|Clowning around lands United Methodist on ’strong
Feb. 15, 2006
A UMNS Feature
By Linda Green*
She’s a real estate agent by day, a clown by night and a member of an
inaugural Web site dedicated to strong women.
Ricki Whittle, 60, is among 34 women who do good things for others and are
profiled in a collection that recognizes and encourages women to be strong in
mind, body and spirit. The women on the Web site,
in interests and professions — most are “ordinary” women while some are
celebrities — but each of them is contributing to women in extraordinary ways.
Like the other women highlighted, Whittle, a member of First United Methodist
Church in Corpus Christi, Texas, was nominated by a friend. The site is a
product of Mission Pharmacal Co., maker of Citracal calcium citrate, a
supplement to help strengthen bones and prevent osteoporosis.
“Being a member of the inaugural group on the site is certainly an honor,”
she said. “? I’m certainly proud to be a woman on this site. It is a powerful
statement to be selected as one of the women to represent these other strong
women all over the United States.
She views it “as a kind of opportunity to inspire other people to . . . go on
that Web site and click on it and be able to nominate some of the people who
have been important in their lives . . . someone that has made a difference to
them,” she said.
Professionally, Whittle is a real estate agent, but she makes a difference in
the lives of sick children as Izzy the Dizzy Cheerleader, a clown. She and a
group of women came together 10 years ago as “Clowns Who Care.”
The group organized “to clown specifically at Driscoll’s Children’s
Hospitals,” she said. “It’s an opportunity for us to give the gift of laughter
to hundreds, actually thousands of sick children and their families.”
|Photo courtesy of Ricki Whittle
Izzy the Dizzy Cheerleader is Ricki Whittle’s clown persona.
She said her persona as the cheerleading clown and her community involvement
led to her nomination.
When she transforms into Izzy the clown, she walks into a room and people
recognize her as a cheerleader. “Those pompoms kind of give it away,” she says.
“I’m able to walk into a room there and be able to say, ?I’m here to cheer you
up.’ ? I’m able to give my ?two bits, four bits’ cheers and all that kind of
stuff. We have a lot of fun with those kiddos.” She says she’s put a lot of
time, dedication and effort over the last 60 years toward seeing what she could
do within her community in Corpus Christi.
Mission Pharmacal, a San Antonio-based company, said it is important to
recognize the women for all they have accomplished. Since a surgeon general’s
recent warning about osteoporosis, the company has expanded efforts to educate
consumers about how they can avoid this bone-weakening disease, which
disproportionately affects women.
The strong women Web site “was created as a continuation of our ongoing
commitment to provide an effective framework of support for women and to create
a community of women who stand strong in their everyday lives,” said Bennett
Kennedy, product manager of Citracal.
Whittle said forging ahead through adversities, especially after a horrendous
car accident involving her husband, made her strong. She had to take on the
leadership role and be the strength for her family.
She uses the same qualities in her mortgage business, which she has operated
for six years. She has not allowed adversity to stop her but has instead “looked
for how are we going to do this and how are we going to grow this,” she said.
For her, the business affords opportunities “to improve our lives (and) those
lives of people that we come in contact” with.
Whittle undergirds her business with a sense of spirituality, “of being able
to listen to people with kindness in my heart ...with the primary goal (being)
to figure out a way to put someone into a home,” she said.
Asked if she considers herself extraordinary, Whittle said she sees all women
“From the time we were born, we’ve been required to be extraordinary ...
playing, keeping a lot of balls in the air and figuring out ... which of those
balls is rubber and which ones can bounce, and you pick them up on the second
bounce. You know, that’s just kind of who we are as women.”
*Green is a United Methodist News Service news writer based in Nashville,
News media contact: Linda Green, (615) 742-5470 or
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