Alveta Ewell

I Was Born With a Broken Heart

March 22nd, 2011 at 10:13 pm by under Uncategorized

WAVY-TV has been in the business of telling stories for as long as most people can remember.  But there are some stories that just seem to jump out at you.  Like the two stories we told today of two babies who doctors didn’t think would live past their first birthdays.  And proved everybody wrong.  Both Jallage and Joe Joe were born heart defects. 

Jallage was born with the most severe form of tetralogy, a rare and complex heart defect. It kept blood from her brain and other vital organs.

Her buddy Joe-Joe was born with a different kind of heart defect. He only had one chamber of his heart and couldn’t breath properly.

Their defects may have been different, but they were no less  life threatening and devastating to the parents and everyone who loves them.

When the camera came back to me, if you looked closely, you couldn’t miss my tears.  While many stories I report, affect me, perhaps none so strongly as these.  You see, I too gave birth to a daughter with a heart defect. 20 years ago, my daughter was born with “transposition”.  The pulmonary artery and the aorta were switched.  She also had four holes in her heart, called ventricular septal defects.  I know the trauma of being told the child you carried for 9 months, may not make it through her first week of life, much less her first birthday.  She was put on life supports until her tiny body was strong enough to sustain the trauma of surgery.  My daughter underwent open-heart surgery at 5 days old….doing an arterial switch and closing at lest 3 of the holes.  At that time, it was a groundbreaking surgery.  The oldest child who had that surgery was only 5 years old, so doctors couldn’t be sure how long anyone would live after it. 

  That was 20 years ago. Today,my precious daughter is a junior in college.  And even today, not a day goes by that I don’t check on her just to make sure she is still breathing:) 

  So when I heard Jallage’s mom say she was setting a  chair outside her bedroom door  just to watch her sleep at night, I completely understood.  I think as a parent, we watch our children grow up and pray they will be  successful and one day make us proud.    Before a child is even born, most parents just hope for a healthy baby, with 10 fingers and toes.  Some even get specific and prefer a boy over  a girl.  Today, as I watched the parents of Jallage and Joe Joe, I already know what they wanted.  Merely to feel the warm blood running through their veins, to communicate the way only they know how and to be thankful for whatever time they have together on this earth. And IF that child is born with 10 fingers and toes, that’s a bonus.

   The surgeons, the nurses and the rest of the staff at Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters do this every day, realizing they hold precious lives in their hands.  I will NEVER take that for granted.  It’s parents like Jallage’s and Joe Joe’s and me who want to say THANK YOU to CHKD for giving us the gift of life.

All Good Things Must Come To An End”

January 25th, 2011 at 3:35 pm by under Uncategorized

  My mother used to say that all the time while speaking of things that happen in life.  I never realized I’d be using  so many of my mother’s words as I got older and wiser.  Perhaps that phrase is quite fitting today, as I mourn the passing of my uncle this morning.  Well, actually, he is my second cousin, but because he is so much older than many of us, we called him  uncle” out of respect. 

   The community of  Halifax County North Carolina knew Monterio Dock Brown  as an icon, an educator, a civil rights leader.  To his family, he  was a smiling gentle giant  who gave all he had to his entire family, especially to my Aunt Helen and my two cousins Ivy and Dock Jr…we’ve called him “Monty” since he was a baby. Uncle Dock was  one of the backbones of our family.   Anytime you needed advice, you came to him and he never hesitated to help, always with a smile.  His door was always open.  In fact, it was nothing for his Virginia family to “just drop in” and we were welcomed with complete open arms.  I am reminded of  seeing many of the little cousins and neices and nephews running and playing in that big backyard, while  the women of  the family prepared the, collard greens, fried chicken and Aunt Helen’s  cakes in the kitchen.  Uncle Dock would join the men of the family outside while they drank their favorite beverages while roasting a pig and stirring the homemade brunswick stew under a big shade tree.  Monty’s music would stop only for a minute while Uncle Dock would lead us in prayer before the feast.

      Today’s newscast will go on as usual for me, yet in my heart, I will be mourning the loss of  a man who, in his own way, helped me grow, and live and love.  To my Aunt Helen, we know you will keep smiling and hold Uncle Dock’s memories of a precious marriage deep in your heart.  To Ivy and Monty, we love  you and share your pain of  losing the best parents God could have EVER given us.   Uncle Dock, you

 are now with my mom and dad and so many others holding that family reunion to welcome you home.    R.I.P. UNCLE DOCK

Twisted Sisters With a Sweet Tooth

November 19th, 2010 at 5:22 pm by under Uncategorized


  As I came to work at WAVY-TV I saw a very odd sight in our front parking lot.   A hot pink van with the  name “Twisted Sisters”. Their slogan  “Move over Ice Cream Man, we have big girl treats!”   Growing up in a “pastry” family (my grandparents were pastry cooks, my mom learned from them and I learned from  mom) I was curious, so I walked over to see what all my co-workers were talking about.   The smell of the sweet treats  was to die for.  Then the flavors, like apple caramel, sweet potato, chocolate monkey, black & white tuxedo, gimme Smore and pumpkin are out of this world.  I took some home to my kids (young adults) and they are all telling their friends.  This is not just a cupcake.  This is a little taste of heaven.  No, I don’t work for them, but have considered buying stock int he company. lol

Walking in the Yankee Wonderland

November 17th, 2010 at 10:22 pm by under Uncategorized

You probably saw them all over the television…ads inviting you to bring your children to meet

Santa at the Yankee Candle Factory in Williamsburg.  It was hard for me to pass up that enchanting moment.  So I stretched out my hands and beganto think….”Let’s see Santa in one hand, Yankee candles inthe other.”  Oh what the heck, let’s do both.  So off to Williamsburg I went, bright and early Saturday morning.  Not sure if it was for  santa or the candles, but the parking lot was so full, it took 20 minutes to find a space.  Once inside, I made my way to the  back of the mall where most of the people gathered.  There were screaming children, squirming children, crying children, and oh yeah, Santa was in the middle of all the action.  One of his elves asked if I wanted to sit on his lap and take a picture.  I thought about it for a minute (and only a minute) and decided it might not be a good idea. So, I maneuvered my way through delighted grand parents, moms, dads and yes, lot of children to the winter wonderland.  It was so beautiful.  There were mounds of snow and reindeer, there were mechanical carolers and even real carolers holding a concert on top of the bridge.  I may have passed up the opportunity to sit on Santa’s lap, but not the chance to sing all the songs I remembered from my 7th grade Christmas Concert.  It brought back so many memories.  And let’s not forget the snow machine.  Its the coolest thing to watch the eyes of  children of all ages, including mine, light up when the snow actually falls from the sky.    Then it was off to the Yankee store to purchase gifts for friends.  I mean, who can pass up the chance to light a heavily scented Yankee candle for the holidays, or any day for that matter? 

  Oh yeah,did I mention, the Yankee mall in Williamsburg, including the winter wonderland are open all year round.  Santa was just my  excuse to make the trip. lol

Grove says “Ahsante Sana”….that’s “Thank you very much” in Swahili

November 4th, 2010 at 5:30 pm by under Uncategorized

Anyone who knows me, realizes that I am a multi-cultural woman.  Growing up in a family of many cultures, has afforded me the luxury and pleasure of  remaining open-minded.  On Sunday October 31st, our congregation at Grove Baptist Church on West Norfolk Road in Portsmouth, hosted the Ugandan Orphans Choir.  They were fed, housed and shown a tremendous amount of love from some families at Grove during their stay.  These young boys and girls were rescued from a life of hunger and poverty and given the opportunity of education  and spirtual development, helping them make a difference in the future of Africa. 

  We were educated and entertained at the same time.  They bring a message of  hope to American audiences through rhythmic dances and songs of Africa.  Performances include colorful African costumes and traditional instruments such as drums and pan pipes as the children sing and dance tribal songs. 

     Through our 3 Sunday services, Grove raised more than 7 thousand dollars as a donation to help the children.  We appreciate  all they are doing for their native land and all they did for us during their stay.

“Ahsante Sana”  from  the Grove Baptist Church family in Portsmouth, Va. Oh yeah, that means “Thank you Very Much”  in Swahili.

Wine…It was our First Time

November 3rd, 2010 at 10:17 pm by under Uncategorized

  The city of Chesapeake hosted it’s first  annual wine festival Saturday October 30th at Chesapeake City Park.   It was sponsored by the Chesapeake Rotary, benefiting the Sidney M. Oman Cancer Center of Chesapeake Regional Hospital and the Community Charities of  the Chesapeake Rotary Club.  And since I am a native of Chesapeake, my friends, co-workers  and I decided to check it out.  Fun was an understatement.  I  attended the Townpoint Wine Festival a couple of weekends before and enjoyed that as well.  But I was glad to see my native city hosting  this venue.  We had the opportunity to sample all sorts of wines made in Virginia  and enjoyed the  friendly atmosphere. Have you ever tried chocolate wine?  Wow, it’s probably alot different than what you would expect.  It’s one of the best I have ever had. 

     Although some people paid for reserved tables, we opted to bring a blanket and some cheese, crackers, grapes and summer sausage and pig out while listening to music by Lewis McGehee.  It was so relaxing. When you look at our pictures, check out the earrings made of corks and grapes.. They were made by my sister as a fun little tidbit.  They were the talk of the festival. I am also a member of  ”Diva’s Uncorked”.  We are known across the country for promoting and educating  people on African American wineries with the hopes of integrating them into cities in your town.  Maybe next year,   we will find an African American winery in Virginia introduce it to Chesapeake.

My Alma Mater Turns a Proud 75 Years Old

October 11th, 2010 at 11:48 pm by under Personalities, Uncategorized

Norfolk State University is celebrating its 75th Year of excellence, perhaps educating and accepting many of us who otherwise may not have had an opportunity to obtain a credible education.  I used to tell my friends it was easy to get in, but very hard to get out. I am proud of that legacy now.  NSU was founded in 1935 as the Norfolk unit of Virginia Union University. But by 1969 it earned its status as an independent college.  It has since grown into a comprehensive four-year, co-educational institution in the heart of  one of the most progressive cities in Hampton Roads.  I had the honor of co-emceeing the anniversary gala on Saturday Oct. 2 at the Norfolk Waterside Marriott. We were welcomed by NSU Acting President Dr. Kim Luckes.  As a 1979 Mass Communications grad,  I had the time of my life sharing the podium with 1989 grad and current Baltimore Delegate Shawn Tarrant.  We had the pleasure of presenting four faculty members the Distinguished Faculty Awards and ten alumni the Academy of Distinguished Alumni Awards.  And if that wasn’t enough, we were serenaded by  recording R&B and Smooth Jazz artists  RaJazz.  Perhaps one of the most heartwarming events of the evening was getting together with old friends and realizing their accomplishments since they left NSU some 30 years ago. Yes, my alma mater has turned out some of the most prestigious people in the world.  But nothing can compare to our heartfelt thank you to those who made it all possible.

Friday Night Fun

September 28th, 2010 at 10:42 pm by under Personalities, Sports, Uncategorized

For the past ten years,WAVY TV has brought you Friday Night Flights.  A fantastic Friday night of watching your favorite high school team play AND vying for a royal blue and white football being thrown into the stands by a WAVY personality.  But have you ever viewed it from OUR vantage point?  Well, here’s a behind the scenes look at how we bring you this fun filled night.

Our Sports producer Brian Parsons maps out which 3 schools we will be attending and gives us a schedule ahead of time so we can prepare and bring back stories others may not have thought about.  Chopper Pilot John Massey then takes to the skies days before the games and plots  the most direct paths to get from one game to another.  Then, it’s game face time.  Sports Director Bruce Rader  rushes to the helicopter pad and jumps in the chopper with John Massey to be

whisked away to a school to join a spectacular high school band and cheerleaders.  Then it’s our turn.  After John Massey brings Bruce back to the station, one of us, like me, jumps in the chopper and takes to the skies.  And I can tell you, it definitely a different site from the air than on the ground.  A little un-nerving at first, but you get used to it.  We circle the field a couple of times then prepare to land.  As we get out of  Chopper 10, we are usually greeted by some of the most gracious fans, clamoring for footballs.  But we can’t do it without the cheerleaders.  It’s tremendous fun.  We all get to do it once each a season, but it’s perhaps one of the highlights of the year.

Think Pink and and Other Colors for Cancer

September 20th, 2010 at 5:39 pm by under Personalities, Uncategorized

This past weekend was extremely invigorating and eye opening at my church , Grove Baptist Church in Portsmouth, Va.  But then again, that is the norm at Grove:)  It was “Think Pink Sunday”.  A day the entire congregation, which included the men, came together,  wearing pink  in hopes of making strides against breast cancer.  It was very uplifting and encouraging  to see others supporting an extremely worthwhile cause, as I remembered my aunt who passed away from breast cancer less than 3 years ago.     Grove’s Pastor, Dr. Melvin O. Marriner and our congregation welcomed Sarie Award (South Africa) winner and acoustic  guitarist Jonathan Butler who ministered to us in song at the 9a.m. and 11a.m. worship services.

My entire family has been affected by this devastating disease and I know I am not alone.  We have millions of reasons to fund research to eradicate this horrible life-snatching disease; our mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, aunts, uncles and our precious children.  As we wear our pink to honor and memorialize those with breast cancer, let us not forget the other colors of the rainbow that are set aside for other forms of cancer.  My mother passed way of ovarian center(teal), my father was a colon cancer survivor(brown), my aunts and uncles passed away from lung cancer(pearl), my cousin passed away from prostate cancer(light blue).  Many were forced into hospice before they lost their battle (burgundy).  Also, let us not  forget those who are survivors of this robbing disease(lavender).      An old African proverb says “It takes a village to raise a child.”  Let us all do our part.  Because when one is affected, we are ALL affected.

Love Your Family as Yourself

September 16th, 2010 at 10:21 pm by under Personalities, Uncategorized

“My life is great, just look at the proof.” That is the resounding post from my niece’s(cousin’s) face book page.  I gained even more respect for her the moment I saw that statement.  But her tenacity to succeed comes from a legacy of strong men and women.  Her mother before her and her mother before her.

This past weekend was perhaps one of the greatest testimonials of  legacy I have ever experienced.  We  had our annual family reunion in North Carolina.  And although the family has gotten increasingly  smaller in the past couple of years, it was perhaps one of the most sentimental.  One of my oldest cousins (we call her an aunt) sat and told us family stories and traditions.  She cleared up so many tales and rumors of family “secrets”.  It was tremendously enlightening.  And although we lost so many family members in the past couple of years, this reunion brought new family members, some we never knew we had.  We embraced, we laughed, we reminisced, we cried.   We challenged the younger family members to keep the  family traditions as a sense of Johnson-Burton pride.  We live the old saying from the movie “Soul Food”….” soul food is food for the soul.”  After getting full from the meal and the stories, we caravanned to the old homestead…the Johnson-Burton estate in Littleton North Carolina.  Everyone was nervous, yet anxious to open doors that had been shut nearly 30 years ago.  As we walked through the little  cinder block house which was home  to so many aunts and uncles when we were growing up, it was amazing that everything as still in place, just as Aunt Mary Alice and Uncle Tom Eddie left it, almost as if  they walked away and never came back.  As we all gathered around collecting heirlooms from a very important piece of our history, we couldn’t help but feel a deep sense of humility and strength and tremendous love.  Yes, soul food really is food for the soul.