ETCETERA - Post accident, motorcyle mama on the mend

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An unceremonious ejection from her motorcycle on Oct. 31 may have philanthropist Peggie Vandenberg temporarily down and out, but she's already talking about being back in the saddle by spring with a new bike and new leathers.

The Touchet resident went out with husband Tom for the Walla Walla Toys for Kids motorcycle event on Oct. 30, but took their car because it was raining.

As the weather cleared the next day, they decided to participate on their bikes in the Tri-Cities Toy Run for motorcycles.

They set off and "as we were shifting from second to third something malfunctioned in my clutch when I released it and it spun out and kicked the rear of my bike right out from under me," she recalled in an e-mail to friends.

"It happened so fast it took me a day to remember just what was going on. The people riding right behind me (we were all doing about 25 mph) ... said it was the strangest thing to see." She went one way, the bike went another. "Thank God for motorcycle leathers. I had all of my protective gear on and all I got was six broken ribs, a badly bruised hip and left foot and a hairline fracture to my left elbow."

After witnessing the impact and watching Peggie scrape along on the ground, her full face helmet doing what it was supposed to, the woman behind her in the line told Peggie she planned to replace her half helmet with one like Peggie's. She said if Peggie had worn her type of helmet, Peggie wouldn't have much head left. "She said it would have ripped her half helmet right off of her head. I feel very fortunate that I am in pretty much one piece."

She's off work for a couple of weeks "and then we will see what the doctor says. My bike - not so much. :o" She lost her leathers in the ER when they cut off her coat, jeans and other articles to treat her injuries. Write Peggie at P.O. Box 76, Touchet, WA 99360 or e-mail well wishes to peggiev@pocketinet.com

Many readers will recognize the Vandenberg name as Peggie and Tom host the annual Sean Vandenberg Memorial Ride in their son's memory. That fundraiser benefits Children's Wishes and Dreams, which grants wishes to seriously ill or injured kids in the Walla Walla Valley.

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Walla Walla High School and Lincoln Alternative High School students competed at the Whitman College Speech and Debate Tournament Nov. 4-6.

Jean Tobin coached the Wa-Hi students and Erica Wauchek and Jessica Barkl, a Walla Walla Community College instructor, coached those from Lincoln. All three coaches were speech and debate competitors in high school. "We had a great competition this weekend and the students were wonderful - very respectful and polite," Jean said.

Wa-Hi competitors included; Keith Opsal, senior; Machado Mijiga, junior; Calvin Brigham, Rosa Tobin, Carrie Moore, Bryan Preston, Marisol Beck, Julia Cosma, Kera Parsons, Kendall Dunovant, Konor Clark, Hope Grant-Herriot, Koby Humbert, Kimberly McLaughlin, sophomores; George Lopez-Vargas, Sarah Martin, freshmen. Lincoln students included: Heidi Schoessler, Stephen Barfoot, Joel Galan, Bailey Peterson-Huff, Reyn Hodgson and Johannah Paine.

More than 500 students from around the Northwest attended the tournament, "an extremely competitive and prestigious event," Jean said.

"Our team set a goal this year of having at least one student make it past the preliminary rounds of debate and into the out rounds. Calvin Brigham helped us achieve this goal by winning five of his six preliminary debates. He lost in Octo-Finals to a student from Newport, Ore."

Rosa, Konor and Kendall also had a successful tournament in debate, breaking even with three wins, three losses. Students competed in Lincoln-Douglas style, debating whether drug abuse should be treated as a public health issue instead of a criminal issue; and in Public Forum, debating whether or not NATO forces have improved the lives of Afghanistan citizens.

Hope and Koby competed for the first time in the Student Congress event where students debate a variety of different issues, including balancing the budget, if Intelligent Design should be taught in schools and immigration reform.

Their most successful showing was in speech events. Six students competed in final rounds and Kera and Johannah competed in the finals round of Interpretive Reading. Kera earned second-place overall and Johannah placed seventh. Carrie, Marisol and Hope all made it to finals in Expository Speaking. Hope placed third, Marisol placed fourth and Carrie placed sixth. Bryan made it to finals in Impromptu Speaking, earning fifth place overall; and Machado missed finals by only one point, but still placed eighth.

In Speech Events, Wa-Hi placed seventh out of the 20 schools competing.

"Given the quality of the competition I had not anticipated such a strong showing overall. Our students worked so hard preparing for this competition, all in their own free time, and they deserved this honor. Friday was an especially long day, with some students competing from 8 in the morning until 10:30 at night. I'm proud of their dedication and achievement."

Several parents dedicated time as well and involvement: Annie Capestany, Fred Moore, Shirley McLaughlin, John Wong and Heidi Brigham all gave many hours to help. Brooke Bouchey and Jeremiah Gradwahl from Lincoln also attended the tournament and provided support. Jean added that Jessica is helping with speech through an after-school grant called The Lift that is run by Jeremy Gradwohl.

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Milton-Freewater resident Eloiza Meza, a 17-year-old senior at McLoughlin High School, participated in the Rotary Youth Exchange program through the auspices of Milton-Freewater Rotary Club.

Orientation through Rotary International District 5100 helped her prepare for the experience, she said via e-mail.

Paperwork delayed her departure by three months and so she headed to Brazil in October.

She lived in Natal (Christmas in English), the capital and largest city of Rio Grande do Norte, a northeastern state in Brazil. During her nine-month stay, she spent seven months in school and two months of summer vacation/holidays.

Rotary International District 4500 and Rotary club Natal-Potiguar hosted her stay. Five host families provided homes for her and she attended Colgio Henrique Castriciano, a private school.

Eloiza said there were nine other exchange students in Natal, and about 40 total in the district.

"Right off the bat I made great friendships that only got stronger as time went by. It amazed me how people, regardless of where they're from, are so much alike. Teenagers will be teenagers," she said. By keeping an open mind, she experienced foods typical to the area, such as tapioca, carne do sol, and feijoada. She also participated in "many awesome activities, such as aerobunda, skibunda and passeios de buggy."

She could understand the Portuguese language after a couple of weeks, but it took a little more time to speak it well, she said. "Although my Spanish helped a lot, it also confused me at times. At three months I was getting the hang of things. After those three months I just improved day by day. I believe I was fluent by the fifth month." While serving as vice-president of Mac-Hi National Honor Society chapter this year, Eloiza is also preparing for college and working on college applications. She is also taking a couple classes at Blue Mountain Community College. She finished cross country season and is eagerly headed into basketball season. She loves diversity, math and traveling and wants to study accounting or international business. courses. The exchange experience "not only taught me about different cultures and ideas, but it also taught me a little more about myself. I learned that I can be independent and have the ability to get through tough situations. I grew as a person and I know that many other exchange students do as well."

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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