want to relive the difficult experience or burden his children with the memories.
Now, he takes the opposite approach.
As the subject of a documentary produced by University of South Florida professor Carolyn Ellis, Rawicki returns to Poland for the first time since he escaped as a teenager and shares the memories the trip evokes....
While shopping at TJ Maxx recently, I came across a blue asymmetrical skort.
My first reaction was to question whether adults are allowed to wear skorts. My second was to try it on. I mean, what's not to like? There's freedom in wearing shorts but a ladylike appeal to a skirt. Combining both seems genious.
I remember wearing them in my youth. In fact, I wore a skort for my senior portraits, a light tan corduroy pair that blended with the sand on the beach....
TAMPA — A Hillsborough County circuit judge set bail at $120,000 Saturday morning for the mother who police say starved and tortured her eight children.
Arrested Thursday, Jamie Marie Hicks, 43, is charged with two counts of aggravated child abuse and two counts of child neglect.
Over eight years, Hicks hit the children with various objects, choked them to the point of unconsciousness, held their heads under water, fed them spoiled food and withheld food from them for as long as three days, Tampa police said....