Faith Over Fear… #sherrysrun2019

The 16th Annual Sherry’s Run 5K Run/Walk event on September 14 will be held in memory of Geoff Sadler, who passed away in November of 2018 after a year-long battle with esophageal cancer. Geoff Sadler served four years in the US Navy, during which he served as a submariner in Desert Storm before becoming an IT specialist and senior network engineer. “The world needs more Geoff Sadlers in this world,” says Heather. “He was a wonderful and genuine guy and was honored to serve his country. Heather and Geoff share two daughters, Sophie and Savvy Jean, who are excited to be a part of this year’s event.

Throughout Geoff’s diagnosis and passing, the Sadler family has clung to their faith. “Psalm 91:4 tells us that He will cover you with His feathers, and under His wings, you will find refuge,” Heather says. “When the worst happens, you can choose to either walk away from God because He did not answer your prayers or choose to trust Him through it.” Geoff encouraged Heather to trust in God’s plans for their lives and to use their story to encourage others. “Although I’ve been the mouthpiece of our faith, make no mistake, Geoff was the foundation,” says Heather.

Heather, Sophie and Savvy Jean are walking forward, gradually putting the pieces of their lives back together. It has been seven months since Geoff’s passing, and the dust continues to settle. They continue to lean on family and friends and are thankful to everyone in the community who has upheld them throughout their journey. “I’ve been very vocal to everyone that Sherry’s Run paid our utility bill the entire time during Geoff’s treatments. It was one less thing for me to worry about,” says Heather. “That made a huge difference. Sherry’s Run helped us, and now we want to help them help others.”

source url Heather and the girls will be a part of a team named Princess Protection Agency to honor Geoff. “Geoff always said he was the founding member of the Princess Protection Agency, and we have had so many who have stepped up to help us protect our girls,” says Heather, “This is a way for us to give back and make it fun for the girls.” Giving back is one way the Sadler family has continued forward while honoring Geoff’s legacy. “Geoff wanted to teach the girls to help those who help others, whatever organization or mission you believe in,” says Heather. “For us, one of those missions is going to be Sherry’s Run.”

follow site If you are or know someone who is actively undergoing treatment for a cancer diagnosis and are in need of assistance, funds are available thanks to the generous support from the Sherry’s Run community of supporters.

follow link To learn more about the Sherry’s Run organization, please call 615-925-2592 or email info@sherrysrun.org To refer someone for assistance, please call 615-9259932 or email sherrysrunhelp@gmail.com

To make an online donation to Sherry’s Run, visit www.sherrysrun.org or mail donations to Sherry’s Run, P.O. Box 8, Lebanon, TN 37088-0008.

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POOL DAYS ARE THE BEST DAYS

Take A Dip Into the World of Gene Kulas Pools

There is something to be said about sitting out by a pool on a hot summer day. And one man, who definitely sees the benefit in that, is local pool builder, Gene Kulas.

Gene and his wife, Leanna, live in Lebanon and soon will be moving into their forever home built on Leanna’s family farm. Their pool is still in the planning stages but chances are it will be spectacular!

Gene was raised in Hartford, Connecticut. The son of Polish immigrants, he grew up speaking polish at home and being the interpreter for his parents. He also grew up visiting his aunt and uncle who lived in Mt. Juliet and soon fell in love with the area. At the age of 16, he moved in with his aunt and uncle, ready to make middle Tennessee home. Immediately upon arriving, he went to work with Roy and Janet Vaden of Roy Vaden Pools. He would often work for them and then later that same day work at Big Lots and when not working those two jobs, would be found at Mega Market sacking groceries.

He was taught work is good for the soul from his parents and grandparents and since the age of 16 he has continually been working to support his family.

After graduating high school, he continued to work for Roy helping build pools with him and soon after met his wife, Leanna (King) Kulas. “Becky Sellars was a friend of mine and she was working at the pool store with Gene. She set us up and the rest is history!’ , states Leanna.

In 1997 Gene and Leanna married and together have built a wonderful family and thriving business. They have two children Anna Cate who is in college and Alek who is a Senior in high school.

Gene Kulas Pools has been in business since 1998 and Gene tries to only build 8 to 10 pools a year because he does the job himself from start to finish. “I remain on the job the entire process. I can build a pool, renovate an existing pool and also help design and build outdoor living environments. I’m also a licensed contractor and electrician and have been building pools from the ground up now for over 25 years. With proper planning, there’s nothing we can’t build.”

Every year, Gene takes classes to be sure to stay current on the latest building trends and innovations. Automation is becoming a feature everyone wants and with smartphones you can now control your entire pool with an App. Some of his favorite pools that he has built include a guitar-shaped pool he built for a Nashville musician which was featured on the Today Show and recently he built a lazy river pool for a family in Franklin.

To come up with his ideas, Gene will sit with the homeowner and find out their wish list and their vision. “I take into account the architecture and color of their home, is it rustic, modern, or formal and how the yard lays. I have built small pools for exercise and large pools and spa combos. If you can dream it, I can build it.”

Keeping the business small remains a priority for Gene. “I don’t have a storefront or big overhead. I don’t do much advertising either. My clients come to me based on referrals which makes me feel good because that means I did a good job for somebody else.”

The future looks bright for Gene. His son is becoming more and more interested in the pool business and the family will soon settle into their new home in Lebanon – a home Gene built himself at night and on weekends.

“By next spring we hope to be enjoying our own pool and I’m excited to start building more pools in my community as I plan to stay closer to home so that I can come home at night and finally enjoy my own pool!” Gene Kulas Pools can be found on Facebook and Instagram at @genekulas_pools

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A Cut Above…

Sammy B’s Restaurant & Catering

Whether you are stepping inside their restaurant or attending one of their many catered events, the owners of Sammy B’s Restaurant want to make sure you have a culinary experience to remember.

With so many eateries, restaurants, and food trucks on the scene, it can be a challenge to stand out from the crowd. Jim and Gina Stradley have found that keeping things simple is the key to their decades-long success in the food industry with Sammy B’s Restaurant and Catering.

“By hand cutting the meat we serve and using superb locally sourced (when possible) ingredients, our food speaks for itself,” Gina says, “and there’s no difference in the way we prepare our dishes in the restaurant from the way we prepare for our catering events.”

Catering hamburgers for 600 means that they hand-cut every single one. “We could buy the frozen patties, but again, anyone can do that,” Gina continues, “trust me, you can tell the difference.”

Jim adds, “You can grab a burger from anywhere these days. We want to make a burger that brings you back time and time again.”

It’s clear that local is important to the Stradley’s. Gina sounds passionate as she describes the disconnection a lot of us have with the food we eat or how it’s prepared. We were fresh and local before fresh and local was ‘in.’ We wouldn’t have it any other way.” The filet is one of Sammy B’s most popular menu items. Their USDA Prime Barrel Cut filet mignon is hand-carved from the center of the tenderloin to deliver the quality and melt in your mouth tenderness you would expect from this cut of meat.

Another area where Jim’s culinary skills really shine is the smoker. He’s kind of known for it: that, and his special drool-inducing, homemade barbeque sauce. In addition to homemade barbeque sauce, their salad dressings, and hot honey (it’s sooooo good!), chicken salad, dips, etc. are all homemade.

In a fast-food, chain-driven, cookie-cutter world, it’s hard to find a true original. A restaurant that proudly holds its ground and doesn’t scamper after every passing trend. For more than 25 years, Sammy B’s has been that place. Whether you’re looking for a classic cocktail crafted from local spirits or a nationally acclaimed steak, Gina and Jim Stradley welcome you. “Come in and discover the unique mash-up of new and true that draws people to our restaurant or to use our catering services,” Gina continues, “and keeps them coming back for more.”

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Godess of Grocery

Demeter’s Common is everything!

Mallory Jennings’ philosophy is simple: The earth has provided us with everything we, as humans, need to live a wonderful life. We just have to honor it and listen to it. Jennings recently opened a lifestyles grocery store in Lebanon. Demeter’s Common is located in a strip mall behind Cox’s Gifts and Jewelry on West Main. It is open Tuesday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The store is full of locally grown produce, glass bottled milk, local cheese, flour grifts, cornmeal, spices, condiments, baked bread, eggs, jams, honey, coffee, salads, meats and more. The majority of her items are locally grown or made. It was a goal to keep everything in her full diet haven as natural and close to home as possible.

“I also have fun gifts such as cards, candles, tea towels dyed with natural plant matter, tote bags, t-shirts,” Jennings said. “We have a little of everything.”

Jennings grew up in Lebanon. She attended Tuckers Crossroads School until eighth grade. After graduation from Lebanon High School, she went on to earn degree in Agriculture from Tennessee Tech in Cookeville in 2013.

“After college, I worked on an organic farm in West Nashville for six years. I was the manager of the on-farm market. My job was to network with local farmers all across the state to get the best of the best produce, meat and cheeses
in the market,” she shared. “It is why I started Demeter’s Common. I wanted to do what I love, but be closer to home.”

The store is named for Demeter, the Greek Goddess of Agriculture.

Jennings studied agriculture in the Czech Republic in 2011 and noted that there was a huge statue of the goddess.

“They explained to us who she was and I absolutely fell in love. She inspires me and what she stands for is something I want to show the world,” she said. “She’s beautiful and I wanted to honor her with my store. I find Greek Mythology so interesting and I feel like with goddesses, you can make them your own and do your own rendition of what you think they look like. That is why you will find many version of Demeter in the store.”

She is helped at the store by her mother, Betsey.

“She is truly my best friend and the backbone of this store. She is here with me most of the time,” she said. Her fiancé, Miles Miller, also helps along with friends and her four sisters.

“It’s just me and mama for the most part and I have enjoyed every second of it – and so have the customers. She is basically famous now and people are mad when she isn’t here,” Jennings said.

She is intent on providing the best possible customer service. “That is my pet peeve and I have been so adamant about making sure everyone who steps foot in this door will be welcomed and feel comfortable. I want this to be a warm space for people to come relax, shop and have a full grocery store positive experience,” she continued.

“I use all of my products and stand behind them. I wouldn’t put anything on my shelves that I don’t support and believe in.”

Her store is incredible and unique – but Jennings credited mother earth and a supportive community with helping to make her dream a reality.

“I am in awe of our earth. It provides us with everything we need to live a full and happy life. I think our society has gotten away from that and the organic nature of our earth and is too caught up in technology, being in a rush, not listening and talking to one another,” Jennings said. “It plays into their diets and lifestyles. They are all wanting stuff easy and fast. I truly believe that taking time to understand where your food is grow, how its grown and who is growing it is so fulfilling and wonderful for our bodies, as well as our peace of mind.”

Jennings wanted to thank her community for making the hard work worthwhile.

“I will always be here with a smiling face because (they) have been so supportive and wonderful to me. Thank you is an understatement,” she said. “I am so grateful.”

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From Home to Hollywood!

Kason Lester was a fixture on the last season of American Idol.

Yes, that American Idol. The televised talent show responsible for breakout artist-turned-superstars Carrie Underwood and Kelly Clarkson.

Thousands of singers across the country tried out at open casting calls in hopes of making it on the small screen to be critiqued by Lionel Richie, Katy Perry, and Luke Bryan.

Kason made it, and despite the attention and newfound following, gives the glory to God, family, musical influences – and yes, his hometown.

  • AMERICAN IDOL - "208 (Showcase/Final Judgment)" - For the first time ever, "American Idol"'s iconic showcase round hits the road, heading to Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa in Ko Olina, Hawaii, where the show’s Top 40 contestants take to the beach for incredible solo performances in front of a live audience and the superstar judge panel. Following the performances, it’s an emotional roller coaster in paradise as the judges sit down with each contestant to reveal their fate, culminating with the show’s Top 20 finalists. The search for America’s next superstar continues on The ABC Television Network, SUNDAY, MARCH 31 (8:00 - 11:00 p.m. EDT), streaming and on demand. (ABC/Karen Neal) KASON LESTER

Kason was raised in Lebanon, Tennessee – where his family operates Lester Farms. He discovered music at an early age. He’s always loved The Charlie Daniels Band and recalled his mom introducing him to the pop hits of Michael Jackson.

“I’ve wanted to create music and sing for as long as I can remember. I remember knowing that at 5-years-old. Growing up, I’d write songs and beats and guitar licks,” he said. “It wasn’t until I finally realized that nothing else was going to make me happy that I started really pursuing it. I ended up doing a complete 180 from what I was doing, built a recording studio in my apartment and decided to go to Belmont.”

In short, he started trusting that God would give him a path. He knows God also gave him a strong, supportive family. Kason is the son of Kevin and Teresa Lester and grandson of Bob and Fran Martin and Ken and Lynn Lester. His brother Mitchell started Lester Farms on Coles Ferry Pike.

“Their support is really what has allowed me to pursue music. I think most people go through some tough years growing up, trying to figure out what they want to do in life, as I did, and my parents stuck with me and believed in me the whole time – even when I didn’t believe in myself,” he said. “They even supported my metal band days and
would show up to my heavy metal shows in Nashville – even my Grandma!”

His family has watched American Idol since the show aired. Beginning in 2002, it was a hit on Fox for 15 seasons. “We’ve always love it and we used to have ‘Idol Nights’ watching it in the den,” he said. Last August, his cousin, Doug Corn, called to inform Kason that they were having open auditions in Chattanooga. After some convincing, Kason agreed to go try his luck.

“Mom and I drove down at 4 a.m. and I waited in the line of thousands of people until it was my turn. I played an original song and the producer loved it. The rest just kept rolling from there,” he said.

In October, Kason had the opportunity to play in front of the superstar judges. He commented that it was one of life’s coolest experiences.
This

“I received a ‘yes’ from all three judges and got my golden ticket to Hollywood,” he said. “I made it through all of the rounds in L.A. and was told I was going to Hawaii for the top 40.”

While in Hawaii, sitting on the beach, waiting to perform in front of Perry – Kason had a revelation. He was part of a national show – one he’s watched since childhood. “It’s surreal. The whole process was positive for me,” he said.

Kason said the exposure received from appearing on American Idol has been “mind blowing.”

“We’ve had people from all over the country come to the strawberry stand just because they saw us on American Idol. It’s opened up so many doors in the music business, as well. It’s given me the platform I need to make it a career,” he explained. “I thank God for the opportunity. I’m recording and writing music, playing shows – and this is just the beginning for me.”

Kason has played shows as far as Nebraska and is planning a tour this fall with his band.

“It’s an exciting time and a dream come true,” he said. Still, home will always tug at the rocker’s heartstrings.

“My hometown support has been a blessing. At my American Idol viewing party at the Capitol Theatre, there were so many teachers and people who have made a difference in my life, going all the way back to Mrs. Stephens – my kindergarten teacher,” he said. “Friendship Christian School has also played a big role in my life, giving me a strong environment to grow up in. I’m really thankful for it and for the people involved with it.”

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Moonlight & Magnolias…a look at the 2019 Phoenix Ball and Patrons’ Party

Since 1984, the first Saturday in June has always represented an evening of elegance, dancing, ballgowns, tuxedos, flowers, delicious food and a night of raising money to fund scholarships for the great students of Cumberland University.

By the time white tents start going up around campus, the Chairs and the Phoenix Ball Committee have spent months planning every single detail of one of Middle Tennessee’s premier fundraising events. Every detail, from choosing the theme and hiring the band to designing the invitations and curating the menu have been carefully planned to make sure the evening is perfect.

This year is certainly no exception as the 2019 Phoenix Ball Chairs, Scott & Kirsten Harris, worked hard to raise the bar. Kirsten Harris explains, “We wanted to give a nod to Southern Elegance while also keeping the evening relaxed and glamorous. That’s why ‘Moonlight & Magnolias’ was the PERFECT theme for our year!” Based on reviews and attendance from the evening, Kirsten was right. The 36th Annual Phoenix Ball presented by The Pavilion Senior Living set records across the board.

This year’s ball had the highest attendance to date with nearly 500 guests and raised a grand total of more than $350,000. “One of the Chairs’ primary responsibilities is securing sponsorships and corporate donations,” says Scott Harris, “but this year the excitement and momentum made our job easy. We sold out of existing sponsorships early so we created new donor opportunities in order to meet the demand from businesses who wanted to be part of this year’s event.! In total we had 42 sponsors and donors.”

The Phoenix Ball Committee is the driving force of the annual event. Alongside the Chairs, this group gives input and direction every step of the way. Without them, the Ball wouldn’t be possible.

Of course, the event’s success can also be contributed to the Silent and Live Auction. A very popular part of the night’s festivities, more than 100 items were donated this year from businesses throughout Middle Tennessee.

The Pavilion Senior Living Community was the Title Sponsor for the 2019 Phoenix Ball. This wonderful facility gives so much to our community. The Pavilion took the opportunity to announce their new development Cornerstone Place at the event.

The evening began with cocktails in a Baird Chapel while guest browsed Silent Auction items.

The Dallas Floyd Phoenix Arena was transformed into an elegant ballroom with white draped walls, chandeliers throughout, an English Oak dance floor surrounded by a garden fit for any Southern mansion. At 7 pm guests were seated to enjoy a delicious menu that included, Charleston Shrimp & Grits, classic Blue Cheese wedge salad, Filet of Beef Oscar with orange-glazed carrots and Gruyere Potato Tart. A dessert buffet featuring classic Banana Pudding, Red Velvet Cake, Lemon Bars and chocolate bourbon pie capped off the dining portion of the event. 

After an exciting live auction, the Bourbon and Bubbles Bar and photo booth opened while guests danced the night away to classic tunes performed by 12 South Band.

The Patrons’ Party has become the 2nd hottest ticket in Wilson County and is a wonderful wrap-up event to The Phoenix Ball. This year’s Patron’s Party was hosted by Eric and Deanna Purcell. With more than 100 guests, this year’s event also broke records. The Purcell’s home offered a perfect location for a chic garden party.

Upon arrival, guests enjoyed signature cocktails and champagne and were invited to commemorate the event in the photo booth.

Attendees were led to the beautifully landscaped pool area where they dined on classic southern fare including fried green tomato BLTs, hot chicken and waffles, mini crab cakes, and Strawberry shortcake while the sounds of Amanda June & Cole Vosbury played in the background. The evening was capped off by a magnificent fireworks display.

Proceeds raised from the 2019 Phoenix Ball and Patrons’ Party will go directly into Cumberland University’s scholarship program. This enables more students to benefit from the superb education offered by the university. To learn more or to be a part of next year’s event got to www.PhoenixBall.com

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The Road Home

By Angel Kane

As I sit here on my porch this early Saturday morning, I’m amazed by how time flies.

Four years ago I wrote an article about our oldest child leaving for college. At the time I thought my heart would break. Dropping her off and driving away was one of my toughest days thus far. I sobbed for the first hour and for the second and third hour, my husband and I sat in almost complete silence driving home. 

We were always trying to teach her to be strong and self-sufficient, but to be honest we didn’t think she was listening! 

And then she was gone. 

Four years have passed and since then our #2 has followed in her sister’s footsteps and gone off to college. (A different one in a completely different direction because that’s what middle children do!)

And in that time we’ve survived. 

Probably because #3 is still here and we are completely obsessed, with him. Some mornings, I literally just stare at him eating his breakfast. 

“You’re doing that thing again. It’s freaky.” he used to tell me. (Apparently a completely normal phenomenon for parents trying to soak in the last few years of child-rearing. ) Bless his heart though, four years later, he no longer says anything and just lets me stare. And then he gives me a long hug goodbye before he heads to school. 

But next week our eldest returns. 

I remember the first year she was gone, I followed her every move on my Verizon App. I’d obsess if she wasn’t in her dorm by a decent hour. I’d fret over her wardrobe choices and friend missteps. And if she didn’t text back for over three hours, I’d start calling her friends to look for her! (True story, and now she responds a little more quickly.) 

When she was happy we were thrilled, when she was sad we were crushed. She studied, she worked, she traveled. And each time we’d see her, she was a little smarter, a little stronger and a lot more self-assured.

She returns with two degrees in hand, a job lined up an hour from home and not the little Madi we dropped off with her matching dorm room bedding and twinkly lights. 

I like this Madi more. 

She survived and thrived and learned she could stand on her own two feet. That’s what we wanted after all. 

Soon after I wrote my initial article, I was at the park walking. Glenda Davis was walking too. She may not remember, but she called out to me and said, “I read your article, just know it gets easier. She’ll be fine. This is what we raised them to do. “ For some reason, her words brought me the peace I’d been looking for. She had once been in my shoes and knew how the story ended. 

So for all the mammas that are dropping their first-borns off this week, just know time will pass quicker than you know. They will call you heartbroken, they will call you overjoyed, each experience is a step to who they are meant to become. 

And those steps will eventually lead them home. 

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Angels and Ice Cubes

By Andrea Hagan

When my daughter was four years old, she took a pretty bad tumble down the front staircase of our home.  I was walking in front of her and had just descended the L shaped staircase when I caught sight of her in the mirror hanging on our dining room wall.  In what seemed like slow motion, my daughter tripped and did a mid-air somersault, landing face-first at the bottom of the staircase.  She cried, but amazingly, she was not hurt.  From my viewpoint, her spill should have resulted in serious injuries.  She asked for some ice so I held an ice pack on her head where she said it hurt, but after about a minute, she said she was fine and that she wanted to go play.  

The next morning, my daughter slept in a little later than usual. At breakfast, I asked her how she slept, as I do every morning, and she said that she did not sleep well because there was a glowing man in her room that was keeping her up.  More curious than alarmed (my daughter is a creative and imaginative child), I asked her what this man looked like.  She described him, matter of factly, as a huge, white glowing man.  I asked her if he said anything and she said no, that he was quiet.  He was just watching her and he had a cooler.  Confused, I asked her what she meant, and she explained that he had an ice cooler with glowing cubes, probably in case he fell. 

Now, skeptics will say that my daughter simply recalled a vivid dream in which her subconscious mind was processing her fall earlier that day.  But I believe her angel was watching over her, explaining why she had no injuries whatsoever, not even the slightest bruise or knot.  Her angel, continuing to care for her that night, brought her some extra ice, the glowing heavenly kind, just in case.  

Seeing is believing, she saw and I believe.

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Live Like You Were Dying…

By Jill Waggoner

“If you had just one-day

‘Til the breath left your body

Til the Lord took your soul


Would you still be afraid

To live in the moment

To let it all go”

Bryan Galentine wrote these words in 2002 for his song “Fly,” and today, he finds himself living them.

Bryan, known professionally as Bryan Wayne, was diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS,) or Lou Gehrig’s disease, in April 2017.

ALS is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. The terminal, horrific disease eventually robs individuals of their abilities to move, eat, speak and, ultimately, breathe.

When Bryan began to realize the prognosis he would be facing, he asked himself some tough questions, along with his wife Staci. In short, if he knew his time was limited, what would he do?

“It does change how you view life. What are you going to do differently? What do you wish you had thought about before?” explained Staci.

First, Bryan made an album.

“When I knew that ALS could take my voice, I knew I had to hit the studio and put my voice on some of the songs that I’ve written over the years… I wanted my wife and boys to hear me singing forever. No matter what,” said Bryan. “It’s more than just a record.”

Within the week of his official diagnosis, Bryan and a group of his musician friends were in the home studio of country music artist Big Kenny, recording the first songs of his album, While You Wait. While Bryan has spent most of his adult life in the music business, recording an album was never in his plans. He’s enjoyed a successful career behind the scenes as a professional songwriter.

Bryan, Staci and their sons Grayson and Bennett have lived in Wilson County for 11 years. Bryan struck success with “What If She’s an Angel,” a song recorded by singer Tommy Shane Steiner. The song, which asks listeners how they would react to people in need, peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard charts in May 2002 and achieved BMI’s “Million-Air” status.

Bryan and his wife, Staci, with their two boys, Grayson and Bennett.

When putting together what he hopes will be his legacy on While Your Wait, Bryan carefully chose songs that he had written over the last 25 years. Songs like “Fly,” “Simplify” and “No More Rainy Days” share compelling, inspirational messages for those of us caught in the daily grind. “Still Beautiful” and “A Good Day” were inspired by his wife and children. In recent weeks, his songs have been gaining national exposure on country radio, podcasts and more.

It’s remarkable to understand that these songs were all written long before he faced this terrible disease. His diagnosis of ALS hasn’t changed his faith, his positivity and his overwhelming love for friends and family. It’s all there in the lyrics, but there is now a new power to his words and a new purpose in his heart. Rather than simply promoting an album, Bryan is devoting his platform to spreading awareness about ALS and working toward a finding cure.

  • John Rich and Bryan have a conversation at a release party for While You Wait.
  • Cover art for the album While You Wait.
  • Bryan and his family along with his musician friends at the home studio of Big Kenny.
  • Neil Thraser shakes Bryan’s hand during a release party for While You Wait
  • Bryan sings one of his own songs.
  • Jason Blaine sings while Bryan and others look on.

Millions of people have participated in the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, which began over four years ago, including the Galentines and their children. Yet, many could not tell you its purpose or anything about ALS.

This reality is a catalyst for Bryan to promote understanding about the disease. Most recently, Bryan serves a board member with I AM ALS, a patient-led movement that seeks to accelerate the search for a cure. He hopes to lobby soon on Capitol Hill for more ALS research and better care.

Locally, Mayor Randall Hutto will be honoring Bryan with a proclamation at the County Commission in May, which is also ALS awareness month. “This is a vicious, horrible disease,” said Bryan. “I’m going to lose my voice. I’m going to lose my ability to eat, to move and eventually breathe. But so many people out there don’t have the platform that I have. I’m trying to spend every moment being their voice. This disease needs to be eradicated. No family should have to go through this.”

Bryan has also made a priority the last two years of living out the lyrics found in his song, “Fly,” which, interestingly, was first recorded on the day he met his wife, Staci: “Who knows what tomorrow’s gonna bring; What are you waiting for, Spread your wings.” This living-in-the-moment song meant so much to Bryan and Staci that they gave out copies at their wedding.
Bryan explains, “What have you always wanted to do or learn how to do and why aren’t you doing it? If you’ve got something you want to do… do it now.” For Bryan, that included learning how to make an omelet, a skill he is proud to say he has mastered. He also learned how to dribble a basketball around his back and through his legs, but now is unable to do because of the progression of his disease.

He and Staci have also focused on creating memories with their boys, Grayson and Bennett. With help from organizations who serve families after such a diagnosis, they have been able to travel together to Disney World, sporting events and of course, some country music concerts, in recent months.

Bryan also shares his message of gratitude and positivity on the Facebook Page, Find the Good Stuff, through memes, videos, and stories. Again, this outlet was created before the diagnosis. Yet Bryan says that what’s important to him has “absolutely changed” since his discovering he had ALS. “Just like my song, ‘Wake Up World,’ it’s made me wake up and realize what’s most important. Time to make memories with Staci and the boys — number one. Also, reconnecting with friends and family,” Bryan said.

The Galentines’ community – from every facet of their lives – has rallied to their support since the diagnosis. Friends from Wilson County, the Nashville music community, as well as those from Bryan’s home in Northern Virginia have come together to support them in numerous ways. “We definitely consider our friends here our family,” said Bryan. “They’ve just been amazing: bringing us food, gifts out of the blue, helping with the boys, putting us on their prayer chains at church. That’s family.”

As those around them seek to encourage the Galentines during this difficult time, many have come away encouraged as well. “Staci is one of the strongest women I’ve ever met,” said Jenny Bennett, who works at Cumberland University with Staci. “She is kind and cares deeply about others. When we met, it occurred to me that I already had been praying for them at my church. We became instant family.”

In November 2018, when the album was released, Bryan found his voice unable to perform his songs. Several of his While You Wait co-writers joined him on stage for a release party in Nashville. Six-time ASCAP Songwriter of the Year Ashley Gorley performed the title cut, and GRAMMY winner and 2004 ASCAP Songwriter of the Year Neil Thrasher sang “Just Wouldn’t Leave It Alone.” GRAMMY-nominated songwriter Bonnie Baker sang the moving “No More Rainy Days;” Jason Blaine performed “Slow Time Down;” and Joanna Janet performed “Fly.” Big & Rich wrapped up the evening performing Bryan’s single,“Simplify,” along with many others.

“I was blown away to see so many people show up and lend their support,” said Bryan. “This industry has been good to my family and me, and I hope these songs inspire people for many years to come.”

His support from the music community extended all the way to the stage at 2018’s Soul2Soul tour in Nashville, featuring Tim McGraw and Faith Hill. During the Saturday night show, knowing Bryan and Staci were among the sold-out crowd, McGraw dedicated that night’s performance of “Live Like You Were Dying” to Bryan.

“It’s just like the song,” Bryan said. “None of us know when that’s going to happen. Based on odds, I have a more realistic timeline. We hope and pray for a cure, but the odds are not good. Only 10 percent live 5 years past their diagnosis. I’m two years in. “I’m at peace at where I’m going. I’m not really angry about having this diagnosis. God has put this on me to use it as a platform to spread the underlying message of kindness, goodness… find the good stuff. That’s my role here.”

The lyrics of “Wake Up World,” co-written with Greg Bieck, sums up well what Bryan would say to you, if you were sitting together at the coffee shop…

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AR Workshop

A Mt. Juliet mother-daughter duo have joined forces to give all of us a chance to get our DIY juices flowing. To say it was a God thing puts it mildly. Both very spiritually minded, it was only natural mom Tina Pressley and daughter Haley Jones put their heads together – to be together – in a joint business venture.

They have recently opened an oasis for wanna be…gonna be…do-it-your selfers who just want to create original one-of-a-kind projects in a Zen environment with no pressures and tons of tools to simply create.

Right in the heart of Mt. Juliet.

Haley searched and applied for this franchise and got an automatic yes, said Tina.

They opened AR Workshop on March 16.

Think DIY art studio meshed with a very cool boutique. It’s the best of both worlds for those who want a wonderful escape to create fun gifts, special signs, and, while there, peruse a boutique full of enchanting items.

“God opened the door for us,” said mom Tina. “We wanted to work together and people have been gracious and supportive.”

“It has always been a dream of ours to work together, but we really had no idea what that might look like,” Tina said. “We had discussed every kind of business we could think of from real estate to clothing boutiques but something kept taking us back to the concept of a DIY-type business in general, but specifically AR Workshop. As longtime Wilson County residents, we were well aware of the need for some type of entertainment that would appeal to a broad age range and interests.”

They are the perfect pair, this mom and daughter. Haley is a 2014 graduate of Mt. Juliet Christian Academy and Cumberland University, where she received her master’s degree in business administration last year.

Tina is a longtime Wilson County resident and has worked as development director for Mt. Juliet Christian Academy for 15 years. She will step down from this job to focus full time on AR Workshop.

Tina’s dad, and Haley’s papa, Ken Stilts, was a much-revered businessman in Mt. Juliet and was Tina’s mentor. “This business was right up our alley,” said Tina.

She laughs out loud to say she’s not the craftiest person in the world. And, perhaps worse! Whereas her daughter is on point. They mesh their attributes to make the business run right. And, since they opened, it’s been a huge hit in Mt. Juliet with ongoing classes, workshops, and projects non-stop for people who just want to DIY.

“This makes me feel like I can do crafts,” Tina said with a laugh. They are 23 years and 53 years. “I see myself in her,” said mom. “It’s about patience and grace,” Tina said she’s the idea person and her daughter implements. “Haley is the nuts and bolts of this business,” she said.

The 1,350-square foot oasis is ready for anyone who wants to create.

“We are more than just signs, which are awesome,” said Tina.

There are also wood projects, chunky knit blankets, and specialty classes, with literally thousands of projects to create.

“I don’t think many people get to say they are business partners with their mom, but I am one of the few who can!” said Haley.

“Mom has always been my very best friend so it only made sense that we would start a business together. She is incredibly talented in all that she does and extremely giving, loving and a whole lot of fun! Working next to my mom is very rewarding and has given me a front row seat to see how amazing she really is as a mom, a person and now a business owner. I am extremely proud to work next to her every single day and although very hard work, there is no one else I’d rather be on this journey with!”

“We have never looked back, there is an internal peace for both of us,” said Tina.

AR Workshop works in four steps. First, participants choose a class based on the project they would like to make and then the day and time they’d like to attend. Second, participants book a seat at the workshop, choose their project, design and give them design-specific personalization. Groups or individuals can book workshops. Third, participants show up for the workshop, where the tools, materials and step-by-step instructions are provided. Finally, participants take home their finished projects.

“We look forward to offering something fun for all ages and interests, including those who do not really consider themselves the DIYer,” Haley said. “Anyone who knows Tina knows she is not exactly the most creative person, and she completes the projects with great ease all while having fun. This is a place for all groups, ages, men and women, those who do not know anything about DIY and the most experienced crafter. Along with our wonderful workshops of wood projects, chunky knit blankets, and specialty classes, we also offer retail for gifts, home decor, jewelry and more.”

Check it out at 1984 Providence Parkway, Mt Juliet, TN 37122 (615) 212-5676

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