Highlands News-Sun Correspondent


Women felt empowered from within and strongly motivated after participating in the Heels that Heal on Friday night at Island View Restaurant in Sebring.

Heels that Heal is an evening of friendship and philanthropy to benefit Ridge Area Arc, founded by the late Franklyn and Mary Ellen Ward of Avon Park. This is their fifth annual women’s empowerment event, however, men also attend to show their support. Attendees enjoyed socialization, dinner, three impressive local speakers sharing their inspirational stories and one vocalist.

Rebeca Rivera, ARNP, was the first speaker. Her topic was “The Core Question.”

She asked attendees to consider, “If you could pick three things that create the goals in your life, what would they be?” The three main drivers are achievement, belonging and power. These are motivators.

Rivera shared how the loss of a child shattered her dreams. Her faith and inner strength allowed her to pick up the pieces and move forward with her goals. Fortunately a few years later, Rivera and her husband were blessed with another little girl that was healthy, Viviana. Viviana was present at the event and even showed off her tiny white sparkly shoes, getting an early start in empowerment.

Sharon Cornine, a professional entertainer, sang and played guitar. She has been a member of the Sweet Adeline’s and local group, Lotela Gold. She now performs as a solo musician.

The next presenter was Kaitlyn Rhoades with “Turn Your Tragedy into Triumph.”

“You can be pitiful or you can be powerful, but you can’t be both,” Rhoades said.

Rhoades came from an abusive home with teenage parents. Her grandmother raised her but unfortunately passed when Rhoades was just 14. She found a way to attend college and worked two jobs. In addition, she routinely sold her clothes so she could pay her rent.

“I chose power over pity and graduated from the University of Florida,” Rhoades said.

She said everyone has a choice. Choose a path and an attitude. She now owns her own business and is a wife and mother.

“I often remember this story. Two twin boys were raised together by an abusive, alcoholic father. One became an alcoholic, the other never drank. When they asked the alcoholic why he became one, he said, ‘I watched my father’. When they asked the other why he never drank, his answer was also, ‘I watched my father.’”

The final speaker was Kristin Miners, also known locally as The Bee Lady. Her topic was “The Metamorphosis of a Queen.”

“I’m often asked, why are you a beekeeper? My answer is a mid-life crisis. I had to rebuild my life after a divorce. I had to earn income to support myself and my children.”

Beekeeping became a hobby for Miners starting back in 2018. She started selling honey and candles. In October 2020, her business, The Bee Lady, LLC, was born. She now has a full business model with consulting and other bee-related products and services.

“When the hive chooses a queen, it is one that will have a higher purpose. The egg is tiny and vulnerable. It is born blind and hungry (like us). She is cared for and nourished (royal jelly) by her family.

She becomes ready for opportunities lying just outside of her comfort zone and becomes transformed.”

Miner mirrors the queen bee to an empowered woman and her metamorphosis. She said sometimes people just have to go through a transformation in the journey to success.