The Roanoker - July/August 2020 - 8

from the editor

Hero Highlights

Stories from our community showcase the best of the best in our health care industry, plus a
reminder to be kind to others as our community finds a new kind of normal.
THESE DAYS, IT'S IMPOSSIBLE NOT TO THINK
of the everyday people making a difference in our local
health care industry. From doctors and nurses to the
food service and janitors, these folks have gotten us
through some of the hardest days in our region's recent
history. So many others and I are grateful to them for
putting their lives on the line to care for our community.
But this isn't the only time we've relied on them, nor
will it be the last. There will always be health struggles
for all people, of all ages, and it's because of hardworking
health heroes that we survive and thrive. One of these
leaders is cover subject Dr. Molly O'Dell, who, after
the CV-19 crisis grew, came out of retirement to be
named the Director of Communicable Disease Control
for Roanoke and Alleghany (page 22). She might not
like to be called a hero, but from where I'm sitting, she
deserves her own comic book!
While the timing of our " Health Heroes " feature
coincidentally lined up with the CV-19 crisis, our
readers' stories are about other struggles, too. Thank you
to our readers for sharing your Health Hero stories, and
to all our health care industry professionals who do such
good things for our world (page 26).
Whether they were there for you during a specific
time in your life or affected you so deeply that your adult
life has been influenced, teachers are instrumental to our
community. I personally don't think I'd be sitting at this
desk today if it weren't for Jennifer Cashen, my amazing
high school English teacher, or Deborah Slayton, who
instilled confidence in me when she made me the
yearbook's academics editor. I'll never forget that feeling
of belonging and passion, even though it's been nearly

20 years. And I hope my journey makes them proud,
too. The impact goes both ways, even though we might
not realize that as students. It's why I loved Bruce
Ingram's take on why he, along with other amazing
teachers, returns to the classroom every year with no
plans to retire (page 48).
As I write this, Virginia is kicking off Phase 2 of
the COVID-19 quarantine's end, and I don't think I'm
exaggerating when I say how excited we all are to see
some form of normalcy return. But " normal " only goes
so far. We have a long way to go - not only to help our
local businesses regain their footing or to see our kids
playing school sports again, but to also recognize the
problems that remain, that have existed for decades
and are now bubbling up to the surface for recognition.
And so this question remains at the forefront of my
brain: do we really want life to return to " normal " when
so many issues have been brought to our attention and
shown us that " normal " doesn't necessarily mean peace
and happiness for all? I urge you to show kindness
and compassion as we walk through these strange
times together, and reach out to those who can kindly
educate and broaden our horizons so we can be the
best possible citizens to each other.
Hoping you are staying healthy and well, and that
we can gather together again soon.

GET TO KNOW
OUR COVER
ARTIST

Adam Johnson, whose
first and favorite for of
communication is painting
and drawing, grew up around
a grandmother and mother
who were both educators,
which meant a generous
amount of art supplies
and encouragement.
Johnson attended Virginia
Commonwealth University,
where he studied Illustration
and earned his BFA in 2002.
He was then accepted into
the Illustrators Academy
in Richmond, where he
studied under some of
the top illustrators in the
field. His freelance work
began with clients including
Richmond Magazine,
Roanoke Railhouse Brewery
and others. His skill with
likenesses led to painting
the official portrait of two
retiring Virginia judges, as
well as a portrait of John
Fishwick to dedicate the
newly named John Fishwick
Middle School in Roanoke.
He has also donated
paintings and commissions
for local causes including
Stafford's Soldiers, YMCA
of Virginia's Blue Ridge
and North Cross School.
Johnson lives in Roanoke
where " I am constantly
showered with inspiration,
love and support by my wife,
Whitney, and our two boys,
Calan and Walker. " For more
on Adam Johnson, please go
to adamjohnsonstudio.com.

llong@leisuremedia360.com

meet the contributors

Bruce Ingram

teaches English and
Creative Writing at Lord
Botetourt H.S. He is the
author of over 2,500
magazine stories and
10 books, including
four Young Adult
Fiction novels designed
for middle and high
school students.
Contact him at
bruceingramoutdoors@
gmail.com. Read his
story on For the Love
of the Classroom on
page 48.
8

JULY/AUGUST 2020

Sally McQuinn

is a freelance writer,
educator and explorer
who has traversed
many countries. She
is a friend of felines,
mother of boys and
wife of an athlete who
is always happy to
get her into the fresh
mountain air they
moved to Roanoke to
enjoy. See her Gist
piece on page 20.

Christina Nifong

is a writer with a
decades-long career
profiling interesting
people, places and
ideas. She's recently
launched a new email
newsletter focused on
life in the slow lane,
called Nourishing
Stories. Sign up and
find more of her work
at christinanifong.com.
Read her cover profile
on Dr. Molly O'Dell on
page 22 and her piece
on Primped 365 on
page 40.

Rory Rhodes

has called the Roanoke
Valley home for 18
years, and her work has
appeared in state and
regional shelter and
lifestyle magazines.
She's interested in
communities, trends,
destinations and
culture. She's always
on the lookout for good
dogs, oxford commas
and fresh-shucked
oysters. Read her
piece on Jeter Farm on
page 54.

Jennifer F. Riales

is a Roanoke-based
freelance writer
and blogger. She
and her husband,
both originating
from Memphis, TN,
enjoy visiting local
coffeehouses, going
on walks with their dog
and cuddling with their
two cats. Read her Gist
piece on page 19.

Dan Smith

is an award-winning
writer, author and
photographer and a
member of the Virginia
Communications Hall
of Fame. He is a former
Virginia Small Business
Journalist of the Year.
Read Dan's Gist pieces
starting on page 16.

Laura Wade,

founder of Thrive by
Heart, offers workshops
and individual guidance
to empower women to
live from soul to goal
and love their lives. She
is passionate about her
family, holistic health,
personal transformation
and sharing ideas to
inspire others to live
their best lives. Read her
piece on Foster Families
on page 51.

TheRoanoker.com


http://www.adamjohnsonstudio.com http://www.christinanifong.com http://www.TheRoanoker.com

The Roanoker - July/August 2020

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of The Roanoker - July/August 2020

The Roanoker - July/August 2020 - Cover1
The Roanoker - July/August 2020 - Cover2
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