Fab 40: Sip lemonade with 40 of Utah Valley’s sweetest people


By Jeanette Bennett & Alisha Gallagher 

Photography by Dave Blackhurst

Utah Valley’s most fabulous ‘lemonade makers’ have a zest for life that serves up more sweet than sour.

Read on for a slice of life from Utah Valley’s 40 most fabulous faces who drink to happiness, service, puppies and grilled cheese sandwiches.

From left to right: Karen Larsen, Carol Verbecky and Masa Fukuda.

From left: Karen Larsen, Carol Verbecky and Masa Fukuda.

Karen Larsen

   Age 53 • Draper

Sweet life Karen began working for Provo City 26 years ago as an entry-level customer service rep. In 2012, she elevated the city experience by launching Provo311, a customer service call center. Karen manages 37 employees who answer up to 8,000 calls a month about everything from utility billing to general city information. Provo Mayor John Curtis said of Karen, “Just being around her makes me want to move faster, work harder and accomplish more.”

Sweetest moment “311 call centers are common in large cities, but for smaller cities like Provo they are often considered too expensive. With the mayor’s leadership and my staff, I am proud that we introduced the first 311 call center to Utah.”

Making lemonade out of lemons “Customer service was strictly a utility billing service center, but today it has changed drastically into a citywide municipal call center. Mayor Curtis handed me lemons and I made lemonade. I accepted the challenge to design and grow our existing utility customer service to an exciting call center that better serves citizens of Provo.”

Carol Verbecky

   Age 74 • Draper

Sweet life Carol has dedicated the past 21 years to developing Turning Point, a UVU-based service that helps individuals navigate major life changes. Since 1997, this mother to three and grandmother to 10 has worked as the program’s director where she uses her background in child development and family relationships to encourage and inspire those who use the program, which includes classes titled “Successful Life Management.” Kaye Fugal, Carol’s friend and coworker, says, “Carol quietly changes the world. Turning Point is successful because of everything she’s done for the program.”

Masa Fukuda 

   Age 38 • Sandy

Sweet life 2015 is the 10th anniversary of One Voice Children’s Choir, which spent 2014 in the spotlight as a finalist in “America’s Got Talent.” Masa directs the 140 young voices, with practices in Orem and Salt Lake, and performances at places like RootsTech and YouTube videos including “Let it Go” with Alex Boye and “Kiss the Girl,” filmed at Provo Beach. “I am shy but I feed off the children’s energy,” says Masa, who broke out in Cuban-action dancing with the children during Kurt Bestor’s Christmas concert.

Sweet Student Sara Goldberg, age 18, has been with the choir for an entire decade. “Masa has taught me to control my pitch, volume and tone. He also never fails to make kids smile.”

Sweet and Sour “I initially didn’t care how long we stayed on AGT, but seeing the children interact and build each other up made me want the trip to New York to never end. As we were eliminated, a student lent me a shoulder to cry on.”

First job for the choir “Our first offical paying job for the choir was at the grand opening of Daybreak. Our choir kids gave out lemonade for three days and sang on the main stage at night.”

From left to right: Ashley  & Tyson Gardner, Daniel Burton and Barbara jones.

From left: Ashley & Tyson Gardner, Daniel Burton and Barbara Jones.

Ashley  & Tyson Gardner

   Age 27, 33 • American Fork

Sweet life Tyson and Ashley’s fertility doctor gave them a 40 percent chance of having one child through IVF. Their eight-year struggle with infertility ended when they found out they were pregnant with not one — but four children. Born 12 weeks early on Dec. 28, their two sets of identical twin girls (Indie, Esme, Scarlett, Evangaline) are thriving in the NICU (which is where they were during this photo shoot in early February). Their story went viral, with coverage on news sites like CNN and the Huffington Post. Their Facebook page, “A Miracle Unfolding-Gardner Quadruplets, has more than 410,000 likes since its launch in August 2014.

Sweetest moment “I love finally being able to call myself a mom,” Ashley says. “I know it’s going to be hard, but it was worth every second on bed rest, every second of them being in the NICU and every second of waiting. I’d do it all over again.”

Flavors of 2015 “With so many milestones up ahead, like the girls finally coming home, there definitely won’t be any sour in our 2015!” says Tyson. “We’ve gone through those years and have finally transitioned into the sweetness.”

Daniel Burton

   Age 51 • Eagle Mountain

Sweet life After a 51-day journey through snow, ice and 45 mph headwinds, Daniel Burton became the first man to make a solo bike trek 750 miles from the coast of Antarctica to the South Pole. He arrived on Jan. 21, 2014, with his bike, snow gear, shovel and satellite phone in hand and a smile on his face.

Sweetest moment “I was 13 miles from the South Pole and had finally climbed to 9,300 feet. Looking off into the distance, I saw the South Pole station on the horizon. I was overcome with joy.”

Favorite beverage “One day away from the South Pole, someone from the camp came and gave me some food. Inside was a bottle of Coke, frozen solid, so I put it in boiling water. It started to freeze right as I unscrewed the lid, so I drank it as fast as I could. That was the greatest bottle of Coke ever!”

Barbara Jones

   Age 72 • Lehi

Sweet life Utah Valley has not been the same since philanthropist, author, model and image expert Barbara Barrington Jones moved to town three years ago. She has been lead sponsor for the Wee Care Center at UVU and the Museum of Natural Curiosity at Thanksgiving Point, and she has taught hundreds of teenage girls how to “Be the Best You” at her annual summer camps. UVU awarded her an honorary doctorate of Fine Arts and Humanities.

Sweetest moment “I just finished playing the Queen in Ballet West’s ‘Swan Lake.’ My granddaughter asked if I get bored sitting on the throne for two hours, but I am living the dream! I know the work dancers put in. I dedicated my whole life to dance starting at age 6, with training at New York City Ballet, Ballet Russe, De Monte Carlo and more.”

Flavors of 2015 “I am thrilled about the butterfly conservatory that will be built at Thanksgiving Point. My mom was the ‘butterfly lady,’ and she told me whenever I see a butterfly it is a reminder that she loves me. Thanksgiving Point is the most inspirational place, and I’m thrilled to be part of it — even though the first office they gave me was in the dinosaur museum!”

From left to right: Vern Henshaw, Tristan Tolman and Spencer Linton.

From left: Vern Henshaw, Tristan Tolman and Spencer Linton.

Vern Henshaw

   Age 60 • Lehi

Sweet life Now in his 15th year as superintendent of Alpine School District, Vern is inviting the community to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the district, which educates 73,724 students in north Utah County.

Sweetest moment “My daughter just had twins, bringing my grandchild count to 10. Professionally, it’s sweet for me to see the district putting a greater focus on ‘the one’ in the classroom.”

Sour moment “As a district we do our research and make decisions that impact lives, and sometimes when a decision doesn’t go someone’s way, they perceive that we don’t care.”

Flavors for 2015 “Our 100-year celebration includes a gala on April 16 at Orem High School, a commemorative book about the district’s history, entries in several summer parades, and an all-employee celebration on August 17th at the UCCU Center.”

Tristan Tolman

   Age 43 • Highland

Sweet life Once Tristan’s five children were in school, she went back to class herself. She graduated with a bachelor’s from BYU in family history and wrote the curriculum for BYU-Idaho’s family history associate’s degree. Today, she helps others discover their roots through her genealogy research company, Legacy Family History.

Sweetest moment “I love teaching genealogy classes where I see the joy people experience when they find and connect with their ancestors.”

Making lemonade “When I was young, my parents divorced and it was really hard but it sparked my interest in family history. I have a real need to feel connected to family, and learning about my ancestors reminds me that I am part of a bigger family unit.”

Spencer Linton

Age 33 • Saratoga Springs

Sweet life A 12-year-old Spencer once sent Craig Bolerjack (face and voice of the Utah Jazz) an article he had written about the Super Bowl. Craig’s response: “To Spencer: Keep up the great writing! You may take my job one day!”

A few years after Spencer’s BYU graduation, this father of one found his dream job as the energetic co-host of BYUtv’s Sports Nation.

Sweetest moment “When I interviewed BYU football coach Bronco Mendenhall, he gave me a nickname on air — ‘Green Room Snack Guy’ — because he saw me eating candy in the Green Room when we first met. I keep the joke alive by bringing him a snack every time I interview him.”

Making lemonade “Several times in my career, I’ve had a director roll the wrong sports highlight. Ad-libbing and remaining calm are key.”

From left to right: Gary Giles, Steve Leifson and Thomas Alexander.

From left: Gary Giles, Steve Leifson and Thomas Alexander.

Gary Giles

   Age 43 • Lindon

Sweet life One of the highlights of Gary Giles’ first eight months as Orem’s police chief was shaving his head. Gary’s fellow officer has a daughter with a rare mold allergy that causes her to lose hair. For every $100 donated, an officer would shave his head. When Gary ran out of officers, this father of four took to the Orem Police Department’s Facebook page to spread the word. Gary, his officers and community participants raised $10,000 that helped pay for the family’s medical bills.

Sweetest moment “I started out as a dispatcher for Orem when I was 18, and I worked there for 20 years. I had a chance to grow my career in Texas, so my family and I took a leap of faith and moved. Finally coming back home to Orem was a sweet and surreal experience.”

Flavors of 2015 “Now that the police and fire departments are their own units, we get to find our own identity and make new ties with the community.”

Steve Leifson

   Age 62 • Spanish Fork

Sweet life Since his election as mayor of Spanish Fork, Steve has been seen handing out “brag tags” to local children and preparing for the city’s first Walmart. He also recently signed a friendship city agreement with the mayor of the Westman Islands in Iceland, helping Spanish Fork reconnect with its Icelandic roots. On his trip to Iceland, Steve did a radio interview in Reykjavik and met with the president of the country. Steve’s endeavor has made Spanish Fork the city with the coolest connections around — literally.

Sour moment “Not being able to report that a steak house is coming to Spanish Fork leaves a sour taste in my mouth. Our residents and I so desperately want one in our rodeo city!”

Making lemonade “When the I-15 reconstruction was first announced, UDOT said there wouldn’t be funds to bring the freeway to Spanish Fork. But after we worked tirelessly, UDOT agreed to bring the I-15 reconstruction to us. Our community is forever blessed by this change.”

Thomas Alexander

   Age 79 • Provo

Sweet life Thomas’s 40-year season as a BYU history professor may have ended in 2004, but his legacy as a prolific historian and leader is far from history. Now he is the national president of The Sons of Utah Pioneers, which honors pioneer legacies by sharing their stories. In addition to overseeing the organization’s 40 chapters, this father to five and grandfather to six organizes conventions, sponsors symposiums and participates in Pioneer Day activities each year, including the Days of ‘47 Parade.

Sweetest moment “Marrying my wife and seeing my family grow has been wonderful. I also love seeing my students succeed.”

Making lemonade “While my wife and I were serving a mission at the Insitute of Religion in Berlin, doctors found that my artery was 70 percent blocked, so they sent me home to get treated. We got to finish our mission at the Church History Department in Salt Lake. I’m feeling great now.”

From left to right: Lorraine Houston, Neal Currey and Samuel Dallon.

From left: Lorraine Houston, Neal Currey and Samuel Dallon.

Lorraine Houston

   Age 56 • Orem

Sweet life Fondly called “mom” by her students, Lorraine has been a teacher and volunteer for 22 years at the Christa McAullife Space Education Center in Pleasant Grove. Every day, she helps children, youth and adults learn to solve problems in “space missions.” She also embroiders pillowcases for volunteers and sews futuristic costumes for the center. Her husband and four children love to support and volunteer with her.

Sweetest moment “There’s nothing like walking down the hall and seeing a group of girls come around the corner, screaming, ‘Mrs. Houston, Mrs. Houston!’ as they run to hug me. It never gets old.”

Making lemonade “When children come to the center, they’re expecting a regular classroom setting. We get them to interact, and they leave more curious and excited than when they came.”

Neal Currey

   Age 35 • Provo

Sweet life Neal always felt a sense of patriotism (enhanced by 9/11) and joined the military at age 24. Neal served as a Ranger under JSOC (Joint Special Operations Command) conducting raids and other missions to kill or capture High Value Targets. This father of four worked on a top 10 list, with Osama Bid Laden at No. 1. Now as an owner of Ready Gunner in Provo, he’s become a social media guru on all-things-firearms. His YouTube videos got 130,000 views the first year, and he continually adds more videos produced in his store or the West Desert.

Sweet moment “My father had a travel company, and I was a guide for years and spent a lot of time in India. I developed a sense of adventure and was always excited about the next big thing.”

Sour moment “Two weeks before my second deployment to Afghanistan, my father was diagnosed with brain cancer. I came home for two days to help him. He passed away 3.5 months later. Earlier, I lost my brother when I was in Ranger School and was only given two days to come home for the funeral.”

Samuel Dallon

   Age 17 • Spanish Fork

Sweet life Samuel might be in the Fab 40 this year, but this Maple Mountain senior’s fabulous number is actually 36. When he saw his perfect ACT score, he thought there had been an error. But when he realized it wasn’t a mistake, he was thrilled. He would never have to take the test again. He says his mathematician parents and his personal love of science helped him properly prepare. He plans to serve a mission for the LDS Church after graduation.

Sour moment “Once, I ate an entire peppercorn — that was not so much sour as it was gross.”

Making lemonade “When I found out my family and I were moving to Italy for seven months, I was upset because I would miss half of my junior year. I ended up loving it. I got to ride in a gondola, hike the Alps and wander around Pompeii.”

From left to right: Connie Sokol, Danor Gerald and Ben Woosley.

From left: Connie Sokol, Danor Gerald and Ben Woosley.

Connie Sokol 

   Age 49 • Woodland Hills

Sweet life One of Connie’s goals for 2015 is to not cry on her Studio 5 segments, but it’s precisely this “real factor” that draws women to her as an Education Week speaker and author. As mom to seven — including an “edible caboose known as ‘Chubs,’” Connie “marinates in mom life.”

Making lemonade “When my son with Asperger’s struggled in junior high, I felt to homeschool him. We both survived and he graduated high school with honors, attended BYU-Idaho, served a service LDS mission and is starting a dental lab assistant school this month.”

Sour moment “How much space do we have? Pick a card, any card — health, finances, children’s issues, parenting regrets, and the BYU morning I walked up south campus hill with my dress stuck in my pantyhose.”

Flavors for 2015 “Releasing national nonfiction books and one romance book (excited!) and launching an online radio show titled ‘The Living Room — Real Women, Real Lives.’ Also, taming laundry once a week.”

Danor Gerald

   Age 41 • Saratoga Springs

Sweet life Danor was a finalist in a national high school mascot competition and an All-American springboard diver at Ouachita Baptist University — but today, he is best-known for his role as protagonist in “Saints and Soldiers: The Void,” released last summer. He began his acting career at a conservatory in Dallas. A convert to the LDS Church, Danor is now both directing and acting in a film about Elijah Abel, an African-American LDS convert who lived in Nauvoo.

Ben Woolsey

   Age 72 • Orem

Sweet life Ben has hiked to the summit of Timpanogos 689 times, and this former Provo Post Office worker has been known to sign the guest book at the shack as “that guy.” “Other hikers often say they’ve heard about that old guy who hikes the mountain all the time.” Ben once hiked the iconic mountain six days a week for six straight weeks. For several years it’s been his goal to complete the 14.2-mile venture as many times in a year as his age. When he was 67, he got to 63 and was snowed out. The next year, he tore his miniscus after 13 outings. In 2014, all the steps aligned and he finished his 72nd climb in November just two hours before a snowstorm hit.

Sweet moment “My goal is to help at least one person on each hike. I bring extra water, an extra knee brace and toilet paper.”

Sour moment “One time I was wearing jean cutoffs and ripped the seam out while coming down the slide. I looked like I was wearing a mini-skirt all the way down.”

Flavors of 2015 “I can hike the Y year-round, and my goal is 400 times this year.”

From top left: Hugo Laguan, Zack Bird, Rich Jones and Bryan Hatch.

Top from left: Hugo Laguan, Zack Francom. Front row: Rich Jones and Bryan Hatch.

Rich Jones

   Age 59 • Highland

Sweet life After 23 years as the CFO and controller at Nature’s Way, a merger left Rich without a job. He coped by writing poetry and music. Even after being hired as the CFO for Costa Vida in 2011, Rich kept his guitar and voice humming as he recorded eight albums.

“My music is my journal,” Rich says. ”If I have a problem, I externalize it by putting it in song or poetry form.” With more than 200 poems and 300 songs, Rich’s life is well-documented — from silly to sappy to serious.

Sweetest moment “I loved hearing myself on the radio for the first time, and it’s especially sweet to play the songs for the individuals who inspired them, especially those for my wife and mother.”

Flavors of 2015 “Release another album or two.”

Favorite beverage “Blue Sky Cola — I wrote a song about it. Actually, my favorite is diet water on the rocks. That’s how I order it in restaurants.”

Hugo Laguan

   Age 60 • Orem

Sweet life Since learning the art of shoemaking at age 13, Hugo has covered the feet of Sylvester Stallone, Dolly Parton, Frank Sinatra, Ronald Reagan — and now for Utah residents. He grew up in El Salvador and later moved to Los Angeles where his custom shoe designs waltzed their way onto red carpets. Later he settled in Utah Valley where he makes and repairs shoes at Saving Soles (149 West 400 North, Orem).

Making lemonade “It was really hard for my wife and children to move to Utah. I had no customers and I didn’t have any idea how to show people what I do. But I did the best I could, and my business has grown. I love to live here. Utah is the best state.”

Favorite beverage “Every time I go to a restaurant, I ask for a strawberry lemonade.”

Zack Francom

   Age 11 • Provo

Sweet life Zack has turned lemons into lemonade — and lemonade into $50,000 during five years of hosting Zack’s Shack in front of his house on 556 East Center in Provo. His generosity has been featured in the February issue of the Friend Magazine and in an LDS Philanthropies video, but his charm+philanthropy started small. In first grade, Zack’s school announced a goal to raise money to buy wheelchairs. He wanted to bring in enough cash to pay for one chair himself. His mom called everyone she knew to visit his lemonade stand, and now supporters line up to buy his 50-cent lemonade and five flavors of cookies.

Sweet moment “I asked a girl to be my valentine, and she said yes! Also, two years ago I won a grant from State Farm Insurance for $25,000, which is cool because I have to raise $143 for each wheelchair.”

Sour moment “I’m only 11, so my life has been pretty much all lemonade.”

Favorite beverage “Lemonade! Come get a drink on April 10–11 at our 6th year of Zack’s Shack!”

Bryan Hatch

   Age 33 • Provo

Sweet life Bryan was at the top of his game when a motocross accident left him paralyzed from the chest down at age 17. A few years later, he bought a snowmobile, called on his motocross skills and began training for the X Games. Earlier this year, his wife and daughter cheered him on at the X Games Aspen 2015 SnoCross Adaptive, where he took seventh, and now he is ready to start training for 2016.

Making lemonade “After my accident, I woke up in the hospital hearing the doctor tell me what I already knew. It took me three seconds to decide that life wasn’t over, it was just going to be different. I twisted the throttle on life and haven’t looked back.”

Flavors of 2015 “Outside of racing, I want to create a foundation that will let other people with disabilities ride already-adapted snowmobiles and other recreational vehicles for free.”

From left to right: Todd Frye, J. Kirk Richards and Jennie Johnson.

From left: Todd Frye, J. Kirk Richards and Jennie Johnson.

Todd Frye

   Age 67 • Springville

Sweet life When Todd was young, he would fill boxes with “whirligig” maple tree seeds, toss them from the roof and watch them swirl to the ground. Decades later, he is still harnessing the power of the wind as he teaches groups to sail and navigate Utah Lake. Todd and his wife, Louise, opened the Bonneville School of Sailing nine years ago with eight students. In 2014, they taught nearly 400.

Sweetest moment “It was great to hear what Kim, our first client, said about her experience years ago. She said, ‘That was the scariest, most exciting and fun thing I’ve ever done! I feel so empowered.’ That typifies the joy most of our clients feel.” First job “My first real job was as a sawyer, clearing timber for a new power line project coming from Montrose to Denver. Some of my high school buddies and I lived in a tent up in the mountains of Colorado to become macho lumberjacks. Most of us didn’t last two weeks.”

J. Kirk Richards

   Age 38 • Woodland Hills

Sweet life Kirk’s spring will be especially sweet with Deseret Book’s release of “This is Jesus,” which tells the easter story with his signature oil paintings. This father of four is known for his unique take on traditional Judeo-Christian themes and contributed to the BYU Museum of Art’s exhibit “Beholding Salvation: The Life of Christ in Word and Image.”

Sweet moments “Highlights include hanging newly purchased large-scale work in someone’s home, finishing my 1000th career painting and hearing that people recognize my work in far away places.”

Making lemonade “Many artists abandoned their careers in the recession, but my wife and I decided that instead we would focus completely. I produced more paintings, including small works people could afford. With greater output and a larger audience, we came out stronger.”

Flavors of 2015 “I just bought a kiln and will do a show with dozens of ceramic sculptures in May. We recently purchased an old church building in Massachusetts, so I’ll be renovating studio space and painting in New England.”

Jennie Johnson

   Age 43 • Cedar Hills

Sweet life Ever since Jennie was teaching piano and serving 10 cent cones at Macey’s in Logan, she’s been taught to look for the good. Her family purchased the Manila Church in Pleasant Grove because they saw the possibilities in the “old white church.” Now their 22,000-square-foot building hosts weddings, a preschool, the Discovery Space Center and Night in Bethlehem — a live nativity that brought in thousands of holiday goers (see glowing star below).

Sweet moment “When we remodeled the clerk’s office that is now my office, we found two window openings loaded with bricks. The builders of this church had torn down the school across the street and used the bricks to stabilize and insulate the interior walls. We also unveiled a brick wall that had been concealed for 50 years. I keep a brick to remind me to follow their lead and build with every bit of resources and God-given strength I have.”

Flavors of 2015 “We’ll dote on brides and their families, and this year we’ll also break into family-friendly community dinner theater.”

Starting on the top row: Mike Joner, Janette Hales Beckham, Jasmine Weiss and Kimberly Jo Smith.

Top row from left: Mike Joner, Janette Hales Beckham. Front row: Jasmine Weiss and Kimberly Jo Smith.

Mike Joner

   Age 59 • Provo

Sweet life Mike is astronomically fabulous. Fifteen years ago, he used his love of astronomy to bring an undergraduate program to BYU. This year, the BYU professor researched an active galaxy from the BYU Observatory. His findings helped determine that the black hole 120 million light years away from Earth is 8 million times the mass of the sun.

Making lemonade “At BYU, our telescopes are considered small by modern standards. I’ve made lemonade out of these lemons by finding lots of projects where we can make significant contributions or even play the leading role in world-class research with our modest facilities.”

Sour moment “I was diagnosed with cancer twice, and one of my daughters had Hodgkin’s lymphoma in high school. But everything turned out because my diagnosis was 10 years ago, and my daughter has five children.”

Janette Hales Beckham

   Age 81 • Provo

Janette’s signature item is her sensible shoes. “You can do more good in the world if you move quickly and comfortably,” she says. Her contributions include serving as General Young Women President for the LDS Church from 1992 to 1997, serving as Chair of the Board of Trustees at UVU, and going undefeated in a tennis league with her daughter.

Sweet life “Ray and I have 20 great-grandchildren between us and three on the way. We get missionary blogs from grandsons in Norway, Hungary and Spain.”

Making lemonade “The sudden loss of my husband, Robert H. Hales, in 1988 was life-changing. At age 54, a survival instinct overtook me. I ran for and won a seat in the Utah State Legislature. Many ‘lemonade’ experiences followed that courageous action.”

Sour moment “For me, sour is felt most deeply when I know young people who make choices that compromise their future.”

Making lemonade “I had total knee replacements this past year, and being able to take a hilly walk again has turned sour into sweet.”

Flavors for 2015 “I replaced all the spices in my kitchen — including a new bottle of Chipotle — as a Christmas present to myself.”

Jasmine Weiss

   Age 18 • Orem

Sweet life Jasmine has been a hockey player for 11 years and a piano performer for 15. With the Utah Lady Grizzlies, this Mountain View High School senior has traveled throughout the U.S. and Canada and has won three tournaments this year. Jasmine’s musical highlights include performing at Carnegie Hall and with eight different symphonies in Utah and Idaho.

Making lemonade “My college auditions were at the end of January, so I was practicing the piano very hard all month to prepare. January was also the busiest month of hockey season, with three hockey tournaments in the same four weeks I had to prepare for auditions. I got in contact with church leaders in each hockey location and practiced the piano in different church buildings. My teammates thought I was crazy!”

Favorite beverage “Diet Mountain Dew.”

Kimberly Jo Smith

   Age 52 • Payson

Sweet life At age 12, Kimberly learned she had an ancestor named Joseph Smith, Jr., who built a church. and left her a heritage she had never known. Now she speaks and performs for LDS firesides with her son, Bryan, as they share what the Smiths have endured on their journey to find hope through Jesus Christ.

Sour moment “We don’t charge for firesides, so securing funding is an uphill battle. Balancing what we do as a mission with financial challenges can be sour.”

Making lemonade “We were once frauded by a man and left with $50 to get from Salt Lake to Martin’s Cove where we were to speak. We took a leap of faith and headed out of town. While there we had an unplanned event where we sang and sold our CDs, making enough money for the rest of the trip.”

Flavors of 2015 “Speaking and performing from California to New York and across Canada. We’re also working on our new CD.”

From left to right: Michelle Black, Paul Winkelman and Laura Snyder.

From left: Michelle Black, Paul Winkelman and Laura Snyder.

Michelle Black 

   Age 46 • Mapleton

Sweet life Michelle is raising six humans — along with Toy and Mini-American Eskimos as part of the breeding business she runs with her sister Camille Swartzmiller. Michelle got her work ethic and love for animals growing up in Koosharem as the eighth of 10 children.

Sweetest moment “I love placing puppies in homes with special needs children, as service dogs in hospitals, or as therapy dogs for abusive situations.”

Making lemonade “We used to sell to local pet stores until one day they told us no. We had to get out of our comfort zone and take our business online where now our hobby breeder business has grown into a way to supplement our family income — including the four children I will soon have in college.” (Puppies sell for approximately $1,500.)

Paul Winkelman

   Age 50 • South Jordan

Sweet life As the artistic director and program coordinator for the UVU Ballroom Dance Company, Paul has waltzed students around the world. He choreographed his own success as a five-time member of the United States Formation Championship Ballroom Team and as two-time U.S. National American Style Ballroom Dance Champion. He was also the assistant choreographer for the 2002 Salt Lake Opening and Closing Olympic Ceremonies and has brought his talents to Stadium of Fire, “High School Musical 3” and the Super Bowl.

Making lemonade “I’ve worked with many students in bad situations; through love, counseling and goal-setting, they become successful and change their lives and circumstances.”

Flavors for 2015 “UVU ballroom hopes to compete in the British Championships, which are considered the highest honor. Additionally, our dancers will perform for two weeks in Europe.”

Laura Snyder

   Age 54 • Alpine

Sweet life In fourth grade Laura wrote and performed her first operetta. A year later, she wrote, starred in and directed her own play for her entire school to see. Today, this mother of three is known as the founder and executive director of the Alpine Community Theater and ACT Performing Arts Academy. Since its establishment in 2004, Laura has directed, produced and choreographed more than a dozen popular musical productions. She is currently pursuing her master’s degree in arts administration at Southern Utah University.

From left to right: Clark Anderson, Bill Loy Jr., David Nibley and Carolina Allen.

From left: David Nibley, Clark Anderson, Bill Loy Jr., and Carolina Allen (holding her niece).

Clark Anderson

   Age 46 • Orem

Sweet life After 20 years in CES, 12 years as an EFY speaker/session director, directing more than 30 Church History/American Heritage Tours and 25 tours to Israel and Egypt, Clark knows the joy of the journey.

“It’s sweet to take people to historical sites and see them react in joy as they learn truth,” he says. Clark’s path now includes his non-profit Revive Humanity, which provides global service opportunities and directs service cruises and tours. This father of six and grandfather of two loves to sing and play racquetball and basketball.

Flavors for 2015 “Providing tours and service opportunities in Africa, Asia, South America — and service cruises to Western Caribbean, Central America, Israel, Egypt, Jordan and Palestine. We’re also hosting a service race (Revive’s Race to Serve) coming this fall.”

First job “Paperboy for the Daily Herald at age 12.”

Favorite beverage “H2O or fresh juice -— especially mango. Yum!”

Bill Loy Jr.

   Age 58 • Provo

Sweet life When Bill was a toddler, he was pulled onto frozen Utah Lake in a fish box to watch his family members reel in their dinner. Fifty-five years later, Utah County benefits from Bill’s choice to stay in the family fishing business. He runs Loy Fisheries and is hauling carp out of Utah Lake, which helps restore the 24-mile body of water to a more stable ecological balance. Over the past few years, he has pulled out 17 million pounds of carp.

Making lemonade “Turning lemons into lemonade is basically what I do for a living. I help businesses turn carp into caviar.”

Favorite drink “My doctor says my favorite drink should be water. But I say Canadian Whiskey.”

David Nibley

   Age 41 • Highland

Sweet life His face is familiar from “The Best Two Years,” “Saints and Soldiers: Airborne Creed,” “High School Musical 2” and several LDS films (including “Joseph Smith: Prophet of the Restoration” where David played Alvin Smith). His humor is recognizable from stand-up comedy, including his part in “It’s Latter-Day Night! Live Comedy” — and the soon to be released “Peculiar People.” And now David’s food is center stage with The Melty Way, which has four locations and a food truck.

Making lemonade “I’ve been a creative director of three agencies, and I initially got involved with Melty Way by redesigning the brand. Over time I moved into the CEO position.”

Favorite beverage “I’m not a big soda drinker, but I had a Skinny Second Wife at Sodalicious last Friday, and I’ve been thinking about it ever since.”

Carolina Allen

   Age 35 • Provo

Sweet life At the Commission on the Status of Women at the United Nations last year, Carolina witnessed global policies affecting families negatively worldwide. “It was the first time in my life I felt helpless. That was very sour to me,” she says. Carolina was inspired to create a mothers’ movement called “Big Ocean Women,” and she acquired 30 UN badges for her grassroots collective. Under her leadership, these women are headed to the UN in New York this month to support families and to work on their book and website projects.

Making lemonade “My sweetest moments are homeschooling my five awesome kids.” (She’s also a supportive aunt and brought her niece to represent her love of children.)

Favorite beverage “Chocolate milk.”

First job “At 13, I got a summer job at the Protein Solutions Lab at the University of Utah. I got to play around with bioluminescent dinoflagellates (glow in the dark plankton).”

From top left: Rona Rahlf, Heath Thurston with daughter Kida and Linda Makin.

From left: Rona Rahlf, Linda Makin, and Heath Thurston with daughter Kida.

Rona Rahlf 

   Age 49 • Provo

Sweet life Seven years ago, Rona moved to Utah Valley to be publisher of the Daily Herald. She has served on boards of Chamber of Commerce, Boys and Girls Club and NAC (for UVU’s Woodbury School of Business). This mother of three and grandmother of one became a full-time community advocate when she replaced Val Hale as president of Utah Valley Chamber in 2014.

Sour moment “I had to have open heart surgery at 43 — just six months after moving here. Another sour moment was implementing layoffs as the Daily Herald transitioned from a print-only publication to a print and digital product that supported the marketplace.”

Flavors for 2015 “At the Chamber this year, we are revising how we bring value, particularly through our advocacy piece with local and state governments. We also want to connect startups and experienced CEOs. And I’m sure I’ll add to the rooster collection in my kitchen.”

Heath Thurston

   Age 36 • Orem

Sweet life Heath’s professional triathlete career had spanned eight years when he retired in 2014. But this father of two still had plenty of energy and strength, so he began competing for others. Last summer, he pulled and pushed special needs kids, including his 11-year-old daughter Kida (pictured) through four different triathlons. When he’s not participating in races, he coaches adult swim classes and swim teams. He and his wife also coach local triathletes.

Sweetest moment “Kida has mild cerebral palsy, and bringing her through a race last year was one of the defining moments of my life. ”

Flavors of 2015 “I plan on pulling more special needs friends through races. I love helping those around me enjoy what I enjoy, so if that means I pull them in a boat, then pull them on a bike and then push them on the run, I’ll do it as many times as I can.”

Linda Makin 

   Age 54 • Pleasant Grove

Sweet life Linda began as a secretary of Utah Technical College at Provo, and is now UVU’s Vice President for Planning, Budget and Human Resources. This BYU grad (MPA in 1997) also serves on the UCCU board, but her first job was at Saratoga Resort working carnival games. Ironically, she would love her last job to be at Walt Disney World as a fairy godmother in Cinderella’s castle.

Sweet moment “Sitting in the gallery of the Utah House of Representatives in March 2007 as Senate Bill 70 was passed to turn UVSC into UVU was very sweet.”

Flavors for 2015 “I plan to celebrate my 35th anniversary at Disneyland with just me, my husband and the two grandkids. Also, I’ll present at two national conferences on UVU’s dual institutional mission.”


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *