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Thumbs column

OPINION by Melinda Gassaway, guest column | September 7, 2022 at 4:00 a.m.

Not surprisingly, we begin this week's digit doings column with a hearty cheer and a "Thumbs-up" for last weekend's University of Arkansas wins in two different sports.

The 19th-ranked football Razorbacks on Saturday outlasted 23rd-ranked Cincinnati, 31-24, in the season opener at Fayetteville where Sam Pittman showed his coaching prowess and quarterback KJ Jefferson again displayed his passing and running skills.

On Sunday -- in Sylvania, Ohio -- Arkansas alumna, Maria Gabriela "Gaby" Lopez, now a member of the LPGA Tour, birdied the last three holes of the Dana Open to win her third career victory. Lopez came from 11th place on the tournament's final day to take home $262,500.

Thank you, Razorbacks, for making us proud.

Staying on a winning course, here's another "Thumbs-up" to the Spa City's "Super Swimmer" -- Aubrey Schmitt -- who continues to bring accolades to her hometown and to her school district.

The Lake Hamilton seventh-grader recently competed in the USA Central Zone Championships with Team Arkansas and set six personal best records. She had two second-place finishes, two fourth-place finishes, a fifth-place finish, and an eighth-place finish.

Schmitt also set six Central Arkansas Racers 11-to-12-year-old team records in the events in which she competed and also swam faster than any record time set by 13-to-18-year-old Central Arkansas Racers swimmers in the 200-meter butterfly and the 400-meter freestyle.

Congratulations, Aubrey, and best wishes in future swimming competitions.

As we local denizens know full well, Hot Springs has a heart for giving to others.

And so we send out another "Thumbs-up" to the Savannah Walters Memorial Foundation, a recently formed charitable organization whose members recently donated more than $1,200 in gift cards to Arkansas Children's Hospital that the hospital can give to ACH families to help defray the costs incurred of being away from home.

The foundation memorializes Savannah Walters, who died on Nov. 30, 2019, after battling a rare form of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. Her mother, Kimberly Walters, CEO of the nonprofit, said she and board members also hope to help families of sick children via educational information that will be posted on the group's future website. She also said that her late daughter had very much wanted to be a mentor for other young women experiencing similar medical problems.

Many thanks to the Walters family for considering the needs and concerns of patients and families facing difficult health care situations.

We give a salute and "Thumbs-up" to the Hot Springs police officers who recently joined with Langston School students in wishing a "Happy Birthday" to Irrissa Spann, 54, an avid artisan who now has multiple sclerosis.

In a procession of department vehicles, officers drove by Spann's home, offering cheerful greetings and handing out birthday cards. Langston students lined up against their playground fence across the street and sang "Happy Birthday" to Spann whose socialization has been limited by her illness and the COVID-19 pandemic.

Her mother, Serena Spann, who is Ms. Senior First Ambassador, said she had told the police about her daughter and that they are very supportive of the community. Irrissa commented, "It's very special and I thank God for seeing another year."

Meanwhile, here's a "Thumbs-up" to Garland County Habitat for Humanity which recently held its ceremonial groundbreaking for the 2022 Heels to Hamer event that marked the organization's initial two-story build.

The house -- to be located at the corner of Grove and Gibson streets -- will be the residence for Nikki Ponder and her five children and is the largest home the local Habitat for Humanity has ever built. Construction time is estimated at nine months and the projected cost is $130,000.

A sincere "Thank you" to Cindy Wagstaff, Habitat's executive director, the organization's board members, building advisers, faithful volunteers, and generous sponsors: Window Mart, Lowe's, First Security Bank, Relyance Bank, Simmons First Bank, ReMax of Hot Springs Village, State Farm (Ike Eisenhauer Agency), McGrew Realtors, and Express Employment Professionals.

The Thumbs Column appears in The Sentinel-Record on the first and third Wednesday of each month. The newspaper welcomes readers' comments and suggestions, which should be submitted in writing with a telephone number and home address for verification purposes. This information is kept confidential.

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