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Carol Stiff Appointed President, Raquel Braun Named Chief Business Officer

LOS ANGELES /PRNewswire/ — FAST Studios, the leading premium content studio specializing in free, ad-supported streaming television, announced today two key executive appointments of sports industry trailblazers at its network, Women’s Sports Network (WSN), the first and only 24/7 platform dedicated exclusively to female athletes. Carol Stiff, a 30-year veteran executive of ESPN Programming and Acquisitions and a tireless advocate for women’s sports, has been named President of Women’s Sports Network, while Raquel Braun, a former EA Sports and FOX Sports executive integral in negotiating unprecedented global media partnerships and developing new business opportunities, joins as Chief Business Officer.

Confirming these leadership positions ahead of its first anniversary milestone next month, Women’s Sports Network continues its mission to enrich the world of sports by delivering live games, news and original storytelling, showcasing the exceptional achievements and contributions of star female athletes, whilst serving as a seamless doorway for brands. Available in 95 million homes with distribution on Amazon Freevee, Fubo, LG Channels on LG Smart TVs, Local Now, Plex, Tubi, VIZIO WatchFree+, Roku and XumoPlay, Women’s Sports Network has experienced tremendous growth in its nascent year of operation with viewership increasing by 40%, to 2 million hours viewed, since launch. The network comprises 1,000 total hours of programming and is set to feature 200 hours of live event coverage in 2024 and more women’s sports programming than any other channel. WSN’s studio, located in El Segundo, California, has already created more than 500 hours of original content, inclusive of its signature show, “Game On,” which offers an in-depth look inside daily top sports headlines and interviews with athletes, coaches and influential leaders in women’s sports. WSN continues its mission of bringing more media coverage and marketing support to women’s sports built from partnerships with every major professional women’s sports league in the United States, including the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL), Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA), U.S. Ski and Snowboard, World Surf League (WSL), WNBA, Athletes Unlimited and many more.

As President of Women’s Sports Network, Stiff will oversee the direction and continued expansion of the network, content development, and manage key league and athlete relationships.

FAST Studios CEO Stuart McLean commented, “Carol Stiff is undeniably an influential voice in the sports media landscape, tirelessly advocating for the growth of women’s sports at the collegiate and professional level through her innovative ideas and programming.” He continued, “Over the past year, she developed our WSN advisory board comprised of key women executives and then served as Chair of the board as we grew the Women’s Sports Network. I am incredibly grateful for her expertise, experience and wide swath of connections in all aspects of women’s sports. I know WSN is in the right hands as she extends her impact as President of the network.”

Stiff has been at the forefront of promoting women’s sports from her student-athlete playing career, to collegiate coaching to her 30-year tenure at ESPN, including as the former Vice President of content integration for espnW. At ESPN, Stiff was responsible for the acquisition and programming of a variety of sports including NCAA women’s basketball, NCAA Men’s & Women’s championships, WNBA, professional softball and more across multiple platforms such as ABC, ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, ESPNews, ESPN+. Stiff serves on the Women’s Sports Foundation Board of Trustees, as President of the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame Board of Trustees, Collegiate Women’s Sports Awards Board of Directors and the Pat Summitt Alzheimer’s Advisory Board. In 2021, Stiff was inducted into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame, received the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame John R. Bunn award, and received the Naismith Lifetime Achievement Award and an Edward R. Murrow award.

“Women’s sports are in the midst of a shining moment, breaking records across numerous fronts. From the dynamic participation of girls and women to thriving live audiences at sporting events, surging viewership figures, the emergence of new professional leagues, league expansions, soaring franchise valuations, and increased investments and promotions, it’s evident that women’s sports have become a thriving business. As the saying goes ‘If you build it, they will come.’ Join us at the Women’s Sports Network as we ride this wave of progress, carrying the momentum forward and build a network for everyone to witness,” said Carol Stiff, President of Women’s Sports Network.

Additionally, Raquel Braun brings a wealth of experience to Women’s Sports Network. In her role as Chief Business Officer, Braun will oversee the network’s business strategy & operations, and league and distribution partnerships.

As a senior business development executive at EA Sports prior to joining WSN, Braun was instrumental in launching groundbreaking partnerships at the intersection of sports, entertainment, and gaming. In her role, she led business development efforts with respect to global media partnerships, content development & production, talent engagements, including celebrities, athletes, and broadcasters, and esports initiatives across EA Sports’ portfolio of brands. Prior to joining EA Sports, Raquel was Vice President of Business and Legal Affairs at FOX Sports where she worked on the acquisition of major sports rights for FOX’s national and international sports networks, managed high-profile talent negotiations, advised on production operations and strategy, and led a variety of production-related deals for FOX Sports’ premier properties, including the FIFA Women’s World Cups in 2019 and 2015, the 2018 FIFA World Cup, Super Bowl LIV, and the 2017 World Series. An alumna of Georgetown Law, Braun also serves as an Adjunct Professor at the Law Center, and as the Chair of the University of Florida’s Sports Management Industry Advisory Board.

“I am thrilled to join Women’s Sports Network as we build an innovative business that champions female athletes, creates additional value for our league, team and distribution partners, and ensures women’s sports receive the 24/7 coverage and support they deserve,” said Chief Business Officer Raquel Braun. She continued, “I’ve known Stuart for years as a constant innovator in the media business and Carol is an absolute trailblazer in women’s sports. Together the possibilities to further shine a bright light, highlighting women in sports, are endless.”

Women’s Sports Network continues to break boundaries to ensure that female athletes have a platform and that their fans have opportunities to discover more about the sports stars they admire. Stiff and Braun will be instrumental in assuring greater accessibility to women’s sports coverage, amplifying the voices of athletes and their coaches, for all sports fans.

Women’s Sports Network is a free, ad-supported, 24/7 streaming destination available on Amazon Freevee, Fubo, LG Channels on LG Smart TVs, Local Now, Plex, Tubi, VIZIO WatchFree+, Roku and XumoPlay. Launched by FAST Studios in 2022, Women’s Sports Network aims to promote diversity in the sports and entertainment industries by offering viewers content that celebrates female athletes both on and off the field. Women’s Sports Network has confirmed participation from all the major sports leagues, including the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL), Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA), U.S. Ski and Snowboard, and World Surf League (WSL), WNBA, Athletes Unlimited and many more. For further information visit: https://womenssports.com.

FAST Studios (FAST) is a multi-faceted premium content studio specializing in content creation, marketing, distribution, and monetization of free ad-supported streaming television channels (FAST). Channels include Women’s Sports Network, the only 24/7 channel dedicated to female athletes, SpartanTV, the world’s leading obstacle race and lifestyle wellness brand, and RACING America, the official media partner of the Race Team Alliance that consists of 16 NASCAR Cup Series teams. FAST Studios simultaneously serves dozens of streaming platforms who need quality content channels to draw loyal audiences, brand marketers who must efficiently reach fragmented audiences at scale, and the growing population of streaming viewers who expect premium content experiences. For further information visit: www.FASTstudios.com.

SOURCE Women’s Sports Network

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actors & performers

Al B. Sure! & Rev. Al Sharpton: Championing Health Equity in Transplantation

Al B. Sure! and Rev. Al Sharpton unite to oppose Medicare cutbacks, advocating for health equity in transplantation to benefit minority communities.



In a powerful display of solidarity and determination, music legend Al B. Sure! and global civil rights leader Rev. Al Sharpton have come together to announce the formation of the “Health Equity in Transplantation Coalition.” This coalition aims to oppose the recent Medicare cutbacks for transplant patient blood tests that detect early signs of organ rejection, particularly affecting minority and underserved communities. With their shared commitment to justice and equality, Al B! will serve as the Executive Chairman, while Rev. Sharpton will play a vital role as the Senior Advisor.

The Impact of Medicare Coverage Restrictions:
On March 2, 2023, a private contractor known as a “Medicare Administrative Contractor” (MAC) announced restrictions on Medicare coverage for transplant patient blood tests. These tests, essential for detecting early signs of organ rejection, have been instrumental in safeguarding the health of transplant patients since 2017. However, the sudden change linking coverage to invasive surgical biopsies has caused confusion, delays, and cancellations, primarily affecting Black, Hispanic, Latino, and underserved transplant communities.

The Voice of Al B!:
As a successful organ transplant recipient and advocate for the transplant patient community, Al B! understands the importance of these blood tests firsthand. Having received a life-saving liver transplant in 2022, he emphasizes the need for accessible and non-invasive blood tests that can be conducted at home. Al B! believes that tying Medicare coverage to invasive biopsies places an undue burden on underserved transplant recipients, necessitating expensive travel, time off work for patients and caregivers, and hospital procedures.

The Support of Rev. Al Sharpton and Newt Gingrich:
Rev. Al Sharpton, renowned for his tireless work in defending the rights of minority communities, welcomes the support of former Republican Speaker Newt Gingrich in restoring Medicare coverage for surveillance blood tests. Their alignment, along with a broad bipartisan group of transplant patients, physicians, and members of Congress, highlights the urgent need to reverse these detrimental rollbacks. Rev. Sharpton emphasizes that these non-invasive tests provided a lifeline to Black, Hispanic, Latino, and underserved communities, and it is essential to expand access to better tools, not restrict them.

Addressing Disparities in Transplant Care:
Transplant care plays a critical role in the lives of Black, Hispanic, and Latino Americans, who account for 40% of transplants in the United States, exceeding their representation in the general population. The battle against organ rejection is a daily struggle, with half of all kidney transplants failing within ten years. The issue is further compounded by the severe organ shortage, disproportionately affecting these communities. Approximately 50% of individuals on the transplant waiting list are Black or Hispanic/Latino, highlighting the urgent need for equitable post-transplant care and access to transplantation.

Broad Support and National Attention:
The coalition led by Al B! and Rev. Sharpton has garnered widespread support from transplant patients and the medical community. Leading national professional transplant medical associations, including the American Society of Transplant Surgeons and the American Society of Transplantation, have expressed opposition to the Medicare coverage restrictions. Additionally, a bipartisan group of representatives in Congress, along with grassroots transplant patient group “Honor the Gift coalition,” have raised concerns and demanded answers from CMS regarding the rollbacks.

Looking Ahead:
Al B! and Rev. Sharpton express hope that the House Congressional Black Caucus and other influential bodies will join their efforts to restore Medicare coverage for these vital blood tests. To amplify their cause, hundreds of transplant recipients will gather in Washington, D.C., from December 4-6 for a series of activities, including meetings with congressional leaders and a press conference. The ultimate goal is to ensure that all transplant recipients, regardless of their background or socioeconomic status, have access to the necessary tools and care for a healthier future.

The formation of the “Health Equity in Transplantation Coalition” led by Al B. Sure! and Rev. Al Sharpton marks a significant step toward addressing the disparities faced by minority and underserved communities in transplant care. By opposing the Medicare cutbacks for transplant patient blood tests, this coalition strives to ensure that all transplant recipients have access to early detection of organ rejection, regardless of their background. Through their collective efforts, they aim to build a more equitable and inclusive healthcare system for all.



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Dave Bautista Teams Up with the ASPCA to Raise Awareness for Animals in Need

This GivingTuesday, Dave Bautista and the ASPCA call for animal lovers’ support, helping to provide meals, shelter, and care for thousands of rescued animals



NEW YORK /PRNewswire/ — Today, the ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) is announcing its collaboration with acclaimed actor, animal advocate, and pet parent Dave Bautista to raise awareness and encourage support for rescued animals in honor of GivingTuesday, the global movement that inspires people to give, collaborate, and celebrate generosity. This year, the ASPCA is hoping to encourage the public to keep animals top-of-mind and to help support their journeys from rescue to finding the loving homes they deserve.

Dave Bautista and the ASPCA call for support, helping to provide meals, shelter, and care for rescued animals in need.

In honor of , Dave Bautista, actor, animal advocate, and dog dad, is collaborating with the ASPCA to raise awareness and encourage support for vulnerable animals throughout the holiday season. Dave is the proud dad of four adopted pit bulls—Ollie, Maggie, Penny, and Talulah—and is a consistent champion for the breed, adopting his first two dogs five years ago.

Dave, whose passions both personally and professionally have led him from a career in wrestling to acting to animal advocacy, is a well-known dog-lover who proudly voices his support for pet adoption and animal protection. Dave is the proud pet parent of four adopted pit bulls and is a consistent champion for the breed. His passion for his pets and his compassion for all animals in need make Dave an ideal partner for a day like GivingTuesday.

Starting on GivingTuesday and continuing through the holiday season, Dave will be calling on the public to help animals by donating funds or supplies, adopting homeless animals, or volunteering their time – in hopes of giving more animals the second chances they deserve.

“My first rescue dogs were Ollie and Maggie, and I’ve had them for about five years. I adopted them, and after becoming so connected with them, I started to be more aware of how many dogs are just waiting for someone to give them good, loving homes,” said Dave Bautista. “You get so much in return when you adopt a pet, and I’m going to preach for adoption for the rest of my life. Every second chance for these animals starts with someone like you, or me.”

This GivingTuesday, the ASPCA is calling for support of the thousands of animals across the country who need meals, shelter, and care before their happily ever after becomes reality. Every rescued animal’s journey starts with the support of compassionate animal lovers.

“Dave Bautista’s compassion for homeless animals and advocacy for pit bulls in particular make him a powerful ambassador for GivingTuesday, inspiring his fans and many others to adopt, foster, and contribute to the health and welfare of shelter animals, even before those animals are ready for new homes,” said Matt Bershadker, ASPCA president and CEO. “We thank Dave and everyone speaking out and stepping up this holiday season on behalf of dogs and cats in need and commit our strong support for those animals now and always.”

To support shelter animals who need food, toys, and so much more before they can find loving homes, visit ASPCA.org/BeforeYou.

About the ASPCA®
Founded in 1866, the ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) was the first animal welfare organization to be established in North America and today serves as the nation’s leading voice for vulnerable and victimized animals. As a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit corporation with more than two million supporters nationwide, the ASPCA is committed to preventing cruelty to dogs, cats, equines, and farm animals throughout the United States. The ASPCA assists animals in need through on-the-ground disaster and cruelty interventions, behavioral rehabilitation, animal placement, legal and legislative advocacy, and the advancement of the sheltering and veterinary community through research, training, and resources. For more information, visit www.ASPCA.org, and follow the ASPCA on FacebookXInstagram, and TikTok.


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Maverix Havik Control Paddle Review: Elevate Your Pickleball Game

Join Mike Sleeves Sliwa as he tests the Maverix Havik – 16 mm CONTROL paddle, a game-changer in pickleball. Watch now for expert insights and reviews!



Sleeves Senior Pickleball Report: The Havik – 16 mm CONTROL Paddle Review

In the latest episode of Sleeves Senior Pickleball Report, renowned pickleball enthusiast Mike Sleeves Sliwa takes us on a thrilling journey as he revisits the Maverix Pickleball company. Having previously tested their Power Paddle back in October, Mike now sets his sights on the Havik – 16 mm CONTROL paddle. This eagerly anticipated review aims to provide valuable insights into Maverix’s latest offering.

Diving into the Havik – 16 mm CONTROL Paddle:
Mike Sliwa’s first impressions of the Havik paddle are overwhelmingly positive. The 16 mm CONTROL surface offers exceptional maneuverability and precision, allowing players to achieve greater control over their shots. The paddle’s design, incorporating Maverix’s signature craftsmanship, ensures durability without compromising on performance.

Unveiling Unmatched Performance:
During his rigorous testing, Mike discovers that the Havik paddle excels in both power and control. The paddle’s unique technology minimizes vibration upon impact, providing players with a comfortable and responsive feel. Its wider sweet spot enhances shot accuracy, making it ideal for players looking to fine-tune their game.

The Maverix Havik – 16 mm CONTROL paddle emerges as a game-changer in the world of pickleball. Mike Sleeves Sliwa’s review showcases its exceptional performance, reaffirming Maverix’s commitment to innovation and quality. Whether you’re a seasoned player or just starting out, this paddle promises to elevate your game and enhance your overall playing experience. Stay tuned for more exciting pickleball updates from the Sleeves Senior Pickleball Report.

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