Updates on some of our 2013 “reader favorite” articles
When something’s working, it just keeps getting better. We’re proud to brag on our local heroes and trailblazers, and bring you updates on how they’ve progressed since we first introduced them to you earlier this year. You can read their original stories from past issues at www.ChangeMediaOnline.com. We wish them all continued success in the New Year!
Four years ago, Matthew and Rachel Murphy’s son Shawn was born with a rare congenital birth defect. Today, Shawn is healthy and happy, but during his treatment at Texas Children’s Hospital, Matthew learned that there were no funds or organizations to support families whose children were born with birth defects that would require a complicated treatment and a potentially lengthy hospital stay. “We created Shawn’s Anomaly Research Fund in 2010,” he says. “We participate in athletic endeavors like marathons, triathlons and Iron Man races to raise funds and awareness for our foundation.” We told you his story in our June issue.
Update: Murphy says the foundation continues to run races to raise funds for the cause. “We’ve made huge strides this year. Right now, our goal is to raise $25,000 for research for specific birth defect testing,” he explains. “Also, we’re creating care packages for families who come in with their children who need emergency surgery and don’t have time to go home and get their things. We want them to know someone cares.”
Murphy adds that with help from the Museum of Cultural Arts in Houston, they’ve come up with a flag to carry over the finish line. “Our H.O.P.E. flag is a symbol of Shawn’s Anomaly, and it stands for ‘Helping Others Providing Education.’ We run it over the finish line in the name of a family we’re helping.” If you’d like to add your child’s name to the list, visit www.hopeflagchallenge.com.
Third Coast Wrestling
Last March, we told you about the kids at Third Coast Wrestling. Even though not every child is a natural athlete, every kid knows how to wrestle. “It’s a natural activity and one of the first forms of physical play. And it’s definitely not just for boys,” says Third Coast co-owner Eric Thompson.
Third Coast strives to teach kids much more than just wrestling. “Attending Third Coast is about learning, not competing. It’s about making a commitment and sacrificing to become the best you can be and to achieve success,” says Chris Reed, one of the other coaches. “Our goal is to develop every wrestler to his or her potential. This brings benefits to every area of life.”
Update: In October, Third Coast Wrestling moved to a new location at 404 Anders Lane in Kemah. “We merged with Infusion Fight Company and now kids can do mixed martial arts, boxing, Brazilian jujitsu and much more,” says Thompson.
Many young kids have Olympic aspirations, and Thompson says there was plenty of disappointment when wrestling was unexpectedly dropped from the Olympic program in February. “But we were all so glad when it was reinstated in September. It gives the kids a reason to dream.”
Visit them at www.thirdcoastwrestling.wildapricot.org.
Local Wildlife Rehabilitators
In April Rhonda Murgatroyd, who works with Bay Area Wildlife Rehabilitation, showed us how to help injured or orphaned wildlife. Murgatroyd has a love for birds and rescues helpless animal injured as a result of oil spills on the Gulf Coast.
Update: “I am currently working in Arkansas on the Pegasus Pipeline Incident for ExxonMobil,” she says. “We’ve been here since April 1. During that time I’ve been engaged or on standby for five additional incidents in three states. Michele Johnson and other members of Bay Area Wildlife Rehabilitation have been holding down the fort caring for local wildlife, holding educational training sessions and being ‘on call’ for local oil spills during my absence.”
Murgatroyd has had an exciting few months. “The most awesome thing that’s happened to me lately is receiving the U.S. Coast Guard’s Certificate of Merit from Capt. Jim Whitehead,” she says. “That was really exciting. And my company, Wildlife Response Services, LLC, is very busy and gaining additional clients almost daily.”
For more information, visit www.wildliferesponse.net.
Pumps and Pipes
In our February issue, we learned that the oil and gas industry and cardiovascular surgery have a lot in common. Both deal with fluids that have similar properties and flow through a network of pumps and valves, and both deal with issues of corrosion and blockages, as well as malfunctions in hard to reach places. Pumps and Pipes, a consortium founded by Dr. Allen Lumsden of the Methodist DeBakey Heart and Vascular Center and Dr. William Kline of ExxonMobile Upstream Research Company, continue to explore crossover ideas and technologies that could revolutionize medicine, the petrochemical industry and more.
Update: “In July, Pumps and Pipes hosted an event, planned by BayTech, Jacobs and NASA JSC called ‘Pumps & Pipes JSC: Uniquely Houston, in the Neutral Buoyancy Lab at JSC,” says Kim Morris. “We inducted JSC Director Ellen Ochoa to our board of directors, and Bob Mitchell, president of BAHEP, joined our advisory board. Our community is now extremely well represented.” The all-day conference, attended by 250 guests, divided equally between aerospace, oil and gas and medical personnel, included two sessions of networking. “JSC had 12 technology booths so that attendees could engage in technical discussions with NASA personnel in hopes of future collaborations. We’re waiting to see what collaborations will come from these experts to benefit our community.”
Gold Star Girl
In March, we told you about Clear Lake High School senior Hannah Kelly, who chose to train an adorable black Labrador named Barbie to become a guide dog for her Girl Scout Gold Award project. She committed to months of training Barbie to focus and handle any situation in public or at home to assist the disabled person with whom Barbie would ultimately be placed.
Update: “I did get my Gold Star award, and Barbie did get placed with a visually impaired person,” says Kelly. “We went back to Southeastern Guide Dogs, which is the facility in Florida where we got Barb. We missed her so much, we got another Labrador-retriever mix named Marissa within an hour after giving Barb up!”
Since Kelly now has her Gold Star award and is a busy high school senior applying for college, she’s allowed her mother to take over the bulk of Marissa’s training. “She’s training Marissa the same way we trained Barb,” Kelly says. “I’d love to keep training dogs, but I probably can’t continue to do this while I’m in college. But I bet my mom will!” Kelly will graduate from Clear Lake High School in 2014 plans to major a medicine-related field.
In our July “water” issue, we interviewed Dr. Bill Merrell, chairman of maritime science at Texas A&M in Galveston. Merrell’s brainchild, a coastal spine protection project known as the Ike Dike, could be the solution to a serious problem plaguing the Gulf Coast—containing the storm surge during a hurricane. The project, despite its projected cost of $2 to $4 billion, would protect the largest and most important concentration of refining and petrochemical processing plants in the U.S., which are right here in Houston.
Update: “Since July, we’ve come much further in our research and, with the support of BAHEP, Bay Area Houston is much more unified in advocacy for the Dike,” says Merrell. “There are fundraising efforts underway and we’re continuing to work with Dutch experts on finding the right model for gates. There are several options to consider.” Merrill adds that 12 city councils in Bay Area Houston have sent a resolution of support. “That means they’re formally stating their support for the concept. We do not yet have a formal proposal to build the Ike Dike, but we’re hoping that political will can turn our way before the next hurricane. A barrier now protects Louisiana since Katrina. I think we’ll all sleep better when we get ours.”
In May, Clear Creek ISD Board Trustee Dee Scott contributed a story about the rapid changes taking place in CCISD. In just seven short months, even more has developed.
Update: “CCISD received about $8.5 million more in state funding as a result of the legislative changes this year,” says Scott. “This is a combination of property value growth and funding increases. Our value growth contributed $5.7 million of the $8.5 million in revenue gains, so the State added funding but offset that against any value growth we had.”
Employees saw a $12 million increase in salaries and benefits. CCISD added 28 instructional positions district-wide for enrollment growth and to reduce class sizes.
CCISD is now acquiring maintenance and technology replacement funds this year by providing $1.1 million in the budget. “In five years, we’ll have a budget line item for maintenance replacement of $2.5 million and technology replacement of $3 million. The goal is to purchase all replacement PCs and tablets through the technology fund rather than bond funds,” Scott adds.
CCISD Board Trustee Dee Scott says that major changes are in place which increase salaries and benefits and advance the technology available to students and faculty.