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INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The Sikh community is more broadly a part of the Indian-American population, the second largest immigrant group in Indiana.

News 8’s Nina Criscuolo spoke with the founder and CEO of Diya TV Ravi Kapur.

Diya TV programming is geared toward Indian-American and South Asian interests and can be see on WISH-TV subchannel 8.4.

Kapur says Sikhs are warm-hearted and inclusive and just want to live out the American dream.

Watch the video for the full interview.

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — A man from Indianapolis is dedicating his life to the mission of marriage and trying to keep thousands of them intact.

His name is Jackie Bledsoe. He’s a native Hoosier with a deep love for his wife and God.

About 10 years ago he starting blogging about marriage and since his ministry has reached around the world.

“We were thrown on stages that I don’t think we were qualified to speak at,” Bledsoe said.

Yet, Bledsoe said “I do” over and over to this faith-filled fateful journey as a marital speaker and author.

“My wife and I have always had a passion for marriage, since we had struggles early on,” Bledsoe said.

Jackie and Stephana Bledsoe speaking at Bellevue Celebrate Marriage. (Photo courtesy: Jackie Bledsoe)

Like a bride’s walk down the aisle, his first steps blogging a decade ago were quiet, but attention grew quickly.

“Speaking in itself, the reach has been all over the country. I actually went to speak at a men’s conference in the Grand Cayman, so we’ve been very fortunate to reach couples that we wouldn’t be able to reach by most means,” Bledsoe said.

More than a million readers online and his book “The 7 Rings of Marriage” has reached more than 100,000 couples. It’s video series used at marriage retreats and bible studies features both Jackie and his wife, Stephana.

“We’re just sharing our story, a bunch of mistakes that we’ve learned from, and got help from, and have a little bit of experience in that area and it’s having a major impact with couples across the world really,” Bledsoe said.

His advice to couples is to root marriage in faith and don’t hide away issues, instead lean on other couples in your life.

“Being willing to ask questions, being humble enough to say ‘Hey, we need help.'” Bledsoe said.

And as he and wife enter their third decade of marriage in 2021, Jackie says he’s waiting to see where God leads them next in their marriage ministry.

In the short term that path will keep the Bledsoe’s close to home. Jackie and his wife Stephana will be speaking in Indy this month at FamilyLife’s Weekend to Remember April 16-18, 2021.

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — As Indianapolis prepares for the Sweet Sixteen, there are nearly a thousand workers and volunteers making sure the tournament continues safely.

It’s a team inside and supporting the IU Health pathology lab where all of the COVID-19 tests are processed. It’s thousands of COVID-19 tests each and every day. IU Health is handling the tests for every player, coach, support staff, official to make sure our country can get lost in the madness of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament during the pandemic.

The process is streamlined, because it has to be.

“It’s mission critical. If we are able to detect the virus as part of this tournament, we can ensure that we’re isolating players or coaches or staff or anyone else associated with the tournament,” Clark Day, vice president of laboratory services at IU Health, said.

Before the Sweet Sixteen games start, IU Health’s pathology lab has already completed more than 18,000 COVID-19 tests.

“That peaked at 3,600 over one 24-hour period,” Day said.

And when Day said 24-hour, he meant it. IU Health’s lab is operating way outside of typical business hours.

“Tests come in, results come in at all hours of the day and night,” Michele Sansaya, IU Health’s Chief Quality and Safety Officer, said.

The team is handling it like a well-trained top seed offense. Instead of passing the ball around the court, it’s collecting tests, transporting them, and processing them. Then the jump shot is results in six to eight hours. That’s thanks to the same type of preparation the teams went through before arriving to the tournament.

“Just like practicing for a game, once you get in the game, things can be a little more intense and a little different, so you have to react in the moment. Our team has responded with enthusiasm and their expertise have been on full display,” Day said.

The nearly 850 volunteers and more than 50 full-time staff say it’s worth it to bring this sports tradition back for the millions of fans.

“To be able to have a sense of hope and return to some normalcy our ability to perform this testing is enabling that,” Day said.

“To be able to be a part of this and put something on that wasn’t able to happen last year is incredibly important to us and we’re just honored to be a part of it,” Sansaya said.

By the time a champion is crowned, IU Health staff said the lab will have processed somewhere between 25,000 and 28,000 tests during their partnership with the NCAA here in Indy.

WESTFIELD, Ind. (WISH) — Teachers within the Westfield Washington Schools District are showing solidarity.

It’s in response to debate heating up among Indiana legislators over House Bill 1005 and Senate Bill 413. Both bills would expand school choice options for families in Indiana.

The bills would increase income eligibility for school choice vouchers as well as create a new funding program for some students not enrolled in public schools to receive state tuition support dollars to pay for education costs elsewhere.

Supporters say Indiana families should be able to choose where their children go to school and be able to take their tax dollars with them, but we spoke to teachers at Oak Trace Elementary School earlier this morning who say it’s bad timing when funding is already tight.

During the gathering at Oak Trace Elementary School first grade teacher Jenny Cox encouraged teachers to display signs in their vehicles and homes, sign a petition opposing the bills and reach out to their state legislators.

Similar demonstrations took place at all Westfield Washington Schools Thursday morning.

FISHERS, Ind. (WISH) — Public safety has long been a field dominated by men. The number of women has increased to nearly 15% in military and police, but it lags behind in fire departments, where women only make up about 4% of firefighters.

In Fishers, Nikki Moss is one of six women who have earned the title of firefighter. She said the job is in her blood.

“My great-grandfather, grandfather and uncle were all on Indianapolis Fire Department with my grandfather and uncle both retiring as captains, so I am fourth generation,” Moss said.

It’s not lost on this paramedic and firefighter that those preceding her were all men, but she said that didn’t matter when choosing her career.

“I’ve always been that independent, strong-willed… I want to be in the middle of the action. I don’t want to sit back, so I definitely wanted to follow that route and be part of that tradition,” Moss said.

And 22 years into the industry, Moss said it isn’t easy.

“It definitely is a challenge. Just the nature of the job in general is hard. It’s hard work for everyone, but we come in and we do the exact same job as the men. We have to pass the same test as the men. There is no difference,” Moss said.

But Moss said there may be a difference in what women can offer when responding to emergencies.

“Being a mother myself, when I run on pediatric patients, I get that mother bear mode. Not only am I treating them, but it’s also that comforting mode,” Moss said.

Moss encourages women and girls to consider careers in public safety.

“Do it. Understand that you’re going to have to work hard, you’re going ot have to be physically and mentally fit for it, but do it. It’s a very rewarding career,” Moss said.

And it seems the tradition will continue. Moss now has a son who is a senior in high school, and she says he also plans to join the family business.

NEW CASTLE, Ind. (WISH) — Indiana sugar makers are hard at work on the syrup supply for 2021 and this weekend you have the chance to visit a sugar camp and learn all about the process.

For just about two to three months a year, sugar makers take advantage of the freezing nights and warmer days to give us our favorite breakfast condiment, but the trek from tap to table is a long one.

“The process of making syrup is simple, it’s evaporation. The procedure is complicated because of all the steps involved,” Dave Hamilton said.

Hamilton has nearly 60 years of sugaring under his belt and Rutherford Sugar Camp has been running thousands of gallons of sap for 110 years.

“Two drips to a heartbeat is pretty good,” Hamilton said while pointing to a tap stuck into one of this thousands of maple trees.

Typically it takes 48 gallons of sap, or what sugar makers call sugar water, to make just one gallon of syrup. With advances in technology at Rutherford Sugar Camp, Hamilton and his crew can use just 11 gallons of sugar water to get down to that one tasty gallon.

Those advances at Rutherford Sugar Camp include a vacuum system called a sap ladder and reverse osmosis to cut down time before the final stage of cooking.

“We determine when it’s done by weight or specific gravity. Look at that, there’s a red line,” Hamilton said pointing to a tool that looks similar to a thermometer. “It’s not quite ready yet.”

It’s a scientific process with the sticking point of reaching 7.5 degrees above boiling.

It is a team effort and one that’s very time sensitive. The sugar water cannot sit for long before souring.

“I couldn’t do this by myself,” Hamilton said. “Gary is the official whisker. Melvin is the chief canner.”

Kevin Hart is the president of the Indiana Maple Syrup Association. It’s a passion that sweetened his heart much later in life than Hamilton, but is rooted in nature.

“I just love everything about it. I love the trees. I love being out in the woods,” Hart said. “It’s just that it’s an old tradition and it’s strictly a North American tradition. Nobody does this anywhere else in the world, just here in North America.”

Hart says syrup may seems like an indulgence, but it actually has great health benefits.

“Maple syrup is full of vitamins, B12 and magnesium and it’s higher in calcium than milk,” Hart said.

And some say there’s something in the Indiana sugar water.

“We make better syrup in Vermont, okay, let’s just get right down to it. We ship syrup to Vermont,” Hart said.

And others will drive from hours away just to grab a gallon from this sugar shack.

“It’s local, it’s fresh, and it tastes better than anything else I have ever bought,” Sherry Bickel said as she stopped into the Rutherford Sugar Camp sugar shack for her annual syrup supply.

“We think we make about the best,” Hamilton said.

Indiana Maple Syrup Weekend is March 13 & 14. There are about a dozen sugar camps across the state that open their properties up for you to visit. The event is supporting by the Indiana Maple Syrup Association, which also helps Hoosiers who may want to try their hand at sugar making or just learn more about the process.

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — A young success story is paying it forward.

Mirajur Rahman is a Lawrence North High School student and he’s is using social media fame to help classmates and kids around the globe.

He’s the type of kid who chooses all the toughest classes, takes notes, even learns ahead, so he posts 15 to 60-second long videos filled with studying secrets. The videos have earned Rahman more than 153,000 followers online.

“It started with me posting my AP U.S. history notes and that video got over one million views and like 160,000 likes. It was crazy. I could not believe it,” Rahman said.

He uses TikTok, a video sharing app mostly known for dance videos, but increasing in popularity is everything from cooking demonstrations and do-it-yourself projects to makeup tutorials.

“I didn’t ever think, like, educational videos would blow up, but I was wrong,” Rahman said.

With the views and likes racking up, Rahman has created partnerships with companies like Emile, a digital learning platform. As an influencer, he plugs the website and is paid in return.

“They’re catered towards students and teaching them about AP classrooms, so it fit like perfectly with my videos,” Rahman said.

Rahman said he’s saving the money to pay for his college education, but not all of it. He’s actually creating scholarships for other kids.

“I realized that I could help someone else’s education, similarly to how they were helping my education,” Rahman said.

So next time you think all kids do on TikTok is silly dance videos, think about Rahman and his AP history notes.

Through Rahman is accepting scholarship applications for two $1,000 merit based awards.

He says his long term goal is to go back to his family’s community in Bangladesh to build a hospital and provide free health care.

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Downtown Indy is launching a new way to inspire support for businesses downtown.

“Community Over Competition” videos are being added to the Back Downtown campaign lead by Downtown Indy. The goal is to remind people how much support for local businesses is needed during the ongoing pandemic.

“We will be here tomorrow, if you’re here today,” is one of the phrases used in the video.

The first one launched Wednesday and features representatives from Best Chocolate in Town, Bluebeard, Cafe Patachou, Gordon’s Milkshake Bar, Nesso Italian Kitchen, St. Elmo Steak House, Tea’s Me Cafe, and Tloalli encouraging you to visit some other downtown business.

Downtown Indy’s Bob Shultz says the idea came from St. Elmo’s Craig Huse and Tony’s Tony Ricci, who are both seen in the video, chatting about which restaurants they love to visit downtown.

Downtown Indy says the video is crafted to drive engagement on social media and Downtown Indy says there are more to come. The organization hopes the theme also inspires other businesses to create their own videos promoting not just dining, but also shopping and entertainment downtown.

Downtown Indy launched the Back Downtown campaign in August of 2020 as the coronavirus pandemic, social justice protests and rioting left the usually bustling downtown area quiet and desolate.

Wrigley Media Group, which is based in Kentucky, is partnering on a pro bono basis with Downtown Indy to produce the videos.

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — A nurse at Riley Hospital for Children is using her journey with congenital heart defects to relate to families in a special way.

Sarah Crider was born with several congenital heart defects. She had surgery as a baby and again just last year. Diagnoses like hers happen in one out of every 100 babies. They are little survivors thanks to medical advances, but as a patient herself, Crider is able to really put her heart into her career.

“I think the care is best provided by individuals who understand the complexity and nuances of congenital heart defects,” Dr. Larry Markham, a pediatric cardiologist at Riley Hospital for Children, said.

Just like the families in the Riley Heart Center receiving a diagnosis or preparing for surgery, Crider and her family did exactly that when she was a baby.

“I’m able to share that I also had a diagnosis as a baby and I have now had a full life and was able to grow up and enjoy sports and enjoy doing things I was able to do and have a career and I think that’s empowering for them,” Crider said.

As someone who knows exactly what waking up from surgery is like, Crider shares tips about pain management and healing with her patients. She said when her patients know she’s experienced it too, they tend to take her advice to heart.

“She’s very similar to a lot of our other patients that they’ve had this condition their whole life and have learned to deal with it,” Dr. Markham said.

It seems like a perfect fit having a heart patients as a heart nurse, but it wasn’t until six years into her teaching career that Crider realized her true calling.

“I had this magical moment where I sat down and really thought about the magic that was happening here. They were keeping these little hearts beating that shouldn’t necessarily be beating. Now it seems silly that I didn’t consider that to begin with, but I really love what I do,” Crider said.

Now as a teacher turned nurse, she’s using American Heart Month to educate people about diagnoses like hers and that of 40,000 children each year.

“Unless you are thrust into that world a lot of people don’t even consider it or know about it. There are lots of people out there with a congenital heart defect that keep going every day despite any limitations or issues going on and they strive to live long happy lives,” Crider said.

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Even before you get the COVID-19 vaccine, research shows you can do things now to get the best results.

Researchers out of the Ohio State University said when we think of vaccine efficacy, we often think of the vaccine itself, but we as recipients of a vaccine bring important factors into the mix and those are within our control.

The OSU researchers reviewed 49 vaccine studies from the past 30 years. They found that unhealthy nutrition choices, as well as stress and depression, can negatively affect the body’s immune response to vaccination. Comparatively, eating healthy bolsters our immune response.

Dr. John Christenson, the medical director of infection prevention for Riley Hospital for Children, tells News 8 obesity can also greatly reduce the efficacy of vaccines. So when we’re talking about vaccinating against a virus that’s greatest risk factor is obesity it’s even more important to focus on your health.

“There’s no magical food item that you can eat that would make your immune system work great overnight, okay? It has to be something that you have to put in play. You need to drink less sugary drinks, you need to eat less fatty foods, you need to exercise as much as you can,” Dr. Christenson said.

This is especially concerning to doctors because the pandemic has been marked by less exercise with gyms closed, more sitting, more snacking. So before it’s your turn to get the vaccine, doctors say it’s time to turn that around.

“They’re not going to the gym because the gym has been closed or there’s not enough openings for them to go. So their lifestyle has changed dramatically. Those individuals are greatly affected just like the person who has never exercised in their life,” Dr. Christenson said.

The research is being applied to the COVID-19 vaccine, but Dr. Christenson said poor health will effect how well any vaccines work from the flu and hepatitis B to rabies.