Fab 50


BY SAMANTHA MURPHEY, utahvalley360.com


This is going to be big.

Somewhere between Utah Valley’s big mountains and big skies are little people who are larger than life — big dreams, big goals, big challenges, big impacts. This year’s Fabulous 50 come in all shapes, sizes and colors but they have at least one thing in common: their gigantic hearts and colossal ambitions are adding enormous amounts of goodness and spice to the community.

And we have big things to say about it.



Justin Osmond, Age 34, Ephraim

For his Eagle Scout service project, Justin Osmond raised enough money to purchase new hearing aids for a friend who didn’t have the financial means.

“The change that was wrought in his life brought a change to mine,” Justin says. “And ever since that moment, I wanted to provide hearing help on a much wider and global scale.”

Justin has traveled the world (20-plus countries in just the past year) with the Starkey Hearing Foundation helping children with hearing loss.

He recently wrote an autobiography titled “Hearing With My Heart” about his own struggle with hearing loss. He also partnered with ABC’s “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” to provide more than 500 free hearing the Oregon School for the Deaf in Salem.

Biggest dream Get married! Ha!

Biggest surprise of your life I visited President Obama’s grandma in Africa and was surprised to find out she didn’t know a single word of English.

Biggest support Prayer

Biggest ah-hah moment Sitting on top of Mount Everest

Eric Johnson, Age 50, Provo

Eric Johnson started his passion for track at an elementary school field day. Now he has seven titles of Utah’s Amateur Athlete of the Year. He has maintained national and world track and field rankings for 11 years, and he has won three national championships in hurdles and racewalking. He was ranked first in the world in the 50-meter dash in 2002.

He says the secret of his success is simply working his 50-year-old body out hard.

“I hope to inspire people that you can accomplish anything at any age,” he says.

Eric is also proud of his acting carer. His spots in movies, TV shows and commercials have won him Utah’s Actor of the Year medal twice.

Biggest regret Not going out for more sports in high school.

Biggest motivator

Maintain good health

Biggest pet peeve People who are mean to each other for no reason.

Biggest change you’d like to make in your life Financial freedom

Deidre Henderson, Age 36, Spanish Fork

Deidre Henderson dropped out of college after her freshman year to support her husband through his education. Although this wasn’t part of her carefully made plans, she wouldn’t change a thing.

Deidre promised herself she would finish her degree at BYU after her youngest child started first grade, but by that time she had already been working for Congressman Jason Chaffetz for two years.

Always a political junkie, Deidre started volunteering with Jason’s campaign in 2008. The day after he won the general election he asked  Deidre to be his campaign manager for the 2010 election. She now runs Congressman Chaffetz’ political organization out of her laundry room.

“It allows me flexibility to be available to my five kids,” she says.

Biggest pick-me-up Diet Coke. Everyone has a vice, although I did switch to caffeine free last fall (you’re welcome, Mom).

Biggest goal To run for office someday.

Paul Dishman, Age 56, Provo

Paul Dishman, chair of the Marketing Department in the Woodbury School at UVU, was chosen in 2010 as a Fulbright Scholar to teach in Montenegro, one of the former republics of Yugoslavia. While he was serving as an academic ambassador there, he trained local business leaders in economic development.

The 13,000 photographs he took to document his experience served as the basis for the traveling exhibit, “Water, War, and Wonder: A Photographic Exploration of the Balkans.” He is finishing a book about the experience titled “The Full Monte.”

Biggest hero Churchill understood great things are done by ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances.

Biggest pet peeve

Students who “snd txt msgs” instead of communicating professionally.

Biggest eye-opening experience Not being able to walk across a city park in Kosovo because they haven’t cleared land mines planted more than 15 years ago.

Stuart Maxfield, Age 27, Provo

Stuart Maxfield, frontman of local band “Fictionist,” has loved music for as long as he can remember.

“My parents tell a story about driving back from Denver,” he says. “It’s a long drive and I’d sing to myself all the way.”

He started playing base at 13 and guitar at 16 and teaches lessons today — when he’s not rocking out himself, of course.

“I compare our sound to Pink Floyd,” he says.

The group is in the running to be the next reader-selected cover band of Rolling Stone Magazine. They chose the name Fictionist (over second place name “Journalism”), because they liked that it didn’t confine them to any one genre. Stuart is the central songwriter for the group.

“I have a philosophy that authentic songs come from a place of understanding in your own life,” he says. “I try not to reach too far for inspiration.”

Biggest stumbling block Discouragement and pain. As an artist I make a lot of intangible things some don’t value. 

Biggest motivator

Accomplishment, imminent death, the joy of living, the satisfaction of a job well done


David Lindes, Age 28, Springville

Guatemalan native David Lindes moved to the United States when he was 9. He rediscovered his interest in Latin America while studying at BYU and found that music was the best outlet for his cultural passion.

Now a singer/songwriter, David describes his music as “a sound that marries the organic with the electronic, the traditional with the avant-garde, the warmth of Latin America with the bite of rock, hip-hop and electronica.”

His lyrics are laced with social commentary.

“We’re Hispanic, we’re rockers and we’re Mormons,” he says. “All three of those communities are too often the target of stereotypes we don’t fit.”

When he’s not playing, David works in IT for the LDS Church.

Check him out at


Biggest change you’d like to see in the world I’d love to see two stereotypes torn to bits: that of the lazy, ignorant Hispanic, and that of the self-righteous, ultra-conservative, gun-toting Mormon. 

Biggest worry That my guitar will be out of tune when I pick it up on stage, and I’ll play a whole song that way — yeah, it’s happened.

Biggest motivator The far-flung idea that it might all work out.

John Curtis, Age 50, Provo

Provo Mayor John Curtis is transparency savvy. His blog has engaged the unengaged.

“It’s fast, free, unfiltered and reaches many who don’t pay attention in the traditional way,” he says.

Mayor Curtis is keeping his constituents informed as he makes big strides toward a sustainable city budget, a vibrant downtown, a maximized use of Provo’s fiber optic network and more.

In other words, this man loves where he lives.

“No doubt it’s the people — people who not only share my values but who care about each other and their community,” he says.

Provo’s access to natural resources also adds to his admiration. When he’s not busy serving the public or spending time with his family, Mr. Mayor can be seen cruising through Provo Canyon on his motorbike.

Biggest eye-opening experience The politics of politics

Biggest fan of Hard work

Biggest ah-hah moment My first laptop in 1984

Biggest worry Bad breath

Biggest change you’d like to see in the world Nice guys finish first.

Martina Wardle, Age 20, Lehi

It started at a junior rodeo with her cousins at age 13. Martina Wardle won — glasses, braces and all. Now as Miss Rodeo Utah, Martina graces the valley with a pretty smile and crown-winning horsemanship. She also travels far and wide as a rodeo ambassador.

“Part of my job is to explain what the sport of rodeo is, but a bigger part is to teach people that rodeo is an expression of our western heritage as well as a form of entertainment,” she says. “Rodeo is the only sport derived from an actual way of life, and it continues to promote the classic values of honesty, hard work and sportsmanship.”

Biggest worry How finances and the economy will affect my future

Biggest dream Becoming a speech pathologist

Biggest pick-me-up Talking to a friend who knows me better than I know myself

Biggest change you’d like to make to your life Stop being chronically late

Michael Jacobsen, Age 68, Springville

For 27 years, Mike Jacobsen has been serving as the director of athletics at Utah Technical College, UVSC and now UVU. Before that he spent 18 years at Springville High School as a football coach and school administrator. But Mike says he rarely goes “to work.”

“I go to the gym. I go to the field. I go to the stadium. I go to the court,” he says. “I love what I do! I hire good people and help them to be successful.”

He and his wife, Alice, look forward to serving a mission and having more time for grandchildren, fly fishing, horseback riding and golf. But for now, they’re happy to be providing opportunities for students to develop competitive skills necessary for success in life.

Biggest success Being a cancer survivor

Biggest surprise of your life My fourth child

Biggest challenge The transition To NCAA DIV l athletics

Biggest pet peeve Stress as an excuse

Biggest hero President Monson

Biggest regret Not finishing my doctorate degree

Jonathan Johnson, Age 33, Springville

Jonathan Johnson is overflowing with enthusiasm about his job. As president of the More Good Foundation, he leads an effort to strengthen the unofficial voice of the LDS Church on the web.

He believes in the power of being ordinary.

“There are people who are interested in what ordinary church members are doing,” he says. “I never believed people would care what we have to say, but they do.”

When he’s not a cheerleader for online missionary work, engaging members with blogs, social media and media sharing sites, he’s busy being a husband and father.

“I’ve seen the benefits of this job in my children, my wife and my general well being,” he says.

Biggest hero Max Esplin, my mission president

Biggest eye-opening experience Returning to higher-ed in my 30s

Biggest regret Not listening to my wife, at times when it mattered. (Are there times when it doesn’t?)

Biggest surprise of your life Being called “fabulous” by Utah Valley Magazine

Brandon Arnold, Age 33, Provo

For the past six years, Brandon Arnold has been molding high school minds in the ways of film production, film history and animation. He teaches at East Hollywood High, a charter school in Salt Lake City that specializes in digital media. His advanced film production students finished a feature length Shakespeare adaptation of “Much Ado About Nothing,” which screened at the LDS Film Festival in January.

“There are lots of ways to teach kids critical thinking, problem solving, teamwork, responsibility, creativity, leadership and confidence,” Brandon says. “I happen to like making movies, so that’s what I use to teach them. I think there’s a ton of untapped potential in the idea of school film studios.”

Biggest stumbling block Shyness

Biggest success Being on the championship kickball team at East Hollywood High

Biggest motivator The Beatles album “Please Please Me”

Biggest change you’d like to see in the world Teleportation devices

Biggest goal Produce a DVD box set of the complete works of William Shakespeare

Biggest pet peeve Makeup


Cambry Kaylor, Age  23, Highland

When Cambry Kaylor flipped open American Girl Magazine at age 8 and read an article about horse vaulting, she was already enrolled in gymnastics and ballet. Her love for animals made horse gymnastics seem like a perfect fit. Cambry’s mom found the nearest vaulting club, and Cambry was soon hooked.

So hooked, in fact, she hasn’t let the accident that paralyzed her legs stop her from enjoying the sport. She returned as a coach in 2006, just one year after a miscommunication with a teammate caused her to fall during a dismount, breaking her back.

“How can you teach someone vaulting from a wheelchair?” Cambry asks. “It took some thinking outside the box, adaptations to equipment and some patient students in the beginning, but we figured it out. This sport has taught me to be tough and determined and to persevere.”

For information about Cambry’s equestrian vaulting club, visit www.techniquevaulting.org.

Biggest goal Become an occupational therapist

Biggest pet peeve Hearing the word “can’t”

Biggest ah-hah moment When I realized walking wasn’t that important

Elden Nelson, Age 44, Alpine

Six years ago, Elden Nelson decided to try a new weight-loss strategy humiliation.

“I started a blog, FatCyclist.com, embarrassing myself by proclaiming my weight on a daily basis, no matter how bad I was doing,” he says.

His funny biking stories and candid tone drew readers. When Elden’s wife, Susan, was diagnosed with breast cancer, the blog became a way to raise awareness and funding for the fight against the disease. Elden raised $1.5 million.

Susan passed away in August 2009, leaving behind four children and a powerful legacy.

“I’m remarried now and incredibly happy,” Elden says. “I’ll always honor Susan’s memory, though, by continuing the fight she started.”

Biggest dream To not worry whether my twin daughters will face the prospect of breast cancer

Biggest challenge Switching from doing what is comfortable to doing what is important

Biggest influence for good in your life The Hospice nurses who helped me take care of Susan toward the end of her life

Eileen Chamberland, Age 57, Pleasant Grove

Eileen Chamberland is celebrating her first anniversary as executive director of Kids on the Move, a resource center for families who have special needs children. She started with the organization in 1991 when it served 65 families each month. Eileen has served in various capacities as Kids on the Move has expanded to now serve 280 families each month.

“The services are varied, but our goal is always to provide information and training so that kids are progressing in their development and families are stronger and more self-sufficient in all facets of family life,” she says.

Biggest pick-me-up My dog’s crazy, boundless joy when I come home from work

Biggest worry How life will turn out for someone I love who is coping with a life-long mental illness

Biggest failure Times when I have lacked the courage to do what is right

Biggest fan of America, the greatest nation on Earth

Ryan Woodward Age 38, Mapleton

Remember “Space Jam”? Animator Ryan Woodward worked on that. “Spider-Man”? He worked on that, too. This BYU professor (and award-winning animator) has a colorful resume.

“I was always the kid who was imagining a lot, drawing and not doing my homework or listening to my mom for that matter,” he says. “I’d nod my head in recognition, but she would know my brain was off in Never Neverland on some adventure.”

Ryan says he wants to experiment with artistic levels not yet explored.

“Animation is known as a commercial art form, yet I’m hoping to take it further,” he says.

He’s also a cycling enthusiast. It keeps him feeling young as if Spider-Man didn’t.

Biggest worry Who my daughters will marry

Biggest motivator There’s a hidden beast of creativity that I have to let out or it will make me unbearable to live with. It makes my wife want to kill me sometimes. Ask her.

Biggest pick-me-up A long ride on my bike clears my head

Tiare Keeno, Age 16, Spanish Fork

Tiare Keeno has big dreams she wants to study ballet at Juilliard and then join a contemporary ballet dance company. Being crowned Miss Utah’s Outstanding Teen is a big step toward achieving her goals.

“I’ve learned stage presence, public speaking skills and how to respect other contestants,” she says. “I’ve also become aware of political and social issues surrounding us. It gave me the opportunity to work on a platform I’m passionate about.”

Tiare’s platform is the importance of respect, including basic manners and tolerance of people who are different.

Biggest regret Not spending enough time with my grandfather, a very influential person in Hawaii, before he passed away

Biggest change you’d like to make in your life Thinking more outside the box and doing more choreography

Biggest challenge Being a 5’2 girl in a dance world that caters to men and taller girls

Jamie Tsandes, Age 33, Cottonwood Heights

In the fall of 2012, the Jordan River Parkway Trail and the Provo River Parkway trail will be connected, making approximately 250 miles of uninterrupted trail for residents to bike, walk or run. Which means we’ll all owe Jamie Tsandes a thank-you card.

This Bowen Collins & Associates landscape architect is developing the aesthetic and landscape features of the trail, the road crossings and the trailheads.

“The best part of the project is bringing years of ideas and goals from many stakeholders to the table and developing a design that benefits the community,” she says.

Jamie gets her inspiration from driving scenic routes, hiking and the design principles of eastern cultures, like balance and simplicity.

Biggest challenge Choosing my battles wisely or trying to stomach the latest concoction my kids formulate in the kitchen

Biggest hero Anyone who gives back to their community humbly, with no premeditated agenda

Biggest fan of The game of golf and the life lessons that come with it

Rod Livingston, Age  52, Alpine

When a friend introduced Rod Livingston (whose uncle was a hog farmer) to competition BBQ a few years back, it was love at first drumstick.

“My wife saw me sitting by my friend’s big, nice smoker with a big grin on my face and said, ‘Oh, no. We’re going to end up buying one of those.’”

They did. Rod and his identical twin, Roger, now travel the country winning awards for their sweet and smokey meats. They took first place in the rib category of the Arizona Triple Crown Series and anticipate qualifying for the world championship. The brothers helped found the Intermountain BBQ Association and are organizing BBQ 101 classes in the area.

First thing you need to know?

“It’s all about timing,” Rod says.

Biggest change you’d like to see in the world  Everyone eating BBQ together happily

Biggest stumbling block Me — I worry a lot.

Biggest dream To win the Annual Jack Daniel’s BBQ World Championship Invitational

Alex Boye Age: 40, Holladay

When Utah Valley Magazine editors saw Alex Boye perform a show-stopping “Go Tell it on the Mountain” at a BYU basketball game, they thought, “Now this guy is fabulous.”

This British vocalist came to Utah to pursue a career in faith-based music after a stint as the lead singer of ‘90s boy band “Awesome.” He is now signed with Deseret Book’s Shadow Mountain label. Alex has performed in “Smokey Joe’s Cafe” at BYU and in “Big River” at the Hale Center Theater.

Alex says highlights of his life include giving a Book of Mormon to Prince Charles, joining the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and marrying his wife.

Biggest success Making the choice to move to Utah 10 years ago

Biggest failure Not being able to find a good place for fish and chips

Biggest goal To have a No. 1 one inspirational song on the Billboard Charts

Biggest regret Not carrying on with the violin after high school. (I could have been the first black virtuoso who speaks with an English accent.)

Mallory Everton, Age  21, Provo

Mallory Everton is the brains behind BYU sketch comedy group Divine Comedy’s viral “Provo Girls” music video. Mallory got the idea for the spoof when she was home in Portland, Ore.

“I hope people who liked it know there’s a heck of a lot more where that came from and that people who hated it, well, just please don’t throw things at me if we ever meet,” she says.

Mallory is a self-proclaimed hippie (she rode her bike to the photo shoot in Orem from BYU’s campus) and a film major. Her post-grad plans?

“I just plan on moving out to New York or L.A. to see if I can’t land a writing, acting or editing job,” she says. “I’m guessing I’ll end up on a janitorial staff somewhere.”

Biggest eye-opening

experience Middle school. I’m going to send all my kids into the wild to live off the land when they’re ages 12 and 13. They’ll thank me later.

Biggest goal To put out my own record someday, and to fly on the back of a giant bird. I’m still figuring out the logistics of that second one.

Daniel Fairbanks, Age  54, Orem

Daniel Fairbanks was raised by an artist on 20 acres of woods and water, which explains his dual life as a scientist and a sculptor. He’s often both at the same time. Daniel has carried on the tradition of his grandfather, the famous Avard Fairbanks, in sculpting busts while lecturing. Daniel’s works can be found at BYU and UVU. He is associate dean of UVU’s College of Science and Health.

His specialty is plant genetics, and he’s completed extensive work with crops in the Andes Mountains.

Biggest fan of Dr. Donna Fairbanks (chair of the Department of Music

at UVU), who is an extraordinary violinist, an exceptional professor, a

gifted leader, an all-around incredible person and my wife.

Biggest eye-opening experience The first time I taught a general biology class of 250 students, to my dismay I discovered none of them were enthusiastic about science.

Biggest stumbling block  Absentmindedness

Biggest ah-hah moment  The first time I took a hammer and chisel to carve a marble statue in Italy


Reed Cornaby, Age 84, Salem

Reed Cornaby likes watching things grow, be it his children or his crop of raspberries.

“You can’t make any good money on a farm, but I raised seven good kids on one,” he says.

Reed inherited his property in Salem from his father-in-law and spent decades farming all kinds of things peas, carrots, tomatoes, peaches, hay, sweet field corn. He worked for 35 years at Geneva Steel, but mostly he loved being in the field.

“It’s just beautiful,” he says. “Snow-covered, it’s beautiful. Freshly plowed, it’s beautiful. Dark dirt with little green things popping out, it’s beautiful.”

He now farms the land with his son, David, while daughters Janet and Jana run Cornaby’s LLC, which makes and sells syrups and jams.

Biggest regret Lack of education

Biggest influence for good in your life Marriage, family, church, 4-H Club, Boy Scouts and kind, loving parents and friends

Biggest change you’d like to make in your life At 84 years of age it is hard to change very much. I want to be pain free and mentally competent.

David Cornaby, Age 59, Mapleton

Dave Cornaby is the son who wouldn’t let the farm die. This former IMB electrical engineer and IOMEGA founder said “I” when his 80-year-old father asked if anyone was interested in keeping up the land, otherwise he would sell it.

“The businessman in me wanted financial success as well as a return to the land, so I investigated specialty crops,” he said. “I settled on raspberries.”

Not wanting to waste a single berry, Dave partnered with his sister to start a fruit spread company, Cornaby’s LLC.

Dave and Reed are all for spilling the beans about each others’ secret talents. Reed plays a “wicked” hand of pinochle and Dave is a concert organist.

Biggest pet peeve People in the rising generation don’t grasp their connection to nature.  Most have never felt the accomplishment of harvesting a tomato from a plant they nurtured, or picked a cherry from their own tree.  

Biggest hero As a child,  Superman. As an adult, Christ, my redeemer.

DeLaina Tonks, Age 39, Draper

DeLaina Tonks “got mouthy” with a legislator about school boundary lines that excluded her community and ended up on the board of a new, progressive online high school. Now, DeLaina serves as the director of Open High School of Utah.

“The school is slated to serve up to 1,500 students over the next three years, giving students a choice of where to go to school full time,” she says. “Students may also be interested in dual enrollment opportunities for accelerated learning, credit recovery or to take advantage of courses not offered at their own district school.”

Biggest fan of The Ohio State Buckeyes, my grad school alma mater

Biggest eye-opening experience The first time I traveled to Europe with student groups I was only 23. Getting off the plane in Paris with 36 teens, I looked around for the person in charge. It took a few minutes to realize it was me!

Biggest pick-me-up Whittling down my to-do list significantly each day, hot chocolate and hugs from my kids.

Lerron Little, Age 45, Springville

Lerron Little’s term as Utah Association of Realtors President is finished, but his contributions to the industry are not.

As president, he was influential in passing several state bills that protect private property and small business rights. He also worked with the Housing Opportunity Fund, giving grant money to non-profits in Utah that promote affordable home ownership opportunities.

Today, Lerron is working on a grassroots advocacy program and as the Federal Political Coordinator for the National Association of Realtors, among other things.

“I enjoy the opportunity of serving those who are making one of the most important financial decisions of their lives,” he says.

Biggest challenge Current market conditions

Biggest eye-opening experience Becoming a dad, and every parenting experience since

Biggest fan of Springville 3rd and 4th grade Raptors basketball team

Janell Johnson,  Age 39, Provo

Doctors told Janell Johnson the car accident that broke her back and severed her spinal cord at age 14 meant she would never move the muscles below her neck. At first, she had no movement in her legs, very little movement in her arms and she couldn’t speak above a whisper due to lack of muscle function in her torso.

Now, Janell holds degrees in vocal performance and public administration from BYU. She sang a solo at her convocation.

“I can now swim a mile, push a manual wheelchair (when necessary), operate an electric wheelchair with ease and I drive my own car,” she says.

How? Eight years of intense physical therapy and a positive attitude.

“Being angry, resentful or bitter does not produce the type of results I want in my life,” she says. “A negative attitude prevents positive opportunities and blessings.”

Biggest fan of Nieces and nephews

Biggest goal I would like to record a CD of music that brings peace to individuals in their time of need. I would also like to write a book.


Court McGee, Age 26, Orem

Court McGee quit his job as a commercial plumber to become a professional fighter. After three years and 4,100 hours of training, Court won the finale of reality TV’s “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 11.

This Lindon native loves the diversity of Mixed Martial Arts fighting.

“You have to be good at wrestling, kickboxing, boxing and ju-jitsu,” Court says. “One is not enough.”

He started in Shin-Toshi karate and wrestled in the Layton City Pee Wee Club when he was just 5 years old. Now, he has had enough success to support his wife and two sons with prize money and endorsements. But his biggest accomplishment, he says, is getting back on his feet after serious drug addictions and homelessness.

“I can carry the message to drug addicts and people who are struggling that if I can make it out, anybody can,” he says.

Biggest eye-opening experience April 16, 2006 — The day I sobered up.

Biggest change you’d like to see in the world Kindness, love and tolerance for all men.

Tandi Schaeffer, Age 29, Orem

Tandi Schaeffer feels she was born to fight.

“I have fought my way out of some bad places in my life and I also have to be a fighter for my son,” Tandi says.

Tandi, whose son, Ammon, has severe cerebral palsy, started taking Muay Thai classes to learn self defense. She fought in a competition match in 2003, just to see how she could do.

“I lost to a decision, but it was a close fight,” she says. “I was hooked. So I did it again and haven’t lost since.”

She holds a women’s Muay Thai lightweight title belt in the kickdown promotion and won first place in her first jiu-jitsu tournament after only two months of training.

Biggest eye-opening experience Becoming a mother to a handicapped child at age 16

Biggest challenge Not always being able to communicate with my son when he is in pain

Biggest change you’d like to make in your life Though my life has seen ups and downs, I am blessed in so many ways and I would not change a thing (even the broken ankle I have now).

Jason Badell, Age 35, South Jordan

As manager of the Orem Owlz, Jason Badell’s team is not the one on the field.

“My ‘team’ is the front office staff and game day staff during the summer,” he says.

Jason is the stadium operations overseer, the advertiser, the sales and marketing specialist, and the staff organizer.

“My job is providing a fun atmosphere for fans to come and enjoy a baseball game with friends and family, along with giving back to the community through events at the ballpark and helping other organizations succeed,” he says.

Jason has a solid background in sports as an athlete and an administrator, but he says he’s  not a fanatic — he also loves art, theater, travel and reading.

Biggest fan of  Philadelphia Phillies, 76ers, Chick-fil-A, The Apprentice, cooking shows

Biggest challenge Sticking to my game plan when distractions arise.

Biggest influence for good in your life My mother 

Susie Motola, Age 26, Provo

Susie Motola was working at FedEx Kinko’s when someone came in to make copies of fliers for Camille Cleverly, a BYU student who went missing in 2007. Susie made the copies but wanted to do something more.

She applied and became certified as a member of Utah Valley’s Search and Rescue Team and has been searching and rescuing ever since. The intense physical and emotional demands aren’t too much for this bright, cheerful Provo-ite.

When she’s not climbing mountains or spelunking, Susie manages Vineyard Garden Center.

Biggest hero  Not one, but 50. The Utah County Search and Rescue Team is comprised of some of the most amazing people in the county.

Biggest pet peeve Other than people hurting children and the amazing wastefulness of America? Sand. I love the beach, but I don’t like sand.

Biggest failure I work at a garden center, but I’m really not good at growing peas. This is my year, though. I can feel it.

Biggest fan of Dark, dark chocolate, fresh fruit, sunrises, fresh cut grass, warm clothes out of the dryer

Justin Lindorf, Age 22, Orem

When Justin Lindorf was diagnosed with Type I Diabetes, it prematurely ended his LDS mission in Toronto, Canada. Not long after he came home a friend approached him about participating in a fundraising walk for the disease. He signed up and was asked to raise $100 from friends and family sponsors.

“I’m just not a $100 kind of guy,” Justin says.

He made a personal goal to earn $1,000 for the cause in the three days between when he signed up and the race. Utah Angels, an investment group, agreed to match whatever he earned 10 times. With potential like that on the table, Justin set to work and brought in $5,600 within 48 hours, shocking everyone especially his investors. His donation to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation of more than $56,000 won him a spot on the organization’s Utah Board of Directors.

Biggest ah-hah moment When I realized becoming a doctor was not the only way to help people who were suffering. 

Biggest change you’d like to make in your life Develop more mental stamina


Joseph McRae, Age 45, Provo

It didn’t take long for Joseph McRae to realize he wasn’t a 9-to-5 kind of guy. When he finished his degree in political science, he applied to the California Culinary Academy in San Francisco.

“I worked there for about 10 years, then came to Utah to work at the Sundance Resort,” he says. “There I met my business partner, and the rest is history!”

That history he’s talking about involves starting the Heirloom Restaurant Group and opening two one-of-a-kind eateries, Pizzeria 712 in Orem and Communal in Provo, and a catering company called (get this) Catering Company.

Biggest dream I would love to see Center Street in Provo revitalized. My dream is to have it closed to traffic and become a beautiful walking mall.

Biggest surprise of your life We had baby Zoe’s name on the wall and closets full of girl clothes ready, but on April 1, our sweet baby boy, Jacob, entered the world.  It was the best April Fool’s Day joke ever.  

Biggest pick-me-up When I walk into one of my restaurants and can immediately feel the energy.

Lynette Danburry, Age 23, Highland

Lynette Danburry is perfectly content working alone, dreaming up creative designs and thinking about shapes. Her tailoring shop, Lady Danburry in downtown Provo, allows her to do just that.

“When I was growing up, my mom was a costume mistress for a ballet company, so I learned a lot from her,” she says. “When I graduated from high school I got an apprenticeship with a tailor and learned more there.”

Her clients are mostly bankers, businessmen and boys who read fashion magazines, she says, but women, like Provo’s indie music artist Mindy Gledhill, patron the shop for her original dress designs.

Lynette and her husband, musician Drew Danburry, look forward to opening an old fashioned barber shop in March.

Biggest eye-opening experience Going on tour with my husband

Biggest fan of Eliane’s French Bakery in Orem

Biggest ah-hah moment When I realized loyalty was equally important to me as love.

Biggest goal Perfect endurance

Clark Schaffer, Age 43, Provo

The best part of Clark Schaffer’s job? Seeing his art come to life on the big screen. This special effects and costume designer has realized his wildest childhood fantasies.

He came to Utah Valley from Los Angeles because he wanted to live in a good place to raise a family. But Happy Valley hasn’t hurt his career. The booming movie industry in Utah keeps him busy. In fact, he finds himself a rare expert in a niche market here.

Clark goes from cool project to cool project designing costume parts for “Iron Man 2” to designing a special effects wrist watch for “127 Hours” to designing elaborate costumes for Tuacahn’s production of “The Little Mermaid.”

Next up? Raising funding for his own film a sci-fi comedy about teleportation.

Biggest change you’d like to see in the world The world is doing OK. It’s the people who need to shape up.

Biggest pet peeve Awful Hollywood movies that cost a fortune to make and people who pose as artists.

Zach Stay, Age 17, Orem

This bubbly Mountain View High School senior is attempting to chip away at poverty by developing iPhone applications to help with emergency relief situations. He created Hacking Poverty, an organization designed to rally developers and computer programmers to employ their skills for the cause.

He organized a conference in January 2010, “Fighting Poverty with Mad Coding Skills,” that gained national attention from tech bloggers and attracted 25 developers from various companies. The three apps they worked on are in experimental stages.

Biggest pick-me-up Awesome music. Is there anything quite as blood-pumping as the Rocky theme song?

Biggest pet peeve People who are afraid of being embarrassed. As a shy person, I know what it’s like. Trust me, it is much more fulfilling to be a little silly than to be afraid. 

Biggest change you’d like to see in the world To have people be more aware of poverty. Earthquakes and tsunamis grab headlines, but persistent, continuous poverty affects nearly a billion lives.


Deanne Soza, Age: 9, Orem

Deanne Soza was ranked in the top 30 8-year-old gymnasts in the country in 2009. In 2010, she was ranked ninth. Deanne, who trains at Arete Gymnastics in Lindon, is vaulting her way to success before her age hits double-digits.

Deanne made the 2010 USA Gymnastics TOPs National Team and earned the right to train at the Women’s National Team Training Center in Houston.

Her coach, Jana Coleman, says Deanne has God-given talents but is also an incredibly hard worker. She started gymnastics when she was just 4 years old.

“It was supposed to just be something for her to do in the summer, but everybody noticed how talented she was,” says Deanne’s mother, Maria. “She kept advancing every six months to a new level.”

Now, Deanne trains Monday through Friday from 2 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. But she loves it so much she never complains.

Biggest dream To be part of an Olympic team

Biggest fan of Nastia Liukin and Shawn Johnson

Biggest change you’d like to make in your life Be more confident

Biggest goal Have my own family

Christian Vuissa, Age: 41, Provo

Christian shares his religious convictions on the big screen. This Austrian-born filmmaker was introduced to Mormonism as a child and eventually converted. After serving a mission in Germany, Christian stopped in Provo while touring the United States and inquired about admissions at BYU. He barely passed the English proficiency test and had no high school diploma to speak of, but after two semesters at UVSC, he transferred to BYU. Christian graduated magna cum laude in 2002, but not before he started running the LDS Film Festival, which now draws crowds of more than 7,000 every January.

Christian, who earned an executive MBA from BYU in 2008, has directed three hit LDS films and runs Mirror Films, a production company.

Biggest success My children — Anika, Henry and August

Biggest fan of BYU Football

Biggest goal Edifying people through films

Biggest eye-opening experience Meeting my in-laws for the first time

Marielen Christensen, Age: 68, Elk Ridge

In 1980, Marielen Christensen was invited to display her creative memory page designs at the Word Conference on Records in Salt Lake City. It opened the door for Keeping Memories Alive, her scrapbooking company that distributed retail and wholesale supplies and how-to knowledge to household memory archivers.

Marielen and her husband, Anthony, retired in 2005 when her daughter and son-in-law took over the business. In 2007, they sold the company.

Since her retirement, Marielen has enjoyed temple and family history work, yard work, church service, travel.

Biggest goal Be a good wife and a lovable grandmother

Biggest change you’d like to see in the world I wish everyone would be nice to each other. If we could listen with our hearts, everything would fall into place.

Biggest hero My parents were both model school teachers who really cared for their students.

Gary Lee, Age 60, Provo

Before he could drive Gary Lee had already torn apart and rebuilt entire car engines and transmission systems as well as building a car design he created from scratch. It’s no surprise that Gary now touts the tag line, “Inventor of Universal Transmission.”

After graduating from high school he attended the University of Utah before entering the U.S. Air Force. After a brief period of working in underwater demolition and recovery, he spent 30 years as a licensed engineering contractor. He holds five patents for his inventions.

“Honestly, most of the breakthroughs were understandings of why some things didn’t work,” he says. “That was the key to doing things that did work.”

Biggest fan of The beauty of mechanical design

Biggest stumbling block Spelling — all good engineers refuse to learn how to do something so “ilojikul”

Biggest goal Complete the in-car-prototype of the “Variable Moon Transmission”

Loa Blasucci, Age 53, Salt Lake City

Loa Blasucci is on a quest to empower people to up the ante on health and beauty in their lives. For 30 years she was a makeup artist in Hollywood, working with stars like Hugh Grant, Courtney Cox and Matthew McConaughey. Now Loa is all about sculpting bodies and purifying minds.

A certified sports nutritionist, fitness instructor and personal trainer, Loa serves as many stay-at-home moms as she does famous actors and athletes.

Loa’s Optimum Wellness Boot Camp, which fuses elements of yoga, pilates, ballet, strength training and meditation, inspired her first book, “All Health’s Breaking Loose.”

Biggest dream To see my idea for a TV show about real beauty come to fruition. Any networks reading this? Let’s have lunch.

Biggest fan of The Beatles, Albert Einstein, really good vegan food

Biggest change you’d like to make in your life I want to live green. I have designed a solar powered home (in my head only) off the grid, self-contained, lots of space and room for all my loved ones … Oh, I get excited just thinking about it.

Biggest eye-opening experience Watching my son recover from a gunshot injury. Miracles happen. The body heals in ways we cannot comprehend.


Hawk Harper, Age 64, Orem

Hawk Harper met his wife, Cheryl, by literally running into her on the Smith Fieldhouse track on BYU campus.

“Rumor had it nobody could catch her,” Hawk says.

The two started running together and haven’t stopped. When Hawk’s running club decided to open Second Sole, a runner’s specialty store shoved into a 10-by-10 room of a co-op store, Hawk was the life of the business.

“When I was there, sales would go up,” Hawk says.

His enthusiasm for the sport made selling easy.

“Running is unlike any other sport,” Hawk says. “Whatever you put into it, you get out of it. It’s all you.”

Now the Harpers own and operate Runner’s Corner in Orem.

“We want our store to be like the Cheer’s bar of running,” he says.

Runners Corner will soon move to a newer, bigger, better location by Costco in Orem.

Biggest fan of People who get up off the couch and do things with their lives

Biggest hero My wife and children (and I don’t let them know that enough)

Biggest change you’d like to make in your life Be less reactionary and more calm

Cheryl Harper, Age 48, Orem

Both Hawk and Cheryl Harper have won the St. George Marathon. But Cheryl’s won it twice. Her experience as a runner makes her relatable to the customers she works with at Runner’s Corner.

“We can relate to the injuries and the issues,” she says. “We know how to help.”

Cheryl ensures her employees all have running experience as well.

“We provide information, and customers get to try on the shoes and run on them,” she says.

Each of the couple’s four children have running accomplishments under their feet — state championships, BYU and UVU team statuses, etc.

“We always ran everywhere we went when they were growing up,” Cheryl says, “up volcanoes on vacations — everywhere.”

Cheryl has raised her family to appreciate the positive outlook of runners.

“Runners always look forward,” she says.

Biggest challenge Juggling raising a family, training, competition and running three businesses. Keeping priorities in order.

Biggest surprise of your life Two red headed children

Biggest pet peeve Disrespect

Billy Casper, Age 79, Springville

When golf legend Billy Casper showed up at our photo shoot, his fellow fabulous people turned into gushing fans. Billy, a World Golf Hall of Famer, won 51 times on the PGA Tour between 1956 and 1975, a figure surpassed by few. He won two U.S. Opens and a Masters and was a member of eight Ryder Cup teams, winning more points than any other American player.

Billy is known for his pigeon-toed putting stance, his self-taught swing with a signature sliding foot, his off-beat diet of buffalo meat and organic vegetables, his post-golf fame conversion to Mormonism and his 11 children, six of whom were adopted.

Biggest success My family

Biggest fan of The Mormon Church

Biggest change you’d like to see in the world The should media stop publicizing negativity and start publicizing positivity.

Biggest goal Just to live day by day

Biggest influence for good in your life My dealings with my fellow man

Biggest hero In golf, Ben Hogan. In the world, Bob Hope.

Sean Whalen, Age 32, Provo

Just because Sean Whalen owns a rugby team doesn’t mean he’s given up his love for baseball — or the Yankees. His single mother from the Bronx raised him right.

Sean moved to Provo as a junior in high school, served a mission in Montana, went to one semester of junior college and dropped out. He’s started a dozen companies since.

“I’m a serial entrepreneur,” Sean says.

Now CEO of real estate firm Property 23, Sean’s recent entrepreneurial venture is to create the Utah Warriors — Utah’s first Rugby Super League team.

Biggest fan of My brother. He is a firefighter and the most selfless person I know.

Biggest surprise of your life How much I changed when I became a father. I never thought I could care so deeply or have something change my life so dramatically.

Biggest support My faith in God. I believe no matter what I do, no matter how much I succeed or fail the Almighty will help me and love me regardless.

Melissa Chappell, Age 33, Springville

Her name is Melissa Chappell, but you may know her as Raw Melissa. This blogger/chef/businesswoman likes to keep things raw — natural, not processed or refined. She believes in organic eating and authentic living.

Her product line includes cookbooks, ebooks and DVDs filled with tried-and-true healthy recipes, essential oils and her famous macaroons. This nutrition coach teaches cooking workshops all over the valley.

Melissa’s newest project? Raising awareness about high maternal death rates and raising money to help lower them. A long-time childbirth educator, Melissa has recently been raising funding for a group of midwives working with women in Haiti.

Biggest dream To set up sustainable childbirth clinics in several third world countries

Biggest fan of Well-rounded, nice people who are awake

Biggest challenge Creating capital for my business

Biggest motivator My children, of course

Biggest eye opening experience When I realized how unconditionally loved I am by so many

Gay Beck, Age 53, American Fork

Gay Beck was standing in the Costco checkout line when she overhead an animated little boy causing commotion behind her saying, “There she is! There she is!”

“I turned around and recognized a little boy in my class,” Gay says. “The lady behind me said, ‘Just who are you, the Queen of England?’ and with a big smile I replied,‘I am his kindergarten teacher.’”

This Highland Elementary School superstar was named the 2011 Utah Teacher of the Year.

“I am constantly inspired by all the great

educators in this state,” Gay says. “I know I stand as a representative on their shoulders and feel very honored to represent them.”

Her favorite part of coming to work every day is seeing her students lined up with their backpacks.

“I love to greet them by name, look in their eyes and feel all the possibilities of the day we are starting together!” she says.

Biggest surprise of your life Finding out I was going to be a grandma this summer

Biggest pet peeve Not getting a bench in power pump class

Biggest challenge To meet the various needs and learning styles of my kindergarten students


Christina Lowe, Age  21, Orem

This Miss Utah and UVU international relations major has aspirations as big as the world.

“I literally get ecstatic over learning about different countries and how they function — absolutely intriguing,” Christina Lowe says.

She grew up in Midway on the Homestead golf course where she had her own little business of finding, cleaning and reselling golf balls.

Her first pageant, Miss Wasatch County, helped her serve the community and better herself.

Christina was one of 15 semifinalists at the Miss America pageant in January. When she passes on her crown this summer, she’s headed outside the Beehive State.

“The day after I give up the Miss Utah crown I am headed to Uganda for eight weeks,” she says. “Goodbye, Miss Utah. Hello, world.”

Biggest success Maintaining my sense of self amidst constant criticism.

Biggest hero Princess Diana

Biggest pet peeve People who ask for booths in restaurants (I was a hostess for two years).

Fernando Gomez, Age  70, Provo

Fernando Gomez completed most of elementary school in Mexico before his parents migrated to the United States. Fernando graduated with an engineering degree from BYU and resided in Utah, but his connections with his birthplace are far from lost. He served as an LDS missionary, mission president and temple president in Mexico and opened an LDS Mexican History museum there, which he still maintains.

Fernando’s latest life development? He and his wife will be opening a second LDS Mexican History museum in Provo.

“We believe a religion without its history does not provide the spiritual roots needed to understand its importance in our lives,” he says. “The challenges of how the church developed in our country is important for the new converts to understand.”

Biggest stumbling block Not being able to keep up with the constant modifications made in computer software.

Biggest influence for good in your life The gospel of Jesus Christ

Kathryn Allen, Age 58, Provo

For 17 years Kathryn Allen was Provo City’s ice skating teacher, instructing on a rink at Utah Lake State Park that no longer exists. Her involvement with the city and her passion about its development has been gliding along ever since.

As executive director of the Provo Downtown Business Alliance, Kathryn serves as an advocate for local merchants. She represents Provo’s business owners in her efforts to increase foot traffic downtown, deal with parking issues and fill empty storefronts.

“It always takes money and manpower, and not all of these small businesses have that at their disposal,” Kathryn says.

Initiatives like networking Link and Lunch, the Downtown Gallery Stroll and the Rooftop Concert series are making Provo, as Kathryn calls it, “a moving-forward kind of place.”

Biggest pick-me-up Time spent in my jetted tub and at Sundance

Biggest pet peeve  People who don’t want to learn anything new

Biggest success Helped bring Covey Center for the Arts to reality

William Whitaker, Age 67, Provo

William Whitaker is slow to name drop, but if you can pry it out of him the list of people whose portraits he has painted is pretty impressive — Gordon B. Hinckley, Howard W. Hunter, Thomas S. Monson, Alan Ashton, Blake Roney, Rex E. Lee, Ernest L. Wilkinson, Michael Leavitt, Olene Walker. Could we get a few more pages here?

This self proclaimed “old fashioned” oil painter loves the forum for exploration and experimentation that art provides.

William grew up in California before his parents moved to Utah to start Midway’s Homestead Resort. He was trained in classical painting by Alvin Gittins at the University of Utah. He loves trains and five-string banjo music but wants to “drop dead” with a paint brush in hand.

Biggest change you’d like to make in your life Improve my German

Biggest ah-hah moment Doing something over, only applying my brains this time

Biggest challenge Getting to bed on time

Biggest influence for good in your life My wife

Biggest regret That she and I didn’t meet sooner


When we gathered this year’s Fab 50 for three days of group photo shoots, most of them had never met. But it didn’t take long for their mutual fabulousness to break down barriers. We selected this year’s batch of smilers from a year’s worth of e-mails, clippings and conversations. We’re starting our file for next year’s Feb 50 today. E-mail ideas to editor@uvmag.com. 

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Samantha Strong Murphey is a lover of greenery, glitter and goat cheese, an advocate of media literacy, human rights and karaoke for all. She earned bachelor's degree in communications from Brigham Young University and is a former writer and editor at Utah Valley Magazine. Now, she works as a full-time freelance writer and blogger based in Atlanta, Georgia.

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