• Beaufort Lifestyle Magazine

bftlifestyle

story by Kelly Harley     photos by Paul Nurnberg

You can say Zeke Wilson has been a fighter all of his life. He was born in 1957 in St. Helena Island, South Carolina. That was the same year President Dwight Eisenhower passed the Civil Rights Act. Zeke, one of eight children, was raised by a single mom and learned at a young age that hard work and perseverance were two of the most important qualities needed to make something of your life. “I spent a lot of time on the farm, doing field work; I got a proper education; and I got into sports,” says Zeke.

     Zeke played football for St. Helena Junior High School and says he got really good at it, but he wanted more.

“I remember watching a telecast and Joe Frazier was about to fight Muhammad Ali. I instantly knew I wanted to box,” says Zeke.

     He went to work one day and chopped down three trees. He dug two holes and put a tree in each hole. He used the third tree as a cross beam in which he hung a pair of jeans filled with sand on it and started punching. It wasn’t long before people took notice of his skill. “One day a man saw me jogging home from work and stopped me and asked what I was doing,” says Zeke. “The man later became my first boxing manager.”

     Zeke, who at the time lived near Parris Island, the training base for enlisted Marines, was able to spar with local Marines. After practicing and honing his skills, at 16 years old he took on his first true opponent during a match in Savannah, Georgia. He was matched with a Golden Glove Champion and State Champion. “I remember the night before the fight, I asked my mom what if I lose,” says Zeke. “She said, ‘As long as you do your best, you can’t lose’.” In 10 seconds, Zeke knocked the guy out cold. That night in the ring propelled his nearly 25-year boxing career.

     After graduating high school, Zeke moved to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He spent time as Joe Frazier’s sparring partner and made his boxing team. He then joined the United States Marine Corps and boxed on the Marine Corps boxing team. After four years of active duty, Zeke was honorably discharged and continued boxing.

     Throughout his career, he won the State Golden Glove the State Championship on Hilton Head Island. In 1977, he won the USA Amateur Athletic Union Heavyweight Box-Off at the Riverfront Coliseum in Cincinnati, Ohio, which qualified him for a seat on the US Boxing Team.

     When his career in the ring ended, his passion for boxing didn’t. Zeke went on to become a manager, trainer and promoter. It was during his time as a promoter that led him to fight his biggest fight outside of the ring and make history. “I was a fight promoter and I went to Massachusetts to do a boxing event, but different bodies of the state canceled me because of the color of my skin. The state law said anyone who did boxing events had to pay $5,000. I was asked to pay $10,000 and white individuals didn’t have to pay,” says Zeke.

     In 2000, Zeke fought a precedent-setting court battle that defined the view of a modern form of racism, that of same-race discrimination. Wilson-vs-McClure was the first same-race discrimination case in the US to reach a Federal court jury. In this case, white Boxing Commissioner William Pender performed direct discriminatory acts, while the black Commission Chairman Wilbert McClure failed to provide Zeke sufficient protection under his authority and cooperated in the unjust cancellation of a series of boxing events, causing financial harm to Zeke. “I didn’t have a lawyer. I did all of my own court proceedings in front of the Chief Justice and the jury. I did it because I believed in myself,” says Zeke. Hard work and perseverance that were instilled in him as a child, paid off. He won his case in front of a jury of his peers. “I hope people learn to stand up for themselves. I had to. Justice is for everyone and it has to be for everyone or you’re just a nobody,” says Zeke. “We are living in a time where people are taking more away from us. If you allow people to take away your rights, then I think you’d be a fool. You have to stand up for what you believe in.”

     Zeke’s experiences were the driving force behind his book titled, The Eighth Round. “In the book, I share my life struggles, the valuable life lessons I learned, and how determination helped me through trying circumstances,” says Zeke. “This true story will keep you engaged and cheering for the underdog all the way. It will leave every reader forever changed.” He also wrote a movie script based on the book and it’s with Sony right now. Zeke believes they will move forward with it this year.

     Zeke currently travels around the world doing book signings and speaking to kids. Zeke believes the children are our future and he wants to leave a lasting impression on them. He says his appearances and his book are meant to inspire people to take action, especially kids. “You can do anything you put your mind to and kids can be anything they want to be,” says Zeke. “You can’t do dumb things and expect to do great things later. Trouble can put you in places you don’t want to be. If the people don’t stand together, it’s only going to get worse. It’s not going to get any better if we don’t change. I believed in myself and when you believe in yourself, you can accomplish anything.”

     To learn more about Zeke’s story and purchase a copy of The Eighth Round, visit www.theeighthround.com.

New Partnership to Relocate, Expand Cancer Services on Beaufort Memorial Hospital Campus

story by Courtney McDermott     photos by Paul Nurnberg

Beaufort Memorial Hospital (BMH) is partnering with Alliance Oncology and the Medical University of South Carolina Health System (MUSC Health) to relocate and expand the Keyserling Cancer Center to the main hospital campus later this year.

     The new center will be located in the Beaufort Medical Plaza, the three-story medical office building next to the hospital. Radiation oncology and infusion services will be provided on the first floor, where board-certified radiation oncologist Dr. Jonathan Briggs will be located. Board-certified medical oncology physicians Drs. Majd Chahin and Mark Newberry will be co-located on the third floor.

     Construction is expected to begin late this month. The move will bring together the full array of lab, imaging, breast health services and infusion that support the cancer program.

     “Beaufort Memorial Hospital has been providing outstanding cancer care to the community for more than a decade,” says Russell Baxley, MHA, President and CEO of Beaufort Memorial Hospital. “Our new and expanded partnership with MUSC and Alliance Oncology will allow us to offer cutting-edge technology and resources locally, providing the latest in cancer care to our patients.”

     Last fall BMH officials announced that they would be moving the cancer center to a new location to consolidate and expand cancer services. The newly formed partnership provides both the capital investment and program development expertise required to expand and upgrade services to meet the growing needs of the Lowcountry.

     At the new Beaufort Memorial Keyserling Cancer Center, an MUSC clinical advisory committee will collaborate closely with local oncology experts and a dedicated clinical liaison will be onsite in the radiation oncology center. This expands upon the collaboration that was formed in 2016 when the cancer center began enrolling qualifying cancer patients in clinical trials through an affiliation with the National Cancer Institute-designated Hollings Cancer Center at MUSC.

     “Given the needs of our patients throughout the state, it is imperative that we find innovative affiliations such as this one to ensure we are reaching all of those who need the expertise of our teams,” said Patrick J. Cawley, M.D., CEO, MUSC Health and Vice President for Health Affairs at Medical University of South Carolina. “We are excited and pleased to work with our colleagues at Alliance Oncology and Beaufort Memorial to bring the expertise of the Hollings Cancer Center even closer to those who need us.”

     Alliance Oncology partners directly with hospitals and physicians to develop fully integrated oncology programs. Providing a full range of inpatient and outpatient service line capabilities, Alliance Oncology’s comprehensive approach to cancer care affords its partners the speed-to-market, quality clinical outcomes, patient satisfaction and operational expertise that sets them apart from the competition.

     This project represents Alliance Oncology’s vision to partner with leading providers to expand regional services to communities, giving patients and their providers improved access, convenience and services closer to home.

     “In partnership with MUSC Health and Beaufort Memorial Hospital we are excited to add this location benefitting the local Beaufort community, and to augment academic cancer care services in the region,” said Greg Spurlock, President of Alliance Oncology. “As one of the nation’s leading providers of cancer care, this center will join Alliance affiliated locations across the country in providing high-quality, patient-centered services in partnership with premier cancer care providers and caregivers.”

Though she be but little, she is fierce. – William Shakespeare

story by Cindy Reid     photos by John Wollwerth

Molly Monroe was a teenage beauty queen who had her future planned out for her. When she makes an impulsive decision to join the Marine Corps the summer after high school graduation, her boyfriend breaks up with her, her brother bears the burden of guilt, and her mother feels betrayed.

     As a Combat Camera Marine, Molly observes and records her environment from behind the lens, where image shapes day-to-day life. This story unfolds through multiple perspectives, and as the negatives and positives develop, an image of the Model Marine is sharpened into focus.

     It is not in the stars to hold our destiny but in ourselves. -William Shakespeare

     Author Sondra Sykes Meek says she “didn’t even know women could be in the Marine Corps” until a female classmate in her hometown of Lakeland, Florida joined. She said, “I told my Dad I was thinking about joining the Marines and he laughed so hard that I had to enlist just to prove him wrong!” She credits her Marine recruiter for preparing her for boot camp. “He really helped me and although boot camp was a big challenge, I knew what to expect.” Ultimately Sondra says she joined the USMC to find “stability, direction, and to be part of something bigger than myself.” She soon discovered that joining the Marine Corps also increased the size of her family. She developed bonds that she will always treasure.

     Clearly it was a good fit. Sondra spent twenty years as a Marine, retiring in 2010 at the rank of Master Sergeant after serving at six duty stations, including two combat deployments, in Iraq and the southern Philippines. Simultaneously pursuing her love of writing and literature, Sondra earned a BA in English while she served on active duty and an MFA in Creative Writing after she retired while living in San Diego on her husband’s orders. Since 2011 she has been working full time as a Project Manager for the Department of the Navy.

     Sondra has recently published her first novel, Model Marine, which she has dedicated to the men and women of the armed forces.

     To thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man. -William Shakespeare

     Although Model Marine follows the events in a female Marine’s life, Sondra says, “The events in the book are all fiction but the characters are composites of many of the Marines I served with, who are some of the most extraordinary people I’ve known.” Regarding her title character, Sondra says “there are a lot of ways I empathize with Molly, but she is not me. All of the characters in the story have pieces of me in them, but I wanted them to have different opinions and perspectives. The main female characters include Molly Monroe, who is my idealist; Ramirez, who is my cynic; and Baptiste, who is my spiritual guide in the story. There are several male Marine characters, but among them Sergeant Hicks is an enigma, in that he may be easy for some readers to dislike but he embodies the same characteristics of many Marines who are willing to die for you. He is ultimately a chivalrous character.” Sondra says the diverse cast of characters is an accurate reflection of the diversity found in the Marines. She says, “I loved that about the Marine Corps and I love that about my characters!”

     When discussing the themes of the story Sondra says, “Molly‘s previous life as a model put her in front of the camera whereas her career in the Marines puts her behind the camera. What I wanted to show in the book is that joining the Marine Corps is a transformation. My main character, Molly, is a beauty queen, which shows what a ‘girly girl’ she is at the beginning, and she is the centerpiece of her family unit. By the end of the book, she is no longer the centerpiece. There are subtle shifts and eventually it’s not just about her anymore.  She has made a full transition, and other Marines’ stories are as relevant as hers. In my opinion, all of the characters are ‘model Marines.’

     Shakespeare quotes are found throughout Model Marine and Sondra says “I do love Shakespeare because Shakespeare touches on big subjects like death and other human experiences that are still so relevant today. The play Hamlet moves me emotionally on a deep level.” When asked about her favorite authors she says, “Shakespeare of course. I love the classics; Wuthering Heights is my favorite book, and I adore To Kill a Mockingbird. But I also read and love modern books; The Help by Kathryn Stockett is one of my absolute favorites.”

     “I wanted to incorporate my love of literature into the Marine Corps storyline in my book. There is a lot of symbolism in the story. Liberal arts may seem to be distinctly different from the military but they have several similarities I tried to draw attention to in the book. I think the reader will discover how meaningful they both can be when you take the time to learn about them.”

     The golden age is before us, not behind us. -William Shakespeare

     Sondra has a long history with Beaufort. She says “I went to Parris Island for basic training. I was so disappointed when I received my orders after military occupational school and learned I was headed back to Parris Island for my first duty station because I wanted to travel somewhere new. But it all worked out because that is how I met my husband Eric, who was also a Marine. In fact, we were married here in Beaufort.” Sondra and Eric are the proud parents of two daughters, Breanna who is the model on the cover of the book, and Amanda who took the picture on the cover and is moving to Arizona soon with Jason, her Marine husband.

     Because they still owned the home on Lady’s Island they purchased in 2005, the Meeks chose Beaufort to return to after their mutual retirement from the Marine Corps. Sondra says, “Before we only knew Beaufort as Marines, but this time we are able to really enjoy it, especially using our boat and being on the water. Now I love Beaufort!”

     Although she has written short stories she wants to turn into novels, right now Sondra is focused on promoting Model Marine and looking forward to the day when she will be devoting herself to writing full time. She says, “I feel very connected to the natural beauty of the lowcountry and I look forward to becoming more connected to the larger community, especially writers and the literary community.” Until then, wise words from the Bard…

     “From women’s eyes this doctrine I derive: They sparkle still the right Promethean fire; They are the books, the arts, the academes, That show, contain, and nourish all the world.”

     Follow on Instagram @modelmarine and on Face book as Model Marine

     Model Marine by Sondra Sykes Meek is available locally at the Beaufort Bookstore and The Corps Store. It is also available at Amazon in paperback and Kindle versions.
Visit sondrasykesmeek.com

Take Control of Your Hearing Health

story by Emily Burgess

“Better hearing is better living” is the motto at Kalady Audiology, an industry leading hearing clinic that strives to enrich the lives of those who are experiencing hearing loss and has been serving the Beaufort community for nearly two years.

     “I have traveled to China three times. Each time we added to our family through adoption. While preparing for the trips, we did manage to learn (we thought) some of the language. We quickly learned that we were wholly dependent on our guides and translators for communication. I experienced that feeling of isolation from being unable to understand what others were saying and misunderstandings arose. This has stayed with me as I counsel patients about the emotional aspects of living with hearing impairment and reinforces my desire to provide the best solutions for my patients’ communication needs,” said Dr. Meg Kalady.

     Dr. Kalady has practiced Audiology for 30 years.  She moved to Beaufort almost two years ago, where she bought an existing Audiology practice.  She is originally from the  suburbs of Philadelphia. She completed her undergraduate and graduate degrees at Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania and received her doctorate in Audiology from AT Still University in 2012. She is Board Certified in Audiology by the American Board of Audiology, a fellow of the American Academy of Audiology, a member of the Academy of Doctors of Audiology and the South Carolina Academy of Audiology.

     “Hearing loss affects your entire life,” Kalady said. It is the third most common physical condition after arthritis and heart disease, affecting 48 million Americans. “Our focus is making sure you don’t miss out on anything because of your hearing loss.”

     Hearing loss can negatively impact your life in many areas including your work performance, your relationships, your safety and has been linked to more serious conditions such as dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, depression and cognitive decline.

     The practice strives to thoroughly evaluate patient’s hearing, the impact the hearing loss is having, the areas where patients feel they need assistance and the solutions to meet those needs. Kalady Audiology combines a patient’s needs with their knowledge to come up with a plan in order to be successful.

     The compassionate staff at Kalady Audiology understands that achieving better hearing is an on-going treatment process between the patient and audiologist. They dedicate extra time in getting to know the patient and their specific hearing needs in order to ensure the best results. This individualized approach allows for treatment based on the patient’s listening needs, lifestyle and budget.

     Kalady Audiology offers a wide range of services, the most common being hearing tests and evaluations along with hearing aid fittings and programming. They also offer hearing aid repair, hearing protection, tinnitus management and live speech mapping.

     Kalady Audiology offers a vast array of resources and tools on their website at kaladyaudiology.com. There is a hearing loss survey to help determine if you are experiencing signs of hearing loss, a guide to hearing aids and a video library to help you better understand hearing loss.

     The office is open for appointments Monday through Thursday, 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and would love to hear from you about how they can get you started to better hearing health. Email info@kaladyaudiology.com or call us at 843-271-6978 with any questions or to schedule an appointment.

Family. Friendly. Dental.

story by Emily Burgess     photos by Susan DeLoach

Howard Family Dental has been serving Coastal Georgia and South Carolina for all dental needs for close to 40 years. Today, the practice has grown to two specialty practices and 11 general practices, including a Beaufort location that has been serving our community since December 2015.

     “Family. Friendly. Dental,” are the priorities that Howard Family Dental focuses on to ensure the best dental experience for the whole family. They genuinely value relationships with their patients and guarantee you will feel apart of the family. The team of doctors and hygienists at the Beaufort office truly care about making each appointment exceptional for the patient. They personalize each patient’s appointment and treatment plan to help every patient achieve their oral health goals and ensure they develop and maintain healthy good oral health.

     The mouth is the gateway to the body’s overall health. While maintaining good oral health care is good for obvious reasons, such as preventing bad breath, tooth decay and infection, it is also imperative to help reduce the risk of serious health complications, such as heart attacks, strokes and diabetes.

     The Howard Family Dental dentists are extremely skilled and dedicated to every patient’s dental health and well-being. Two dentists, Dr. Isaac Hankla and Dr. Ian Barnard, who started with the practice at the end of February, serve the Beaufort location.

     Dr. Isaac Hankla completed his undergraduate studies at Transylvania University where he studied Biology before graduating from the University of Kentucky, School of Dentistry.

     Dr. Ian Barnard is a graduate of Purdue University with a bachelor’s degree in animal science and a double minor in international studies and biological studies. He then graduated from Indiana University, School of Dentistry. Dr. Barnard completed a one-year dental residency program aimed at treating medically compromised patients and became certified to perform IV sedation. This will enable the practice to expand services and offer IV sedation to patients later this year.

     Howard Family Dental sees patients of all ages and offers general dentistry including dental implants, crowns and bridges, fillings, root canals, oral surgery and more. Additionally, they offer cosmetic dentistry such as veneers and teeth whitening. A majority of patients seen are seeking routine care, but the practice also sees many who are seeking emergency treatment due to pain.

     The practice offers the Howard Family Dental Discount Plan that is designed to provide affordability and greater access to quality dental care. Patients receive immediate, hassle-free and convenient eligibility. The Dental Discount Plan offers a range of discounts for dental services, with annual enrollment fees starting at just $247.00 for a single plan. The office accepts CareCredit to help patients finance their dental treatment. PPO insurances, along with Tricare and Meritain Health are also accepted.

     Howard Family Dental is also dedicated to serving the local community outside their office walls. They have proudly established the Howard Family Dental Foundation to fund programs that support the education and health care of youth in the community and around the world. Additionally, the Foundation supports their own team members and their families in times of crisis and educational endeavors.

     Howard Family Dental Beaufort believes everyone deserves to have a healthy, confident smile and their goal is to educate every patient that walks through their door to help them reach their optimal oral health. The office is conveniently located on Robert Smalls Parkway in the Beaufort Plaza Shopping Center just 10 miles from Parris Island. Call their office or visit their website to schedule an appointment Monday through Friday 7 a.m. to 4 p.m.

story by Carol Lauvray     photos by Susan DeLoach

Kyleigh Tokar has faced and overcome greater challenges than most people encounter during a lifetime—and she is just 16 years old.

     The Beaufort High School junior beat all odds at the beginning of her life, surviving a massive stroke while in utero and subsequently being born without brain activity, reflexes, vision, hearing or muscular ability. Defying her doctors’ early prognosis, Kyleigh has grown into an active, happy teenager who excels in school and who loves sports like golf and bowling, as well as camping and board games. Her parents, Alana and Joseph Tokar, credit God for Kyleigh’s miraculous recovery as an infant.

     Last June, Joe Tokar started writing a blog about his daughter Kyleigh. His first post on the blog reads: “What can I say about her? She loves the Lord and is amazing, wonderful, happy, vibrant and incredibly caring. She is an incredible young woman that has changed not only my life, but the lives of so many people she has come in contact with. She is quite literally a gift from God…”

Facing Another Challenge

     Joe created the blog to document the latest challenge that Kyleigh is facing—a diagnosis of Ewing sarcoma (a rare type of cancer that occurs in bones or in the soft tissue around bone), a cancer that most often afflicts teens and young adults. The survival rate for localized cases of Ewing sarcoma is about 70 percent; if it spreads to other sites in the body, the survival rate drops to 30 percent.

     Last year, in May, while she was driving, Kyleigh was hit by another car, an event that her dad Joe believes was a gift from God to help the family discover her cancer. As a result of the accident, Kyleigh suffered a minor back injury so she visited a chiropractor. Two weeks later, her back still hurt so her mom Alana asked the chiropractor to look at a bulge on Kyleigh’s rib. The chiropractor advised them to have a doctor see Kyleigh immediately.  So began a flurry of doctor appointments, tests (x-rays, a CT scan and an ultrasound), and a biopsy on the mass on Kyleigh’s rib. On June 14, 2017, the family received the dreaded call from the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) in Charleston with the diagnosis of cancer.

     Kyleigh’s doctor at MUSC wanted to begin her chemotherapy as soon as possible, during the last week of June. On June 26, 2017 Joe posted in the blog saying that Kyleigh had a different plan, “…my wonderful daughter, so confident in Christ, says she wants to go to camp for a week before she starts treatment.” As a result, Monday, July 10, 2017 was rescheduled to be Kyleigh’s first chemotherapy treatment. The week before her treatment began, Kyleigh decided to have her long, flowing tresses cut into a short style so she could donate her hair to Locks of Love.

     Kyleigh’s treatment plan is rigorous: Week 1 she spent two days in the hospital; Week 2 she was an outpatient; Week 3 she stayed in the hospital for 6 days; Week 4 she was at home; then the pattern repeated through Week 14. After a period of time off chemotherapy, on October 20, 2017, Kyleigh had an operation to remove the tumor and all or part of three ribs, but through it all her spirit and determination never waivered. Just the day before her surgery, she played 18 holes of golf in Conway, SC as a member of the Beaufort High School Eagles girls golf team in the Class 4A Lower State championship meet, and the team qualified to go to the State playoffs. After Kyleigh’s operation and four weeks of healing, she resumed her chemotherapy regimen the week before Thanksgiving, beginning another 22 weeks of treatment. Kyleigh’s goal is to complete her treatment before the end of May 2018, so she and her family can take their annual Memorial Day camping trip to Clarks Hill Lake.

     Everyone who has experienced cancer firsthand as a patient or as a caregiver understands the toll that the disease takes, in terms of enduring treatments and side effects, pain, angst and the loss of freedom. Since the time that Kyleigh began her treatment in July 2017, she has experienced side effects including fatigue, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, fevers, pain and swelling in her hands and feet, mouth sores, difficultly walking and focusing her attention, and damage to her heart. An avid golfer and excellent student, Kyleigh has missed participating regularly in sports, attending school, and spending time with friends and family members, to limit her exposure to germs because of her compromised immune system.

     In September, after 2 ½ months of Kyleigh’s treatments, her mom Alana posted on the blog, “…I mourn for the joy my daughter used to have when she was driving with her friends to go to the beach, to school to see her favorite teachers, to run to the grocery store to get something for her mom. I mourn for my daughter when I see her in so much pain because the chemo is causing her hands and feet to swell and blister. I mourn for the loss of my relationship with my husband, friends, co-workers and family members because Kyleigh’s counts are too low to visit with them…” Also in September, her dad Joe posted, “Through all of this Kyleigh doesn’t complain, doesn’t whine, just faces it with strength and the conviction of her faith. At the same time that I want to protect her, and hold her, and make all of this go away, I admire her for her spirit and her character.”

     After nearly seven months in treatment, at the end of January Kyleigh posted on the blog herself announcing great news: “I am CANCER FREE! Just going through consolidation to make sure all the teeny tiny microscopic cells have all been found and KILLED. When first diagnosed with cancer my world broke for just a few seconds and that’s when God gave me the Bible verse that you see on my dad’s blogs, Philippians 4:13: ‘I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.’ ” After her treatment concludes this May, Kyleigh will continue to make regular visits to MUSC for checkups for the next five years. If the cancer does not return by the time she reaches the age of 30, she’ll be considered cured.

Looking Forward to Life

     Now Kyleigh and her family are focused on completing her treatment by the end of May in time for their Memorial Day camping trip. Kyleigh is also making longer-range plans for her future. She is on schedule to graduate from Beaufort High School in June 2019 and afterward, she would like to attend Southern Wesleyan University in Central, SC to earn her degree in business. She’s already started her own business from home selling LuLaRoe clothing.

     A few minutes after Kyleigh, Joe and Alana Tokar were interviewed for this article on a sunny, warm Beaufort afternoon in late February, Kyleigh and her dad stood on the first hole at Sanctuary Golf Club on Cat Island, teeing off to play a few holes of golf. Kyleigh Tokar embodies spirit, fortitude and optimism in the face of life-threatening challenges, and she does this with unusual grace. Kyleigh truly believes that her grace to face these challenges is a gift from God.

story by Marie McAden     photos by Paul Nurnberg

Three weeks into his new job as president and CEO of Beaufort Memorial Hospital (BMH), Russell Baxley was settled into his office and eager to start work on several innovative initiatives to improve patient care.

   Mother Nature had other ideas.

   The young hospital administrator was just getting ready to sink his teeth into his burgeoning agenda when Hurricane Matthew began its destructive route up the Southeastern coast.

     At first, the plan was to discharge all patients well enough to go home and shelter in place. But when the forecast model showed the Category 4 storm had shifted direction and was making a beeline for Beaufort with a predicted landfall at high tide, Baxley was faced with the difficult choice of riding out the hurricane or closing the 197-bed nonprofit hospital.

     The most serious potential issue was a 12-foot storm surge flooding the basement and taking out the hospital’s chilling system and boilers. Concerned for the safety of the remaining patients, many of them in serious or critical condition, Baxley decided to evacuate.

     Coordinating with officials from the state’s Department of Health and Environmental Control and a multitude of transportation companies, hospital staff began relocating dozens of patients, including two who were on ventilators and needed to be airlifted out. Many of the patients were accompanied to the receiving hospitals by BMH nurses.

     “No one in the hospital had been through a hurricane before,” Baxley said. “It was amazing to watch everyone go into action. In less than 12 hours, we had evacuated 68 patients.”

     And Baxley was right there with them in the trenches.

     “When the storm hit, he slept in the hospital with the emergency staff,” recalled BMH Board of Trustees Chair Terry Murray. “It created a great sense of camaraderie and team work.”

     “Days later, the housekeepers, technicians, doctors and nurses who had been called in to man the hospital during the storm were telling her, “This new guy’s okay.”

     For Baxley, it turned out to be a blessing in disguise.

     “It was a crash course for me in what our hospital staff could do in the face of extraordinary challenges,” he said. “Working together in a crisis, we got to know each other very quickly.”

     At age 33, Baxley was the youngest of seven highly qualified finalists the BMH Board of Trustees considered to replace outgoing president Rick Toomey, who announced his resignation in early 2016.

     Despite his youth, Baxley had a depth of experience that was unrivaled. He started his career managing a physician practice and advanced through every critical hospital position, including CEO of a similar-size private hospital in Lancaster, PA.

     During his career, he had served as chief operating officer, assistant chief financial officer and director of development in small- and medium-size hospitals in South Carolina and Texas, including Carolina Pines Regional Medical Center in Hartsville. He also served as director of operations and finance for a large family medicine practice and medical spa in Columbia.

     “We wanted someone who had vision, but was well grounded,” Murray said. “The more we talked with him, the more we realized he was up for the challenge. Not only could he take us to the next level, he could take us to the level after that.”

     More importantly, he had a deep sense of integrity. “He worked for a for-profit hospital, but he embraced the nonprofit mission,” Murray said. “Integrity was at the heart of it.”

     A graduate of Clemson University with a B.S. in Microbiology, Russell started out with aspirations of becoming a doctor.

     “I always wanted to be in the healthcare field,” he said. “But after four years of undergraduate studies, I decided it wasn’t for me.”

     His mother, the controller for Lake City Community Hospital, encouraged him to get a master’s in hospital administration. He took her advice and earned his graduate degree in Healthcare Administration from the University of South Carolina (USC).

     Growing up in rural Johnsonville, Baxley developed a strong work ethic, nurtured in the fields of his family’s South Carolina farm.

     “My brother, my cousins and I all worked on the farm in the summers and after school, even if we had other jobs or baseball practice,” Baxley recalled. “It was the expectation. The job wasn’t done until it was done.”

     The lessons he learned in his youth—the importance of working together as a team and sharing a commitment to a common cause —have served him well as a hospital administrator.

     Today, that common cause is to provide the community with access to high quality care.

     “We want to expand our footprint, both physically and through technology, to offer our residents health care services where they live, work and play,” Baxley said. “We have to grow, but we need to grow in the right way, making sure we are good stewards of our finances.”

     One of his most ambitious initiatives is the creation of South Carolina’s first micro hospital, being planned in Okatie Crossing to serve Bluffton’s growing population. BMH has partnered with the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC Health) to build the acute care facility adjacent to its planned 60,000-70,000-square-foot medical campus at U.S. 278 and S.C. 170. Construction of the 20-bed micro hospital will begin in June with a completion date set for September 2019.

     The micro hospital will include an emergency room, lab and imaging services, In-patient beds and surgical suites.  The hospital will focus on multiple specialties to include general medicine, orthopedics, general surgery, cardiology and more.

     Baxley also shepherded a joint venture with MUSC and Alliance Oncology to relocate and expand the Keyserling Cancer Center to Beaufort Medical Plaza on the main hospital campus. The three-story building already houses an infusion center, imaging services, breast health center and the office of one of Beaufort Memorial’s two medical oncologists.

     By early 2019, the second oncologist, along with radiation oncology services, will be moved to the building from the Keyserling Center.

     “Our vision is to provide cancer patients with everything they need in one place,” Baxley said. “We’ll even have office space for MUSC cancer specialists so patients can see them here rather than have to drive to Charleston.”

     As part of the project, BMH is investing in the latest radiation technology, including a cutting-edge linear accelerator. The hospital also has applied to the state to open a second radiation oncology center in the Okatie Medical Office building to be developed in conjunction with the micro hospital.

     “I always felt that developing an affiliation with MUSC Health was the way to go,” hospital board chair Murray said. “Russell has taken the concept and run with it.”

     Beaufort Memorial’s first partnership with MUSC started in 2014 with stroke and pediatric telemedicine. Under the program, BMH emergency room and intensive care physicians can consult with the tertiary medical center’s stroke and pediatric experts on a moment’s notice 24/7.

     Recognizing the benefits of telemedicine and the increasing role it will play in the future of health care, Baxley tapped the technology to create BMH Care Anywhere. With the online service, patients can “see” a board-certified urgent care provider anytime, anywhere using their smart phone, tablet or computer.

     “Our focus is on improving access to health care,” Baxley said. “We’re doing that by extending hours, expanding into other markets and employing telemedicine in the care of patients.”

     With the nationwide shortage of physicians, Baxley expects virtual visits will become increasingly common, especially for primary care.

     “Not only does it provide patients with faster access to care,” he said, “it allows us to reach residents in rural areas where there are few doctors.”

     In addition to the telemedicine initiatives, Baxley also pushed forward the launch of an online self-scheduling service for nonlife-threatening emergency department visits, cutting down the time patients spend in the ER waiting room. To speed up treatment to patients suffering minor ailments and injuries, the hospital recently opened an express care clinic at 974 Ribaut Rd.

     “Russell developed a very ambitious, highly detailed strategic plan when he came to the hospital in 2016,” Murray said, “and he and his team are accomplishing everything we set out to do.”

     The hospital executive’s “all-in” approach isn’t reserved just for the workplace. He is equally passionate in his personal life.

     A strong proponent of healthy living, he exercises daily, either working out at the gym or running three to 10 miles. He has raced in several half marathons and is currently preparing for The Palmetto 200, a 200-mile team running event from Columbia to Charleston.

     And lest there be any doubt, he is a Tiger through and through. His allegiance to Clemson has created some friendly dustups with his wife, Stephanie, a graduate of the University of Georgia.

     Several weekends during football season, the couple will make it up to Clemson or Athens to root for their respective alma maters. But on three out of the four road trips, they’re wearing orange and heading to Death Valley.

     “She gets the say most times,” Baxley quipped, “but that’s the one argument I always win.”

story by Sissy Perryman

One of the highlights of the spring in Beaufort, is the Beaufort Twilight Run (BTR), which is celebrating a decade of racing at this year’s event presented by Habersham Properties on Saturday, March 24 in Beaufort’s beautiful Habersham Marketplace.

     The 10th Annual BTR is proud to host two-time Olympian Ryan Hall. Hall will be coming for the entire weekend to serve as the keynote speaker at a pre-race event on Friday and then run alongside aspiring young runners in the 1-Mile Youth Run on Saturday. Everyone who registers for a BTR event will have a chance to meet, get an autograph, and take a photo with Hall, one of America’s greatest distance runners.

     “Hall has a huge following from all over the country – many who will travel long distances for a chance to hear him speak and meet him in person,” said BTR Race Director Lauren Kelly. “His story and journey are incredibly inspiring and we are so honored he chose to come to the BTR.”

     Known also as “The Lowcountry’s Best Running Festival,” the BTR expects more than 2,600 participants and spectators from across 20 states this year. This family-friendly event is a draw not only for participants in the six races, but for spectators who are looking for an evening with live music and great food. This year the BTR welcomes back the band Broke Locals, who specialize in “Southern Fried Funk.” Throughout the afternoon and evening, everyone can enjoy a variety of delicious food and drinks from gourmet food trucks and the Habersham Marketplace restaurants.

     For online details about race registration and more visit www.BeaufortTwilightRun.com.  Early registration discounts are available for all participants, as well as additional discounts for students, groups of ten or more and active duty military.

     The BTR’s mission is to host a fun, competitive and memorable annual event for Beaufort to benefit Riverview Charter School – a free public school open to Beaufort County K-8th grade students.

Top 10 Reasons To Attend the 

2018 Beaufort Twilight Run

#10. Top Notch Event.  These people really know how to put on an event! With more than 200 volunteers and 50+ sponsors – this running festival is a fabulous experience for both recreational walkers/runners as well as competitive athletes.

#9. Family-Friendly.  This event is made for families. Between the kid’s zone, fun run and fun walk – this race is a safe and fun way to spend the evening with your family.  You won’t want to miss watching those little kids run their hearts out, dance in the streets with the live band, and cheer on their parents from the sidelines.

#8. Breathtaking Running Course. What better place to run or take an evening stroll – then through the paved streets of Habersham?  Ranked one of the “Top 20 Best Places to Live on the Coast” by Coastal Living Magazine, this neighborhood is one of the most beautiful running courses.  All race courses are spectator-friendly and flat, offering beautiful marsh views while racing beneath canopies of live oaks.

#7. USATF Sanctioned.  This means the BTR is committed to follow national and international rules and regulations to provide a safe environment for the participants and spectators. In general, a sanction is required for a record to be set – which there have been a few attempts on the course!

#6. Accurate Timing.  For competitive runners, nothing is more important than to ensure an accurate time. The RMS Team Leader, Danny White, has been awarded the position of the USATF/RRTC National Certifier for the USA & South Carolina Regional Certifier – an elite group of individuals who strive to make this sport the best.  The BTR is honored to have him time the run year after year.

#5. After Race Party.  Live music, amazing expo space and a stunning sunset, you’ll never want to leave!  The party continues long into the night as runners get a chance to sit in the grass with a cold drink, relax and enjoy the moment after a hard day’s work.

#4. Food.  From oysters to food trucks to local sit-down restaurants right in the heart of the event – there is something for everyone!

#3. Fitness.  With 6 events to choose from, there’s sure to be a fitness event for you. The BTR offers events for runners and walkers at all levels including a signature 13.1 Mile Beaufort Challenge (10 Mile + 5K Runs), 10 Mile Run, 8K Run, 5K Run/Walk, 1 Mile Youth Run, and Kids’ Fun Run.

#2. Fun.  Whether you’re a runner, walker, volunteer or spectator, it’s hard to walk away from the night without a smile on your face.

#1. One Great Cause.  The BTR is the largest fundraiser for Riverview Charter School – a free public school open to Beaufort County K-8th grade students. It is all made possible because of runners and walkers like you!

REGISTER TODAY @ BeaufortTwilightRun.com

Group and Military Discounts Available

story by Cindy Reid

Back by popular demand, the second annual Film and Digital Media Symposium will be held at USCB’s Center for the Arts (CFA), in conjunction and partnership with the Beaufort International Film Festival (BIFF) on Saturday February 24. The symposium is lead by Topher Maraffi, Assistant Professor of Media Arts at USCB. In addition to teaching digital media, animation, broadcast and game design classes at USCB, Topher Maraffi is an animation judge for the Beaufort International Film Festival. “The symposium is a logical extension to build up the partnership between BIFF and USCB. This event is a natural progression and could grow over time. We can continue to make it a little better every year,” he says, “This year’s event should be really fun and it is very exciting to have Mark Kirkland as our keynote speaker.”

     The symposium’s featured Key Note Speaker is Mark Kirkland. Mark Kirkland is a fine artist and a three-time Emmy award-winning director The Simpsons, and an award-winning filmmaker, writer/director. He studied drawing, animation, and filmmaking and received a BFA degree from The California Institute of The Arts. Kirkland is an associate member of the American Society of Cinematographers (ASC) and a former Governor for the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. Kirkland‘s short documentary film, Bud’s Odyssey, is an official selection for the BIFF.

Symposium Schedule of Events

11AM | Lightning Round Talks | Ten-minute presentations by USCB faculty and film & media professionals in the Lowcountry

Noon | Break for lunch with speakers (catered lunch  provided to attendees)

1PM | Keynote Speaker | “A visit with Mark Kirkland, Filmmaker & Director for the Simpsons”.

2PM | BIFF Director’s Panel | Q & A with three award-winning directors

     Film maker VW Scheich, Interwoven, Wallenda, returning for a second year, will be on hand for the Lightning Round Talk, discussing his current film project Carpe Vegan. Symposium organizer, Maraffi, will be speaking about the documentary he is making about swing dancing from the 1920’s to the 1950’s, and its roots in the Beaufort, South Carolina Gullah culture.

     The Directors Panel will include award winning filmmakers John Schwab, The Hide, The Applicant, Felix Martiz, Santiago, Mia and Amanda Renee Knox, Rajam, Night Call.

Open to All

     Anyone is welcome to attend. There is no charge and a film festival pass is not needed. Lunch will be provided free of charge and coffee will be served in the afternoon. Maraffi says “There is a wide range of people interested in film making in general and in the film festival. People are curious and as we continue to build on this, we want to include as many people as possible and let them know what is going on here in the film making and digital world.”

Screenings of Participants Films

     Bud’s Odyssey (26min) (USA) Burbank, CA (SC Premiere) Director:  Mark Kirkland. Synopsis: The epic WWII survival story of 1st Lt Robert “Bud” Kingsbury. Screens: Feb 23, Friday, 2:30pm

     Night Call (18min) (Dodge) Los Angeles, CA (SC Premiere) Director: Amanda Renee Knox. Synopsis:  When on a routine patrol, a Black female cop living in and patrolling Inglewood gets called to a disturbance she is forced to make an unprecedented life altering decision. Screens: Feb 22, Thursday, 1:10pm

     In conjunction with the symposium is the Sea Island Center Gallery Reception on Friday February 23 from 5-7 PM. The event is open to the public and is free of charge.

What When & Where

     Film & Digital Media Symposium – The event is open to the public and is free of charge.

     Saturday February 24, 11:00am-3:00pm

     USCB Center for the Arts, 801 Carteret St Beaufort, SC, Classroom 101 – Room capacity is limited and seats will be available on a ‘first come’ basis. There is an interactive simulcast at Library 243, USCB Bluffton campus.

     For further information: www.uscb.edu/events/2018-film-and-digital-media-symposium