Listen to us on the BYLR Radio app every Tuesday at 9pm EST
Carolyn Bittner: Sept. 8th
Carolyn has been a registered nurse for the last 30 plus years. The first few years of her career she worked on a medical surgical unit, and for the last 30 years she has been in labor and delivery at St Charles Hospital in Port Jefferson NY. She enjoys Traveling, spending time by the water, doing things outdoors and RVing. Carolyn and her husband hope to travel cross country next year when she retires . The most important thing in her life though is her family. She is blessed with 3 awesome kids and 6 beautiful grandkids. Between her nursing career and her family, life is very busy these days.
Katie Bittner: Sept. 15th
Katie is a palliative care nurse. After asking Carolyn who her hero was, she immediately mentioned her daughter Katie. As a result, and after hearing about her, she is absolutely SOTE. You will NOT want to miss her episode.
Conor Hogan: Sept. 22nd
Conor has been a firefighter and certified EMT since 2008. He also works as a nurse technician in a busy Atlanta, GA hospital and serves as EMS at festivals, concerts, and tv and film productions. When he is not on a truck or busy in the ER, Conor loves spending time with his wife and three children, exercising, and cooking. Conor has some truly SOTE stories that you will not want to miss!
Keith & Cassy Caputo: Sept. 29th
Keith and Cassy are a mother-son duo who together run a not-for-profit public charity called Helping Makes You Happy. Their mission is to inspire others to make a difference in their community with the belief that doing good not only helps the lives of the less fortunate, but their own lives as well. Like Keith says, "there's nothing like the happy you get from helping others." Keith and Cassy have changed the lives of so many in their community; they are truly SOTE.
Emily Dolce: Oct. 6th
Emily is a certified nurse assistant and fourth year student at the University of Florida. She is on a premed track and hopes to become an oncologist. Outside of school Emily spends most of her time with Camp Kesem. She also spends countless hours volunteering for Child Life as well as Relay for Life and Best Buddies. She is SOTE!
Caitlin Pulley: Oct. 13th
Caitlin has been working for a private ambulance company based in Las Vegas, NV. She is currently pursuing a nursing degree and has aspirations to become a SWAT Medic. She is somebody who runs toward danger when everyone else runs away. From a very young age she knew this was her calling and she has countless stories to back that up. Caitlin is truly SOTE!
Brendan Thompson: Oct. 20th
Brendan has been married to his wife Ashley for 17 years. He is a father of a 12 year old son and 10 year old daughter, an entrepreneur and an endurance athlete. In business, Brendan and Ashley own and run a hydration company, 50 STRONG, as well as a manufacturing and fulfillment/distribution company. He has completed numerous marathons, triathlons and 29029 events and is currently training for The Revenant. Brendan is someone who always shows up and strives to be an endless well of love. He is SOTE!
Reneè Lynn Scott: Oct. 27th
Reneè is a cancer survivor, patient advocate, and Founder of Stepping Stone Support. Stepping Stone Support has been an all-volunteer 501c3 nonprofit organization helping families affected by cancer since 2005. Reneè created Survivor’s Helper Program in 2010 to help moms and dads battling cancer during the holidays to restore the true meaning of the holidays by alleviating the financial burden and creating lasting memories for the survivors and their children. Tune in to hear the stories that make her SOTE!
Lexi Allen: Nov. 10th
As Navy Seal Chris Kyle said, “It’s our duty to serve those who serve us.” Let’s meet Lexi Allen; the founder of Quilts For Warriors. She has dedicated countless hours to making and providing over 250 quilts to our amazing veterans and veteran charities. Her mission is to have her quilts wrap around our veterans as her way to express gratitude for their services to our country. Join us as we highlight Lexi and her commitment to change the lives of so many of our nation’s heroes one quilt at a time.
Charlie Russo: Nov. 18th
Charlie Russo is the co-founder of Hope House Ministries. Charlie has spent the last 40 years helping young people and families in crisis. No matter the crisis, Hope House Ministries, with limited resources, continues to help where it is needed most. Join us as we speak with Charlie, as he explains that sometimes we cannot direct the winds but we can adjust our sails. Charlie is truly SOTE!
Melissa D'Amico: Nov. 24th
What do the words "Beyond Ourselves Love Does" mean to you? Join us as we highlight Melissa D'Amico. She is the founder of PlayBOLD.org. Her organization has coaches and players at the collegiate level demonstrating selfless acts across the globe. PlayBOLD has empowered athletes to help those in need. They have delivered supplies, clothing, and even built basketball courts in other countries. Their goal is not just mastering the craft of making baskets, but to practice empathy as though it were a sport. Listen in as we bring to life Melissa's incredible journey and her path to spreading light around the world. She is SOTE!
Chase Ward: Dec. 1st
Chase Ward is the founder of the Simba Educational Ministries. Chase has dedicated his life to helping communities in Kenya. He has made a tremendous impact on so many in Africa. He truly encompasses the name Simba or Lion in Swahili, Chase definitely has the heart of a lion. He is truly SOTE!
John Schneider: Dec. 8th
John Schneider was born in New York to 2nd generation Irish and German parents. They lived in NY and John lived there until he was the first one in his family to go to university. For 18 years he grew up learning from his special needs brother, Kevin. The lessons Kevin taught John is what the author credits his success to. His instagram; @push.pull.lift gives motivational, humorous snippets from his life through the posts and stories. The account was founded to honor his brother who has to give 100% just to eat. Imagine if we all could push out the negative and pull in the positive and lift people up like Kevin does? John is truly SOTE! Tune in!
Scott Novosel: Dec. 15th
In March 1995, Scott Novosel started for the Kansas Jayhawks in the Big 8 Championship game. He went on a 20 year journey that led him literally to the other side of the world (all the while working jobs as a personal trainer, basketball coach, and vocalist for a band that created a song, that to this day is featured in every karaoke box in Japan) and back to create the graphic novel, Fieldhouse, based on his true story, to inspire not only basketball fans, but everyone with a dream! He is SOTE!
John Negron: Dec. 22nd
John Negron grew up in Centereach, NY and graduated from Dowling College in 2009 with a degree in sports management. He then entered the Suffolk County Police Academy in 2013 and now works in the 6th precinct in which he covers the areas of Port Jefferson Station and Coram. He is also a PBA union delegate. Tune in to hear the incredible stories that make him salt of the earth - SOTE!
Zack Francom: Dec. 29th
When someone brings awareness to a problem in the world, do you take action? Meet Zack Francom. When Zack was just six years old, he had an assembly in his school that spoke about the need for more wheelchairs in other countries. Zack went home to his parents and said he wants to raise enough money to send one wheelchair to someone in need. Zack comes up with a lemonade + cookie stand which he coined Zack's Shack. After 10 years, Zack has raised enough money for 500 wheelchairs! These wheelchairs have been sent to 50+ countries around the world. Zack has now decided to pass this along to his siblings. They will continue his legacy. Join us as we highlight Zack and his incredible charity work.
Kim Bartling: Jan. 5th
Kim Bartling claims she is, “just a good ole’ girl” raised on a farm in South Dakota. As much as that is true, she has also traveled the world gathering education, experience and stories. Following Gandhi’s,“Be the change you want to see in the world,” Kim has spent the last 10 years identifying street children in Belize, Central America to attend school. She also created and maintains a library/literacy center for one of the schools in which she volunteers. Kim has been a theatre and film professor for over 30 years and has directed over 100 productions. In South Dakota, she is an artist-in-resident teaching spoken word poetry to at-risk students. Kim is a professional motivational speaker and owns and directs Ephemeral Productions. Her newest projects include The Humanity Launch, an in-service platform leading teachers to build positive culture in their classrooms and Plains Speaking People, a storytelling event celebrating her South Dakota neighbors and their Midwest voice. Kim is a wife and mother to four children. She is an outdoor enthusiast, sports fan and is an avid writer. She loves exploring South Dakota campsites in her refurbished 1967 camper along with her granddaughter Eva!
Blair Cornell: Jan. 12th
It's one thing to say it, it's another thing to take action. Meet Blair Cornell, a person who lives by the quote, "it's not about just what you say to someone it's how you make them feel." Blair and his wife Kat were gifted the miracle of their son Carter. Carter's journey might be difficult considering the hand he was dealt. Blair says, "It's not about the hand you are dealt it's about how you play it." He has been able to create Joy Ride a non-for-profit designed to take its exclusive numbers of all abilities on unforgettable rides! Join us as we speak with Blair as he tells us the meaning of taking something and making it better than when you found it.
Trisha Burke: Jan. 19th
Trisha Burke is the senior writer and outreach director at Native Hope, a non-profit dedicated to dismantling barriers for Native Americans by addressing the injustices with meaningful storytelling and vital programs. Prior to Native Hope, she taught English (24 years) and directed theatre (29 years). Her experience as a literature/composition instructor and a theatrical director, along with her passion for writing, afford Trisha a unique perspective in the non-profit realm. Authentic storytelling remains core to her ideals as a professional. Since childhood, she has held kindness and equity as key ideals.
Hanna Sheppard: Jan. 26th
Hanna Sheppard is 26 years old and currently works in the financial field. At the age of 13, a traumatic injury altered the course of her life quite significantly. Throughout the years her ultimate goal has been to persevere, beat the odds, and turn tragedy into triumph by being the best she can be and by projecting that onto others. She is extremely grateful for everyone that she has crossed paths with, whether they have hindered or helped, because they have ultimately shaped her into who she is today! The past 13 years have been nothing short of an emotional rollercoaster full of uncertainty but also incredibly beautiful experiences that have all stemmed from one day back in August 2008.
Thanks to her injury, Hanna has been involved in many non-profit events, including serving as an ambassador for one of her favorite organizations, The Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation. Hanna told us, "Nothing feels better than helping others, and I don’t know if I’d truly ever understand the feeling if it hadn’t been done for me."
Omar Thornton: Feb. 2nd
A native of the Bay area in California, Omar grew up experiencing a wide variety of foods. He says he got into cooking in college. Thornton is a recovering addict and alcoholic. He said getting caught “was my wakeup call,” and he turned to cooking “to change, to improve my life.” He used that experience to find work in Sioux Falls. He was making sandwiches at the airport, and his co-workers told him he was wasting his talents. He starting cooking with the chef at Bros Brasserie, taught classes at Plum’s and did a few pop-up kitchen events, including pairing food with the beers at WoodGrain Brewing Co. All of those experiences have led to this moment. He moved to Sioux Falls in 2004, and went into cooking as a career, working at Grand Falls Casino Resort and Bros. Brasserie, as well as The Banquet and LifeScape. Omar does a lot of private cooking for friends and family, as well. He says his mother was his greatest influence, and he enjoyed many great moments in the kitchen with her. Omar finally opened up his own restaurant "O" So Good; the path to becoming a restaurant owner wasn’t easy for the native Californian. But, the restaurant is a dream of his, and Thornton is working hard to make it come true. Of his cooking philosophy, Omar says, “I believe in using all I can and not letting any go to waste.” Among the many things that Omar does to pay it forward on a daily basis, he delivers any extra meals from his restaurant to those in need in the surrounding neighborhoods. Tune in to hear what else makes him SOTE!
Meryl Cassidy is the Executive Director of Response Crisis Center, the Co-Chair of the Suicide Prevention
Coalition of Long Island, and an Assistant Professor at Suffolk County Community College in the Human
Services Program. She has been a professional social worker for over 30 years and has worked in a
variety of settings and with diverse populations. For the past ten years of her career she has focused
primarily on crisis intervention and suicide prevention, intervention and postvention. In addition to
managing the operations of Suffolk County’s only 24/7 crisis center devoted to suicide prevention, she
provides professional trainings for human service professionals and community members on a broad
range of topics, including crisis theory, communication and listening skills, suicide risk assessment and
safety planning as well as being a certified ASIST trainer, Sources of Strength Trainer, and Lifeline Postvention Trainer. She is co-chair of the Mental Health Subcommittee for the Division of Community
Mental Hygiene, and a Board Member of NASCOD (National Association of Crisis Organization Directors).
In 2015 she received the Excellence in Suicide Prevention Award from the Suicide Prevention Center of
New York State, and in 2016 she received the "Making the Mission" award from NASCOD.
Colleen Merlo, a licensed social worker, has served as Co-Chief Executive Officer of the Association for Mental Health and Wellness since November 30, 2020. She has worked for more than twenty years in Long Island’s not-for-profit sector, focusing on issues of domestic violence, mental health, gender equity, and poverty. Colleen had previously spent more than six years as executive director of L.I. Against Domestic Violence. Her visionary leadership increased capacity and broadened the agency’s ability to respond to the changing needs of Long Island through innovative programs, such as the first pet-friendly shelter for domestic violence victims in the region. Before that, she was executive director of the Mental Health Association in Suffolk County where she provided direction to drive the mission and vision. Colleen’s strength in building effective collaborations, her advocacy, and tirelessly efforts to bring public attention to the issues facing Long Island’s most vulnerable, greatly enhanced the effectiveness of local programming. A past co-chair of the Suicide Prevention Coalition of Long Island, she serves on the board of the Health and Welfare Council of Long Island, the Suffolk County Family Violence Task Force, and the Suffolk County Teen Pregnancy Advisory Board. Colleen was awarded the Top 50 Women in Business in 2019 from Long Island Business News.
Dr. Lawrence T. Force, a gerontologist, has worked in the field of aging and disabilities for over thirty-five years as a practitioner, academician, administrator, and researcher in both the public and private sector. Dr. Force is the founder and CEO of AgePlan, a national advocacy and training organization and helped launch the National Organization of Adult Addictions and Recovery (NOAAR), whose mission is to raise awareness and treat and prevent addictions in adults. He is a Professor of Psychology at Mount Saint Mary College and the Director of the Center on Aging and Disability Policy. Dr. Force is a nationally recognized leader in the area of aging and end-of-life care for people with developmental disabilities. He is the Editor and coauthor of Gerontology: An Interactive Text, 2nd edition and End-of-Life Care: A Guide for Supporting Older People with Intellectual Disabilities and Their Families. He is the author of: The Detoxing of Caregivers: Key Tips for Survival, Strength and Patience and has collaborated on books, articles, chapters, monographs, and technical reports that address topics such as developmental models of aging, caregiving, addictions across the lifespan, lifelong disabilities, and naturally occurring living communities (NOLCs). Dr. Force was sponsored as a Summer Institute Fellow at the National Institute on Aging (NIA) and the RAND Corporation and was funded as a Principal Investigator (PI) on a National Institute of Health (NIH) grant conducting a nationwide study of the Area Agencies on Aging (AAAs). He has presented his work at national and international conferences and is presently involved in a multi-year NYS Developmental Disabilities Planning Council (NYS DDPC) grant on Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) for caregivers of individuals with Intellectual Disabilities. Dr. Force is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW-R) and a National Board Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist (NBCCH) and has a Private Practice with a solution-based focus - working with adults and family systems. Recently, “the Force Recovery Foundation was created to be present for individuals and family members on the spinal cord recovery path through the implementation of “Transformational Care” – that is, compassionate family support, knowledge-based advocacy, and innovative medical interventions”. The foundation can be found at: www.theforcerecovery.com
Get to know Brian Walker, the co-host of the Live SOTE Podcast, as he discusses his personal “Why.” Not just the “Why” behind the podcast, but his journey in creating the concept behind LiveSOTE. Life experience, perseverance, and determination has led Brian to where he is today. From being a father of two, a husband, a son, and an older brother, he always knew he had to set a good example for those who were watching...He always strives to go above and beyond. After a life-changing event during the birth of his oldest son, Brayden, his passion for highlighting people of great worth and reliability became his purpose. These "Salt of the Earth" heroes are out there, it is his mission to find them.
From growing up in the poorest county in America to building thriving businesses, Adonis is an inspiration to many. Taking his strong mindset that he developed from playing basketball and from living through adversity, he’s opened one of the first Native American-owned museums in the Black Hills called Lakota Dreams. Join us as we interview Adonis and learn how he lives by the quote by Bob Marley, “Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery. None but ourselves can free our minds.”
Jadyn is 14 years old and lives in South Dakota. She has dedicated her life to serving those who have served. Jadyn makes spritz cookies and sells them so she can purchase gifts for Veterans and Nursing home Residents on every holiday. Her mom, Kerry Knudson (on Facebook) takes my cookie orders.
"Serve others that have served you" the words of Jadyn. At such a young age, Jadyn is making a huge impact. Her cookie sales have given her the opportunity to give back to the veterans who fought so hard for our country. Join us as we speak with Jadyn, a person with an energetic and bubbly personality. She continues to spread kindness and positivity wherever she goes.
Jacob is the Founder & CEO of Choice for All - a nonprofit focused on services and advocacy towards education, health and economic justice for children and families on Long Island. As an adjunct professor of education, a community organizer and and nonprofit leader, Jacob is committed to ensuring every child is health and thrives, regardless of zip code.
"Progress not perfection," a quote often used by Laurie Wintonick. Join us on EpiSOTE 29 as we meet Laurie who is an amazing mom, wife, coach, yoga instructor, and operations expert. Laurie often uses the mantra "I am enough!" After meeting Laurie she actually is beyond enough. Her daughters were quoted as saying "their mom is one of the most wholehearted people in the world. Her strength and passion for what she loves, motivates them to do more with their lives and to never settle." Listen as we speak with Laurie and how she lives life for a living.
Meet Stacey Orzell. Someone fills her volunteer plate and truly embodies the spirit of the local hustle. Stacey has spent countless hours of dedication to different programs, organizations, and involvement in her community. All her life experiences have led her to become a NY Certified Special Olympics Swim Coach and the first NY Ambassador to Choose Love Movement. Another passion of Stacey's is autism awareness month in April. Stacey is someone who advocates for families who are affected by autism including her own, not only in April but everyday. As she would say, "light it up blue!"
Erika is a 40 yr old native New Yorker who is best described as a health enthusiast, activist, poet and mentor. She lives by the mantra “striving to be the change" I want to see in life with her poetic flows as one of her vehicles for change. Whether it is her daytime hours running her business Vision Street Research or increasing awareness about the autoimmune disorder alopecia via her Joy After Alopecia platform, she is always advocating and helping people. Erika’s desire to help people stems from both her professional and personal experience, and from having great mentors. Growing up Erika watched her father not only run his MBE Norman L. Hill & Sons Electrical Company, but also mentor at-risk young Black men on electrical and plumbing trades. Also, she isn't afraid to put her feet to the pavement for causes that matter most to her. She has petitioned for Black Women electoral candidates, marched on Long Island and on Washington and conducted outreach to ensure a Complete Count in the 2020 Census in Black and Brown communities. After her recent singing debut in July 2020, she has expanded her desire to use her voice and platforms to increase awareness, access and opportunities to populations that needed it most. She is the proud member of the Baldwin Chamber of Commerce, U.S. Coalition of Black Women Businesses and was recently appointed to the United Way of Long Island Board.
Megan Reilly is co-owner and COO of Tippi Toes Dance Company which has over 30 franchises in the world. For more than a decade, Megan has helped Tippi Toes franchise owners build businesses all around the world. Megan has written songs for the Tippi Toes children's music albums which have hit the Billboard Charts #1on iTunes charts and she and her business partner appeared on Shark Tank in 2012.
She is the host of the Megan Reilly Radio show which airs every weekday on BYLR RADIO app and delves into life as an entrepreneur, working parent, and a dream chaser. Megan is also the creator of the Who Is Your Momma Podcast which is exclusively available on the BYLR Radio. She speaks to the mothers of the most successful, influential CEOs, athletes, and entertainers to find out how people like Sara Blakely, Kyler Murray, Jesse Itzler & Ramit Sethi were raised. It is a groundbreaking podcast and the first of its kind.
Megan has a Master's degree in nutrition and is a registered dietitian. She has been married for 13 years to her husband Chris and has three daughters under the age of 8. Megan and her family enjoy trips to the playground & walks with their 90-pound puppy Ralph!
Scarlett Lewis is the mother of Jesse Lewis who was killed in his first grade classroom during the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School on December 14, 2012 along with 19 classmates and 6 teachers and administrators in one of the worst school shootings in US history. She founded of The Jesse Lewis Choose Love Foundation in honor of Jesse and to spread a message he left on their kitchen chalkboard shortly before he died, Nurturing Healing Love, the formula for choosing love, and to promote social and emotional education in schools as well as a consistent message of compassion in our communities.
Scarlett is the recipient of the International Forgiveness Award, the Live Your Legacy Award and the
Common Ground Award for her advocacy work for peace and forgiveness. When she became a parent for the first time, Scarlett wrote and published a children’s book, Rose’s Foal. Following Jesse’s death, Scarlett wrote, “Nurturing Healing Love”, a story about her journey of turning personal tragedy into something that can positively impact the world. An artist and avid horsewoman, Scarlett lives on a small horse farm in Connecticut with her son and animals.
It's the things we do now, that impact our future the most." Our next hero lives by this. Meet Mackenzie Sanschagrin. In 8th grade, Mackenzie began her journey of volunteering to pay it forward. She is currently a junior at Notre Dame Preparatory School. She loves sports, traveling, and spending time with family and friends. Her goal is to make a difference in this world. Recently she was offered an opportunity to raise money for Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Mackenzie took the opportunity and raises over 20,000 dollars! Wow, we were left speechless. The incredible accomplishment she ended up getting the 2021 Citizenship award which she is very humble about. Join us we dive deeper into how Mackenzie is already making an impact in the world. She is totally SOTE!
Michele Brown is a Southern Belle from Georgia, whose family lineage includes entrepreneurship, spirituality, love of coffee, and sharing love with others. She has been a lover of the friendly skies since 2004 as a flight attendant with a major airline. Family is the cornerstone of her life. She has been navigating single motherhood, raising her daughter London. Michele was thrust into a personal pandemic pivot due to depression and long-standing grief. Her pain coupled with inspiration from her late parents birthed Brownstone Expressions. Her journey to regaining self-love pushed her to give rise to her spreading love one mug at a time. From mom to local mug dealer, she believes every mug has a story and we all should be living a good story, because hey, broken crayons still color.
Meet Brad Pilon. Brad and his wife were running on one of their favorite trails while completing one of the hardest physical challenges of their lives. The 4 x 4 x 48 challenge. The idea is to run 4 miles every 4 hours for 48 hours. While they were running a 4-mile loop on the trail, Brad noticed that there were two bicycles near a river that runs through the trail. Something was off. All of a sudden Brad hears screams for help. A young boy was in the freezing cold river struggling to swim back to shore. Without hesitation, Brad jumps in the river and assists the boy back to shore. Brad saves him by swimming with one arm and letting the child hold onto the other arm. Incredible save. With the help of other good Samaritans, the boy was eventually taken by paramedics to make sure everything was okay. Get this. Brad still had 12 hours left in the challenge. HE FINISHED. Talk about perseverance. Not only does he save a child’s life, he continues to push forward to complete his goal. Such an inspiring story of true GRIT. He has the heart of a hero.
Meet our next hero Bill Lavin. Bill was a firefighter for 26 years and became a captain in the fire department for the last three years of his career. He is also the founder of the Where Angels Play Foundation. Bill and many others worked on building playgrounds in Mississippi in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. In 2012 Hurricane Sandy hit New Jersey hard and several other states. Just two months after Hurricane Sandy hit, America was stunned by the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT. Bill then came up with the idea to build 26 playgrounds in Hurricane Sandy destroyed communities – one to honor the memory of each teacher or student lost that day in Newtown, CT. The Where Angels Play Foundation was founded and its first tribute initiative “The Sandy Ground Project” was completed in just 18 months. Twenty-six playgrounds were constructed along the coast of three states and built by firefighters, police officers, teachers, school administrators, and community volunteers. Each playground reflects the personality of the teacher or child for whom it is named and the project had unanimous approval and blessings of all 26 families. Join us as we highlight Bill for the incredible efforts and continued efforts he has put in to spread hope and recovery. Bill is truly Salt of the Earth!