Monday, December 19, 2011
Monday, March 28, 2011
Saturday, November 6, 2010
Gary Kelley’s passion for his granddaughter is amazing.
His passion for other children just like his granddaughter is beyond amazing.
In 2008, his granddaughter, Jessie Hall, was diagnosed with Rasmussen Encephalitis — a condition that caused her to have seizures. If untreated, the seizures would ultimately disable and possibly kill Jessie.
So without question, Jessie underwent a hemispherectomy — a removal of part of her brain that would stop the seizing.
As a result, Jessie lost use of half of her vision in each eye, the use of her left arm and left leg.
The amount of obstacles placed in her way notwithstanding, Jessie is now just a normal girl.
She swims, goes to the mall, has friends and is a straight A student.
As tribute to her and every other child like her, Gary Kelley’s property now has more more than 400 lighted trees honoring the incredible and brave children just like Jessie.
It is his way of shining a light on an otherwise unknown disorder and procedure.
And shine it does.
For more information about the Hemi Kids and the Lighted Forest of Hope, please click this link:
Trust me, this forest is worth seeing and the children’s stories are worth knowing.
Monday, October 25, 2010
CHEYENNE – Cross-country is a truly individual sport. It’s also sadistic. The idea of running for fun sends most, well, running for every excuse not to do it.
Running for competition is of another world. It is the difference between being in control and knowing when to say enough and running until a body reverts into an almost infantile state – legs that cannot quite connect with the brain’s orders to stride and an inability to keep whatever is in the stomach there.
One’s body endures a beating beyond those delivered by linebackers or elbows to the nose from defenders in basketball.
Runners are an animal unto their own. Driven by a will more akin to insanity than not, they absorb joint-pounding steps, spikes to the legs, lung-torching dashes up mud-covered hills and face-plants across finish lines.
And for what? The chance to be part of a competition that is perhaps the purest of sport. A runner’s desire to succeed stems from but a single source – within.
Enter chapter one of Jessica Lemaster’s story.
Saturday, July 17, 2010
Dave Urquidez is a big guy by any means, but that’s not to say he small either. He is slender and lengthy. His movements are elegant and poised. As a former professional dancer and champion many times over, Urquidez certainly knows how to move.
So well, in fact, he was once worked for the NFL teaching players how to dance in order to help their movement. One notable pupil: bad boy Lyle Alzado. Imagine elegantly-moving and sharply-dressed Urquidez teaching a group of tough guys ballroom steps.
With his professional days of competition done and his life in the NFL long since passed, Urquidez is spending time teaching his passion for dance at his small studio hidden between various blue- collar-type shops. It’s as if Urquidez’s love of dance is always in contrast with the world around him, but seemingly, it is always an absolute fit.
With no real ballroom scene in Cheyenne since the 1940s, Urquidez is finding that some 60 years later people are still drawn to the floor. He partially credits TV dance shows such as “Dancing with the stars” for the resurgence of interest. Whatever the reason for getting people into the studio is secondary to what keeps them coming back.
John and Kathy Keck, who began dancing under the tutelage of Urquidez one year ago, said they wanted to learn to dance and not just move about at weddings. Both admitted after a recent lesson that learning to dance is much harder than it looks. Mr. Keck said, “I’m not a math genius, so it’s difficult to remember all the steps.”
Despite the steep learning curve, Urquidez says the confidence and self discovery of dance keep people coming back.
And it certainly doesn’t hurt to have an instructor who knows how to move… and teach.
Friday, June 18, 2010
Getting dirty, in all honesty, seems like a heck of a lot of NO fun.
But today, it was confirmed.
Let me preface by saying that I am in no shape or form a man’s man. I drink light beer, I let my fiance ban beef in our house and I think Toy Story is a better trilogy than the Godfather. Hence my aversion to filth, grime, dirt and disgust.
Now a soldier, on the other hand, is undoubtedly categorized as a man’s man.
Their reputation speaks for itself. I’m convinced that Dos Equis’ “Most Interesting Man in the World” was at one point a soldier.
To the point…
Today I watched as security forces airmen tested their will and skill in a competition known simply as Team Pain.
Sounds fun, huh? Not so much, kiddos.
I’ve seen some pretty grueling rights of passage and displays of physical prowess — this event is their father. Groups of four soldiers are given three simple tasks — carry a giant log, flip two 400-pound-plus tires repeatedly, and finally, a thatch-style group push up in a pool of muddy water.
It’s filthy, it’s gruesome and it’s what separates — amongst other things — the men from boys like me.
I watched with onlookers as stacked dudes broke down and fell face first into the mud. They groaned as their muscles drained from exertion few ever experience.
In all of this, not once did anyone complain about the brutal task at hand. To say the least, they weren’t concerned in the least about getting dirty.
Perhaps was wrong about stains. Tonight I will prepare for next year’s Team Pain by getting a grass stain and working towards the deadly trio.
Mmmm… maybe I’ll just stick to photos and leave the work to the men.
Yep, that’s it.
Sunday, June 13, 2010
It would be a lie to say I cannot remember the last time I got beat up by a girl… but this is not about me, so try not to picture it.
Even if the memory of getting worked by a woman was not still fresh in my mind, or a reality for that matter, I am sure that Cassandra Smith, cage fighter, could provide me with at least a handful of painful memories to last a lifetime.
The 4-11 Detroit native is a bad dude and she ain’t even a dude.
That is hardcore, my friends.
One year ago, Smith’s fiance, Chance Walkama, convinced Cassandra to join him in his passion of the martial arts. So, as not too many ladies would do, she agreed. On Saturday, June 12, she made use of her butt kicking skills as she stepped into the octagon/cage/ring/any place someone needed a beat down.
In the first round of her mixed martial arts debut, she sank a choke deep into her opponent and won via submission. Even without the choke, she made sure to scare the pants off of me and everyone else present. Her effortless takedowns, unrelenting forward movement and freshly pedicured toenails were enough to send a message to anyone daring enough to say, “Big deal, she’s just a girl.”
She is not JUST a girl — she ain’t your grandma, kid.
She is a bona fide, certified bad mother fighter.
In short, it would be a lie to say that I was not 100 percent totally impressed and at least a little scared by Cassandra Smith, cage fighter.
It’s 1:45 a.m. and I am too scared to sleep.
Is that proof enough for you?
Sunday, April 25, 2010
This assignment genuinely made me smile.
A lot of times I can be cynical or moody or both and probably even worse on some days.
But today was different.
It was raining, my socks were soaked, one tail light on my car was out and my stomach hurt from too many tacos from the night before.
When I first met Preethi Burkholder, something about her smile and general good mood made me feel a little better about my somewhat miserable day.
Then she started to play the piano and I totally at ease.
Her job — or maybe goal in life — is to bring joy through song to seniors in hospice centers and extended care facilities. With a blend of humor, classical piano training and an array of familiar tunes, I would say she’s done just that.
At first, despite her kind smile and demeanor, I wasn’t sure the crowd would take to her.
But it was like magic.
As soon as she began to play, not only did I feel better, everyone in the small room of seniors began singing, laughing and enjoying a brief trip back into the songs of their youth. In just an hour, she made more people smile than I’ve seen many people do in a year or more… and I only saw her play for 11 people, me included.
What a job.
Preethi Burkholder certainly has good reason to wear her ear-to-ear smile every second of the day.
Who wouldn’t if they loved their job as much as she does?
Saturday, April 24, 2010
In the fall of 1991, my cub scouting life ended. That is to say, I quit because my Pinewood Derby racer was such a joke that I was banned for life. Now, 19 years later, I returned to the derby, though my days of competing still remained in the era of Bush I.
If this derby gave me anything, it was an insatiable hunger for a hot dog (one racer modeled his pine block in the form of the food). After it was finished, I went to the gas station and scarfed a cheese-filled wiener and washed it down with a 119-ounce ice tea.
With nearly 100 competitors racing in this year’s derby, it was among the largest I’ve ever seen. Back to the food, this one was top notch — the concessions people crafted a brilliant Twinkie dish in the likeness of a racer. These Cheyenne area scouts know what it’s all about — wood made to look like food and food to look like wood. Most of my food usually looks like toast and my pencils are the only tree-based product I own.
Not everything was keen at this event, however… sadly, Sponge Bob Square Pants was severely injured when his racer de-railed and he was subsequently crushed. His racer continued to race, but the Sponge (that’s what I call him as we are good friends), was unable to return to action.
Let us take a moment to respect our dear friend…
Good, now that that’s over, I am going to try to regain what I lost in ’91. These kids and their supreme racers have inspired me to test my skill next year. If my fiance allows me (gives me some money), I am going to buy a kit, carve a racer and enter the open division next year. I’m thinking a racer modeled after a block of wood with really cool pencil stick figure drawings for speed.
I may not be as talented as the Cub Scouts who tore it up today, but I can dream.
Good job guys.
Saturday, April 17, 2010
After more than a year away from her family while serving with the Army National Guard’s 115th Fires Brigade, Heather Saul returned to her family and her role as “mom.”
Her husband, Dave, spent a year raising their three daughters and Heather, after two weeks of being home, is working her way back into her family.