Friday, December 6, 2019

2019 Inspiring People of the Year Alexander Hampton

Meet Inspiring Young Comedian Alex

My name is Alexander Hampton. I was born and raised in San Jose, CA. While the Bay Area will always be home, after high school I knew I needed to move down to Hollywood to pursue the career I was meant for in show business. I attended the American Academy of Dramatic Arts and; finished with the Michael Thoma Award. In addition to stand up, I also rap, sing and; act. My style of comedy is story telling. I mainly tell stories about my experience with being Black and; Filipino. I love that I can use my personal experiences in my stand up to shed light on tough issues like racism, and use humor to bring people together. I hope that the art I give out to the world can have a positive impact and can some how change the world.

Courtesy of Voyage LA Magazine July 2019

Today we’d like to introduce you to Alexander Hampton.
So, before we jump into specific questions, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
It all began in the third grade when I sang “You Dont Know Me” by Ray Charles on karaoke at a family party. My parents noticed that I had a voice & asked me if I really wanted to be an entertainer at a young age.. I had no intentions of being a fireman or a doctor. I simply saw myself on stage so I told them yes, I do want to be an entertainer. Fast forward to the fifth grade, I pick up the pen & pad and I wrote my first rap. My parents were/are so supportive so they told me that if I want to be in the music industry I should learn how to do everything because that’s how the industry is (rap, sing, act, dance), so I did my best to learn everything I could.

After high school, I attended the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in Hollywood & finished with the Michael Thoma award (most improved actor). Around summer 2015, I moved back to the Bay Area & I signed to a local hip hop label which didn’t work out but I somehow found myself back in LA by summer 2016. By the time it was 2018, I found myself doing improv with Improv For The People at the Pico Playhouse which is ran by Matthew Moore. A few months down the road Matt suggested stand up comedy & I told him he was crazy! But I thought about it for a while and I finally decided to try it with Corey Craig’s Cool Beans Comedy at the Ice House in Pasadena & it was the best decision I’ve ever made in my career. Stand up comedy has changed my life & I finally feel like I found my lane.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
Definitely not. No body’s journey is ever smooth. Moving back to the Bay Area when it wasn’t in the plan was a big struggle. It humbled me but it also gave me fuel for the fire.
We’d love to hear more about your work and what you are currently focused on. What else should we know?
My friends and family like to call me a machine because I do it all, haha. I make music, dance, act & do stand up comedy. I would like to say I specialize in making people happy. The thing I’m most proud of is taking that leap of faith & trying out stand up comedy because it was never in my plans, but it ended up being the best business move yet. I feel like my determination to become successful as possible in the music and in Hollywood is what sets me apart. I don’t want to be boxed in. I wanna be the first person to break walls and receive Grammy's while selling out the Staples Center for a Netflix special, you know what I mean?

So, what’s next? Any big plans?
My plans for the future are to keep pushing hard like I just started in this industry. No major changes but I do have a plans to bring a short film to life.
Contact Info:

- Alex Hampton

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

2019 Inspiring People of the Year Galit Birenboim-Navon

Meet the Beautiful and Talented Galit!
Running to My Next Dream

My name is Galit Birenboim-Navon. I’m married and the mother of two wonderful girls. By profession, I am Marketing Communications Manager at the national airline of Israel. Several years ago, I felt the need to do something new, to take on additional challenges. And I found them in running.  I started at the very beginning, right from kilometer 1, and slowly but surely worked up to a marathon distance.  After internalizing the fact that I had a marathon under my belt – and another and yet another – I realized that I was seeking a different experience: it just didn’t satisfy me completely. Fortunately, and entirely by chance, I learned about a new world – the ultra-marathon. And that is how I was exposed to new experiences that light up my life.

Training in the trails, in nature. Setting out in the darkness of night and finishing with the rising sun and the light of day. After a period of training, the first goal was set, the dream that was both great and frightening: running an ultra-marathon – 61 kilometers.

This was my first step in this magnificent world. And from there I continued to run, to train and to compete.

What began as a hobby, became part of who I am, a part of my body and soul.
The hard work paid off and apart from the pleasure gleaned from the training period, I also had achievements in Israel – including becoming Israel’s 60 km ultra-marathon champion, placing first in a 100-km trail race, and more.

In 2015, after winning the 100-km trail race, I heard of an ultra-marathon niche unfamiliar to me: an area that did not exist in Israel – the multi-day race. This is a race against the clock in which the winner covers the greatest distance in a given time span. At the same time, I met an ultra-marathon runner and coach named Kobi Oren who competes – and wins – in many multi-day races around the world.
I decided to enter the world of multi-day races and Kobi became my coach – and continues to be my coach up to this day. our training began and very quickly I began to participate in races around the world.

The first dream was scheduled: a 12-hour race in Switzerland – 2016

Basel. Midnight. The starter’s pistol is sounded. The 12-hour race begins. It’s raining. And raining. And it is cold!! And here I am, from Israel, where rain often means a few drops. Is Europe so different? Evidently. Rain. Rain. Never-ending rain. Twelve hours of cold and rain drench the body and freeze, and water-log the clothing. The body becomes petrified.

Noon comes and so does the final whistle. I hear it and simply don’t believe that this moment has come. Twelve hours of torrential rain, temperatures of 2 - 6 C, accompanied by strong winds. And here I am, the first time in my life, on the finish line of a race, broken and in tears. I ran 105 km. but the experience was hard for me. Very hard.

24-Hour Race: Redemption – 2016

Half a year later, I am again on the starting line in Switzerland, this time for a 24-hour race.
In the morning, the sun is shining and with it, my doubts. ‘What was I do I run 24 hours?’ Before I can answer myself, the whistle blows and I’m off.

And yes, this was my redemption. Racing with a happy heart. It was a challenge. It was hard. But the energies were good. My running flowed and with it I set new records for myself. I ran 100 kilometers. And then, 100 miles, for the first time in my life! And then on to the end of the race – 187.6 km. Second place among the women. An unthinkable distance for me. This time my face shone at the end of the race. Happiness and tiredness joined forces to smile. Yes. I deserved this redemption.

 48-Hour Race – 2018

My dreams continue to evolve. New targets. And now a target that is harder than ever to say out loud: a 48-hour race. After months of training, I take off for the Czech Republic.

48 hours is a very long time. Time for joy, time for song, time for calm, and now the sun begins to set, red and orange: my first sunset in the race. Friday evening. Quiet. At home, my family is probably sitting around the Shabbat table and the weekend calm falls on the streets. I am here, running into the night. Thoughts float and flow. Sometimes they plunge deep into subjects and sometimes they disappear, and with them, there is a kind of quiet. Hours pass and its sunrise. Like the tide coming in and going out, the light rises and the night dissolves. The cold takes over and then is replaced by the pleasant warmth of morning, followed by the hard heat of noon. Hot soup at night gives way to cold melting ice cream in the day.   

The hours pass. This time the journey is different. Different for the soul and different for the body. The body covers distances that are simply numbers. But I really can’t grasp their meaning. And here I am at kilometer 190...191 and soon it’ll be 200. Such a perfect round number. And I am enjoying a wonderful wave of energy, running with a “party” playing in my headphones and the flag of Israel at the ready. My heart is bursting from emotion ready for the next step that I make and for the announcer intoning: Galit Birenboim-Navon, from Israel, 200 km! It’s mad excitement and it’s happening.

I did it. but... just a minute... the race isn’t over... the clock continues to tick and I have to continue to run. Minutes upon minutes. And again, the sun is about to set, but this time the darkness brings the rain. The body is already tired when it meets the long rainy night. Until it happens, the final siren sounds. And that’s it.

I am happy. Tired. But happy.
I can’t take it in – 281.6 km. it doesn’t make sense. It’s inconceivable.

72-Hour Race – 2019

Last June I reached a peak when I took part in a 72-hour race in South Africa – and came in first overall, after running 333 km. Again, an inconceivable journey. A journey of the body, a journey of the soul, the mind and the psyche. But this time, the journey was created in order to reach what I believe is the ultimate target – a 6-day race.

I am the first Israeli woman to participate in multi-day single-stage races, and today I am the Israeli woman who has run the farthest distance. But that is ‘only’ statistics. For me, the real thing is what running has done for my life.

Today, I breathe, think and dream running. I ‘work’ at it on a daily basis, diligently. In return, I gain moments of joy, pleasure and satisfaction. Running has become part of who I am. When I don’t run, I feel something is missing, I am incomplete. When I run, I am filled with energies.

To the observer, this is not always clear. I am often asked what running means to me, what I find in it. So I will try to explain. In running I find quietude. I find excitement, both internal and external. I find a place for thinking and inner searching. I find answers to questions that I asked and to some questions that I have still not formulated.

Through running I am open to the beauty in life, beyond the daily sights. I am exposed to nature at the most unusual hours, sometimes at sunrise and others at sunset. I am exposed to it in open spaces, in forests, at the sea. Sometimes I see the whole picture and sometimes only small particles; I even enjoy a patch of sky and a sun ray peeking into the city.

In running I find a physical and mental challenge through journeys that I dream about. To the onlooker watching a runner in action, running may seem to be a mechanical, structured, physical act. Technical movement and progress. It’s possible that that is how I began too, but along the way something changed in me. My journey became something else. The act changed and with it the depths of adherence, pleasure and fulfillment.   

Since then, I have been living in an amazing journey, in which I discovered a passion for running, for distances and for nature that help me to develop both my professional and personal lives. Running the ultra-marathon is for me, a complex physical journey that is emotionally and mentally charged.  It means coping internally and externally. It is challenging, fulfilling and meaningful to me. To my essence, my faith and my actions. I know that the road is hard and that I have to work to get there. I aim high and ‘run long distances.’
In my daily life, my family and friends see me coping, breaking down and also succeeding. I work hard and believe in the way I have chosen and in my own capability. I break through barriers and manage and deal with the various challenges that arise. My daughters know that I am not Wonder Woman, but rather a regular woman who dreams, dares, with passion and devotion to the journey, to my way of life.

Today I am moving forward. My next dream is already in place – a 6-day race. It is there when I sleep and it is there when I am awake. I am in awe of it and yearn for it and will continue with the same passion until I stand breathless with excitement at the starting line, on the way to my next dream.


Monday, December 2, 2019

2019 Inspiring People of the Year Bright Marie

Bright Marie Loves Running and Smiling!

In January of 2011 I loss my beloved mother to a rare form of cancer, Angio Sarcoma of the scalp and breast cancer.  Prior to my mother’s passing, she asked me to promise to get rid of all my old clothes and to keep off the weight I had loss.   My weight had bounced back and forth with the highest being 200 lbs. 

After my mother’s passing I continued to keep a smile on my face but, I was deeply hurting.  I missed her terribly.  I was in a car accident shortly after her passing and was unable to participate in the aerobic classes I loved.  In July of 2011, I was scrolling through our local news paper and notice a listing with local run groups.  One caught my eye and it was Black Girls Run.  Once I was cleared from physical therapy I decided to join one of the local runs to help me cope with the loss of my mother.  Immediately after hitting the pavement I was super excited.  I felt a strong connection to my mother and I felt free. 

In March of 2012, I ran my first race, Cooper River Bridge!!!  I was immediately hooked!! With my mom in my heart and my Angel Wings I felt unstoppable!!! 
In May of 2012, I ran my first half marathon Divas Half Marathon in Myrtle Beach, SC and in November of 2012, I ran my first full marathon, City of Oaks. 
To date I have ran, 44 half marathons, 14 marathons, the 19-mile Idiots run, 1 women’s only triathlon, 1 50 K, the Blue Ridge 200-mile relay, Rugged Maniac, several Mud Runs and Sunset Ragnar.  My favorite race is the Marine Corps Marathon, which I have completed 5 times.  My favorite distance is 13.1. 

I enjoy getting up at least 3-4 times per week hitting the pavement with my Run Family.  Monday through Friday I’m generally running 5 miles with the 4:30 am crew and a long run on Saturday or Sunday.  I also love Zumba, Body Combat, Burn Bootcamp and Body Pump.  Variety keeps me going.  Proud to say at 50 years young this is the best I can ever remember feeling.  #thankful

When Yolanda asked me to participate, I immediately went to her blog.  I second guessed if I was worthy to be in the number with so many amazing accomplished athletes. Then I thought absolutely!!!!  It doesn’t matter how many races we have ran or our pace.  If we have inspired just one person, we are winning!!!!  Special shout and thank you to anyone who has supported me in anyway.  Praying God will continue to bless me with many more miles to come. 

- Bright Marie 

Sunday, December 1, 2019

2019 Inspiring People of the Year the "Walking Diva"

Walking Diva Setting and Breaking World and American Records!

When you know your purpose in life and God says let’s do this, you fly like a butterfly.  2019 has been a great year. August 26 – August 31, 2019, at Six Days in the Dome – The Redux, at the Pettit National Ice Center in Milwaukee, Wisconsin I made history.   I’m the first African American Woman, second African American, and the oldest person to earn a Centurion.  On day one of the Six Day Race,  I became the first African American Woman Centurian.  I race walked 100 miles in 23:52:17. 

Not only did I become a centurian but I race walked my way to 2nd place female 413 miles, 14th place overall.  I was one of two athletes with a negative split.  I set an American Age Group Record (60-64), broke the World Age Group Record, and broke an over 100 year record set by Amy Howard back in the 1880’s.   

Amy Howard

Alan Price – American Centurion Legend Celebrating African American Race Walking History
African American Middle & Long Distance Running Timeline (1880-1979)
Alan Price (1947-2015)
An American Centurion Legend
Running History: September 23, 1978
Alan qualified as an American Centurion for the first time at age 31. His time of 18:57:41 was a new American record for walking 100 miles.
Centurion is a club for which race walkers are eligible who have completed a distance of 100 miles within 24 hours. Alan Price would go on to do this amazingly 23 times from 1978 to 1993.
Alan was considered America’s greatest ultra-distance race walk 

Yolanda Holder/Alan Price

Daily Headstands has become my signature.  Today is headstand day 700.  I’ve done a headstand every day for 700 straight days.  I do them everywhere even in my bathroom.  Doing a daily headstand has great benefits.  It relieves stress, increases focus, strengthens shoulders and arms, develops strength in the core muscles and improves blood circulation just to name a few.

I had an amazing 2019! Entering a New Year 2020, New Decade, New Fitness Goals with God’s grace I will continue this amazingly awesome fitness journey.  I am committed to living my best life.  I hope I can continue to inspire and motivate you to reach your fitness goals.  Keep moving and smiling.    

-Yolanda "Walking Diva"