Get in the Swim of Things!

Living a healthy lifestyle means staying active. Getting a little bit of exercise every day is important to help keep your heart healthy as well as keep your muscles strong. But in the heat and humidity of summer in the South, it can be hard to keep up your workout routine, especially if you are accustomed to working out in the outdoors, running on a trail or walking around a track.

Luckily, even in our area well-known for its winter sports, there are plenty of great places to swim and enjoy water sports, both excellent ways to stay active while keeping cool.

Swimming is a good exercise for many reasons.Swimmer

  • There’s no impact on the ground, which makes it easy on the joints. It reduces the risk of injury and stress on your body.
  • It’s a good cardiovascular activity, getting your heart rate up without all the sweat of running on a treadmill.
  • Swimming burns calories.
  • On hot days, it’s cool and refreshing.

Just make sure when you’re swimming outside or enjoying any outdoor sports in the summer to apply sunscreen. Use at least SPF 30 or higher, and make sure to reapply after you’ve been in the water or every couple of hours. Learn about the Top 10 Swimming Holes around Boone.

If you’re looking for a great place to swim indoors or if you don’t know how to swim, check out the Paul H. Broyhill Wellness Center. It’s never too late to learn how to swim. The Wellness Center offers aquatic programs ranging from low impact to high intensity and welcome all levels to participate. Programs include aquatic personal training, arthritis aquatic program, family swim times, H20 fitness, low impact aquatic aerobics, prenatal aquatic aerobics, swim clinics, swim lessons and more. For more information, call (828) 266-1060.




Hope Restored: Farm owner overcomes adversity thanks to AppOrtho

Apple Hill Farm in Banner Elk, NC, is one of the best kept secrets in the High Country. The picturesque 43 acre property, which overlooks the Blue Ridge Mountains, is home to an assortment of animals including: alpacas, donkeys, horses, goats, chickens and a miniature pig named Mr. Pickles. It all began in 2001, when Lee Rankin, 54, a budding author with a culinary background, decided to start a farm deep in the mountains of North Carolina.

Lee Rankin with her horses at Apple Hill Farm.

Lee Rankin with her horses at Apple Hill Farm.

“I’ll never forget our first year on the farm,” said Rankin. “I was a single mother, raising a son, who was only two when we moved here. We faced many challenges while starting the farm. We lost four alpacas the first spring in a mountain lion attack. It was devastating, but we rebuilt our herd and recovered.”

No stranger to adversity, the breast cancer survivor, was able to overcome these early struggles and eventually open the farm up to the public. Looking back, Rankin said, “This farm wouldn’t be what it is today without those challenges, it is the tests that sometimes define what we become.”

Last year, her faith was put to the test, when she injured her knee while stepping into a goat pen. Unable to bear weight on her knee, she made a doctor’s appointment and had an MRI. A week later, after reviewing the MRI of her knee, the doctor informed Rankin that surgery was not needed. Her knee had improved some, so she left hopeful that her knee would continue to improve with time.

Rankin stopped and bought three bags of frozen peas on the way home, her preferred method of icing her knee. Back at the farm she had good days and bad days with her knee, never getting back to being able to safely interact with the animals, lift a hay bale or carry a water bucket. Unwilling to give up, she was encouraged by a friend to get a second opinion at Appalachian Regional Orthopaedic and Sports Medicine Center (AppOrtho) in Boone.

“I kept telling myself, I need to be able to move,” said Rankin. “After my friend told me that AppOrtho is the official sports medicine provider for App State athletics, I thought, surely they will be able to get me up and moving again.”

Determined, Rankin scheduled an appointment the following day with orthopaedic surgeon, Dr. Bill DeVault (who she had already met twice at Boone Chamber Events.) After examining her knee, Dr. DeVault concluded that her pain was a result of inflammation which was preventing the healing process. He explained that she could choose between two treatment options, steroid pills or shots, to reduce her inflammation and improve her mobility. Rankin opted for the shots, which Dr. DeVault carefully administered during her appointment. Dr. DeVault went on to explain that the shot would not completely cure her knee pain but it would get her up and moving again.

“It was remarkable to go from one doctor who said I was out of options to another doctor who said there is hope,” said Rankin. “Dr. DeVault saw me as a person. He listened to my concerns and treated me with the utmost respect. It felt like I had a true partner in the health of my knee.”

Within a few days, Rankin’s knee pain subsided and she noticed a significant improvement in her range of motion. For the first time in several weeks, she was able to walk without crutches and care for her animals. Two things she feared she might never be able to do again.

“Looking back, we may not understand every trial that comes into our lives but we have a choice to stay positive and believe,” said Rankin, a year after her injury. “In this case, I’m thankful I have Dr. DeVault, a doctor who is committed to keeping me moving.”

To learn more about Appalachian Regional Orthopaedic and Sports Medicine Center, call 828-386-BONE or visit

Foley Family provides lead gift for post-acute care center in Blowing Rock

Throughout his successful career in manufacturing, Dennis Foley always had a knack for identifying problems and developing solutions. No one has benefited more from this positive outlook on business and life than his wife of 51 years, Diane. In 2002, while living in Boone, NC, she was diagnosed with lymphoma. Dennis utilized his problem solving skills in researching the best options for his wife’s treatment. The initial choice was a world renowned cancer institution halfway across the country. Although the institution was well-equipped to treat the disease, it fell short in terms of treating both body and mind with compassionate care. Unsettled by their experience Dennis, after further research, opted to move his wife closer to home, to the Seby Jones Regional Cancer Center in Boone. It was there that the Foleys met oncologist Dr. Herman Godwin. And the rest, as they say is history.

Diane and Dennis Foley.

Diane and Dennis Foley.

It soon became apparent to the Foleys that Dr. Godwin, provided the caring, warm spirited, and calming demeanor that had been missing from the larger facility. Thankfully, Diane was officially declared cancer free after two years of chemo and radiation. The respect and appreciation both Diane and Dennis feel toward Dr. Godwin are a large part of their decision to donate.

Although the Foleys have homes in Florida, Maine and NC, they have developed a love for the area from 18 years of having a second home in the beautiful North Carolina Mountains.

Both Foleys agree, “We have roots here. Our children and grandchildren live in the area. To have been able to avail ourselves of such wonderful care, and be in an area that we enjoy so much, is priceless.”

Over the years, the Foleys have enthusiastically remained close to and in support of Appalachian Regional Healthcare System (ARHS). They were intrigued, when a community needs assessment revealed that it would be in the best interest of the region to replace the existing Blowing Rock Rehabilitation and Davant Extended Care Center with a modern post-acute care center.

Future rendering of The Foley Center at Chestnut Ridge.

Future rendering of The Foley Center at Chestnut Ridge.

In need of donor support, the Foleys graciously agreed to provide the lead gift of $3.75 million to construct The Foley Center at Chestnut Ridge. This state-of-the-art, 112-bed post-acute care center will be located on a 68 acre tract of land alongside US 321 in Blowing Rock, NC. The facility will enhance the region’s access to short and long-term post-acute care for medical services. In addition, the Center will provide services for memory support, palliative care, rehabilitation, skilled nursing and an on-site medical clinic and pharmacy. Thanks to the generosity of the Foley’s and other private donors, the Appalachian Regional Healthcare Foundation is well on the way to reaching its capital campaign goal of $11.5 million. The Foley Center at Chestnut Ridge is scheduled to open during the summer of 2016.

When asked why he was contributing, Dennis shared, “Like I have always said, no one wants to get sick. Different from finding a job or pursuing your education, getting sick is something over which you have very little control. After going down this road ourselves, we consider it a privilege to support the ever improving continuum of care that the healthcare system provides.”

To learn more about The Foley Center at Chestnut Ridge visit To learn more about Appalachian Regional Healthcare System visit

Supporting the Survivors

June 7 is the 28th annual National Cancer Survivor’s Day, a day set aside to recognize those who are living with a history of cancer and to raise awareness of the hardships cancer survivors face beyond treatment.

Cancer is a word that strikes fear in the heart of anyone who hears that diagnosis coming from their physician. No matter what kind of cancer you might have, the diagnosis almost always means a long road ahead of treatments, doctor visits, scans and even sickness. Beating cancer and going into remission feels like winning a war after a long series of battles.kid-grandma

It is estimated that today there are more than 14 million people alive after being diagnosed with cancer. Those numbers are heartening. Knowing cancer survivors helps us see first-hand that a cancer diagnosis doesn’t have to be a death sentence, and that the medical treatments and screenings available do their part in the war on cancer.

But surviving cancer sometimes isn’t the end of the road. People who have had cancer often face physical, emotional and financial hardships years after diagnosis and treatment. Cancer survivors might find they are denied health and life insurance coverage, they might have difficulty finding a job, they might face economic hardship due to medical expenses, lost wages and reduced productivity, and they might have emotional struggles due to strains on personal relationships and the fear that the cancer will come back.

That’s where National Cancer Survivor’s Day comes in. Raising awareness and helping provide more resources for cancer survivors will help people lead healthy, fulfilling lives long after being released from their treatment of cancer.

One of the ways we support cancer survivors here at Appalachian Regional Health System is through the offering art classes at the Seby B. Jones Regional Cancer Center.  These complimentary classes are available to patients currently in treatment or to anyone who has completed treatment. It’s a great way to help relieve stress, learn something new and exciting or just experience mutual support from being with other cancer survivors during an uplifting art lesson.

This year, celebrate National Cancer Survivor’s Day by helping out a survivor. Just a few words of encouragement will go a long way toward brightening their day. And don’t forget to get your own screenings. It is very important to catch cancer early for the best results in treatment. Check out the American Cancer Society’s list of recommended screenings to make sure you are up to date with the screenings you need!

Eat More Fresh Fruit and Vegetables for Better Health!

Your mom was right when she told you to eat your veggies! Did you know that you should fill at least half your plate with fruits and vegetables? The USDA’s dietary guidelines that came out in 2010 placed a bigger emphasis on fruits and vegetables than previous recommendations had done. That’s because we have realized just how important those fruits and vegetables are in our diets. Fruits and vegetables are packed with vitamins, minerals, fiber and phytonutrients (things like antioxidants and flavonoids, chemicals found in plants that can have health benefits for us). All of these good things help in reducing the risk of cancer and other diseases. And fruits and vegetables are low in calories!fruits-veggies

To help encourage Americans to eat more fruits and vegetables, June has been designated Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Month. And what better time than now to celebrate the bounty of our gardens and farms? Fresh blueberries and blackberries are coming in, squash and tomatoes are plentiful in our gardens (or our neighbors’), and corn on the cob is a steal at any local market. It’s easy to fill up half your plate with fruits and vegetables. In fact, this time of year it’s easy to fill up the whole plate with colorful, nutritious, good-for-you food.

Remember to eat a variety of colors to get the different vitamins, minerals and chemicals you need to stay healthy. And don’t stress out about how you prepare them. Raw or cooked, frozen or canned, or even squeezed into a juice or blended into a smoothie, no matter how you consume fruits and vegetables, the important part is integrating them into your daily diet and getting all of those good vitamins, minerals and chemicals into your body.

Find out how many fruits and vegetables you should eat each day with the CDC’s Fruit and Vegetable Calculator.

Then go shopping to fill up your refrigerator! We are blessed to live in a part of the country that has the ability to grow a wide variety of fruits and vegetables during a relatively long growing season. For the freshest pick, visit some of the roadside stands, or head out to a farmer’s market to load up on good foods! Here are two in our area:

The Watauga County Farmers Market is open every Saturday morning from May through November. To learn more about additional Farmer’s Markets in the High Country, visit