MVD Spring 2019 Newsletter: Ambassador Spotlight

In 1988, at 37 years old, Thomas Gammill only had six months to live.

“I was stunned,” says Gammill, a father and driving school owner. “I wasn’t ready for that.”

Gammill wanted a second opinion and moved from San Diego to Prescott, Ariz., where he still lives. Nonetheless, he ultimately needed a heart transplant, and his rare B positive blood type would make it challenging to match with a donor.

For 47 months after the bad news, Gammill grew more ill. His church in Prescott had a prayer chain keeping him going. On April 24, 1992, those prayers were finally answered. Gammill received a call there was a heart available.  A 21-year-old donor saved Gammill’s life.

Gammill was out of the hospital in a week, ready to support the Phoenix Suns in the playoffs as a season ticket holder.

The man who saved Gammill’s life registered at a California Department of Motor Vehicles location when he got his license. For this reason, Gammill’s holds the ambassador program is close to heart.

He is the main point of contact for the Arizona Department of Transportation Motor Vehicle Division (ADOT MVD) office in Prescott. He delivers newsletters, supplies Donate Life promotional items, and talks about donation with ADOT MVD team members for “as long as [the program has] been around.”

“The [MVD] employees are the backbone of the ambassador program,” Gammill says. “If I keep donation awareness at the front of their minds, I feel like I’m making a difference.”

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From the Heart: Celebrating National Donor Day

Not all heroes wear capes, but Jared Joseph “Bear” Griffith is proof that all of us have the power to save and heal lives through donation.

In the fall of 2017, at just 10 years old, Bear gave the gift of life when his asthma turned fatal. Although he was too young to have registered himself as a donor, a past conversation made it an easy decision for his parents, Corrina and Jared Paul.

“He somehow cared more about everyone else than himself,” says Jared.

A Superhero Gives Back

A poster of Superhero Guidelines hung above Bear’s bed, and he really took them to heart. For example, Bear learned Spanish to help out a classmate who hadn’t learned English yet. His new skills allowed him to help her when she needed.

In his short life, Bear learned giving back was important. He helped others in unique ways, always sharing his generosity with others. Bear was encouraged by his parents, former members of law enforcement.

Through their loss, Bear’s family was inspired when he saved two people with his kidneys and liver, and restored vision for a third person with a double cornea transplant. Doctors recovered Bear’s heart valves for future transplant – which go to pediatric patients roughly 75 percent of the time.

His Legacy Lives On

There were 132 heart valves transplanted in 2018, with three out of four heart valve transplantations saving pediatric patients.

“Bear had an aura, a charisma, a quiet yet powerful confidence about him that attracted young and old alike,” his dad says. “Bear always said and did what he felt was right, and we have learned he affected many more people in amazing ways than we had already known.”

Observed every year on February 14, National Donor Day is dedicated to spreading education about organ, eye and tissue donation, as well as recognizing those who have given the gift of life, just like Bear. It is a day to recognize those who received the gift of life through donation, those who are currently waiting for a lifesaving transplant, and those who died waiting because an organ was not donated in time.

A Father and a Fighter: Lifesaver gets a new chance at life

As a Phoenix firefighter, Dave Wipprecht firmly believes in miracles. In 2014, that faith was tested when Wipprecht began having difficulty breathing. Although he was diagnosed with pneumonia, his breathing problems persisted so he checked into Banner Thunderbird Medical Center.

An echocardiogram revealed that his heart was four times its normal size. Wipprecht was given heart medication, but shortly afterward his leg began to hurt. Doctors found blood clots throughout his body, due to his heart only functioning at 10 percent.

Rushed into emergency surgery and then transferred to Mayo Clinic Hospital, Wipprecht was placed at the top of the waiting list for a new heart.

Journey of Faith

Throughout his three-and-a-half month stay at Mayo Clinic Hospital, hooked up to IVs and taking medication daily, Wipprecht maintained an optimistic attitude for his wife and three young sons.

In June 2015, his doctor told Wipprecht that they had exhausted all their options and predicted he only had nine days to live. Still, Wipprecht’s positivity never wavered. He continued to show strength and bravery, even amidst adversity, as any proud father would.

“I knew I’d get through this, knowing that I had to stay alive for my family,” Wipprecht says.

His faith was rewarded when, six days later, he received news that a new heart was available. Wipprecht says that he woke up smiling after the successful surgery.

“I could breathe normally,” Wipprecht says. “I felt new again.”

The Gift of New Life

Back at home just nine days later, Wipprecht took care of his new heart. After celebrating his two-year transplant anniversary, Wipprecht wrote a letter to his donor’s family and hopes to meet them someday.

Even before his transplant experience, Wipprecht had always been a registered donor. Now donation has even more meaning. At the fire department, he and his fellow firefighters always did everything they could to save someone’s life. On the sad occasion when that person might not make it, their efforts could still help save someone else’s life through donation. Wipprecht proudly displays a Donate Life license plate and shares his story with others.

“I would encourage others to stay positive and tell them there’s a reason for everything,” says Wipprecht. “And if it’s my time to go, then it’s my time to help others.”

Thanks to the generosity of others, Wipprecht can continue to be a father and a fighter, and for that he is forever grateful.

View this article at  dnaz.org

Boyle Sings at Carnegie Hall in New York City

Local singer and choral director Camille Boyle recently sang at Carnegie Hall in New York City with her choir group from Phoenix, the Carolyn Eynon Singers. She is an active community member with an incredible talent, who loves Wickenburg and enjoys raising a family in a small town.

 

Boyle graduated from the University of Utah with a masters degree in music, with a vocal performance emphasis. She moved to Atlantic City, N.J., with her husband, Steve Boyle, before they decided to move out west to be closer to family. Her husband had a job opportunity in town and they enjoyed Arizona, so Wickenburg became home. In 2005, they moved to town. She loves raising a family here, and appreciates the close knit community.

“It’s great raising a family in Wickenburg, where you go to the soccer fields and see your kids’ friends and a lot of the community,” said Boyle. “The small town feel is great.”

 

Along with raising a family, Boyle is also actively involved in the arts in town. She is the Director of Wickenburg Community Chorus, as well as choir director at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. During the school year, she can be found teaching music lessons at Hassayampa Elementary School and during the summer, she works at Camp Imagination as the vocal coach. Some of her favorite concerts have been with the Friends of Music and local Christmas choirs. She is happy to give back to the community with her talent.

 

“Coming here to a small town and being seen as an asset to the community,” said Boyle. “I really enjoy that a lot.”

 

Her love for singing began at a young age, when she took piano lessons. At the age of 13, she started taking professional voice lessons at a prestigious studio in Tennessee. Since then, she has sung as a professional soloist and been a member of various choral groups, the most recent being the CE Singers, an adult choral ensemble from Scottsdale. After a few years away from singing, she auditioned and became a member of the choir. Her talent has given her many opportunities, even beyond directing and teaching in Wickenburg.

 

“It’s been wonderful to get back in after so many years,” said Boyle.

 

The CE Singers wanted to celebrate their 10th anniversary, so they traveled to New York to perform with other choirs throughout the country at the prestigious Carnegie Hall. The group began the weekend trip by singing at the 9/11 memorial, which was a very somber experience. Boyle loved being immersed in the arts for a weekend and singing in a beautiful and famous venue, she said.

 

“The icing on the cake was the trip to Carnegie, because it has it all. You’re engulfed in New York City with theatre and music any time of the day. There’s never a dull moment,” Boyle said.

View this article at wickenburgsun.com.

Short hair or long hair – Which suites you better?

The struggle is real when it comes to hair. To cut it or not to cut it? I had long hair all throughout high school. If I’m being truthful, I barely even got it trimmed. Since I was active in sports and cheer, it made it easy for me to throw up in a ponytail and keep it out of my face. But then short hair started coming back in style and I saw all these girls with cute, short, curled hair and I wanted to switch it up. So before my second semester of freshman year of college, I chopped it all off and donated it to Locks of Love.

I had been curious about cutting my hair because I wasn’t sure if I would be able to pull it off, but I was getting tired of it getting in the way and I really wanted to donate it. At first, I didn’t know how I felt about it… it felt so much lighter and looked so fresh. I kept the short hair all second semester and cut it again before summer. But I never did anything with it! It just was just there; like a little mop on top of my head. Not cute. I never had the time to curl it and style it like I had seen on Pinterest and so desperately wanted to try.

I know I’m not the only one who has gone through a similar experience and still hasn’t found their go-to ‘do. So I’m here to help and give you the pros and cons of both short and long hair, to hopefully help you and myself finally make the right decision!

Long

PROS:
– Easier to put up in a ponytail
– Doesn’t require styling every day
– More variety when it comes to styling (hello, Elsa-inspired up-do’s!)
– Can be chopped off at any time (And donated!)

CONS:
– Takes longer to wash and style
– Heavier and hotter
– Gets in the way
– Ponytail headaches
– Drain clogging

Short

PROS:
– Less styling and wash time
– Lightweight
– Will look fresher
– Low maintenance

CONS:
– Less styling options
– Takes a long time to grow back
– Has to be cut more often
– Shows grease faster

Ultimately, your hairstyle should coincide with your lifestyle and beauty habits. If you
love waking up an hour early before class to do your hair, then long luscious locks just might be your thing. But if you’re active and always on the go, short hair might suit you better. Just remember that no matter what you choose, you can always go back. Also, you never know unless you try, so a new hairstyle just might be a great way to ring in a new season.

article for The Chic Daily

*photos courtesy Jaslyn Ravenscraft

Meet YouTube Star Keaton Milburn

With her unique, bold style, perfectly white smile, and genuine personality, a 20-year-old college student is captivating the hearts of makeup and fashion lovers alike with her lifestyle YouTube channel.

Keaton Milburn is a sophomore at Arizona State University, majoring in sports journalism. When she isn’t studying with her Alpha Phi sorority sisters in Hayden Library, she is creating and editing videos for her YouTube channel. She started her YouTube channel at the age of 13, because her passion for all things lifestyle inspired her to start making videos and sharing them with the world.

“I decided to start a YouTube channel because I really loved fashion and makeup,” said Milburn. “I thought it would be fun to share that passion on social media.”

Although her idea started with her love for fashion and makeup, her channel also features travel videos, where she documents her trips and gives her audience a sneak peek into the places she visits.

“I focus mainly on lifestyle stuff like outfits and tutorials on makeup,” said Milburn. “But I love traveling and sharing my trips on YouTube about all the fun places I go.”

Creating the videos and brainstorming content can be a challenge, especially as a college student. Milburn’s mother, Shawna Collins, Director of Constituent Relations at Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas, acts as her ‘momager’, alongside a professional manager, who works on negotiating contracts and sponsorships with brands. Together, the three of them create a perfect team.

“I work mostly on the analysis of her social media platforms so Keaton can focus on just producing high quality content,” said Collins.

Alongside the analytics, Collins responds to emails sent to Milburn. Although the work can be time consuming, she enjoys being a part of the process. Milburn appreciates her help, and credits her as her biggest support and source of motivation.

“My biggest motivator is my mom,” said Milburn. “She always supports what I want to do and helps to push me to do better.”

Despite all the hard work both on and off camera, there is negativity from the audience, which is unavoidable with a fan base of 387,760 subscribers. Milburn doesn’t allow the negative comments to affect her and says that, “it’s better to just keep being positive!”

As her mother, one of Collins biggest concerns with Milburn’s YouTube channel is negativity and how it could affect Milburn personally. But she has continually risen above the ‘haters’ and continues to do what she loves, no matter what others say or what obstacles come in her way.

Keaton has grown into such a confident person. She truly isn’t affected much by haters,” said Collins. “She doesn’t usually seek approval from others for her validation, so that makes it easier to deal with the negative side.”

Her positive fan base and close friends also help Milburn move beyond any negativity she may face. Kelsey McEwen is a sophomore at Arizona State University, studying sports journalism, and is a member of the same sorority as Milburn, Alpha Phi. The two became friends at the beginning of their freshman year, after realizing how much they have in common. McEwen watches all of Milburn’s videos, and doesn’t let her fame get in the way of their friendship.

“I’ve never really watched YouTube so I didn’t realize how famous she is until we became close,” said McEwen. “But this has never affected my friendship with Keaton, if anything in a positive way it has. She asks me to help out sometimes by helping her film or taking a picture of her wearing something that was sent to her by a company.”

Milburn not only captures the eye and heart of people around the world, but those closest to her appreciate her for more than just a beauty guru.

“My favorite quality of Keaton would be that she’s so loyal,” said McEwen. “She is always making me laugh and brightens my day.”

Milburn has also accomplished a lot since the early days of her channel, when negativity and self-doubt clouded her future as a YouTuber. She recently reached 100,000 followers on her Instagram account and was featured in “Seventeen” magazine for the popular makeup brand, Maybelline. But Milburn doesn’t let her accomplishments get in the way of who she is and what she believes in.

“My proudest moments of Keaton have been when she’s not in the spotlight,” said her mother. “Keaton has overcome setbacks with such grace. Even when she fails at something, she never gives up. I am most proud of her when I see her using the platform God gave her to do good.”

View the article at  The Chic Daily

*photo courtesy of Keaton Milburn

US 93 “Suicide Highway”

As the sun sets behind the mountains on November 2, the sound of sirens roared down the US 93 toward yet another fatal head-on collision just outside of Wickenburg.

Debi Smith, 66, a Wickenburg resident, stepped out onto the porch of her house, located on the west side of US 93, after hearing several sirens blaring on the highway.

“For at least an hour I probably heard an ambulance every 15 minutes,” said Smith. “I pray every time I hear those sirens for the people.”

On scene, first responders extricated two minors, about ages 6 and 8, from a Ford SUV, while several others involved in the accident were flown by helicopter to trauma centers around the Valley, according to the Department of Public Safety. The accident was 20 miles outside of the Wickenburg town limits and involved three vehicles. It occurred when a Nissan hatchback, traveling northbound on the 93, attempted to pass a semi truck in a no-passing zone and struck a Ford SUV head-on, then collided with a Hyundai sedan, according to DPS. The driver of the SUV, Rohn R. Robinson, 62, of Mesa, was pronounced deceased on the scene. The driver of the semi truck was not involved in the crash, but did stop to assist the victims. Charges are pending upon release of the driver who allegedly caused the crash, according to DPS.

“It was nine medevacs total. I was one of the first there,” said Colt Egbert, a Wickenburg resident and former dozer operator at Motley Motley Paving. “It was horrible.”

The US 93 is a two lane highway and is one of the main highways that connects Phoenix to Las Vegas. It is heavily traveled at all times of the year with bikers, truck drivers, families on vacation, and people heading to Vegas. During this time of year, the Professional Bulling Riding finals are occurring in Las Vegas, so it is more heavily traveled with trucks and trailers. It is deadly at all times, but with the holidays and PBR in full swing, it is more dangerous than ever.

Wickenburg residents have questioned why the highway is not widened to four lanes, as the two lane highway makes it tricky to pass and drive safely.

“One thing that would help make the 93 a safer road is a larger road because that road gets really thin, especially in places like Congress,” said Tristan Wood, a Wickenburg resident. “They also need to do something about the speed limit because people go so fast on that road or they try to pass and almost get hit.”

According to the Arizona Department of Transportation, “ADOT’s long-term vision is making US 93 a four-lane divided highway through its entire 200-mile stretch to move people, goods and services more efficiently. Toward that goal, ADOT has dedicated nearly half a billion dollars in recent years to widening and improving US 93 from Wickenburg to the Hoover Dam.” ADOT has completed projects in the past that included a four-lane divided highway, but also placed roundabouts and a new bridge at the intersections of US 93 and US 60, in downtown Wickenburg. Although those improvements have lessened the amount of traffic driving through town, there is still an ongoing issue with the two-lane highway beyond downtown.

 “In that section of US 93 it is, as you know, a two lane highway,” said Bart Graves, Media Specialist for the Arizona Department of Public Safety. “A great number of crashes are caused by drivers unsafely trying to pass a slower moving vehicle in front of them by not giving themselves enough distance to do so. Other crashes are caused by fatigued or distracted drivers.”

Roadtrippers and truckers aren’t the only ones impacted by the narrow roads of the US 93. It has grown over the years and is more heavily traveled by Wickenburg residents as they begin to build more communities on the east side of the highway. Residents avoid that road at all costs, and pray that they or their loved ones are never the ones involved in another accident.

When we moved here it used to be this little road to Vegas,” said Smith. “I don’t like it because its suicide highway now.”

*graphic by Jaslyn Ravenscraft