Social Media Release: The Miracle League of East Alabama


On April 2, 2016, The Miracle League of East Alabama kicks off its 2016 baseball season at Billy Hitchcock Field at West Ridge Baseball Complex in Opelika, Alabama.


The Miracle League of East Alabama is a baseball league for children and adults with physical and mental disabilities. The Miracle League has grown from 56 players to nearly 250 players since the league was created in 2008. There are two different leagues, one for older players who are more mobile and another for players who have more physical handicaps. The Miracle League is free to all players. Volunteer “buddies” help players play baseball.


  •         Games are held every Saturday in April and May from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
  •         Players play on a flat field made of specialized rubber to make it easier for the players.
  •         Teams are sponsored by local businesses and organizations.
  •        There is absolutely no charge for players to participate.


“My son is special needs, and he played regular baseball in Auburn for a league. I found out within the first year that he just wasn’t going to fit in with those children. So we came out here (Miracle League) the next year. After the first week, I saw how much fun they had and how they treated all the kids, buddies and families, I knew I wanted to get involved.” -Kenny Buck, Miracle League marketing director

“When I started to go out there and volunteer it really just opened my eyes to what it’s like for people with disabilities. Everyone is so unique in their form of communication and their way of handling certain situations so it’s always really uplifting when you get to know them and are able to make that connection that breaks those barriers. I’ve been with kids that weren’t even able to talk or walk, but they were so happy to be out there participating in an activity that they wouldn’t be able to do without a lot of assistance.” -Grace Cox, vice president of Diamond Dolls


Rob Cox


Photo Credit: The Miracle League

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Thawing Your Thanksgiving Turkey


AUBURN, Ala. — With Thanksgiving Day quickly approaching, one of the biggest problems cooks face is how to properly thaw their turkey.

It is important to know how to properly thaw a turkey to prevent any bacterial growth. Photo Credit Food Network
It is important to know how to properly thaw a turkey to prevent any bacterial growth. Photo Credit Food Network

An improperly thawed bird can result in not just a partially thawed bird but also creates food safety issues.

Janet Johnson, regional Extension agent in food safety and quality with the Alabama Cooperative Extension System, has a few quick and easy steps to ensure a properly thawed turkey.

When to Begin Thawing the Turkey

When to buy and when to start thawing the turkey is different for fresh and frozen birds.

  • Buy fresh turkeys no earlier than one or two days before Thanksgiving.
  • Keep it on the bottom shelf of the refrigerator on a tray to catch any meat juices
  • For a frozen bird, allow 24 hours for every 5 pounds to thaw.
  • It can take longer for it to thaw in the refrigerator if the refrigerator is full and the temperature is below 40 degrees.
  • Do not start thawing it more than one or two days before cooking.
  • Do not let it sit on the counter at room temperature for hours in cool or warm water.

The Best Ways to Thaw the Bird

According to Johnson, there are several different ways to properly thaw the turkey.

  • Purchase the turkey early enough to allow for proper thawing in the refrigerator

    Buy the turkey early enough in advance to ensure it thaws properly. Photo Credit Google.
  • Leave the bird in the package and place in a shallow pan and run cold water over the turkey.
  • Another option is to place the packaged turkey in a container of cold water, but you must remember to change the water out every 30 minutes.
  • Always use cold water because this prevents dangerous bacteria from growing.

The best way to ensure proper thawing is to use correct thawing methods which take time and consideration said Johnson.

Food Safety Problems

Thanksgiving cooks should always be aware of possible food safety problems when they are preparing the turkey.

Johnson warns cooks to beware of the temperature danger zone, which is between 41 and 135 degrees F.

  • Dangerous bacteria grows if the turkey is not thawed properly.

    Always check the internal temperature of the turkey to ensure it has reached the proper temperature. Photo Credit Google
    Always check the internal temperature of the turkey to ensure it has reached the proper temperature. Photo Credit Google
  • Cooking the frozen turkey in a slow oven, at a temperature of 325 degrees or lower, will cause bacteria to grow.
  • Setting the oven at a lower temperature and letting a frozen or partially thawed bird cook longer will put it in the temperature danger zone.
  • Some bacteria grows rapidly and produces heat resistant toxins during the temperature danger zone.
  • Cross contamination between raw and cooked foods can cause food

Avoid Food Illness

Food illnesses can easily be prevented by making sure the turkey is prepared properly and work spaces are clean.

  • Thaw the turkey completely before you begin to cook it.
  • The internal temperature of the bird must reach 165 degrees to make sure all the bacteria is killed.
  • Always check the internal temperature with a calibrated thermometer and do not rely on the “pop-up” thermometer.

    To prevent cross contamination, always wash hands, cook spaces and utensils. Photo Credit CDC.
  • Wash all work spaces, utensils and hands before starting and once they come in contact with raw meat to prevent cross contamination.
  • Cold foods must be kept at a temperature of 41 degrees or lower to prevent bacterial growth.
  • Hots foods must be at a temperature of 135 degrees or higher to keep bacteria from growing.


With Thanksgiving Day quickly approaching, cooks should be aware of how to properly thaw the turkey to ensure a delicious bird that is free of harmful bacteria.

Zombies running for C.A.M.P

Red Clay Brewing Company is hosting a Zombie Beer Run to benefit C.A.M.P. Photo Credit Red Clay.
Red Clay Brewing Company is hosting a Zombie Beer Run to benefit C.A.M.P. Photo Credit Red Clay.

This Saturday, downtown Opelika will be overrun by zombies and humans. Red Clay Brewing Company will be hosting a Zombie Beer Run on Oct. 15 to raise money for Central Alabama Mountain Pedalers, C.A.M.P.

Participants will meet at Red Clay on Saturday morning and will run the mile-long trail through downtown.

Humans, who are wearing red flags, enter Red Clay in groups of 20. After having a beer at the bar, they run out the back door of the bar towards Niffer’s. Zombies are then brought into bar to have a drink in groups of 20 and then run out the back chasing the humans.

Zombies will be chasing humans all over the downtown area. After leaving Red Clay, humans and zombies will run to Niffer’s, James Bros. Bikes, Cafe 123, Zazu and then back to the bar.

Along the route there will be several weapon caches for humans to use to defend themselves from the zombies. There will be buckets full of water balloons humans can use to throw at zombies said Kerry McGinnis, owner and founder of Red Clay.

When a human hits a zombie, they die. The zombie has to freeze where they are for a few seconds before resuming the chase. As humans are being chased by zombies they are trying to protect their red flag. If a zombie grabs a human’s flag the human is now a zombie.

The zombie at the end with the most flags and the humans with the best time are the winners.

Tickets are available online for $25 and will be available the morning of the race for $30.

“Participants sign up to be either a zombie or a human,” said McGinnis.

With the purchase of their ticket, humans and zombies will receive a T-shirt, beer before the race and food catered by Niffer’s.

“The more people who sign up online the better,” said McGinnis. “It helps us be more organized.”

Money from the event will be donated to C.A.M.P., a non-profit organization that builds multi-purpose trails in Auburn and Opelika.

“We love that organization,” said McGinnis.

C.A.M.P receives most of its funds through grants and is told how to spend the money.

The money they receive from Red Clay and the beer run, can be used how they see fit.

“We hope to have a wonderful time and raise a lot of money for C.A.M.P,” said McGinnis.



Jessie Lynn Dreams Big

Photo Caption: Jessie Lynn
Jessie Lynn has been singing and riding horses in rodeos since she was little. Photo Credit: Jessie Lynn

A woman of many talents and interests perfectly describes Autauga county native, Jessie Lynn Nichols.

Born into a family that loved horses and rode horses, Jessie Lynn grew up traveling from rodeo to rodeo competing and singing the National Anthem. She started singing in church when she was 3 and was classically trained until she was 16, but she had a love and a passion for country music.

Since beginning her music career, Jessie Lynn has performed everywhere from the Alabama Statehouse to backstage at the Grand Ole Opry to opening for the Oak Ridge Boys.

Coming to Auburn

Photo Credit: Jessie Lynn
Photo Credit: Jessie Lynn

Jessie Lynn knew Auburn was the place for her when she was 7. As a member of the Autauga county 4H Horse Program, she spent many summers participating in the different horse judging and vet clinics Auburn offered.

When she came to Auburn at 17 the dream was to go to vet school, however, that was not to be the case.

When she started Auburn she found the agricultural communications program.

“It encompassed two things I loved,” she said. “It encompassed agriculture and it encompassed the communications field.”

Jessie Lynn also plans to start graduate school in Spring 2017 and earn her Master’s in agricultural education. “I love to teach,” she said. “I enjoy watching that ‘aha’ moment.”

She says that her end goal, aside from the music, would be to teach.

Like any good college student, Jessie Lynn has had to learn how to balance her professional and academic lives. She says that you have to find the most important priority. For her, school will always come first. She believes that what is important in your life will be evident by how you prioritize your time.

The Ultimate Goal

“I have a lot of goals and a lot of dreams,” said Jessie Lynn.

Staying true to who she is, staying humble and never forgetting those who have helped her along her journey, are her big goals. She admits these are hard goals to reach but she likes the challenge.

Her time at Auburn has served as a launching pad for her.

“Auburn has given me the different tools I’ve need to enhance what I already knew,” Jessie Lynn said.

The faculty and staff here at Auburn have helped her to be successful as both a businesswoman and as a student about to enter the professional world. They have always supported her and continue to.

After graduation, Jessie Lynn hopes to either be teaching in North Alabama or in Nashville with a recording contract.

Highs and Lows

Like anyone with dreams, Jessie Lynn has faced her share of obstacles.

Photo Credit: Jessie Lynn
Photo Credit: Jessie Lynn

Personal health has been her major obstacle. Two years ago she was diagnosed with Clostridium difficile, also called C. diff. This causes stomach problems and migraines to flair up when she doesn’t get enough rest, which causes her performance in school and at work to suffer.

“Having to balance rest time and a world that’s so busy, that was a chore,” she said.

Her health problems have caused her to reevaluate her priorities to be successful in all of her endeavors.

Health problems and other personal problems were low points in her career but these lows make the highs all that much sweeter.

Graduating from Auburn in three years and “having this much success this early,” said Jessie Lynn are her high points in her academic and professional careers.

This little dream that started three years ago for Jessie Lynn is finally coming to fruition because of her hard work and dedication.

On the Tracks returns

“On the Tracks,” Opelika’s biannual food and wine event hosted by Opelika Main Street, returns Oct. 7 to provide people with a new and exciting way to experience downtown Opelika.

Photo credit: On the Tracks
On the Tracks gives people a new way to experience Downtown Opelika. Photo credit: On the Tracks

“It’s the perfect way to experience downtown all at one time,” said Pam Powers-Smith, director of Opelika Main Street.

Guests are given a map with 28 different downtown retail stores mapped out. Guests follow the trail from store to store to sample food and wine and beer.

Retail stores partner with restaurants or artisan food vendors, like Niffer’s and Hot Damn Pepper Jelly Co., to provide guests with good food to sample on their tour.

Almost Anything, The Gallery on Railroad, Envy Salon, Coveted Closet and Taylor Made Designs are just a few of the stores participating in the event this year. Guests will also enjoy a tasting at Red Clay Brewery Company and John Emerald Distillery.

“The indescribable atmosphere down here,” said Powers-Smith, is what makes Opelika’s “On the Tracks” special.

Relationships with store owners are made while guests take their time to browse through the stores. During the event, guests can take their time to see what downtown Opelika has to offer, an opportunity many may not get during the work week.

Main Street has also made several different changes to the event this year.

“There will be a change in the look down on the street,” Powers-Smith said.

In years past there has been individual white tents along Railroad Avenue to provide guests with a place to rest. This year the individual tents will be gone.

This year there will be a big, white tent in the middle of downtown with places for people to take a break during their tour and enjoy the live music. Groups can purchase group tables and enjoy the event with friends.

A VIP ticket option has also been added. This ticket includes: the tasting, a parking spot, access to the party tent and store discount tickets.

On the Tracks started 13 years ago as an effort to draw people into downtown Opelika. The event was only offered in the spring but because of the success, 13 years ago Main Street added the fall tour.

The money Main Street receives from the event is put back into downtown Opelika. The money goes to help with beautification, landscaping and maintenance of the downtown area.

Tickets can be purchased in person at The Gallery on Railroad Avenue or at Basic tickets are $25 and VIP tickets are $40. Group tables are also available for purchase.