#Wearables4Good: Ken Fisher says #MoreThanThankYou at Invictus Games 2016

When noticing a uniformed servicewoman and or serviceman in public, what do you do? Give a quick smile or nod? Shake their hand and say “Thank you for your service?” Take care of their bill in a restaurant, gas station or in line at the grocery store? Immediately go home and donate to a veteran or military site? Most of us civilian types do all of the above. The truth is most military personnel and their families, wounded (visible or invisible), transitioning to civilian life, or veterans need more than a thank you.

Pittsburgh Pirate's Opening Day 2016

Photo Credit: Army Staff Sgt. Dalton Smith via US Department of Defense

Military.com points out that our military here in the United States is comprised of five armed service branches; Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Marine Corps, and Navy. Generally, there are three categories of military personnel; active duty (full time soldiers and sailors), reserve and guard forces (usually work a civilian job, but can be called to full-time military duty), and veterans and retirees (past members of the military).

Then there are the military families; the husbands, wives, moms, dads, brothers, sisters, children, grandchildren, uncles, aunts and grandparents. In fact, many military families have more than one family member enlisted in some form of military service. Of the great sacrifices made by our servicewomen and men, the families give a lot too. Not only by lending their family member(s) to our government to defend the United States and fight for the freedom(s) of others, but adjusting to life that can change on a dime at any time, and to any degree.

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Photo Credit: US Navy Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Pasquale Sena via US Department of Defense

“The United States operates in over 100 countries, including the United Kingdom, Germany, Italy, Bahrain, Brazil, South Korea, Australia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Japan and many more.” – Military.com

While many of us in the United States do what we can to show appreciation, respect, and reverence to our servicewomen and men, one man does enough for an entire country. Meet Ken Fisher, CEO of Fisher House Foundation and Co-CEO of this year’s Invictus Games 2016 at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando, Florida.

Ken Fisher Invictus Games

Ken Fisher, CEO of Fisher House Foundation at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex near Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, FL.

Fisher House LogoSince 1990, The Fisher House Foundation, Inc. has served more than 277,000 families and provided over 6 million days of lodging, saving them more than $200 million in lodging and transportation costs. In 1993, Fisher House was established as the national not-for-profit organization to assist in the coordination of private support and encourage public support for the Fisher House program. Ken Fisher joined this longtime family organization as Vice Chairman in 2000, and was named Chairman, President, and Chief Executive Office in 2003.

Fisher House offers a home away from home for families of wounded, injured or ill servicemen and women for no charge as long as the hospital stay dictates. Families can stay in a house as long as they need to. The best part about the Fisher House program is the support system that forms in the house. The financial burden is removed but now they have psychological support. They can lean on each other. They share the joy of the good days. They share the sorrow of the bad because, not every story has a happy ending but in the end, they’re all together,” shares Mr. Fisher.

“The military family, the entire unit serves, not just the person in uniform. so when a person is deployed, the family has hardship and has burdens that they really can’t quantify. When they get wounded, their world doesn’t stop. Bills have to be paid, mortgages, children have to be raised, and that’s where Fisher House comes in.” – Ken Fisher

Watch our exclusive interview with Ken Fisher here:

“It’s a home in every since of the word,” shares Mr. Fisher. “When you walk into the house, it’s a house when you walk in. The houses are designed to encourage interaction. When you stay in a hotel and you close the door behind you, that aside from tv or the Internet, ends your exposure to the outside world.” 

He continues, “If you don’t want to be alone, you can go downstairs to one of the common areas; the kitchen, the formal dining room, the sitting room, and you can talk to each other and share your experiences. That’s the brick and mortar of what makes these houses homes. We’re proud of that.” [Take a Virtual Tour here: https://youtu.be/LwXUfDY7hhs]

In Florida, we are very fortunate to have five Fisher House locations for Servicemembers and their families to visit when needed. “Five, with a sixth one coming,” says Fisher. “There’s (a Fisher House) in Tampa now because there is a Level One Polytrauma Center. We’re going to build a second one in Tampa because of the load that it carries. Tampa is one of the finer hospitals in the country operated by the VA. We are more than proud to put a house there in the first place, and add a second because it’s needed.

The Tampa Polytrauma Rehabilitation Center is one of five facilities in the country designed to provide intensive rehabilitative care to Veterans and Servicemembers who have experienced severe injuries (including brain injuries) to more than one organ system.” – United States Department of Veterans Affairs

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Upon hearing of the Invictus Games presented by Jaguar Land Rover and led by England’s Prince Harry, Mr. Fisher knew Fisher House had to be part of this sporting event. “We were the only American sponsor in the Inaugural (Invictus) Games in 2014 in London. When the idea came to bring it to the United States we seemed like a logical candidate to do that since we had familiarity with the games,” he saysWe determined that the best place to have the games would be Orlando, and the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.

For those who don’t know, the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando, Florida is 255 acres of athletic spirit. Located in the Walt Disney World Resort, you’ll find world-class facilities with the ability of hosting more than 60 sports. “This really mimics an Olympic park, as close as it could be,” he says. “All of the athletes are staying together at Shades of Green, which was supplied by the Department of Defense. That serves as the ‘Olympic Village,’ if you will.”

I’m ashamed to admit, being (literally) a neighbor of Walt Disney World here in Orlando, I never knew about Shades of Green and how it serves our local and national military community. Upon researching this post, I was very happy to discover more information about it.

According to their website, Shades of Green opened in 1994 and is exclusive to servicemembers. This resort is a bonafide Armed Forces Recreation Center (AFRC), and is the only one in the Continental United States operated by the United States Army in support of all military branches offering tax-free accommodations! There are 583 rooms that can sleep up to five people each. This includes a Wounded Warrior suite and 23 rooms designed to meet Americans with Disabilities guidelines, all with complimentary WiFi. How wonderful!

As with the communal environment of Fisher House homes, “The families, almost 1,000 family and friends will also stay together at (Disney’s) Coronado Springs. It’s going to be a very enriching experience, not only for the athletes but for the families and friends. They’ll be able to share experiences, tell stories, tell each other how they got over certain issues. It’s just going to be a win-win for everybody,” Mr. Fisher continues.

Of the ten competitive sports at this year’s Invictus Games in Orlando including; archery, indoor rowing, powerlifting, road cycling, sitting volleyball, track and field, swimming, wheelchair basketball, wheelchair rugby, and wheelchair tennis, Mr. Fisher shares a secret. “I’m not supposed to tell you this but, my favorite sport is Wheelchair Rugby. They use specially fitted wheelchairs, and it very difficult to explain. It’s something that has to be seen. It is all out competition, they’re in it to win. They’re banging into each other, flipping each other over, and nobody looks back,” he says with a smile. 

“I’ve given my life to (Fisher House) for almost 20 years. While I’ve been around (service members) at their best and their worst, I still don’t fully understand,” he says. “I can tell you one thing. The resolve of these men and women, this unconquerable spirit, that we call Invictus, this is something that they are really proud of; that nothing is going to stop them.” – Ken Fisher

With his many years of service to our military, its personnel and families, one would assume Mr. Fisher a Veteran. Actually, he’s not – but he’s as close to one as they come. “I am a civilian. This is my way of serving; to honor the sacrifices that have been made on behalf of my family and other families of this nation. We can never forget about the burdens and the sacrifices that are made by one percent of the population,” says Mr. Fisher.

Of the 70 Fisher Houses located on 24 military installations and 27 VA medical centers, the Fisher House Foundation, and Mr. Fisher’s personal philanthropic efforts mustn’t be misunderstood. “This is not something that we consider to be charity,” states Mr. Fisher. “This is something we consider to be our duty as Americans. These men and women, as I’ve said before, make sacrifices that the average American has no concept of. When they’re wounded, the burdens just increase by a factor of a hundred. This nation needs to do a better job of honoring their sacrifices.

Mr. Fisher’s enthusiasm and passion for the Invictus Games and its athletes is evident, and what a great way to spread awareness! He says, “It’s the use of sports in the recovery process, to empower, to restore self-esteem, to give them their self-confidence back. If we can use these games to also highlight the unseen wounds formed, the psychological illnesses that these men and women bring back from war and the horrors of war – post traumatic stress and post traumatic brain injury – we shine the light on this issue.”

“If we can save one Veteran’s life, if we can get them off the couch and back into the game by watching what is possible, then the Invictus Games have more than accomplished what we set out to.” – Ken Fisher on Invictus Games Orlando

Tickets for this year’s Invictus Games Orlando Presented by Jaguar Land Rover are available now at www.invictusgames2016.org, and I highly encourage you to purchase tickets soon and stop by the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex on May 8-12, if you are local, or watch on ESPN 2 & 3 if you are not.

I’ve included a comprehensive guide to Invictus Games Orlando and the Invictus Games Symposium on Invisible Wounds (presented by the George W. Bush Institute) for those planning on attending in person, as well as those who will watch from home or on the web, on CentralFloridaTop5.com. You can read it here: http://centralfloridatop5.com/2016/05/04/top-5-things-to-know-about-invictus-games-2016-in-orlando/ [Full disclosure: I am the current Managing Editor of Central Florida Top 5 – and so proud of it!]

To close, Mr. Fisher offers a suggestion to all of us,”We’ve become very good at walking up to a serviceman or woman and saying ‘Thank you for your service,’ but that’s not enough anymore. We HAVE to do more. We have to do MORE, especially for the ones who that are still suffering from post-traumatic stress and brain injuries.

To contact Fisher House Foundation, click here.

To contact Invictus Games Foundation, click here.

Join in on the #InvictusGames2016 conversion on social media, and say #MoreThanThankYou yourself by sharing a photo and story on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook!

On Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/InvictusOrlando/ 

On Twitter: https://twitter.com/InvictusOrlando/

On Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/InvictusOrlando/

On Google+https://plus.google.com/+InvictusGames2016orgOrlando/

 

Google’s #GlassExplorers Program Concludes January 19th

I read the news today, oh boy…

Glass Explorers Go Forth
So… what does this mean? Is Google “abandoning” their Glass device? Is Google Glass “dead?”
No. Not at all. Better yet, Glass is on to the next phase! Thanks to our feedback and efforts in Exploring, Glass 2.0 is pressing forward to evolve into its next form. According to their most recent post on Google+, “Glass was in its infancy, and you took those very first steps and taught us how to walk. Well, we still have some work to do, but now we’re ready to put on our big kid shoes and learn how to run.

 

Sayeth the Glass Team, “Since we first met, interest in wearables has exploded and today it’s one of the most exciting areas in technology. Glass at Work has been growing and we’re seeing incredible developments with Glass in the workplace. As we look to the road ahead, we realize that we’ve outgrown the lab and so we’re officially “graduating” from Google[x] to be our own team here at Google. We’re thrilled to be moving even more from concept to reality. As part of this transition, we’re closing the Explorer Program so we can focus on what’s coming next. January 19 will be the last day to get the Glass Explorer Edition. In the meantime, we’re continuing to build for the future, and you’ll start to see future versions of Glass when they’re ready. (For now, no peeking.)

 

Can/will you still use Glass as you have the past two years?
Of course! Using my pair of Glass for good will continue for me until they cease to function. After exploring the streets of Florida and beyond, people are still very curious and excitedly fascinated by Google Glass. While at CES this year, I was very shocked to discover just how many of the 170,000 attendees (and vendors!) hadn’t either tried on Glass or even seen Glass ‘in the wild!’ So surprising! Just wait. I have a feeling V002 will be even bigger…
Explorer Program Ends
Matt Swider from TechRadar messaged some of the original Glass Explorers and asked two questions of us regarding present thoughts of the device and future expectations. The full article entitled “Google Glass 2: Here’s what actual Explorers want to see” is a great read. Below are my full answers to both questions;

 

1) What do you think is next for an improved Google Glass?

After seeing Sergey Brin on the floor at CES this year, literally anything is possible! I’ve read some things about a Glass contact lens but I’m not sure that’s the next step for Google… yet.

In my mind, an improved Google Glass device would include a modular prism suitable for the left AND right eye. Possibly a prism above both eyes to allow for a wider field of view.I’d also tweak the voice dictation a little more. The microphone is surprisingly great in most environments, even noisy ones, but there’s always room for improvement. For those times, I’d love to see a basic keyboard option in the MyGlass app – maybe even some sort of air keyboard.

A huge improvement for Glass would be the ability to fold them up. As the device is now, there’s no other way to store it other than putting Glass on your head, carrying around a large microfiber bag with little protection or a larger, reinforced case. This becomes a particular challenge when using the sunglasses accessory or the prescription lenses. Not only is the user trying to protect the integrity of the device but also the safety of the accessory.

In the same vein, weatherproofing Glass is also needed. Where I realize making the device waterproof may not be viable, weatherproofing it would be a welcome middle ground. I live in Florida where it’s mostly warm and quite humid year round. As part of the Glass Explorer program, I’ve had a grand total of six devices and all three of the XE series. Half of those replacements were due to software issues but the other half were hardware related, being mainly the foil on the side of Glass’s prism; either it bubbled or simply flaked off. Without the foil in place, seeing the projection display is very difficult, and in extreme cases, impossible.

2) Look back: What did Google Glass Explorer Edition help you do most?

Being a Google Glass Explorer helped me share a little of my world with the rest of the planet. I’m not a developer. I’m not a celebrity with a large platform. I’m one person, who lives in one town, in one country on planet Earth.What I think Glass helped me do the most was challenge people to think beyond the tech and examine how a device like this could help others in their community, family, social circles and more. Perhaps I inspired someone to get more involved locally through volunteerism or abroad via voluntourism? Maybe something I posted encouraged someone to just pay attention? Regardless of the hows, the whys and whats are the win.

When Google invited me to be a Glass Explorer (via Twitter of all things), I had no idea what to expect. Not being a developer, I was very excited and a little shocked to even be a consideration. And hats off to the Google Glass Guides and Glass Team! They never once made me feel insignificant or lesser because of this. With every phone call, every visit to a basecamp, every email; I have always felt like a valuable member of the original Glass Explorer team. Any time I had equipment issues, a replacement arrived on my doorstep virtually overnight. If this kind of high quality customer experience continues through to the next generation of Glass, any hiccups that may happen will certainly be eclipsed,

My goal with Glass from the beginning was a project I called #Glass4good, now #Wearables4good. Through Glass I would share what I normally do in and around my community (volunteering, working as part of Florida’s film and tv industry, covering events, etc) with the hope of inspiring others to do the same in their communities. Almost two years later I’m still regularly sharing (and hopefully) still inspiring others to get and stay involved, whether it’s #throughglass or otherwise.

TechSquad Credits

Our award-winning short film #TechSquad went international! Click this image to watch it!

 

#Glass4good is now #Wearables4good!

Greetings all! Jen here. I’ve got some news…

#RelaySocial

Alicia, Bun and Jen during the #RelaySocial Lap at Relay For Life of Hunter’s Creek 2013

Short answer: Is this the end of the cause? NO. Not at all. In fact, thanks to some great people out there… we’re GROWING!

Long (no, really, LONG) answer: For the past year I have been exploring the Central Florida community (and beyond!) through Google Glass, as one of the world’s first Glass Explorers. It’s been A BLAST. I have met many cool, curious people and taken tons of random reaction shots in that time. Some are GREAT, some are only slightly embarassing.

In a year and four months’  time I have never had a single ‘negative‘ experience with the device, like the ones the media likes to report. No Sarah Slocum ‘bar brawls,’ no Daily Show run-ins; although I was told to stow the device when visiting The Colbert Report in April.

The only even remotely ‘negative’ (if you can even call it that?) experience I’ve encountered was with another Explorer, a self-proclaimedsociopath.” Which further proves a theory I’ve had since day one of my involvement with Project Glass; Perception of Glass will have every bit to do with the personality of the device wearer over the device itself. True, “reasonable expectation of privacy” went out the window with the original iPhone, possibly even earlier. However, to be factually blunt, a jerk will always be a jerk.

I have had a few ‘indifferent‘ experiences, in that, some may have feared what they did not know, but they were inquisitive enough to find out more without casting a harsh stone in my direction. Taking the time to explain how the device worked, and going one step further to explain what actions (voice, touchpad and button commands) to look for when a device is ‘on’ surely quelled even the most suspicious party… and even got them a little more curious.

Unintentional #GlassSelfie?

Blogger tour of Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida (wearer: Ricky Ly of TastyChomps.com)

These impromptu demonstrations would happen no matter where I went and (other than being en route to the restroom) I was, and still am, happy to show people how Glass works. [And no, I do not work for Google. I wish I made a Google-size salary though.]

Because of my already active community status, these daily demonstrations quickly opened the door to guest speaking opportunities and group demonstrations via lunch and learns, conventions, staff meetings, public presentations, non-profit events and more. It’s been like a live and in-person Twitter stream at times! Hundreds, thousands of conversations overlapping and open.

I’ve been interviewed quite a bit about Glass; my thoughts about Glass, my experience with the device and so on. Our 48 Hour Film Project team even used the device in our city-winning short film last year, TechSquad! I’ve even been recognized for my efforts with #Glass4good via TechRepublic, Carpathia’s Tech Hero/Heroine program and was a finalist in this year’s Shorty Awards.

48 Hour Film Project Orlando 2013

My question was: Why do people even care about my experience with Glass? I’m not a developer or programmer. I produce television and short films. I’m a creative, not a coder! Answer? Perception of the wearer. Well, that’s the only answer I can quantify at this point anyway. I’m a nice person. (Or try to be most of the time.) Being a Glass Explorer opened doors, provoked conversation AND action in others and kept me going during some of the lowest parts of my life; unemployment, my mom’s second cancer diagnosis and more.

I must note the interesting social experiment I’ve unofficially conducted since getting the (prescription) Bold Frame accessory in May. When in public, I would get interesting looks wearing Glass as most people are used to seeing them in the media. Having an orange (ahem, ‘tangerine‘) device on my face got people curious for sure, and quickly replaced the archetypal name tag.

When I started wearing the frame accessory, this view did a surprising 180. People still recognized something, but it’s almost like the Google Glass became secondary. Most people I encountered didn’t realize Glass had an option for prescription wearers. While it was still a topic of conversation 7-8 times out of every 10 interactions, it seemed to come across as less intrusive… less creeper looking. Honestly, I totally feel like Clark Kent when I wear them now. Just add fedora! (Nevermind that Clark’s are a little closer to the Curve Frames.)

TechSquad at Otronicon (Orlando Science Center)

All told, my Glass Explorer experience has indeed been a FUN and socially educational one! So does this mean I’m hanging up my Google Glass? NOT at all. I’m not done covering events or using my #Glass4good causes. I still love my Glass and wear them often. I’m simply opening up the field to other devices (wearable and not) and applications! More good reporting and sharing… and we’re hoping more often.

This blog and journey would cease to exist without the 35 people who were so kind to me last April and helped make #Glass4good even possible. I owe it to them – not to mention the local and global community – to continue and grow.

To new friends, followers and readers, I thank you for following this blog. Our work here is NOT done. Stay tuned….

Fighting the flu with Centra Care #throughglass

[Big shout out to Central Florida Top Five for the head’s up!]

Getting sick when you don’t have insurance is just a pain. An all-around, expensive pain. In Central Florida you can get a flu shot pretty much anywhere; your doctor’s office, a walk-in clinic, CVS, Walgreens, Target. Depending on where you go, without insurance, a single shot can cost up to $40! We don’t have $40 just lying around so $40 is a lot of money. What if you’re unemployed and are trying to support a family? The total cost can skyrocket!

Here’s where our pals at Centra Care come in. For one, their flu shots are only $25. If you’re a senior and bring along your Primary Medicare card, there’s no out-of-pocket costs. If you can’t swing $25, there is still good news out there…

For the past 12 years, tens of thousands of flu shots have been donated to the community on a first come, first served basis. This year, thankfully, is no exception as Centra Care has teams up with Florida Hospital Urgent Care and Get Healthy Florida to do it all again.

Remaining Fast & Free Flu Shot Dates:

I went through and, according to Google Glass’s count, it took me 3 minutes and 20 seconds, from handing over my paperwork (name, zip code, sex, how/where you found out about the event email address) to getting my copy of said paperwork. So simple. Finding parking took longer! Pro tip: While Centra Care always schedules a bunch of people for the shot tent, these public events DO get busy. Make sure to plan your time accordingly… just in case.

Fast and Free Flu Shot Process (very strategic process)

  1. Fill out the simple form
  2. Go to the next available person (‘shot caller?’ HA!)  under the tent
  3. Have a seat
  4. Get stuck
  5. Once adhesive bandaged, say thank you!
  6. Go on with your day

Easy, right? It helps that I was there early I suppose but still, the process was figuratively and literally painless. Check out some embarrassingly (naked) arm shots below…

What does the flu shot DO?

Here’s the official word from the CDC: The upcoming season’s flu vaccine will protect against the influenza viruses that research indicates will be most common during the season. This includes an influenza A (H1N1) virus, an influenza A (H3N2) virus, and one or two influenza B viruses, depending on the flu vaccine. 

Who SHOULD get a flu shot?

Great question! Centra Care recommends everyone 6-months and older can get a free flu shot at any one of the scheduled Fast & Free Flu Shot clinics. Because last year’s flu season impacted younger adults in particular, Centra Care physicians want to remind Central Floridians that the single best protection against the flu is the flu shot, even for healthy children and adults. And since the flu virus changes every year (Movie idea! Flu Shot: Tokyo Drift?), you need a new vaccination each year.

Who SHOULD NOT get a flu shot?

According to the CDC’s recommendations, individuals in the ‘high risk‘ category for flu-related complications (or live/care for those at risk) are;

  • Pregnant women
  • Kids >5 years old, especially younger than 2 years
  • People who are 50+
  • Those with chronic conditions
  • Nursing or long-term care residents
  • Caregivers or household members including healthcare workers, out of home caregivers of children >6 months
  • (For more specific questions, please call the CDC directly at 1-800-409-3804)

Pro Tip #2: Centra Care sends out a weekly newsletter called “What’s Going Around?” It’s VERY helpful to learn what bugs are flying around and where. There are three newsletters; Central Florida, Tampa Bay and Volusia County. You have the option of picking one or all three newsletters. 

For more info about Centra Care’s Fast & Free Flu Shots, please call (407) 833-9201 or visit the Get Healthy Florida Facebook Page.

#Glass4good: Harbor House of Central Florida’s Purple Purse Campaign

For many of us it’s hard to believe a loved one, especially a spouse, could ever raise a hand to us or an eyebrow to others. But it happens. More often than one might think or even notice, and the numbers are staggering. 42.4 million women and 1 in 10 men have experienced rape, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner in their lifetime.

Many years ago, I ended up being stalked by a guy I dated at work. He was never emotionally or physically abusive to me, and was really sweet… until I tried to break it off with him. He wasn’t happy about it, and started displaying some peculiar – and eventually scary – behavior. And when I stopped answering his calls and avoiding him at work? He responded by showing up to my house in the middle of the night and largely carving his initials in two of my tires. I never reported this, mind you, to my employer or the authorities. Why? Because it never went beyond this scary action. Thankfully, I have never heard from him again. Other women, men and pets aren’t as lucky.

The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence defines domestic violence as the willful intimidation, physical assault, battery, sexual assault, and/or other abusive behavior perpetrated by one intimate partner against another. It includes physical violence, sexual violence, threats, and emotional abuse. The frequency and severity of domestic violence can vary dramatically.

Here in our Central Florida community, we are very fortunate to have Harbor House of Central Florida on our side. Harbor House’s mission is to provide safe shelter, a 24-hour crisis hotline, counseling, and emotional support, and legal advocacy for thousands of domestic violence survivors and their children each year. According to Michelle Palmer, Central Florida’s Chief Development Officer, they extend far beyond Central Florida in many cases. “What most people don’t realize is there’s a tremendous correlation between domestic abuse and economic abuse. One of the reasons women don’t leave often is financial abuse because they don’t know where the money is, nothing’s in their name, they don’t have the means to leave and they feel trapped.” You can help, and they even have an app to help YOU – R3 (Recognize, Response, Refer) App (iOS / Android).

Enter: The Allstate Foundation Purple Purse Challenge, a fundraising campaign for charities benefiting domestic violence Survivors. Michelle and our friends at Harbor House of Central Florida are very excited and rightfully so! “The Allstate Foundation is sponsoring! We were actually privileged to be chosen as part of a small group of organizations nationally to talk about economic empowerment and what that means,” said Michelle during last week’s kick-off event at Kate Spade in Mall at Millenia.

What we’re doing right now through the Purple Purse Campaign is trying to communicate – What does it MEAN to be financially empowered? What does it look like? We’re trying to raise the awareness so people understand the importance of, “I have my name on my bank accounts. I have an equal say in where our money is spent and where our money is saved. I know where our money is,” and elevate that discussion to a national level. We’re proud to be a part of that, and Kate Spade is helping us launch that effort tonight.

What a night it was! Kate Spade Millenia donated a gorgeous purple purse. Also, Gifn goofiness happened. We even participated in a Google+ Hangout on Air with Chef Dennis inside Kate Spade! Couldn’t make it out to the launch party? Don’t worry! The Purple Purse Challenge runs from September 2nd to October 3rd. Our friends at Harbor House of Central Florida promise more fun soon. Make sure to keep an eye peeled on their Twitter, Facebook and Google+ accounts for more activities, contests and some REALLY COOL prizes.

Thanks to Kate Spade and their stellar Purple Purse Challenge launch party, everyone who attended and donated helped make Harbor House of Central Florida a Top Ten organization and earned them $5,500 in donation matches from the Allstate Foundation!

[For all of you savvy online shoppers, Amazon Smile is also stepping up to the plate. Shop online using https://smile.amazon.com and Amazon will support Survivors with your purchase.]

If you know of anyone in crisis, or are in crisis yourself, please call Harbor House of Central Florida’s 24-Hour Crisis Hotline (407) 886-2856 | (TDD)  1-800-500-1119 (FL) or 911. Find out more about how you can help Harbor House of Central Florida by visiting their website, http://www.harborhousefl.com. Together we can #EndTheSilence.

#Glass4good: City of Orlando Mayor Dyer talks about a #NewCitrusBowl

Just as Orange County (Florida) is in the thick of a #YearOfTransformation, so is the City of Orlando. Several years in fact! When speaking about the future of Orlando in his State of the City address on April 10th, Mayor Buddy Dyer said, “That future is literally under construction a few blocks away at the soon to be opened Doctor Phillips Center for the Performing Arts. West into Parramore, we can see a new Citrus Bowl, and blocks from here the site of a new stadium that Orlando’s second major league sports team, the Orlando City Lions, will call home. Just across the street, we can envision the new Magic entertainment complex.

As far as #NewCitrusBowl goes Mayor Dyer shares, “We’ll be the only city in America that has three bowl games during bowl season. We’re looking at potential for professional football exhibition season, maybe a kickoff classic some college football games. We’ll continue to have monster trucks and we’re talking about maybe a second monster trucks event. We’ll bring back motorcross as well. Anything you can host in a stadium! I assume we’ll get Wrestlemania back here at some point, so lots of great stuff here at the Orlando Citrus Bowl.”

When exactly will the newly renovated Orlando Citrus Bowl open, you ask? “We’re going to be game ready and play our first game on November 22nd, which will be the Florida Blue Florida Classic.” Even bigger news for all you football and college bowl fans! According to Mayor Dyer, “We’re making great progress and I have no doubt that it’ll be a great first experience that first game. We’ll be able to maintain our classic games; the Florida Classic, the Russell Athletic Bowl and the Capital One Bowl which is our New Year’s College Game Day. We’re also adding a third bowl game next year, the Cure Bowl, which the proceeds go to cancer research.” Finally, a football game I can support! (And maybe even understand!)

Many local jobs with more to come after the new doors (stairs?) open is also something to look forward to at the Orlando Citrus Bowl. To date, at the Citrus Bowl site alone, 165 people were placed in jobs though City of Orlando’s Blueprint Employment Office, and over 1900 jobs at the Amway Center. A new Plaza Deck, more legroom, restrooms, concessions and a huge increase in ADA seating capacity (from 84 seats to 824 seats) are among the new amenities included in the #NewCitrusBowl!

#glass4good: Meet Barry, Townsend, Cam and Rob

In life, you’ll meet characters. Tons of ’em. Yesterday I met four guys, legends if you will, who do some pretty amazing things for a living… and you know them too! First, we set the scene. Marker, camera speed… ACTION!

Of the many things I do in a given day, I work for a blog called Central Florida Top 5 where I help provide multimedia and social media coverage of events and more. This weekend we were invited to stay at Nickelodeon Suites Resort to experience their Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Retro Weekend, part of their #SummerOfShell celebration. We are incredibly privileged to be invited to attend great events like this, and do so several times a week. This weekend, admittedly, our Editor Ken Storey and I were only slightly excited. (Are you KIDDING?! We giggled like preschoolers and totally reverted back to our much younger selves!) Our experience was SO much fun, even as an adult, I didn’t want to leave the hotel! You’ll get to read more about our wonderful experience very soon on Central Florida Top 5 and hear about it even sooner on Orlando Tourism Report‘s latest podcast! Cut, print, moving on to…

I had the privilege of speaking with some especially rad dudes; Barry Gordon, Townsend Coleman, Cam Clarke and Rob Paulsen the voices behind the original animated cast of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon (among many other characters). During a press Q&A, someone asked “Are there any lesser known perks to being one of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles?” This started a discussion that really resonated with me regarding giving back. It’s a curious thing how a single smell or sound can take one back to a happy memory. When the guys started doing the Turtle voices, I was immediately transported back to random memories from my childhood; dancing in my living room to the TMNT theme song, reading tons for Pizza Hut’s Book-It program just so I could get a certificate and our class could get a free pizza party, tracking down Turtles kids meal toys with my mom, with purchase VHS tapes of episodes… just a flood of moments I thought I had forgotten! All this from four voices who happened to be standing right in front of me! My 10 year old self (and now my 30 something year old self) were both doing internal backflips!!

If all these memories came alive for me, imagine what they can do for an ill child. The flipside to that coin is equally as fulfilling, if not more so. Townsend Coleman (voice of Michaelangelo) says, “As the show has grown, we’ve gotten to find out how much it’s meant to people when they were growing up, and the lessons that they would take away from many of the stories of the Ninja Turtles. We had no idea when we were recording the show. It’s amazing and humbling to see.” Rob Paulsen (Raphael in the original cartoon and Donatello in the latest) agrees, “It’s an incredible honor to be able to, not only to work on something that achieves iconic status, but all of us have had the really good fortune of spending time with families and children. Whether it’s in person or on the phone in some pretty diabolical circumstances in which they open their hearts to you and they sort of allow you in to share what can be a very difficult circumstance. The Turtles, through us, end up making those kids smile and the parents often more than the kids.” Barry and Cam share a couple of really beautiful stories below…

It was an incredible honor to meet these guys (and the Turtles)! Huge, special cowabunga thanks to Barry, Townsend, Cam and Rob for taking time out to share these moments, also to Beth and the team at Nick Hotel for making it happen! Shout out Michelle and Miki at Cowabunga Corner, just ’cause. That’s a WRAP! (Ninja… ninja.. RAP!)

#glass4good: Orange County’s #YearOfTransformation

I have been a proud resident of Orange County in Orlando, Florida for as long as I can remember. Despite being a 3rd generation transplant, Orlando has always felt like home to my family. What vacationing families and visiting companies sometimes forget is, people DO actually live here. Have roots here. Families of 3rd and 4th generation natives (although rare now) DO exist! Tourism is, no doubt, one of our biggest industries but there is MUCH more to this area than our (wonderful!) theme parks and attractions.

This morning’s State of the County address was one of hope and determination.

In the past couple of years, we have seen steady growth in many local sectors. In the next year Mayor Jacobs promises we will see more and has even invited members of the community to be Social Media Ambassadors. Mayor Jacobs is the first sitting mayor in Florida to feature a Social Media Ambassador program in her State of the County address. Alongside a core group of Orlando’s best and brightest, I am honored to be one of them! The spirit of this program falls in line with what #Glass4good is all about, so to me it was a no-brainer.

We’re transforming the way we create infrastructure and how we get around,” says Mayor Jacobs. She even communicated in Spanish, “Me da mucha alegría poder compartir este día especial con todos ustedes y me siento bendecida de poder vivir en el Condado de Orange.” Translated means: “I am very happy to share this special day with you all and I feel blessed to live in Orange County.

Along with several great partnerships, she is championing The Year of Transformation in Orange County. “There are so many things happening right now. It’s amazing!” says the Mayor in our chat with her below.

In her State of the County address this morning, Mayor Jacobs gave many shout outs to the tech community and digital entrepreneurs saying, “Thank you for engaging our online community and for sharing our message through Google Glass and Social Media. With Google Glass in the room, I guess it won’t surprise you to learn that we are legitimately cool? That’s right… there’s proof!”-  motioning over TO US!

Also noteworthy! Some newer, some known info;

Connect with Mayor Jacobs online on Facebook | Twitter | YouTube | OCConnect

Keep up with Orange County on your smartphone!

OCFL 311                     Android | iOS

OCFL Alert                  Android | iOS

NEW! OCFL News   Android | iOS

**In honor of D-Day,  please take 12 minutes to learn more about the first female American pilots of World War II by checking out Orange TV GM Bill Suchy’s documentary, Silver Wings, Shattered Dreams: The Long Road to Redemption.

#Glass4good: Libby’s Legacy Breast Cancer Foundation and the Birth of #SelflessSelfie

Happy Mothers Day!

Boy was Beth Bailey in for a surprise. Little did she know SHE WON the scooter raffle at this year’s Scooters 4 Hooters and Ellen’s Walk With the Angels after buying 25 tickets in support of Libby’s Legacy Breast Cancer Foundation!

A friend in the audience decided to call Beth so Robin Maynard, the founder of Libby’s Legacy, could tell her the big news personally. During this phone call, another giving movement was born; the #SelflessSelfie (begins at 2:19). In the moment, Robin brainstormed on stage announcing, “Speaking of selfless selfies, if you donate in the next week… put your money up and take a selfie. And we will put it up on our website and our Facebook page!”

Also announced on stage (at 6:30) was the start of the Mammogram of the Month Club. A commitment of $100 a month will provide a mammogram to a woman (or man!) who cannot afford one. Twins Shelly and Catherine Reynolds (Libby’s Legacy Vice Chair) were the first to sign up, and as Robin put it, they are #TWINNING!

Through programs like The Hope Tree Project, C.S.I. (Cancer Screening Initiative)/Mammogram Access Project, P.A.L.S. (Patient Advocate Liason Service) and LIVE BIG, Libby’s Legacy Breast Cancer Foundation provides comprehensive breast health care to the underserved Central Florida community through education, mammograms, follow up diagnostics and Hope Coaches on the journey from diagnosis to treatment and beyond. So far, Scooters 4 Hooters and Ellen’s Walk With the Angels 2014 have both raised a bunch with more donations coming in by the minute!

The funds raised help grant wishes for Stage IV breast cancer patients in order to create cherished memories with loved ones through Libby’s Legacy’s LIVE BIG program. Even more extraordinary is, as of December 2013, nearly 4000 Breast Health services have been provided, 62 breast cancers have been diagnosed through these life saving diagnostics and 7 LIVE BIG cruises have been granted RIGHT HERE in Central Florida! These services are made possible through Libby’s Legacy signature fundraising events like these. As Robin says at 7:18, “It REALLY matters. We have to have this annuity type fund because when we don’t get funded, when things are down… we have to have that money coming in.”

To find out more on how you can get involved with Libby’s Legacy Breast Cancer Foundation, by emailing info (at) libbyslegacy(dot)org or visiting the following links:

http://www.libbyslegacy.org
http://www.angelswalk.org
http://www.scooters4hooters.com
http://www.facebook.com/libbyslegacy
https://www.facebook.com/EllensWalkwiththeAngels
https://www.facebook.com/Scooters4Hooters
http://www.twitter.com/libbyslegacy
http://www.twitter.com/ellensangelwalk

*Apologies for the sound dropout around the 7:53 minute mark? It must have been a glitch in Google Glass.

#Glass4good: Meet @aracknoid3, Cosplayer and future Google Glass Explorer!

Yesterday was Day 2 of MegaCon (aka MegaConvention), the Southeast’s answer to that other busy Con on the west coast in the summetime. Having covered MegaCon the last three years with our show Indie Cinema Showcase, 2014 is probably their biggest attended event to date. Of course Saturday is always the big day, with all the favorite panels and parties, but today was just a SEA OF PEOPLE. Despite the long hours and repeated logistical challenges Team MegaCon, its volunteers, security staff and Orange County Convention Center partners did a fantastic job maintaining safety and order.

At MegaCon you are guaranteed a few things;

  1. A lot of walking. Especially to your car and around the exhibit floor.
  2. (If you don’t normally attend events like this) The most interesting people watching you may EVER see.
  3. Lines; for spontaneous photo ops (of each other!), for food, to meet the stars, for the bathroom… and there are lines for other lines too.
  4. Quite possibly the largest group of polite, conscientious and dedicated people occupying one space.
  5. You never know WHO you will meet

Leaving the Convention Center tonight, I met a man who goes by the name of “Spider.” His cosplay was a full body suit of armor based on the popular Gears of War video game series on Xbox and it was mesmerizing; the detail of the paint, the battle-ready helmet, a very large protruding gun with lights – he even had a small monitor mounted at his feet. Spider spent four months making this one costume! And today, he’d already gone through a first costume change where he was a character from the Iron Man series. (He will come dressed as Jaegar from the Pacific Rim series on Sunday.)

In talking with Spider and his friends, I learned some fascinating things about him; His costume won Runner Up in MegaCon annual contest but was so well-received by the audience, he was awarded his own prize! Spider hails from Long Island, NY and recently moved to Florida. He’s an Army Veteran. Spider spent 25 years as a REAL soldier. He took on the construction of his costume as a form of physical therapy. Outside of the convention world, Spider is a father and husband to a lovely family and is HandiCAPABLE, not handicapped.

After trying on Google Glass, we talked about the huge benefit Spider feels Glass can serve in his everyday life. “I’ve been waiting for this thing to come out for a year! I could be hands-free in costume!” he said. Here, Spider goes into detail about how having Google Glass would be a great tool to add to his arsenal…
(Pardon the puns!) You can connect with Spider via:

UPDATE: (Shhh! We just sent Spider an invite to be a Glass Explorer!)