Wake Up! Morning Show

I’ve always been a morning person. My first job out of college was writing news for a morning show starting in the wee hours of the morning at WHDH-TV in Boston, and at my next job at WAGM-TV in Presque Isle, Maine I anchored the morning show.  In both positions, I was waking up as early as 3 am. When it comes to working a wacky shift involving falling asleep and waking up at odd times, I’ve got some experience!

I’m thrilled that I’ve now made my way back to mornings! As of this week you can catch me on News 4 Wake Up! every weekday morning throughout the 4 and a half hours of news starting at 4:30 am. You can also catch me on News 4 at noon, and my stories usually re-air later in the evening as well. I’m live 8+ times throughout the morning.

I’ve already had a few fun days this week! On Tuesday I was live all morning from the newly opened UP! Aerial Fitness in a repurposed school. I got to try things like aerial yoga and bungee dance, all for the first time on live TV (seems like a good time to try, right?)

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On Wednesday I was live all morning for opening day at the Erie County Fair! I showed viewers cute animals, fair food, talked about ride inspection safety, and even did one of my live interviews from a carousel!

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I hope you’ll tune in to WIVB-TV weekday mornings! 🙂

Whirlpool Jet Boat & ziplining over Niagara Falls

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My family drove in from Massachusetts to Western New York visit me for the 3rd and 4th of July. In the almost 2 and a half years that I’ve lived here, I’ve always wanted to go on the Whirlpool Jet Boats in Lewiston. Now I can finally cross that off my bucket list!

It is so much fun, and we got SOAKED! It’s the perfect thing to do on a hot day. It’s a high speed ride up the Niagara River into the Niagara Gorge, through Devil’s Hole rapids, to the edge of the whirlpool and back. The boat does all kinds of tricks on the way too, like spinning around. As giant waves from the Niagara River approach the jet boat, you have just a moment to take in what’s about to hit you before you’re totally drenched! Such a blast, I highly recommend it!

Across the border in Canada, my two brothers and I also went on the zipline at Niagara Falls! It takes you over the Niagara River gorge to the Falls observation landing. What a view! You’re up about 2,200 feet traveling about 40 miles per hour, and you’re told to hold you arms out to your side. While your adrenaline is pumping you get a gorgeous view of Niagara Falls. I really enjoyed this attraction too!

 

 

 

Self Driving Cars

A lot of us remember watching “The Jetsons” and imagining what it would be like to have flying cars someday. So we’re not there quite yet, but it seems like we may possibly be on the way.

I recently did a story about self driving cars being developed through a partnership between the University at Buffalo and Carnegie Mellon University.

With an autonomous car, the driver can basically kick back and let the car do the work. The steering wheel even turns itself! The cars can detect traffic lights, and even follow speed limits. Supporters believe this technology will make the roads safer.

It could still be years before self driving cars rule the road, but could be here before you know it! Pretty interesting, check out my story for more details!

 

LIVE from the 2017 Buffalo Greek Festival

I had such a blast going live from the Buffalo Greek Fest all Friday afternoon! I did 6 + live shots and each one showed viewers something different about Greek heritage and culture. From Greek dancers to Greek pastries and even saganaki cheese up in flames! I I’m 100% Greek and proud of it, it was so cool to share that with viewers on News 4! 🇬🇷 OPA! I grew up going to Greek Festivals back home in Massachusetts.

This is the 41st year of the Buffalo Greek Festival. It is the traditional kick off for the festival season in Western New York. It’s taking place on the corner of Delaware and West Utica at the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church. You can find out more information about the schedule here: http://wivb.com/2017/06/02/buffalo-greek-fest-underway-all-weekend/

Check out my live shot about traditional Greek dancers and music:

Anyone who knows me knows that I rave about saganki often! This cheese is equally as delicious as it is entertaining to watch. Check out my live shot to see what I mean:

If you have a sweet tooth, you definitely won’t be disappointed by delicious Greek pastries. Check out my live shots to learn more about traditional cookies and pastries like kourambedies and baklava. As well as twists on traditional pastries, with delicious desserts like baklava cheesecake and baklava sundaes:

A big shout out to Presvytera Christakis (to the right of me in the photo above) from the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church in Buffalo. She is an amazing woman who helped me coordinate all of the interviews for several live shots! She does a wonderful job of keeping our rich Greek heritage alive in the Buffalo community. She is also incredibly kind and generous!

Williamsville restaurant staff show “uncommon kindness” to boy with autism

One thing I really love about my job as a TV New Reporter is the unpredictability. You never know what could come up from one day to the next. It could be story about a tragic situation, a story about an issue that impacts many people, or sometimes it’s a story that totally pulls on your heart strings. An act of kindness toward a boy with autism that’s going viral. That’s the story I got to tell earlier this week. Watch and see for yourself! (Script below)

“We knew all day we were going to eat at Sun Restaurant. Owen likes to know exactly where he’s going to eat every night,” said Sandra Block of Williamsville.

Owen Long was with his father when they decided to order takeout from Sun Restaurant in Williamsville.

“So he said to him Owen just go and get the takeout menu and come right back and they practiced it in the car, you’re going to ask what are you going to ask, take out menu, okay good,” said Block.

Owen did ask for a takeout menu, but that’s not all that happened

“After that he said I’m hungry and when I look at his face from my heart I said oh he’s a very special boy to me. I said what do you want to eat honey I asked him and he said I want to eat beef,” said Aye Thein, Sun Restaurant Partner and Manager

Ask and you shall receive! Partner Aye Thein had the chef make Owen beef curry. Owen’s dad waited and waited wondering what was taking him so long until he went into the restaurant and found Owen eating.

“That is just so uncommonly kind like how often can you imagine, I’m going to cry thinking about it,” said Block.

She posted about the experience on Facebook but didn’t expect what came next.

“It went viral I’m sitting there refreshing it and telling Pat, my husband hey we got like a thousand likes on this and then I’m like no make that 1,200, make that 1,250,” said Block.

Aey had no idea Owen has autism. She says she was practicing metta, which is part of the Burmese culture.

“Meta means loving and kindness to everybody,” said Thein.

“To the point of sitting him down and making him a beef curry That’s insane that’s just so crazy awesome to me,” said Block.

The post on Facebook now has more than 18 thousand likes! ( https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10207959881949658&set=o.1172219229552031&type=3 )

In addition to metta, the Sun Restaurant serves authentic Burmese food, thai food, and special sushi with black rice. There’s also 2 locations, one in Williamsville and one in Buffalo.

For more information go to: https://www.facebook.com/suncuisines/

https://www.facebook.com/suncuisineswilliamsville/

Emceeing the 4th Annual Night for Independence Gala

This weekend, I emceed the 4th annual Night for Independence at Salvatore’s Italian Gardens in Depew. The event was organized by Western New York Independent Living, which is one of several agencies in the WNY area that provides services for people with disabilities.

Proceeds raised from the event benefit Independence Express, which is an effort to connect people with disabilities to accessible transportation throughout WNY. Accessible transportation is SO important, and I know that firsthand because my 25-year-old brother Polyvios is on the autism spectrum.

Fortunately, my mother is able to work part-time and she can to tend to my brothers needs all week long (which is a full time job in itself.) She drives him to all of his doctor appointments, to and from day programs, my father’s restaurant where he does prep work, art classes, you name it. The part-time job, programs, and services keep my brother productive, independent, and an active member of society.

Unfortunately, this is not the case for all people with disabilities. Sometimes family members have to work full-time, some pass away suddenly, or some just aren’t in the area. That leaves people with disabilities in the dark, and without a trusted family member or friend to provide them safe accessible transportation.

For more than 35 years, WNY Independent Living has made accessible transportation a reality for people with disabilities throughout Western New York. Independence Express transports individuals for employment, medical needs, recreation, and community involvement. A Night for Independence is the annual fundraiser that helps keep Independence Express vans on the road. An important service that helps so many people.

It was an honor to be a part of an event to support a cause that is close to my heart!

(Side note: Another Rent the Runway win! I rented my Nicole Miller gown for a fraction of the retail price!)

A day in the life of a Multimedia Journalist

“Time is always your worst enemy.” Ain’t that the truth! It’s a fact for those of us in the news business. One of our star interns Maura Christie at WIVB-TV followed me around for a day back in March for her senior project, “Life of a Multimedia Journalist.” A Multimedia Journalist is a basically a fancy term for someone who is a journalist, photographer, editor and web person all in one. There’s a lot more to this job than meets the eye. If you want a look at what it’s like to pitch, shoot, write, and edit two stories a day, watch this! Maura did a great job!

Emceeing Buffalo premiere of ‘Life, Animated’

I enjoyed Friday night’s Buffalo premiere and post film discussion of the Oscar-nominated ‘Life, Animated’ at the North Park Theatre. The Museum of disABILITY History and Autism Services, Inc. hosted this Oscar nominated documentary to shine a light on what it’s like to have autism. It moved me to tears!

Life, Animated tells the story of a young man named Owen Suskind who has autism. It hit so close to home because he is very similar to my 25-year-old brother Polyvios who also has autism.

Like my brother, Owen was not hitting milestones and speaking for years. But he had a passion for Disney movies, and eventually learned how to speak through them. (My brother also loves Disney movies and cartoon animation!)

I really related to Owen’s older brother Walter. In one part of the documentary, he talked about how he thinks about the future and how his parents will no longer be around someday. Who will take care of Owen? Walter said he will have to step in, because he will be the only family Owen will have. As my brother’s oldest sibling, I also think about the future too. I’d like to think that’s still far away and I try not to think or worry about it too much just like Walter. But it’s a reality that siblings face.

It is funny how much I have in common with Owen’s family. I believe they are also from Massachusetts, and Owen’s father Ron is also a journalist, like I am.

I highly recommend watching Life, Animated. Check out the documentary trailer here: http://www.lifeanimateddoc.com

Jamaica

Last week I went to Runaway Bay, Jamaica with a couple of friends. The picture above was my view! Can’t ask for more besides beautiful sunny weather, clear blue waters and tropical paradise! We also snorkeled in Ocho Rios and climbed up Dunn’s River Falls. (It was fun but also a little terrifying, I almost slipped twice!) I try to go somewhere new at least 1-2 times a year. Happy to cross another place off my list! 🙂

Witnessing the opiate epidemic firsthand

I’m sharing something I posted on my Facebook news page last weekend. I just finished working a 10-day stretch so I didn’t have much time to post to my blog this week. But wow – what I saw is something I will never forget! This happened last Saturday the 8th outside of the CVS at the corner of Elmwood Ave and Amherst in Buffalo:

As many of you are aware, the opioid epidemic is a huge problem in WNY and across the country. As a member of the media I am quite familiar with how large the problem is, given it is mentioned in our newscasts on what feels like a daily basis. But today I witnessed it firsthand. As I was walking into CVS on Elwmood earlier this afternoon, two men ran towards me with a man in their arms. They frantically yelled “Call 9-1-1, we think he overdosed on heroin.” I called 9-1-1 and told the dispatcher the address, and the man’s condition. He was in rough shape. He was barely breathing, his eyes were rolled back, and he was starting to turn blue. It was terrifying. He looked young too, I’d guess he’s in his 20’s or early 30’s. Police made it there within minutes, but it felt like an eternity. I was scared for this man’s life. Death seemed closer with every passing second. The officer gave him narcan, and within a minute he started to gain consciousness. I saw someone nearly die and come back to life. He was able to walk and get himself onto the stretcher. I was so relieved to see he survived, and grateful for the first responders who made it there in time to save his life. I was shaking for quite a bit after I saw that happen today. It’s a reminder that life is precious and this epidemic needs to be taken very seriously. That man who nearly died today is someone’s son. If you know someone who has a problem, do what you can to get them help. I’ll never forget what I saw today. Major credit is due to first responders who see this all too often and save lives every day.

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