ETCETERA - Ziegfeld dancer fought against AIDS

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It's impossible to pass up sharing details about the last surviving Ziegfeld Girl, Doris Eaton Travis, who died May 11 at 106.

As one of the chorus girls, she wore elaborate costumes for the Ziegfeld Follies series of Broadway theatrical productions in the early 1900s.

More than just a pretty face and graceful dancer, Doris died while supporting the fight against HIV/AIDS, according to the May 7 Blue Mountain Heart to Heart newsletter.

Doris died two weeks after giving her final performance for the annual Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS Easter Bonnet competition at the Minskoff Theatre on Broadway.

"Doris Eaton Travis was beloved at Broadway Cares. Since first meeting her at the very young age of 94 in 1998 when she appeared at the 12th annual Easter Bonnet competition at the New Amsterdam Theatre through the 24th Annual Competition two weeks ago at The Minskoff, no matter her age when the stage lights hit Doris she was instantly and forever young. Whether leading 30 Broadway dancers in a conga, playing sassy in a tux with the Cagelles, celebrating her 100th birthday on the New Amsterdam stage (where she first appeared at age 16), teaching young Broadway star Sutton Foster "the Black Bottom" or the young ballerinas from "Billy Elliot" "Ballin' the Jack" (a number she had introduced in 1921), Doris was simply a delight.

"Broadway loved her, giving her a standing ovation just two weeks ago that I know she took to heart and I'm certain has taken with her. She taught us all a little bit about how to celebrate the past and live for today. We will miss her forever," Tom Viola, executive director of Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, told BroadwayWorld.com.

Following her Ziegfeld years , she was a featured star in many musical revues, Broadway comedies and silent films.

"Singing in the Rain, " Nacio Herb Brown's classic, was written for and introduced by Doris in the Hollywood Music Box Revue .

She starred in films made in New York, Hollywood, England and Egypt and after an absence of more than 60 years, returned to Hollywood in 1999, and at the age of 95 was cast for a cameo role in Jim Carrey's "Man in the Moon."

At 88, she graduated cum laude from the University of Oklahoma in 1992. She was awarded an honorary doctorate from Oakland University in 2004 at 100. For the past number of years she has performed her dance magic on the New Amsterdam stage in the annual Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS benefits. She also continued to actively manage and operate her 880-acre ranch in Norman, Okla.

BMH2H saluted Doris as a true hero of the cause for the nearly 100 years she spent brightening the lives of all her fans, and for her tireless work in support of Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.

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Applications are currently being accepted for Camp Amanda, a three-day grief camp designed for children 7-14 who have experienced the death of a person very significant in their lives.

Campers have the opportunity to meet other children and discover they are not alone in their burden of understanding the grief process.

They learn about the individual effects of grief and how to effectively deal with them. Camp activities include games, crafts, swimming, fishing and time for sharing and learning in large and small group activities.

The camper/counselor ratio is one to one. Up to 29 children may participate in Camp Amanda each year. There is no cost to the children or their families.

This year's camp dates are July 23-25. For more information or to request an application, contact Walla Walla Community Hospice at 525-5561 or campamanda@wwhospice.org or visit the website at www.wwhospice.org/children.htm. The deadline for registering is June 15, or when all the available slots are filled.

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For volunteer work that has helped other people improve their lives, 34 valley residents were honored during a luncheon May 20.

All members of Blue Mountain Action Council Adult Literacy Program's tutoring team, they regularly work closely with adult learners who wish to improve basic reading, mathematics and everyday life skills.

Aided by tutors, students have progressed to enter college and technical schools, find better jobs and gain greater personal independence, said Darya Tucker, program coordinator.

Tutors include Alexis Rodigerdts, Amelia Grinstead, Beth Higgins, Beverly Siebenlist, Christine Russell, Christine Wallin, Claudia Angus, Elana Gustafson, Gayle Bloome, Gloria Camp, Heather Hakes, Helen Zolber, Jill Dickey, Ken Richardson , Ken Morgan, Marla Capra, Nancy Rencken, Norman Osterman, Nicole Mueller, Omar Ihumoda, Pat Dirr, Patrick Henry, Pat Mortz, Rachel Sicheneder, Samuel Crosby, Seina Dobson, Sonia Jones, Spring Lonneker, Susan Monahan, Stephanie Kkytola, Ursala Curran, Victoria Gibson, Willy van Krieken and Zoe Ballering.

Walla Walla Community College and Whitman College have been important partners in the Adult Literacy Program, which was launched more than 20 years ago by Project Read.

Tutor Gayle Bloome gave the keynote address. Luncheon contributors were Hastings Entertainment; Rotary Club of Walla Walla, United Way of Walla Walla County, Blue Mountain Community Foundation and the American Association of University Women. Donors were Book & Game Co., Bright's Candies & Gifts, Earthlight Books and Starbucks Coffee. Lee Davis and Darya catered and flowers came from Relta Tucker's garden. For more about the literacy program, contact5 Darya at 529-4980

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Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 992 of Walla Walla annual appreciation dinner on April 22 honored area law enforcement/EMT/firefighters. Twenty-one men and women were recognized for their actions over and above the call of duty.

Washington State Patrol Sgt. Michael S. Eggleston presented awards to Troopers Mike Jensen, Don Bancroft and Rocky Miller.

Sheriff's Department Sgt. Tom White presented awards to Debi Thomas and Capts. Jim Romine and Bill White.

Walla Walla Police Capt. Gary Bainter presented awards to Officers Tim Morford and Genie Oden.

Walla Walla Police Dispatch awards were presented by Thomas Deccio to Robert Bruce, Deborah Minteer and Michelle Long.

WSP Correction Officer awards were presented by Supt. Steve Sinclair to Cynthia Jernee, Jody Lindsey, Melissa Grijalva and Jose Ruiz.

Walla Walla Fire Department Paramedic/EMT awards presented by Deputy Chiefs Brad Morris and Bob Yancy went to Capts. Greg Van Donge and Steve Sickles, Lt. Fred Hector, Fred Gritman, Bryan Winn (driver/engineer), and Lt. Andy Meliah (EMT).

These individuals honored their departments with the heroism shown in their actions when facing difficult situations, a release said.

A gift basket donated by Nancy Doyle was drawn by VFW Auxiliary Life Member Dorothy Scott, who recently celebrated her 100th birthday. Post Commander Fil Rivera and Auxiliary President Carolyn Marr hosted the event attended by more than 100 guests and VFW members. The dinner a way the VFW shows appreciation to the men and women who put their lives on the line every day.

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Walla Walla Valley Academy students from Gail Redberg's biology class joined volunteers from the Walla Walla County Sheriff's Office Search and Rescue team for an Outdoor Safety Day May 2 at Bennington Lake, said Amber K. Randall, a SAR Council member.

Thirteen teens and nine SAR members participated in the hands-on day of survival activities.

Gail and fellow SAR members conceived the Outdoor Safety Day in response to the death of Nathan Cain, a former Rogers Adventist School student. He succumbed to hypothermia after becoming lost on a cross-country ski trip this winter at Andies Prairie in the Blue Mountains.

The Cain tragedy generated a widespread sense of loss in the community, Amber said in a release.

Gail's hope was to provide students with knowledge that may one day help save a life. She thought it necessary to put on a program to raise awareness about outdoor survival and hold it in Nathan's honor.

Each semester, WWVA biology students experience a community service or career-related project. They frequently connect with a local service group to gain knowledge and then present their newly acquired skills to elementary school children. As a SAR member, Gail encouraged her students to team up with the highly trained and experienced SAR group.

A non-profit volunteer organization, SAR is affiliated with the Walla Walla County Sheriff's Office that seeks to find missing persons. For more information, visit SAR's website www.wwcssar.org/.

Gail's students will present to other students' classrooms. Those interested may contact her at 525-1050.

Enduring the frigid wind, students split into groups and rotated to four different stations, focusing on map and compass; shelter building; acronyms for survival and nature's weather signs.

SAR members worked in pairs to present the information. The students had several opportunities to problem-solve and activate their critical thinking skills to resolve real-life scenarios utilizing local area terrain maps. The students benefited from the detailed, hands-on, practical, informative, and fun small group activities.

After the small group sessions, the students had the opportunity to apply their knowledge by practicing an orienteering exercise.

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Fifteen of Walla Walla High School's 18 spring sports teams were recognized by the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association for academic excellence. More than 400 athletes are participating on these teams, the May 14 Walla Walla Public School Week in Review reported.

"Our athletes are getting it done in the classroom as well as on the playing fields and courts," District Athletic Director Don Wilkins said. "The success of these teams and athletes is a result of their hard work and dedication."

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More than 100 units were collected during a blood drive organized by the Walla Walla High School Crest Club for the American Red Cross.

Approximately 120 staff and students participated in the annual event at the Wa-Hi small gym, the Walla Walla School District Week in Review May 14.

Nearly 20 Crest senior girls volunteered to support the American Red Cross Blood Drive. Michelle Higgins, social studies teacher, is club advisor.

Crest is an honors club for high school senior girls. Red Cross representative Levi Martin said high school blood drives are the key to the organization's success.

"High school is the first opportunity to connect with a donor and get them into our system," Martin said. "We find donors who have a successful experience in high school tend to be lifelong donors. We are very appreciative of Walla Walla High School for organizing this vital effort."

Etcetera appears in daily and Sunday editions. Annie Charnley Eveland can be reached at annieeveland@wwub.com or afternoons at 526-8313.

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