A Fight We Can Win

The Prisma Health Midlands Foundation 2019 Walk for Life

By Dawn Hunt

It seemed like the voice was ready to share good news…

July 3, 2013 – I remember waiting all day for the call. It was a long day. Why was I waiting? My annual mammogram had been June 26th, the day before my 45th birthday. As I had done for the past five years, I left my appointment happy it was over and confident all was fine.

Two days later on Friday, June 28th, an unexpected letter arrived. There was an irregularity and I needed a second mammogram. I was asked to schedule a follow-up appointment. As fast as I could dial the number, I made the call and was scheduled for Tuesday, July 2nd. Surely, the doctors were being careful, erring on the side of caution.

The day of my appointment, things seemed to move so quickly. The nurse completed the mammogram, reviewed it with the doctor and informed me he did not think there was any problem. To be safe, he wanted to complete an ultrasound. During that ultrasound, they confirmed no issue in the initial area of concern. What he did find was a new area of interest, and he wanted to biopsy the area. When? They checked their schedule and could do it within the hour. While I waited, I called my husband, David, with an update. He offered to come sit with me, to support me, to help reassure me. I told him I was fine and knew all would be okay.

Following the biopsy, I was told, they would call me by 4:30pm or 5pm the next afternoon. Waking up on July 3rd, I knew I needed to stay busy. I knew no matter what happened, David and I were in this together and could handle anything, so I did not want to appear worried.

Our son, Lennon, would turn 11 on July 11th and start middle school in August. Luckily for me, I worked from home and had some flexibility. As I worked, the morning flew past. As noon rolled around, Lennon and I decided to go to a movie for a distraction. Spending time with my beautiful son felt like the best way not allow myself to actively think about the pending call.

At 3:45pm, thoughts began to creep in. I spoke with David, and he said he was coming home early to be with us. David wanted to be there to support me, and I needed him. I told him that, if I had not received a call by 4:30pm, I would call the office.

Around 4:20pm, the phone rang. I was sitting on our bed, David standing in front of me. The voice on the phone asked to speak with Dawn Hunt. Speaking. The nurse asked me if I was ready to hear the results. Her voice sounded positive and calming, almost upbeat. I was not prepared for, “I am sorry, you are positive for cancer.” She said they would send the records to my gynecologist and everything would then proceed through her.

I don’t know what my husband saw on my face, but the news felt like a punch to my stomach. What did I know about cancer, treatment, survival, support? Nothing. No one close to me had ever been diagnosed with breast cancer. What did this mean for our family?

We were leaving the next morning to meet family and friends in Charleston, SC for the 4th of July. Should I say anything? What should I say? I waited. I was so uninformed. I wanted to be strong and stay positive, but could only do that with a clear path forward. My decision was to share if I needed to, but to have a plan before I said too much, too soon.

Ultimately, two tumors were identified in my left breast. After two surgeries, six chemotherapy treatments and 36 radiation treatments, I am cancer-free, six years and counting. My story is not unique, but it is a testament to early detection and the benefits of technological advancements and amazing doctors and nurses. By catching my cancer early, I drastically improved my chance to win the fight.

One in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime. As a survivor, sharing my story and the stories of others is so important to engaging people in this fight. If your life has not been touched by breast cancer — either your own diagnosis, a family member, friend, or neighbor’s — be thankful, but do not be complacent. Know your body, schedule mammograms, act when something does not feel right, and do not be afraid of the unknown. For people younger than 40, while you do not yet get mammograms, perform self-exams. The worst action is inaction.

We can defeat breast cancer, but we need your help to make this happen. Prisma Health Midlands Foundation has been fighting the fight for 29 years. With the help of sponsors, participants and volunteers, they have raised more than $10 million to fund the latest advancements in mammography and breast ultrasound technology for Prisma Health Breast Center locations in the Midlands and in the mobile mammography unit.

I am honored to chair the 2019 Walk for Life and Famously Hot Pink Half Marathon, 5K + 10K committee. My commitment to the cause is unwavering and part of my being. My hope is that each of you reading this will find a way to be part of the story. We need voices in the community, volunteers for events, sponsors, donors and participants.

Engage because it matters. Engage because cancer affects too many people. Engage because this is a fight we can win.

29th Walk for Life and Famously Hot Pink Half Marathon, 5K + 10K
Saturday, Oct. 12, 2019
Segra Park, Columbia
Register at WalkForLifeColumbia.org





News coming out of Fort Jackson at the end of 2018 centered not on graduate numbers or military budgeting, but on a bird measuring about 8 inches and weighing less than 2 ounces. The red-cockaded woodpecker has experienced drastically shrinking numbers since Europeans first set foot in the New World. Roughly 5,600 family groups exist currently, compared to millions a few hundred years ago, reports Doug Morrow, chief of the Directorate of Public Works’ Wildlife Branch.

The red-cockaded woodpecker’s dwindling population is primarily due to the fact that the longleaf pine ecosystem has been reduced by 97 percent, reports Nicole Hawkins, wildlife biologist at Fort Jackson. The reduction in habitat resulted in an equal reduction in the red-cockaded woodpecker across the Southeast.

The tweetable good news as 2018 ended was that “we’ve increased the population significantly,” shares Doug. Specifically, rising numbers of the officially “endangered” birds, protected as a result of the 1973 Endangered Species Act, are due to conservation efforts on Fort Jackson.

In recent years, the 52,000-acre U.S. Army Training Center has worked to restore the red-cockaded woodpecker’s primary habitat. In fact, since 1994 close to 7,000 acres of longleaf pine have been restored through conservation efforts. In addition, existing habitat across 40,000 acres has been managed to restore this ecosystem through thinning timber, prescribed burning, and planting of native warm season grasses.

Explains Nicole, underbrush is also kept low to improve the bird’s habitat. Plus, artificial cavities serve as nesting homes for red-cockaded woodpeckers.

These birds are unique among North American woodpeckers because they excavate their cavities in living pine trees. This process has been shown to take seven to 11 years for the woodpeckers to create them naturally.  “By providing artificial cavities, we speed this process and provide them with the roosting and nesting cavities that are required,” says Nicole.

She adds that there are 41 potential breeding groups with just one breeding female and male and helper offspring from previous years.  These helpers do not breed but instead assist in the nesting process through incubation, brooding, and feeding of the young.  Also, at least 150 eggs were laid and more than 80 are known to have hatched. Of those, 72 were branded for tracking purposes.

This year’s statistics represent record highs for the birds, shares Nicole.

And, the broadleaf pine ecosystem is essential for other species, adds Doug. He maintains: “We are the stewards and want to get the species off the endangered species list.”


These red-cockaded woodpecker nestlings were banded around 7-10 days after hatching.  Biologists at Fort Jackson climbed the tree, pulled them out, brought  them to the ground, banded them, and then returned them to the cavity.






I will never forget my ecstasy when in sixth grade I was cast as Hermia in Heathwood Hall’s middle school adaptation of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. My close friend Beth McCarthy was cast as Helena, and an assortment of our other friends and classmates made up the rest of the cast. Seventh grader Larkin Bogan was cast as Nick Bottom, the enthusiastic weaver who famously has his head transformed into that of an ass by the mischievous fairy, Puck. Bottom then plays the star-crossed lover Pyramus in a play within the play performed toward the end of the last act.

Our opening performance had gone without a hitch (despite my mortification at having a line that forced me to say “breast” in public), and Larkin was on his knees in Act V, giving Bottom’s dramatic death monologue as Pyramus kills himself for love, when the audience was abruptly snatched out of ancient Greece. “Would Katie Jones please come to the ECLC?” bellowed the loudspeaker mounted on the auditorium wall. “Your mother is here to pick you up. Katie Jones, please come to the ECLC.”

Larkin did not miss a beat. He froze during the entire announcement, his eyes fixed upward on the dagger pointed ominously towards his chest in one hand, his other hand thrust out in romantic appeal to his tragic plight. He then continued his monologue as if nothing had happened and finished by collapsing on Thisbe’s bloodstained veil. I think everyone in the auditorium that night knew that a star was in the making.

It therefore comes as no surprise that Larkin is now a succesful actor on Broadway, currently cast for the role of Boq in Wicked. He is feature in this month’s “Made in Cola Town” on page 48, and I know you will enjoy learning more about his journey to success under stage lights.

Also this month, you may notice that we are continuing our series on South Carolina state symbols, which we started in the January/February issue with Oliver Hartner’s fascinating history on our state flag. Read about yellow jessamine on page 26, our beautiful and fragrant state flower, and stay tuned for more on South Carolina’s official symbols throughout this year – who knew that we had an official state snack?

We hope you enjoy these articles as well as the many others featuring unique aspects of Columbia that make us glad to call it home.





Non-Southerners may not understand the culinary obsession with grits. But for the true Southerner, grits are a staple – thanks, originally, to Native Americans. According to Culture Trip, the dish “was introduced to European explorers in 1584. During surveillance of the new lands in North Carolina, Sir Walter Raleigh and his men dined with the local Natives. One of the men, Arthur Barlowe, wrote about the ‘very white, faire, and well tasted’ boiled corn served by their hosts.”

Stone-ground corn, or hominy, is boiled and mixed with salt, butter, a little cream, and cheese, if desired, for savory palette partakers. Omit the cheese and salt and add a little sugar to satisfy a sweet tooth.

Anson Mills, established in Columbia to maintain true traditional grains, has its own recipe: Simple Buttered Antebellum Coarse Grits. The recipe is described on the Anson Mills website as “Big Daddy grits with big flavor and a mouth feel that really grabs your attention.” Read more about Anson Mills and their heirloom seed revival in the current Jan/Feb issue of CMM!

Coarse grits are different than the 5-minute variety available at most grocers. They take time to cook, at least an hour, but are home cooks and chefs’ choice when it comes to serving grits alone or as an accompaniment with shrimp, greens, eggs, and other dishes. Coarse grits also make the best grit cakes, maintains Anson Mills.

Culinary-minded Southerners will enjoy cooking up a pot of warm, steamy grits that taste like home.

Simple Buttered Antebellum Coarse Grits

6 ounces (1 cup) Anson Mills Antebellum Coarse White Grits or Antebellum Coarse Yellow Grits

Spring or filtered water

Fine sea salt

2 to 3 tablespoons unsalted butter

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Place the grits in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan (preferably a Windsor saucepan) and cover them with 2 1/2 cups water. Stir once. Allow the grits to settle a full minute, tilt the pan, and skim off and discard the chaff and hulls with a fine tea strainer. Cover and let the grits soak overnight at room temperature. If you are not soaking the grits, proceed directly to the next step.

Set the saucepan over medium heat and bring the mixture to a simmer, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until the first starch takes hold, 5 to 8 minutes. Reduce the heat to the lowest possible setting and cover the pan. Meanwhile, heat 2 cups of water in a small saucepan and keep hot. Every 10 minutes or so, uncover the grits and stir them; each time you find them thick enough to hold the spoon upright, stir in a small amount of the hot water, adding about 1 1/2 cups water or more in four or five additions. Cook until the grits are creamy and tender throughout, but not mushy, and hold their shape on a spoon, about 50 minutes if the grits were soaked or about 90 minutes if they were not. Add 1 teaspoon of salt halfway through the cooking time. To finish, stir in the butter with vigorous strokes. Add more salt, if desired, and the pepper.






The start of the New Year provides a wonderful time for “out with the old, and in with the new.” We at CMM are excited to launch our new website after many months of planning, designing, and programming with the amazing team at Columbia’s own Mad Monkey. I can’t wait for you to see it! Visit ColumbiaMetro.com and enjoy all content from the past decade at no charge for a limited time.

Similarly, the New Year offers a moment of reflection on where we have been and where we are going. In Columbia, we should certainly be proud of our many inspiring individuals as well as impressive businesses. Renowned photographer Constantine Manos is one Columbia treasure featured this month. After growing up in Columbia and studying photography at USC, “Costa” went on to capture many images that are now in museums around the globe as well as to cover historic events, such as Martin Luther King’s funeral and President Richard Nixon’s inauguration. You will enjoy learning more of his story and perusing  a select gallery of his work on page 100.

For this issue, publisher Henry Clay sat down with USC President Harris Pastides for a discussion about his time as a Gamecock and where he sees the university heading in the future. Read this Q&A on page 134. President Pastides has been such an incredible asset to our city over the past 10 years in leading USC to new heights, including achieving and maintaining the Honors College’s No. 1 ranking in the country. He will be greatly missed after his retirement in June.

Incorporating more dark, leafy greens is an excellent way to meet the frequent January goal of a healthier diet. If Jim Kibler’s recipe for Hoppin’ John from our December issue whetted your appetite for greens over New Year’s, we have much more in store for you! Read Helen Dennis’ article on page 126 for fresh recipes on collards, radish greens, and especially kale, which is packed with antioxidants, calcium, vitamin K, fiber, and folate.

Nothing pairs better with greens than a tasty grain, like Carolina Gold Rice. Anson Mills, probably Columbia’s best kept secret, is reviving Southern heirloom seeds. Its artisanal grains include corn, rice, wheat, and rye, just to name a few. Milled locally, the grains are then shipped to top chefs around the world. Read about Glen Roberts’ vision that has come to such successful fruition on page 108.

For the past 28 years, we have been celebrating the finest in our great city through the Best of Columbia contest. The Midlands is lucky to have so many inspiring local enterprises offering the ultimate in business to consumers in our area. We are proud to announce the much-anticipated list of this year’s winners on page 34.

Happy New Year to all who are fortunate enough to live in our fabulous community!


traffic-2906245_960_720.jpgSTAY SAFE!

With the holidays and winter months just around the corner, many families will be packing up their little ones along with bundles of food and presents for journeys to visit relatives.

Don McRae, a former law enforcement officer and owner of a local driver education school, 911 Driving School, provided these tips for Columbia residents to keep in mind for winter:

  • Check your tire pressure: When the weather changes, causing dips in the temperature or unexpected snow, so does the pressure in your car’s tires. This can create potentially hazardous driving conditions when the roads already may be icy or slick. Keep a portable tire pressure gauge in your car and check your tires before every winter drive.
  • Pack a winter survival car kit: You never know when bad weather can hit and leave you stranded in your car. Some common items to keep in your car include non-perishable food items, kitty litter or sand for traction when stuck, emergency blankets, first-aid kits, flashlights, water bottles, phone chargers, and snow shovels.
  • Keep the gas tank half-full: Make sure that your gas tank is at least half-full at all times during the winter season. In the event your car gets stuck or stranded, keeping your gas tank as far from empty as possible will ensure you have a source of heat in emergency situations.
  • Tell someone your driving plans: In the event you have to venture out during a storm or hazardous driving conditions, be sure to let a relative, friend, or coworker know your destination and your expected arrival time.


Beaufort worth the trip to view “A Nativity Celebration”

By Deena C. Bouknight/Photography by Sissy Perryman

unnamed (4)For the last eight years, First Presbyterian Church of Beaufort – a two-hour drive from Columbia – has hosted A Nativity Celebration, featuring 100-plus unique and artistic natvity scenes hand-made in various spots around the world. Perusing the creches during the three-day event, from December 7-9, is like taking a visual global tour. Each is distinct and many convey aspects of a country’s culture.

The nativities are shared by local residents and church members as well as provided on loan from others outside the community. Each stands alone as an aesthetic vignette narrative of the birth of Christ. Styles range from whimiscal snow globes to eleborate porcelain sets. Some natvities make repeat appearances each year, while others are new. Some are so small they fit in a matchbox, while others sprawl across an entire table. Most are traditional table displays; a few hang.

They might be constructed of bent nails, recycled metals, or even local oyster shells.

There are German Hummel figurines as well as sets from Vietnam, Phillipines, Cameroon, and many other countries.

“It is amazing to see how the Christmas story is depicted by artists from all over the world,” says Donna Sheetz, FPC’s volunteer nativity coordinator. “Whether they are made from banana leaves or oyster shells, wood or fine porcelain – each nativity tells a story unique to the artist’s culture.”

Nativity photos by Sissy Perryman-Beaufort

The three-day event draws school children, assisted living and nursing home residents, tourists, locals, and more.

The goal, explains Donna, is to show the true meaning of Christmas through the eyes of the world. A Nativity Celebration is located in First Presbyterian Church of Beautfort, 1201 North Street, and is a “gift” to the public – free of charge.





None of us are born wanting to share. Allowing a sibling to play with a favorite toy for a few minutes can be a bitter test for even the sweetest child. And a generous spirit doesn’t always come easily as adults either, especially when considering treasures like time, resources, or special holiday traditions that are limited and valuable. On the flip side, when children are exposed to people lacking basic needs, these young hearts often exhibit a tenderness that can grow numb with age and the practicality that dominates everyday adult life. Yet, families who model community-minded, selfless giving can set the clock for a child to exhibit a philanthropic lifestyle for decades.

In our home growing up, we were exposed to sacrificial giving as a way of life primarily through riding around with John Fling in his iconic blue pickup truck. My mother wanted us to see what a true heart for caring for the community looked like, and so she arranged for my sister, Mary, and me to ride around with him on his rounds of giving to the poor, to go to his dinners for the blind, and to help with his big Kmart annual Christmas shopping spree. Mary and I were astounded to see how much want for basic necessities existed in our own city, and even more so by going to the Flings’ home and realizing that he was hardly better off than those to whom he gave everything. Mr. Fling also taught me the joy and fun of outreach.

Another person who modeled thoughtful giving during my youth was a boy named Zach. My then 11-year-old sister, Helen, was in the hospital fighting stage 4 cancer when she received a shoebox full of age and gender appropriate treats from Zach. A letter explained that he had once been sick in the hospital but now was healthy again and living a normal life. This simple gift encouraged Helen in her fight to live, and once she too was healthy again, she decided to pay it forward and started a charity called “Helen’s Hugs” through the Central Carolina Community Foundation to take teddy bears to children in the hospital. This domino effect of charity shows the exponential ways that a gift can grow. Zach’s one shoebox more than 12 years ago has multiplied into thousands of Build-A-Bears received by other sick children.

So many approaches, basic and creative, encourage giving and a spirit of community in young children, and to say that the stories shared in From Here to Philanthropy on page 36 are inspiring is an understatement. From forgoing birthday gifts in order to raise money for families in need, to spending Christmas morning giving to the homeless in Finlay Park before opening presents at home, these families are doing their part to cultivate a spirit of philanthropy in the next generation.

Merry Christmas!



By Deena C. Bouknight

Egyptian art in Columbia? Those who have lived or worked in the Mill District of Columbia, where cotton mills Olympia, Whaley, and Granby once thrived, are familiar with the large depiction of Ra, the Egyptian sun god, painted on the remains of an old railroad trestle. While some park-goers may have – at first glance – wondered how an Egyptian artifact found a home in Columbia, closer inspection revealed the fading remains of a 20th century painting.Sp9M6C2Q Until recently.

After construction workers demolished an old railroad trestle in the Olympia neighborhood in 1989, a large portion refused to crumble. South Carolina artist and muralist, Richard Lane, decided the weathered sandstone pillar appeared ancient, so he envisioned and then painted an Egyptian scene complete with various symbols and hieroglyphs in 1993. The piece became known locally as the Ra Obelisk.

In 2004, the structure actually became the centerpiece of what is considered a “pocket park” at 904 Heyward Street; benches were added as well as a sidewalk leading to the painting.

In late October, two artists – Jeff Donovan and Georgia Lake – matched colors and repainted the mural, strivingqgLJ-Uq8.jpeg to maintain the original work by Richard Lane. One Columbia Executive Director Lee Snelgrove believes the spruced up painting, which will be a key location on the forthcoming Mill District public art trail (developed by the 701 Center for Contemporary Art), revitalizes the area’s energy. “The Mill District has a history as a place for workers and artists,” she says, “and it continues to be a community of passionate people. Public art physically demonstrates a place of pride, and One Columbia is privileged to be a part of preserving the unique creative spirit of the Mill District.”