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Fab 40: 40 of the most magical people in Utah Valley

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BY JEANETTE BENNETT – ALISHA GALLAGHER – ERICA PALMER

Bunnies courtesy of Hee Haw Farms – Magic props by SCERA and Hale Center Theater Orem

Utah Valley’s 40 most fabulous faces share their magic moments — and then they raise the curtain on times the show had to go on despite setbacks.

Carter Williams, Dave Roskelley and Don Cook.

Carter Williams, Dave Roskelley and Don Cook.

Carter Williams
Age 14 • Sandy

Abracadabra: Carter was born during the 2002 Winter Games and represented Alta View Hospital as the torch ran by. Carter hit the ground dancing and followed in his three siblings’ footsteps by dancing with Ballet West and Odyssey (he played Fritz in “The Nutcracker.”) Carter switched to Center Stage in Orem where he practices six days a week.

Magic moments: This eighth-grader competed on “America’s Got Talent” with his partner and team. His 30-hours weekly at Center Stage have built his dance resume, which includes winning Mini Male National Jazz competition, Junior Male National winner at Dance Awards, Winning Junior 1 Nationals with his ballroom partner at BYU, taking fifth at the World Preteen Ballroom Competition in Paris, and winning nationals at BYU with Center Stage two years in a row as a preteen.

The show must go on: Carter suffered a hairline fracture in his heel last year.

Dave Roskelley
Age 47 • Alpine

Abracadabra: When Dave left his hometown of Chicago and came to Utah to attend BYU, he took one look at the mountains and was bit by the climbing bug. He has not only summited Mount Everest, but in the past 10 years he has climbed the world’s “seven summits,” or the tallest peaks on each continent. He trained year-round on Mount Timpanogos and in American Fork Canyon.

The show must go on: “I have a tremendous phobia of needles. I almost didn’t finish my seven summits goal because I couldn’t handle the immunizations for Africa. I did it, but I’m still scared of needles.”

Magic moment: “The highlight was climbing Mount Kosciusko in Australia with my wife. She was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis almost 11 years ago. We took a chair lift to the top and hiked the very last part.”

Don Cook
Age 59 • Provo

Abracadabra: It’s not a ghost ringing the bells in the BYU Centennial Carillon Bell Tower — it’s Don Cook, head of the BYU organ department and University Carillonneur (who grabbed a pipe from the organ in his office for this photo shoot). Every Tuesday at noon, he climbs the 110 metal steps to greet students with music as they leave the Marriott Center after the devotional. He has also brought organ instruction to the public, creating OrganTutor: Organ 101, the first multimedia organ tutorial available to anyone wanting to learn the organ.

Magic moment: “Every time I’m standing in a river fishing is magical to me.”

Oldest trick in the book: “I write my diary in advance. When I get a vision of something, I go after it. While working toward my Doctor of Musical Arts at the University of Kansas, I knew I wanted to have this job at BYU. It was a long shot, but I went for it, and here I am.”

Dave Roberts, Peter Reichman, Constance Lundberg and Jenn Blosil.

Dave Roberts, Peter Reichman, Constance Lundberg and Jenn Blosil.

Dave Roberts
Age 40 • Cedar Hills

Abracadabra: When Dave and his Kid History brothers are in Chick-Fil-A (or name any restaurant), they get stopped for questions and pictures. “People are disappointed when they hear our actual voices,” he says. But their actual faces have been seen by millions as the group has gone YouTube crazy with Bored Shorts TV and upcoming network TV projects. Their latest venture is CVX Live, a YouTube convention slated for March 25-26 at the UCCU Center. “Utah is the best place to host this because we have a high percentage of YouTube creators and fans here in the state,” he says.

The show must go on: “In 2008-2009 I was in the mortgage industry and I watched my favorite banks collapse overnight. That was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Lots of people ended up changing light bulbs for a living, but luckily I transitioned into Kid History and YouTube.”

Peter Reichman
Age 34 • Provo

Abracadabra: After Peter graduated from BYU Law School in 2014 he joined the legal team at Fillmore Spencer, focusing on healthcare law. Outside the 8-to-5 job, however, he dedicates hundreds of hours on humanitarian work in the Philippines, where he served an LDS mission in 2000. Since then he has returned almost every year to provide vaccinations, food and water, and to build facilities like a rural maternity center and a school on a remote island. “As hard as I have tried, I can’t put myself in their shoes,” Pete says. “So I do as much as I can to put them in my shoes.”

Magic moment: “I loved witnessing a child’s reaction when he walked through the doors of his school for the first time, or when an expectant mother walked through the doors of a clean health facility.”

Under a spell: “Dr. Pepper has put a spell on me.”

Constance Lundberg
Age 68 • Orem

Abracadabra: Constance had a full-ride scholarship in folk singing at the University of Utah when the Vietnam War forced funding cuts. She was admitted with no scholarship. “And in my family, you don’t borrow money,” Constance says. So she applied for a scholarship at the law school, was accepted, making her the 72nd woman in Utah history admitted to the bar. She worked in a practice, then served on the council on environmental quality in the Ford White House, taught law at the U and BYU and served as the BYU associate dean of law.

Magic moment: “I’ll never forget when the man I later married put his arm around me on our first date. You could have blown me over with a feather.”

Oldest trick in the book:“I jump at every new opportunity. I was nicknamed ‘Tigger’ for that very reason. I was never accused of being shy.”

Jenn Blosil
Age 24 • Orem

Abracadabra: As we go to print, Jenn is in the top 14 of this season’s American Idol with her “dark indie pop rock music style.” To audition, she took a bus at 5 a.m. from Manhattan to Philadelphia. “I went for the experience — and to get a Philly cheese.” This fourth child out of eight didn’t leave the convention center until midnight, but she had a ticket to Hollywood in her hand (and no Philly cheesesteak).

Magic moment: “Getting my call to serve an LDS mission to New York New York South was magical. I had just raised money to record music, but I left five weeks after receiving my call.”
Oldest trick in the book “Prayer and scriptures are my tried-and-true tricks for happiness. I keep a continual prayer dialogue going throughout the day.”

Disappearing trick: “My teeth have gotten more crooked and I talk out of the side of my mouth more, so people say I look like Drew Barrymore. But I like to say I look like Beyoncé or Angelina Jolie.” (laughing)

Susan Kirby, Clem Hancock and James Rees.

Susan Finnigan Kirby, Clem Hancock and James Rees.

Susan Finnigan Kirby
Age 69 • Orem

Abracadabra: Susan has been the director of Ivy Hall Academy for the past 25 years — but her role in administration hasn’t stopped her from teaching math groups, choir and dance along the way. Susan says even though she will soon be stepping into an advisory role with the administration, her passion is and always will be working with children. A few years ago a young man approached her and said, “Everything I have ever accomplished I blame on Ivy Hall.” That’s a blame that brings no guilt to this mother of four and grandmother of 14.

The show must go on: “I literally have a big heart. Two years ago doctors diagnosed me with congenital heart disease — my heart was three times the normal size! Now I have to choose what I can safely do.”

Under a spell: “I could never give up being with children. Their perspective on life is positive and wonder-filled. They do put a spell on the world we live in.”

Oldest trick in the book: “Respect children. They are ‘little people’ who have feelings just like we do.”

Clem Hancock
Age 92 • Payson

Abracadabra: Clem was drafted into World War II when he was 19, and for starters he transported explosives in Asia. He also played the trumpet at military events and funerals. When he returned, he married, had four children, studied music performance at BYU and made a career with his trumpet. Now living at the Central Utah Veterans Home, Clem stands in the halls with residents, employees and family and plays “Taps” for each resident who passes away.

The show must go on: “My father died in a snowstorm after he fixed a power line in the mountains. He was 29, I was 5.”

In the spotlight: “I was stationed in New Delhi when someone rushed into the barracks and yelled, ‘Hancock!’ The commanding officer told me President Roosevelt had passed away and the officers wanted to put on a memorial service for soldiers in New Delhi. He asked me to play ‘Taps’ for 10,000 soldiers standing at attention. So I did.”

James Rees
Age 52 • Spanish Fork

Abracadabra: James was moved to tears the first time he saw a painting by Vincent van Gogh. “I believe there’s a spiritual quality of an original painting, knowing the artist has come in touch with it,” James says. He brushes his love for art into the classroom as a Provo High School art teacher. He received the National Secondary Educator Award this year for 24 years of colorful teaching at PHS. But to James, nothing says he’s making a difference like this note from a student: “Thanks for being the best art teacher in the history of ever!”

Magic moments: “My art was in an exhibit alongside five former students. We didn’t know we’d be featured together! It was exciting to see their lifelong interest in connecting with the arts.”

Offstage: “When I’m not teaching, I can be found mountain biking or cooking food with friends.”

Under a spell: “I have to drink a cup of homemade hot chocolate made from ganachee every morning.”

Alexa Gray, Grant Holdaway and Tanner Mangum.

Alexa Gray, Grant Holdaway and Tanner Mangum.

Alexa Gray
Age 21 • Provo

Abracadabra: During her college career as an outside hitter for BYU volleyball, Alexa helped her team make it to the Final Four, was named a First-Team All American and the West Coast conference Player of the Year, and finished as the no. 2 kills per set leader in the nation. She spiked her way to every honor, coming to practice an hour early so she could play all six rotations. The Canada native graduates in April with a bachelor’s degree in photography.

The show must go on: “My mom passed away over seven years ago, which was hard for me and my sister. We have kept moving forward knowing that mom wouldn’t want us to be sad or stop playing sports.” (Alexa’s sister, Jordan, plays rugby at BYU.)

Under a spell: “I love Graham Canyon ice cream from the BYU Creamery! I also can’t live without HGTV.”

Grant Holdaway
Age 84 • Vineyard

Abracadabra: When construction began on Geneva Steel Mill in 1942, Grant’s budding career also took root. His “Vegetables For Sale” sign drew in construction workers — and at 12 years old, Grant was in business. Twenty years later, Grant used his BYU education in horticulture to teach science, math and health at Orem Junior High. His free summers inspired him to teach his five kids to garden. This grew into “Grant’s Plants” and later to “Vineyard Garden Center” before closing on Christmas Eve 2015. After 40 years of labor and love (and at 84 years old), Grant retired, hanging this sign in the windows: “Closed. Too old, too tired. Thanks for the memories.”

Oldest trick in the book: “Hoe to the end of the row. You have to do every part of the work that you’re given.”

Under a spell: “I’ve run 40 ultra marathons in the past 20 years. This summer I’m running the Wasatch Front 100 Mile Endurance Run.”

Tanner Mangum
Age 22 • Provo

Abracadabra: In the final seconds of the fourth quarter, Tanner has thrown not one, not two, but three Hail Marys to claim the victory. Can’t remember the third? That one happened in fifth grade. The most recent two occurred against Nebraska and Boise State in his memorable first season as quarterback for the BYU football team, after he returned from an LDS mission to Antofagasta, Chile. This 6-foot-3-inch Idaho native also received the Freshman of the Year Award from the Touchdown Club of Columbus.

Oldest trick in the book: “Smiling. I’ve always been an optimistic and happy person because I can’t help but enjoy life. My teammates know that no matter what’s going on, I try to stay positive.”

Stage name: “My teammates have nicknamed me ‘Mang,’ and it has evolved into ‘Schmang.’ Somehow I’ve become ‘Mang Schmang.’”

Stan Swim, Sunny Hintze, Jenny Russon and Whitney Talbert Clayton.

Stan Swim, Sunny Hintze, Jenny Russon and Whitney Talbert Clayton.

Stan Swim
Age 41 • Pleasant Grove

Abracadabra: As a “non-outgoing person,” Stan stepped up to the microphone to host the World Congress of Families in Salt Lake City in 2015 (the first time WCF had been on U.S. soil). As president of Sutherland Institute (founded by his late father), Stan spent years preparing for the weeklong pro-family event.

Magic moments: “We had youth from every country represented, and it was electric to see them carry in flags for their nations. Another highlight was the Mormon Tabernacle Choir concert. When they hit the peak of ‘Come Thou Fount,’ tears streamed down the faces of people I had known for years.”

The show must go on: “Losing my dad to brain cancer changed everything. At the funeral I realized the name and reputation he left me. It gives me something to live up to — something to chase.”
Under a spell “Our three kids are adopted, and I’ll never forget our first moments with each.”

Sunny Hintze
Age 35 • Saratoga Springs

Abracadabra: Sunny literally took the cake when she won first place on Food Network’s “Cake Wars.” Sunny and her cousin Melissa Zunich had 75 minutes to create a cake inspired by “green eggs and ham” on the second season of the show in 2015. They came up with a five-tiered Dr. Seuss-themed cake with vanilla bean cake and salted caramel filling that the judges (obviously) loved. The two split the $10,000 grand prize, and Sunny continues following her cake dreams at Sunny Day’s Cakes in Saratoga Springs.

Magic moment: “Winning ‘Cake Wars’ was incredible! It was fast-paced and hard, but I learned a lot about my abilities. I pride myself on making a well-supported cake, and I feel like we did that on the show.”

Oldest trick in the book: “You can’t fail with buttercream frosting. Stick with the basics and it will taste delicious.”

Whitney Talbert Clayton
Age 22 • Payson

Abracadabra: Whitney started the Miss Teen Extraordinaire Pageant for special needs girls in 2011 when she ran for Miss Spanish Fork with the platform “Overcoming Disabilities, Embracing Abilities.” Following an introduction and talent show, pageant participants like Jenny Russon, pictured, are awarded with flowers, a crown, a sash and individual titles selected by judges. The event received such strong community support that Whitney has kept it going every year since. She is studying social work with a minor in autism studies at UVU and plans to receive a master’s degree in special education.

Oldest trick in the book: “I am a list-maker. I do meal prepping at the beginning of each week and set aside time to spend with my husband and family.”

Under a spell: “I try to make healthy food choices, but I can’t resist old-fashioned donuts. They’re good for my soul.”

Sheila Morrison, Alex Murillo and Guy G. Roche, Sr.

Sheila Morrison, Alex Murillo and Guy G. Roche, Sr.

Sheila Morrison
Age 60 • Pleasant Grove

Abracadabra: Sheila opened The Swimmin’ Hole 11 years ago and later gave a Boy Scout troop a chance to teach swimming lessons to their peers with special needs. Seeing the difference it made for the special needs students and Scouts, she kept swimming with that idea. Sheila and her team of volunteers build the students’ confidence through playing water games and building friendships with their swimming buddy. More than 50 kids have come through her special needs program — with a handful who have stuck around since the beginning.

Magic moment: “I never thought I’d get married in my 30s and then have four kids!”

Oldest trick in the book: “We put a life jacket on the kids and then we’ll remove the rope that separates the shallow and deep ends so they don’t notice where the deep end starts. It helps gets them out of their comfort zone.”

Alex Murillo
Age 59 • Mapleton

Abracadabra: Since founding Center Stage 25 years ago, Alex has seen 7,000 students dance across his floors. With 702 current dancers at his Orem location, Center Stage continues to put Orem on the map as the dance capital of the country and has been called “America’s Studio” on both coasts.

Magic moments: “Eleven professional dancers from Center Stage have been on ‘Dancing with the Stars.’ Nearly 85 percent of one cruise line’s dancers were ours at one time. And all seven of my children have had success in the arts.”

Under a spell: “Macey’s on 800 North in Orem has the best donuts in Utah Valley. I like custard-filled, chocolate-covered and old-fashioned donuts — and I eat them three times a week.” (Alex brought a box of Macey’s donuts to the Utah Valley Magazine offices the day after this interview. Yum!)

Guy G. Roche, Sr.
Age 77 • Spanish Fork

Abracadabra: Guy moved from Iowa to Spanish Fork in 2008 — but it wasn’t for his career. His wife, Josie, had been diagnosed with terminal cancer (after a first diagnosis in 1994), and they moved to Utah County to be closer to the Huntsman Cancer Institute. She passed away just before their 50th anniversary in 2014. In his mourning, Guy found a way to give back to HCI — he began organizing an event to remember Josie and help eradicate cancer. The inaugural golf tournament will be at the Alpine Country Club on May 23.

Magic moment: “After Josie had finished a round of chemotherapy, the doctor told us to go away for a while. So we did. We had been watching ‘House Hunter’s International’ and decided to go to Costa Rica and Portugal for a month.”

Under a spell: “I can’t live without the hope I share of one day a cure being found so no one has to suffer the loss of a family member to cancer.”

Elle Martin, Hannah Whatcott and Jose Enriquez.

Elle Martin, Hannah Whatcott and Jose Enriquez.

Elle Martin
Age 54 • Mapleton

Abracadabra: Working as an emergency room technician, Elle treated countless victims of domestic violence and sexual assault, but didn’t see many women in law enforcement helping with those cases. So at 39, she entered the police academy. After more than six years in the Provo Police Department, she switched uniforms for BYU, where she is now the BYU police sergeant — the first female to hold the position. She also plans a semiannual Emergency Medical Conference and continues helping assault victims as a Rape Aggression Defense instructor.

Magic moment: “I’ll never forget the moment I became a grandmother! I was in my bike patrol uniform when I got a call from my daughter. Now I have three grandkids, and there’s nothing better than hearing those small voices call me ‘grandma.'”

Under a spell: “I can’t live without my family — or black licorice!”

Hannah Whatcott
Age 17 • Cedar Hills

Abracadabra: Hannah has styled her way to Insta-fame with more than 19,000 followers of @hannah_hairstyles. She started posting about her hairdos when she was 15, and within two months she had 1,000 followers. This Lone Peak junior now keeps up a website and YouTube channel to give subscribers a peek into her how-tos, which brings in demand for her talents at dance competitions and weddings. It all started when she taught herself how to do a Dutch braid — which is still her favorite by a hair.

The show must go on: “My biggest challenge is dealing with asthma. Having a chronic illness has taught me to take care of myself and live as healthy as possible.”

Oldest trick in the book: “I love pulling my braids apart to make them look bigger and fuller.”

Under a spell: “I can’t live without technology and my camera. Without that, my account wouldn’t exist!”

José Enriquez
Age 41 • Provo

Abracadabra: José was teaching Spanish and ESL at Timpview when he saw a need to get his students more involved in their own education. His bueno idea was to found Latinos in Action, a nonprofit organization that encourages Latino students to proactively shape their futures. José’s curriculum revolves around service, bilingualism, leadership and extra curricular activities that empower youth to take charge of their futures. Six thousand students are involved across the country — and 85 percent of LIA students go on to college.

Magic moment: “My family flew my mom out from Los Angeles to see me graduate with my Ph.D. from BYU. She was the one brown face in a sea of white. It was the pinnacle achievement after all she sacrificed to move to the U.S.”

Under a spell: “I love dancing the Salsa, Merengue, Cumbia and Bachata with my wife.”

Phil Davis, Larry Baxter, Darren Knezek and Caitlin Connolly.

Phil Davis, Larry Baxter, Darren Knezek and Caitlin Connolly.

Phil Davis
Age 43 • Provo

Abracadabra: At age 8, Phil read about ingredients needed for fine chocolate. He bought several brands, tasted and ranked them. Over time, his maturing chocolate palate found nothing that presented the full genetic flavor of cocoa. Phil now plays “Willy Wonka” at Coleman & Davis Artisian Chocolate in downtown Provo. He also frequently presents chocolate tastings next door at Taste, where he gives customers an educational and sensory experience. In his pre-chocolate life, Phil co-founded Clean Life Sports (nutritional company) to create “the highest level of nutritional products ever.”

Magic moments: “I was alone and out of water in a remote section of the Grand Canyon. Over a three-day period, I came close to dying several times. Every other year, I seem to have a near brush with death. Because of God’s intervention, I always survive and see life with clarity.”

Larry Baxter
Age 56 • Orem

Abracadabra: With his Ph.D. in chemical engineering, Larry isn’t just aware of the negative impact carbon emissions have on the environment. This BYU professor is also fixing the problem at the source, by developing a cryogenic carbon capture system that eliminates 96 to 98 percent of the carbon dioxide emitted from coal-powered power plants. This new system only needs to be added to the back end of an existing plant, saving money along with the environment.

Magic moment: “While leading a dinner with scientists from the former Soviet Union to develop Chernobyl remediation technology, we had a spontaneous singing contest. I sang one verse of ‘A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief.’ The whole evening was surreal.”

Oldest trick in the book: “I’ve learned to surround myself with good people and give them opportunities to excel. That’s how my team at Sustainable Energy Solutions was able to find a great solution to curb pollution.”

Darren Knezek
Age 53 • Provo

Abracadabra: Darren was a high schooler in Texas when he climbed his first rock wall — and he fell in love with the struggle of reaching for each hold. His rock-solid love for climbing brought him to Utah County, where he has since mapped more than 400 routes in local climbing sites. He has literally written the book on climbing in the valley — “Maple Canyon Climbing Guidebook” — which includes more than 600 climbing routes. In addition to owning Mountainworks in Provo, Darren is working on a guidebook for climbing routes in American Fork.

Oldest trick in the book: “Every year I take about 50 people and expose them to something new, like mountaineering or ice climbing. It’s my way of giving back to the universe.”

Under a spell: “I’m not an expert in it, but I love studying astronomy.”

Caitlin Connolly
Age 29 • Provo

Abracadabra: Growing up with all boys, Caitlin struggled to identify with women. Now she’s one of Utah Valley’s rising artists, with her figurative narrative style and themes of womanhood and spirituality. Her painting titled “Women Debating Two Truths” is the cover of Deseret Book’s 2014 release of “Women at Church.” Another of Caitlin’s popular depictions is “A Piece of Me,” showing the connection of mother and child.

Magic moments: “As a teenager, I was into drawing hands — hands as trees, hands as bricks, hands opened and closed, textured and contoured. I want to revisit the ‘hands as castle’ concept.”

The show must go on: When Caitlin isn’t drawing, reading, painting or singing, she is spending time with her musician husband (member of the band Fictionist).

Melody Apezteguia, Shannon Abbott, Tyler Beddoes and Jake Chipman.

Melody Apezteguia, Shannon Abbott, Tyler Beddoes and Jake Chipman.

Melody Apezteguia
Age 45 • American Fork

Abracadabra: Melody has been teaching math for 23 years, with seven at American Fork High School, and it all added up to one big night where she received the 2016 Utah Teacher of the Year Award. With the recognition came a technology package to enhance her classroom as well as a chance to meet President Obama later this year. The cool factor of receiving the award was incalculable, but she stays focused on the prime reward. “It’s incredible to hear students say I helped them believe they can become doctors, dancers, engineers, teachers or anything they want to be,” Melody says.

The show must go on: “I didn’t expect to be single with no children at this point in my life. I also never expected to have so many children in my students.”

Magic moment: “I never tire of watching a child with a limitation or preconceived notion that they can’t ‘do math’ learn that they can.”

Shannon Abbott
Age 29 • Payson

Abracadabra: Shannon has always had music in her soul, but the stay-at-home mom was content with kitchen concerts for her two babies and singing in local talent shows. All that changed when she recorded her own rewrite of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” and posted it online. (“When nap time comes, I’ll scream, oh hallelujah …”) Thirty-eight million views later, she has recorded an album and takes selfies with strangers who recognize her viral celebrity status.

The show must go on: “After struggling with infertility, seeing those two dreamed-of pink lines on the pregnancy test replaced the pain with elation!”

Magic moment: “It was insane to have hundreds of people reaching out to me saying how my silly song touched them. And it was pretty cool telling my mom I had my own Pandora station.”

Tyler Beddoes
Age 30 • Elk Ridge

Abracadabra: Spanish Fork Police Officer Tyler Beddoes was deemed a hero when he and three other officers rescued 18-month-old Lily Groesbeck, who survived suspended upside down in her car seat for 14 hours after the car her mom was driving crashed into the Spanish Fork River. This husband and father of two credits the rescue to a voice, which he believes was the spirit of Lily’s mother, that alerted him to the baby still alive in the car. He recently co-authored a 208-page book, “Proof of Angels,” about his experience.

The show must go on: “The biggest challenge for me is truly believing in myself and what I’m capable of — like writing a book. It’s amazing what someone can accomplish if they work hard.”

Magic moment: “To see what Lily had fought through while trapped upside down in cold weather for so long was remarkable. This group rescue changed my life for the better.”

Jake Chipman
Age 17 • Midway

Abracadabra: Jake was 10 years old when his dad suggested he try the Flowrider at the Lindon Aquatics Center. “I was a wimpy kid, but I tried it anyway and loved it,” Jake says. “It was a huge confidence booster for me.” After hundreds of hours practicing at the Provo Beach Resort, he flew to Thailand in November 2015 to compete in the World Flowboarding Championships. His mojo flowed and he swam away with the title of world champion.

Magic moment: “Winning the world championship was unreal. I was the underdog! My parents watched it from Utah and told me they jumped up and down on the bed when they announced that I won.”

Under a spell: “I’m obsessed with Mountain Dew Baja Blast.”

Polly K. Dunn, Dean Wright, Kris Doty-Yells and Josh Rohantinsky.

Polly K. Dunn, Dean Wright, Kris Doty-Yells and Josh Rohantinsky.

Polly K. Dunn
Age 58 • Springville

Abracadabra: Polly was enjoying an afternoon with her daughter and grandkids in a children’s museum when she got an unexpected phone call. Afterwards, her daughter looked at her and asked, “Did someone die?” Everyone was alive and well — Polly had just been asked to direct the Provo City Center Temple Cultural Celebration. With her background in theatre education, she has directed and choreographed dozens of productions with hundreds of kids, but now she’s directing 5,000 youth across 151 wards for the celebration, which is March 19 at 7 p.m. in the Marriott Center.

Magic moment: “A fleeting magic moment was winning best actress in Utah Valley for playing Lily St. Regis in a production of ‘Annie.’”

Oldest trick in the book: “At the top of every weekday in my planner is ‘SPE,’ which stands for scriptures, prayer and exercise. If I can start with that routine, I can do whatever else needs to be done.”

Dean Wright
Age 63 • Orem

Abracadabra: As the director of BYU Dining Services, Dean Wright hasn’t just brought Cougar fans ice cream flavors like Sneakerdoodle and Whoosh Cecil — he also invented the stadium-famous CougarTails, which are the 16-inch maple bars that sell to the flavor of 5,000 per game. In the halftime of it all, Dean battled and beat a brain tumor and cancer, with his wife, five children and 11 grandchildren cheering him along to recovery.

Magic moment: “A fourth grader once told me he switched his allegiance from the U to BYU because of CougarTails.”

The show must go on: “We once had a wrong date on a wedding we were catering. University Police called and said a bride and groom were waiting for the food to arrive at their campus venue, so my wife and I ran to Costco and put everything together. We felt bad, so we paid for the wedding dress. We now require a signature to confirm the dates!”

Kris Doty-Yells
Age 55 • Orem

Abracadabra: Kris is the state’s go-to resource on depression in women and early-returning LDS missionaries. This department chair of Behavioral Science at UVU had two children and a student return early, and her research began. “We can do better at supporting early returning missionaries. We should thank them for their service — no matter how long they were out — and then ask what we can do to help them adjust and move forward with their lives.” She also says “toxic perfectionism” is at the root of depression in Utah’s women. “We’ve taken Matthew 5:48 and put it on steroids. Perfect just means to be complete.”

Magic moments: “The past two months have been the most magical — I married the dean after knowing each other for several years and then a whirlwind courtship.”

Under a spell: “I can’t live without my laptop, scriptures and running shoes.”

Josh Rohatinsky
Age 33 • Provo

Abracadabra: Josh specializes in “firsts.” As a 7-time All-American for BYU and a Nike-sponsored professional runner for four years, he celebrated his first 4-minute mile and his 2:14 marathon. His most recent “first” celebration was the initial steel beam going up for the Utah Valley Hospital replacement, where he serves as project manager.

Magic moments: “My athletic goals were a major focus for half my life, and now I’m so glad I found a new passion in my career. The Utah Valley Hospital replacement will be completed in 2019 and include a 12-story patient tower and 10-story outpatient building.”

Hottest ticket in town: “Despite being disenfranchised in the past, I’m excited about the changes and prospects moving forward. So, hottest ticket? BYU football.”

Cory Shupe, Michele Welch and Holly Richardson.

Cory Shupe, Michele Welch and Holly Richardson.

Cory Shupe
Age 43 • Sandy

Abracadabra: As the landscape architect for Thanksgiving Point’s nearly completed “Light of the World” sculpture exhibit, Cory’s goal is to create the alive-and-growing setting on 2.5 acres for artist Angela Johnson’s lifesize bronze depictions of 15 scenes from the life of Christ.

Magic moment: “We studied grass back east and found a strand that waves with the slightest air movement. We are using that grass in front of the sculpture of the Savior walking on water to depict waves.”

Oldest trick in the book: “The whole garden is designed for 2-3 people to walk abreast. But as you walk into the Garden of Gethsemane exhibit, the trail becomes soft and one track. Every seat is individual because the Atonement isn’t a group thing. Landscape design helps tell the story.”

Hottest ticket in town: “I’ve ridden LOTOJA seven times and love to watch Tour of Utah.”

Michele Welch
Age 60 • American Fork/Heber

Abracadabra: Since starting the project for her master’s thesis at UVU in 2007, Michele has dedicated her life to researching the lives of remarkable women in Utah history. An exhibit featuring 20 women from her project, “The Utah Women’s Walk,” features the diverse contributions of Utah women and is scheduled to debut at the Thanksgiving Point Gardens this fall, after Michele and her husband leave to serve an LDS mission.

Magic moment: “Nothing compares with the magic of watching our children and grandchildren succeed at anything they have worked hard at.”

Under a spell: “My husband would say I can’t live without ‘Madame Secretary’ and chocolate. However, the more I research and write the stories of extraordinary women, it is their strength of character and courage that is hard for me to live without.”

Holly Richardson
Age 51 • Pleasant Grove

Abracadabra: As a candidate for the state senate, Holly’s most memorable stat might be her 24 kids — a combination of biological and adopted (from eight countries). Her other claims to fame include being a midwife, a communications student, an adjunct nursing professor and a social media guru (with a moniker of “Holly on the Hill.”)

Magic moments: “I’ll never forget the first baby I delivered 18 years ago. I also love meeting our kids for the first time and making a difference in someone’s life through politics.”

The show must go on: “We’ve buried four kids, and those hard times make political challenges pale in comparison.”

Hottest ticket in town: “Jason Hewlett and Hale Center Theater.”

Heather Kahlert, Bri Ray and Mean Murff.

Heather Kahlert, Bri Ray and Mean Murff.

Bri Ray
Age 18 • Orem

Abracadabra: Ten years after writing her first song and performing at her dad’s business meeting, Bri’s career shot to the stars when she earned her golden ticket on the farewell season of American Idol. Bri made it through the Hollywood rounds before bowing out, but she’s taking the judges’ advice and continuing her career by putting together two bands. Bri uses her singing talents in a motivational program she created to stop bullying and promote self-acceptance in junior high and high school students. Another verse of her career included singing and acting in the music video “Come Unto Christ” on lds.org.

Magic moment: “I begged my mom to see ‘Justin Bieber: Never Say Never’ with me, and I almost started crying in the movie because I knew I wanted to make singing my career.”

Oldest trick in the book: “Making my hair look bigger than it is — I use a flat iron on the lowest setting. It stretches and then springs back big!”

Heather Kahlert
Age 32 • Saratoga Springs

Abracadabra: While watching hot air balloons fill with air and lift at the Freedom Festival, Heather caught a glimpse of the hospital construction site. Her gratitude for what Primary Children’s had done for her family prompted her to make a call — and then to give a $3 million donation through the Kahlert Foundation, of which she is the vice president. “The Kahlert Foundation has stepped forward with extraordinary generosity to make a pace-setting gift, a milestone gift,” says Steve Smoot, Utah Valley Hospital CEO.

The show must go on: “Balancing my children and my work has been a real test at times, but I’ve always been able to push through it with grit, working to maintain a good attitude with faith in better things to come.”

Oldest trick in the book: “Meditation and exercise keep me peaceful, moving and driven.”

Megan Murff
Age 31 • Orem

Abracadabra: As a fitness-focused mom of a little girl, Megan wanted to make life easier for mothers trying to keep up on personal fitness while taking care of young kids. So she used her BYU MBA and started Cahoots Fitness — a mom-friendly gym that offers movement classes for toddlers while moms get a workout in the next room. Infants are even allowed to stay in their carrier while moms work out. The Lehi gym is only a year old, but Megan and her 20-month old daughter work out regularly alongside 60 other families who are all “in Cahoots to get fit.”

Oldest trick in the book: “I make a little time in the day to take care of me. Once I do that, I am so much better suited to take care of other people.”

Under a spell: “I love my chocolate peanut butter milkshakes. I’m not an advocate of cutting out sugar entirely — I don’t think it’s realistic or happy. What’s life without a little dessert?”

For a behind-the-scenes look at our Fab 40 photo shoot, click here.

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