Emceeing Parent Network of WNY 30th Anniversary Gala

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I had a great time emceeing The Parent Network of WNY‘s 30th anniversary Gala Thursday night at the Hotel Henry! A portion of the money raised will go towards the development of a sensory room for kids with autism. This hit close to home for me, because my brother Polyvios is on the autism spectrum.

A lot of children with autism are sensitive to certain sounds, sight or touch. Growing up (and even now at age 26) my brother has always been sensitive to loud noises and confrontations. That’s why the idea of a sensory room is so cool, because it’s tailored to people like my brother. It’s a special place that manages sensory intake through things like special lighting and music. That’s why I was so happy to support this event, because I think it’d benefit many children with autism in Western New York.

For more information on the sensory room, go to https://www.throwbackthursdaywny.com

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Behind the scenes at Platter’s Chocolate Factory for National Sponge Candy Day

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Before I moved to Western New York, I had no idea what sponge candy was. It didn’t take long for it to become one of my favorite ways to eat chocolate!

It’s a square with a sponge-like consistency in the middle that’s coated in chocolate. For National Sponge Candy Day earlier this week, I got a behind the scenes look at how it’s made from start to finish at Platter’s Chocolate Factory in North Tonawanda. A pretty sweet assignment 😉

Sponge Candy was born in Western New York, and Platter’s even has a connection to the famous Lucille Ball chocolate scene!

Check out my report below:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

INDYCAR stops by News 4 ahead of race at Watkins Glen Labor Day weekend

21192470_1294964817299236_4020100086974307445_n21191862_1294964853965899_8772617142455155753_n 21105511_1294964827299235_5559299230847790468_nI had a ton of fun on the job today in this INDYCAR! The race car stopped by our station for live shots all morning long to promote a race taking place at Watkins Glen this Labor Day weekend. They took me for rides on live TV, and it was so cool! Check out one of my many live shots:

“It’s just that sensation of speed when you’re standing up by the fence and you see a car coming by at 150, 200 miles an hour it’s really like nothing else in the world. The sights, the smells, and the sounds,” said Chris Banker, Watkins Glen Senior Manager Public Relations.

We got to experience all 3 this morning as we drove up and down Elmwood Ave in an INDYCAR. The two seater race car is street legal.

“It never gets old, every single city we go to it’s a different path, different route, sometimes it’s a little more intricate,” said Chase Crawford, INDY Street Legal and Show Car Programs Head Coordinator.

We went about 45 miles per hour and definitely turned a few heads as we drove down the street!

“You definitely feel like you’re going a lot faster cause we’re 2, 3 inches off the ground it makes you feel so much faster especially because it’s open wheel and you see everything going past you so fast,” said Crawford.

INDYCAR travels around the country.

“We’ll go to every single race track a week before each race. So for the past couple weeks we’ve actually gone to Pocono in Pennsylvania, we went to Gateway just last week and we actually drove to Busch Stadium on the field,” said Crawford.

INDYCAR is headed to Watkins Glen International this Labor Day weekend to do what it does best.

“It’s really a neat race weekend for us, obviously we have the big NASCAR weekend in August but this is really a fan friendly event. The INDYCAR drivers love coming out and taking pictures with fans,” said Banker.

For ticket information for this weekend’s race go to this link: http://www.theglen.com/Tickets-Events/Event-Calendar.aspx

 

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!

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