Fairfax woman charged with embezzling state senator’s funds; Northern Arizona University shooting suspect in custody

Posted by Editorial / Friday, October 9th, 2015

By Nelia Dashiell

Woman at Dulles Airport sent to breastfeed in pet relief area.
[Loudoun Times]

A Fairfax woman is charged with embezzling $653,000 from state Sen. Richard Saslaw’s campaign fund.
[Fairfax Times]

Suspect in custody after shooting outside Northern Arizona University dormitory.
[Washington Post]

More rain predicted for South Carolina.

Meet Your Local Heroes: Sisters Helping Breast Cancer Survivors

Posted by Editorial / Thursday, October 8th, 2015

Area women who have made it their life’s mission to help breast cancer survivors thrive.

By Sophia Rutti

Step Sisters' Ribbon Run / Photo courtesy of Jessica Monte Photography

Step Sisters’ Ribbon Run / Photo courtesy of Jessica Monte Photography

To say that Bonnie Bell is a breast cancer survivor is to take away from her true accomplishments. She did more than just survive her 20-year, on-again-off-again battle with cancer. In the face of two different forms of cancer, four different moments of diagnosis and countless days full of poking and prodding, Bell found a way to thrive rather than just survive.


Bonnie Bell of B&B Health Boutique in Winchester / Photo by Robert Merhaut

“It doesn’t matter how many times you have cancer. Every time you hear it, it’s a scary word. You never want to hear the word,” Bell says. 

“When it came to my cancer, my family didn’t want to talk about it. I had to be the pepper one. When I did chemotherapy, I made sure my husband was at work, my kids were at school, and I did it on a Friday so I could get back to work on Monday. Friday when I got home, I knew I had to get home, get some sleep, throw up and get back to being cheerful Bonnie. I couldn’t show the sickness to my kids.”
Her boutique, B&B Health Boutique in Winchester, is bright and inviting on the outside like any other lingerie store, but Bell’s specialty is fitting women who have had mastectomies. She has been doing fashion lingerie fittings for the last two years, but she started her career in 2008 as a custom fabricated prosthetic fitter.

When going through the process of finding a place for her own prosthesis, Bell experienced a series of white walls and hospital rooms. She complained that the rooms felt too medical and impersonal, until she finally found one with a boutique feel.

“When I walked out of there, I knew that was what I need to do. I teared up and was just overcome with emotion. That was April 2008. By October 2008, I opened my doors.
“It took me years, as a woman, to feel pretty and sexy again,” says Bell. “Wearing the nice lingerie and bras around the house, it just feels so good. It is so important for women, especially survivors, to feel sexy again after their illness.”

Bell spends her days at the B&B Health Boutique fitting women all day long, whether they are breast cancer survivors or not. A self-proclaimed “boob girl,” she not only wants to help women with or without health insurance to receive their prosthesis, but she also wants to educate young women and their mothers about how to properly wear bras to take care of their breasts and their bodies.

Through her health boutique, Bell wants to help as many women as she can, whether that means signing petitions to send to Capitol Hill or raising money to help ease the burden of women suffering from breast cancer locally and internationally and making sure they receive the prosthetics needed.



ONLINEStepSistersHeadshot - Angela

Angela Fuentes of The Step Sisters / Photo courtesy of Jessica Monte Photography

Step by step, the president and treasurer of The Step Sisters, Angela Fuentes, works to support local women suffering from breast cancer.  

The Step Sisters organization has been a successful fundraising venture, with its goal being to raise money for the Avon Walk for the Cure, since it was founded in 2005. Now, however, with the help of President Angela Fuentes, who joined Step Sisters in 2009, the organization is focusing on helping people at a grassroots level. The Step Sisters organization works to improve the quality of life for local women in a real and tangible way.

“We felt like the AVON Foundation and research is great, but we knew our little organization wasn’t going to be the one to find the cure. We wanted to see our dollars directly go to and help somebody in the local community as opposed to just going into a pool of funds that go to different research organizations,” Fuentes says.

The Step Sisters organization helps women with breast cancer and their families cope with the disease and their treatment as best they can by raising funds and directly giving back to local women who are receiving treatment at either Inova Loudoun or Inova Fairfax hospitals with the help of professional nurse navigators.

“The nurse navigators know the patients so much better than we do, so they can make sure to help the ones who are most in need,” Fuentes explains. “It could be a physical need, like someone to watch their child or help to get to a treatment, or an emotional need, like being able to come home to a clean house and not having to worry about it after spending five hours at chemo. Or even a financial need—maybe a patient can’t afford transportation to get somewhere. The nurse navigators know who needs it the most at the Inova hospitals, so they order the service from one of our vendors, and then Step Sisters pays the bill.”

Fuentes knows firsthand the effect that support can have on one’s experience with breast cancer. As a breast cancer survivor herself, diagnosed in 2008, she experienced a double mastectomy and four rounds of chemo as well as an outpouring of support from her friends and family—so much support, in fact, that she had to buy an extra refrigerator to store all the meals that people were bringing her.
“Despite what I was going through and how hard it was physically and mentally and emotionally, I had the support, and I truly believe that is what carried me through everything,” she says. “Step Sisters allows me a chance to pay forward all the support that I received directly to other women in the area.”


ONLINETigerlilyMaimah and Noelle_Vithaya

Maimah Karmo of the Tigerlily Foundation and Noelle Karmo / Photo courtesy of Maimah Karmo

Breast cancer can affect a wide age range of women from 18 to 80, and Maimah Karmo of the Tigerlily Foundation lends a voice to those who are told that they are too young for their disease.

“I was diagnosed on Feb. 28, 2006, at 4:45 p.m.,” says Maimah Karmo, founder and president of the Tigerlily Foundation. The diagnosis for her, like for many women, was notoriously memorable, but unlike most women, Karmo was under the age of 40. She was only 31 years old when she found a lump in her breast and went to get it checked out by a doctor.

Karmo didn’t know much about the disease she was now being confronted with and was scared to find herself Breast cancer can affect a wide age range of women from 18 to 80, and Maimah Karmo of the Tigerlily Foundation lends a voice to those who are told that they are too young for their disease.

“I was diagnosed on Feb. 28, 2006, at 4:45 p.m.,” says Maimah Karmo, founder and president of the Tigerlily Foundation. The diagnosis for her, like for many women, was notoriously memorable, but unlike most women, Karmo was under the age of 40. She was only 31 years old when she found a lump in her breast and went to get it checked out by a doctor.

Karmo didn’t know much about the disease she was now being confronted with and was scared to find herself or even things like, ‘My boyfriend told me not to have a mastectomy because he said he wouldn’t find me attractive anymore,’” Karmo says of other women’s responses to her speaking out.

For the past nine years the Tigerlily Foundation has been working to educate women young and old about breast health and breast cancer prevention. They focus on things like how to talk to young women about breast cancer-related topics without scaring them, as well as educating people so that young women who go to doctors don’t get turned away just because they’re young and not taken seriously. The Tigerlily Foundation also helps the community with financial assistance for women in need and support for women whose treatment is over. For example, the organization offers many financial programs such as the At Home program that covers household costs through gift cards and the New Normal Program that covers the costs of treatments such as acupuncture, massages and even yoga.

“We’re able to make an impact through education; we’re able to change the lives of women suffering with breast cancer under the age of 45 on a local level, a statewide and national level. Breast cancer doesn’t have to be something young women are afraid of but that they are aware of, and when they find a lump they will find it early enough to treat it so that all these young girls can live a long, happy life,” Karmo says.


ONLINE1st Annual Andrea Roane Courage Awards

Renelda Peldunas-Harter and Susan Mills with board member Tammy Grey as she accepted the Andrea Roane Courage Award in October 2014 / Photo courtesy of Susan Mills

Renelda Peldunas-Harter, the president of The Loudoun Breast Health Network, looks ahead to help unburden local women suffering from breast cancer of their financial troubles. 

When it comes to her own experience with breast cancer, Renelda Peldunas-Harter, the president and finance committee chairperson of Loudoun Breast Health Network, prefers not to waste her time lingering on the past. Instead she focuses on the present women suffering. Still, her diagnosis in 2002 had an enormous impact on her life.

“I was asked by Dr. Virginia Chiantella, who organized us initially, to join, and I agreed because I was very fortunate during my treatment. I have good insurance that paid for most of my treatment, but there are a lot of women out there that didn’t have as good of insurance as I did, and those women need not only emotional support during their treatment, but they also need financial support,” Peldunas-Harter says.

Through the many programs offered by LBHN, Peldunas-Harter has found a way to help all the women suffering from breast cancer who aren’t prepared for the enormous impact that cancer has on all aspects of a person’s life. “We essentially help to get people over the bump in the road that is breast cancer,” she explains.

The LBHN, founded in 2007, does this through numerous programs that are funded by donations. The organization helps women in need receive financial help with things like medical bills, prescriptions, rent or mortgage payments, utility bills, groceries or any other expenses that may come up.

“We knew that we could put the money where it is needed most, with the people who are affected most, rather than donate to larger research organizations. Most of us will never be in a cancer trial, but we can help pay someone’s mortgage or help by giving someone the money for treatment or for their kids’ food or sneakers for school. That is where we get our payback, so to speak. We are helping people in our own community. We can see directly where the money goes,” Peldunas-Harter says.

LBHN also offers emotional support to women suffering from breast cancer. They dispense free wigs, head coverings and mastectomy bras as well as having one-on-one support available when the women just need to talk to someone. “When you’re diagnosed, you have a lot of questions, and it is nice to have someone to talk to who has already been through it. We listen to them and answer their questions to the best of our nonmedical ability, like: ‘Yeah, my scalp itched a lot too, and my hair fell out. This cream will help,’ just so the women know that they aren’t alone,” she says.

Despite the impact that breast cancer had on Peldunas-Harter, she does not linger on her experiences but instead focuses her firsthand understanding of the disease so she can help unburden local women in need.



–Raquel deSouza

Oct. 9, shotgun @ 1 p.m.
Bosom Buddies Rally for the Cure Golf Tournament
Join in on a silly and fun golf tournament where everybody can win and support the cause. All ages are welcome, and people can choose their own teams. Then enjoy a dinner and bid in a Chinese auction with all donated items. Last year the rally raised $9,000, and the organization is hoping to at least double that. / Hanover Country Club, 14314 Country Club Drive, Ashland; 703-798-8381; $65-$70 per person

Oct. 9-11
Pink Day
Give any donation to the Meadows Farms cashiers for the Breast Cancer Research Foundation and get 10 percent off of your purchase. Saturday, Oct. 10, has the most activities, which vary by location. This is the third annual Pink Day, and in years prior there have been silent auctions, raffles, live music and face painting. / Meadows Farms Nurseries, multiple locations; free

Oct. 10, 7-10 a.m.
14th Susan G. Komen Tidewater Race for the Cure
The organization has a fundraising goal of $285,000, with 75 percent of that money staying in the area and the rest going toward the Susan G. Komen Grants Program. Help them out by wearing your best pink attire in this 5K race. Rain or shine, you can walk or run in support. / Neptune Park, 31st St. and Atlantic Ave., Virginia Beach; $15-$100

Oct. 16, 7-10 p.m.
Headliners for Hope
Mingle with 10-15 well-known local business professionals and entrepreneurs at this fundraiser and networking event. Each headliner has a goal of $1,000 with the help of sponsors and guests’ tickets, and 78 percent of the money goes to the Health Support Network, which gives free services to people impacted by cancer. / Belle Haven Country Club, 6023 Fort Hunt Road, Alexandria; $35-$45

Oct. 17 @ 8:30 a.m. & Oct. 18 at Noon
Breast Health Empowerment Weekend
Most people are familiar with the saying “knowledge is power,” and that is reflective for this informative event. Anybody can attend a free breast health symposium on the first day. If you want to make a weekend out of it, breast cancer survivors and women on hormone treatment can learn how to stay optimistic and continue to live life fully. / The Carter Hall Conference Center, 255 Carter Hall Lane, P.O. Box 250, Millwood; $49 per person

Oct. 17, 7:30 p.m.-12:30 a.m.
9th Annual Pink Tie Gala Masquerade Ball
Dress up and dance for a cause at this ball hosted by Bon Secours Cancer Institute. There will be a dinner including items like grilled salmon and chocolate truffle cake. All of the net proceeds go toward the Central Virginia Susan G. Komen for the Cure organization. / Greater Richmond Convention Center Ballroom, 403 N. Third St., Richmond; $100

Oct. 18, 10 a.m.
Making Strides Against Breast Cancer
The American Cancer Society is hosting the 11th noncompetitive 3-mile walk at the nation’s capital. Donations will go toward their breast cancer research and educational services. Making Strides manager Tami Brown says ACS has invested $84 million in these efforts so far, the most of any organization. / Washington Monument, 15th St. and Independence Ave. SW, Washington, D.C.; no registration fee

Oct. 24, noon-6 p.m.
Belle Mode Intimates
Trunk Show
Find great deals at the trunk sale of the mastectomy product line Anita Care. Women are welcome to schedule an appointment before or just arrive for a walk-in to find their perfect undergarments. The store will have a 10 percent off discount with the proceeds going toward the local Tigerlily Foundation. Then learn about self-examination and other services from the Life with Cancer organization and Fairfax Radiology. / Belle Mode Intimates, 11889 Grand Commons Ave., Fairfax

Oct. 29, 6:30-9 p.m.
Think Pink & Blue Fashion Event & Awards Reception
The Men Against Breast Cancer nonprofit will present three awards and have a men’s fashion show. There will also be an auction of the “Newszdudes” for a lunch or dinner. These are men in the media who support the organization. Participants for the auction include WJLA anchor Leon Harris and NBC4 chief meteorologist Doug Kammerer. / Congressional Country Club, 8500 River Road, Bethesda

Nov. 7, 1-5 p.m.
Charity Bridal Event & Trunk Sale
The Brides Against Breast Cancer organization will bring about 500 bridal gowns on their final Virginia stop of the year. Buy your dream gown with discounts from 25 to 85 percent, and take it home that day. For every dollar made, 78 cents goes towards the Health Support Network. If you already walked down the aisle, you can donate your gently worn wedding dress. / Morais Vineyards and Winery, 11409 Marsh Road, Bealeton; $5 general admission and $20 for VIP event; 11 a.m.-1 p.m.

Nov. 13, 6-9 p.m.
emPOWER Ball
Get glammed up and party into the night at this black-tie affair. At the awards banquet, celebrate and honor people who are educating the public about breast cancer. Also enjoy a cocktail hour, a three-course dinner and entertainment. Hyatt Regency, 7901 Tysons One Place; Tysons Corner

Year-round events

Vola Lawson Breast Cancer Memorial Fund
Previously known as the Alexandria Walk to Fight Breast Cancer, this fundraiser changed its name in honor of the passing of the walk’s founder, Vola Lawson. There will not be a walk this year, rather an online fundraising effort due to a decrease in donations. This fund helps uninsured Alexandria women get mammograms and other medical needs. / 2525 Mount Vernon Ave., Alexandria; $10 donation minimum

Volunteer for American Cancer Society
The organization could always use help making telephone calls, sending mail and getting supplies ready for events. You can help out at their Greenbelt, Maryland, office with preparing for the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk in D.C. or on the day of the event. Volunteers need to be 16 or older and need parental permission. / 7500 Greenway Center Drive, Suite 300, Greenbelt; 301-982-2161

Pink 365
You do not have to wait until Breast Cancer Awareness month to show your support. This is an awareness campaign where you can engage people in your community, whether at the local gym, school, company or doctor’s office, every day of the year. Raise money or educate people through text alerts, events and social media. / Free membership

(October 2015)

Police on high alert for DC rally; Bob Marshall hopes to solve Prince William problems

Posted by Editorial / Wednesday, October 7th, 2015

By Jae O’Connor

Police are on high alert for this weekend’s “Justice or Else” rally in D.C. because of an email that accuses Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan of inciting violence.

Del. Bob Marshall focuses his reelection campaign on I-66 tolls, the Haymarket power towers and traffic problems on Route 28 from Manassas to the Fairfax County line.
[Potomac Local]

A Powellville woman was kidnapped by her ex-boyfriend but was saved when he tried to cross the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel during a high-wind advisory.

New research shows that drinking whole milk may be more beneficial than lower-fat dairy alternatives.
[Washington Post]

Beltway’s outer loop will be paved within the week; Congress may delay Trans-Pacific Partnership

Posted by Editorial / Tuesday, October 6th, 2015

By Jae O’Connor

Last weekend’s nor’easter delayed pavement on I-495’s outer loop, but VDOT hopes to have it paved within the week.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership, which promotes trade between the Americas, Asia and Australia, has been approved by Obama but may face scrutiny in Congress.
[The New York Times]

A Fairfax woman was allegedly involved in three fraud schemes, including the embezzlement of $653,000 from Virginia Sen. Richard Saslaw.
[Fairfax County Times]

D.C. has a new 16-week leave plan for anyone with a new child, suffering from severe illness or helping a sick family member.
[The Washington Post]

Fairfax County group to help South Carolina; Turkey vows to protect borders

Posted by Editorial / Monday, October 5th, 2015

By Nelia Dashiell

Loudoun County sex offender arrested in Florida.
[Loudoun Times]

Turkey vows to protect its borders. 

Loudoun youth step up in their community.
[Loudoun Times

Fairfax County’s task force deployed to South Carolina to help with storm aftermath.

Oregon college shooter identified; NAACP asks Fairfax for justice

Posted by Editorial / Friday, October 2nd, 2015

By Nelia Dashiell

Gov. Terry McAuliffe suggests turning 1-66 into a toll road.
[Washington Post]

The Oregon college shooter has been identified. 

NAACP demands action from Fairfax County.
[Fairfax Times]

Fairfax County Public Schools make budget cuts due to $7o million deficit.
[Fairfax Times] 

Sharpen your wit at Alexandria’s new Escape Room Live

Posted by Editorial / Thursday, October 1st, 2015

New venue has patrons navigating a real-life game of ‘Clue.’

By Chelsea Rose Moore

Photo by Yetta Reid

Photo by Yetta Reid

ONLINEThe Escape Room3

Photo by Yetta Reid

Sherlock Holmes has been working on a murder case with Scotland Yard, but the situation takes an unusual turn when Sherlock uncharacteristically misses an important meeting. Instead Scotland Yard finds a cryptic note and receives a scrambled phone call from an unknown voice saying Sherlock has been captured.

You have 45 minutes to save Sherlock’s life. You need to discover who took him and figure out where they’re hiding him. While you’re at it, you realize you’ve been locked in his office, and cracking the mystery will unlock the door. Will you make it out in time?
Alexandria’s new Escape Room Live gives guests the opportunity to navigate a real-life game of “Clue.” As puzzles are decoded and mysteries are solved, patrons are engaged through logic, team building and critical thinking.

“The environment here is very cerebral,” says Escape Room owner Ginger Flesher-Sonnier.

A former high school math teacher of 20 years, Flesher-Sonnier opened Alexandria’s Escape Room after the successful launch of D.C.’s Escape Room last October. “I fell in love with Escape Rooms because I’ve always loved puzzles and riddles,” she says.

At 5,200 square feet, Alexandria’s Escape Room is the largest in the country. It offers four rooms providing unique scenarios: Sherlock Holmes: A Matter of Time; Sherlock Holmes: Moriarty’s Madness; Edgar Allan Poe: the Lost Manuscript; and A Wizard’s Apothecary: the Power of the Rings.

The Sherlock rooms opened in July and August. The Wizard room (opening late October) borrows aspects from “Harry Potter” and “Lord of the Rings” and requires guests to find five rings. It will feature special effects, including a magic mirror and wand. According to Flesher-Sonnier, the Poe room (opening by January 2016) will be “sufficiently dark, but not scary,” much like Poe.

From the atmospheric music to the Sherlock-esque wallpaper, the Escape Room provides a fully immersive experience—no detail is missed. Even the waiting area is filled with black leather sofas, dimly lit lamps, faux animal skin rugs and framed pictures celebrating the unusual and unique. Guests are invited to play board games while waiting for their turn in the Escape Room.

During the week, the Escape Room hosts team-building events for private and corporate parties. Guests have access to a party room with space for caterers. While groups may contact a preferred caterer, Escape Room Live frequently works with Alexandria’s Bittersweet Catering. Guests are also invited to BYOB and may take a glass of their favorite drink into the Escape Room during the challenge.

Flesher-Sonnier believes the Escape Room’s popularity exists because it caters to people hungry for deep experiences to share with family and friends. Her goal is to open Escape Rooms all along the East Coast and provide the highest quality Escape Rooms in the U.S.

(October 2015)

Ashburn tech mogul pleads guilty to murder; Investigative Film Fest kicks off; 8th woman attacked in Arlington

Posted by Editorial / Thursday, October 1st, 2015

Eighth woman attacked in Arlington.


Investigative Film Festival kicks off with ‘The Wire‘ creator David Simon.


Ashburn tech mogul pleads guilty to murdering his ex-wife’s husband.

[Loudoun Times]

GMU professor running “the globe” to raise funds for student scholarships.

[Wash Post]

Rainstorm knocks out power; VDOT worker struck by vehicle on I-395

Posted by Editorial / Wednesday, September 30th, 2015

By Jae O’Connor

Last night’s rainstorm leaves thousands without power in Fairfax and Frederick counties.

A VDOT worker was hit by a car Tuesday night on I-395 and is in critical condition.

The Central Place construction project has become a public art project: A 10-foot, 1,300-pound crescent moon hangs from the work crane.

Federal budget plans are likely to go into a continuing resolution again this year.
[The Washington Post]

Man breaches Pope Francis’ security; Federal agencies could change island culture

Posted by Editorial / Tuesday, September 29th, 2015

By Jae O’Connor

A man breached Pope Francis’ security and drove onto the JFK tarmac in an attempt to meet him.

Federal agencies look to make changes at Chincoteague and Assateague Island.
[The Washington Post]

 Metro revises its timeline for the new Potomac Yard Station.

Fairfax County police say stun gun use was justified during an arrest that was caught on tape.


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