Cleveland catch-up

Kayaker attempts to navigate all five Great Lakes in a year

Traci Lynn Martin, a 50 year old nurse and mother of three from Kansas City, Missouri, arrived in Cleveland on Wednesday evening, eight months after beginning her attempt to navigate all five Great Lakes in one year.

Martin’s goal for the day, according to, was to travel in her kayak from Vermillion, Ohio to Edgewater Beach. Her main obstacles included the 40-degree temperatures in the area and five to six foot waves on Lake Erie, as well as winds up to 20 miles per hour and her constant battle with rheumatoid arthritis.

The trip was inspired by the death of Martin’s mother, and she hopes to complete it as proof that a chronic illness does not have to stop someone from achieving their goals, saying that she “realized that life [was] too precious a gift to take for granted” and that people should not keep putting off the things they want to do.

Martin worries that she will not meet her goal because of the weather, which delayed her in Vermillion for four days.

“Lake Erie is not happy that I’m here,” she said. “I have spent more time off of the water due to high winds and huge waves than any other Lake.”

Before setting sail, Martin spent two years researching the trip. She has depended on strangers for a place to sleep each night, as well as for food and donations.


Cleveland premature birth rate the worst in United States

The March of Dimes, an organization that funds research and programs to end premature birth, released an updated report on Wednesday claiming that Cleveland has the worst premature birth rate of the 100 U.S. cities with the highest number of births, at 14.9 percent. The lowest rated city on the list is Irvine, California, at 5.8 percent, according to

Any child born before 37 weeks of pregnancy is considered premature. Premature births continue to be a leading factor in the high infant mortality rate in the United States, and Cleveland finds itself a leader in infant mortality. In Cuyahoga County, more than half of all infant deaths in 2015 were children born prematurely.

“The numbers in Cleveland are what you would see in developing countries,” said Sam Mesiano, professor in the department of reproductive biology at Case Western Reserve University. “It’s really unacceptable.”

The causes of premature birth are relatively unknown, but could be related to risky behavior during pregnancy, such as smoking or drinking. However, more than half of all premature births remain of unexplained causes.

“The stress that a woman undergoes during pregnancy, whether it’s physical or perceived, may trigger preterm labor,” said Mesiano “We just don’t understand the actual biology of the process and how that translates into a preterm birth.”

The March of Dimes report stated that the preterm birth rate is 46 percent higher with African American women than with white women, and that the lowest number of premature births occur in women of Asian or Pacific Islander descent.