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Horse Haven

 8622440289?profile=RESIZE_710xSarah Smith of Gulf Stream grips Keke’s bridle. ‘Horses are such beautiful creatures,’ she says. Tim Stepien/The Coastal Star 


Coastal community equestrians share fondness for a top-notch lesson and show stable in Delray


By Ron Hayes

While Gray Smith was busy settling in as the new head of Gulf Stream School back in July 2019, his wife was busy looking for something she couldn’t find in town.
Sarah Smith needed a place to ride horses.

“I grew up in Overland, Kansas, and I’ve been riding since I was a little girl,” she explains. “I had Dustin, a thoroughbred gelding I showed at high-level shows. When I went off to Stephens College in Columbia, Missouri, I was able to take him with me because they had an equestrian program. And then I rode in law school, too.”

Smith asked around, and learned two things. A lot of adults and children in the coastal communities ride, and most recommended Bramasole Stables at Johnson’s Folly Horse Farm.

Just off Military Trail north of Atlantic Avenue, the closest stables to Gulf Stream sit on 8 acres only 3 miles west of downtown Delray Beach, a beautifully rural spread of grass paddocks, dressage arenas and a new covered riding ring.

Now Smith is out there twice a week, riding a jumper named Keke.

“I just love the animal,” she says. “Horses are such beautiful creatures. They’re very smart, and then there’s the sport, which is one of the few where men and women compete against each other. You and the animal are competing as a team.”

8622456073?profile=RESIZE_710xThe hand-painted sign above Keke’s stall.

She’s often accompanied by the couple’s sons, Ward, 8, and James, 10.

Ward Smith has been riding since he was 4 — half his life. At Bramasole, he favors an American paint named Rocky.

“I almost fell off once when my foot came out of the stirrup,” he says, “but I love riding. It’s fun. It makes me feel good.”

The owner and trainer at Bramasole is Kim Nadler-Russo, who began riding in the first grade, started competing at horse shows in the fifth grade, and has made a career of her love for the sport.

In 2003, she opened her first stables in Parkland and named it Bramasole, Italian for “under the sun.” Eight years ago, she brought the business to Johnson’s Folly Horse Farm.

“About 30 or 40 percent of our riders are from the coastal communities,” she says, “and many of those are from the Gulf Stream School.

“We show from beginners to Double-A, the highest level of competition. We’re a lesson and show barn, a more advanced farm. We don’t do trail rides. No birthday parties, no pony rides. We’re a serious barn.”

Another serious equestrian from Gulf Stream School is Sarah Ghostine, 14, of Hypoluxo Island, who came to riding when a school friend shared her love of horses.

8622443460?profile=RESIZE_710xSarah Smith on Keke (l-r), Gracie Robinson on Sky, Sarah Ghostine on Luke The Duke, and Allison Adams on Tank, with Bramasole Stables trainer Kim Nadler-Russo. Photos by Tim Stepien/The Coastal Star

Her mother, Debra, was not sure this was a good idea.

“I said, ‘OK, try it,’ but I was kind of hoping she’d maybe not get too into it,” she recalls. “Then Sarah said she wanted to take lessons and I had to go up to the horses and pretend I wasn’t nervous.”

That was five years ago.

“When I started, I hadn’t been into sports,” Sarah says. “I was only concentrating on academics, so I started riding for fun and came to love the animals.”

Now she’s at the stable six days a week from 3:30 to 6 p.m. Then home to homework. The family leases a Holsteiner named Luke The Duke, and for Sarah, he’s not just a horse. He’s a teammate in the sport.

“Luke loves his job,” she says. “He has such a passion to go out there and jump and have fun. Sometimes he refuses to jump. He’ll stop short right in front of the fence. There’s so much you have to think about when you’re riding. Posture, legs and sitting tall. You can have bad riders, too.”

8622469301?profile=RESIZE_710xSarah Ghostine, 14, says Luke The Duke ‘loves his job.’

Allison Adams of Ocean Ridge was visiting her grandparents in Londonderry, Vermont, where a neighbor used a draft horse named Pete when collecting maple syrup.

“I met my first horse at 3 years old and I was in love,” Adams recalls.

At 16 she was working at a show stable back home in Pennsylvania, and a year later she got her first horse, Roy, short for Royal Ascot.

Since then, she’s had Knight Course and Willow Grove, Nugget, Frosty and Picasso.

These days, it’s Cantankerous, a gift from her husband, Bob, for their 20th anniversary.

“I call him Tank for short because he looks like a tank,” she says. “He’s huge and tall and wide. The most impressive horse I’ve ever seen in my life. To have control of a 1,500-pound animal is the most amazing feeling, the adrenaline rush of getting him to do what you want. But if you’re scared, the horse can sense it. You have to have horse sense or you’re going to get stepped on.”

Six days a week, she and Tank are together at Bramasole.

“It’s like a family here at the farm, friendly and laid-back with a top-notch riding program,” Adams says. “Kim’s a great trainer.”

A love of horses does not necessarily travel from parent to child, or vice versa. Gracie Robinson, 13, of Delray Beach, has been riding since the first grade. At Bramasole, her horse is Sky. But ask her father, Joe, if he rides and you get a poker-faced reply.

“I do not,” he says. “I’m from Brooklyn.”

They’re a special breed, equestrians. Talk to several riders, and you find that, whether they own horses or lease them, no matter their age or the breed they ride, they share a common experience.

They started out riding a horse, and wound up having a relationship with it.

“It’s different every day, and it’s a humbling sport,” Nadler-Russo explains. “One day you’re on top of the world and the next day you can’t do a basic exercise, so just because you’re in the mood to do something one day doesn’t mean the horse is. People don’t realize that both the rider and the horse have to be athletes.

“You’re dealing with two brains.”

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8622423868?profile=RESIZE_710xMaking sure the event will be safe, (l-r) Connie Schaefer, Peggy Paterra, Phyllis Cofrancesco and Regina Derojas are ready to take temperatures and provide hand sanitizer. Photo provided


By Amy Woods

Face masks and social distancing are not the highlights of the Boca Raton Garden Club’s new event, Spring Fling, but they are required.

Instead, the highlights are clever hand-painted terra cotta “people” pots with heads and dangling hands and legs and angel figures created from tropical palm fronds. There are also one-of-a-kind wind chimes made of natural wood, embroidered casserole carriers, jewelry bags and kitchen aprons.

“One of the ladies today was making a wreath with flowers on it,” said Patty Moum, the club’s third vice president and event co-chairwoman. “They are all things that you would put in your house for the summer.”

Spring Fling is a combination craft show and plant sale set for March 19 and 20. Attendees at the indoor/outdoor event must wear face masks and practice social distancing as well as submit to temperature checks and comply with other COVID-19 safety measures.

“We are really following all the rules,” Moum said. “In addition, we know with COVID, a lot of people are out of work or are struggling a bit, so we’ve made our prices very, very affordable.”

The angel figures created from palm fronds — the club’s signature product — usually are sold at Christmastime in gold, silver, maroon and other colors of the holiday. Now they are available in blue, green, pink and turquoise.

“Some are decorated with shells on their collar,” Moum said. “People just love them. They sell like hotcakes because they’re so beautiful.”

“We’re the only ones who make them, and we don’t tell people how we make them,” added Mary Kaub, the club’s president and event co-chairwoman. “It’s something that is unique to our club.”

They are 18 or so inches in length and run less than $20. The more that are sold, the better.

“We desperately need the money because we’ve lost a lot of fundraising this year, and as a nonprofit we have to keep our door open,” Kaub said. “It’s been quite challenging.”
Spring Fling anticipates 200 guests during its two-day run and $4,000 in proceeds.

“Meanwhile, our garden club is trying everything we can to help our club survive so we can continue to serve our community,” said Charlene Smith, publicity chairwoman. “Our mission is to educate the public about the environment, conservation, the right place right plant — there's a lot of knowledge we want to make the public aware of.”

If You Go
What: Spring Fling
Time: 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Dates: March 19 and 20
Where: 4281 NW Third Ave., Boca Raton
Cost: Free
Information: 561-994-5642 or

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8622407456?profile=RESIZE_710xSteve Muschlitz, founder of Wheels from the Heart, donated a car to a woman and her children who are clients of CityHouse. Heather Cochran, a family advocate and case manager at CityHouse, accepted the gift on the family’s behalf. LEFT: Muschlitz, with his dog Enzo, hands over the keys to Cochran. Tim Stepien/The Coastal Star


By Amy Woods

The Children’s Foundation of Palm Beach County has launched an initiative titled “The Partnership,” modeled after Wall Street.

The Partnership encourages members of the community to purchase a “share” for $500, with each “share” representing a vote to select grant recipients.

In all, five grant recipients will benefit from $50,000 apiece.

Organizations vying for the monies include Boca Helping Hands, Boys & Girls Clubs of Palm Beach County, Center for Family Services of Palm Beach County, Education Foundation of Palm Beach County, Florence Fuller Child Development Centers, Jewish Adoption & Foster Care Options, Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital, Junior League of Boca Raton, Place of Hope, Sweet Dream Makers, and YMCA of the Palm Beaches.


Office Depot gives $15,000 to Pace Center for Girls

A new community partnership has been formed with Pace Center for Girls in Palm Beach County by Boca Raton-based Office Depot.

The nonprofit organization addresses the social needs of girls ages 11 to 17 by providing them with opportunities to better their futures through academics, counseling and independent-living skills. In addition to the $15,000 donated to the program, local members of Office Depot’s Women of Color group will offer mentoring services.

For more information, call 561-472-1990 or visit


Diaper Bank to become independent nonprofit

A separate board of directors with its own slate of members will govern the Junior League of Boca Raton’s successful Diaper Bank.

The Diaper Bank will transition into a standalone 501(c)(3) by January 2022 while continuing to collect diapers for distribution to families in need.

“With the success of our Diaper Bank and the ever-growing need for diapers in our community, it is our responsibility not only to recognize how far we’ve come but also to meet the need for growth we are seeing,” said Cristy Stewart-Harfmann, Junior League president. “We are excited to announce that we will be gifting this incredible project to the community, allowing for its continued expansion.”


Nias is named president of Community Foundation

The Community Foundation for Palm Beach and Martin Counties has named Danita Nias as its new president and CEO.

Nias, who has more than 20 years of experience in fundraising, strategic planning and higher education, this month will succeed Brad Hurlburt, who is retiring after seven years.

“Our board of directors is thrilled to introduce a leader of Nias’ caliber to help guide the strategic direction of the Community Foundation,” said Julie Fisher Cummings, board chairwoman. “Nias brings a wealth of experience, expertise, enthusiasm and most importantly a passion for serving all people in our communities.”


Send news and notes to Amy Woods at

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8622405061?profile=RESIZE_710xLantana Mayor Dave Stewart presented Baller with a proclamation. Photo provided

Irene Baller, who was born Feb. 3, 1917, in Poland and is a Holocaust survivor, celebrated a milestone 104th birthday with family and friends. At the celebration were Baller's daughter, son-in-law and grandson — who played the piano as everyone sang ‘Happy Birthday’ to Baller and others at the senior living facility.


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8622402074?profile=RESIZE_710x(l-r) Council President Michele DeGennaro; board members Peggy Brown and Rebecca Fordham; Monsignor Stephen Bosso; and board members Anne Dunn, Rose Marie Amato, Barbara Sheridan and Eleanor Hoffmann. Photo provided

The stage was brimming with clothes, toys, diapers, cribs, infant car seats, household goods and nonperishable food collected by the Palm Beach Diocesan Council of Catholic Women. Parishioners selected recipients from the Angel Tree and purchased and colorfully wrapped hundreds of basic necessities and cheerful gifts.

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8622400483?profile=RESIZE_710xPrice holds a Certificate of Merit, the highest award the American Red Cross gives. Photo provided


The Palm Beach and Treasure Coast Chapter of the American Red Cross honored Jonathan Price for saving the lives of three boaters. Price used his skills and training to rescue the trio, who capsized at Ocean Inlet Park in Ocean Ridge, where Price was on duty as lifeguard. He went to the vessel and ensured the three stayed above water until they could be brought ashore. ‘Jonathan is a true hero,’ said Jennifer Durrant, the chapter’s executive director. ‘His quick and decisive action during a crisis takes the highest level of courage. It’s our hope that his bravery inspires others to get trained in skills that save lives.’

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8622397275?profile=RESIZE_710xAmar opened in January and serves Lebanese food, something Atlantic Avenue diners ‘can’t get anywhere else,’ owner Nicolas Kurban says. Photo provided

By Jan Norris

What pandemic?

A recovery is taking hold along Delray Beach’s Atlantic Avenue, where restaurants are bustling again and new ones have opened to fill empty spaces quickly.

One reason is the season: North-easterners have flocked south to escape extreme cold and heavy snow, and used the relaxed safety rules for COVID-19 in South Florida as an excuse to get out of lockdown mentality.

Then there’s the vaccine, which has reached more than 3 million doses in Palm Beach County. With careful optimism, some of the older adults who had stayed away from crowds are venturing out once more and helping to fill the outdoor seating at restaurants on the avenue.

Elizabeth Grace, of the Buzz Agency public relations, said she saw a boisterous group of seniors partying at one restaurant in late January. Asked what they were celebrating, they said, “We got the vaccine.”

Newcomers like Lionfish and the reborn Johnnie Brown’s continue to fill seats. Taru at Sundy House brought back diners with a social hour at its bar and a Sunday brunch.

Despite delays brought about by the pandemic, the Delray Marketplace is nearing completion, and scheduled to be open by April with a variety of vendors and food choices.

Nicolas Kurban has seen the surge at his new restaurant, Amar. The Lebanese bistro opened in January in the former Scuola Vecchia, and he has hosted a variety of diners, with a full house most nights.

“We don’t take reservations for the outside tables — we’re too small. If they arrive and there’s a table, great. Otherwise, they can sit indoors, and some do, saying they’ve been vaccinated and feel comfortable doing so. Others say they’ll wait till they get the vaccine,” he said.

The new Mediterranean restaurant already has a buzz, with word-of-mouth touting its unique cuisine. “We are offering something different on the avenue, something they can’t get anywhere else,” Kurban said.

It’s what drove him to open a place with his native cuisine.

“My wife and I would go out to eat, but there was nothing new on the avenue. Dozens of Italian, some good, some mediocre. Mexican, Asian. I wanted to do something different.”

Kurban has more than 20 years of experience opening restaurants for others in the United States, mostly A-list chefs such as Wolfgang Puck and Thomas Keller with their expansions into Las Vegas, California and Chicago. He also worked several years for the Wynn Resorts, opening hotels, casinos and dozens of restaurants for the successful group.

A more recent move to the Kimpton Group brought him to the East Coast, opening hotels and restaurants along the coast, into the Caribbean and on to Europe.

He was able to work remotely, so moved to Delray Beach to be near the ocean with his spouse and business partner, Susanna.

He had been looking for the right spot to open a restaurant of his own, to share his favorite foods from his father’s restaurant and his mother’s kitchen.

“My family owned famous restaurants in Lebanon. I want to share that food with South Florida,” Kurban said.

The menu has both traditional favorites and regional Lebanese dishes that may be unfamiliar to some diners.

“My menu is a little of both. You’ll find the traditional mezze — tabouli, grape leaves, hummus and baba ganouj, falafel. You’ll find the grilled kebabs, fattoush — all that, which is what people really like, because they don’t get it everywhere.

“But in addition to that, there’s also some stuff on the menu that no one is familiar with. So one dish I took from my childhood, which is sheikh mahshi, which is eggplant. So you take a baby eggplant and cook it, and eventually stuff it with ground beef, onions and pine nuts, and serve it with tomato sauce next to a rice with vermicelli. This is very home cooking.”

He offers a vegan version of the dish, made with chickpeas and spinach, as a nod to his wife and daughters — all vegans. At least 30% of the menu is vegan.
Susanna is the mastermind behind the plant-based desserts.

“My wife is an amazing baker, and makes a chocolate cake with tahini sauce and a semolina cake that is vegan. We thought of everyone. You go to a restaurant and eat vegan and get to dessert: There’s nothing for you. Half our desserts are vegan.

“They’re so good, especially the chocolate cake, if I didn’t tell you it was vegan, you’d never know,” Kurban said.

A curated wine list includes his favorite California wines, with an international eclectic group that includes a few Lebanese wines. Those are so popular with guests that he’s ordering others.

He says he’s a month or two away from adding specials, but wants to eventually offer dishes that rotate to keep the menu exciting for frequent diners.

Diners can leave it all in the chef’s hands, however, with the multicourse “Taste of Amar” menu, a chef’s tasting menu to share among a group.

Takeout and catering are also available.

Amar Mediterranean Bistro, 522 E. Atlantic Ave., Delray Beach. Phone 561-865-5653; Open for dinner at 5 p.m.; closed Tuesdays.

Also new on the avenue is a New York import, Avalon Steak and Seafood. Created by Host Restaurant Group, the parent of well-known Campagnola, Scarpetta, American Cut Steakhouse and several others in the Northeast, Avalon opened in mid-February with a complete new build-out at 110 E. Atlantic.

The restaurant meshed the former Italian restaurant Casa L’Acqua with a cigar bar. In a total redo, the coastal-themed steakhouse transformed a dining room and bar into an indoor-outdoor, bilevel space, closing in a corner entrance and moving it to the center of the dual spaces.

The bar opens to the patio with stools inside and out. The wraparound covered patio offers socially distanced tables with a unique atmosphere.

The restaurant’s design is described as “Montauk flair and Nantucket panache” — approachable but sophisticated coastal. Wraparound windows add natural light, while white-paneled walls, cool cream leatherette and modern fixtures speak comfort and entice guests to linger. Music is throwback 1970s and ’80s pop and rock at a level diners can still talk around. Service is paced with no rush.

“Dinner was made to savor,” said Curt Huegel, Host Restaurant president.

A modified menu kicked off a soft opening, but represented the planned main offerings. The starters are mostly seafood such as lump crab cocktail and a traditional shrimp cocktail with house-made sauce. The “angry lobster” is a large bowlful of cracked lobster, with house-made Sriracha, ginger and large Pullman toast points.

Popular as a vegetarian entree, a roasted cauliflower is presented as a charred half-head of the vegetable, served with tahini and an herb vinaigrette. Another unique side is the lobster kimchi fried rice.

8622398866?profile=RESIZE_710x“Lobster mac and cheese is so ’90s. We wanted to do something different, lighter,” said Antonello Paganuzzi, managing partner and director of operations. He comes from a pedigree of hospitality that includes Le Cirque and other top dining venues in New York, Las Vegas, Miami and London.

He described the lengthy and exact aging process for the Midwestern beef that becomes the prime steaks at Avalon. “No injections, nothing extra. The meat is cut to our order, and boom! Immediately into the box, aged exactly at temperature to our specification.”

A choice of dry aging or wet aging is offered with cuts such as bone-in or boneless ribeye, petite filet mignon, and the Kansas City cut New York bone-in steaks. A 36-ounce, dry-aged tomahawk, aged 30 days, is a signature cut.

Seafoods include crudo starters of hamachi and tuna.

Charred octopus tentacle is served with cannellini beans and diced pancetta, cherry tomatoes and drizzled with chimichurri.

As an entree, a Maine halibut fillet is served with tri-cauliflower, with a flavor mix of pine nuts, capers and currants, sauced with citrus brown butter.

Also unique to the menu: 28-ounce dry-aged, bone-in tuna “ribeye.” For plating, it is sliced into long “ribs” perfectly seared with end bone attached.
Salad dressings, steak sauces and bread are made in-house.

“It’s all about quality,” Paganuzzi said, “and hospitality.”

Servers go through a training and testing regimen before working on the floor.

Those details will set Avalon apart from others, Paganuzzi said.

Avalon Steak and Seafood, 110 E. Atlantic Ave., Delray Beach. Open for dinner daily.

The old ice cream and burger stand Doc’s All American closed last month after withstanding years of development around it. The diner, which operated since 1951 at the corner of Swinton and Atlantic avenues, was sold to a developer who has posted plans to open Swinton Station, a mixed-use project.

A lawyer for the developer says it is in the process of applying for a historic designation for the site. The City Commission must weigh in before that happens. The closing took commissioners by surprise. Published reports suggest there may be plans to reopen the restaurant in the future.

We were unable to reach Doc’s owners for comment.

Chez Andrea, a French restaurant that opened in Boynton Beach’s downtown a few weeks before the pandemic, has closed. An effort to pivot to takeout was unsuccessful. 

Jan Norris is a food writer who can be reached at

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8622385099?profile=RESIZE_710xStruggling with the pandemic has put some people’s fitness goals on hold. If you want to get back into it, start small and expand your workout over time, owners of Slash Fitness in Delray Beach advise. Photo provided


By Joyce Reingold

Last spring Margo Willis, a seasonal resident of Delray Beach, saw pandemic closures knock out favorite parts of her fitness routine.

First to go were the chair yoga classes she and her husband, Stuart, enjoyed several times a week at their Boca Raton gym. Swimming was out when the community pool closed. They could still walk, another activity they enjoyed together. But as the pandemic delayed their return North, they faced the challenge of muggy heat.

“I was not comfortable walking, but I continued to do it because I knew I had to. There was no choice,” says Willis, a retired teacher. “The other thing is, you start to realize you really have to cut down on your portions, or somewhere you have to cut down on calories, because if you’re not exercising, how are you burning calories?”

Maintaining healthy exercise and eating habits amid what Willis describes as “a sitting culture” has been a twin challenge of the lockdowns, shutdowns and the general stress of pandemic life.

In a University of Florida survey of more than 3,000 people conducted between April and June 2020, 38% said they’d added weight since the stay-at-home orders were issued in March — a phenomenon pop culture has dubbed the “quarantine 15,” give or take a few pounds. Just over 34% of respondents said they’d exercised less.

A year into the pandemic, signs are everywhere that people in South County are again on the move, reclaiming favorite ways of staying fit or finding new activities to keep them within their coronavirus-safety comfort zones. Walking trails are busy and gyms are open again, many offering socially distanced workouts outdoors and on Zoom.

But busting out of a fitness slump may certainly feel more challenging while the pandemic pulses on. If you’re feeling logy and looking for motivation to get started, Delray Beach certified personal trainer Austin Brock suggests letting a simple philosophy guide your efforts: “better every day.”

“Just because you don’t think you can drink a gallon of water a day doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have a sip,” he says. “Something is always better than nothing.”

Incremental improvement is the platform on which Brock and co-founder Joe Ardagna have built Slash Fitness, their studio on Southeast Sixth Avenue in Delray Beach. People of all abilities and ages progress at their own speed, one movement at a time.

“Our philosophy is to focus on getting 1% better in whatever it is you’re trying to improve,” the owners say on their website.

“I tell people all the time, start with 10 minutes and you’ll be amazed at how a 10-minute walk can turn into a 30-, 45-, 60-minute walk,” Brock says.

Here are some other strategies he says can help:

Make a plan: “Creating a plan is so important but within that plan, what’s in it is important, too. And a lot of it again seems like basic things, but if you don’t have the basics, or the foundation, it’s tough to add on that.
“So … make sure you’re scheduling in your seven to eight hours of sleep a night, make sure you’re scheduling in your … 45 to 60 minutes of activity throughout the day.
“Make sure you’re scheduling in times to eat. I think as much as we’re all glued to our computers at times now, people forget to do that.”

Buddy up: “Getting an accountability partner is such a huge thing, too. And that doesn’t have to be a gym. It doesn’t have to be a trainer. It can be your spouse. It can be your kids. It can be a family member across the country, or it can be a neighbor.
“But it’s somebody that when you are having one of those days where you’re just not feeling it, and you think, all right, I’m just going to sit this workout out, you’ve got that person on the other side of that phone, or that screen or the fence on the other side the yard, telling you, get your butt off the couch and we’re going for a walk.”

Get going: “Just start. I tell people that all the time. Just start doing something. Our bodies were meant to move. When we’re sedentary, that’s when we get inside of our own heads. I don’t feel good. I’m tired. I’m sluggish today. Oh, the weather’s not perfect. You know, I don’t have my cool new shoes yet. Whatever it is, it doesn’t matter. Just start doing something. And the easiest thing you can do is open up your front door and walk. And once you start doing that, you can build on that.”

The Willises have resumed all their favorite activities, but Margo says she learned during the lockdown how helpful doing activities in “small chunks” can be. She and her husband walk four laps around the shaded Cypress Swamp Boardwalk at the Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge to notch a mile.
“Just take what you have and expand on it,” she says.

Or as Brock puts it: “If you can be a little bit better day-to-day, week-to-week, month-to-month, by the end of a year’s time, you’ll be amazed at what kind of numbers have changed in your life.”

Joyce Reingold writes about health and healthy living. Send column ideas to

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By Christine Davis

March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, and at JFK Medical Center, Dr. Heidi Bahna and Dr. Juliet Ray are working to improve awareness about the importance of getting screened, which is the best way to detect polyps and prevent colorectal cancer, they say.

“The most common symptom of colorectal cancer is no symptom at all, and colonoscopy can find and remove polyps early, before they can grow and develop into cancer,” Bahna said.

Bahna and Ray, both board-certified surgeons trained in colon and rectal surgery, also want to make sure the community is aware of the recent change in the recommended age to get a first colonoscopy, from 50 to 45.

“We’re seeing younger and younger patients that are presenting with advanced stages of colon and rectal cancer that didn’t even meet prior screening guidelines,” Bahna said. “If we can find colon cancer in someone who is asymptomatic getting a screening colonoscopy, those patients will be cured of that cancer 90% of the time.”

In addition to screening, they advise that it is helpful to limit alcohol consumption; stop any use of tobacco; be physically active and move around on a daily basis; reduce consumption of red and processed meats, as well as charred meats; and increase fiber and water consumption.

For information about colorectal cancer screening and treatment options, visit JFK’s website at

On Feb. 16, JFK Medical Center’s North Campus hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony to mark completion of its Behavioral Health Pavilion expansion, a $26 million construction project. The pavilion, which offers psychiatric and behavioral health services, has grown from an 88-bed unit to a 124-bed unit with the addition of 12 adolescent beds and 24 adult beds. The pavilion is adjacent to JFK Medical Center, 2201 45th St., West Palm Beach.

As part of Florida Atlantic University’s new registry and repository to contribute to COVID-19 discoveries and knowledge, researchers are collecting blood and saliva samples from participants who have had positive tests. The registry is spearheaded by FAU’s Institute for Human Health and Disease Intervention and its Clinical Research Unit.

“These data and specimens will provide information about the progression of the disease, treatment response, long-term effects and economic effects, among others. Currently, there are no databases outside of research collecting this type of information,” said Ximena Levy, M.D., M.P.H., director of the Clinical Research Unit, who is leading the project.
Recruitment is underway. Each participant must have a documented positive test report and be showing no symptoms of COVID-19. Appointments are required. To register, visit For more information, call or text 561-235-4467 or email

8622366293?profile=RESIZE_180x180In January, gynecologic oncologist Thomas Morrissey, M.D., FACOG, FACS, joined the Eugene M. & Christine E. Lynn Cancer Institute as director of gynecologic oncology. He is a specialist in the surgical and chemotherapeutic treatment of ovarian, uterine, cervical and other female genital-tract cancers. Morrissey also has experience in robotic-assisted laparoscopic surgery and radical surgical procedures to treat gynecologic cancers.
Previously, he was head of the division of gynecologic oncology for Cleveland Clinic Florida.
Morrissey will see patients at the Lynn Cancer Institute, Harvey & Phyllis Sandler Pavilion, 701 NW 13th St., Boca Raton.



Mamun Al Rashid, MD, and Vani Sabesan, MD, have joined Atlantis Orthopaedics.
Fellowship-trained orthopedic surgeon Al Rashid specializes in total hip and knee replacement and orthopedic oncology. Sabesan specializes in complex shoulder and elbow surgery.
The orthopedic practice, part of HCA Healthcare’s East Florida Division, plans to expand to additional locations in 2021, including Boynton Beach. For more information, visit, or call 561-967-4400 or 561-627-8500.

Delray Medical Center announced the appointment of its new governing board members for the 2021 calendar year. They are: Deputy Police Chief Richard D. Morris of the West Palm Beach Police Department; Dr. Jeffrey H. Newman, who is the center’s medical director of cardiothoracic surgery; Shelly Petrolia, mayor of Delray Beach; and Dr. Timothy R. Williams, medical director of the South Florida Proton Therapy Institute.

Palm Beach County Medical Society installed Roger L. Duncan III, MD, as its new president. He is vice chief of anesthesia at Palms West Hospital and fellow of the American Society of Anesthesiologists.

South County members joining the society’s board of directors include Gregg Goldin, MD, a radiation oncologist at the Lynn Cancer Institute at Boca Raton Regional Hospital; Harish Madhav, MD, an OB-GYN in private practice in Boynton Beach; Ali Syed, a resident at FAU’s Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine; and Charles Szuchan, MS, a medical student at FAU.


Send health news to Christine Davis at

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8622191299?profile=RESIZE_710xThe first phase of renovations (shown in yellow) at Ocean Inlet Park Marina will include removing old fixed docks and installing floating day-use docks. Work is scheduled to begin in May. Rendering provided


By Willie Howard

The modernization of aging Ocean Inlet Park Marina is scheduled to begin in May with the removal of old concrete fixed docks, the replacement of the marina bulkhead and the addition of floating day-use docks for the public.

The owners of boats stored at the marina’s 20 slips were expected to receive notice in late February that they must remove their vessels by April 30.

The first phase of the renovations — expected to be completed in the spring of 2022 — will include removing the old concrete fixed docks that extend west toward the Intracoastal Waterway, replacing the bulkhead and adding three ADA-accessible floating day-use docks at the south end of the marina.

The floating day-use docks will undoubtedly be a welcome sight for boaters who have struggled to pick up or drop off passengers at the fixed docks during low tide.

Lifts for Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office boats will be moved to the north side of the marina as part of the phase 1 work. The crumbling sidewalk near the bulkhead on the marina’s north side also will be replaced.


8622222288?profile=RESIZE_710xA view of the old fixed docks that will be torn down as part of renovations at the county park, located just south of Boynton Inlet.
Willie Howard/The Coastal Star 


“The goal of this project is to replace the failing bulkheads and fixed docks that have been in place for over 35 years and have reached the end of their useful life,” said Bob Hamilton, director of park development for Palm Beach County’s Parks and Recreation Department.

Money for the $3 million estimated cost of the phase 1 work will come from proceeds of the county’s 1-cent sales surtax and a grant from the Florida Inland Navigation District.

Although boat owners will be vacating the marina’s slips this spring, it could be late 2023 before they can move their boats back there.

New floating-dock slips are scheduled for construction as part of the second phase of renovations. The timing of the second phase depends on funding, Hamilton said, noting that the county has applied to FIND for a $1.5 million grant that would cover about half of the phase 2 cost.

A new marina building and restrooms near the parking lot are planned for the third phase of work.

Hamilton said there are no plans to bring back the café that used to operate next to the marina building, but noted that parks officials will consider some type of food concession during the design of the third phase.


Palm Beach boat show March 25-28

The Palm Beach International Boat Show is scheduled for March 25-28 along the waterfront in downtown West Palm Beach.

Face masks will be required for exhibitors, show staff and attendees. Show producer Informa said all of those people will have temperatures checked before being allowed to enter the show.

Show entrances will be on Flagler Drive at Evernia Street and at North Clematis Street.

Tickets cost $28 for adults and $18 for ages 6-15.

For details about the show and parking locations, call 954-463-6762 or visit


Tip of the month

Fish for cobia during March. Drop a cobia jig near the bottom or use a dead sardine on triple hooks garnished with a flashy “duster” and a half-ounce weight over the hooks.
Fish over natural reefs or near wrecks such as the Skycliffe (just north of Boynton Inlet). Have a measuring tape and a heavy-duty landing net handy.
Cobia must be at least 33 inches to the fork of the tail to be legal to keep. Undersized fish should be released as quickly as possible. Daily bag limit: 1 cobia per angler.


Willie Howard is a freelance writer and licensed boat captain. Email

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8622121855?profile=RESIZE_400xBy Janis Fontaine

Using an idea borrowed from television, a group of local business leaders and entrepreneurs introduced the Philanthropy Tank six years ago. The program energizes the next generation of “change makers” by challenging high school students to develop and implement sustainable public service projects in Palm Beach County.

The students pitch their ideas to solve community problems in an effort to win $15,000 in grant money to implement them. Hundreds of students in grades 8 through 12 applied to make presentations (virtually this year) in front of a panel of mentors who make the final decisions.

Seven teen group finalists have been chosen for the March 30 finals, including Sarik Shah of Ocean Ridge and Ashwin Parthasarathy of Boynton Beach, both high-achieving juniors at American Heritage High School Boca/Delray.

They had heard about the digital divide — the chasm between students who have access to computers and the internet and those who don’t — but when the coronavirus hit, it highlighted the problem for the friends. “I’m a tennis player, Sarik said, “and it’s like asking a kid to play tennis without a racket. He could play, but barely.”

Sarik and Ashwin did their research and learned that at least 50,000 student households in Palm Beach County didn’t have computers.

“I knew there was a need, but it was double or triple what I thought, partly because there might be several kids in that house who are sharing a computer,” Sarik said.

The digital divide denies students access to an education, and “education is everyone’s right,” he said.

Sarik’s partner, Ashwin, agrees: “Education allows students to secure better jobs and ensure a better path for their future, so I strongly believe no student should be denied the right to reach their full potential due to lack of computer access.”

Sarik and Ashwin propose to change that by collecting used computers and getting them into the hands of people who need them. “Many gently used computers often go to waste after they are no longer being used. We recognized the opportunity to refurbish these computers and redistribute them to students in working condition,” Ashwin wrote in their pitch for Digital Edge.

They’ve collected about a dozen computers and have reached out to businesses for used computers and assistance with repairs. “Minor problems I can fix,” Sarik said.

The idea to present Digital Edge to the Philanthropy Tank “just clicked,” Sarik said. “I had friends who had participated in the past and we already had the idea for Digital Edge.”
Despite their demanding school schedules, the duo decided to commit to the Philanthropy Tank.

“These students’ passion for making a difference in their community in very personal ways is incredibly inspiring,” Amy Brand, CEO for the Philanthropy Tank, said in an email.

“The founders, staff, and the mentors who volunteer to guide these students are looking forward to watching each finalist’s upcoming presentation on March 30.”

So far, the Philanthropy Tank has infused more than $600,000 into 45 student projects, which have helped more than 300,000 local citizens. More than 500 students have benefited from participating.

Sarik and Ashwin’s goal is to donate 150 computers by the end of their first year and then increase the total by 50 in each of the following years.

Now, they are practicing their presentation, fine-tuning their pitch so they can move Digital Edge forward.

But Sarik says he already learned an important lesson: “We take way too much for granted.”


Register to watch the live-streamed event at; search for Philanthropy Tank Palm Beach. If you have a gently used computer to donate, contact Sarik or Ashwin at

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Mutual Attraction by Karen Coleman shows a ruby-throated hummingbird feeding on a coral honeysuckle.


By Deborah S. Hartz-Seeley

Both nature enthusiasts and art lovers will find plenty to enjoy at the Preservation Foundation of Palm Beach through April 30. That’s when the foundation — known for celebrating the architectural, botanical and cultural heritage of Palm Beach — is hosting “Wildly Exquisite: Florida’s Native Plants.”

“It’s an art show that features 34 botanical works depicting native Florida plants that are often cultivated in gardens,” says artist Carol Woodin, who helped curate the show and is the director of exhibitions for the American Society of Botanical Artists.

But this indoor event is only the beginning.

Once you’ve seen the realistic and detailed artworks demonstrating the intricacies and nuances that make Florida’s native flora so attractive, you can step outside into Pan’s Garden, which is owned by the foundation.

Here, in Florida’s first all-native botanical garden, you can see how more than a dozen of the show’s subjects put down their roots in nature.

“The exhibition is a useful tool to get people engaged with native plants and to understand their importance,” says the foundation’s director of horticulture, Susan Lerner, who oversees Pan’s Garden.

To help, she has carefully labeled the plants shown in the art that also appear in the garden.

During judging of 86 entries for the show, Woodin instructed the four judges, including Lerner, to look for works that provided botanical accuracy, were pleasing to view and whose artists showed proficiency of technique strong enough to make accuracy possible.

“Artists need to take into consideration elements of both traditional artwork and science. Botanical art is a melding of the two,” says Woodin.

For example, Karen Coleman’s entry called Mutual Attraction depicts the tubular red flowers of the honeysuckle plant that will nurture a hovering hummingbird preparing to sip their nectar.

Outside in Pan’s Garden, that same honeysuckle drapes over a wall — adding color, life and, yes, hummingbirds to the curated space.


Another Florida native, the Southern Magnolia, in a classic botanical illustration by Charlotte Ricker.


Other artworks provide an in-depth look at their plant subjects. Consider the Southern Magnolia, by artist Charlotte Ricker. She not only skillfully reproduces the plant’s lush white flowers but also the progression of those flowers from bud to ripened fruit. You’ll even see the green beetle that is the magnolia’s main pollinator.

“All those details that the botanical artist selects to portray must be accurate,” says Woodin. “You can’t fudge things.”
That’s why you’ll come away from a study like this really knowing something about the magnolia, which also grows in Pan’s Garden.

Just remember that although all the plants depicted in this show are Florida natives, many also grow in other areas of the country and the world. And not all of these plants are native to South Florida.

Consider Ashe’s Magnolia, for example. Its pink-tinged white flowers have been boldly reproduced for the show in etching techniques by Monika deVries Gohlke.

Listed as endangered by the state of Florida, this magnolia is native to only a few steep-sided ravines and bluffs in Florida’s Panhandle, according to informational notes written by Lerner.

Although it can be grown in gardens from seeds provided by permitted nurseries, you won’t find it in Pan’s Garden. However, its unique beauty deserves a place in this show.
By viewing these plants up close in the artwork, away from the green background of other plants you have in a garden, you may come to understand that natives tend to be smaller and less showy than the exotics from China and Africa. But they are no less beautiful, their details worthy of appreciation.

“I hope they inspire you to plant natives in your garden,” says Lerner.


What: “Wildly Exquisite: Florida’s Native Plants” botanical art show plus Pan’s Garden.
Where: Art show at Preservation Foundation of Palm Beach, 311 Peruvian Ave.; Pan’s Garden is adjacent at 386 Hibiscus Ave., Palm Beach.
When: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. Art show runs through April 30; Pan’s Garden open year-round.
Admission: Both the botanical art show and Pan’s Garden are complimentary.
Parking: On-street only.
More information: For Preservation Foundation of Palm Beach and Pan’s Garden, visit or call 561-832-0731; for Pan’s Garden, request ext. 113.
To learn more about the American Society of Botanical Artists, visit
For your visit: The “Wildly Exquisite” catalog, including 34 color plates of the show’s artworks, costs $20 at the show, with proceeds benefiting the Preservation Foundation and the ASBA. Or it can be ordered for $29.95 including US shipping and handling.
A free pamphlet with information about the art works — but with no color plates — is available to viewers at the show. Works in the show are for sale.


Deborah S. Hartz-Seeley can be reached at

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8622071698?profile=RESIZE_710xDozens of students, including kindergartner Sarah Lash, were marked with ashes on Ash Wednesday at St. Joseph’s Episcopal Church in Boynton Beach, using ingenuity in the form of 9-inch cotton-tipped applicators. Photo provided


By Janis Fontaine

Happy Passover! And Happy Easter!

Because both are tied to the lunar calendar, Easter, the most important Christian holiday, will always coincide with Passover, the first festival of Judaism, but the spring timing isn’t all they share.

Jews have been celebrating Passover — which commemorates their escape from slavery in Egypt — since the exodus itself, scholars say, which was around the 13th century B.C.
Centuries later, Jesus would be crucified during the Passover day of preparation, what Christians call Good Friday. The night before, Jesus hosted the Last Supper, a Jewish seder.
It is called Maundy Thursday or Holy Thursday now, and Christians revere the day as the origin of Christianity’s most important sacrament: the Eucharist of which Holy Communion is part.

Maundy Thursday services will be held on April 1 this year, with Easter on April 4.

At St. Joseph’s Episcopal Church in Boynton Beach, the annual seder that brings Christians and Jews together to celebrate has been canceled because of the coronavirus for the second straight year, but the interfaith spirit of goodwill remains. The church hopes the seder can return next year.

For some Christians, Easter is a one-day holiday. But the season really begins on Ash Wednesday, which this year was Feb. 17, and lasts about six weeks.

On Ash Wednesday, the ashes from the burning of palms from the previous year's Palm Sunday, which have been crushed into a fine powder and blessed by the priest, are applied to the forehead in the shape of a cross.

The minister prays, “Turn away from sin and believe in the Gospel” (Mark 1:15), or “Remember that you are dust, and unto dust you shall return” (Genesis 3:19), the older, more traditional invocation. The ashes are also a plea to God for mercy and compassion, pardon and forgiveness.

In this no-touch pandemic world, Pastor Dave Franklin at Advent Church in Boca Raton said about 35 drivers came to the church drive-thru to be marked with ashes.

At St. Joseph’s Episcopal, the Ash Wednesday service was live-streamed to classrooms, then kids were taken one class at a time to the church, where they were marked with ashes. Nine-inch cotton-tipped applicators were used, which was fun, funny and a break from the isolation of the pandemic.

Rabbi Josh Broide at Boca Raton Community Synagogue says his congregation is eager to celebrate Passover, which is March 27 to April 4, but many still feel vulnerable to the virus. Involving the children in the retelling of the Exodus story and the Resurrection story is important to both faiths.

“Families look forward to getting together, and it’s important to engage the children,” Broide said. “It’s also a time to reflect and see what matters. Politics are divisive, the economy is erratic. Do we really need to fight with each other?”

St. Joseph’s and most other churches and synagogues are finalizing Easter and Passover plans and, as with Ash Wednesday, celebrations may require creativity. Some will be virtual only and some usual activities will be canceled as they were last year during lockdowns. But in-person services have resumed in places, and Broide and Franklin feel positive about the future.

“We have a tight community and that helps,” Franklin said. “It’s been a blessing to have virtual church because it allows us to stay connected, to engage with people online who don’t feel comfortable coming to in-person worship, and it’s especially important at Easter.”

Holidays can make people feel more isolated, Broide said. “I get a lot of calls from lonely people and I tell them to stay strong. I believe we can see the beginning of the end,” he said. “Call it cautious optimism.”

Or faith.

Janis Fontaine writes about people of faith, their congregations, causes and community events.

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St. Vincent Ferrer Catholic School in Delray Beach completed a $6.5 million renovation and addition in 2019 and dedicated the finished work Jan. 31.

8622068682?profile=RESIZE_710xMonsignor Thomas J. Skindeleski blesses the school courtyard. Photos by Tim Stepien/The Coastal Star


8622069093?profile=RESIZE_710xA plaque honors Mary Babione Veccia, a former student, whose family donated the money for the clock tower. Family attending the event included (l-r) Mary's husband, Joe Veccia, mother, Helen Babione, daughter Kim Veccia Amsalem and grandson Bruno Amsalem.

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By Janis Fontaine

As people prepare to celebrate Easter and Passover toward the beginning of April, food is definitely part of the plan.

Both holidays are celebrations: Passover celebrates the freedom of the Israelites after centuries of slavery. Easter celebrates the forgiveness of sins and a guarantee of eternal life.

And when people are happy, we feast!

The foods Christians and Jews eat have symbolic meanings.

For Christians, eggs symbolize life and Christ’s resurrection. Bread is also symbolic of Jesus, and of course the lamb is Christ as well. Salt represents purification, and horseradish is symbolic of the bitter sacrifice of Christ. Ham and bacon are symbolic of great joy and abundance.

In the Jewish tradition, symbolic foods found on the seder table include a roasted lamb shankbone, which represents the sacrifice of the ancient Hebrews. Maror and chazeret are “bitter herbs,” frequently horseradish and romaine, which recall the bitterness of slavery. Charoset, a sweet salad of apples, nuts, wine and cinnamon, represents the mortar used by the Hebrew slaves to make bricks. And karpas — a green vegetable, usually parsley — symbolizes the freshness of spring. A roasted egg is a symbol of springtime and renewal. It isn’t eaten, but should look roasted to complete the plate.

But matzo is probably the most important symbol on the seder table. Three pieces of unleavened bread are covered with cloth. The unleavened bread (made without yeast) reminds Jews of how quickly they fled their enslavers — so quickly they could not wait for the bread to rise.

At St. Vincent Ferrer Catholic Church, a centuries-old tradition called the Blessing of the Easter Basket is still practiced, but it doesn’t involve chocolate bunnies or jelly beans.

On Holy Saturday, congregants bring the food they’ll serve for Easter dinner to the church to be blessed by the priest. The tradition can be traced back to Eastern Europe with different cultures:

In Poland, the practice is called Święconka; the main food is an egg, which is broken and shared by all on Easter Sunday morning. The lamb is molded of butter or made from pastry as a centerpiece for the Easter table.

In Rome, a crisp white tablecloth is adorned with an uncooked Easter lamb and decorated with flowers, wine and fruit. A large traditional cake called “pizza” is also served.

In Russia, you’ll find painted eggs in the basket, as well as the makings for a traditional Orthodox Easter cake called kulich, a tall cylinder of yeast dough frosted with icing and nuts. The elites in Old Russia once served 48 dishes to match the number of days of the Lenten fast.

The biggest Easter food basket blessing in the world is held each year in the Romanian town Miercurea Ciuc. In 2018, more than 7,000 people came to have their Easter baskets blessed.

Here are the local Blessing of the Easter Basket and other Easter services for 2021 available as of late February:

Advent Church of Boca Raton — Easter services likely will take place at 9 and 10:30 a.m. April 4 in person. A sunrise service was in the planning stages. Check the church website at
Ascension Catholic Church, Boca Raton — Holy Thursday, 7 p.m.; Good Friday, 3 p.m.; Saturday, 7 p.m. vigil; Sunday Mass at 8, 10 and noon. Visit
First Presbyterian Church of Delray Beach — The church has been virtual-only since January, but is counting down to reopening, it hopes in time for the Easter services. Check the church website at
First United Methodist Church, Boca Raton — Virtual and in-person worship outside by reservation. Check with the church for details at
St. Gregory’s Episcopal Church, Boca Raton — Check with the church at
St. Joseph’s Episcopal Church, Boynton Beach — Check with the church at
St. Lucy Catholic Church, Highland Beach — Check the church website at
St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Delray Beach — Palm Sunday vigil, 5 p.m. March 27, and Palm Sunday services, 8 and 10 a.m. March 28. An Easter Vigil, 6 p.m. April 3, Easter Sunday services, 7:30, 9 and 11 a.m. April 4. Virtual services will be broadcast on the church's website and YouTube channel.
St. Vincent Ferrer Catholic Church, Delray Beach — Holy Thursday, 7 p.m.; Good Friday, 3 p.m.; Holy Saturday, 1:30 p.m. Blessing of the Easter Basket; Easter Mass, 7, 9 and 11 a.m. Sunday.


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8622066279?profile=RESIZE_710xMore than a dozen Ocean Ridge Garden Club members made 63 floral arrangements that were given to shut-ins, first responders and recipients identified by faith-based organizations. ABOVE: (l-r) Sylvie Glickstein, Lynn Allison and Christina Benisch organized the event. Photo provided

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8622062672?profile=RESIZE_710xOzzie and Harry, both born Sept. 1, have eyelid agenesis. One of Ozzie’s eyelids and both of Harry’s needed to be sewn shut. Their foster parent thinks they would be fine ambassadors or therapy cats for an organization devoted to blind people or for a retirement community. Photo provided


I have done a lot of fostering cats and kittens over the last 10 to 15 years, working with different agencies and taking breaks when needed. I love each and every one of the felines put under my care.

But this experience was unusual. Both kittens born Sept. 1, 2020, had eye issues. The condition was eyelid agenesis and the end result was Harry had both eyelids sewn shut and Ozzie has one good eye and one eyelid sewn shut.

They are just the cutest brothers and are inseparable.  They came to me from Ru4me Pet Rescue. My household includes two cats, both rescues, and two dogs, one rescued from a kill shelter and one from Puerto Rico. All the animals get along and some have developed special relationships — with Ozzie and Harry even napping together.

The boys can be lap cats, they can play hard, jump up on chairs, and manage stairs. Sometimes you would not even know that Harry cannot see and Ozzie has only one eye. 

They are very affectionate and love people — even napping or sleeping with me.

As you can see, these brothers are destined to be “special” cats. It would be wonderful if they could be ambassadors for a special- needs group or therapy cats for a blind organization or retirement community.  

Perhaps there is someone with a little extra time, due to the pandemic, who could make this happen.

Kate Pemberton

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8622056689?profile=RESIZE_710xChristel Connelly of Ocean Ridge adopted two kittens from the Peggy Adams Animal Rescue League. Connelly, a high school French teacher, named them Binoche (left) and Juliette and says, ‘They make our house feel alive.’ Photo provided


By Arden Moore

Kittens do the darnedest things. They can tackle toes, ambush ankles, leap like acrobats, wink at you with soft eyes, suddenly plop into a deep nap and try to chat with you in high-pitched mews.

Finding out what makes kittens tick can be tricky. They aren’t born with owners’ manuals. I often equate the first year of a kitten’s life as the wonder year — as in, you wonder where your sanity went.

Too often, nouveau kitten adopters learn as they go — and as their kittens grow. Just ask Christel and Jim Connelly, of Ocean Ridge. Their quiet home has erupted into delightful energy thanks to the arrival of a pair of sibling kittens they named Binoche and Juliette.

They were bestowed French names on purpose when the Connellys adopted them last month from the Peggy Adams Animal Rescue League (via foster volunteer Emily Minor). Christel was born in Dijon in the Burgundy region of France (known for mustard and red wine).

She teaches French to high school students, usually via her home laptop due to the pandemic. In the background, her new kittens often make surprising and fun appearances.
Their antics have made Christel realize she needs to learn a third language — cat.

“They are super sweet and love to play, cuddle and sleep, but I do feel like I am learning a new language so I can communicate with them,” laughs Christel. “Sometimes when I am teaching, they try to play with my computer screen and then they will lay down on my attendance book, purr and fall quickly asleep. Building relationships remotely is not always easy, but my kittens are definitely helping me connect with my students who love their antics.”

Christel admits her feline knowledge is limited, but she is determined to learn more about cat health and behavior. Years ago, she had a cat named Chloe and is grateful now that her kitten duo received a healthy start from Minor’s fostering for a few weeks.

“I think that they are better-behaved than I expected and I believe it is due to the fact that they were fostered and the foster mom did a good job,” says Christel.

Minor and her husband, Marty, of West Palm Beach, picked up this kitty pair on Christmas Eve from the Peggy Adams Rescue League. In about one year, they have fostered 23 kittens, including a trio currently with them named Linc, Pete and Julie (from the classic Mod Squad television show of the late 1960s and early 1970s).

“Even before the pandemic, I felt like I needed more joy in my life and I decided to start fostering kittens,” says Minor, a former newspaper reporter who now also volunteers for Meals on Wheels. “It has been so much fun fostering kittens who are adorable, but very young.

“Peggy Adams provides us with everything we need — blankets, cat food, toys, kitty pens — and we socialize them in our home until they are ready for permanent homes to enjoy wonderful lives.”

Katie Buckley-Jones, associate director of animal operations at Peggy Adams, notes that kitten season in Florida typically starts around March and April and continues through November.

Check out the numbers from this shelter: In 2020, Peggy Adams adopted out 3,216 kittens that were born primarily from free-roaming cats.

“Most of our kittens come from outside community-cat populations, so it is really important that we follow strict quarantine protocols with the kittens,” says Buckley-Jones. “We do not put unrelated litters together for play sessions because of this. Our foster families make sure to keep their pets separated from the kittens as well.”

She continues, “At that fragile age, kittens are at risk for so many diseases that can be potentially fatal, so it is important we protect them from any possible disease.”

For anyone who is interested in fostering or adopting kittens, Buckley-Jones offers these tips and insights:

• Do not engage in any hand play with kittens. Felines need to learn at an early age that hands are not toys. Playful hand wrestling with kittens can unintentionally teach them to bite or attack hands and other body parts in play. Instead, redirect kittens’ high-energy play toward wand toys or toss cat toys for them to chase and pounce on.
• Size up the litter box for success. Newly adopted kittens fare best with small litter boxes with low sides to give them access. Also, initially confine your kitten to a small, cozy room like a bathroom that has kitty amenities like bed, litter box and food/water bowls.
“Letting new kittens free roam in homes can cause them to become overwhelmed and stressed,” says Buckley-Jones. “Give them time to gradually get acclimated into your home.”
• Do a room-by-room safety inspection. “Make sure to kitten-proof your home before they arrive,” she says. “Kittens like to play with dangly things like cords and wires. They like to try to climb up high and they like to scratch on things. Get them comfortable with having their nails trimmed while they are small and make it fun and rewarding with treats.”

Christel and Jim Connelly report that the fast-growing sisters Juliette and Binoche keep them amused and happy.

“They make me smile the first thing in the morning and with COVID-19 concerns these days, it is nice to smile the first thing in the morning,” says Christel. “I love to hear them purr and I love that they are cuddlers. They make our house feel alive.”

To learn more about adopting or fostering kittens, contact the Peggy Adams Animal Rescue League via The adoption center is open between 11 a.m. and 6 p.m. daily by appointment only.

Arden Moore, founder of, is an animal behavior consultant, author, speaker and master certified pet first-aid instructor. She hosts Oh Behave! weekly on Learn more at

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8622029673?profile=RESIZE_710xThis house, a mile south of Plaza del Mar, was originally designed by the renowned architect John Volk.


Nestled one mile south of the Eau Palm Beach, this one-of-a-kind ocean-to-Intracoastal, British West Indies-style estate property is on one of the finest lots in Manalapan.

Encompassing over two acres, the property presents an impressive 193 feet of water frontage across each of the beach and lake coastlines. It is equipped with a new seawall and private dock that can support vessels up to 40 feet.

8622040661?profile=RESIZE_710xThe expansive living and dining rooms offer unending views of the ocean.


The grand entrance foyer offers unparalleled views of the ocean and Intracoastal at every turn through the natural light of the dozens of impact windows and doors that encircle the home. It is a 12,856-total-square-foot estate boasting seven bedrooms and five bathrooms.


8622049452?profile=RESIZE_710xThe renovated dine-in chef’s kitchen offers a large center island for entertaining and serving hors d’oeuvres and beverages.


The formal living room and dining room flow into each other and into the adjacent kitchen. A state-of-the-art wine room will serve the discerning collector. Most impressive in this lineup of extraordinary features is an oversized balcony overlooking the front of the property, where you can enjoy beautiful sunsets over the private mini-golf course and one of two pools on the front lawn. If sunrises are more important, simply walk around to the other side of the house and watch over the private oceanfront beach and backyard pool.


8622042691?profile=RESIZE_710xThe estate runs from the ocean to the lake, offering 193 feet of water frontage.


Offered at $34.85 million. Contact Steven Presson, The Presson Group, Corcoran, 901 George Bush Blvd., Delray Beach, FL 33484. 561-843-6057.

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Love & Football

8507592478?profile=RESIZE_710xBeverlee and Howard Schnellenberger married in 1959. She proposed to him, and at first he said no. Photo Provided

Coach Schnellenberger’s wife shares stories, letters that show the couple’s enduring affection


By Brian Biggane

He played end on one Canadian Football League team; she was a majorette in the band of another. Their chance meeting in August 1958 led to a marriage that is still going strong more than 61 years later.

“It’s a love story — we have a beautiful love story,” said Beverlee Schnellenberger, sitting in her east Boynton Beach home as she reflected on her life with Howard, the most iconic football coach in South Florida other than the late Don Shula.

“I’m so happy I asked him to marry me.”

8507599695?profile=RESIZE_710xThe couple in 2014. Photo Provided

Every marriage has its highs and lows. For the Schnellenbergers, the highs include Howard’s three national championships as an assistant at Alabama, the “perfect season” as offensive coordinator with the Miami Dolphins in 1972, and his national title as head coach at the University of Miami in 1983.

The most difficult times have come more recently. Howard, 86, hit his head in a fall last July and suffered a subdural hematoma. After two surgeries, he is living in a Boca Raton rehab center, where he is working to regain his cognitive abilities.

Howard, who first came to Boca Raton to start the Florida Atlantic University football program more than 20 years ago, expressed his feelings about Beverlee when he dedicated his 2014 autobiography, Passing the Torch, to her:

“Beverlee has been mother and father, counselor, accountant, banker, mechanic, cook and housekeeper, and she has done it all in a loving way that allowed me to be free to do my thing in football without feeling bad about spending time on the job.”

Longtime friend and FAU supporter Dick Schmidt said the pair’s enduring love is something to behold.

“I’ve seen a couple that is as much in love as they were when they first met,” Schmidt said. “They’re just a terrific couple. And both very unique.”

“I’ve never seen a couple more committed to each other,” said Don Bailey, who was Howard’s first Dade County recruit to UM in 1979 and has been the analyst on Hurricanes radio broadcasts for 19 years. “Both of them always set the example of how you’re supposed to be.”


Love at first sight

A star end in high school in Louisville who played for the incomparable Paul “Bear” Bryant at Kentucky, Howard was in his second year with the BC Lions when a teammate, Joe Poirier, arranged for some players to meet a few young ladies at the Berkeley Hotel after a preseason game in Montreal in 1958. Poirier and Beverlee both grew up in the area.00

The meeting was brief, but Beverlee, now 83, was impressed.

A month later she and two friends drove cross-country to Vancouver, where she had been asked to be a caretaker to a friend of her parents. Beverlee and Howard met again and something clicked.

“I fell in love with him immediately,” she said. “I knew he was the one. I was 21, and from the boys I’d dated I knew he was the one.”

They started dating, and before long it was time to pop the question. So she did.

“I fell in love with him so much that I said, ‘Will you marry me?’ And he said no. But he said I could go visit him in Kentucky for Christmas.”

When Beverlee arrived in Louisville she anticipated a return proposal, but when Christmas came he presented her with a box holding two cashmere sweaters.

“I was so disappointed and so ungrateful I went to his sister’s room, where I was staying, and cried. I said, ‘Your brother doesn’t love me like I love him.’”

A week later they went out for pizza and when he went to pay, he asked for her help finding the right change.

“So I looked in his hand and there was a diamond ring. I was so excited I started to cry.”

Soon they set off for Montreal to ask her father’s permission. He gave it and they began planning the wedding, but a few days later, Howard got an offer from Blanton Collier to become an assistant coach at Kentucky. He left immediately, meaning in the 10 months between their meeting and the wedding they were together only a handful of days.


Love letters

They filled those days apart with some phone calls but mostly letters — dozens and dozens of letters.

“I would write a letter and he would respond,” Beverlee said. “I’ve kept the ones he sent to me, but most of the ones I wrote he threw away. I kept those I had all these years.”

Some are informative, some more romantic; they fill a thick red scrapbook Beverlee keeps close and, especially now, leafs through on occasion as a way of remembering that special time in her life.

When time came to set a wedding date, they chose the first Saturday in May, when Montreal is finally getting around to spring. That also happens to be the biggest day of the year in Howard’s native Louisville.

“Being a Canadian girl I had no idea the Kentucky Derby was a big deal, and he didn’t say anything,” Beverlee remembered. “So it was sad that none of his friends came to Montreal.”

Poirier, by then Howard’s former teammate, was persuaded to be best man. “To this day we say we had to rent a best man,” she said.


Family ups and downs

Soon Beverlee was settling into the role of football wife, one she would play for most of the next 50-plus years.

“Our family life and our love life was one great big football season,” she said. “It was all football. Thank goodness I had three sons. It was a love affair with football, and your husband, and the family, and it was a beautiful experience.”

That family grew when Beverlee gave birth to their first son, Stephen, in 1960 while Howard was at Kentucky. Stuart came a year later and Tim in 1967.

The family has also had its ups and downs. Tim became a successful international model, becoming the spokesman and lead model for the Calvin Klein Obsession fragrance. But he and Stephen also battled drug abuse as teenagers, prompting intervention from their parents in both cases.

Stuart, who is in the concrete business, graduated with a finance degree from Miami when his father was coaching there.

“But we always worked it out together,” Beverlee said of the family problems. “We didn’t fight about it. Got through it with counseling, meetings, understanding the disease, working as a family. Because it is a family disease; it’s not just the person who has it.”

Tim used his own experiences to start a rehab center, Healing Properties in Delray Beach, in 2002. “That’s why Tim got so involved in rehab, because he’s been there, done that and didn’t want anyone to go through what he went through,” Beverlee said.

Stephen was diagnosed with cancer in his mid-40s and died in 2008 at the age of 48.

“When our son died, when he was real sick, that’s what brings a family close, and that’s what brings a husband and wife close,” Beverlee said. “Because they work it out.”


Magical years

After two years at Kentucky, Howard got an offer to reunite with Bear Bryant at Alabama. He wasn’t there long when Bryant needed someone to travel to Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania, to recruit a hotshot quarterback named Joe Namath. Because Howard had played at Kentucky with Namath’s brother Frank, Bryant picked Howard to go.

“Coach Bryant said don’t come back until you have him,” Beverlee said. “He was supposed to be there for one day but stayed three or four, ran out of money, out of clothes, he was writing bad checks … but he got him.”

Howard held a special place for Bryant throughout his life, and in January he was presented with the Paul “Bear” Bryant Lifetime Achievement Award by the American Heart Association.

After Schnellenberger spent five seasons and won three national championships at Alabama, George Allen offered him a coaching position with the NFL’s Los Angeles Rams. Beverlee said the next four years were a magical time.

“We loved it,” she said. “We were invited to all the parties, and at the games I’m sitting next to Yvonne De Carlo with Bob Hope right in front of me.

“We lived a couple miles from the training camp so Howard would ride his bicycle, and on his way home there’s flowers everywhere. So he would pick flowers from the yards, one from here, one there, then come home every night with a bouquet for me.”

Howard had planned to stick with Allen, but that changed after four seasons when, at 4 o’clock one morning, the phone rang. On the other end was Shula, who had worked alongside Howard at Kentucky and had just been hired to coach the Dolphins. Shula wanted Howard as his offensive coordinator.


8507607295?profile=RESIZE_710xUniversity of Miami players carried coach Howard Schnellenberger off the field after a 1981 victory over Notre Dame gave them a 9-2 finish with a six-game winning streak. Two years later Miami won the national championship. Photo provided by Robert Mayer

The perfect season

Two years later came the perfect season, as the Dolphins became the only team in NFL history to finish undefeated. As for pressure, Beverlee said they never felt any.

“We all lived pretty much on the same street in Miami Lakes and we all got along so well, it felt like family,” she said. “It was business. It was always, ‘We’re going to play a game now.’ It was never, ‘We’re going to win or else.’”

Dick Anderson, a safety on that team, built a close relationship with Howard.

“It was Howard, and it was Howard and Beverlee,” Anderson said. “To this day it seems the same way.”

After the ’72 season another opportunity arose. The Dolphins’ director of player personnel, Joe Thomas, moved to the Baltimore Colts as general manager. He hired Howard in 1973 as head coach only to see owner Robert Irsay fire Schnellenberger early in the 1974 season because he wouldn’t play the quarterback Irsay wanted.

The coach wasn’t unemployed for long. Shula created an opening on his Dolphins staff and invited Howard to return, which he did until 1979. Then Beverlee described an opportunity that would change the Schnellenbergers’ lives forever.

“He called me and said, ‘I just got a call from somebody with the Miami Hurricanes and they want me to coach. And I told them no,’” she recalled. “Seven coaches had turned down the job, it was so bad.

“So I said, ‘We should go; it would be fun.’ I said, ‘Call them back, call them back.’ So he called them back and that was it.”

Short of money to recruit, Howard drew an imaginary line across the state at Orlando and called the territory south of it the State of Miami, then targeted the kind of talent that had always left to play at places like Michigan, Notre Dame and Penn State.

“He’d go to Overtown, Liberty City, smoking his pipe, and it got to where the kids were waiting for him,” Beverlee said. “They’d say, ‘Let the scholarship man in.’ So he’d ‘accidentally’ leave his pipe there. So, he would have to go back and get the pipe, and get another visit. That’s how it started. Kids from that time came to him.”

He promised to take Miami, which had posted only two winning seasons in the previous decade, to a national championship in five years, then met his goal.

“Everybody laughed when he kept saying that,” Beverlee said. “It would be, ‘We’re on a collision course with the national championship,’ or ‘The only variable is time.’ He would post these slogans around the locker room. And the players believed.”


Ill-fated choice

Schnellenberger’s players carried him off the field after UM’s 31-30 win over No. 1 Nebraska on Jan. 2, 1984, in the Orange Bowl, and his future never looked brighter. But he made an ill-fated decision to leave the Hurricanes to coach a new Florida franchise in the upstart United States Football League. When the job fell through, Schnellenberger was idle until 1985, when he was lured to the University of Louisville, another program that needed a jump-start.

“He knew everybody in Louisville,” Beverlee said. “We said we weren’t interested, but they kept calling. The governor, John Y. Brown, got involved, and they put together a group that would subsidize him.”

Howard once again resuscitated a moribund program. A 10-1-1 finish in 1990 capped by a 34-7 win over Alabama in the Fiesta Bowl was the high point of his 1985-94 tenure, and in 1995 Oklahoma came calling.

Intrigued by a chance at taking over a big-time program as opposed to resuscitating one, Schnellenberger arrived and promised a fast return to success.

It didn’t happen and things got ugly quickly, particularly toward the end of the season when the Sooners lost four of their last five games to finish a disappointing 5-5-1.

Recognizing the animus on both sides, Howard resigned, leaving millions on the table.

“They didn’t like us and we didn’t like them,” Beverlee said. “So we left.”

8507609066?profile=RESIZE_710xA bust in the Schnellenberger home holds many of the former coach’s championship medals. Coastal Star file photo

Launching FAU program

The Schnellenbergers returned to Miami, where they had kept the house they bought when Howard first joined the Dolphins, and waited to see if an opportunity would materialize.

A couple of years went by before he got a call from FAU President Anthony Catanese, saying the university had decided to start a football program and wanted him to be the point man.

“Howard said, ‘Sure,’ then told me FAU had called,” Beverlee said. “And I said, ‘Where is that? Never heard of it.’”

Schnellenberger struggled when he tried to find a coach, prompting Catanese to suggest he take the job. He agreed.

Starting in 2001, he would go 58-74 in 11 seasons before retiring from coaching in 2011. He finished 158-151-3 over his 27 years at the college level.

After living 25 years in Ocean Ridge, the couple moved to Boynton Beach in 2015 while Howard continued to serve as an FAU ambassador. Then came the evening of last July 16.

Howard tripped on a carpet and fell headfirst into a metal statue of an owl that Burt Reynolds had given the couple.

Beverlee said Howard underwent surgery to remove blood from the brain.

“Then he was in a rehab place, fell out of bed, and he had to go back to the hospital for more surgery,” she said. He had four surgeries in all.

COVID-19 protocols prevented Beverlee from visiting for four months. The Schnellenbergers had occasional FaceTime calls via nurses’ cellphones until family was allowed access in late November. Now Beverlee and Tim visit a few times a week.

One of those visits offered a promising development.

“It’s really helped him to see us,” Beverlee said. “One Sunday Tim was there and they were watching a Dolphins game when Howard turned to Tim and said, ‘They need offense.’ He’s aware of everything; he knows what’s going on. It’s just going to take time to get it working again.”

Former Buffalo Bills star Jim Kelly, who was Howard’s first quarterback at UM in 1979, has remained close to the pair. He said Beverlee “has always been there from start to finish” with Howard.

“Especially now, when Coach is not doing very well,” said Kelly, who has endured multiple bouts with cancer. “She’s almost been like a mother to me. She’s always looking out for everybody. It’s always awesome to see.”


More love letters

During the UM days, Beverlee would take time the Thursday of every game week to write a letter to Howard.

“I would think about it all week, write it, and on Friday I would pick out his clothes for the game and stick it on the inside pocket of his coat.

“How much we loved each other, something motivational, and each week was different.

“With Valentine’s Day coming, I’d like to say to the ladies: Be kind, understanding, and grateful you have each other. When times are tough, get tougher, work it out, it’s worth it. Being sweet to your husband takes less energy and stress. It’s no fun not having them around.”

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