HOLLA! held its HOLLA! Day in May on Saturday, drawing participants to its 5K walk, literary festival and band performance.
The day began with the 5K Walk, which started at the HOLLA! Let’s MOVE Fitness Center. Although the walk was not competitive, the first 20 participants to finish received a free HOLLA! Day T-shirt. Daniel Webb, an Anson High School teacher, finished first. Jeff Post and AHS teacher Brian Post came in second and third.
Double-amputee Tonja Smith participated in part of the walk on behalf of Cedar Creek Baptist Church. Smith, whose feet, ankles and fingers were amputated, said she had no doubts and no detractors. “A lot of people that know me know I’ll do it because there’s nothing I can’t do since I can do all things in God,” she said. “I’ve got sense to enough to slow down when I need to.” This was her first such walk since her amputation in August 2012, which was necessary after she contracted an infection called sepsis following a kidney stone. She has kept her spirits up. “If I had been in despair, I probably wouldn’t have been able to heal as fast,” she said. “Each and every day is a blessing that I’m able to take a step. The lord gives me strength.”
Several sponsored teams participated in the walk: Team 1127; Poisson, Poisson, and Bower, PLLC; Faith Based Ministries; FlyGirls; the Town of Morven; Cedar Creek Baptist Church; Community Helper to Raise a Reader; Morven Elementary School; Jericho Cadet Corps; Rhonda J. Liles; Anson High/Glennie Bennet; and Faith Builders.
Following the walk, several authors presented their books at the literary festival at the HOLLA! reading room. E’ShaVonne, Tanya Harris, Kianna Alexander, Rodney Jacobs, Devondia Roseborough, Allyson Deese, Isaiah David Paul, Suzetta Perkins, Yolanda Johnson and Dr. Elaine Stevens all showcased their works at the festival. They represented a wide range of genres including children’s books, historical fiction, contemporary sensual paranormal fiction, contemporary and historical eroticism, inspirational books, Christian fiction and non-fiction and more. The festival was open to any author to allow for a wide variety of genres. “If we can’t get the parents excited about reading, we can’t get the kids excited,” HOLLA! CEO and founder Leon Gatewood said.
Author Rodney Jacobs displayed several books, but said his current favorite is “The Vision of Malaika,” which focuses on teen suicide. In the story, a child Malaika receives a vision from an angel and goes out into the world to tell people that suicide is not the answer. Sequels will show high-schooler Malaika continuing her mission in D.C. and college-age Malaika speaking to the United Nations. Each book also features a word search puzzle. “Malaika is my favorite so far,” Jacobs said. “Teen suicide is such a big issue. It’s increasing an an alarming rate. What made it so prominent to me was an article about a 9-year-old girl committing suicide because of jealousy of her 3-year-old brother. That girl will never grow up and know what life is about. We’ve got to stop it. My passion is that I hope someone out there will read your article and realize that suicide is the third leading cause of death in young people ages 8-25. Some kid right now is killing himself.” Jacobs’ radio show, Power of Restoring, is on www.blogtalkradio.com on Thursdays.
Suzetta Perkins has written nine books including her latest novel, “Silver Bullets.” In that book, four women over the age of 50 are best friends seeking to spice up their love lives and try different things before they realize that life isn’t over at 50, Perkins said. “They realize they’re always sexy at any age,” she said. “I wrote it because I am over 50 and a widow. There are pieces of me in each of the characters. They learn that they can have fun, can still be sexy, and can still be fabulous.” The story also features a dramatic subplot, she said.
Although she likes “Silver Bullets” because she relates to it, Perkins said that “Love So Deep” is probably her favorite. “It’s a romance story I wrote after my mother passed away to let my father know that there is still life after death,” she said. “In the story, a man whose love dies despairs, then meets someone else. It’s a very moving love story that I think did what I set out to do, which was to make him happy. The character is my dad’s middle name.” Her father appreciates the story and often tells people about it, she said. Her books are available through Amazon, Books-a-Million, and Barnes & Noble.
Gatewood said he was excited about the festival, which is a kickoff to HOLLA’s literary project. “I want every child in Anson County to be able to read and read well,” he said. “Today was great. We had at least 150 people register to walk, and over 20 $100 sponsors. We thank our presenting sponsor Poisson, Poisson and Bower for presenting today.” Morven Elementary School, Wadesboro Elementary School and Anson High School also participated, he said.
A live jazz band, The Stanley Baird Group, finished off the evening with a few hours of music.
Gatewood was happy with how the event went. “This is a full day of celebrating possibilities,” he said. “We will be back: this is not the end.”