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Sterling, Cascades & CountrySide
Runners, walkers and volunteers still have time to register to join in to support the second annual Cascades MelaNoMore 5K/Fun Run/Walk, a fundraiser for the Melanoma Research Foundation in honor of Trish VanBelleghem of Potomac Falls, a devoted mom, runner and community volunteer who lost her life to melanoma in 2013.

The race takes place Oct. 25, with start and finish lines at the Cascades Marketplace. The post-race festivities include a race awards program, raffle drawings, food booths, crafts and a skin-care awareness event. Health care information will be provided on site by dermatologists Dr. Maithily A. Nandedkar, Dr. Suraj Venna and Dr. Jennifer DeSimone.

The certified race course through Palisades, Potomac View, Broadmore, Cascades and Esterbrook Circle has been approved by the county. Drivers should be aware that on Oct. 25 there will be altered traffic patterns, crossing sentries, traffic cones and police and rescue vehicles on the course. A map of the race course, as well as registration and volunteer information, is available online at melanomore5k.com.

A taste of Greece: The Greek Orthodox Parish of Loudoun County presents its 7th annual Taste of Greece festival Oct. 9 through Oct. 11 in Cascades at the Sterling Volunteer Fire Department’s Patton Hall. The event features free admission, music, dancing and a variety of Greek foods—including meals for children. The food menu, covering eat-in and take-out options, is available online, along with phone numbers for call-ahead food orders and information on curbside parking for food pickup. The Taste of Greece is open Oct. 9 from 4 to 9 p.m., Oct. 10 from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Oct. 11 from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Information is online at http://greekorthodoxloudoun.org/festival.html or co,ntact .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). The Sterling Volunteer Fire Department is located off Cascades Parkway at 46700 Middlefield Drive.
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By Jen Lofquist

If you’ve ever seen a statue of a saint standing in a garden, chances are you’ve seen St. Francis of Assisi. Born in the late 1100s, St. Francis was known not only for his piety, but for his kindness to all creatures at a time when suffering and cruelty was a standard life experience. Venerated now by the Catholic, Anglican, Episcopal and Lutheran churches (as well as some others), St. Francis once went out and preached to his “sisters the birds,” which explains why so many of his statues feature a bird, and thus why he’s in a lot of gardens.

On Oct. 4, many churches celebrate his feast day, but one in Sterling decided to invite some friends of the thumb-less variety. St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church
More than 40 people and their pets gathered in the small chapel in the woods on the church property to have their animals blessed. And it wasn’t just a lot of dogs and some scared cats. There was even a hedgehog in attendance. Sadly, no birds were able to make the event – no doubt disappointing St. Francis. However, the ceremony did echo his message of being kind and loving to all creatures, especially the ones who share our lives and affections.

But perhaps you don’t have a furry friend in your life – a sad state of affairs, no doubt. Studies repeatedly show that St. Francis didn’t know how right he was about being kind to animals, because they are kind to us in return. Having a pet has been shown to lower stress in people of all ages, but there are also particular benefits at both ends of the age spectrum.

Children raised with pets show a lower chance of developing allergies. While having pets has been shown to ease some of the symptoms of Alzheimer’s and encourage mental abilities in our seniors. Many senior centers are now not only encouraging residents to bring their pets along, but also having their own “house” animal roaming the hallways.

This Sunday (and the two following), you can adopt your own animal at the Sterling Petsmart at Potomac Run Plaza. Homeless Animals Rescue Team (HART) will be on-site with their cats available for adoption from noon until 3 p.m. You can pre-screen your next roommate at http://www.Hart90.org and look at what cats and dogs are ready to call your home theirs. Then stop by and meet them in person, fill out an application and make St. Francis proud.

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COUNTRYSIDE/CASCADES/STERLING: National Merit Semifinalists Named
Seven students from eastern Loudoun high schools received 2016 honors from the National Merit Scholarship Corporation.

Six of the students were named 2016 National Merit semifinalists. Three are from Dominion High School: Francesca Babetski, Katerina Banks and Sara Schlemmer. In addition, three students are from Potomac Falls High School: Wyatt Pontius, William Shangraw and Michael Shiu.

Andrea Mares Zarate of Potomac Falls High School was named a 2016 National Hispanic Scholar.

Crafters fighting hunger: The Junior Women’s Club of Loudoun County and the Galilee United Methodist Church Backpack Buddies program are once again teaming up to present an all-day scrapbooking and crafting event to raise funds for the Backpack Buddies food program that supports 350 children at CountrySide Elementary, Meadowland Elementary, Sanders Corner Elementary and Seneca Ridge Middle School.

Scrapbookers—and crafters of all types—can work on unfinished projects at the fundraiser, to be held in the Galilee United Methodist Church gym on Oct. 3 from 9 a.m. until 8 p.m. The registration fee includes a continental breakfast and coffee, lunch, dinner, drinks and a snack. Registrants are automatically entered into drawings for door prizes, raffles and free vendor make-n-takes—and will have access to a swap table for those “extra” craft supplies that seem to mysteriously accumulate on their own.

The registration fee is $50 per person to share work space at an 8-foot table or $60 per person for work space at a private 6-foot table. Information and registration is available online at freewebstore.org/Crop-for-a-Cause. To connect online, the upper-case letters must be used.

The Backpack Buddies program, launched at the church in 2011, provides weekend, holiday and summer meal packs to area students receiving free or reduced-price school lunches. Information on the Backpack Buddies program is online at mybackpackbuddies.org.

Galilee United Methodist Church is located at 45425 Winding Road in Sterling, near the intersection of routes 7 and 28.

Fall Fest: Due to concerns about the weather, the CountrySide Proprietary rescheduled the community’s annual Fall Fest to Saturday, Oct. 10. The event, open to residents and nonresidents, will take place from noon until 4 p.m. in the Parkway Pool parking lot on Algonkian Parkway. The festival includes food and drink, craft vendors and fall activities for all ages.

The Fall Fest has become so popular that, this year, wristbands will be issued to CountrySide residents, who are eligible for free food, drinks and pumpkins from the Pumpkin Patch. Those without resident identification can purchase guest wristbands for $5 per person.

Contact Kathie Felix at KFinLoudoun[at]aol.com
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STERLING BOULEVARD: Jennifer, the spy
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STERLING BOULEVARD: Put your mind to it
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COUNTRYSIDE/CASCADES/STERLING: Falcons Landing provides $65,000 in student scholarships
STERLING BOULEVARD: More than just books
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