Newspaper Column Articles

A News Paper Column about joining me as I JOURNEY:)

Preface: I am now writing a weekly column in the DuQuoin Weekly and the Pinckneyville Press Newspapers. This is technically the second column I wrote. 

I want to thank the staff at the Weekly and the Press for naming my column for me. I have a tendency to be all over the place with topics of interest to me. Kind of like my mind, it has a tendency to wander all over the place too! You know that commercial for Adult ADD? (Attention Deficit Disorder) The one that shows the TV remote changing channels in the brain? I get it. So, let’s just say, by throwing the word “Journey” in my title, I am going to try to focus my weekly column on stations in my mind that deal with just that! Let’s see how long I can stay on point….

Last week, I was blessed to journey with my son Sam, my 92 year-old Nanny, and a few NubAbility Athletics Foundation coaches to Nashville, TN. We held a two-day camp for kids with limb-differences there, the #dontneed2 Music City Speed, Strength and Ball Camp. (To see more of what we did there, please check our NubAbility Athletics on Facebook and Instagram.) It was an amazing weekend. We saw and experienced so many wonderful things on that journey.

Let me start with the journey there…typically a three and a half hour drive…that took me over five hours to get there. Rain, accidents, stoppages—because that’s how Nashville traffic rolls—or doesn’t, and navigation systems that don’t holler loud enough when I’m supposed to turn were the hold-ups. Our hotel reservations manager recommended an app called WAZE. I used it the rest of the trip. It automatically re-routes you around traffic. Just like faith in Jesus, you have to believe you are headed to the right place, because you may not see it as the right way—due to all of the residential neighborhoods it takes you through. Our trip home was three hours and twenty minutes drive time. We totally country highwayed it around the typical interstate stall between Nashville and Clarksville!

I want to share with you how former locals, now living in the Nashville area, made our efforts in changing lives so much better. Joy Rice-Smith and Collin Bastien were former high school students of mine at D.H.S. They both rolled up their shirt sleeves to benefit NubAbility and the families we served. I love how you can take the folks out of Southern Illinois, but you can’t take SOIL values out of the folks! They served their roots well!

Joy works in hospitality for a hotel corporation that owns several Marriott properties in the Nashville area. Months ago I contacted her to help our organization with room blocks and pricing. She came through big for us. Her hometown hospitality didn’t end there though. She became my boots on the ground for planning by connecting our coaches and families with great places to eat and facilities to use for our camp. She even showed up both days and volunteered at our event.

I recommend staying at one of her hotels when you travel there. Joy Rice-Smith is your girl for group sales and blocks. The Courtyard Inn and Residence Inn in Franklin/Cool Springs are in a great area. The hotels felt more appointed than their 3-Star luxury rating. They are very close to historic downtown Franklin, 20 minutes south of Nashville. Franklin is a beautiful town with block after block of neat shops, boutiques, restaurants and night life. Franklin makes a great destination for a weekend. It’s not too far away, for a couples getaway or a girl trip. Joy knows her food. Oh, the delicious food we had! Sam and I are both wannabe chefs, we love throwing down a great meal for our family. We’re “foodies” and pretty critical of what’s set in front of us. Joy sent us to Gray’s On Main in downtown Franklin for our Coaches Dinner and Social. Thriving in a former, turn-of-the-century pharmacy, Gray’s provided a unique and historical atmosphere, serving farm-to-table style cuisine anchored by live music. Gray’s is owned by the same family that operates the famous Puckett’s Grocery restaurants. Joy also set us up for a Camp Celebration dinner at SoulShine Pizza in Berry Farms, just outside of Franklin. This venue was located in a replica Norman Rockwell community. Definitely a must visit area if you travel to Franklin. SoulShine’s menu offered delicious and unique pizzas as well as plenty of southern fare entrees. They also had live music, which is a must when visiting Music City!

Another local transplant to Nashville is Collin Bastien. He is the son of NubAbility’s Sport Nutrition Coach, Carol Bastien. Collin was a baseball standout in school and played for University of Memphis. He lives in Thompson Station, next to Franklin. He is working in finance for a tech utilities company. Collin volunteered with Sam and our coaching team, instructing 35 kids with limb-differences how to run better, get stronger and play ball with the best and win! Collin’s expertise was really useful and appreciated. We are excited that he will be volunteering with us this summer at our big camp. It’s really cool how family members of volunteers, become volunteers, and invest in the works of NubAbility.

I am so thankful for Joy and Collin. They truly made our event much better than it would have been without them.

We ended our weekend at Martin’s BBQ on Belmont Blvd. in Nashville, a family favorite of ours. I highly recommend the Redneck Taco: A hoe cake, topped with pulled smoked pork, vinegar slaw and BBQ sauce. They have tons of local brews on tap and the best sweet tea. You feel like you are eating on your grandma’s back porch…or at least it reminds me of my grandma’s.

The sport facilities we used for our camp were first class. Boost FitClub, CrossFit Melrose and RBI Baseball of Middle TN, provided NubAbility with a professional environment to do what we do, get kids with limb-differences off the bench and into the game! Their hospitality was true to southern form and we are pumped to do it again next April with them.

If you check out my blog, Rise By Lifting, you will find links to the dining listed above, some great photos and a funny, not-so-funny, side story.

May your journey be blessed and you bless those along the way!

Jana Kaye Kuhnert, Author & Speaker at Rise By Lifting

Executive Director of NubAbility Athletics Foundation

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