Looking into a child’s eyes you can see a world of possibilities.  But, North Carolina children face some challenges. According to the 2014 KIDS COUNT Data Book, released by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, North Carolina ranks 34th in overal child well-being. The ranking is a composite index of four key areas including 1. Economic Well-Being 2. Education 3. Health and 4. Family and Community.  Furthermore, U.S. Census Bureau’s latest American Community Survey, more than a half million North Carolina children, or 26% live in poverty.  At-risk children face many challenges like food, clothing, shelter, safety, parental support, healthcare and education needed for normal childhood development. When children are at risk, they may never reach their potential physically, socially, emotionally and mentally.  Each of us has the ability to make a difference in a child’s life. Doug Hodges, a PGA Performance Coach and Mental/Emotional Game Mentor, is doing just that through mentoring and for that, he’s our LEAPforLife focus.

The Media Pro  is committed to showcasing people who LEAPforLife… that is, they are Living Passionately and Enthusiastically for Life Doug Hodges is a deeply private person, full of grace and humility. It’s difficult for him to open up about his childhood, “I grew up without a lot of opportunity.  It wasn’t a healthy place,” Hodges says, “and I want to make sure that I help children have healthy, safe and secure lives.”

He discovered mentoring on the golf course when someone introduced him to Big Brothers Big Sisters. Hodges became a BIG and that changed his life.

“I was never able to be present for myself or anyone else until I became a Big Brother,” said Hodges. “Mentoring filled a void and it gave me the ability to trust that everything would be ok. If it hadn’t been for this experience, I wouldn’t be able to commit to relationships.  I wouldn’t be able to be present for my wife or my kids.”

Today, he’s focused his life’s mission on making sure that every child is loved and that each child knows what love feels like.  Hodges is using his passion for golf and creating mentoring relationships between adults and at-risk children.  He’s created  SwingPals, Inc., an organization designed to give underprivileged children in North Carolina and other locations the opportunity to fully realize their potential and to lead confident, productive and enriched lives. SwingPals events foster trust, self-esteem and confidence.  “I want to ensure that every child has the opportunity to explore their potential, to be unencumbered by the challenges in their lives,” said Hodges.

Doug Hodges congratulates a SwingPals participant

Hodges knows that mentoring changes children’s lives.  “It makes them have more self confidence, more self-esteem, more self-awareness. I want them to have the ability to choose healthy responses. I don’t want them to see themselves as victims. I want them to have a healthy perspective to see the world differently than I did.”

According to Youth.gov, 8.5 million youth do not have caring adults in their lives who give them support and provide lasting relationships. The Benefits of Mentoring Young People shows that children who are mentored experience the following:

  • Increased high school graduation rates;
  • Lower high school dropout rates;
  • Better academic performance;
  • Healthier relationships and lifestyle choices;
  • Better attitude about school;
  • Higher college enrollment rates and higher educational aspirations;
  • Enhanced self-esteem and self-confidence;
  • Improved behavior, both at home and at school;
  • Stronger relationships with parents, teachers, and peers;
  • Improved interpersonal skills;
  • Decreased likelihood of initiating drug and alcohol use;                                          

What if Hodges wasn’t doing what he loves?

“I couldn’t imagine not living my passion, I can’t imagine how to answer that. It is incomprehensible.  I used to live a passionless life until I was 30 or 31 – that life was empty—I’d still be in that  same space.   I am so far removed from that former life.   I came to America with $100 in my pocket, got a job,  earned money as a commodities trader, but becoming aligned with my passion essentially ended my career. I soon lost interest in that way of life. The measure of success isn’t about making money. It’s about being authentic, being able to share my feelings.  It didn’t create anything. It was only buying and selling, there wasn’t any meaning. Mentoring became a measure of my success.”

You can see the joy on his face and hear it in his voice.

“It’s immeasurable to the degree of happiness I feel—nothing is more fulfilling than being able to help others and give back. When I give back to other kids I become more complete.”

SwingPals is part of the curriculum at three Durham, North Carolina schools, Neal Middle School, Brogden Middle School and Lowe’s Grove Middle School.  Each year, 100 children from each school are introduced to golf during 6th grade PE. In the spring, 36 children (12 from each school) get to go for additional training and interaction at a local golf course. Those children who continue with the program are then invited to continue with SwingPals for two times per week in 7th and 8th grades. Currently, SwingPals has 15 active matches through the Big Brothers Big Sisters program.

Doug Hodges, PGA Performance Coach and Mental/Emotional Game Mentor, is also the founder of ThinkWorkPlay and is the Ravenscroft Girls Varsity Golf Coach in Raleigh, NC. To become a SwingPals mentor visit www.swingpals.org


When you hear the word rockstar, a lot of images pop into your mind– some good, some bad. In the case of Beaux Foy, founder of the independent rock band, Airiel Down, he’s a rockstar who’s really going places, literally and figuratively. With his megawatt smile, his electric personality, and his amazing joie de vivre, Beaux Foy is inspiring others to dream big, live big and leave the world a better place  than it was when we got here.  There’s no question that Beaux Foy, our latest LEAPforLife honoree,  is Living Enthusiastically and Passionately for Life!

I got the pleasure of meeting and working with Beaux when I worked with Breakiron Animation&Design to create  Airiel Down’s Animated Music Video GorillaWhat I’ve learned since then is that there’s absolutely no stopping Beaux and if you want to catch up with him, you better run fast because he’s not one to be idle — ever! He’s one of the most passionate people I know. But that’s just the tip of who Beaux is. He’s inspiring, he’s creative and he’s humble. But at the same time, Beaux isn’t afraid to go after what he wants and to ask for and often get what he needs to make the next project succeed.

“Never take yourself too seriously, but take what you are doing very serious,” said Beaux Foy, “I like to look at life from a positive perspective even when things are tough. Live, love, laugh for sure, but when it’s time to get serious and bear down, get serious, but always enjoy the ride!”

Beaux Foy surfing the crowd at an Airiel Down concert for the military

Beaux Foy surfing the crowd at an Airiel Down concert for the military
(Photo by Hunter Lee Elliot)

Enjoy the ride, indeeed. Sometimes you’ll find Beaux surfing the crowd at an Airiel Down concert…

Beaux Foy Snowboarding in Whistler, BC

Beaux Foy Snowboarding in Whistler, BC (Photo by Hunter Lee Elliott)

Sometimes you’ll find him snowboarding the highest peaks…


Beaux is a Level 3 Certified, Freestyle Accredited, Children’s Accredited and Trainers Accredited Snowboard Coach.  He was asked to go to Vail this past winter to train and prepare instructors for their AASI Certification exams. In case you’re not up on your snowboarding certifications, that means that Beaux is able to snowboard at the highest level in all terrain. Not bad for someone raised in the South.

But, you’ll always find Beaux choosing to embody a joyful spirit. “My childhood was a bit miserable at times,” Beaux confesses, “I made a pact with myself that I was going to be happy in my adult life and I was not going to do something that I was miserable doing. You can’t control a lot when you are a kid but you have complete control as an adult with the choices you make. I was going to make damn sure I chose a path that was the essence of my soul. And that’s why it’s real!”

Music definitely feeds Beaux’s soul, but it provides him many connections, too. “I’m a people person. I really am,” said Beaux, “When I started writing music, it was to share with people. Otherwise, I would have just sat in my living room and sang my songs for the pictures on the wall. I always wanted to be more than just a musician, so I strive to find a way to make a positive impact on people whether it’s by direct connection or through the music. It is a powerful force. I think everyone is drawn to it in one way or another. It transcends language, culture, gender… I try to follow it’s lead and find common ground to develop something positive, no matter how small, with just about everyone.  Not everyone digs Rock and Roll. But we have found that mostly everyone reacts to positive energy. And that is natural for us. High octane rock and roll that isn’t negative. It’s what brings us all together.”

The 37-year-old rocker is extremely driven. “I’m not interested in mediocrity. I don’t necessarily compete with other people. I compete against myself. I’m trying to get the best out of me everyday and I’m my own worst enemy, if I allow it. I have to keep pushing myself to be the best I possibly can. I won’t be a mediocre me. I will be the exceptional me. Ordinary or extraordinary? Decide.”

Beaux Foy at Dian Fossey International Gorilla Fund, Bisate, Rwanda Africa

Beaux Foy at Dian Fossey International Gorilla Fund, Bisate, Rwanda Africa (Photo by Hunter Lee Elliott)

Recently, Beaux’s been traveling the world for causes he believes in like the Dian Fossey International Gorilla Fund, where he met with the Trackers who are doing all they can to catch gorilla poachers and protect the Silverback Gorilla in its habitat.

Another cause Beaux believes in is the TOMS Shoes, One for One campaign that gives shoes to children around the world who need them.

Beaux Foy in Yida Village, China

Beaux Foy in Yida Village, China
(Photo by Peggy Jiao)

This past year, Beaux spent time in Rwanda and China meeting with the kids who received some of those shoes. “I share the objective of every organization I partner with,” Beaux said, “That is how I decide to be apart of the campaign or not. However, I also enjoy smashing the stereotype that people in Rock and Roll are all lazy, into drugs, abuse alcohol and condone other negative shit. I never thought any of that was cool. Rock and Roll to me is an attitude, and I have bucket fulls of that.”

Beaux Foy at a Rwanda School

Beaux Foy at a Rwanda School
(Photo by Hunter Lee Elliott)

Beaux often goes against stereotype around the world and in his home state of North Carolina. On every tour, Beaux schedules time to meet with aspiring musicians, or sets up talks at local high schools, universities and community colleges. He inspires students by encouraging them to stay in school and strive to be their best at whatever they want to do.


And how many rockstars do you know actually promote reading? Beaux is helping to promote North Carolina libaries with the NC Smartest Card Campaign.  

“A diesel mechanic once told me, ‘Keep living your dream no matter what!’ It seems like such an elementary statement but I found it so profound and impactful,” Beaux said, “No matter what! That’s gold to me man. Don’t let ANYTHING stop you. No matter what!”

Fans of the NHL Carolina Hurricanes are familiar with Beaux and Airiel Down’s music, even if they don’t realize it. Airiel Down’s Hurricane Warning is one of the team’s anthem’s.

In 2011, the USO of North Carolina honored Beaux for its first ever Heart of a Patriot award. When asked about Foy’s award, USO of North Carolina President, John Falkenbury, says, “Beaux is determined, passionate, has an understanding of community and is committed to giving back. While his passion is music, his mission is to serve and give back to those that sacrifice for our freedom.” USO chapters across the nation annually recognize recipients with awards, but only two other entertainers, actor Gary Sinese and actress Karrie Turner have been recognized with the Heart of a Patriot award.

“Just as crippling as fear is doubt. Don’t be afraid of anything and never doubt yourself. Prepare diligently for whatever challenge you will undertake and then confront it head on” said Beaux Foy, “You will never fail, if you never quit. You’ll win! I know it. We are all together in this thing called life. If we take and never give anything back, how can this earth or race survive? We all have to put something back in the pot. It’s like Paul McCartney and The Beatles said, ‘In the end the love you take is equal to the love you make.’ The life of a musician is not a glamorous one, but one of service. We are here to entertain people and bring people together to share a moment. If you understand that, your head will never get too big, even with all of the so-called accolades.”

Beaux Foy at Great Wall of China

Beaux Foy at Great Wall of China
(Photo by Phil Arntz)

Beaux has advice for others about living enthusiastically and passionately for life. “I believe the impossible is possible,” he said, “From day one I knew the dream was going to be a hard line, but never impossible. Remember, it’s not enough to just chase your dreams, you have to catch them.  And if you do that with a resilient passion and enthusiasm, nothing is impossible. Nothing! I encourage people to learn more about themselves. Push yourself beyond what you ever thought was possible. You think you know your limitations but the fact of the matter is, there aren’t any!”

Beaux is currently working on developing a documentary series designed around his diligent work ethic to accomplish the seemingly impossible. He hopes to inspire others through stories of motivation,  persistence, sacrifice, and aspirations for excellence.



Finding your passion can often be a journey through a series of adventures and sometimes even misadventures.  Some people discover their passion after many years of meandering through life working meaningless jobs, enduring countless routine tasks and then they hit upon something that really gets them invigorated.

Not Lee Wright.

Chef Lee Wright

Chef Lee Wright

This 20-year-old discovered his passion for cooking at a very early age and now he’s poised to tell the world about his love of cooking and share his vision for making meal preparations easier, more efficient and a whole lot more fun.  He may be young, but he’s driven to change the way chefs do their jobs, in hopes of saving an industry that he loves. For this reason, we’re featuring Chef Lee Wright as our latest LEAPforLife honoree. He’s definitely Living Enthusiastically and Passionately for Life!

Chef Lee Wright has been working in kitchens in the UK for the past five years, but now he’s about to bring his culinary knowledge and passion to TV and online audiences around the world. “I have had to put in all the time possible while running a full time job, many sleepless nights, but I know my passion will lead me to my dream,” Wright said.

That dream is to get The Wright Way TV program off the ground. In order to do that, he’s crowd-funding the production costs. The show is based on the idea that Chef Lee Wright will help other chefs run their kitchens and staffs with greater efficiency.  “I have seen so many young chefs become disillusioned and leave the trade,” said Wright. “I want them to achieve a work-balance, while maintaining a high-level of food quality and creativity.”

When he get the funds, Chef Lee Wright has an assurance from America One Network, Dish, DIRECTV, PBS, Ion Media and Legacy TV networks to air 13 episodes of his program.   In addition, Chef Lee Wright is also in talks with Foodie TV Network, a television service that uses the Internet to deliver online, on-demand food programs to anyone, anytime for free.

“My goal is to give chefs ways to make their working hours more efficient by showing how you can take advantage of some great short-cuts and technology without losing your creativity in the kitchen.  I also want to show non-professionals they can make simple, tasty recipes at home, too,” said Wright.

He advocates using the freshest ingredients, shopping locally, and buying basic ingredients that are ready-to-go. He says you can cut down on your prep time by working with your local butcher, fishmonger, spice merchant and local farmer’s markets to outsource some of your prep work.

“Right now, chefs spend 10 to 15 or more hours a day in the kitchen and up to five of those hours are spent prepping meals. My top tip is to spend 30-percent of your time prepping and 70% of your time cooking.  I want to help change the industry by showing that you can embrace technology; you can use other professionals to help with your prep work; you can adopt more efficient ways to prepare meals that are quick, easy and packed with flavor. It’s time for our chefs to change their methods and join the 21st century.”

Chef Lee Wright believes that the old ways of doing everything in the kitchen is holding back the industry.  He says that many regular people are enjoying the luxury of convenience in their kitchens at home and that chefs in restaurants and hotels must also adopt some of those efficiencies, as well.

“You can have a fishmonger filet your fish, you can have a butcher cut and trim your steaks, you can make delicious one-pan meals and in the end you’ll enjoy a more balanced life and less stress,” said Wright.

This young entrepreneur hopes his dream will inspire others, too. And he may just be on to something.   The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that the restaurant industry in the US employs more than 11 million people.  The global hospitality sector faces a shortage of chefs.  In a recent report, chefs are one of the top 20 professions needed around the world. The top five places with shortages of chefs with five or more years’ experience are Belgium, Canada, New Zealand, Norway and the UK.   And it’s not just in fine dining establishments that need chefs.  Talented chefs can find jobs in many countries in hotels resorts, cruise ships, foreign branch offices, hospitals, clinics, assisted-living facilities, schools, universities, as personal chefs, and in the catering industry.

But the long hours in the kitchen seem to burn out would-be chefs and that’s what Chef Wright hopes to change with his simple, clear and precise methods.  “I inspire others by cooking with great passion.  I feel people will connect with me other this, and I feel I’m very different from other chefs because I will always make sure I get the best out of people.”

Chef Lee Wright's Sea Bass With Chorizo Risotto, Vanilla Beurre Blanc

Chef Lee Wright’s Sea Bass With Chorizo Risotto, Vanilla Beurre Blanc

Chef Lee Wright says, “Every time I go into a kitchen I get very passionate about my food. Food can change your mood. It can put you in a good mood. It’s such a magical experience.  The best thing about being a chef is making people happy with the food I serve them.  We can all connect and share ideas and cook together, I feel food brings people closer together.”

You can help launch Chef Lee Wright’s TV program by contributing to his crowd-funding campaign on Mobcaster at Chef Lee Wright Season-1 Fundraiser and by checking out Chef Lee Wright’s Website. Check out Chef Lee Wright’s Sea Bass with Chorizo Risotto, Vanilla Beurre Blanc Recipe. YUM!


In this ever-changing world we live in, social media is without a doubt the one thing that seems to be driving more business, engaging more people and evolving the fastest. In the Fall of 2012, I knew that in order to remain an effective communicator and to help my customers move forward, I had to find a way to get more out of my social media interactions. So, as most of us do, I went to the Internet to find out how I could use social media more effectively for business.

After some research, I found Instant eTraining and signed up for their Social Media Web-Conference Plus Hands-On Certification Track . I have to say it was an intense, six-week course that featured web-conference sessions, a hands-on social media project, weekly assignments and quizzes, fabulous mentoring sessions and then a final project dissertation. At the end of the course, I became a Certified Social Media Strategist.

Jill Hammergren, Certified Social Media Strategist

I won’t lie to you, it was a lot of work. But I am pleased to say that I learned so much in a very short time and the team to which I was assigned, Social Savvy Team 9, was terrific. We managed to work hard, despite our great physical distances– I’m on the U.S. East Coast and the two others are on the U.S. West Coast– but thanks to social media, we were in the same place at the same time.  We were humbled to have been recognized by the course administrators for having the best dissertation among the really great ones the other teams presented. We would not have accomplished what we did without  meeting Krista Neher, the CEO of Boot Camp Digital. Krista was one of our expert trainers during the Instant eTraining sessions and she literally wrote the book on social media– Social Media Field Guide Social Media Field GuideFrom the first time she started speaking, it was apparent that Krista Neher was passionate about social media. That passion and enthusiasm makes her a perfect candidate for our The Media Pro’s feature LEAPforlife- Living Passionately and Enthusiastically for Life.

Krista is considered a pioneer in social media. She worked in the corporate world and then for a startup, where she was forced to do more with less– a common theme for most small businesses.  She created one of the first corporate Twitter strategies and corporate blogs– long before “social media” became ubiquitous.

Krista Neher, CEO Boot Camp Digital

Krista Neher
CEO Boot Camp Digital

After the startup was sold, Krista’s business Boot Camp Digital, evolved organically and is now a wildly successful international multimedia business that has her services in-demand and her passport full of interesting stamps.  “When you do what you are great at and focus on spreading your message, things can really fall into place,” Neher said, “I just returned from India where I led a two-day Boot Camp for an IT company and I’m heading to Europe next month.  When you do something you love, it is easy to go to work every day and stay motivated.  The truth is that I love what I do, and based on the feedback that I receive from our training programs, people love our training because it gets them results.  I am passionate about what I do because it actually makes a difference in people’s lives.  I  know that I’m helping people, and the work that I do matters.  The key to success in my opinion is finding the intersection of what you love and what you are great at.”

Krista says she wasn’t always doing what she loved, but now that she is, her life has changed.  “Before I discovered my passion, work was work and my life was my life.  I worked hard (usually 60+ hours) at a corporate job and I was pretty good at my job.  That being said, I always felt like what I was working on didn’t really matter.  It wasn’t changing anything” said Neher, “Now, I find meaning because I know that my training is helping people to get results that really matter to them.  It isn’t just about doing work it is about doing work that makes a difference.”

Krista has recently completed her third book, Visual Social Media Marketing Visual Social Media Marketing

“Visual Social Media Marketing #VSMM is about one of the latest trends in social media – visual communications,” said Neher, “It is a short read with lots of case studies and examples and is intended to help people who already have the basics of social media to take their marketing to the next level.  Over the past three years, social media has become increasingly cluttered and it is difficult for brands to stand out.  Visual marketing is emerging as the key way that brands can break through the clutter and be heard online.  With the emergence of sites like Instagram and Pinterest we know that digital marketing is more important than ever.”

Krista has advice for others about following their passions. “The reality is that when you are really passionate about what you do it shines through.  People can pick up on real and genuine enthusiasm and passion.  The truth is that I love what I do,” said Neher, “I get to help people get better results, sometimes results that change their business.  I recently gave a social media keynote presentation for the second year in a row at a conference for business owners.  After my presentation a woman came up and told me that she heard me speak the year before, implemented my suggestions and it turned her business around.  That is where my passion comes from– from knowing that my message actually helps people. Finding what you love isn’t easy. The key, in my opinion, is to try different things– focus on what you love and what you are good at and things will fall into place.”

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There are all types of passions that can fuel our souls and give us a boost. But when I talk to people living passionately and enthusiastically for life, I often find that these people are most inspired when their passions help others or make a difference in someone’s life. When your passion is about making connections and building up confidences in others, you can see some amazing results both personnally and professionally. Just look at what happened when Professional Hair Designer Scott Musgrave embraced his passion for curly hair.


When I started talking to my friends about my new blog, I was surprised at how many people said to me, “I have no idea what my passion is,” or “I wouldn’t know where to start to figure out how to find my passion.”

That got me to thinking deeply about how I could help people identify their passions.
Passion isn’t just something that happens overnight. Generally, it develops over time. Here are some ways to start thinking about what drives you.


Bruckner Chase

I have always been drawn to the ocean. To me, it is breathtaking, magical, mysterious, ever-changing, and awe-inspiring. I have seen the ocean be as calm as if the earth stood still. I’ve also been nearly consumed by it during a ferocious hurricane. I’ve frolicked in the ocean with my nephew, Garrett, whose squeals of delight filled the air with each churning wave while his small hand held mine in a vice-like grip. I’ve witnessed many GOD moments at the ocean, like the time my parents and I strolled along the beach when a dolphin leaped completely out of the depths just a few feet off shore us. WOW! Each time I go to the ocean, I am reminded how small I am in this universe and how much I cherish every experience I have with the ocean.