Former Cardinals Cheerleader Fights For Life With Spirit and Selfies

Former Cardinals Cheerleader Fights For Life With Spirit and Selfies

Recently I did a speaking gig and someone asked if I have always wanted to be a journalist.  The answer is yes — at least since I was 16 years old.  I had this fascination with finding out more.  Learning what makes people tick. The most incredible stories I have had the good fortune to tell over the years revolve around the strength of the human spirit. A few weeks ago, I met a group of former NFL cheerleaders at a party.  In conversation, they told me about their friend, Teri Bode, a fellow former cheerleader who is fighting Stage 4 Breast Cancer.  It has spread to her bones and she has to undergo chemo every other week to keep it from spreading to her organs.  They told me how amazing she is — an inspiration.  Of course, I just had to find out for myself. My photographer and I went to shoot a story with Teri about her will to live. As is the case with so many people I meet who are faced with adversity, her faith is strong.  Not only that, her spirit is infectious. Teri, a single mother to a 19 year old daughter, used to be a second grade teacher.  Now staying alive is a full time job. She has cancer, but cancer doesn’t have her. Last month Teri found the strength to do something remarkable.  She joined her fellow former cheerleaders on Monday Night Football for the Cardinal Cheerleaders’ 25th reunion celebration. Despite the ongoing chemo, aching bones, and a bulky back brace, this 49 year old marched right onto the field with sass and strength, and...
Dance of a Lifetime

Dance of a Lifetime

People have asked me over the years how I handle reporting so much bad news. I’ve worked in TV news since college and I have reported on many tragedies.  Too many.  I’ve driven home in tears more times than I can count. At the same time, I’ve covered the incredible depth and strength of the human spirit. People often don’t know how strong they are until the time comes. For 10 year old Ella Parkhill and her family, the time is now. Ella was born with an extra vein in her heart — a condition called PDA. Her mom, Carly, tells me the size of the vein was misdiagnosed by several cardiologists. Carly and her husband Chad refused to rest until they got to the bottom of Ella’s medical condition and the mysterious symptoms that continued to surface. Ella’s feet were blue in color, and in 2013, a friend suggested that the family have her growth hormone tested — since she was small for her age and had severe developmental issues. It turns out, Ella’s PDA is actually 7 times the size of what doctors originally believed. She has what’s called Eisenmenger’s Disease. In non-medical terms, Ella’s heart and lungs are working overtime and there is no cure. Her mom told me that despite this ongoing health crisis, they ‘live a mainstream life without limits for her.’ Ella has two younger brothers, ages 8 and 5. The family takes each step in this journey together. A close family friend told me that Carly’s children are reflections of the ‘spirited and intense love she has for them and for life...
Ask Her More

Ask Her More

I’ve worked the red carpet as a journalist and it is, in my opinion, pretty horrible.  The publicists either want nothing to do with you or can’t live without you.  The stars sort of want to answer questions and sort of want to be left alone. I’m just here so I don’t get fined (courtesy Marshawn Lynch #beastmode). I digress. When I saw Reese Witherspoon’s #askhermore post on Instagram, I was intrigued. I saw it early Oscar Sunday before it caught fire and it captured my interest.  By show time, it was a trending topic.  A great hashtag coupled with A-list star power will do that.   #BBCtrending: #AskHerMore inspires change on Oscars red carpet http://t.co/BONUk1GQf7 pic.twitter.com/Tmn5sfQULs @BBCWorld — CareyPenaTV (@CareyPenaTV) February 23, 2015 Here is my question: If reporters on the red carpet ask her more, will the actors give more of themselves? The fact is, when you are asked real questions about real life issues,  it means being present — it means opening yourself up to the reporter, and by extension, to the audience.   It means getting past the Hollywood phony baloney. The red carpet interviews were good —  at least the ones I saw with the major networks (who knows what the poor local reporters slugging it out on the line were dealing with). The actors seemed to welcome questions that were more about content than clothing.  I enjoyed learning why certain people connected with certain roles and how those roles may have helped them evolve as individuals. Young journalists should use this as a learning moment.  The goal should always be to ask good questions...
One Question That Will Make Your Life Better

One Question That Will Make Your Life Better

What makes you tick?  It’s pretty powerful to actually stop and think about that question.  If you don’t know the answer, you should find out.   You will be better for it. Since college I have been running at a frantic pace, rising up the ranks in the television news industry.  While my career has been a blessing, I knew that it would take more than work to truly make me happy. What makes me happy, and whole, is getting involved in issues and causes that have a meaningful impact.  This is what makes me tick. Have A Heart For years, I have known about the Heart Ball.  The committee is made up of exceptional women, about one hundred Phoenicians, who come together in a forceful way to raise millions of dollars for the American Heart Association and American Stroke Association. Peggy Goldwater was the first chair of the Heart Ball back in 1959.  At that time, research for pacemakers and bypass surgery was just getting underway. Heart disease, according to the National Heart Association, is the number one killer in the United States.  1 in 3 Americans has heart disease.  Nearly 2,200 Americans die of cardiovascular disease each day.  This is a serious health crisis that the American Heart Association — with support from Phoenix Heart Ball — is trying to tackle.   Don’t Just Talk, Take Action I‘ve had the great fortune of serving as emcee for many charity events over the years.  It is incredibly touching to see the heart and soul of the people behind the scenes who care so deeply.  Whether it is raising awareness to...
Girl Scout Women and Young Women of Distinction Awards

Girl Scout Women and Young Women of Distinction Awards

When I spotted that green dress in the department store, I know it was perfect.  Just the right shade of Girl Scout green.  I had the honor, once again, to host the Girl Scout Women and Young Women of Distinction Awards. The outfit needs to be right! Off to the Biltmore I went (one of my favorite places in Phoenix) to join a group of incredible people. I love this celebration.  The Girl Scouts shine the light on remarkable women and young women of all ages in our community.  Women who are not content with status quo.  They want to make things better.  And they have a game plan to make that happen. Take for instance, Morgan Serventi from Page, Arizona.  This young woman is stunning.  But she clearly is not focused on outer beauty.  She was awarded the Young Woman of Distinction honor for creating a Methane Bio Digester for a village in Kenya.  I know what you’re thinking.  What the heck is that (I didn’t know either until I listened to Morgan – who, by the way, speaks with all the poise and grace of an award winning actress).  The Bio Digester converts methane into fuel that can power a stove.  It makes it possible for village residents to prepare hot meals and boil unsanitary water.  Morgan says her goal is simply to make the world a better place.  Instead of sitting around on Facebook obsessing about herself, this teenager identified a problem — across the globe — and came up with a game plan to try to fix it. A lot of people say they want...
Women of Worth

Women of Worth

What does it mean to be a Woman of Worth? My friend Kimberly Iverson is finding out the answer to that question in a pretty incredible way. Kimberly and I met back in our 20’s.  We had some fun together; traveled and did whatever it is you do when you are free of responsibility.  I was in school at the time studying broadcast journalism at ASU.  Kimberly was trying to navigate her path.  She ended up getting married and having children at a fairly young age.  Being a mom is a  role that certainly makes you a woman of worth. But there was more to come. She ended up going to nursing school and later would work in hospice care. I’ve heard many people refer to hospice nurses as angels on earth.  And, in dealing with hospice when my grandfather — who I loved so dearly — was facing end of life, I would certainly have to agree. Like many friendships, Kimberly and I drifted a bit over the years.  Not because of lack of fondness between us.  But because no longer did we find ourselves free of responsibility – able to get up and go anywhere on a moment’s notice.  Now we had careers and families.  And very busy schedules. Over the years we’ve managed to keep in touch on Facebook and e-mail.  We’ve seen each other when time allowed (here we are a goofy Halloween party along the way.  I think I was dressed up like Ivana Trump).   I’d been following Kimberly’s effort to start up a non-profit called Bucket List Foundation.  It sounded really amazing...