Published 12:00 am Saturday, September 7, 2013

Many people in the West Rowan area know Woody Brown as editor and publisher of the Cleveland Chronicle. Others know Woody and her husband, Tim, as competitors in the rodeo world of barrel racing. Having taught Woody’s two older children, Cheyenne and Chase, in music class at Cleveland Elementary School, I first came to know Woody as a friend and mom.
Even though I’ve known Woody for many years, it’s only recently that I learned how and why she began publishing newspapers. Unemployed in 1999 and determined not to take another job just to pay the bills, Woody began praying about her situation. In her prayers, she included the characteristics of what the perfect job or business would entail. She said, “The job had to be creative as well as something I could produce lots of copies cheaply. It also had to allow me freedom to be with my children daily and involve horses as well as my husband’s business training horses.”
Coming home from the beach that summer, Woody woke up from a deep sleep, looked at her husband as he was driving and said, “I’m going to publish a newspaper for the barrel horse industry in North Carolina.” The next day Woody called the president of the Barrel Horse Association, sharing her idea about the newspaper. The president loved the idea so much she wanted the first one in the mail within 30 days, and that’s how the Carolina Barrel Horse News was born. (
The idea for the Cleveland Chronicle wasn’t born until two years later when Woody began receiving letters in her mailbox from the two candidates running for Cleveland mayor. After about the 10th letter, she thought publishing a local newspaper would be a better way to get the word out. It didn’t take long until word spread and soon local business owners began calling wanting to purchase ads. Even today, Woody includes, along with the ads, local news, inspirational stories and the Word of God. Believing God honors her efforts, she says, “His word never goes out and comes back void.”
Publishing two newspapers for over 10 years has given Woody and Tim not only added income, but the flexibility Woody always desired for spending time with her children. When it comes to her children, she gives 100 percent and that’s especially true for 7-year-old Caleb, born with Down syndrome.
When Woody and Tim were given the news their newborn son was born with Down syndrome, in an instant their dreams and aspirations vanished. While it’s true they love their son and always have, in order to move on they had to grieve. After the initial shock, like every other part of their lives, they met the challenge head-on, searching for answers and ways to provide the best possible life for Caleb.
That best possible life actually started on day one with Caleb’s name. Believing words and names are important, Woody and Tim chose that name from the Bible. Seeing it as symbolic, they hoped their son would have the same courage and strength to face his giants just as Caleb in the Bible had faced his.
Living up to that name, Caleb has overcome many obstacles in his short life, including one of the greatest challenges for a Down syndrome child, which is speech. Erin Goodman, his speech teacher, said he’s made great strides in that area. Working with him on the day I stopped to visit, she described Caleb as loving and passionate about what he likes. She also said, “He especially likes technology and even knows how to use the Ipad.” Hearing the news that Caleb is gifted in technology, I may have to go back for another visit and let him give me a lesson or two.
Realizing this journey involves the whole family, I asked Woody what lessons she has learned in the process. Without hesitation, she said, “Caleb has opened my eyes. Although I was compassionate before, I never saw a special needs child through the eyes of a parent, from a parent’s point of view. You might say I was arrogant.
“Our family has always been in the group of achievers, including the smartest, the fastest and the most athletic. That changed with Caleb’s diagnosis. I hate to admit it, but I didn’t want to be in the new group. But, you know what? I learned from Caleb there’s more to life than being the best at everything. He taught us there’s joy in simple, everyday moments and that it’s important to treasure each and every one of them.”
With news in recent months of a breakthrough discovery in the scientific community, Woody and Tim have reason to hope and be encouraged. It seems a discovery was made of a way to turn off the “third copy” of the 21st chromosome. Woody said, “When they can successfully turn off the copy in the real world, then Caleb will be a normal little boy without the symptoms of Down syndrome. In the meantime, we are trusting God, knowing we are blessed with a beautiful, happy little boy who enjoys riding horses, singing, playing, swimming and just hanging out with friends and family who love him.”
Even in a perfect world, who could ask for anything more?
Dicy McCullough’s books are available at local bookstores, and Barnes & Noble. Call her at 704-278-4377.