Mixing media

Lavigne_mugNOTE: I stopped updating this site in 2012. When I find a spare moment, I'll redesign it and keep it updated. Until then, you can see my stories at ESPN.com or on our show "Outside the Lines."

 

Gambling Futures: Big Money Bet on Little Kids

Producer Greg Amante and I spent seven months investigating gambling in little league football in South Florida. Our piece, Gambling Futures, aired on "Outside the Lines" on May 1, 2011. We found men exchanging money in the stands, along the sidelines and near the front entrance of the little league fields, often in plain view of parents, players, cheerleaders and even law enforcement. Our story shows how these gamblers also pay kids for good plays and pay parents to have their kids play on certain team, so gamblers can stack the teams on which they bet. Concerned parents and coaches are worried about the long-term impact on kids, and the immediate threat of violence.

As a result, the league suspended a coach and instituted new policies to help prevent gambling - and other illegal behavior - at games. Local law enforcement also vowed to get in the game. We went back to South Florida for the 2011 season, and on Dec. 15, 2011, aired this follow up to show whether our piece had an impact.

Wyatt : Forever our precious angel baby

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Our son, Wyatt, passed away on Dec. 12, 2010, just a few days after his five-month birthday. He had been diagnosed with a fatal condition called Spinal Muscular Atrophy. We will always remember Wyatt as an adorable smart baby with a sly smile who loved sweet potatoes, songs, turning pages in his favorite books, and sucking his thumb. Thank you to all of our friends, relatives, coworkers, classmates - and even perfect strangers - who have donated to Families of Spinal Muscular Atrophy in Wyatt's honor. You can donate online at www.CureSMA.org.


The best quote I've ever snagged

It was the summer of June 1996 and I was a fresh-faced 20-year-old intern for The Times-Picayune in New Orleans. On an otherwise dull Saturday shift, I was assigned to cover the Institute of Food Technology convention where former Surgeon General C. Everett Koop was scheduled to give a speech on how people need to eat healthier. After Koop gives me his pre-speech spiel on the dangers of fatty foods, I couldn't resist asking him about his own habits. (I mean, who can reasonably have a good time in New Orleans without some decadent indulgence?)

As we stood in front of his entourage of assistants, PR handlers, and convention organizers, I asked Koop, "What did you have to eat last night?" He stiffened up, turned a little red and - realizing there were several witnesses in the room - fessed up: Fried catfish. A few stifled snickers broke the silence in the room, at which point the surly, white-bearded veteran bureaucrat peered at me through his glasses and said, "Young lady, you will soon learn that we in government get paid to tell you do as we say, not as we do."

In all my years as a journalist since, truer words have never been spoken.