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Writing this column has been a dream come true

Kandy Childress • Feb 6, 2020 at 9:00 PM

When I was in eighth grade at Ross N. Robinson Middle School, I entered a writing contest put on by the Kingsport Times News. I was chosen as the winner and received a tour of the Lynn Garden printing facility and dinner with Keith Wilson, the paper’s publisher. This was a turning point in my life because I knew going forward that I wanted a writing career.

As my life progressed, I continued to pursue my dream of writing by majoring in English literature, completing multiple college degrees in this field of study. I landed my first job as an associate professional writer at AT&T, then worked for several Fortune 500 companies in positions that all involved writing.

Fast-forward many years to my accepting the role of executive director of Healthy Kingsport. One of the most attractive parts of the position was being able to write a weekly column for the very paper that inspired me to pursue a career in words.

Life is ironic. The Kingsport Times News inspired me to write, and for the past four-plus years I’ve written for the Times News, sharing research and tips about another passion in my life — health and wellness. After nearly 250 articles about topics ranging from sugar consumption to physical activity, it’s finally time for me to hand the column off to Aiesha Banks, the new executive director of Healthy Kingsport.

I want to thank you for making a writer’s dream come true by giving me the opportunity to share my perspective with you every Thursday. It is an incredible and humbling feeling to have someone say to me, “I read your article today.” There is nothing better for a writer than to be read.

I appreciate how you’ve carved out some time for me each week and given what I’ve written some thought. I realize not everything I wrote resonated with you. In fact, my writing at times seemed to move people to write me and share their opinions, which were vastly different than my own. This dialogue is invaluable for a writer because it means that someone cared enough about what I wrote to challenge me.

I sincerely hope my gratitude for the opportunity and for you — the reader — was revealed through my writing. Funny enough, I cannot find just the right words to express how appreciative I am.

I do want to thank Roger Mowen, the chair of Healthy Kingsport, for selecting me, mentoring me, and supporting me — even after I took another position with Ballad Health. Roger, you remain my greatest inspiration. A special thanks also goes to Edna Kinner and Kris Murphy — mentors and volunteers with Healthy Kingsport. I learned so much from these women and consider them the dearest of friends. Miles Burdine and Elaine Bodenweiser of the Kingsport Chamber also deserve my thanks for making me feel right at home at the Kingsport Chamber.

My sincere hope is that you continue to stay connected to Healthy Kingsport by reading the column every Thursday and learning more about health and wellness from Aiesha Banks. I am sure you will be impressed by her talents.

It’s not goodbye for me, but a dream come true. I’ve learned that life’s irony can never be predicted. Who knows, our paths may cross again someday. At least, I hope so!

Kandy Childress can be reached at [email protected]