Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Just Plane Crazy: Obama’s Dog Flies to Vacation on Separate Jet

Just Plane Crazy: Obama’s Dog Flies to Vacation on Separate Jet
By Doug Powers  •  July 17, 2010 02:26 PM
**Written by Doug Powers
The Obamas arrived at their vacation spot in Maine, and the local paper, the Morning Sentinel, described the scene:
The president was the first to walk onto the tarmac, dressed casually in a pale blue Oxford shirt and khakis. A few minutes later, the first lady, dressed in black capris, a tank-top and sandals, walked onto the runway. Shortly afterward, Malia and Sasha joined their parents.
Baldacci and his wife, Karen, presented the family with gift bags full of Maine-made goodies, including baskets made by the Passamaquoddy Tribe, popcorn from Little Lad’s Bakery in East Corinth, iconic L.L. Bean bags, University of Maine ice hockey hats, and an assortment of other Maine foods and books.
Karen Baldacci said the bags for Malia and Sasha contained one loon toy and one chickadee toy that sound their natural calls.
Arriving in a small jet before the Obamas was the first dog, Bo, a Portuguese water dog given as a present by the late U.S. Sen Ted Kennedy, D-Mass.; and the president’s personal aide Reggie Love, who chatted with Baldacci.
Not enough room on Air Force One for a Portuguese water dog and Reggie Love? Obama had to have a smaller jet (G3 Gulfstream, according to the story) serve as Air Force One instead of the 747 the president usually uses because of the size of the airport, but still, it’s a dog — and we’re all supposed to sacrifice in order to get through these tough economic times, right Mr. President? … Um, Mr. President?
There was some concern because the jet carrying the First Couple’s egos was a bit late in arriving due to rough weather over Shangri-La.
Incidentally, my dog saw this story and wants his own jet now, too. Thanks Obama.
Vacation update: What do you think attracted Obama to this ice cream shop?
(h/t Warner Todd Huston)
**Written by Doug Powers

Sunday, October 03, 2010

"I Feel Like I Can Fly"

Staff Photo by Angela Lewis/Chattanooga Times Free Press
Sep 30, 2010
Athlete Rachel Cannon smiles as she sits atop Axel while learning the Special Olympics competition course on a ranch in Flintstone, Ga. Thursday afternoon.

The muscles in Rachel Cannon’s legs stiffened so tightly she shook with pain, but the 17-year-old with crippling cerebral palsy and scoliosis never gave up horseback riding.
“I just realized, ‘Oh, I can do this,’” she said.
Six practice sessions later, the horse has become a way to soothe her fears, Cannon said. Stretching helped her muscles relax, and she now is training to compete in the Special Olympics.
“I have to depend on everybody for my every single need almost, but being on the horse makes me more mobile,” she said. “I feel like I can fly.”
Cannon is one of 33 special-needs children from Catoosa, Walker and Hamilton county schools who are preparing for the Equestrian Special Olympics on Oct. 30. The event, at Eagles Rest Ranch in Flintstone, Ga., is sponsored by the Catoosa and Walker County Special Olympics.
“There is value in using sports to help people learn healthy life skills,” said Wendy Bigham, spokeswoman for Special Olympics Georgia. “So many students are stuck at home and they don’t have a lot of outlets to stay healthy.”
More than 23,078 special-needs, school-age children are competing in the Special Olympics this year across Georgia, Bigham said.
Ginger Brown, owner of the licensed SpiritHorse Therapeutic Riding facility at Eagles Rest, is one of three instructors who train the students at no charge. Brown depends on donations to fund the cost of operating the ranch. She also has 33 volunteer Special Olympics state-trained riding teachers and other workers who help the students.
Some riders are autistic, others have cerebral palsy and some have Down syndrome. Many use wheelchairs, Brown said. She and her staff train students twice a week to prepare for the Olympics.
It hurts some of the riders when they start because they’re using muscles to balance on the horse that they haven’t used in wheelchairs, Brown said.
“I’ve seen kids sweat and turn beet-red in the face because they were using muscles that were just painful, but they refuse to quit and they have made great strides,” she said.
The result has been special-needs children who have increased their independence, confidence and ability to communicate, according to Brown.
No child has been seriously injured at the ranch in the two years she’s hosted the Special Olympics, Brown said. Even if they fall, they get up and try again, she said.
“They feel the freedom and independence they get from being on top of the horse, and they want to try,” Brown said.