Category Archives: Features

Beneath the surface: Maryville resident fights through pain to live joyfully

By Jacki Wood, Nodaway News Leader

“Look beneath the surface; let not the several quality of a thing nor its worth escape thee” – Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, 167 AD

Karin Yarnell doesn’t have the energy to play with her kids. Or do house projects. Or be involved with her church or help others or spend time with friends.

All of which was a big part of her life just a few short years ago.

“I used to be extremely active,” the 40-year-old Maryville resident said. “I loved to play sports, work out, hike, swim, bike and run.”

Now, she does none of those things.

To look at her, though, nothing seems wrong.

But beneath the surface, she lives her life in pain.

“I rarely have pain-free days,” she said. “I have learned to fight through pain as much as possible to be able to do what I love. Some days, though, the pain wins, and I go to bed.

“I reserve my best for my family and my ministry. After that, there isn’t much left.”

She and her husband Jason, who is the Baptist Student Union minister, have three children, Meghan, Caleb and Allison. She is a homemaker and also serves as a BSU mentor.

Diagnosed illnesses

Yarnell lives with what have been called invisible illnesses – chronic conditions not visible on the outside.

She was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s in 2005 and Celiac disease in 2008.

With Hashimoto’s, her immune system attacks her thyroid and prevents it from making enough hormones.

Celiac disease is a digestive disorder that damages the small intestine and is triggered by eating foods containing gluten.

She was on thyroid medication for several years but her body started having hyperthyroid reaction to it and she was taken off it.

Then in 2012, she was also diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia.

CFS affects many body systems making it difficult to do normal activities. Fibromyalgia includes long-term pain spread throughout the body in the joints, muscles, tendons and other soft tissues and is often linked to fatigue, sleep problems, headaches, depression and anxiety.

“I have been under the care of several doctors and functional practitioners throughout the years who have all provided me with great knowledge and have helped in various ways,” she said. “My treatment right now consists of a very strict diet, rest, managing stress, low exercise and managing symptoms with medication as they arise.”

Daily life

“Fatigue is the single most life-changing symptom I have,” Yarnell said. “I can manage pain. I can manage not feeling well, but the fatigue is relentless. It’s not a fatigue that goes away with sleep. It doesn’t go away with a nap. It’s always with me. It affects me every day.”

In addition to fatigue, she is extremely sensitive to gluten and has severe reactions to even a small amount of cross-contamination. She makes her own meals, doesn’t eat out and takes food with her wherever she goes.

“I try to set people at ease, but I know some feel uncomfortable when I can’t eat what they have prepared,” she said. “I never expect anyone to cater to my needs, but I know they still feel badly about it.”

Another symptom is brain fog which has affected her ability to communicate with others.

“I used to be a confident public speaker, but now I have difficulty stringing together coherent thoughts.”

She also can’t drive for long periods of time as her eyes grow weary and her whole system wants to go to sleep.


Dedicated support

“My family is tremendously supportive,” she said. “My husband is phenomenal. He believes me and affirms me when I tell him how I feel even though I look fine on the outside. He prays for me. He encourages me to try new things that might help my symptoms. He adds extra work on himself so I don’t have to do it and he never complains.”

She said her children are incredibly supportive as well.

“They understand I can’t do the things I used to do. They make me laugh. They are understanding and sympathetic.”

Yarnell said her church recently started an encouragement group for women with chronic illness. It is open to the public and meets at 7:30 pm on the first Monday of the month at Laura Street Baptist Church.

“It is a blessing to be around others who understand how you feel,” she said. “I read a lot of blogs and talk to people online that share my symptoms. Sometimes it’s just nice to know you aren’t alone.”


Different view

One of the biggest lessons she’s learned is how to depend on God for everything.

“I need God every day,” she said. “He is my Friend, my Comfort, my Savior. I talk to Him a lot about the pain I am feeling. I know He knows and understands. He sees my struggle that is invisible to everyone else and He is there for me. He gives me joy, peace and contentment.”

She is also continuing to learn it’s okay to not do everything that is expected.

“The reality is that I can’t,” she said. “I have to choose to not feel guilty about it.”

Despite living with these illnesses, Yarnell offers encouragement and hope.

“It’s okay and important to grieve,” she said. “Cry over what is lost, but don’t quit.

“Be kind to yourself. You don’t have to do what everyone else does. You are fighting a battle others know nothing about. Don’t compare what you can do with what healthy people do.

“You can still be happy! It might take some extra work, and you might have to cut things out in order to give your best to what you find the most meaningful, but it’s worth it.”

Background information came from the National Institutes of Health at

Get crafty with simple mason jar projects

The Summer of Pinterest, Part 1 …


By Jacki Wood for the Nodaway News Leader

Have you ever tried a project, idea or recipe you found on Pinterest … and it didn’t come out quite like you’d hoped?

You’re not alone.

Branded as the world’s catalog of ideas, Pinterest users can “pin” ideas to try, but many find themselves disappointed at the end result.

There’s even an entire Pinterest Fail website, “where good intentions come to die,” devoted to Pinterest lovers who have shared projects that failed. And there are plenty of posts all across social media of hilarious failures.

So we thought it would be fun to do a little experimenting of our own this summer. And I convinced (forced) my family to help me out.

I’ve been pinning ideas on Pinterest for about five years now and have tried well over 100 recipes as well as ideas for home improvement, family reunions, hairstyles and even road trips.

This series will focus on several different ideas perfect for the summertime for you and your family. And we’ll see if they actually turn out perfectly. Or if we need to add it to the Pinterest Fail website.

We’re starting with a pretty ordinary object that can be transformed into a ton of different ideas for every corner of your home and summertime activity – mason jars.

My 15-year-old daughter, Hannah, helped me pick out two mason jar projects from the NNL’s So Crafty Pinterest board. We thought the Mason Jar Fairy Lights and the Mason Jar Citronella Candles would be fun to have when she has friends over for a summer party.


Mason Jar Fairy Lights

This idea came from the DIY Joy website. It was very simple and easy to follow with both a how-to video as well as step-by-step written instructions with photos.

The website says: “this cool glow in the dark craft is a neat project idea for kids and teens. These fairy glow jars are fun for after-dark outdoors ideas but they also make great DIY home decor for kids rooms or dorm decor.”


  • Mason Jar (any clean jar will do)
  • Glow in the Dark Paint (use several different colors)
  • Paintbrushes (preferably longer ones that reach to the bottom of the jar)
  • Scrap Paper
  • White School Glue (optional)
  • Glitter (optional)

Hannah had no trouble with this project at all. It was quick and easy and she was pleased with how they turned out. And it was relatively inexpensive, especially if you have old jars lying around.


Mason Jar Citronella Candles

This idea came from It was also very simple with step-by-step instructions and photos. And it provides a very cheap alternative to keep the mosquitoes away this summer.


  • Mason Jar (or any glass jar) with lid and ring
  • Citronella Torch Fuel
  • 1/8″ Lamp Wicks
  • Nail Punch, Screwdriver or a Nail and Hammer

This was also very quick and easy for Hannah. Our local Wal-Mart didn’t have the lamp wicks so we purchased thick twine as well as tiki torch wicks to try. The torch wicks were too big, especially for pint jars. And even the twine was perhaps a bit too big. On a windy day, the flame got a little big. But as long as it’s not left unattended, I think it would be fine.

Additional mason jar ideas can be found on the NNL’s “So Crafty” Pinterest page including bird feeders, soap dispensers, home decor, gifts in a jar and much more.

For these and other crafty ideas, visit


Australian exchange student finds unexpected success at Nodaway-Holt

By Jacki Wood, written for the Nodaway News Leader

NaliSmilesWhen Nali Tattersall arrived in Missouri in January, the 17-year-old exchange student had never participated in track and field, never attempted the high jump nor the long jump, never even seen how to do the triple jump.

Now, the Nodaway-Holt junior from Darwin, Australia, will be competing at state this weekend after qualifying in all three events at sectionals.

“(I) feel overwhelmed to receive all the attention,” Tattersall said. “I enjoy seeing everyone’s athletic ability and getting to meet others I compete with and build relationships with them.

“I’m also excited to be able to help my team with points and hopefully continue this journey as far as I can.”

Tattersall’s host family, Erick and Heather Thornton and their son, Derick, have enjoyed watching him compete.

“He is a natural to jumping events, and having never done it before, we didn’t expect him to be doing so well,” Heather said. “It’s been great to celebrate with him each time he sets a new personal record or see his face light up when he gets another trophy or medal.”


Darwin is the capital of the Northern Territory of Australia and has a population of 136,000.

Tattersall said while the language is the same and western culture is shared, there are several differences between his home country and the US.

“We drive on different sides of the road and (there are) changes in climate. Here it gets really cold and I’m used to it being hot year round,” he said.

The food is also different.

“Americans have so many choices,” he said. “There are so many different kinds of snacks and restaurants in the states. In Australia, we don’t have free refills and very few candy bars. I love trying it all.

“I do miss vegemite, though.”

Vegemite is a popular spread for sandwiches, toast and crackers in Australia. It’s dark brown, tastes salty and slightly bitter and is made from leftover brewers’ yeast extract with vegetable and spice additives.

Tattersall has also found that school is somewhat different.

“There are no sports in schools in Australia and here there is something to do all year,” he said.


The students at Nodaway-Holt, however, are mostly the same as those in Australia.

“(They) like similar things such as hanging out on the weekends, playing video games and they like to fish and hunt,” Tattersall said.

Sarcasm has been a bit of a challenge for him, he said, understanding when it’s being used and what is meant by it. But he is really enjoying his time at Nodaway-Holt especially participating in athletics and making new friends.

“My school is amazing,” he said. “And I’ve built so many friendships that will last a lifetime.”

That includes his host family.

“I have been placed with an awesome host family who are very supportive and keep my family in Australia involved with pictures and videos on Facebook,” he said.

Heather said they are grateful for the opportunity to have him in their home.

“He is a great kid, very funny and easy going, polite and enjoys interacting with others,” she said. “He has taught us many things about his culture and answers your questions, even if it’s the 500th time he had answered it. Watching him experience new things is a joy.

“We are grateful for the experience and know he will be a part of our family for many years.”




While there were no athletics offered at school in Australia, Tattersall did play basketball in what would be equivalent to a YMCA or community center league.

In addition to track and field, he participated in part of the basketball season at Nodaway-Holt after he arrived, and because he will be here until November, he plans to also play football in the fall.

Before Tattersall arrived in Missouri, a few students had shown Coach Josh Petersen video clips of him dunking a basketball from right inside the free throw line.

“When he started school here, I think it was his first or second day of basketball practice, I asked to see him dunk it,” Petersen said. “And I was just amazed at how high he could jump.”

So when track season rolled around, Petersen said he couldn’t wait to see how well he could or would do in the jumping events.

“Long jump and high jump weren’t really an issue but I was curious to see how he would do in triple jump,” he said. “The day before our first meet, I showed him the technique. And after seeing the look on his face and him saying ‘far out’ in that Australian accent of his, I figured he would like it.”

Not only did he like it, he excelled at it.

The day after learning how to triple jump, Tattersall participated in his first meet and jumped around 38 feet. Now, he’s jumping nearly 43 feet.

His long jump started at around 18 feet and now he’s jumping 20’2”.

In high jump, Petersen said he was stuck on 6’2” for awhile but he eventually got 6’4” at the Mound City meet which is his best and a Nodaway-Holt school record.

He was also a part of the 4×200-meter relay team, which Petersen said fared pretty well in every meet.

“Nali has been a very big part in the success of our track team this year,” Petersen said. “We only had six guys out and he was usually first or second in every event he was in. He has been our high point guy in every track meet, usually scoring 26 to 30 points by himself.

“I have really enjoyed watching him do his events and couldn’t have asked for a better person to coach in my first year. It’s been exciting to watch him perform.”

With his unexpected success, Tattersall is now considering the sport as a potential part of his future.

“Participating in track at the collegiate level is not a possibility (at home); they don’t have sports in college there,” he said. “I could continue track in Australia, however, it would be very limited and difficult.”

So after he finishes high school, he said he will consider returning to the US to further his education and participate in track while doing so.

“This has been amazing,” Tattersall said, “and I can’t wait to see what the future holds.”


Hunter’s story

By Jacki Wood ~ written for a college assignment in 2010


Tears roll down his cheeks like steady raindrops sliding down a window during a spring thunderstorm.

“I HATE YOU, DAD, I HATE YOU,” he yells from behind his closed bedroom door.

Hunter’s tears mix with the mess on his face and he wipes it with his shirtsleeve, leaving streaks of it across his cheek. He coughs and lets out one last wail before trying to compose himself.

He sniffs hard, wipes his face again and licks his dry lips.

“Mom,” he whimpers, knowing I’m standing outside his door. “Can I come out now?”


This is not a toddler temper tantrum. This is the winding down after a rage, after the shoving of his sister, the throwing of furniture, the growling and yelling and screaming and flailing.

This is 11-year-old Hunter who lives with bipolar disorder, one of an estimated 10 percent of children who deal with serious emotional and mental disorders, according to the US Surgeon General.


Bipolar is a brain disorder that causes unusual changes in mood, from the lowest of lows to the highest of highs, and can also be known as manic-depressive illness or manic depression.

In children, it is sometimes confused with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder because of the many similar symptoms when they are manic, according to the National Alliance for Mental Illness. The difference, though, includes elated mood, grandiose behaviors, flight of ideas, extreme changes in behavior and energy levels and decreased need for sleep. Then there is the depressive and even suicidal opposite side of the disorder.

During mania, children and teens can “feel very happy or act silly in a way that’s unusual, have a very short temper, talk really fast about a lot of different things, have trouble sleeping but not feel tired, have trouble staying focused, talk and think about sex more often and do risky things.”

During depressive episodes, they can “feel very sad, complain about pain a lot, sleep too little or too much, feel guilty and worthless, eat too little or too much, have little energy and no interest in fun activities and think about death or suicide.”

Other symptoms can include impulsive behavior, psychotic symptoms like delusions, hallucinations, and disorganized thinking and cognitive disturbances.


Mere minutes from his raging, things seem to have changed inside Hunter’s brain as I sit with him on his bedroom floor. He’s laughing, smiling and showing the dimple that dots his right cheek as he describes his latest car design to me. His fiery red hair seems a softer orange now. He drags out a sketch pad with curled edges and begins drawing.

And just like that, all seems to be well again.

At least for a few moments.


One of the biggest differences between children and adults with bipolar disorder is that an adult can go for weeks or months before they cycle from high to low or vice versa. With children, though, they can have multiple cycles during a single day. It’s really a roller coaster of emotions on a daily basis, from giddy highs down to depressive lows. Children and teens with bipolar disorder may also have mixed episodes that have both manic and depressive symptoms.

In the past several years, I’ve done plenty of reading and studying up on the illness, trying to figure out how best to raise Hunter and how to teach him to deal with it all. Most of the time I feel lucky that his symptoms aren’t as serious as others who I read about. Still, as he grows and gets older, I’m concerned how the illness will change and affect him in other more serious ways.

“My brain works differently than other people’s brains,” Hunter said. “Sometimes I go all crazy.”

Crazy, for Hunter, means he feels mad, sad, scared and even sometimes confused.

And then there’s the opposite of those feelings.

“Sometimes when I feel good, I think I can do anything,” he said.

That translates into him feeling that sometimes he is smarter than his teacher at school or his classmates, who don’t like it when he gets overly excited or yells out all the answers in class. It can also mean that he feels he knows better or more than his parents.

That’s not all that different than other kids, but it can be a little more difficult with him because of the other symptoms he experiences.


A couple of hours have passed since Hunter’s blowup with his dad. He is still in his room but has moved from drawing the car to building it using K’nex that litter his carpeted floor. The incident that led to him screaming his hatred toward his dad was about one of his Saturday chores – vacuuming the family room floor.

Saturdays are tough for Hunter. After breakfast, the chores begin. On his list for the day was to clean his bedroom, put his clean clothes away, clean the upstairs bathroom and vacuum the family room floor.

A reasonable amount of time for his younger sister to do the same chores is usually two hours or less.

But Hunter says he hates to work and drags it out nearly the entire day, even though he has been reminded that once his chores are completed he can do whatever he likes until bedtime.

“I don’t really like to do work,” he said. “I just want to get it done, but most of the time I don’t want to do it all.”

His seven-year-old sister completes her comparable chores well before lunchtime and is off to ride her bike and play outside with the dog.

By 11:30, Hunter has yet to complete even one of the tasks. He’s in the family room now, where he should be vacuuming. But instead of the cleaning, he’s sprawled out on the floor flipping through a car magazine, completely enthralled.

He goes all out for the things he enjoys and I love that about him. But I also believe he needs to learn the value of work, regardless of his illness.

His dad enters the room and quietly reminds him of his chores.

Hunter begins with whining and complaining about all the work he has to do. Then he starts looking for excuses. He’s hungry. He’s tired. His foot hurts. He’s thirsty. His head hurts.

He soon moves to crying. Then screaming. Then all-out raging returns. And finally, his dad must drag him off to his room so he can calm down and not hurt anything or anyone else.


“I told my dad I hate him because I didn’t like him when I was really angry,” Hunter said. “I don’t want to cry, but sometimes I feel like I can’t control it.”

The crying comes with the lows but can change without notice to euphoric highs. And when the mania hits, so do the ideas and the feeling he can do or be anything.

“I have lots of ideas of things I want to do,” he said, talking about his future. “I am excited when I feel good. I want to be an inventor or an engineer or an architect or a chef.”

He wants to build the biggest mall in the world. He wants to design the fastest racecar. He wants to own the best bakery in the country.

Everything is a superlative with him. It has to be the biggest or the fastest or the best.

While many of his classmates are busy playing video games, watching TV, playing sports or hanging out with each other, Hunter is setting goals, making plans and creating new ideas to help people and change the world.

Those grandiose ideas are typical of others with bipolar. The goals and ideas aren’t necessarily a bad thing, but not being able to accomplish them all, right now and with great success, is a difficult concept for Hunter to grasp. He wants it all. And he wants it all right now.


The dichotomy of the disorder seems to be seen in all aspects of his life, especially at school, where he attends Tri-County in Jamesport.

He likes math and excels in it, his fifth grade teacher Connie Critten said, although his grade card doesn’t always show it.

“Hunter has very good mental math skills and enjoys helping other students who are struggling with math,” she said. “He is usually patient with his classmates while helping them. But he doesn’t like doing homework and his scores are generally lower because he doesn’t finish his work.”

While receiving the highest MAP test in math in his class, his grades are consistently Cs in the subject.

“I don’t like doing homework,” he said, “because I don’t like work.”

We’ve tried many different ideas to help with this – things we’ve read from other parents and things from both his school counselor and his clinical counselor – without a whole lot of success.

More serious than his academic performance, however, is the way the disorder affects his behavior at school.

When Hunter is at his best, he is compassionate, caring and has a positive and uplifting attitude, his resource room instructor Debbie LaFerney said.

“He has a contagious smile and loves to please his peers,” she said. “Hunter knows where he wants to be in the future with his behavior, with school and with his career. He has a creative and imaginative mind and is always thinking about some invention he is going to work on.”

But being at his best – kind, imaginative, helpful – can change quickly, his school counselor LeAnna Wilcox said. He can be happy one minute and crying or in a rage the next.

“His mood swings could be associated with a ticking time bomb; you never know when they are going to go off,” she said. “When he gets upset, he tends to totally shut down. He becomes agitated and logic does not take place.”

Whatever the reason, his explosions disrupt the classroom and sometimes even the school.

“Hunter sometimes becomes very aggressive, throwing chairs, yelling or pushing other students,” Critten said. “He has been known to cause physical harm to others. And his crying can disrupt our classroom and the entire elementary building.”

He also appears to have a high anxiety level most of the time, she said, because he has so many goals he wants to achieve.

“He is afraid he will mess up or that his peers are looking at him and judging him,” she said. “Then he has an outburst as a way of protecting himself.”


Hunter walks out of his bedroom, the red blotches that dotted his face from his excessive crying have begun to disappear and his orange freckles shine once again. I offer him a hug and he presents both his newly constructed car and the drawing from his book.

And then as if nothing has happened, he begins telling me about his latest idea of making a more fuel-efficient car.


As bad as it was on this particular Saturday morning, it has been much worse.

We feel fortunate to have found help in recent years through the North Central Missouri Mental Health Center in Trenton where Hunter has received new medications, counseling and support.

He currently takes three mood stabilizer prescription drugs: Abilify, which he has been on since he was first diagnosed, Strattera and Lamictal.

“I don’t like to take my medicine,” Hunter said. “But my mom keeps telling me it helps me be better.”

In addition to the medication, he visits a psychiatrist every three months, meets with a clinical counselor each month and receives visits from a caseworker both at home and at school.


Hunter’s eyes light up as he describes the components of his new car idea. His words fly out of his mouth, one right after the other, faster than I can keep up with. I smile and sigh to myself. So many ideas – too many ideas. Hunter copies my gentle smile with a wide, toothy genuine grin of his own.

When he has finished explaining the idea, he shrugs, a little embarrassed and then waits, seeking approval. I reach out and give him that approval with another hug and smile.

I think it’s time to apologize to dad, I whisper to him.

Hesitant, he plops his car and sketch pad on his desk of overflowing ideas, papers, pads, cars and creations. He strolls out of the room, head down, and quietly calls out for his dad who is in the kitchen.


“Did you finish vacuuming the family room,” his dad asks, after Hunter had apologized for his actions.

“Yes,” he lies, with a blank stare on his face, trying not to make any moves to show his deceit.

It doesn’t matter. We all know he’s lying. Lately, most everything coming out of his mouth seems to be a lie. That’s an exaggeration, of course, but we’re tired and we don’t know what to do about it. There’s other deceitful behavior, like sneaking food from the kitchen during the night and stealing money from my wallet.

Consequences don’t seem to matter much to Hunter. And logic is lost on him most of the time.

There are so many facets to bipolar, and it seems when we figure out how to deal with one thing, something else pops up.

The lying is also something his caseworker Terri Westover has seen with Hunter when she visits him at school.

“One of the main things I’ve noticed lately about Hunter is his easiness in not being truthful,” she said. “I always talk to teachers before or after I talk to him about whatever the current incident is and the stories are usually quite different. Part of it is probably him minimalizing what actually took place. I don’t think he’s necessarily being conniving with his untruthfulness, but it keeps him in an alternate reality. He gets quite angry when confronted, but that’s what we’ve been working on at school and at home, bringing him back to reality.”


Hunter sulks back to the family room, this time without the dramatics. He seems to be too exhausted for another outburst. He grabs the vacuum, turns it on and roughly and quickly pushes it back and forth around the couch, TV and the magazine that’s still lying wide open on the floor. A few toys also dot the floor, some of which he threw in his earlier anger. There’s also the chair he knocked over in his rage.

I walk in and sit on the couch. He turns off the vacuum when he sees me. I encourage him, telling him I know he can do it and do it well. His dimple resurfaces with his smile as he picks up the toys, the magazine and the chair – and he finishes the vacuuming.

He really is a great kid, but it’s so hard to know if what we are doing is right with him or for him. It’s also hard because it feels like a lot of people don’t see the good in him with his dramatic changes in mood. I feel a lot of judgmental stares from others who get annoyed by his behavior, like I’m being a bad parent or no parent at all. We’ve made lots of mistakes with him, but it’s really frustrating when others don’t give him a chance or enough time to show who he is when he’s at his best.

So we just keep taking one day at a time. Some days are good, some are more of a struggle.

But even with the struggles and the mistakes, we feel like we’ve come a long way since he was first diagnosed.

“It’s difficult for me to describe the difference between the past couple of years and how it was in the beginning,” his dad says. “It’s like night and day.”


While Hunter knows bipolar disorder is something that will affect him his entire life, he is grateful for the help he is receiving.

“I’m a little afraid of my future because of bipolar,” he said. “But I know my family loves me even when my brain is crazy.”

(note from 2015: while we were blessed with wonderful mental healthcare resources and services when we lived near Jamesport back in 2010, we haven’t been so lucky where we live now. Due to the lack of resources here, we’ve had to make some major changes in dealing with Hunter’s illness. So we face new challenges while we continue to take one day at a time with him. Lack of adequate mental healthcare services affects thousands of people across the country. I encourage you to contact your legislator in support of mental healthcare and not be afraid to talk about mental illness.)

Working Abroad: MHS grad teaches in France to further education

Written for the Nodaway News Leader By Jacki Wood


“Je suis Charlie” helped unite a country and the world following the January 7 attack on the Charlie Hebdo newspaper offices in France.

And a Maryville High graduate felt its effects much closer as she is currently a teaching assistant there.

Ruth Boettner has seen “Je suis Charlie” signs throughout Clermont-Ferrand, the city where she is working. The phrase, which means “I am Charlie,” was first seen on social media as a way to support freedom of speech and the victims of the attack. The movement has grown with marches throughout France and around the world.

“It’s truly a sad, terrible thing that’s happened,” she said. “The saddest part for the assistants in Clermont is that one of the victims, Michel Renaud, is from Clermont-Ferrand. His daughter is a student here.”

She said it’s always sad when people and organizations are targeted for the viewpoints they express.

“It’s felt even more when you are just a few degrees of separation away from someone who was killed,” she said.


Boettner was born in the Philippines but grew up in Maryville, the daughter of Richard and Bing Boettner. She graduated from MHS in 2009 and then attended the University of Nebraska-Lincoln where she had majors in French and global studies and minors in African studies and music.

Her background in French began during her sophomore year at Maryville High when she started studying the language. She also took a trip to France after her senior year with her classmates and their teacher, Linda Ferris.

“I thought maybe I’d minor in French when I went to UNL at the most, but I quickly realized how much I loved the language,” she said. “After one semester, I realized I liked the French curriculum (and) decided to be a French major.

“It really helped me with my global studies and African studies curriculum but especially my honors thesis, as I spent a lot of time translating primary source documents from French to English.”

She participated in a Study Abroad program in France at the Université de Caen Basse-Normandie in 2012.

“While at Caen, I more or less studied French as a foreign language,” she said. “It was really what pushed me over the hump in terms of learning the language. You don’t really know how well you know it until you actually have to speak it every day.”

Altogether, Boettner has spent about eight years learning French and considered herself nearly fluent. When she graduated from UNL in May 2014 and another opportunity to continue her education fell through, she applied for the Teaching Assistant Program. She said she hopes to finally attain that fluency through this opportunity.



While continuing to learn the French language is a large part of why she is in France, her education is going far beyond as she is learning more about the world around her.

“There have been multiple anti-Muslim attacks throughout France since the Charlie Hebdo attack,” she said. “Of course, they may not all be directly related. Still, I worry about how this will affect France’s relationships with its Muslim citizens and residents.”


Ruth Boettner applied for the Teaching Assistant Program in France last January to continue her education.

“I really wanted to go back to France,” she said. “And I worked with kids all through college and loved it, so it just made sense.”

Boettner received notification in April that she had been hired to teach in Clermont-Ferrand, and after graduating in May from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, she began preparing for her return to France.

Her teaching contract is from October 1 to April 30 but she arrived in mid-September and plans to stay through the latter part of May so she can do some extra traveling before returning home.

Before she left for France last fall, she said her goals included finally becoming fluent in French, traveling and enjoying the opportunity to return to the country.

“I only spent about three months in France when I studied abroad,” she said. “And now I’m hungry for more, I suppose you could say.”


She continued: “I love working with elementary-aged kids, watching them learn and grow, and I hope I can do that for my future students.”


Boettner has been teaching in France for roughly three months now and said it has been going really well.

“I had a little trouble getting into the swing of things when I first started out,” she said. “I’ve worked with kids in after-school programs and summer camps for several years before this, but teaching solo in a classroom setting is really a different ball game.”

She said her biggest struggle was starting with things that were too difficult too quickly.

“It takes time, of course,” she said. “You get a grasp on where each individual class is in their learning and how they learn best and you go from there.”

Boettner works two days a week – at one school on Tuesdays where she teaches six classes and at another on Fridays where she teaches three.

“The students at my Friday school are in a specialized English program in which they have English classes four days a week, so they’re more advanced than my Tuesday students,” she said.

Boettner said her favorite part of teaching has been watching the students succeed.

“When my students get so much joy from their little victories,” she said, “it’s great to see that kind of excitement from learning.”


One of her favorite experiences has been with a Thanksgiving lesson she gave, where she made big hand-shaped turkeys for each class. She asked the students what they were thankful for and then wrote those things on the turkey.

“They would usually give me the French word and I would write the English word next to it,” she said. “A few of them even said ‘We are thankful for Ruth’ and for their English lessons. I was feeling particularly homesick that week so it definitely cheered me up.”

The rest of her work time is spent fulfilling duties for the conseillers pédagogiques, who are the people who train the teaching assistants and new teachers.

So far, she has translated training documents and recorded her voice for use as a teaching tool for them. She, of course, also spends a few hours a week planning lessons and said she may begin a weekly English discussion group for volunteer teachers.


Outside of her work commitments, Boettner said she has enjoyed getting to know the other language assistants and exploring the city.

“The region is absolutely beautiful,” she said. “I feel really lucky regarding where I am and the people I’m sharing this whole experience with.”

She also spends her free time studying for the GRE and applying to graduate schools, which she hopes to begin following this teaching assistance opportunity.

“Fingers crossed, I’ll be entering a doctoral program in African history,” she said. “I’ll still be using my French. I’m planning on focusing on French-speaking African countries in my future research.”

Parnell couple uncovers long-forgotten cemetery

By Jacki Wood for the Nodaway News Leader

Located near Honey Creek and the Platte River in eastern Nodaway County, the tiny sawmill town of Wilcox is long gone and mostly forgotten.

But Aaron and Rosey Runde are doing their part to change that.

Prior to purchasing their farm near Honey Creek in the rural Parnell and Ravenwood area, the Rundes were out looking at the farm when they walked right past it without even noticing.

It wasn’t until Aaron walked by it a second time that he realized he was walking past a cemetery.

Located in the southwest corner of their farm, it is the Wilcox Cemetery and the oldest gravestone dates back to 1872.

“I didn’t know what to think at first,” he said. “I thought possibly it was a small family cemetery.”

He soon realized it was more than that.

When he started to uncover the cemetery, only two or three of the stones were actually still standing.

“Most of the stones were broken off and laid scattered in pieces,” he said. “Now, 67 stones have been found and pieced back together.”


He said he’s spent well over a year’s worth of Sundays clearing and cleaning up the cemetery so far with the help of his wife and friends Josh Schmitz, Cody Schmitz, Caleb Spire and Kim Savano.

“I started by cutting down lots of good-sized trees and lots of brush and piling it all up and burning it,” he said. “It took a whole lot of clearing and cleaning before I could even think about mowing it.”

Runde said the work he’s done to restore the cemetery was mostly done out of respect for the people buried there but also from a feeling of obligation since it rests on their property.

“Reading the gravestones has been educational and enlightening,” he said. “Some of them have lengthy epitaphs. And a lot of the stones are infant graves which makes us thankful for medical advancements over the past 100 years.”



In addition to clearing and cleaning up the area, he has replaced the fence on three sides of the cemetery, added a new entrance gate on the west side and recently built a new pipe fence along the south edge.

“I plan to continue to make improvements,” he said, “along with keeping it mowed and cared for.”

Several folks have stopped by the “newly found” cemetery to thank Runde for his efforts to uncover their ancestors’ grave markers.

Runde said he has no way of knowing how many graves could still be missing so he’d like to have a map of the cemetery to see how many were there at one time. Also, if anyone knows of a good, inexpensive way to mend broken gravestones, please let him know.

He can be reached at 660.937.2060.

Cemetery4 Cemetery5 Cemetery6


Life after Energizer…

Life after Energizer keeps on going and going and going: Bow Wow Barber offers mobile pet grooming

By Jacki Wood


Editor’s note: this is the first in a series about former Energizer employees who have become entrepreneurs since the plant’s closing.

Jennifer Lynch pulls her forest green mini bus right up to the front door and hops out ready to groom Bella, a cute Maltese.

Normally timid around others, Bella gave her new groomer a few kisses after her trim.

It’s a familiar scene happening all over Northwest Missouri and Southwest Iowa, from Maryville to Skidmore and Bedford to Bethany. Dogs and cats getting trimmed, bathed, pampered and pedicured. All at the convenience of the pet owner. And all right outside their front door.

And soon, that forest green mini bus will be replaced with a custom-built trailer for Lynch’s new business, Bow Wow Barber mobile pet grooming.


When Energizer made the announcement in November 2012 that it would be closing the Maryville plant, nearly 300 employees faced uncertainty.

“At first, the announcement was very unsettling and left a lot of what ifs, what now, what am I going to do questions in all of our minds,” Lynch said, who resides in Maryville and has been a resident of the area her entire life. “But I couldn’t let all that bother me.”

Lynch, 35, and the mother of two children, had worked at Energizer since March 2000.

She tossed around several ideas about what to do. The self-described animal lover had been grooming her own dogs for several years, so going in that direction just made sense.

In December of last year, she decided to attend Petropolis, an International Society of Canine Cosmetologists accredited school in St. Louis. She was trained by master groomers and has the option of becoming a master groomer herself.

“I just looked at the situation as a way to finally get a chance to do something I wanted to do and not what I had to do,” she said, “to do something that I truly enjoy.”

Through her schooling at Petropolis, she became a certified pet groomer and opened Bow Wow Barber in April of this year.


The mobile business offers a full grooming service including baths, nails and haircuts on all sizes of dogs and cats.

“I did a lot of research when making the decision to go mobile with my grooming,” she said. “(I wanted) to be different than others and to cater to people and their busy lifestyles.”

Some of the advantages of being mobile, Lynch said, include pets not having to wait in cages before and after grooming, less stress for pets visiting a loud shop with other animals and more convenient for owners without having to drop off and pick up their pets.

“I provide a service unlike other groomers in this area and the results have been fantastic,” she said. “I enjoy everything about my decision to start up my own business.

“Since the plant closed, my whole life has changed – for the better.

For more information or to schedule an appointment, call 660.541.0621 or visit

Hard-working Hopkins couple leaves lasting legacy

By Jacki Wood for the Nodaway News Leader

The name Rickard has become synonymous with giving and grant funding in Nodaway County over the last decade.

But the story of Floyd and Gladys Rickard began outside of Nodaway County in the late 1890s.

Early years

Floyd L. “Skeet” Rickard was born October 23, 1896, in Craig, the son of Robert and Hattie Rickard.

Gladys Marie Heflin was born September 1, 1898, in Clarinda, IA, the daughter of Charles J. and Hanna Rogers Heflin.

Skeet moved to Hopkins at some point in his young life. In 1913, he was a member of the Hopkins High School basketball team.

Skeet Rickard, front left

Skeet Rickard, front left

He went on to pharmacy school, graduating with honors, and passed the Missouri Board of Pharmacy on June 12, 1916.

Later that year, he began working at The Owl drugstore in Hopkins.

Skeet enlisted in the US Navy on May 18, 1918, and was a pharmacist’s mate during World War I. He was released on August 29, 1919, and returned to Hopkins and to The Owl.

He was the Hopkins White Sox baseball team manager and played shortstop in 1922 and then played second base for the Hopkins Towners in 1924.

In 1923, he and Oliver Lewis, then co-owners of The Owl, purchased a building where Lewis opened Herbert-Gray Drug while Skeet stayed at The Owl.

Then in 1929, Skeet purchased Herbert Drug and moved the stock to a new location on the north side of Barnard Street where he opened Rickard Rexall Drug. He installed the “latest” in fountain equipment and several years later added an ice cream making machine.

Skeet and Gladys

On May 23, 1930, Skeet and Gladys were married in King City.

Gladys had worked as the city clerk in Clarinda before they were married. She then joined her husband at the drugstore.

Anna Cross, former owner of the Hopkins Journal, and her daughter, Sharon Bonnett, remembered the Rickards as being conservative, hard-working people who were “always” at the drugstore. Skeet was more outgoing and personable than was Gladys.

“I think Skeet was well liked in Hopkins. He became involved in a lot of the town’s endeavors,” Cross said. “And I think of Gladys as a serious-minded, all-business woman.”

The drugstore

The drugstore was a gathering place, Bonnett said, and the old-fashioned soda fountain was an attraction.

“The drugstore was at the bottom of schoolhouse hill,” Bonnett said. “The kids who lived in town would go to the drugstore for ice cream or a soda drink or candy every night before they headed home, if they could afford it.”

The Rickards did not have any children, Cross said, but always had a dog that they considered family. And the dog was always with them in the drugstore, Bonnett added.

Gladys Rickard and her dog

Gladys Rickard and her dog

“What I remember most about Gladys is her love of dogs,” Bonnett said. “I don’t remember her looking forward to children visiting their store, but I would go to the back where the pharmacy was because that’s where the dog was. She kind of liked me because I liked her dog.”

Community service

The Rickards owned a two-story home on schoolhouse hill and were both involved in the community during their time in Hopkins.

They attended the Christian Church in Hopkins.

Skeet was elected mayor in 1934.

He was a charter member of the newly formed Glen Ulmer Post No. 288 on October 9, 1939, and Gladys was a charter member of the American Legion Auxiliary.

Skeet was also a 50-year member of the Xenia Masonic Lodge and Gladys was a member of the Eastern Star, Art Club, Hilltop Club, Hopkins Historical Society, CWF and the Hopkins Organ Club. She also played bridge.

“I don’t know how active she was in any of those organizations but she was a member,” Cross said. “Skeet was much more active.”

Later on

In 1948, Skeet purchased the Shamrock Inn north of Hopkins and sold it seven months later to Roy and Rose Burri who opened State Line Oil and Cafe.

Then after 25 years of operating Rickard Rexall Drug, they sold the drugstore to Mr. and Mrs. Clell Corum on March 1, 1953.

Skeet then served as president of the Hopkins State Bank when it opened on March 5, 1955, and Gladys also worked there as a teller.

After they retired, the Rickards moved to Arizona. Skeet died at the age of 86 on October 31, 1982, in Phoenix.

Following his death, Gladys returned to Hopkins and then moved to Maryville. She died September 7, 2002, at the age of 104.

Skeet and Gladys Rickard

Skeet and Gladys Rickard

The trust

Hopkins native Ed Mutti, who serves as a trustee for The Gladys M. Rickard Charitable Trust, said his mother and Gladys were good friends. After Skeet’s death, he prepared her taxes for her.

“She was always very good to me,” he said. “They were really hard working. And they spent hours in that drugstore.”

With no children to benefit from their hard work, conservatism and saving, Gladys set up a trust to assist Nodaway County residents.

“It’s touched a lot of organizations and a lot of people,” Cross said.

To date, the trust has awarded over $2 million in grant funding to organizations located in Nodaway County or which directly benefit the county.

“Their conservatism has enabled a lot of things,” Bonnett said. “Their trust has made a big difference for a lot of Nodaway County.”

Special thanks to the Hopkins Historical Society, the Nodaway County Historical Society, Anna Cross, Sharon Bonnett, Ed Mutti, Garland O’Riley and Amy Anderson.


Side Story: Nodaway County organizations receive over $2 million from trust

By Jacki Wood for the Nodaway News Leader

Over the last 10 years, The Gladys M. Rickard Charitable Trust has assisted numerous Nodaway County organizations with over $2 million in grant funding.

“Nodaway County has benefited immensely in having this resource for bettering the communities and the lives of our residents,” Jessica J. Loch, Rickard board member, said. “Since December 2004, $2,449,616 has been given out.”

Floyd L. “Skeet” and Gladys M. Rickard lived in Hopkins for many years, were involved in the community and owned the Rickard Rexall Drug in town from 1929 to 1953.

Following the death of Gladys in 2002, the trust was funded on May 15, 2004, with the first awards given out in December of that year.

“The purpose of the trust is to award grant monies to 501©(3) organizations that are located in Nodaway County or directly benefit Nodaway County,” John W. Baker Jr. said, who along with Loch and Edward Mutti Jr., also serves on the board of trustees.

Some of the organizations that have received funding from the trust include the Hopkins Community Club, the Children and Family Center, New Nodaway Humane Society, Habitat for Humanity, Hopkins Historical Society, Nodaway County Historical Society, The Ministry Center, Mozingo Lake and Maryville Park and Rec, Camp Quality, North Nodaway, Eugene Field Elementary, Maryville Middle School, Community Services, Clearmont Community Club, Lifeline, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Nodaway County Senior Center, St. Francis Hospital and Foundation, SSM Hospice Foundation, Toys for Tots, United Way, Nodaway Community Theater Company, NOCOMO, Nodaway Chorale, JFK Recreation Center, Children’s Mercy Hospital and Maryville Public Library.

“The citizens of Nodaway County are very proud of their farms, homes and towns,” Loch said. “I’m always impressed that when something needs doing, such as the community center buildings or parks or safety and health needs, the residents rally and get it done.

“Getting assistance with the Rickard funds makes it easier to see that a goal can be met and maybe is a shot in the arm to accomplishing it.”

Loch said the trustees look at certain factors in determining who receives grant funding, including: is the use of money for non-consumable items that will be used for a period of time; is it an established program that has proven it is sustainable; how large is the population that will be served and what is the diversity of the population; is it an organizations that does good work but might not have other sources of funding.

The trust also sometimes requires matching funds from the recipients, Loch said.

“The imagination and care shown in resolving needs and issues in the county is endless,” she said. “One cannot describe the joy there is in being ‘Santa Claus.’ The thank you letters of appreciation we receive are heartfelt in describing how many families are aided by Community Services for rent assistance, Toys for Tots, hospice care, elderly housing and Lifeline. I am very fortunate to serve on this trust.”

The trustees usually meet in June and November to evaluate requests and make a decision on grant awards. Funds must be distributed by the end of the year to satisfy IRS requirements.

Baker said the amount that the trust is worth depends on the stock market. As of December 31, 2013, the value was $5.5 million.

“By IRS guidelines, we must set aside an amount equal to at least five percent of the twelve-month average fair market value of the trust assets,” he said, which determines how much is awarded each year.

Applications for grant funding can be obtained from Diane Thomsen, Strong and Strong Law Office, 124 East Third, Maryville, and must be submitted by May 1 and November 1 each year.

Relay For Life: Osborns work together to fight cancer and move on

Feature for the NNL by Jacki Wood


Audrey Osborn had been engaged just four months when her husband, Joel, was diagnosed with testicular cancer in 2009.

They were both just 24 years old at the time.

“I remember I was in the athletic offices on campus,” Audrey said. “We were both graduate assistants at the time. And he came up and told me that they had found a lump and the doctor was pretty positive it was cancerous.

“He was very calm and positive about it. It honestly didn’t even hit me at the time because he was so optimistic about it. That was his attitude throughout his entire journey, always positive, never felt sorry for himself, he just knew in his mind that he would beat it and be fine. His attitude made it very easy on me in the beginning because we just went on with our lives like nothing was wrong.”

That was in November, and the following summer, the two were married. They found out on their honeymoon that Joel – the former Northwest Missouri State quarterback and current assistant coach – would need to start chemotherapy when they returned.

“He completed four rounds of chemo, and even after his first round, he was still going about life as normal,” Audrey said. “It really wasn’t until the second round that it started taking a toll on him.”

The caregiver role

Joel started losing his hair, his energy decreased, his appetite changed and there were times when he would get pretty sick.

And that’s when Audrey stepped in with her role as caregiver for her new husband.

“God works in mysterious ways,” she said. “I just so happened to be in between jobs at the time so I was able to go with him every day to chemo. What a blessing that was. I don’t know how we could have planned that any better. God was definitely watching over us during that time.”

She said her role as caregiver was to be his rock.

“We left all the drama out of everything and just did what we had to do when we had to do it,” she said. “We both always had the mindset that this is how it is now, but we’ll get past this and move on. I just did whatever he needed me to do. That’s part of the deal, ‘in sickness and in health.’ He would have done the same for me.”

As bad as Joel felt toward the end of his treatments, it was football season and he was a graduate assistant. Audrey said he felt he had a job to do and so he never missed a game.

“That just goes to show you how dedicated he is and how loyal he is,” she said.

His last round of chemo finished up around his 25th birthday in October of 2010, right in the middle of the season.

During that time, Audrey said they looked to their family, especially their parents, and their good friends for support.

“They did everything they could to help out and were always there to talk to, to lean on and give encouragement,” she said. “Our Bearcat family was awesome during this time, too. The coaches and their wives were nothing but supportive and helped out any way they could. They brought us meals and drove Joel to appointments if I couldn’t.

“We are honestly so blessed to be a part of the Bearcat family.”

Relay For Life

Since Joel’s diagnosis, the couple has walked with a team each year. His parents started a team in his hometown of Harlan, IA. They go up there and walk with them when they can, in honor of Joel as well as in the memory of his Grandma Osborn and his Grandpa Blum.

The Bearcat athletic office also has a team the Osborns have been a part of in the past. And they have also participated in the Survivor Dinner.

“Relay is a chance for us to take a break from our crazy schedules and remember what Joel went through and what so many others are going through,” she said. “It brings you back to reality and reminds us how thankful we are that Joel is still in remission four years later.”

And Relay is also a time for everyone to be on the same team, Audrey said.

“You realize that cancer affects just about every family in one way or another,” she said. “You get to spend the day with your community, maybe someone you see at Hy-Vee or someone that you run into at the Community Center, and it reminds you that in reality, we’re all here for each other.

“It also reminds you that you don’t always know someone else’s story, what someone else is going through. It’s just a great way to show your support for everyone in the community.”

The Nodaway County Relay For Life event will be held Saturday, May 17, at Bearcat Stadium. For more information, visit

Too Busy For A Heart Attack

Written by Jacki Wood in the Nodaway News Leader for Heart Health Month

More women die of heart disease than all forms of cancer combined. Unfortunately, this killer isn’t as easy to see. Heart disease is often silent, hidden and misunderstood – American Heart Association

The signs had been there but they were slight, hidden even. And then there were the risk factors.

But Maryville resident Jill Hardin was too busy for a stroke, too busy for a heart attack.

“Even me, who had a father who had a stroke, sat in my kitchen and said, well, gee, I can’t go to the hospital today because I’ve got to do this, this and this.”

It was two weeks before Christmas and the 66-year-old single mother of an 11-year-old and a 14-year-old was too busy to realize what was wrong until it was almost too late.

It was Saturday and she hadn’t done the laundry yet. She’d planned on going Christmas shopping later that day. And then there was the wrapping to do and Christmas cookies she had promised to make with the girls.

“I’m thinking of all of this stuff,” she said. “And I’m trying to tell myself that even though my right hand didn’t have any feeling, even though I couldn’t see, even though I couldn’t talk, that I was fine.

“I was going to be fine. Just give me a few minutes and I’ll rally”


At 66, Hardin stays very active. She plants trees, flowers and bushes, mends fences and does other outside work. She refinishes floors and paints walls, ceilings and trim.

“I’m kind of a jack-of-all trades,” she said. “And I’ve just always been very active.”

She had a few underlying health problems, but they hadn’t been enough to slow her down any or make her feel like she should.

High cholesterol that she was told to watch several years ago. But nobody had said anything about it recently.

An ocular migraine she was diagnosed with a couple of years ago. No pain, just a kaleidoscope effect she would have once in a while, but nothing really to worry about.

A pain that went from her left shoulder across her chest and to her right shoulder after carrying a heavy box a couple of years ago. She thought she had just pulled something. When the pains starting happening more frequently. she was diagnosed with acid reflux.

Chest pain this winter that she noticed only when she went out to chore on a really cold morning, but went away quickly after going back inside.

And she was tired.

She told her doctor this. But she didn’t have trouble climbing stairs and she wasn’t short of breath, so the doctor said, maybe at 66, she might consider slowing down.

“I felt good so I didn’t see any reason to slow down,” she said. “I had things to do. And I’ve never been to a doctor who was concerned about anything, and when I had a complaint, there was always some other reason.”


That Saturday morning, December 14, 2013, she had been busy doing her regular morning activities when she suddenly experienced one of those ocular migraines.

“I couldn’t see clearly. I tried to talk, I tried to continue to communicate, but I couldn’t.”

Thankfully, a friend was at the house.

“He kept saying he couldn’t understand me. I was fighting to see and I was trying to talk and then I gave up.”

She grabbed a bottle of aspirin, and when she went to get the pill out of her palm, she noticed her right hand didn’t have any feeling in it.

“We debated for a while whether to take me to the hospital or not,” she said. “I’m saying to myself, come on, there’s nothing wrong with me.”


Hardin said she wants to share her story to help other women.

“Just because you’re healthy doesn’t mean you’re healthy,” she said.

There were warning signs. One of the most important symptoms for women is exhaustion, she said.

“But how many women aren’t exhausted?”

She said a woman today generally has a job, but she also usually has most of the responsibilities in the home including meals  and laundry and running the kids to activities.

“She’s tired,” Hardin said. “And she doesn’t know when she’s really tired.”


On that Saturday morning, after some convincing from her friend, she finally agreed to go to the hospital.

“The doctor there saw a woman who was healthy having a few problems with her speech but not a lot,” she said.

He said she was probably having a TIA, or transient ischemic attack, which is when the blood flow to a part of the brain stops for a brief period of time. He told her she might have them from time to time or not at all, but he wanted her to stay overnight.

Then he called a doctor in neurology, who said she needed to be transferred to a stroke center right away.

She traveled to St. Luke’s by ambulance – after being convinced driving herself in her pick-up was not a good idea – and was swarmed with doctors who asked lots of questions about her previous diagnoses, her symptoms and her family history.

After days of testing, a double bypass heart surgery, a carotid endarterectomy (a surgery used to prevent strokes in those who have carotid artery disease) and nine days at St. Luke’s, Hardin was finally able to come home two days before Christmas.


“I was very lucky. I’m very fortunate. I think the thing that saved me was that I have always been very active.”

Looking back, Hardin realizes the signs were there.

“It was different this year,” she said. “I was slower to rally. And my enthusiasm was down.”

But being a single parent, if she didn’t do the things that needed to be done, no one else was going to, she said. So she made herself do them.

“I was tired, though, exhausted,” she said. “And I knew it was different.”


She’s now undergoing cardiac rehab through St. Francis Hospital in Maryville and realizes some changes need to be made.

But she really wants other women to learn from her story.

“I’m just glad I’m here,” she said. “And I hope I can wake up some other women because this is important. I want them to think, wow, maybe I ought to think about me for a change.”