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Vicksburg remembers Afton Wallace

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Afton Wallace

In 2015 the Wallace household was changed forever. That’s when they lost Afton Wallace, 18, to Ewing’s Sarcoma, a rare form of pediatric cancer.

“Afton was a force of nature,” said Rob Wallace, Afton’s father. “When she put her mind to something she accomplished it. … She decided that she wanted to sing in the show choir at Warren Central High School, join the swim team and play the flute in the band. She did all of those things, and she did them well. Even during her senior year when she was going through chemotherapy, surgeries and taking all of her medicine, she still finished high school in the top 10 of her class.”

Since Afton’s death, the Wallace family has raised money for pediatric cancer research through several different outlets including the annual Splash for Gold swim meet during September, which is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. This year’s meet will be held at the Vicksburg City Pool (900 Lee St.) Sept. 21 starting at 10 a.m. 

“Afton was a swimmer, and she loved swimming,” Wallace said. “She was very involved in the swim community in Mississippi over the span of 10 years, and she was a great swimmer. As a sophomore, she was fourth fastest in the state, and then she got sick and couldn’t get any faster, but one of the last things she wanted to do was race again. So we worked really hard with her to get her back in the pool to race, and she ended up racing in the last meet of the season her senior year even though she had all types of physical problems.”

The Wallace’s dedication to raising awareness of pediatric cancer has not gone unnoticed. Vicksburg Mayor George Flaggs Jr. declared Sept. 20 and 21 Afton Wallace Pediatric Cancer Awareness days.

“We’re honored but also devastated that this even had to be required,” Wallace said. “But we’re very honored that people still remember her in our community. We’re grateful to the mayor for bringing attention to pediatric cancer. There’s too many children that suffer from cancer.”

Although a lot of money is spent on cancer research, only about 4 percent of it goes toward pediatric cancer, because it affects a small number of people. Though awareness for childhood cancer is rising, Wallace believes that there is only one way to help put an end to it, and that is through more funding.

“We don’t want any other child to go through the hell that Afton had to endure,” he said.

“We’re making such great advances when it comes to understanding cancer. One thing that I didn’t know is that cancer is not just one disease, but it’s many.”

Wallace is encouraging everyone to help raise awareness of pediatric cancer by wearing gold Sept. 20 and 21. My Mission is Remission, the nonprofit the Wallace’s organized to help raise funds for research, is selling gold T-shirts to further the cause. To purchase a T-shirt, visit www.splash4gold.org. Visit the My Mission is Remission website and Facebook page for more information.

“I don’t want the memory of her to fade,” said Afton’s father. “That’s the most important thing to a grieving parent.”

Events

Sen. Hyde-Smith keynote speaker at Innovation & Technology naming ceremony

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The Mississippi Center for Innovation & Technology naming ceremony will be held at 1622 Washington St. in Vicksburg on Friday, Feb. 21, at 10 a.m.

U.S. Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith

The presenting keynote speaker is U.S. Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith.

Under the leadership of the Economic Development Foundation, the community identified the old Mississippi Hardware Building as the place where a Center for Innovation & Technology can be developed. The center will bring all relevant partners together to create an eco-system that spurs innovation, accelerates technology transfer and increases opportunities for U.S. Army Engineering Research & Development Center contracts to be given to Mississippi companies. The center will also provide higher education opportunities in science, technology, engineering and math.

Since it was announced that the EDF committed to developing the Hardware Building into the Mississippi Center for Innovation & Technology, the State of Mississippi has committed $5 million to the project and the City of Vicksburg has committed $300,000 per year for 10 years. Close to $5 million in Historic Tax Credits has been secured for the project.

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Mississippi Entrepreneurship Forum to be held in Vicksburg April 2 and 3

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Vicksburg Convention Center.

From Innovate Mississippi:

The 2020 Mississippi Entrepreneurship Forum will be held Thursday and Friday, April 2-3, 2020, at the Vicksburg Convention Center. The event will bring together leading entrepreneurs, economic developers, innovators, and future business owners to learn more about the current entrepreneurial climate and the future of entrepreneurship in Mississippi.

For the first time, the MEF will host a Student Business Pitch Competition that will take place on April 2, 2020.

Sponsored by the University of Mississippi’s McLean Institute for Public Service and Community Engagement, the event is part of the Catalyzing Entrepreneurship and Economic Development initiative funded from a generous financial gift from the Robert M. Hearin Support Foundation. Now in its sixth year, the Mississippi Entrepreneurship Forum will provide working opportunities for aspiring business owners and thriving entrepreneurs to share practical and immediately useful information about building a business.

Additionally, attendees will hear best practices of successful case studies and learn more about resources and strategies available to entrepreneurs from institutions of higher education in Mississippi and other key organizations.

Panels on technology and innovation, student entrepreneurship, and the state’s entrepreneurial ecosystem also will be conducted on April 3, 2020.

Previous Forums have been held in Clarksdale, Tupelo, Greenwood, Oxford and Jackson.

MEF planning committee members include Allyson Best (University of Mississippi); Tasha Bibb (Innovate Mississippi); John Brandon (Mississippi College); Dr. Marty Brock (Mississippi University for Women); Ty Durham (Millsaps College); Saundra McFarland (Jackson State University); Janice Karcher (ERDCWERX); Dr. JR Love (University of Mississippi); Nash Nunnery (Mississippi Development Authority); Dr. Sheriece Robinson (Mississippi Community College Board); Jeffrey Rupp (Mississippi State University); Will Tabor (Mississippi Community College Board); James Wilcox (University of Southern Mississippi); and Dr. Glendscene Williams (Delta State University).

For more information about the 2020 Mississippi Entrepreneurship Forum, please go to meforum.olemiss.edu, or contact JR Love at jrlove@olemiss.edu or Tasha Bibb at tbibb@innovate.ms.

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Vicksburg YMCA hosts annual Father-Daughter Date Night

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The Vicksburg YMCA held its fourth annual Father-Daughter Date Night at The Anthony inside the BB club in downtown Vicksburg Tuesday.

YMCA membership director Lauren Coulon organized the event a few years ago, and it is still going strong today.  More than 100 fathers and daughters came out to dance and enjoy a great buffet. Everyone seemed to have a great time.

Girls as young as 5 dressed up and joined their dads for the special night. Fathers and daughters from every part of Vicksburg danced the night away, took pictures on the red carpet and headed upstairs for dinner.

Bryan Snowden with Kelsey Snowden, left, and Allyssa Thomas.

Matthew and Hayden Bell.

The father-daughter date night is held annually, usually in the month of February, and is hosted by the YMCA.

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