Caleb’s Feet Foundation

Calebs FeetIn 2013, Linda Halsey, an executive director at a Brooklyn dance company, founded Caleb’s Feet Foundation (CFF) in honor of her daughter Cheryl Janeé Parris who battled cervical cancer. The foundation was named after Caleb’s Feet Dance Company, which was owned and operated by Parris prior to her passing. With the passing of her daughter, Halsey felt that there was a need to share the information about cervical cancer and HPV infection with her community. Halsey was not aware of cervical cancer or its link to HPV infection until it touched her family.

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Posted in Highlands County

National Infant Immunization Week

National Infant Immunization Week April 16-23, 2016

National Infant Immunization Week


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The Grandma I Wish I Knew

A heart tug article about HPV that is worth reading on the Voices for Vaccines website called “The Grandma I Wish I Knew”.  -Karen DeForest

The Grandma I Wish I Knew

grandmajean2From what I’ve been told, my maternal grandmother was a vivacious woman, full of life. I have been told many stories about her, but never met her in person. I never knew her because she died young, taken from my mom far too early.

My grandmother passed away when I was two years old. My older siblings had a chance to meet her, briefly, but they barely remember her, and my little sister was a newborn when Mom traveled back to Newfoundland to be with my grandmother as she passed away from cervical cancer.

All my life I’ve wondered what it would be like to have two sets of grandparents. More important, though, I wonder what it would have been like to have known Grandma Jean. She was a single mom, who did her best to take care of her three girls, alone, at a time when the choice to parent alone was not as acceptable as it is today. From pictures, I can see she was beautiful. She was a small, slim woman with a gorgeous smile. Like her, I was slim growing up and small; I was the only one whose fingers could fit her “family ring.” In fact, of all the siblings, I resemble her most. I think often about what it would have been like for her to meet my children—to simply have her in my life. Unfortunately, none of this is possible because cervical cancer took her life.

Today, there is a vaccine that can prevent the transmission of HPV, the very thing that killed my grandmother. I wish it had been available when she was young. Perhaps it could have prevented her cancer. Perhaps it could have kept her with us longer.

grandmajeanPerhaps I could have known who she was as a person, rather than knowing her only as an image in a photograph.

I have been vaccinated against HPV, and when they are old enough, my children will receive the HPV vaccine. Cancer runs in our family. My father has survived melanoma of the cornea and my uncle survived colon cancer. It is just a no-brainer for me to do everything that I can to stay healthy and to prevent my children from experiencing the heartache of losing their mother, as my mother lost hers. Especially if it’s preventable.

My grandmother, Jean Hoffman, is the beautiful woman you see in these photos, before cervical cancer took away her vivacious spirit.

Stephanie Beard is a 32 year old mother to three young children ages 8, 5 and 3 years old. She is a transported Canadian who as a teenager moved with her family to the United States. She and her family currently live in Lacey, WA. She is a stay-at-home mom who enjoys crocheting and sewing in her free time.

Editor’s Note: January is Cervical Health Awareness month. As recently as 2010, 3,939 women in the United States died from cervical cancer. The majority of cervical cancer cases are caused by the human papilloma virus.  If you or a family member has been affected by HPV diseases, please email us at to have your story published here.

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Posted in Highlands County | 4 Comments

Tampa Bay Times article on HPV disease & vaccine

Please click on link below to read a well written article in the Tampa Bay Times about the HPV disease & vaccine and the mentioning of the 2016 Florida HPV Immunization Campaign and Summit to be held in St. Petersburg this February 11th & 12th.  (BeHPVFreeFL)

To learn more about the Florida HPV Summit 2016 and/or to register, please click on this link!fl-immunization-summit/io6hv

or click here:

Be HPV free!

Karen DeForest
Administrative Assistant I
Florida Department of Health Highlands County
7205 South George Blvd. Sebring FL, 33875
Phone: (863) 382-7204 Fax: (863) 382-9482

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The Shots Book

The Shots Book

The Shots Book; A Little Brother’s Superhero Tale

Click To Order Book

Click To Order Book

is an illustrated children’s book written by a kid for kids that explains how vaccines work, how they protect our health, and protect the health of others in our community. The “little brother”, Ethan, featured in the documentary, Invisible Threat, tells his real life story about discovering the importance of herd immunity when his new puppy, who was too young to be vaccinated, gets sick. Ethan and his puppy become community immunity superheroes after getting their vaccines and give tips to make that doctor’s visit and becoming superhero a little easier for other kids. Sometimes it takes a kid to explain something to another kid. Book available July 2015 in a That was easyEnglish or Spanish Version

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Powerful Vaccine Message and Testimony

Please read this message on Voices for Vaccines website entitled “We Learned The Hard Way” written by a mother of 7 children who all came down with the Whooping Cough.

Hill FamilyI’m writing this from quarantine, the irony of which isn’t lost on me. Emotionally, I’m a bit raw. Mentally, a bit taxed. Physically, I’m fine.  All seven of my unvaccinated children have whooping cough, and the kicker is that they may have given it to my five-month-old niece, too young to be fully vaccinated.

We’d had a games night at our house in March, and my brother-in-law had a full-blown cold, so when the kids started with a dry cough a few days later I didn’t think much of it.  But a week after the symptoms started the kids weren’t improving—in fact they were getting worse.

And the cough. No one had a runny nose or sneezing but they all had the same unproductive cough. Between coughing fits they were fine.   (Too read the full article click on link)



Posted in Highlands County

Immunization Task Force Meeting Notice

Where:  FDOH Highlands County Sebring on 7205 S. George Blvd in the Large Conference Room A

Date:  Friday, March 27, 2015

Time:  12:30 pm

Bring your own lunch (and popcorn if you like)

Agenda:  Meet Karen G. Fowler – FDOH Operations and Management Consultant for Area 7 with news from the Immunization Program of the Bureau of Communicable Disease Control and Health Protection.

We will watch a 45 minute DVD movie the “Invisible Threat”.  This movie explores the science of disease and the risks facing a society that is under-vaccinated.

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