Bungee Brand Founder Darrell Alston is Today’s Honoree

After sketching 250+ designs from his jail cell and developing a business plan from prison, Darrell Alston reached his dream of launching his own luxury sneaker business Bungee Oblečení with three retail partners in Philadelphia beginning in Dec. 2020. Less than one year later, his dream reaches a new level through a national partnership with Foot Locker.  They will be selling his shoes online and in select stores starting with the Philadelphia market. Foot Locker has plans to expand Bungee’s distribution in other markets across the country including Atlanta, Miami, and more.

Originally an aspiring rapper who toured with Nelly, Lil’ Kim, and Jermaine Dupri, Alston used earnings from a record label deal to fund the sale of drugs in the late 1990s. It led to his incarceration of more than eleven years.

He realized his skill as a designer during his time at Graterford Prison and began conceptualizing the idea to launch a luxury sneaker brand. Alston spent his free time in prison sketching unique sneaker designs. When he was released, he acquired a barbershop to earn money and became a motivational speaker to help inner-city youth avoid the mistakes he made.

With investor backing and mentorship from former boxing legend Bernard Hopkins, Alston proved he was legitimate and officially launched Bungee Oblečení during the pandemic. The company releases multiple new shoe designs each season, while also developing an upscale apparel line.

Foot Locker added Bungee Oblecení in November 2021 as part of its Leading Education and Economic Development Initiative program, which committed $200 million to building Black sneaker and apparel businesses worldwide over the next five years.

Bungee Oblečení shoes are priced between $170 to $195 per pair. The company features an elevated line of luxury shoes and clothing, with inspiration from the Philadelphia skyline to the music world to California sunsets.

Visit https://bungeebrand.com/ for more information.

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Life and Weight Loss Coach Elizabeth Sherman is Today’s Honoree

In 2017, my husband and I packed up our 2 dogs, sold everything, left the American Dream life to live in a Mexican beach town. Had you told me that this would be my life 20 years ago, when I watched my mother pass away from breast cancer – that this was going to be my life – I never would have believed you.

Back then, I was traveling 75% of my time, working as an executive in a software company, living alone (with my cats), overweight, stressed out, and not living my authentic life. Today, I am healthy, in love, living in Mexico, and helping women become the best versions of themselves. I am living the dream.

I’m a life & weight loss coach. I help my clients to identify & overcome limiting beliefs, and turn around negative thought patterns in their life so that they can get consistent in their health habits.

Now, here’s the interesting part. My clients come to me because they believe that the problem is their weight. But our weight is just a symptom of another problem in our lives. When I work with my clients, I help them to NEVER go on another diet again by uncovering the reasons why we do what we do & then give them the tools to change their relationship with food, exercise, their bodies, and themselves.

Visit http://www.elizabethsherman.com for more information.

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The Autism Oasis Founder Heather Anderson is Today’s Honoree

Heather Anderson is founder of The Autism Oasis, where she uses her skills as a former journalist to research and provide information to families affected by nonverbal autism. She believes that most students with nonverbal autism have average or above average intelligence, and can learn to read and communicate.

From surprising foods that disrupt sleep to your child’s legal rights to AAC access, I love to share everything I learn with others.

I’m also very passionate about my son’s right to live an active, fulfilling life just like everyone else. I strongly believe relatively few nonverbal people with autism have intellectual disabilities, and regardless of whether they do, the intelligence and potential of all nonverbal people with autism is drastically underestimated.

I am committed to improving life for my son and for “other guys like him who can’t talk so people don’t know how smart and cool they are,” as I tell him.

Visit https://www.theautismoasis.com/our-story for more information.  

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Determined To Change Author Winford Perry is Today’s Honoree

Winford X is an aspiring and upcoming author, and this book is his first debut. Winford’s life changed at the young age of 19 when he was incarcerated in the Federal penitentiary resulting in him serving 15 years. Winford is a former gang-affiliated member, and while in prison he was determined, upon his release from prison, he was never going back to his former lifestyle. Winford is a proud member of the Nation of Islam, and his readers will read about that within these pages. Winford is a proud father of two sons and has a loving and supportive family. This book, “Determined to Change” will show his readers how he turned his life around and he is grateful to Allah for the journey he has begun.

Visit https://determined2change.org for more information.

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Lifestyle Coach and mswellnessllc Founder Tanisha Naughton is Today’s Honoree

My name is Tanisha Naughton I am the owner of mswellnessllc. I am a lifestyle coach that started her journey due to my mother being sick with diabetes. She was on a couple of medications that were not helping her get better. I decided one day to take my mother off of her medications and try a more plant based diet along with taking herbal teas. A year and half later my mother went back to the doctor and he told her that she was pre-diabetic that she should continue with what I have been doing as it is working.

This sparked my interest in wanting to be in the wellness field outside of just working out. I learned that wellness is about healing the mind, body and soul. It’s about the products we ingest, have in our home, mindset and working out. I also make homemade air fresheners that are used for the car, office or home that are oil based and last long!

Visit www.mswellnessllc.com for more information.

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Moskehtu Consulting, LLC Founder Chenae Bullock is Today’s Honoree  

Moskehtu Consulting, LLC is an Indigenous owned and operated Cultural & Heritage Preservation firm. It was founded in 2019 by Chenae Bullock, an enrolled Shinnecock Indian Nation Tribal Member and descendant of the Montauk Tribe in Long Island New York. She is also African American. Chenae is an entrepreneur, pioneer, Indigenous perspective historian, and cultural practitioner. Following her ancestors footsteps as whalers and business leaders, the foundation of her work has been based on the resurgence of the traditional canoe culture of the northeast coastal Algonquin communities.She has organized historically sacred paddles in the ancient waterways of the northeastern seaboard. Some of her most recent work has led her to assess for signs of submerged cultural history for the Atlantic Shores Cultural Core Analysis. She successfully served as a Tribal Alternate on behalf of the Shinnecock Nation for the Mid-Atlantic Committee on the Ocean, which facilitates coordination and collaboration among governmental entities and stakeholders to enhance the vitality of our region’s ocean ecosystem.

After working at many accredited Indigenous museums such as the Shinnecock Indian Museum and Cultural Center, Plimoth Plantation, and Mashantucket Pequot Museum and Research Center she recognized the urgent need for more Indigenous consulting firms.

She has established this company due to the lack of cultural competency occurring in the governmental sectors, corporate sectors, and in individual lives. As an indigenous person who not only has the academic background regarding indigenous people’s position when it comes to history and environmental issues, she also lives it every day. Her aim has been to start a company that can consult with clients, to create stewardships in these areas that affect each and every one of us.

Visit https://www.moskehtuconsulting.com/about for more information.

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Art Advisor, Author and Curator Maria Brito is Today’s Honoree

Maria Brito is an award-winning New York-based contemporary art advisor, author, and curator. A Harvard graduate, originally from Venezuela, her first monograph “Out There” published by Pointed Leaf Press in 2013, was the recipient of the Best Book Awards in both the Art and Design Categories. In 2015 Brito was selected by Complex Magazine as one of the 20 Power Players in the Art World and in 2020 she was named by ARTNEWS as one of the visionaries who gets to shape the art world. She has written for publications such as Huffington Post, Elle, Forbes, Artnet, Cultured Magazine, Departures, and the Gulf Coast Journal of Literature and Fine Arts from the University of Houston, Texas. For several years, Maria has taught her creativity course in companies and, in 2019, she launched “Jumpstart”, an online program on creativity for entrepreneurs based on years of research and observation in both the areas of business and art.

She has worked on product collaborations with artists such as Kenny Scharf, Erik Parker, Katherine Bernhardt, Assume Vivid Astro Focus, Nir Hod and many more. In 2016, Maria curated “Greek Gotham” presented at Dio Horia, Mykonos with the participation of sixteen New York-based artists including KAWS, Austin Lee, Nina Chanel Abney and Raul de Nieves.  A full-color catalogue with an introduction by Jeffrey Deitch was written and designed by Maria to commemorate this exhibition. In 2019 she created and hosted “The “C” Files with Maria Brito”, a TV and streaming series for PBS’s new station “ALL ARTS”.  The same year she also curated two exhibitions: “The Thousand and One Nights,” the inaugural show of Artual Gallery in Beirut, Lebanon with seven American artists including Holly Coulis, Allison Zuckerman and Rosson Crow and “MUSE”, Shona McAndrew’s first New York City exhibition at CHART Gallery in Tribeca.  

Visit https://www.mariabrito.com/bio for more information.

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Author Dr. David Wilcox is Today’s Honoree

After 28 years in the health care business, Dr. David Wilcox has seen enough to realize that it truly is a “business,” as opposed to the kind-hearted healing service that most of us might imagine it to be. His new book reveals some unsettling facts.

“There is little to no transparency about procedures or billing,” Dr. Wilcox says, “and the average health care consumer doesn’t think about it until they have to access the healthcare system. That is a dangerous mentality, as we all will need health care at some point in our lives.”

In his book, How to Avoid Being a Victim of the American Healthcare System: A Patient’s Handbook for Survival, Dr. Wilcox offers information, facts and tips that can help patients and family members navigate through the morass.

“I have seen some alarming situations that nursing school never prepared me for,” Dr. Wilcox said. “Not being prepared and knowledgeable means you will have little control over the health care you receive.”

His goal in writing this book was to level the playing field, enabling consumers of health care to understand how to avoid getting caught in the systemic net.

In his own words, Dr. Wilcox’s book explores “what to do if you have to go to a hospital, how to handle an insurance company’s claim denial, how to find an alternative to high-priced prescriptions and why the current pay-for-fee system is inadequate. You will also discover the direction the healthcare system needs to move in, to holistically care for you, the patient … information that the health care entities would prefer you didn’t know.”

Dr. David Wilcox is a health care professional who believes proactive patient education enables those accessing the healthcare system to be better partners in their health care. He also believes that everyone has the right to access the American Healthcare System safely. A Doctorate-prepared nurse who also holds a Master’s in Health Administration and is Board Certified in Nursing Informatics, Dr. Wilcox has nearly three decades of health care experience as a bedside nurse, hospital administrator and in health care information technology, which has helped him to develop his unique perspective on the American Healthcare System.

Visit https://drdavidwilcox.com/ for more information.

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Autistic Piano Virtuoso Jiajun Chen is Today’s Honoree  

“Jiajun has many difficulties when communicating with the outside world, but is very comfortable in the world of music. When I first met his mother, she told me a lot about their past, spoke with great emotion, and her eyes filled with tears. I felt heartbroken to learn about Jiajun’s family, his past experiences growing up, and whilst always trying to learn the piano. 

When I first heard Jiajun play he performed Bach, and I felt so calm and moved by his playing. I saw the purity and peace in his heart, and felt like his music was like an unpolluted space in this complicated world.” Mrs. Xia Jing, JiaJun’s teacher (Steinway Young Honorary Teacher).

Jiajun has loved music since he was a very young child. When he was just 13 months old, one day he was running around at home when the music “Swan Lake” came on, he stopped running and stood motionless and listened carefully. He started learning to play the piano at the age of 7 and won the city-level first place at the age of 8. At the age of 9, he studied under teacher Zhang Zhiwei, a professor of Chinese Central Conservatory of Music, and has studied under teacher Xia Jing since the age of 14.  In October 2013, he won the Excellence Award of Amateur Youth Group B in the Fifth “Cadanza” Cup National Youth Chinese Piano Performance Competition. In September 2014, he won the Excellence Award of Piano Amateur Group 2 in the 2014 CCTV Piano Violin Competition. In October 2014, he won the first prize of Piano Youth Group A at the 2014 First International Federation of Arts Youth Music Competition, and in August 2019, he won the Youth Gold Award of the 2019 Liszt International Youth Piano Competition in the China finals.

About the Lang Lang International Music Foundation: 

Founded in 2008, The Lang Lang International Music Foundation strives to make music a part of every child’s life, offering music education to children across the world.  The Lang Lang International Music Foundation® reaches children at all levels regardless of their background or talent level. The Keys of Inspiration® program redefines what music education looks like in public schools by providing up to 30 Roland keyboards and a complete music curriculum to underfunded schools. The Foundation’s Young Scholars program nurtures the development of gifted young piano talent. Young Scholars are offered masterclasses, mentorship, and entry into international festivals and competitions. Young Scholars also received practical training on becoming world class concert pianists.

Visit https://youtu.be/-G4fA5OoMcM for more information.

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Author, Educator and The Skills Connextion Founder Valerie Brown is Today’s Honoree

About the Book:

Supportive relationships create a firm foundation for children to grow. When parents and educators work together, they expand the base of support, and foster a positive environment that strengthens home and school communities. 

Build Them Up is a practical guide for parents, caregivers and educators that provides strategies to:

  • improve parent/child relationships
  • build self-esteeem and self confidence
  • identifies the benefits of collaborative support for children

About the Author:

Valerie has 30 years experience in the Red Clay School District, as a teacher and student advisor. She has a Bachelors and Masters Degree in Health and Physical Education and is  a Certified Trauma Professional. 

Over 15 years experience with Multi- Tiered Systems of Support (MTSS) ,Social Emotional Learning (SEL) and Trauma Informed Practices. She has passion for building relationships and encouraging others.  

She enjoys music, reading and spending time with her husband and two adult children.

Visit https://theskillsconnextion.com/ for more information.

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