Ricky Lundell spent the past several years focusing on becoming the world’s best grappler. Mission accomplished.
It all started when he was picked on as a youngster. He learned to defend himself by studying Jiu-Jitsu. At age 19, Ricky became the youngest American to ever receive a black belt in Gracie Jiu-Jitsu.
From there, he moved on to the sport of grappling, which is similar to wrestling. In 2007, he won his bracket in the grappling world team trials, becoming the youngest USA grappling world team member. He went on to win the world championship in Turkey that year, officially earning the title of best grappler in the world. In 2008, he did it again.
Now Ricky is back in his home state, ready to launch his own grappling, wrestling and self defense school in Lindon.
“There are a lot of great things that come from my sport, like coaching women and kids in self defense,” Ricky says. “I’m also able to work with all levels, like Olympic athletes, wrestlers and professional fighters. I just love my sport.”
As a young mother with two beautiful boys, Leeann Whiffen’s world was shattered when she lost her son, Clay, to autism.
“It is absolutely the most devastating thing a parent could go through,” Leeann says. “It’s like a death — he completely disappeared from us. His little personality was gone.”
Though he’d previously met typical development milestones, 16-month-old Clay lost all eye contact, and his few words were replaced with high-pitched screams and aggressive tantrums.
At age 2, Clay’s autism was diagnosed, and the Whiffins put all their efforts into an applied behavior analysis program. The $30,000 to $40,000 price tag nearly matched the family’s annual income, but the need for early intervention drove their decision.
Clay screamed for hours the first days of therapy, but after six weeks he could sit in a chair and come when called. The day he looked Leeann in the eye and called her “mom” is one she’ll never forget. After three more years of therapy, a reevaluation determined that Clay no longer met the criteria for an autism diagnosis.
Citing that day as possibly the best of her life, Leeann decided to give back and share her story and knowledge she’d gained. Since then, she has authored a book, “A Child’s Journey Out of Autism,” been awarded “Outstanding Individual of the Year” by the Autism Council of Utah, and co-founded the Utah Autism Coalition.
Ashleigh and Ryan Di Lello
Whether it’s “Dancing With the Stars,” “So You Think You Can Dance,” or any other dance-based reality TV show, Utah is proving to be the nation’s new dance capital. On the most recent season of “So You Think You Can Dance,” husband and wife duo Ashleigh and Ryan Di Lello made history as the first married couple to make it to the show’s finale.
Ashleigh and Ryan both grew up in Utah County and met through mutual friends in the ballroom dancing world. They spent their first years of marriage traveling and performing throughout the world, then returned to Orem with plans to slow things down.
But when “So You Think You Can Dance” auditions came to town, they couldn’t resist.
“The show was one of the most challenging things I’ve ever done in my life,” Ryan says. “But sharing it with a spouse made it so much more special than had we done it alone. We got to celebrate when the other did well and support each other. We definitely grew closer through the experience.”
For the past 25 years, Kay Asay has been giving Utah children a reason to sing.
As founder and director of the Utah Children’s Choir, she has mentored hundreds of local children, many of whom have gone on to study music professionally.
The choir has become known for its exceptional concerts, choral festivals and community performances, in Utah and beyond. The group has toured the nation from California to New York, performing at historic venues like Carnegie Hall and the National Cathedral. Internationally, the choir has performed in major cathedrals and festivals throughout Italy.
“I really did want to have an influence on these children, and I absolutely love working with them,” Kay says. “It’s almost like a sacred calling. I feel at home here. This is my great love.”
Kelly Loosli animated his first film at age 11. By the time he was 15, he was creating clay animation TV commercials, making more money per hour than most high school students dream of. As a sophomore film major at BYU, Kelly won a student Emmy Award.
From there, he launched his career in Los Angeles, working at DreamWorks on the original “Shrek.”
After a job with Buena Vista, the live action division of Disney, Kelly returned to Utah and was recruited to teach at BYU by one of his former professors.
But Kelly did more than teach. He oversaw the creation and development of an animation department — a course of study previously unavailable to BYU students.
“We don’t treat it like a traditional academic,” Kelly says. “We want to flood the industry with a values-based workforce.”
Since its 2001 birth, the department has won nine student Emmys and four student Academy Awards, with films playing all over the world including the Cannes and Sundance Film Festivals.
You may have seen him playing the piano at Nordstrom in University Mall. Or maybe you’ve heard his music while walking through the Joseph Smith Memorial Building in Salt Lake City. LDS temple-goers in Provo listen to the hymns he plays on the organ every other week.
No matter what or where he’s playing, Ron Roberts does it without sheet music. The Provo resident is legally blind, but that doesn’t prevent him from sharing his talent.
“I’ve been blind all my life, but I can hear a song two or three times and learn it,” Ron says. “It comes naturally, and I have perfect pitch.”
Ron has more than a thousand songs memorized, and he plays regularly at a variety of rest homes, the Orem Friendship Center and at the local Rotary Club’s weekly meetings.
When Myla Dutton moved to Utah Valley 31 years ago, she took a job as volunteer center director at Community Action Services and Food Bank. In 1979, the center only had a 5-by-6-foot basement closet that helped five families a week.
Today, under Myla’s direction, Community Action in Provo helps as many as 200 families a day from its 20,000-square-foot warehouse. Last year local families received 2.7 million pounds of food.
Myla became Community Action’s executive director in 1988, and took the annual budget from $250,000 to more than $2 million with an additional $3-plus million through in-kind food donations.
And though she attributes these enormous accomplishments to her staff and volunteers, Myla takes pride in the success stories.
“These families that leave here with five to seven days of food are a little less stressed tonight,” Myla says. “To know we’re making a substantial difference in many people’s lives is very rewarding.”
Alina Geslison and Grace Dayton
When Alina Geslison and Grace Dayton went to the National Oldtime Fiddlers’ Contest in Idaho last June, they expected to do well in the Junior Division individual competition. But the two Provo residents had no idea they’d return to Utah Valley as the nation’s best pair of fiddlers.
The team entered the twin fiddling division on a whim and took a risk by performing two non-traditional songs — a waltz and a Nicaraguan tune. One standing ovation later, the team was announced twice — they were awarded second place in the people’s choice category, and first place by the judges.
“When we heard we had won we were speechless,” Alina says.
Alina, a freshman at BYU, and Grace, a Timpview High sophomore, both finished in the top 10 in the individual competition in Idaho. They also perform Celtic, bluegrass and contemporary fiddle music as members of the band Firefly.
Kathy Headlee Miner
If there’s one thing Kathy Headlee Miner knows, it’s how to be a mother. She has five children of her own and has helped countless others through Mothers Without Borders, the American Fork-based nonprofit she created in 2000 to address needs of orphaned and abandoned children by providing shelter, food and water, education, and access to caring adults.
Kathy spends five months each year in Africa and has made 50 trips. But with 150 million orphans in the world — a number that increases by 6,000 every day — there are no efforts too great.
“The answer is to strengthen communities where these children live,” Kathy says. “We want to assure that each child has someone who cares about them.”
Some weeks, Greg Witt hikes more miles than he drives. He’s visited 45 countries, crossed the Grand Canyon on foot more than a dozen times, and hiked more than 700 miles while guiding tours in the Alps.
And it’s not just for fun — it’s Greg’s job.
“Hiking the Alps for a living is a pretty good gig,” the Provo resident says.
Greg launched his guided travel business 25 years ago, specializing in adventure and off-the-beaten-path destinations. With Alpenwild Adventures, he’s hosted clients from all over the world, climbing many of the most famous peaks in the Alps. Plus, he puts his travels into writing and has had a dozen books published, including local bestsellers like “60 Hikes Within 60 Miles: Salt Lake City.”
“My heart is firmly planted in the Wasatch,” Greg says. “We have great trails and great hikes here. Even though I love the Alps, I think Utah is one of the greatest outdoor destinations in the world. We have a lot to be proud of here.”
Tye Noorda’s theater experience began at a very young age. The aspiring actress would perform in her backyard for an attentive bunch of chickens.
“As long as I kept throwing wheat, they appreciated it,” Tye says. “That was my first training.”
Tye participated in chorus and orchestra in high school, but her true desire was to study speech in college. While working as a secretary to save money, Tye took speech lessons and performed in plays in Salt Lake City. She also took modeling classes and modeled in New York City.
After meeting and marrying her husband, Ray — who later became the innovator behind Novell and Utah’s technology sector — Tye raised five children while writing songs, performing in community theater, directing church road shows, organizing speech festivals, and helping young people perform on stage.
Last fall, the Noorda Regional Theater Center for Children & Youth and UVU’s new youth theater program had their grand opening, all made possible through a gift from the Ray & Tye Noorda Foundation.
“I think one of the most valuable things you can do for kids is work with them on performing and being in front of people,” Tye says. “It can change lives.”
Like many young girls, Jennifer Hill-Barlow took ballet classes. But at age 12, she was still with it, receiving a scholarship to dance and train with Ballet West Conservatory. In high school, Jennifer danced more than 40 hours a week. She graduated with a bachelor’s in fine arts from the University of Utah, which is ranked in the top three of college dance programs.
From there, Jennifer performed with the Cincinnati Ballet and the world-famous Guangzhou Ballet in China, then earned a master’s degree at the U. Next came more high-profile performances, including two seasons with the Radio City Rockettes in New York.
But now, Jennifer has gone from ballerina to businesswoman. After teaching dance from her Cedar Hills basement, she has opened the Barlow Arts Conservatory in Lehi, providing high-level classical ballet training.
“We offer live stage experiences where a lot of studios offer competition,” Jennifer says. “When you’re a professional ballet dancer, you tell a story. It’s important for the training to emulate what you will become someday.”
Bill and Doug Jackson
Doug Jackson was in a plane en route to Haiti when the January earthquake hit. As president of Provo’s Deseret International Foundation, Doug routinely travels to places like El Salvador, Nigeria, Uganda and Haiti and has coordinated 31,000 surgeries.
Doug’s father, Bill Jackson, founded the organization more than 20 years ago, and today its services — like neurosurgeries, cardiac surgeries, and surgeries for cleft lips and club feet — reach dozens of third-world countries. The foundation also focuses on supplying local people with equipment and training to carry on the surgeries and procedures.
In January, the father-son team was invaluable for their spur-of-the-moment service in Haiti.
“We know the doctors and hospitals, so we were thrust into coordination,” Doug says. “I was overwhelmed by the destruction and death, but I was also impressed by how well the people were coping. The Haitians are wonderful people who have been given a bad hand over and over again. Hopefully this will be an opportunity for them to turn a corner.”
After completing his nightly chores on the family dairy farm, 6-year-old Boyd Rollins would race the 100 yards from the cattle trough to the house to avoid being alone in the dark. Years later, Boyd would drop his girlfriend off at her house, then run the few miles home.
His self-imposed training certainly paid off — as a high school senior, Boyd ran a 4:30 mile at the BYU Invitational, confirming his love for running and racing.
At 81 years old, this Provo resident still lives for competition. He’s run nearly 50,000 miles in his lifetime and now qualifies regularly for the National Senior Games in the sport of racewalking.
No stranger to accolades, Boyd won gold medals in both his races — 5K and 1500-meter — at the 2009 Games.
“I’ve only been competing for a few years in racewalking, but I’d had a lot of experience racing,” Boyd says. “I had strategies and antics to use in the race. And at age 81, it was so much fun.”
Type the words “green smoothie” into Google. Or try it in a YouTube search. Either way, you’ll find Robyn Openshaw — also known as Green Smoothie Girl — at the top of the list.
The Lindon mom of four launched her Web site three years ago, and now greensmoothiegirl.com receives 80,000 new visitors a month from 165 different countries. So, what’s all the hype about?
“In just 10 minutes of kitchen time you’ll be ahead of 99 percent of Americans,” Robyn says. “If you drink a quart a day, you’ll get 15 servings of raw greens and fruit in one simple step.”
According to Robyn, throwing a simple mixture of greens, fruits and liquids into a blender is the best use of kitchen time, since the results yield an increase in energy and productivity.
Robyn’s best recipes are in her new book, “The Green Smoothies Diet,” which is already in its second printing.
After home schooling seven children for 15 years, Diane Hopkins had an idea.
“The teens didn’t have a formal prom to go to because there wasn’t an alternative for those living a more conservative lifestyle,” says the Spanish Fork mom.
Diane wasn’t impressed with the problems that accompany a typical high school dance, like immodesty and a lack of actual dancing.
“I had a lot of teenage daughters, and every girl needs to dress up in a ball gown and be Cinderella for a night,” Diane says. “So I thought, ‘I’m just going to plan it myself.’”
Ten years ago, Diane organized a formal prom specifically for home-schooled teens. To her surprise, more than 200 people showed up. A team of BYU ballroom dancers came to teach the teens a few dance moves, and local businesses donated door prizes.
Each year Diane hears from moms across the nation who have followed her lead and created their own version of Utah’s home school prom.
Last winter Benton Paul lived out a part of his lifelong dream. He performed in Seattle. And Boston. And Kansas City. And San Francisco, Salt Lake City, Boise and Cleveland.
Raised in Highland, Benton picked up singing, songwriting and guitar playing as a high school student. While at BYU studying music, he began performing locally and occasionally on mini-tours. Now it has turned into a full-time career.
“It’s always been my main goal,” Benton says. “I’m the youngest of five and I was always excited for the limelight. I’ve always been into performing.”
During 2009, Benton toured with Brooke White and Michael Johns, finalists from Season 7 of “American Idol.” He also opened for David Archuleta, runner up from the same season, on David’s Christmas tour. Benton also has projects in the works with the Jonas Brothers, and a new album on the way.
“I just released an EP a few weeks back, and one of the songs was the iTunes Discovery Download of the week,” Benton says. “We had 250,000 downloads of that, and I’m working on some upcoming tours and a new album. I’m just writing away.”
Years ago, as a single mother with a young daughter, Lucinda Stevens found herself with just $10 to spend on Christmas. On her way to the store to purchase a gift for her daughter, the Provo resident came across a homeless man begging for money to buy food. Unable to refuse, she surrendered the money and cried the entire drive back home.
When she approached her house, she found an envelope at her front door. Inside was $100. She still doesn’t know who left the money there, but she does know one thing.
“You have to pay it forward,” Lucinda says.
Lucinda chooses to pay it forward with United Way. As a 15-year veteran UPS driver delivering to areas where people receive a lot of assistance, Lucinda sees first hand the places United Way helps. She serves with the United Way of Utah County Women in Philanthropy and volunteers for citizen review panels to approve requests for funding. Plus, she regularly donates money, even when finances are tight.
“I’ve had some financial trials of my own,” Lucinda says. “But when it’s time to write down my contribution, I just think, ‘I can’t not do this.’ Somebody I know somewhere is going to be affected. You never know when you’re going to need a helping hand.”
It all started with what he called a “crazy idea.” Caleb Chapman decided Utah needed a better option for specialized music education, so in 1999 he opened a music school. Serving as many as 1,500 students at once, Caleb’s conservatory gained recognition that invited an affiliation with the renowned Juilliard School, as well as partnerships with the Berklee College of Music and Utah’s top music organizations like the Utah Symphony and the Gina Bachauer Foundation.
Today, Caleb’s flagship group is the award-winning Crescent Super Band, which is frequently hailed as one of the best professional bands in the world to be comprised entirely of young musicians.
“They’ve been featured in major shows from New York to the Netherlands, and every year they seem to get more and more recognition,” Caleb says.
Caleb’s crew has also impressed many of today’s top artists. The high-school-aged performers have worked with well over a hundred guest musicians, including dozens of Grammy winners.
More than 300 people died of drug overdoses in Utah last year. That means you’re more likely to die from drug abuse than from a car accident. And if that isn’t bad enough, Utah is ranked No. 1 in prescription drug abuse.
But those statistics will be changing soon if Brad Daw gets his way. As Representative of District 60 (Orem), Brad has taken a special interest in Utah’s drug issue. Since he was first elected to the House six years ago, Brad has run a number of bills to create awareness and increase accountability by medical professionals, patients, drug abusers, and their friends and family.
“It is heart wrenching,” Brad says. “We clearly have a problem we need to address. And the deaths are only the tip of the iceberg. It is a big thrust for me legislatively. If I’m in a place where I can do something about it, I better step up.”
Saratoga Springs Mayor Mia Love has only been in office for a few months, but she’s already made history. After serving on the city council for six years, Mia, a mother of three, was elected to be the first black woman mayor in the state.
In Utah, only 1.3 percent of residents are black (just 0.5 percent in Utah County), so Mia says her win shows something positive.
“It gives a better picture of the type of people we have in Saratoga Springs — and Utah in general,” Mia says. “I’ve never felt out of place. I call this home. We’re not bound by racial stigmas or prejudice. If you have the same values we have, we’ll vote for you.”
A Connecticut native with parents who immigrated from Haiti, Mia believes in service and the proper role of government.
“I believe wholeheartedly that all good things come through service,” she says.
Hannah Laursen and Katie Snarr
Hannah Laursen and Katie Snarr have been best friends since they were 2. So it’s no surprise that when one was in trouble, the other stepped in to help.
Last summer, 10-year-old Hannah was in Florida when she was hit with what seemed like migraines, then the flu. A scan showed a brain tumor. Within five days, Hannah had three surgeries, with plans for chemotherapy and radiation.
Hannah attended her fourth grade class in Provo as much as she could but had to miss occasionally for treatments. Katie brought Hannah her homework — but decided to do more.
“We put a picture of me and Hannah on a box, and every morning on the announcements they would say, ‘If you have money for Hannah, go to the office and drop it in the box,’” Katie says. “I knew the money would help Hannah.”
The box collected more than $1,000, and Hannah’s mom says Katie’s support helped Hannah more than anything else.
“Katie has been such a good friend,” Leigh Laursen says. “It wasn’t weird for her to have a friend who was bald or sick. Katie has been her true friend.”
Whether it’s culture, cuisine, art, architecture, animals, festivals, yoga or philosophy, the Sri Sri Radha Krishna Temple in Spanish Fork has something for everyone.
“Between tours, festivals, shoppers, diners, yoga classes and retreats, there are about 50,000 visitors annually,” says Caru Das, the temple’s president.
And that doesn’t count the visitors who use the temple’s offerings virtually.
“Our lives have been enriched by exposure to the Krishna Conscious lifestyle,” Caru says. “We wanted to use the most up-to-date technology to pass it on.”
That technology now includes Facebook (Caru has more than 1,700 friends), daily Tweets, multiple blog posts each week, a YouTube channel with close to 100 videos, and temple webcams for devotees who want to see the altar. In less than three months, the temple’s iTunes channel has seen 1,100 downloads of its Sunday lectures.
“A lot more interested people have been orbiting around the temple, both physically and in cyber space,” Caru says.
Congressman Jason Chaffetz goes where no other House freshman has gone before.
For one, the representative of Utah’s 3rd Congressional District sleeps on a cot in his Washington, D.C., office instead of renting or buying an apartment.
“I’m almost embarrassed by how well I sleep there,” Jason says. “But it’s helped personify my commitment to fiscal discipline and to living the frugal life. It’s symbolic — I’m not trying to live above and beyond my means. And Congress needs to do the same.”
He also sets himself apart by filling the role of media darling, handing out his cell phone number to reporters, appearing on “The Colbert Report” and being selected by CNN for “Freshman Year,” a weekly reality-TV-style series featuring a behind-the-scenes look at life in Congress.
Jason is more than pleased with the way things went during his first year.
“I’m still pinching myself that I get to do this,” he says. “I walk onto the floor of the House and still get that tingle down my spine. It’s an honor to serve and a very humbling experience.”
The youngest of 13 siblings, Gladeeh Begay was born on a Navajo reservation in impoverished conditions. Her family lived in a 12-by-14-foot house with a dirt floor and no running water or electricity. Her parents both died when she was young.
After being adopted and raised by a family in Orem, Gladeeh continued to visit the reservation to care for family members who remained there. When she realized her brother’s seven children weren’t attending school because they had no shoes, Gladeeh knew she had to take action. She began bringing food and clothing to them and to other relatives and sought donations from co-workers and friends in Utah County.
“As I became more aware, I went back to help my family and that progressed to other relatives and into the community,” Gladeeh says.
Now, 30 years later, Gladeeh’s project goes by the name of Reservations Bound, and last year the group provided Christmas for 2,000 people, with supplies like coats, blankets, and shoes and socks.
She has also recently recruited the help of Hearts and Hands in Action to build homes on the reservation. They have built nine homes so far and have plans for 15 more this year.
Heather Larson is described by her friends as “the most optimistic person you’ll ever meet.” Whether she’s organizing a Christmas gift drive, teaching yoga to elderly women or volunteering with Habitat for Humanity, Heather is an incredible example of charity.
While looking for yet another service project to undertake, Heather decided to choose a group of deserving individuals and plan a retreat for them.
“I realized foster moms have a need for personal time and putting themselves first,” Heather says. “They’re in the line of fire every day putting these kids first.”
So Heather partnered with the Utah Foster Care Foundation to plan an overnight gathering for 50 local foster moms. They offered free massages, gift bags, training and classes to boost the spirits of these hard-working women.
“The women give and give and give,” Heather says. “The retreat was a gift and blessing to everyone involved.”
Martin and Melanie Snow
Husband and wife duo Martin and Melanie Snow are a winning team — literally.
They met through their mutual hobby of Porsche club racing. And when this Lehi couple paired up, they found success both on and off the track.
In 1999, after going pro, Martin and Melanie became the first husband and wife team to score a win in their class at the American Le Mans Series 12 Hours of Sebring in Florida.
Next came a multi-year hiatus from racing so Martin and Melanie could focus on their careers — he as owner of a steel fabrication company in Lindon, and she as a busy mother of four.
But a few years ago, Melanie decided to jump back into the sport, and Martin followed quickly behind her.
And it’s paid off. Marking their biggest year yet, Martin and Melanie co-drove together in the 2009 ALMS Series Challenge and were crowned class champions. Plus, Melanie won her class championship at an International Motor Sports Association series, and Martin came in second in his class.
Whether they’re driving as a team or as competitors, Martin and Melanie work well together.
“It’s our bonding thing,” Melanie says. “It’s our hobby together. We also have a little friendly competition — we’re rubbing it in when one of us is faster than the other. And when we’re co-driving we work together.”
When David Ssejinja moved to Utah from his small village in Uganda, he left behind a war-torn society deeply rooted in poverty and HIV/AIDS.
“The maladies of the children kept ringing into my head,” David says. “Looking back at where I come from brings a tremendous opportunity.”
That opportunity quickly turned into the Orem-based Ssejinja Children’s Foundation, which carries a purpose of meeting basic needs and bringing hope to children in Africa who have been affected by civil conflict and HIV/AIDS.
Since its inception in 2002, the foundation has established two orphan schools, a widows’ organization and a children’s medical clinic. A community library and women’s leadership education academy are in the works.
“I’ve developed a philosophy to go where there is no road and leave a trail behind,” David says. “The legacy of helping these children is now more likely to continue.”
Jeff and Cristi Bastian
Valentine’s Day 2009 was historic for Jeff and Cristi Bastian — and for the show “The Price is Right.” For the first time ever, the show celebrated the day of love by inviting married or dating couples to come on down.
Wearing T-shirts bearing their significant other’s name and photo, the Provo couple started strong by winning a Tiffany & Co. bracelet on contestant’s row, then $50 playing the game Punch A Bunch.
Their luck continued when they spun the wheel and made it into the showcase. Their potential prize was a set of four trips — including skiing in Colorado and a week at the Hamptons — plus $1,000 spending cash. And with a bid just a few thousand dollars under the actual price, Jeff and Cristi made history as the first couple to win big together.
“Every step of the way, it was like, ‘Is this really happening?” Cristi says. “It was a crazy, fun, cool experience — and a really fun thing to do together.”
Ann Dee Ellis
It’s not every day that an author’s first published novel is selected by the American Library Association as one of the year’s Best Books for Young Adults. But Ann Dee Ellis did just that with her debut work, “This Is What I Did.” On top of that accolade, her book earned three starred reviews, was nominated by the ALA as a recommended read for reluctant readers and was named an honor book by the International Reading Association.
Born and raised in Provo, Ann Dee had never even been to New York City when her young adult novel was published there by Little, Brown and Company.
“I didn’t have a lot of experience, and it was surprising to me that people read my book and could connect to it. I’m new to this work, and it was exciting to hear it was getting good reviews.”
Lynn Callister was 7 years old when her mother died of breast cancer. Lynn watched the nurses who cared for her mother every day, and that set her on a path to one day become a nurse herself.
Now a professor at BYU’s College of Nursing, Lynn has dedicated her life to the health of women and children, especially newborns. She earned BYU’s first endowed professorship for the decades of study she’s performed around the world. This professorship provides her with $5,000 to continue her international research and mentoring.
“I’ve interviewed women in Jordan in refugee camps, in Finland where there’s a high level of technology, and in Guatemala where homes have tin roofs and bamboo walls,” Lynn says. “There is a huge disparity between the conditions in which women and their families live. But I’m impressed with the strength and resilience of women, regardless of circumstances.”
For some teenagers, summer is a carefree time. For Provo High School student Daniella Anaya, last summer was all about rehabilitating a library for orphan children in Bolivia.
“I wanted to make an impression on the world that would affect lasting generations,” she says.
So Daniella did just that. She began by seeking a donation from a private foundation, then she traveled to Bolivia, bought supplies, organized contractors and volunteers, oversaw the project from start to finish, and spent seven hours each day caring for babies at the orphanage.
“I designed the colors for the library, the layout for the floor plan, I picked out every single book,” she says. “The last week I was there we opened the library. And the children made great use of it. They were so excited about it. They’ve been grateful to have better resources for school and to get a better literacy level.”
As a BYU student studying business management, James Marshall decided to put his studies into practice. Without “knowing a thing about business,” he read a couple of popular business books and decided to give it a try.
He began by investigating the problem Provo students have when it comes to recycling. The city offers curbside service, but it isn’t available to apartment dwellers.
“Green-conscious students had resorted to sorting their recyclables and walking them up to BYU to deposit in the campus bins,” James says.
So James simplified the issue and created One Man’s Trash. He and his five part-time employees provide blue plastic bags to students who pay a small fee each semester, then the One Man’s Trash crew collects the bags from apartment doorsteps. James’ team also does all the sorting, making recycling a cinch for students.
Over the past year and a half, the pickup service has helped students recycle about 45,000 pounds.
Dr. Bret Tobler
Most people don’t look forward to a trip to the dentist’s office. But Dr. Bret Tobler sees plenty of patients who are thrilled to receive dental work. Every year — and sometimes two or three times a year — Dr. Tobler and his sons, who are also dentists at his Lehi practice, travel to remote villages in Haiti and the Dominican Republic to provide free dental care to hundreds of suffering but appreciative patients.
“You have a few experiences that open your heart to the need that is out there, and once you start doing it, you can’t quit,” Dr. Tobler says. “We have the skills to meet some of those needs, and we’re lucky enough to be able to open our clinic and our hearts to provide those services free of charge every once in awhile.”
Working a little closer to home, Stonehaven Dental also participates in Dentistry From The Heart, where one day of the year is dedicated to free dentistry for those in need. Last year, Dr. Tobler and his crew worked on 130 patients and provided $30,000 in free dentistry on the designated day.
Jay and Sandy Niederhauser
As innkeepers of the Blue Boar Inn in Midway, Jay and Sandy Niederhauser pride themselves on creating the perfect ambiance for couples celebrating anniversaries. And they know a thing or two about anniversaries — last year they celebrated 50 years together as husband and wife, marking a union considered the longest in the nation for innkeepers.
The year 2009 was meaningful to the couple for a second reason, too. It was the 10th anniversary of the Blue Boar Inn, which Jay and Sandy helped open.
“It was a landmark year,” Jay says. “The 10 years we’ve been at the inn went unbelievably fast, and the 50 years of marriage seemed to go even faster.”
H. Reese Hansen
For the first time ever, a BYU faculty member is serving as president of the Association of American Law Schools.
H. Reese Hansen is the Howard W. Hunter Professor of Law at the J. Reuben Clark Law School, focusing on trust law, probate law, and wills and estate planning. He joined the faculty in 1973 after practicing law in Salt Lake City, then served as dean of the law school from 1989 to 2004.
Out of 10,000 law professors and law school professionals, Reese was elected as AALS president for the 2010 year.
“It would have to be considered an unexpected honor, privilege and opportunity,” Reese says. “We have a terrific law school, but we’re relatively new in the law school world. Plus, we’re geographically in a place where there aren’t a lot of other law schools. Being from a new, small, private, religiously affiliated law school makes the opportunity to serve as president even more special to me.”
Chef Todd Leonard is getting fresh with his food at Highland’s Blue Lemon.
Doing its part to inspire healthy eating, Blue Lemon is a hybrid between fast casual and fine dining, with a focus on fresh ingredients and from-scratch cuisine. And the proof is in Blue Lemon’s kitchen — you won’t find a deep fryer or freezer there.
With the addition of Blue University, Todd is ready to teach his trade to the masses. In weekly evening classes, Todd covers the fundamentals in Blue Lemon’s state-of-the-art demo kitchen. One week’s topic might be poaching, roasting and risotto, and another might focus on stocks, sauces, grazing and grilling.
“People are thriving on it,” Todd says. “We want to educate people on the core of good, healthy cooking. We hope to get the community excited about food.”
Stephen Van Orden
Stephen Van Orden has all the makings of a German teacher. His father served an LDS German-speaking mission and studied German and education in college. Stephen took German in high school, then followed his father’s lead by serving a German mission and majoring in German and education at BYU. His wife, mother, two sisters and brother are also educators.
So it’s no surprise Stephen was the 2009 Foreign Language Teacher of the Year, awarded by the Utah Foreign Language Association.
“Teachers are significantly undervalued and most labor in extreme anonymity,” Stephen says. “They deserve a lot more recognition than they get, so this award is for the whole profession, not just for me.”
In the classroom, Stephen labors to make everything as real as possible, so his students truly learn German and take usable skills away from the class. For many of the students, a highlight of the class is the biannual trip to Germany.
When you browse through prints and patterns at quilt shops and fabric stores, you might see the name “Lila Tueller Designs” gracing the labels.
Lila Tueller is an Orem mother of seven who dabbled in painting and sewing for years, designing her own products to sell on eBay or in boutiques. Then she purchased equipment and programs to design her own fabric and assembled a portfolio to demonstrate her work. She received offers from multiple companies but chose Moda Fabrics, a popular manufacturer and distributor in Texas.
Since her first designs were released in 2008, Lila has created two collections each year, with up to 10 unique prints in each collection. She also designs sewing patterns for clothing, accessories, bags and quilts.
“The most exciting thing is running into people at the grocery store or Costco and seeing them wearing fabric or carrying a handbag I designed,” Lila says. “It’s really fun.”
A career in film doesn’t sound the picture of stability, but Michael Flynn — who lives on Center Street in Provo — has worked in both the Utah and California film communities for 30 years.
“It’s been an interesting career and is still growing,” he says.
His current picture-perfect project? A screenplay he’s written based on Dean Hughes’ novel “Midway to Heaven.” The film is tentatively slated to be in theaters in the fall, with an accompanying DVD release. Michael spoke at the LDS Film Festival in January about this current project.
Michael hopes to be remembered for projects he hasn’t shot yet (part of the “still growing” career). His favorite past credits include “The Best Two Years” and “The Lamb of God.”
“I’ve also played a bunch of wonderful characters on stage,” he says. “But I won’t be remembered for them since stage, by its nature, is over and done and then forgotten.”
Not so, Michael. Unforgettable stage characters played by this grandfather include Harold Hill in “The Music Man,” Arthur in “Camelot” and John Adams in “1776.”
He also was part of “Touched By An Angel” and “Everwood.”
Talk about “action.”
For the past 20 years, Karen Frost has dedicated herself to Boy Scouts of America. Starting as a Cubmaster in 1989, the Orem resident quickly fell in love with the program, and she now serves as senior district executive for the Utah National Parks Council division of scouting.
Karen also heads up the health and safety committee, which oversees all aquatics, climbing, tour permits, first aid/CPR requirements, and sports requirements for the geographical area from the Point of the Mountain to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon.
And that’s not all — in the past year Karen has taught more than 600 people first aid and CPR as a volunteer with the Red Cross. She is also a national disaster worker through the same organization and responded to the 2009 tsunami and earthquake in American Samoa, and to Hurricane Katrina in 2005. She currently serves as the president of Spanish Fork’s Chamber of Commerce.
Karen and her family have moved all over the country 36 times, but that has never stopped her from serving.
“For me, service is life,” she says. “How do you go through life not serving?”
The teenage years can be tough, but they’re especially difficult when you move to a new school. Mauricio Laguan, whose El Salvadorian family has only been in the United States since the ‘80s, grew up in Los Angeles but moved to Orem at age 14.
“There is a big difference between Los Angeles and Utah,” he says. “Changing schools and meeting new friends was a big deal. Utah is mostly populated with the American culture, while California has a stronger Latin presence.”
The youngest in a struggling family, Mauricio knows his future is dependent on today’s choices. A senior at Mountain View High School, Mauricio participates in the school’s ballroom dance company and seminary council, and he maintains an impressive GPA. He has also spent dozens of hours serving through Latinos in Action, a program to support bilingual Latino students.
“We tutor Latino kids in elementary schools, and in the process we improve our social skills and linguistics,” he says. “It helps us achieve better grades, and it helps the younger students. It has been a life-changing experience.”
Next fall, Mauricio will embark on another life changing experience when he attends the University of Utah to study architecture. He also plans to fulfill an LDS mission and continue his pattern of serving others.
In the dead of winter, Brent Christensen spends more time outdoors than in. With 18 ice castles to maintain at Zermatt Resort in Midway — some of them reaching up to 35 feet in the air — this self-taught ice sculptor has his work cut out for him.
Brent stumbled upon his talent for creating winter wonderlands when he and his family began building small-scale ice structures in their Pleasant Grove backyard. The ice rink they created provided a place for family bonding, and when their ice creations expanded into a castle in their front yard they learned just how unique it was.
“On weekends we’d have hundreds of cars stop to look at it,” Brent says. “January and February aren’t the most pleasant months, but people really enjoyed it.”
When Zermatt learned of Brent’s work, his hobby turned into a little something more. Now living at the resort, Brent spends his days — and many nights — maintaining the ice castles that are open to the public. The money he’s earned has gone to support his two sons as they’ve served LDS missions in Nova Scotia and California.
Filed Under: Cover Stories