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The Week in Social 5/18-5/22

Everywhere you look, Iowans are uniting like never before. While times may be tough right now, we’re seeing it won’t stop the great people in the state from supporting one another. Many have taken to social media to help those in their communities, share helpful resources or to simply highlight something positive to bring joy to others. The Week in Social will round up the best of #IowansUnite and share these uplifting stories.

The Freedom Rock Tour, created by artist Ray “Bubba” Sorensen, was designed to honor veterans and bring unique pieces of art to all of Iowa’s 99 counties. So far, Sorensen has 87 counties included in the tour.

"I always say I have three goals with ‘The Freedom Rock® Tour’ and that is to honor America’s veterans, promote Iowa tourism and provide for my family," Sorensen said.

The 22nd annual Freedom Rock painting features the men of the “Raising of the Flag of Iwo Jima,” in addition to a masked military nurse who is seen passing the USNS Comfort as it coasts into the New York Harbor. The artwork honors the frontline heroes of yesterday and today and arrived just in time for Memorial Day weekend.

River Action is launching a special event in place of their traditional Ride the River event. This year, the event will be changed to Ride and Seek – Ride the River Scavenger Hunt, meant to help families and individuals get some outdoor exercise while still social distancing. Those who register will be sent a route map, a clue sheet with over 30 clues to solve, a River Action face mask and chalk to add pictures or positive messages to the trails. The participants who have solved the most clues during June will be entered to win some fun prizes.

In normal circumstances, Soldier Creek Winery in Fort Dodge would be gearing up for wedding and event season while having live music every Friday night. In the COVID-19 world, the winery is getting creative to help keep wine enthusiasts satisfied. Through virtual tastings every Friday at 4 p.m., winemaker Anne Zwink is able to describe the tastes and aromas of some of Soldier Creek’s finest wines.

"Our online sales have skyrocketed, they’re up hundreds of percents from where they would be normally at this time of year," Zwink said with a laugh.

With classrooms across the country needing to go completely digital, one Iowa City-Cedar Rapids EdTech company has seen a boom in signups and engagement. Pear Deck, which was created in 2014, set out on a mission to help teachers foster technology for engagement and understanding from their students.

The company helps teachers show their lessons through slideshows, allowing students an interactive experience and tracks their individual performances. With COVID-19 hitting, Pear Deck quickly stepped up. They’ve seen record-breaking use, including 100,000 new educators sign up, 2.5 million new users and over 30 million moments of engagement.

"I don’t think anyone knows what exactly the future is going to look like. But every teacher wants to continue being a great teacher, and our job has always been to make that easier," said co-founder Michael Eynon-Lynch.

If you’re looking for ways to support your favorite restaurants in a way that’s fun and competitive, look no further. The takeout bingo card offers an array of dining options that will satisfy your hunger while supporting your local economy at the same time. With Iowa favorites such as pork tenderloin, breakfast pizza, chicken spiedini and plenty more, there’s no way to go wrong. Reply to Travel Iowa’s social post with your completed bingo card, and you may have a chance to win a prize.

Harrison Barnes has had a storied basketball career, including being a top 10 selection in the 2013 NBA draft, a gold medal winner in the 2016 Olympics and an NBA champion with the 2015 Golden State Warriors.

However, Barnes’ legacy extends off the court in his hometown of Ames, where he has continually made an impact through his foundation with his wife, Brittany. Examples of Harrison’s philanthropic work include the Harrison Barnes Reading Academy, working with the Boys and Girls Club of Story County and the Harrison Barnes Basketball Camp, among other projects.

Most recently, the Barnes’ approached the Ames Community School District to donate funds meant to upgrade the gymnasium in the new high school, where Harrison started his hoops career. Those upgrades include a modified scoreboard to include player stats, adding bleachers, a new video board, lighting enhancements and more.

Published May 27, 2020

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