Weather Forecast | Weather Maps


A Love of Running

March 11, 2015

The Outer Banks, also known as the Graveyard of the Atlantic and where more than 1,000 ships have been documented to have sunk along its shores, is also home to the Graveyard 100-mile endurance race.

Local resident Brian Kochanski conquered the long and arduous race this past Saturday, March 7, spanning 101.5 miles along the bank’s paved Hwy. 12 in 25 hours and 44 minutes.

During the race, Kochanski and the many other runners ran the flat course with a total elevation gain of 139 feet and a loss of 138 feet and were given a 30 hour cut off time.

Along the course, Kochanski had the chance to see three of the famous NC lighthouses and cross the 2.5-mile long Bonner Bridge, which spans the Oregon Inlet to Bodie Island and Hatteras Island at the halfway point.

Kochanski, who began running roughly five years ago and has run two 50 mile and one 100 kilometer endurance races, said he decided to run a 100 mile endurance race as the next step in running.

“I had been looking at this race for a while and thought I’d give it a try on a flat road,” he said about choosing the Graveyard 100.

Kochanski explained that he trained for the run by going on short and long runs throughout the weeks leading up to the race, running his longer distance on the weekends when he had more time available.

When Kochanski started out early on Saturday morning, he said the temperature was in the 50s for most of the day and the wind was low, with quite a bit to look at in the beginning of the race.

“The first 40 miles were pretty much your typical beach towns and the last 60 miles was pretty remote, with only power lines, street signs and sand dunes,” he said. “The wind was okay until the very end and there was a pretty big headwind and the temperature got back down into the 30s.”

Although he prepared well for the race, Kochanski said he underestimated a few aspects.

“I kind of underestimated the pounding on the asphalt for 100 miles and the isolation,” he said. “There were stretches where it was dark with nothing on either side of the road and the nearest town being 11 miles away.”

Kochanski said he wished he’d had an extra pair of shoes, possibly a half size larger as a person’s feet tend to swell during a race of that capacity.

While Kochanski was alone for much of the race, he did have support from family from time to time.

“My wife, Brooke, would meet me at each aid station, reset my water bottle and help me with anything I needed,” he said. “My brother-in-law, Doug Mackie, was with me for the last 40 miles or so. He was the only person I really talked to during the race.”

Kochanski explained that his most enjoyable moment during the race was around mile 58 when Mackie started running with him.

“I kind of got my second wind then and ran well until around mile 73, and when I came around the last corner and saw the finish line,” he shared.

Luckily, he did have Mackie and Brooke there supporting him along the course since his most challenging point was around mile 73.

“I was kind of staggering and falling asleep,” he said. “I ended up getting to one of the water stations, getting in my truck and taking a short nap.”

Kochanski said if it hadn’t been for Mackie, he might have been too tempted to drop out of the race.

“After I woke up from my nap it was tempting not to keep going, but Doug was sitting there in the truck right next to me. He’d come all this way to support me, I couldn’t just give up,” he remarked. “He supported me by just talking to me and being a fresh set of legs.”

And so, Kochanski continued on.

Kochanski explained that running along Hwy. 12 can be isolating.

“It’s so quiet and isolated,” he remarked. “I saw a lot of other runners getting delirious.”

Different than other endurance runs he’d done, Kochanski said upon finishing he was less excited than normal and more relieved.

“I was so exhausted it was more of a relief than anything. I have been a lot more elated with other races, but I was more relieved and need some sleep,” he said Sunday afternoon having had only three hours of sleep since finishing the race.

Kochanski said while there isn’t anything currently planned for the future, he is interested in doing another 100-mile run.

“I’ll do another one, but probably a trail race,” he said.

Creekside Heritage Farm

March 11, 2015

Stephanie Ballard and her fiancé, Brian Neal, enjoy raising heritage chickens and living a sustainable lifestyle in Belews Creek.

Ballard explained that Neal was raised on the farm, where he began farming tobacco at a very early age.

“His grandparents had pigs, chickens and cows for food sources, plus they raised corn, potatoes, beans and other foods. It was their way of life,” she shared.

Ballard and Neal began raising chickens as a hobby in 2012 for the eggs and meat. Not long after that, they decided to start a small business.

“I developed such a passion for them and wanted to share with people how easy it is to raise your own eggs and chickens,” she said. “We are firm believers in producing our own food. It’s much better for you, more cost effective and really not that hard.”

She continued, “We also raise a large garden every year and still can and preserve a lot of our own food here.”

Ballard noted that they also do share cropping with their family and neighbors.

As a free-range farm, Ballard and Neal raise heritage breed chickens. They have 54 hens and six roosters they use for breeding purposes. Each year, they hatch around 600 chicks.

Ballard said they choose to keep their breeding numbers low in order to continue as a small farm and to produce healthy and happy chicks. She added that they are very selective in what they feed their chickens.

“We have Dominique, Rhode Island Reds, Buff and Black Orpingtons,” she said. “I chose these breeds mainly for their heritage.”

Ballard said the Dominique breed was the first chicken ever introduced to the U.S. and remains on the watch list for extinction.

“In the 1970s they were on the extinction list,” she shared. “We wanted to help keep this breed alive. The chickens are breeds that are known to be docile and tolerate the weather here.”

Ballard said the breeds they raise are also great egg producers, great mothers, and are wonderful for people who have never raised chickens before.

“They all have their own traits. It’s hard not to love them all,” adding that the Buff Orpingtons have become their favorite birds on the farm. “They are very social birds, beautifully colored and make great pets. Our Orpingtons are from a seventh generation breeder and we are so excited about keeping this lineage pure and going strong.”

Of all the chickens on the farm, Ballard said one has a special place in her heart.

“I have a blind chicken here on the farm; her name is Essie. She has her own house and does really well. I relate to her because even though she has a disability, it’s never stopped her,” she explained. “Me suffering with MS and bone cancer, I can relate to her. We are a lot alike.”

Ballard said neither she nor Essie let their ailments define them.

“We still get a great eating egg every morning from her. She hears the sound of my voice and will talk to me,” she said. “My chickens are very therapeutic and others have told me the same.”

Along with enjoying the chickens for themselves, Ballard and Neal sell both fresh eggs and baby chicks.

When it comes to taking care of the chickens, Ballard said she and Neal split the chores.

“My fiancé begins our day every morning when the sun comes up, feeding and watering all the chickens,” she said, noting that they both work full-time. “We take shifts collecting eggs, cleaning coops and throwing daily treats. Brian likes selecting eggs for the incubator, so I let him do that. He has a system and it works. I like taking care of the biddies and all my flocks.”

When it comes to planting crops and canning, Ballard said she leaves that up to Neal.

While they currently only raise chickens on the farm, Ballard said they plan to add goats later on to produce milk for soaps and caramels.

“We also plan on adding bees this year,” she said.

Ballard explained that they are very passionate about the environment and sharing that passion with others.

“We are not only chicken people. We are passionate about hunting, fishing and raising a garden,” she said. “We share our knowledge of planting crops, canning and hunting skills. We still believe in crop rotation and no GMO (genetically modified organism) crops.”

She continued, “I like to share with people that living off the land and respecting it at the same time is what our forefathers did. It’s what America was founded on. If you learn how to do this, you don’t have to be dependent on grocery stores.”

Ballard said her granddaughter, Khloe, enjoys playing with the chickens.

“She loves chickens like her Gigi when she visits,” she said.

Along with the therapeutic aspects, Ballard said she enjoys many other aspects of raising chickens.

“I love waking up to the sound of my roosters each morning. I am very passionate in sharing with my customers how to have a healthy back yard flock,” she said. “With the state as well as NPIP (National Poultry Improvement Plan) and AI (Avian Influenza) clean program, I teach people to be responsible chicken owners.”

For more information, visit “Creekside Heritage Farms” on Facebook.

Serving the Chamber of Commerce

March 11, 2015

On April 1, Taylor Thornton will join the Chamber of Commerce as their new program manager.

This year promises to be an exciting year for Thornton; she will also be getting married in October.

Thornton, a former second-grade teacher at Kernersville Elementary School (KES), was thrilled and delighted to be chosen as the Chamber’s new program manager. She has lived here since 2000 and feels that Kernersville is her home.

“I grew up in Kernersville and as a Kernersville resident, I am familiar with the town,” she said.

A graduate of East Forsyth High School, Thornton went on to receive her degree from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Thornton has been involved in the community for many years. She worked for the Kernersville YMCA as a sports coordinator for five years while in college, before being hired to teach at KES.

Thornton is also familiar with the Chamber. As a teenager, she spent some time with the Chamber as part of Kernersville Connections, a program that allows high school students to interact with local businesses to learn more about them.

“I came to the Chamber as part of Kernersville Connections, so I’ve always felt very comfortable here,” explained Thornton.

Thornton said when she found out there was an opening for a program manager at the Chamber, she knew it would be a great fit for her.

Chris Comer, president and CEO of the Chamber, was impressed with Thornton’s resume and thought she would be perfect for the job. She was especially drawn to Thornton’s listed strengths. Thornton described herself as a young and energetic professional with experience in fast-paced settings, who is highly organized, creative, and outgoing.

The Chamber staff is pleased to have Thornton joining them and Thornton is looking forward to serving the community.

“I’m very excited to be a part of this,” Thornton expressed.

Painting the Town

March 3, 2015

After art fell by the wayside for many years, local resident Larry McRae recently picked back up where he left off with a goal of painting architecture in Kernersville.

McRae began his venture in art as a boy when he and his brother made panels of artwork for their father’s sermons.

“My father was an evangelist and my brother and I would draw charts for him and illustrate the Bible for him to use when teaching. Whatever the topic was, we would do the illustrations,” he said. “People liked it because it was different.”

McRae said he picked up a lot of skills through those drawings, mostly due to trial and error.

“On our own, we would also experiment with different types of art,” he said. “I did watercolor for a while, and I was big into cartoons at one time, and even thought I’d be a cartoonist.”

As he grew older, McRae continued to paint with watercolor; however, once his career took off and he started his Kernersville based residential and commercial design company, McRae & Co., and started a family, his interest in art fell by the wayside.

With all of his children out of the house, McRae was once again able to pursue his passion.

“My daughter, Deah, a second year student at UNC Charlotte, was the last one out of the house. Once the kids were all out of the house, I decided to get back into painting,” he said. “It gives me an outlet to do something productive.”

McRae and his wife, Gail, have two other children, Devon and Daniel.

Although the last time he painted he was focusing more on watercolor, McRae has more recently been interested in oil painting.

Looking at his work, you wouldn’t guess that McRae has no formal training in painting.

“Just like before, everything is a bit of trial and error, but I try to be thoughtful about each stroke. I paint the sky first and set a base for what is happening and then work everything back into it,” he said. “With an oil painting it takes six months to dry completely, so I can manipulate them for a couple of weeks. After they are dry, I put a clear coating on them.”

As a designer with an appreciation for architecture, McRae enjoys capturing different architectural aspects of a structure in multiple paintings rather than painting an entire building or structure, whether it be a pergola, arbor, balcony, or something else.

“Having done so much work on ‘the drawing board’ has probably helped me with painting architectural structures,” he said.

McRae’s interest also lies in capturing real life locations and landscapes that are recognizable, especially to residents living in Kernersville.

So far, he has painted elements from his former home, a portion of The Harmon House balcony, and an arbor at Dewberry Farm in Kernersville.

“I think my next painting will be of The Depot and the caboose, and my emphasis this year will be on nothing but Kernersville because there’s a need and opportunity,” he said, noting that he would also like to focus on Körner’s Folly.

Although his focus is mostly Kernersville, McRae does venture out on occasion and paint other landscapes and architecture, such as Pilot Mountain.

“I went up (to Pilot Mountain) on a clear day with my wife,” he said, noting that he took a picture and then painted the landscape after returning home. “It was so clear that you could see Greensboro.”

In his painting, McRae captured the knob with Sauratown Mountain, Hanging Rock, and Moore’s Knob in the background, all drawn to scale.

While he prefers his paintings to be drawn to scale and architecturally detailed, he said he still aims to make his work look like a painting.

“I like to think of my paintings as a loose realistic,” he remarked.

One of the things McRae said is great about his prints is that it can come on wrapped canvas and is matted, giving it the look of an original without the texture of the raised oil paint.

McRae’s paintings and prints can be found at Ella Grace in Kernersville.

For more information about McRae and his paintings, visit

‘Stories of Faith from Everyday Life’

January 19, 2015

Bruce Boyer, former Chamber of Commerce CEO and president and Kernersville YMCA director, encourages others to strengthen their faith through everyday devotional stories in his newly released book, “Stories of Faith from Everyday Life,” which will be available on Monday, January 26 during a book signing at the YMCA from 5:30 – 7 p.m.

“The purpose of my book is to show examples of how God works in our everyday lives,” Boyer remarked.

Boyer has always been a devout Christian of the Lutheran denomination, but he explained that he had chosen to put it in the shadows in order to concentrate on his career. It wasn’t until his son took a trip to South America and while on a hike was lost in the Amazon rainforest for six days.

“It changed our lives forever,” he said.

Boyer explained that after his son, Dave, was rescued, he chose to be more intentional with sharing his faith with others.

“I started writing these stories about eight years ago with a goal of helping people that had a faith, but that were not very intentional,” he stated. “I would write one short story a week and email it. There are about 100 people who get my emails each week.”

Upon retiring in 2013, Boyer began working diligently bringing together stories that he had written to write his devotional book.

“The devotionals in the book are either stories from years ago that I thought were the better ones or fresh stories,” he said.

The stories include a personal question for the reader to ponder, a scriptural reference, and a concluding prayer, as well as a scriptural verse illustrating a key point from his story.

Boyer included additional scripture references at the back of his book.

“Each chapter has a topic, so if you are someone struggling with fear or are looking for strength, you can find a story to help you,” he said.

As Boyer set out to write his book, he wanted to create something that was easy for any lay person to understand.

“It’s not a deep Bible study that people glaze over. It includes situations, verses and stories that are easy to identify with,” he explained.

Kernersville Mayor Dawn Morgan made reference to Boyer’s writing by saying, “Bruce Boyer’s writings inspire Christians who desire to discover the peace and joy in everyday moments. I highly recommend this book as a devotional. Reading it is an opportunity to help take a breath from the demands of everyday life and consider the Glory of God as shown through acts of kindness and grace in our community.”

Boyer also sought help from his Pastor Rick Meyer, who is also an author.

“He told me that each story should have a question to internalize for the reader,” he said, noting that doing so personalizes the story for each person.

As far as his devotions, Boyer said he first sees something that he believes would make a good story and then finds a supporting verse.

Boyer explained that some of the devotions stem from local community members’ personal stories, including Jenny Fulton, of Miss Jenny’s Pickles, and Analise Arnold, a local musician and three time winner of Kernersville Idol.

“Miss Jenny’s business started after she heard a sermon series at Fountain of Life (Lutheran Church) and it was my canoe up on the alter during the series,” he said. “It encouraged her to get out of her own comfort zone and start her own business.”

Boyer explained that one of his stories was inspired by a picture he took of Arnold’s mother smiling at her while she was singing during the Chamber’s annual Music at Twilight series.

“Just as we bring a smile to God’s face, (Arnold’s) singing brought a smile to her mom’s face,” he said.

Boyer added that during the book signing, they will be serving Miss Jenny’s pickles and Arnold will be singing.

Along with stories from the community, Boyer said local photographer Gene Stafford took the photograph on the cover of the book. The photograph is of Boyer’s home church, Fountain of Life Lutheran Church, located on Hopkins Road in Kernersville.

Boyer explained that he dedicated the book to one of his early mentors, known as The Old Gray Goose (Robert Gray), who was one of his camp counselors at Camp Kenan when he was younger.

“The Old Gray Goose was a tireless servant and wonderful Christian role model,” he wrote in his acknowledgements. Boyer noted that he chose a career in the YMCA largely because of Gray’s example.

Boyer said he plans to surprise Gray with his book.

“He doesn’t know I have written the book. I plan to go with my bother, Brad, to visit him and surprise him with the book,” he said.

Of all the stories in his book, Boyer said his favorite two are those of his son.

“The two stories on Dave are my favorite because it was a life changing event for the entire family,” he explained.

Boyer hopes his book is an inspiration for others to be more intentional with their faith.

“All we can do is plant a seed and nudge people and encourage them. It is God that does the saving,” he remarked.

For more information about “Stories of Faith From Everyday Life,” visit where you can find additional stories and a link to Kindle and to purchase his book.

Boyer’s books will be available at the Kernersville YMCA on Monday, Jan. 26, during his book signing from 5:30 – 7 p.m.

Time for a Hike

January 8, 2015

A local man recently joined the ranks of a small percentage of hikers who have completed the legendary Appalachian Trail in a single trip, earning him the designation of a true 2,000-miler in the process.

Ben Barrow, 25, hadn’t been much of a hiker or camper before watching a documentary about the Appalachian Trail on Netflix, but something about the trail appealed to Barrow’s sense of adventure and a desire to experience new things.

“The Appalachian Trail really interested me. I’d never really hiked before, maybe two or three times, but I like figuring things out. It can be just as much fun figuring out how something works as it is actually doing it,” surmised Barrow. “Researching the hike was just as much fun as actually doing it. I spent about a year-and-a-half just playing around with the thought, do I really want to do this?”

In considering what a hike such as the Appalachian Trail would entail, Barrow had to decide if he wanted to hike the trial in sections over the course of several years, as many often choose to do, or did he want to go as a thru-hiker, attempting to complete the entire 2,180 miles of trail that spans 14 states in less than a year. Either way, he would be one of two to three million hikers who walk a portion of the trail each year.

Barrow’s research included going to local outdoor stores and comparing hiking equipment, considering things like if it was worth it to carry more or less weight in a pack. He took smaller, weekend hiking trips to get a feel for some of what he might experience.

“It’s all about weight,” said Barrow, who started his hike with about 45-pounds of weight on his back, but pared it down to right at 30 pounds, including food and water. “That was a good weight. You have to decide if you want to be more comfortable at camp or while you’re walking. I wanted to be comfortable walking, but at the same time I would not sacrifice the ability to take care of myself.”

“It takes a lot of practice to get comfortable on the trail,” said Barrow, admitting that a couple of times during his journey he considered quitting, but each time he was miles from any main roads or towns, so by the time he’d headed off the trail, it didn’t take long to reconsider and continue on.

“I quit the trail twice, but when you have five to 10 miles to hike out, you might as well keep going,” said Barrow.

Barrow started at the beginning of the Appalachian Trail at Springer Mountain in Georgia on March 9 of last year, with plans to head north to the halfway point and then jump ahead to the end of the trail and work his way back south. It is what those familiar with the Appalachian Trail and its many forms of hiking refer to as “flip-flopping,” where thru-hikers hike the entire trail in discontinuous sections to avoid crowds, extremes in weather or start on easier terrain.

On average, most thru-hikers finish the Appalachian Trail within about six months, but Barrow took a few months longer, finishing in nine months.

“Most finish in six months, but I took my time,” said Barrow, describing those who like himself who want to savor the experience and others whose main goals are to just finish the trail as a notch in their belts more so than a chance to shed the trappings and stresses of every day life and get closer to nature.

Barrow said he hiked eight to 10 hours a day, sometimes traveling with other groups of hikers, sometimes alone. On the trail he became known as “Socrates,” in line with the tradition of hikers earning nicknames during the trek. Whenever he deviated from the actual trail, which sometimes happened, Barrow always doubled back to complete a missed stretch.

Once in West Virginia, Barrow went from being a northbounder hiker to a southbounder. He took a train and bus to the trail’s end in Katahdin, Maine, then began hiking south. It was a way for Barrow to avoid some of the trail’s most crowded portions, as well as some of the worst weather.

Barrow said he was in the bubble with the majority of hikers heading north at the start of his hike, calling it a very social learning experience. It didn’t take long for him to be able to discern between day and weekend hikers to those like himself who were in it for the long haul. A whiff of laundry detergent emanating from someone’s clothing was a good way to tell the difference, he said.

As far as wildlife on the trail, Barrow saw a lot of it, but said it was a matter of reminding himself that he as a human was the most dangerous predator on the trail. One of the biggest challenges was one of the mind.

“You are alone with your thoughts,” said Barrow. “When you’re just out there walking, there’s a lack of stimulus and you think about anything because you’ve got 18 more miles to do for the day. It’s not you versus the mountain; it’s you versus yourself.”

During the nine-months Barrow was out on the trail, he took time to experience the experience, if you will, staying in small towns sometimes for a few days, other times longer. He spent two weeks in Damascus, Va., arriving just in time for Trail Days in May. Other times he would stay long enough to work for a few bucks when needed.

“It was more important for me to experience the trail than try to save it,” said Barrow when asked if he kept a journal during the trek. “It was my experience. I’d rather tell people about it.”

One of the things people tend to let go of on the trail is something all too familiar in today’s modern day life, where everyone is in a rush. Barrow said his biggest challenge was sometimes spending four or five days without seeing another person.

When he did see people, it was a social experience, and Barrow met people from all over the United States. I met people from Ohio, Oregon to Texas and Alaska and people from every state on the East Coast,” said Barrow.

Because Barrow said he chose early on that he wanted to experience the Appalachian Trail rather than just hike it, Barrow said he embraced the chance to leave the trail from time to time to see a waterfall or visit an obscure American town.

“I liked seeing the towns. In every state, every town had a story all up and down the East Coast,” said Barrow, who noted that the smaller the town, the better the people treated others.

What did he learn on the trail?

Barrow said he learned to respect people more.

“A little respect goes a mile,” he said.

He also learned a lot about nature, Her different seasons and Her different colors. Now, it’s all there in his memory and on his camera. He even went to bed one night expecting a mild hike the next day only to wake up to a foot of snow on the ground.

And he learned that with a little power cord, duct tape and a knife, you can make just about anything. One trail friend even fixed his shoes with a piece of dental floss after he ripped the top open.

“You just have to figure it out,” he said.

Barrow finished his hike shortly after Thanksgiving. It was then that he received his 2,000 miler patch.

“This is what I worked so hard for,” said Barrow as he took out the small, half-moon shaped patched, stored in a plastic bag with dozens of others from different sections of the Appalachian Trail.

Barrow said he would recommend the trip to others, definitely.

“I tell anybody that can do it, if they can, do it,” said Barrow.

What’s next for Barrow in his quest for adventure and figuring things out? He thinks he might like to traverse the Colorado or Mississippi rivers or a couple of rivers in Canada. There’s also the Pacific Crest Trail on the west coast or he might try his hand at living on a sailboat for a couple years and learning how to sail across the world.

“The unknown is the most fun,” said Barrow.

Ride to Remember

January 8, 2015

Greg Kiser is a Greensboro Police Department officer who enjoys cycling for exercise. On July 17, 18, and 19, he’ll be riding 252 miles in South Carolina to raise awareness for Alzheimer’s disease.

Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive illness that results when plaques and tangles attach to brain cells. It’s a disease that hits home for Kiser because there is a history of it in his wife, Toni’s, family. For Kiser, the implications are huge and far-reaching.

“It’s something Toni’s dealt with for a very long time and being her husband, it’s a worry of mine. We have a young daughter and I’ve had to tell her that I’m doing this ride for her too. This could be my legacy to her later, if she should ever get diagnosed some day. I’m also doing it for everyone out there who doesn’t realize how big a problem this is. Five million people in the U.S. currently have Alzheimer’s, but it could rise to sixteen million by 2050. Unfortunately, a lot of folks who are going to contract this disease might not have the money for a nice place to go.”

He continued.

“The most scary part for me is the thought that there’s going to come a time when my wife is going to look at me the same way she has for 30, 40 years and not recognize me and not remember all the things we’ve done together throughout our lives,” he said. “That just tears me up inside and I don’t want anyone to have to go through that.”

As a police officer, Kiser has had experience dealing with disoriented Alzheimer’s sufferers and their families. He has learned firsthand how confusing and frightening the disease can be for the people who have it and has a special sensitivity to those people who don’t understand what is happening to them.

“It’s not just a disease that makes you forget things. It changes the dynamic of the entire family and affects a person’s reality. Being with the Greensboro Police Department, I’ve gone on calls where there’s been an Alzheimer’s patient who has called and said someone has stolen their car,” he said. “They are absolutely convinced their son or daughter has stolen it, so we respond to the call and come to find out they haven’t had a car in fifteen years. They feel victimized by their family and by local law enforcement because there isn’t anything we can do to help them. You can’t file a report on something that doesn’t exist.”

The condition is also compounded by issues of wandering. Kiser reports that Alzheimer’s patients will wander off to find homes they lived in as a child. He said they have found patients as far as 10 miles away from the facility or family home in which they are currently living. Kiser received special training when it comes to Alzheimer’s patients who are reported missing.

“We are trained to find out where they used to live, and if they are somewhat local because that is usually where they will go,” he explained. “Imagine yourself twenty years from now and you are living in a new place you don’t recognize because you can’t remember anything from the past twenty years. Where will you want to go? Where were you most comfortable?”

Kiser has even gotten calls from people claiming they have been kidnapped and are being held against their will, only to answer the call and discover they have Alzheimer’s and are actually in their own home, but because it is more recent they don’t remember it.

When Kiser first heard about Ride to Remember last year, it was through a friend on Facebook. At that time, he was on sabbatical from cycling, following a collision with a U-Haul truck. Kiser is an endurance rider and when he saw the race was 252 miles, it piqued his interest. He realized it was too late to donate and he didn’t have his bike anymore, but could not stop thinking about it.

“When I saw it was for Alzheimer’s, I wished I’d done a race like that when I was still riding. I thought it looked like fun, but I wasn’t riding at that time. Then, ironically, around August I noticed I was gaining some weight. I decided to start riding again to get back into shape because it was the only exercise I enjoyed. When it came time to buy a bike, it was more expensive than I was comfortable with. My wife understood and was supportive of it and saw that I needed it back in my life and needed it for my own mental balance,” he said. “I told her if I did get a new bike, when I was able to, I would make a charity ride for Ride to Remember in honor of her deceased grandmother and aunt, who is in a facility with Alzheimer’s in New Jersey. She was very excited about that.”

Kiser did get the new bike and started back with 50 miles.

“That almost killed me,” he laughed. “But I kept working at it.”

Then, as luck would have it, Kiser was hit by another car. Fortunately, the driver’s insurance paid for the purchase of a new bike, but he had to wait for it to be shipped to him. While he waited, he put the damaged bike on a stationary trainer and started training while he waited for the new bike to arrive. By the time the new bike arrived, Kiser said that he was able to reach speeds of up to 62 miles per hour at his fastest pace. He knew he was ready for Ride to Remember, so he signed up to participate in the race.

One thing Kiser stresses is that Ride to Remember is not just a race. It is an eight-month-long event that begins in November and culminates with the race in July. It is a process of raising awareness, as well as funds. It is also a family event for Kiser. He said his wife and daughter plan to be at the rest stops cheering him on.

“The ride is more or less our reward for going out and raising the money and awareness,” explained Kiser. “The actual Ride to Remember event started in November, it actually runs from November to July. It’s a bunch of cyclists getting together and doing what they can do to benefit the Alzheimer’s Association. At the end they throw us a party and let us go on a bike ride.”

Ride to Remember is set up to spread over three days in three stages of varying lengths of 67, 85, and 100 miles respectively. It will take place on public roads that run from Simpsonville to Charleston, SC. Many people may not realize the dangers involved in races like this, but according to Kiser, there is usually at least one crash in every race.

“It’s a risk every time a cyclist goes out and rides. That puts a lot of these charity rides into perspective,” he said.

While there are inherent risks for any cycling activity, Kiser feels that the benefits outweigh those risks.

“I’m very appreciative to those who have already donated. I’ve already gotten over $1,000 worth of donations and while that is twice what I needed to be able to ride, I’m still not stopping because the money is going where it needs to go. I want to have as many resources as possible and I have plenty of time to collect more money and I’m going to do so.”

The immediate, short-term benefits will go to the SC chapter (of the Alzheimer’s Association), but long-term benefits of this ride will go to nationwide research. What is good for one state is good for all states, as far as research and finding cures goes,” he remarked. “My goal is to ultimately end this disease and it doesn’t matter to me which state gets the short-term benefits because helping patients with Alzheimer’s is helping patients with Alzheimer’s. The end results will be on a national scale that will help everyone.”

If you would like to make a donation to Kiser’s donations page, visit

For more information about Alzheimer’s visit the Alzheimer’s Association website at

The Stang Society

January 8, 2015

A local car club for owners of the iconic Ford Mustang in all its varied incarnations since its introduction to the American public more than 50 years ago is rapidly growing in numbers thanks in no small part to the power of social media.

The club was created by four area friends who just so happened to have each purchased a Mustang around the same time early last year. As they sat around and talked about their new interest one night, someone suggested they start a club. That’s when the Stang Society was born.

Those four friends were Justin Whapham and Derrick Rice, both of Kernersville, Nick Ring, of High Point, and Brandon White, of Delaware. Today, their club boasts thousands of followers on Instagram and weekly local meet ups can bring out dozens of other Mustang owners just as enthusiastic as they are about the famed pony car.

“We were just hanging out and someone said, ‘Let’s start a car club.’ Someone else said, ‘Let’s do it but if we do, make it big,’” recalled Whapham as he talked about what is becoming a growing group of Mustang lovers.

In order to promote their club, the four friends took to the Internet, using the photo sharing site Instagram to showcase photos of their cars. It didn’t take long for the club’s page to go from its four founders to soon over 6,000 followers. Today, the group offers regular contests, traveled to Mustang Week in Myrtle Beach this past July and held a meet up in Charlotte where about 70 cars and their owners attended.

“We just posted photos of our cars and this came from just a bunch of friends to people starting to like our stuff. Now we have over 6,000 who are asking us, ‘Hey, can you hold a meet,’” said Whapham. “It has spring boarded from a local car club in Kernersville to people all over knowing about us. We’ve linked up with a lot of good great people and we’re growing each day. At our first meet, we had four cars in the Bojangles’ parking lot and then fast forward to 70 cars in August in Charlotte. It’s so cool.”

As the Stang Society continues to gather steam and become more widely known, Whapham said he and his fellow co-founders would like to participate in charitable events and support causes that give something back to the community.

“We want to give back,” said Whapham.

Whapham said seeing the club grow each week over the last year has been fun to watch and he, Ring, Rice and White have had an amazing opportunity to meet a lot of really interesting people. It’s even opened doors for them in ways they didn’t think possible.

“We’ve met so many cool, really neat people, and it shows how powerful Instagram is, especially when it comes to car culture,” he said, noting that, Mustang parts catalog, has over 100,000 followers on its Instagram account.

Whapham has always been interested in photography and videography. Through the car club, he has been able to shoot some amazing photographs and video footage of the Ford Mustang and the enthusiasts who love it. He hopes one day to be involved with photography and videography through NASCAR, and Ring’s interest in media has only been reinforced through his marketing work with the Stang Society.

Anyone who owns a Mustang can be a member of the Stang Society, said Whapham. It doesn’t matter if it’s a Mustang that needs a complete overhaul, one that is used as an everyday vehicle or a Mustang in the most pristine of conditions that it is only taken out of the garage on special occasions.

“We love every Mustang. We’ve seen them all. They don’t have to be showroom quality to be a part of the club,” said Whapham.

Whapham said he and his friends hope to see their club gain a national following. That’s not too far-fetched a goal considering that the Stang Society is already reaching the masses on a regional level in the Southeast. He said they’ve even talked about someday holding a North Carolina car rally that stretches from Kernersville to Texas, where hundreds of Mustangs travel in a chain to their rally location.

“We’ve found our passion. We’d love to see it grow on a national scale. We want to do good with it. We want to show people that we’re a positive influence,” Whapham.

Since the onset of winter and colder outdoor temperatures, the club hasn’t held any meet ups regularly, but did get together on New Year’s Day for a photo shoot on Hwy. 66. The event turned into something of a cruise out, with members getting in their cars and driving from Sheetz to Bunker Hill United Methodist Church a little further south.

“It morphed into a cruise in, cruise out,” laughed Whapham.

He said as the weather improves in spring and summer, the club will become more active.

Those interested in learning more about the Stang Society can find the club’s Instagram page by searching Stangsociety, all one word on the site.

A Fitting Tribute

January 8, 2015

Two Kernersville police officers were among a sea of thousands who made the journey to New York City to pay their final respects to a fallen comrade during the funeral of NYPD Officer Wenjian Liu on Sunday, Jan. 4.

Officers Dave Mundy and Eddie Shumate, who are members of the Kernersville Police Department’s (KPD) honor guard, were able to arrange their schedules and then fly to New York courtesy of JetBlue airline, which offered to fly two officers from every law enforcement agency in the country to New York City for Sunday’s funeral.

“We were very fortunate to be able to attend,” said Shumate as he talked about the experience and the opportunity to show his respect and support for not only Officer Liu, who was killed execution-style along with his partner Officer Rafael Ramos on December 20 as they sat in their patrol car, but for all the officers of the NYPD.

Shumate said the reception he and Mundy received upon their arrival in New York City was moving.

“We packed up our honor guard uniforms and arrived early Sunday morning. We were met by a sergeant with the 113th Precinct and escorted to our hotel and then to the precinct. They were all very welcoming with open arms,” said Shumate.

Shumate, Mundy and other law enforcement officers from across the country were provided breakfast and lunch and then taken by bus to and from the funeral. The two stood in a crowd of thousands along the funeral route from 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and watched and listened to the service from giant screens provided to those outdoors.

“We got to hear all the speakers on behalf of Officer Liu,” said Shumate. “We also got to participate in the last salute to Officer Liu as the processional came by. It was a very humbling experience to participate in that.”

As sad as the circumstances were that brought Shumate and Mundy to New York City, Shumate said it was a joyous experience at the same time to be among other officers from all over the United States and Canada.

“It was amazing. It was like we had an instant bond,” said Shumate, who has been with the KPD for five years.

Mundy, who will celebrate his seventh anniversary as a member of the KPD on January 9, said he wanted to be in New York City to show his support for his fellow officers.

“For most agencies, it’s a really tough time for law enforcement and citizens. We haven’t really seen that here (in Kernersville), but I wanted to be there to show that someone has their back and has support for them,” Mundy said.

Like Shumate, Mundy was moved by the experience.

“It was an exceptional and very humbling experience,” said Mundy. “It was almost like the NYPD officers were there for us and not the other way around. For the 24 hours we were in New York and Brooklyn, everywhere we went, we went in a patrol car.”

Mundy said as he and Shumate stood in the deep throng of officers gathered along the funeral procession route for Officer Liu, one thing he noticed was the camaraderie.

“Everywhere you turned, someone was thanking you for being there,” said Mundy.

This was Mundy’s first time attending a funeral for a fallen officer. The experience was one that he found difficult to find the right words to convey.

“It is hard to describe. It was something,” he said.

Officer Shumate expressed his appreciation for those at the KPD who helped make it possible for he and Officer Mundy to attend the NYC funeral.

“I am very thankful that Chief Cunningham allowed us to pursue this, as well as Captain Bowman and Captain Leonard and Carol Hauser,” Shumate said.

He also wanted to make mention of something Officer Wiu’s father talked about during the funeral service in describing how his son always called at the end of his shift to tell him he would be coming home okay.

“He would call him and tell him he had finished his shift and was coming home,” said Shumate of the possibility officers face of not coming home from work one day. “That’s what we all do when we walk out the door each day.”

Pay It Forward

December 19, 2014

Dottie Cornatzer teaches Occupational Course of Study (OCS) with the Exceptional Child program at East Forsyth High School (EFHS). She is a firm believer in community service and paying it forward, a philosophy she passes on to her students.

“Years ago, when I was a single mom and we were very poor, I needed help for my children during the holidays. We were able to reach out and get help through the Salvation Army and different organizations. Once I graduated from college and became a teacher I wanted to give back. I wanted my students to see what a difference they could make in their community. I wanted them to learn to pay it forward.”

Cornatzer has made good on her vow and leads her students in frequent community service activities. Recently, two groups of Cornatzer’s students have made an enormous impact on the community.

The Leo Club

On Sunday, December 14, the Leo Club (a junior affiliate of the Kernersville Lions Club) partnered with Outwest Steakhouse & Saddleroom to serve a hot meal at the Bethesda Center homeless shelter. The Leo Club is a volunteer service learning group at East Forsyth High School.

“The Leo Club is an international organization,” stated Cornatzer. “This is something that is far and wide and we, as members, try to make as big an impact on the community as possible. You know the saying by Ghandi, ‘Be the things you want to see in the world’? That’s the kind of people you see involved with the Leo Club.”

The club worked with Morris Chapel United Methodist Church in Walkertown to help coordinate the meal. Morris Chapel has a ministry that provides meals at the Bethesda Center. Caitlin Smith, Leo Club president and junior at EFHS, made the initial contact with Outwest Steakhouse and asked if they would donate the food. Morris Chapel then picked up the food and delivered it to the Bethesda Center, where 21 students and adults helped to serve a hot meal of beef tips, gravy, mashed potatoes, steamed green beans and carrots and mushrooms.

“I won’t say anyone actually cried,” confided Cornatzer, “but I saw a lot of people who were emotionally moved when they saw the food. They’re used to getting much simpler fare.”

Cornatzer said desserts were provided as part of the meal, too. The treats were donated by people in the community. A student named Victoria Rivera was instrumental in getting volunteers from outside of the club to bake desserts such as pumpkin bread, cupcakes, and brownies. In the end, there was enough food to provide not just an evening meal, but breakfast for the homeless as well.

“It is like the parable of the fish and the bread,” said Cornatzer. “The food just never ran out. The homeless ate, the staff ate, the volunteers ate, and it never seemed to run out. There was even enough left over for breakfast, so the people had a nice, full belly of warm, good food before hitting the streets again. I’d really love to give a big shout out to Outwest Steakhouse for all they did for these people.”

Students didn’t just feed the homeless, they provided them with warm hats they learned to make in the apparel crafts class at school. Student and Leo Club member Joyce Zhong headed up the effort to get the hats made in time to deliver them on Sunday.

Cornatzer encourages people to donate to the Bethesda Center. She said they don’t need food as much as they need other things, such as cleaning supplies, Clorox, laundry detergent, dish soap, paper towels, and personal hygiene items. Monetary gifts are also always welcome.

“We would love to have people participate as much as they can, if not with us, then with some other community service group such as Habitat for Humanity, Salvation Army, or whatever they feel comfortable with.”

She said the group’s next project is planned for January 10 at 9 a.m. The Leo Club will be working with Park Ranger Austin Paul at Hanging Rock State Park (weather permitting). They will be helping to clean and refurbish a newly acquired property called Camp Sertoma in Westfield, N.C. Everyone is invited to come and help.

The OCS Salvation

Army Volunteers

In addition to the Leo Club, Cornatzer and her co-teacher, Ashlyn Smith, encourage the students in her OCS classes to give back to the community. To date, the students have accumulated over 530 hours of community service learning hours by volunteering with the Salvation Army. The students go to the Salvation Army distribution center and go through the new toys people have donated for the Christmas Angel program. They sort the toys by age and gender and then fill each child’s Christmas Angel order. The students also help with the Red Stocking and Give a Kid a Coat program.

Christmas is not the only season Cornatzer’s students help the Salvation Army, but it’s a crucial time when the needs are high. She feels it sets the tone for the rest of the year for the students and thinks it helps them gain some perspective on their own lives.

“The Christmas season is where we get our big push so we can have our attitude of gratitude for the rest of the year. I try to teach my kids that life throws so many curveballs, but look how lucky we are. We still have a roof over our head and clothes on our back. It helps the kids to see how blessed they are,” she said.

During the rest of the year, Cornatzer’s students make birdhouses, pottery, and crafts, which they sell. The money they raise goes to help them pay for field trips or to buy clothing for job interviews or apprenticeships. Cornatzer explained that in her classroom, there is a clothes closet and a washer and dryer where students can obtain nice clothing for interviews or just wash what they have. She said this service is available every Friday to any student in the school, not just the OCS students.

“Food stamps don’t pay for laundry and personal hygiene items, so we have that here. Whatever the child needs, we try to fill that need,” she noted.

Several of Cornatzer’s students wished to comment on their experiences working with the Salvation Army.

James Cardwell said, “Thank you to Salvation Army for letting us come out and be a part of it.”

Matthew McCarroll added, “I get joy from helping other kids in the community and helping to give them the Christmas spirit.”

Paul Lowe contributed, “It’s fun to go and help children.”

“It’s a group effort,” Cornatzer pointed out. “Even HOSA (Health Occupations Students of America) has helped. Everyone has been working together for the common good. I just can’t say enough about what all these kids are doing for our community. Paying it forward, that’s what it’s all about.”

To volunteer or to make a donation to the Bethesda Center Homeless Shelter, visit their website at or call (336) 722-9951.

To volunteer or make a donation to the Salvation Army visit their website at or call 1-800-SAL-ARMY (725-2769).