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This page contains news stories written by School of Communication students.
By Autumn Spurck
The videos are a way to leave a life legacy, to say what needs to be said, and a way to let go, Haney says.
Recently, Haney interviewed a woman in Urbandale, Iowa, who was dying of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease. Stacie Rhea decided to make a video of her life stories and lessons to leave for her two children, ages 7 and 9.
“I'm making these videos as a gift to them,” Rhea had said in an interview about her life legacy video, posted on LifeChronicles Omaha's website. “Because, if my mom would have made me a five-second video [before she passed away], I'd have it worn out by now. So I know what a gift that will be to them.”
LifeChronicles began 13 years ago when Kate Carter of Santa Barbara, Calif., wanted to do something meaningful for a friend dying of cancer.
“She had young children and wanted to make a video for them,” Haney says. “Since then, we've been making videos all over the country.”
Haney lived in Santa Barbara for a year and volunteered with Carter in the newly founded LifeChronicles. Haney returned to Omaha, telling Carter that if she needed help, she would come back and volunteer.
Shortly after, people in Des Moines, Iowa, had heard about the services provided by LifeChronicles. Haney went to Des Moines three times in two months to record videos; one of those times was to film Rhea. She found it difficult to take off work, making the four-hour round-trip, so Haney decided to begin an affiliate of LifeChronicles closer to the Midwest region, in Omaha.
Haney says it is an honor to assist families in making “that connection, the opportunity to connect with people, to be present during such a meaningful time in their lives.”
“My least favorite part is probably the business aspect,” Haney says. “Creating the business plan, all the paperwork, the files, the IRS work for our [tax] exemption -- the administrative part is my least favorite.”
Recently, the University of Nebraska at Omaha's gerontology department has been involved with LifeChronicles Omaha. The Dying, Death and Grieving class learned about people going through the process of dying, and the seven students' final project entailed interviewing people going through this process and filming their stories.
“One student interviewed a man who had cancer,” Haney says. “He died after the video was made, and we offered his family raw video on DVD. We told them we could edit whatever they wanted from the two DVDs (one from each camera). His children said they wanted nothing changed.”
“I was very happy with the experience they got. It felt really worthwhile,” Haney says. Producing a video and editing it can be very costly. To interview and film is one thing, but to add graphics and music is another. The students in this class did not have time to send the raw footage back to Santa Barbara to be edited.
“I learned that people were very happy with raw video and didn't want graphics or titles or music,” Haney says.
Although LifeChronicles relies heavily on volunteers and donations, friends and family members of the people in the life legacy videos may donate money to help the organization. And people are always grateful.
A woman whose father was taped reported that shortly after the filming, he died from cancer. She sent a thank-you note to LifeChronicles, explaining that if he hadn’t gotten a chance to say all the things he needed to on the video, it would have been more of a struggle for him to ultimately let go.
“While we will never know, my brother and I truly believe his passing was so quickly because of LifeChronicles,” reads the e-mail sent to Haney. “We believe he ﬁnally had a chance to say everything he wanted to say in a safe way.”
Haney says that “one of the first times I went [to interview someone], Katie gave me great advice. She said to just be present during this conversation. It's easy to just be present and listen.”
By Kristin Neemann
At 17, Jessica Hovermale endured a long and painful battle with lupus, an often-fatal auto-immune disease. She survived but was told that her chances of having children were slim.
Six years later, she gave birth to her first son, Gavin, who was nine weeks premature and weighed 3 pounds, 8 ounces. He spent almost five weeks in intensive care, fighting for his life. Like his mother, he survived what seemed like an impossible battle.
At 25, Hovermale gave birth to her second son, Caleb, who was 16 weeks premature and weighed only 12 ounces. Caleb was far too small to survive, and his life ended after 52 minutes.
For every 1,000 births in the United States, 6.9 infants die before their first birthday, according to an article from the New York Times. This infant mortality rate is higher than most other countries that are as developed and wealthy as the United States.
March of Dimes is an organization dedicated to helping families such as the Hovermales.
The organization was developed by Franklin D. Roosevelt during the Great Depression to raise funds for polio research. Roosevelt asked people to send their dimes to the post offices and to the White House, and the money was collected and invested into research for a polio vaccine.
Once the vaccine was created and polio was largely wiped out of the United States, March of Dimes decided to seek a new mission, which today is helping mothers have full-term pregnancies and researching the problems that threaten the health of babies, according to the March of Dimes website.
“Three years ago, we knew very little about the March of Dimes,” Hovermale said. “We knew the mission, but we never imagined we would be impacted so deeply.”
After Gavin’s birth, the Hovermales decided to become involved with March for Babies in Omaha. Gavin’s nickname is Bubba, so they decided to name their team of walkers Bubba’s Team.
After Caleb’s death, their desire to contribute to this event became much deeper.
In 2010, Hovermale’s hope was to bring together 52 friends and family as Bubba’s Team, one person for each minute that Caleb was alive.
Her wishes were far surpassed. Bubba’s Team consisted of 80 friends and family and raised $5,900 for the March of Dimes.
March for Babies is the March of Dimes’ biggest fundraiser, said Danielle LeGrande, community director of the Nebraska chapter for March of Dimes.
The event drew more than 4,000 people 2010. The walk is a three-mile loop and is quite a sight to see, LeGrande said. Sidewalks are dotted with families and strollers. Pictures of children and families affected by prematurity line the walking path.
“It’s an awesome feeling to know that all the time and work you put forth into something and that people are enjoying it,” LeGrande said. “There hasn’t been one person that I’ve met that has not enjoyed it. That’s a good feeling. You know you’re doing something right.”
March of Dimes commits 75 percent of every dollar raised by the March for Babies teams to support research and programs that help mothers have full-term pregnancies and help babies begin healthy lives, according to its website.
Hovermale organized another team for the 2011 event on May 1. “Hopefully, our efforts will allow the March of Dimes to reach out to more families like ours and will help fund research to prevent premature birth,” Hovermale said.
|By Kelsey Stewart
(Written for Sally Hull’s News Writing and Reporting class during the spring 2011 semester.)
A small redbud tree stands on the grounds of Marian High School. Observers can often see this tree adorned with orange ribbons or orange candies. To an outsider, it may look as though this tree with heart-shaped leaves gets the red-carpet treatment.
Distracted driving has become a national issue and is even more complicated with teens.
Ensuring the success of C.A.R. isn’t always easy. The Reynoldses have been criticized for using Cady’s name and story to publicize themselves.
By Mary Wedner
(Written for Melodae Morris’ Media Writing Lab class during the spring 2011 semester.)
The aroma of fresh coffee fills the air when customers walk in to Jones Bros. Cupcakes. Early afternoon guests come in and browse the wide selection of gourmet cupcakes. A happy smile greets each guest who enters.
So what is Jones Bros. Cupcakes? A bakery? Just a cupcake place? A bistro? Jones Bros. in Midtown Omaha is all of those things. With a lunch menu featuring everything from homemade soup to fresh salads, sandwiches and paninis, there is something for everyone.
The business uses only high-end, unique ingredients. When asked what his favorite cupcake was, he said, “It’s a battle between sweet and salty, and strawberries and crème.” He said these smelled like spring to him.
Originally, the lunch was all “to go” -- already in a container ready to go. Now it’s all prepared when it’s ordered, and the lunches are also made with the “highest quality product we can find,” Jones said. Now, more than half of the people who come in to get lunch stay and eat at the restaurant.
Jones Bros. Cupcakes is now considered top of the market when it comes to cupcakes, cakes and wedding cakes, Jones said. It also is starting to do more custom cakes.