Central Florida Lifestyle June 2022 Horizon West

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Horizon West JUNE 2022



Celebrating the Special Olympics USA Games in Orlando!







be hopeful.

choose well.

Ten award-winning hospitals. More than 100 medical specialties. 14 ERs. 4200 expert physicians. So many reasons to choose well. OrlandoHealth.com

+ LETTER From the Associate Publisher

Not All Superheroes Wear Capes Yes, there is Batman, Superman, Ironman, and Spiderman, but some superheroes are called Dad. Some are called Brother, Uncle, or Nephew. Some are known as Special Olympic athletes. And lucky for us here in Central Florida, we have many hometown heroes, and we have the distinct privilege of highlighting a few of them in our annual men’s issue. This month is all about encouraging the men in your life (including you, men out there!) to take care of themselves by eating right, exercising, and keeping mental health top of mind. On Page 22, we’ve highlighted some of the most inspirational men in West Orange. On page 38, we share how men’s best friend, is really your mental health’s best friend, and on page 48 we highlight Michael Connolly, CEO of Sonobi, and how he is taking the tech world by storm. We also cover top trends in men’s fashion (page 34), and don’t forget to see everything that is happening in MetroWest (pages 16-19), including the second annual MetroWest MusicWORKS presented by Orlando Health. In this issue, we also share the incredible story of 23-year-old hometown hero Chris Nikic, who is competing in the Special Olympics USA Games right here in Orlando this month. When Chris first became involved with the Special Olympics it was with the intention of having fun and being a part of something greater than himself. We, at Lifestyle CFL, want to wish Chris, and all the Special Olympic Games athletes, good luck, and a huge congratulations on being part of something greater than yourselves! Join us in celebrating the 2022 Special Olympics USA Games on your social media channels with well wishes to our local athletes, and make sure to use #ShineAsOne and #CentralFloridaLifestyle.

PRESIDENT/CEO Waylon Krush Waylon.Krush@LifestyleCFL.com PUBLISHER Kristi Karst Gomen Kristi.Gomen@LifestyleCFL.com ASSOCIATE PUBLISHER Kaitlyn Fusco Kaitlyn.Fusco@LifestyleCFL.com ASSISTANT EDITOR Alexis George Alexis.George@LifestyleCFL.com GRAPHIC DESIGNERS Michael Feland Ryan Marshall



Austin Arthur, Tarre Beach, Michael Brehne, Stina D’Uva, Josh Garrick, Nancy Glasgow, Kimbra Hennessy, Kristen Jackson, Don Long, Rich Maladecki, Nicole Paskowsky, Alexandra Sullivan






Kaitlyn Fusco Associate Publisher

Lifestyle® publications comprises multiple monthly editions, each mailed directly to homes and businesses throughout Central Florida. Lifestyle® publications are published monthly by Lifestyle® CFL. Copyright 2022. All rights reserved. ALTAMONTE LIFESTYLE®, COLLEGE PARK LIFESTYLE®, HORIZON WEST LIFESTYLE®, LAKE NONA LIFESTYLE®, METROWEST LIFESTYLE®, OAKLAND LIFESTYLE®, WINDERMERE LIFESTYLE®, WINTER GARDEN LIFESTYLE®, WINTER PARK LIFESTYLE® and CENTRAL FLORIDA LIFESTYLE® are federally registered trademarks. Reproduction or use, in whole or in part, of the contents of this magazine or of the trademarks of Lifestyle® publications without written permission of the Publisher is prohibited. Lifestyle® publications makes every effort to ensure the accuracy of content published. Neither the publishers nor advertisers will be held responsible for any errors found herein, and the publishers accept no liability for the accuracy of statements made by advertisers in ads and/or in paid promotional features. June 2022.

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+ WHAT’S Inside

Contents | June 2022 Departments 6

Features 8





A look at how services continue to evolve for victims of human trafficking throughout Central Florida.


The MetroWest Master Association provides updates on the Second Annual MetroWest MusicWORKS Event and grocery shopping enhancements and expansions in MetroWest. Also get ideas for distinctive experiences for Father’s Day and learn more about Bill Frederick Park.


Austin Arthur, local business owner and community advocate for West Orange County, Florida highlights four men who are shaping West Orange through their decisions and actions.





Get to know hometown hero Chris Nikic and learn how he prepares to compete at the 2022 Special Olympics USA Games! For those sultry summer nights, see what Josh Garrick recommends.


Ole Red Raises the Bar on Summer Fun at ICON Park




























Making Friends of My Enemies Keep Growing

Conversations for Your Community Spruce Up Your Grilling Routine Cheers to Dad

Time-Sharing in Florida

Men’s Summer Fashion Trends 2022 LNPC Rox!

Man’s Best Friend It Takes a Village

Why Should We Care About Good to Great Transportation Infrastructure?

Fathers as Part of the Team Sonobi: Leading the Way in Audience-First Innovations


Web Life Go to CentralFloridaLifestyle.com to see what’s happening near you!


Central Florida Lifestyle | June 2022



5 STARS ON GOOGLE! Dr. Phan and staff were amazing and made me feel safe, calm and comfortable. The dental staff was dressed in full medical grade Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and double masked. Every precaution was taken in ensuring a safe and clean environment from allowing only one patient in the lobby at a time to thoroughly disinfecting every surface area between patients to requiring the use of hand sanitizer and a temperature check before being seen. The level of care and attentiveness exhibited by the entire staff was nothing short of exceptional. -Tina Le

Dr. Phan earned the prestigious Mastership Award from The Academy of General Dentistry (MAGD), placing him among the 2% of general dentists throughout the United States and Canada that hold this title. 7824 LAKE UNDERHILL RD., #G ORLANDO, FL 32822 (407) 282-7498 WWW.PHANTASTICSMILE.COM


for new patient exam, x-rays & initial cleaning The $99 special offer is for new patients without insurance. Not valid with any other offer. Good through 7/31/2022.


• • • • • • Adver torial Feature • • • • • •

Ole Red Raises the Bar on Summer Fun at ICON Park


hen Ryman Hospitality Properties teamed up with Opry member Blake Shelton to launch lifestyle and entertainment brand Ole Red in 2017, they had one goal in mind: deliver the best of Southern food, hospitality, and live country music all under one roof. The state-of-the-art entertainment venue opened in Orlando’s ICON Park in summer 2020 – joining other locations in Nashville, Gatlinburg and Blake’s hometown of Tishomingo, Oklahoma – and it’s been rockin’ ever since. Ole Red was designed to embody the spirit of Blake Shelton’s clever, irreverent hit “Ol’ Red” by creating new destinations for locals and visitors alike to enjoy top-quality live country music. Equipped with a large stage, concertquality production and state-of-the-art sound capabilities, Ole Red Orlando at ICON Park hosts an impressive daily lineup of live performances by today and tomorrow’s top country performers, from up-and-coming artists to previous


Central Florida Lifestyle | June 2022

contestants from “The Voice” to celebrity guests. And of course, Blake’s taken the stage himself with two visits to the restaurant in just the past 12 months. Blake also occasionally calls Ole Red via video chat. The Ole Red team prides itself on providing an experience unlike any other with amazing music, incredible talent and a laid-back dining atmosphere that everyone can enjoy. This summer, Ole Red Orlando at ICON Park is the perfect place to enjoy 100-proof live music, scratch made dishes and signature drinks inspired by Blake Shelton himself. Guests can escape the heat with a few of Ole Red’s signature craft cocktails including the Redneck Mai Tai and Frose alongside a wide selection of all-American fare. Entrees like Red Red Redneck Shrimp, Smoked Brisket Tacos and Bar-B-Que Gator Wings will have you coming back for more. Earlier this year, Ole Red Orlando at ICON Park launched Honky-Tonk Nights, which transports guests to a Nashville-inspired dance floor every Friday and Saturday to let

loose to classic country hits performed by some of Orlando’s best artists. And for those who have proudly served our military, Ole Red offers a 10% discount for military and active service members. In honor of its second birthday, Ole Red Orlando will be sponsoring The Wheel at ICON Park throughout June and July. Any guest who takes a ride on the 400-foot observation wheel can receive a free order of one of the restaurant’s signature appetizers Fried Pickles and Green Tomatoes – House Pickled Green Tomatoes, Red and White Bar-B-Que Sauces. Offer valid for dine-in only. If you’re a music-lover, food-lover, or a helluva-lot-of-fun-lover, you’ll want to boot scoot your way down to Ole Red Orlando at ICON Park for some fun times with friends. For the latest updates on the venue’s live music lineup and menu offerings, visit olered.com/ Orlando or follow them on Instagram @OleRed.







Get your PLAY PASS today at ICONParkOrlando.com THE ICON PARK PLAY PASS INCLUDES (1) ADMISSION TO: The Wheel at ICON Park, Madame Tussauds Orlando, SEA LIFE Orlando Aquarium, Orlando StarFlyer, Museum of Illusions, Pearl Express Train, 7D Dark Ride & $5 In The Game Play Card. 8375 International Drive | Orlando, FL 32819 | 407-601-7907

Protecting Our Children: 5 Years Later A look at how services continue to evolve for victims of human trafficking throughout Central Florida. By Alexis George


Five years ago, Central Florida Lifestyle shined a light on how exploitation of children and adolescents takes place all around the world, including right here in Central Florida. Today, Florida still ranks third in the nation for reported human trafficking cases. Human Trafficking is defined as “the transporting, soliciting, recruiting, harboring, providing, or obtaining of another person for transport; for the purposes of forced labor, domestic servitude or sexual exploitation using force, fraud and/or coercion.” And while all youth are vulnerable, there are certain youth who experience a higher risk of being trafficked. This includes foster youth and LGBTQ+ youth. Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health Florida, a statewide organization providing specialized clinical services for trafficked youth, works with hundreds of children and adolescents throughout the state. Many of those served by Devereux have been foster youth who have experienced repeated trauma throughout their lives. Zebra Coalition, an Orlando-based organization providing support for LGBTQ+ youth, has seen many instances where youth have experienced rejection from their families due to a lack of acceptance of their sexual orientation or gender identity. The Department of Children and Families, a statewide government agency, is responsible for ensuring the safety of children from abuse, neglect, or abandonment while aiming to keep families together. So, what better way to make impactful change than by creating a forum for these existing service providers to engage in the necessary conversations surrounding human trafficking? That is how the Central Florida Human Trafficking Task Force, formerly known as the Greater Orlando Human Trafficking Task Force, came to be. Tomas Lares, Lindsey Phillips, Kim Grabert and Heather Wilkie were at the forefront of this movement, among the original members of this local task force.


Central Florida Lifestyle | June 2022

(L-R) Lindsey Phillips, Kim Grabert, Tomas Lares, Heather Wilkie

Initially focused on education to support identification and reducing risk of human trafficking, the Task Force has evolved to help people develop the tools necessary to identify victims early on. This includes recognizing individuals who are at risk of being trafficked, providing interventions early on, and recognizing the importance of complex trauma treatment for young lives who have been impacted.


Lares serves as the Founder/President of United Abolitionists, formerly known as Florida Abolitionist, Inc. In his role Lares created a 24-hour Human Trafficking Hotline in Central Florida and advocated for Orange County Government to fund a first-of-its-kind adult female human trafficking crisis/short-term, 24-hour facility in the state of Florida. He is also the co-founder of the Central Florida Human Trafficking Task Force, where he served as Chairman. “I’m no longer the Chairman but I will always be there as somebody to support the task force moving forward,” Lares says.

Kim Grabert

Grabert serves as Director of Program Development and Human Resources Manager at Citrus Family Care Network, the community-based care leading agency for Munroe and Miami-Dade County. According to Grabert, the organization has one of the most recognized specialized therapeutic foster care programs for trafficking in the nation. “A lot of my work now that I do around trafficking is really geared more towards development,” Grabert says. “I have a consulting firm so I develop training as people might need. I help them write any policy and practices they might require outside of my role at Citrus.”

Lindsey Phillips

Phillips serves as the Director of External Affairs at Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health Florida. In her role she is focused on improving access to care for those in need and advocacy for individuals served through Devereux’s programs and services. With nearly 25 years dedicated to supporting those served through Devereux, she leads the strategic development of specialized services, including services for sexually exploited youth and community-based services for children with autism. “I am not as directly involved in the grassroots awareness efforts as we all once were in the beginning and the good thing about that is a framework was established and there are many more people, including an entire team at Devereux, carrying that forward now,” Phillips says. “This allows some of us to remain focused on sustaining the movement and narrowing our focus to dig deeper in each of our areas of expertise.”

Heather Wilkie

Wilkie is the Executive Director at Zebra Coalition. Currently the organization is working to expand housing to provide more housing opportunities and mental health support for youth. “I’m here to advocate for LGBTQ+ youth,” Wilkie says. “That’s my lane and I know that there’s a much higher risk and so because of that we want to make sure that were staying on top of resources for youth, that we are working hard to raise awareness around the issue and that people understand the reasons why someone would be at a greater risk because of their sexual orientation and gender identity.”


Five years ago, Phillips also said that there was a piece missing from the continuum of services available, referring to foster parents who are formally trained and dedicated to working with survivors. That piece is still evolving. “One of the key reasons for this is the great need for foster families to begin with. It’s a special commitment, our families describe as a calling, to dedicate oneself to understanding trauma-based treatment and to know how rewarding that will ultimately be – to make that type of positive impact on someone’s life.” “We’ve made some progress, there have been some great steps forward, but it’s a longer road to continue the momentum while educating the community about the many opportunities to be involved in some way,” says Phillips.


(L-R) Emily Garten, Andreena Harriman


Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health Florida’s DELTA team remains fully dedicated to providing services in support of victims. Emily Garten, Clinical Director at Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health Florida and Andreena Harriman, a licensed clinical social worker, lead the DELTA program—a clinical specialty track for survivors of sexual exploitation. In her role, Garten provides clinical oversight and support to Devereux Florida’s continuum of services and oversees Devereux Florida’s Commercial Sexual Exploitation for Children Program. “We are continuously developing new partnerships and strengthening the ones that we do have with other mental health agencies, law enforcement, attorneys—anyone that may be involved in supporting the life of survivors, we need to have a collaborative partnership with,” Garten says. “We’ve been able to provide a comprehensive level of support to individuals, including survivors by ensuring that everyone is on the same page and that we’re all working towards the same goal,” she says. Harriman has a wealth of experience in supporting individuals overcoming trauma, including specialized expertise supporting victims of human trafficking. In her role, she provides clinical oversight of Devereux’s DELTA program. “I’ve had the amazing opportunity to work with adults, youth, and foster families to provide training and education to the community members to try to prevent exploitation,” she says. Devereux remains strategically focused and committed as ever in this area, working to ensure that the services provided to people are continuously evolving and expanding to meet the unique needs of each individual and the contributing variables, such as environment and community resources. “I think all organizations involved in this effort are continuing to develop best-practice. I see Devereux on the cutting edge of developing therapeutic interventions, continuing our partnerships with the local task forces and agencies involved, and contributing as thought leaders when it comes to therapeutic services for survivors,” Garten says.

For more information visit www.devereuxfl.org www.CentralFloridaLifestyle.com


+ YOU ASKED We Answered

Making Friends

of My Enemies

Learn how you can embrace relatives as friends and partners to settle an estate amiably. By Kristen Jackson, Jackson Law P.A.



Considering that I am solely responsible for the original mortgage for which I am still paying, how can I resolve my mother’s 50% ownership which was intended to be mine upon her death? When my mother and I purchased a home together she was concerned for my future and wellbeing. My two older brothers and sister already had homes of their own. Mother and I were unaware that one day the requirement of probate would severely impact the one of us that outlived the other. Our deed was neither a life estate nor a right of survivorship deed and neither of us had a last will. It was a simple warranty deed naming each of us as tenants in common. After my mother’s death I tried to sell the home and learned that I must open probate to transfer ownership of my mother’s half interest in our home and that her interest must be shared among my one brother still living, and the four children of my two deceased siblings. My brother has agreed to forfeit his interest in my home, but disappointingly, this is not the case with my nephews and nieces. When they first learned that they had an interest in what I believed to be solely my home, the four of them immediately established a greed mentality focused only on how much each of their share would be upon selling my home. I barely know these nieces and nephews. Furthermore, because they have a financial interest, two of them contacted attorneys to determine if they can force me to sell by means of a partitioning action against me. Fortunately, the homestead laws of Florida protect my home so I cannot be forced to sell.

In answer to your question, you are in a compromising position and are experiencing what the law refers to as “laughing heirs’ inheritance whereby heirs may have no personal connection or feel bereaved over the loss of the deceased, but they are still entitled to an inheritance. Faced with this circumstance, you need to overcome your emotion and accept the responsibility of sharing the inheritance and discussing alternatives with the other heirs.

They are not your enemies and rather than treat them as such, embrace them as your friends and partners to settle the estate amiably. Initially ask for the other heirs help with inheritance decisions. Keep the decisions simple and express gratitude for others’ contributions to a favorable agreement. Examples of such agreements may include (1) selling the house and equally dividing your mother’s portion with the other heirs; (2) buying out the other heirs’

interests in the house based on a mutually agreeable and fair value; and (3) enter into an agreement for you to remain in the house for your lifetime and transfer its entirety to the other heirs at your death. Before initiating an inheritance war and causing emotional harm to family members or other beneficiaries, consult with a probate attorney.

Kristen Jackson is the founding partner of Jackson Law P.A. (407-363-9020). She is experienced in estate planning, real estate law, business and contract law. Her firm has earned an AV rating by Martindale-Hubbell signifying the highest level of professional excellence as obtained through opinions from members of the bar and judiciary. For more information, visit www.JacksonFloridaRealtor.com


Central Florida Lifestyle | June 2022

+ DANIEL’S Corner

Keep Growing Sydney Barker

Brooke Herrera

By Tarre Beach


ontverde Academy junior Sydney Barker and homeschooler Brooke Herrera (who is simultaneously pursuing her high school diploma and an associate degree at Pasco-Hernando State College) say they are forever grateful to have received a W. Daniel Mills Apprenticeship at Garden Theatre. Both 17-year-olds are on the performance track and say that the apprenticeship has helped them grow and continue working towards their dreams. Barker says without the apprenticeship she may not have received the support she needed to step outside her comfort zone. “I’ve learned to bring a part of myself to the characters I play. Now I understand more than ever that every performance is unique because there is a piece of you in the character and vice versa.” Barker has been singing since she was in third grade and performed with the Orlando Repertory Theater for many years as well. She says she feels like the apprenticeship took her to the “next level.” “Getting to work with professionals that have deep compassion and understanding of performing, has changed me. I really can say that I’m not the same since I began the apprenticeship at the beginning of the school year.” 12

Central Florida Lifestyle | June 2022

Barker, who was a friend of fellow Montverde Academy student Daniel Mills before his untimely death in 2020, says she takes comfort in knowing that so many theater students are getting excellent guidance and experience with an apprenticeship created by his family in his name. “Daniel loved to perform and entertain. This apprenticeship honors the life he lived. I can only imagine he’s looking down and smiling, seeing all the future actors and stage technicians that this program is helping,” Barker says. Herrera says one of the proudest and most exciting moments in her life came during her apprenticeship with the Garden Theatre. She got to sing for Kelli O’Hara, one of her theater idols. O’Hara was the headline performer for the Garden Theatre’s 2020 presentation of “Encore” and helped teach a masterclass for the apprenticeship program. “It was humbling to perform for such an experienced and celebrated actress and singer like Kelli O’Hara. I felt like one of the luckiest people in the world,” Herrera says. According to Herrera, one of the most surprising things she received from the apprenticeship was the care and encouragement she got from the other apprentices, performers, crew, and teachers. Performing since she

was three years old, Herrera has dealt with competition and the rejection that sometimes comes with it. “Usually when you’re competing for a role, the environment can be very judgmental and sort of toxic. But at the Garden, all I got was support and positivity.” Working with the professionals at the Garden Theatre helped Herrera’s confidence in herself as well as strengthened her performing skills. She credits Garden Theatre’s Education Director Nick Bazo, Artistic Directing Consultant Roberta Emerson, and Artistic Director Joseph Walsh, with making her a better performer and a better person. “I have never worked with a leader as special as Nick. He cared so deeply for everyone’s well-being. With Nick and Roberta and Joe in my corner, I felt like I could go deeper and explore more. When you’re supported like that, you can’t help but grow.” Both Herrera and Barker are sad the academic year is over and know that soon their apprenticeships will end too. They say they appreciate being welcomed into the Garden Theatre family and encourage other performers to audition for the Daniel Mills Apprenticeship Program so they too can grow and go after their dreams.


Two students share how grateful they are for the Daniel Mills Apprenticeship and encourage others to reach for their performing dreams.

+ TALK of the Town


For Your Community By Rich Maladecki


new month is always a new opportunity to celebrate and learn more about what’s happening in our beloved community. In June, we honor the men who have helped shape our lives and the lives of others throughout Central Florida. So, here’s everything you need to know about what’s happening this month. Let’s finalize plans and activities for Father’s Day, 2022! This year, this designated holiday to celebrate “Dads” is Sunday June 19. Take a moment to develop meaningful plans for your deserving “Dads” (suggestions may include a family picnic, a trip to the beach, an at-home BBQ, attending a sporting event, or a family photo session).

Recently, Orange County Public Schools (OCPS) inducted five deserving professionals to its prestigious Hall of Fame. Congratulations and a community ‘Thank You’ to the following Honorees: • Kenard Lang • Belvin Perry, Jr. • Gabriel John Preisser • James (Jim) Ferber • Marge LaBarge (To watch the tribute videos of each inductee, please view the OCPS website).

It seems that all my friends are discussing - and making it a point - to experience the new super-size gas stations, called Buc-ee’s!!! This Texas based company is now developing these gigantic convenience centers in our Southeast region, including two current Florida stops in St. Augustine and Daytona (both near I-95). This brand is known for 100 gas pumps, in-house bakeries, “spotless clean” restrooms and friendly customer service. When traveling by car, motorcycle, or RV, add to the experience, by visiting a Buc-ee’s.


Central Florida Lifestyle | June 2022

Hail Scouting - Our Central Florida Boy Scouts Council is currently celebrating 100 years of service to the youth of our community! Congratulations to all past, present, and future scouts, volunteers, and leaders. Job Well Done.

Did You Hear??? The only Florida based White Castle Restaurant, located in our Central Florida tourism corridor just celebrated one year of successful business and announced that the location will become a 24/7 operation, sometime this summer!

It’s time to proudly display the symbol of our United States! Yes, Flag Day 2022 is set for Tuesday, June 14. Let’s demonstrate our “Red, White and Blue” spirit by flying “Old Glory” on this Holiday.

Changing the Skyscrape - a new Disney Digital Art Display is currently being constructed on International Drive near the corner of I-4 and Sand Lake Road on the Hollywood Plaza Garage building. Once completed, this dynamic two-story display will be visible from three different angles and shall feature a wavy facade and famous Disney artwork.



JULY 1 - 4 ST








W H A T ’ S


Orlando Health Presents the Second Annual MetroWest MusicWORKS Event on July 4th This free event will feature fireworks and live tribute performances by Elton Jonathan and Get Ready! By Nancy Glasgow


he MetroWest community will celebrate the Fourth of July with food, music, and fireworks at the second annual MetroWest MusicWORKS. Presented by Orlando Health, MetroWest MusicWORKS will take place Monday, July 4, from 6-10 p.m. at the MetroWest Golf Club. Staged by the MetroWest Master Association, MetroWest MusicWORKS is a free community event offering live musical performances and professional fireworks. MusicWORKS will offer a variety of dining options from several food trucks as well as adult beverages for sale. The entertainment lineup for MusicWORKS features tribute bands honoring the magic of both Motown and Elton John. Get Ready, a tribute act to Motown super groups The Temptations and The Four Tops, will perform at 6:15 p.m. The Temptations’ timeless hits include “My Girl,” “Ain’t Too Proud To Beg,” “The Way You Do The Things You Do,” and “Get Ready.” The Four Tops are famous for enduring hits such as “I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie Honey Bunch),” “It’s The Same Old Song,” “Reach Out I’ll Be There,” and “Baby I Need Your Loving.” Get Ready’s collective talent includes a variety of fine lead vocal performances and precise dance moves.

Elton Jonathan: a tribute to Elton John will then celebrate America’s birthday “Philadelphia Freedom”style. The MusicWORKS headline act will perform at 7:15 p.m. and 8:15 p.m., bringing to life the music of one of the best-selling artists of all time – Sir Elton John. From his first U.S. hit, “Your Song,” to such iconic chart-toppers as “Tiny Dancer,” “I’m Still Standing,” and “Crocodile Rock,” Elton John’s classic songs are performed to the delight of fans everywhere by Elton Jonathan. Starting at 9:30 p.m., the 20-minute fireworks show at the end of MusicWORKS will be staged by Pyro Shows, a more than 50-year-old pyrotechnic company that has pro-


Monday, July 4 • 6-10 pm MetroWest Golf Club • Please, No Coolers or Pets Critical Intervention Services

Be a sponsor. Be a donor. MetrowestEvents.com

MWMA-333 LS_HalfPage.indd 1


Central Florida Lifestyle | June 2022

vided Fourth of July fireworks at the Washington Monument in Washington, D.C. 13 times since 1995. Attendees should bring chairs or blankets. Coolers and pets are prohibited. No public entry will be allowed before 4 p.m. MusicWORKS is a rain or shine event, except in the case of extreme weather. Offsite parking only will be available at Valencia College in Metro West. Shuttle service to and from MetroWest Golf Club will be provided. For more information about MusicWORKS, visit www.metrowestcommunity.com or contact the MetroWest Management Office at 407-601-5995.

5/4/22 12:48 PM



MetroWest Grocery Store News Winn-Dixie Undergoes ‘Refresh’ and New Bravo Supermarket Opens This Summer! By Kimbra Hennessy

METROWEST MUSICWORKS 2022 LOCATION: MetroWest Golf Club, 2100 S Hiawassee Road, Orlando, FL 32835

DATE AND TIME: Monday, July 4, 6-10 p.m. No public entry allowed before 4 p.m.

ADMISSION: FREE EVENT HIGHLIGHTS: Food trucks, live entertainment, fireworks


MetroWest’s grocery shopping options are being enhanced and expanded over the summer. The Winn-Dixie store at MetroWest Marketplace, located at 1401 S. Hiawassee Rd., recently completed renovations totaling more than $250,000. According to management, Winn Dixie spent over $150,000 to “refresh” both the interior and exterior of the MetroWest location. In addition, earlier this year, Marketplace owners invested another $100,000-plus to upgrade the center’s lighting, parking lot, landscaping, and general building improvements. Also, Kirkman Station, on the corner of South Kirkman Road and Raleigh Street, will welcome a new Bravo Supermarket later this summer. According to Bravo, "Because our stores are all independently owned and operated, Bravo has the unique ability to cater to the needs of the local community, which is why no two Bravo Supermarkets are exactly alike. At Bravo, customers will find the products that are meant for the people who live in the neighborhood – stocked with a large assortment of specialty and international products, fresh meat, seafood, produce and more.”

Chairs or blankets

DO NOT BRING: Coolers or pets

PARKING: Valencia College in MetroWest, with shuttle service provided; there will be no on-site parking at MetroWest Golf Club



W H A T ’ S


Surprise Dad with Distinctive Experiences for Father’s Day By Nancy Glasgow


xperiential gifts continue to be popular, and Father’s Day is an ideal time to engage Dad with an experience that will provide happy memories for years to come. Central Florida offers an abundance of exceptional activities for Dad and the rest of the family. n


Go fishing or canoeing/kayaking at Bill Frederick Park at Turkey Lake – Turkey Lake is one of the top five fishing lakes in the state and the City of Orlando offers canoes and kayaks for rent for a memorable day spent in one of Central Florida’s natural treasures. https:// www.orlando.gov/Parks-the-Environment/Directory/ Bill-Frederick-Park-At-Turkey-Lake


Take a biking hike on the West Orange Trail – Dad can enjoy all or just a portion of the 22.26 miles of paved Trail from the Orange/Lake County line through downtown Apopka to Welch Road. A highlight is the butterfly garden in Tildenville. https://www.orangecountyfl.net/ cultureparks/parks.aspx?d=44&m=dtlvw#.YnVhOnbMJPY


Gatorland Gator-Trainer-for-a-Day – Gatorland has been the place to see and learn about alligators since 1949. Gatorland’s two-hour Trainer-for-a-Day program provides insight into what it takes to work with and around dangerous animals. https://www.gatorland.com/ experiences/trainer-for-a-day/

Central Florida Lifestyle | June 2022


Enjoy Florida’s natural habitat with an airboat ride – Glide through Central Florida’s swamps and marshes while spotting alligators, turtles, birds and more in their natural environment. Nearby airboat tour operators include Wild Willy’s Airboat Tours (https://wildwillysairboattours.com/), Boggy Creek Airboat Adventures (https://bcairboats.com/), and Spirit of the Swamp Airboat Rides (https://spiritoftheswamp.com/).


Pamper Dad with a high-end barbershop visit – Give Dad a premium barbering experience, complete with a hot steam, razor shave, haircut, and massage. In MetroWest, check out The Ultimate Cave Barbershop: https://theultimatecavebarber.com/.


Take a VIP Tour at Universal Orlando – Is your dad really into the rides at Universal Orlando? With Universal’s VIP experience, Dad will receive a guided tour including backstage access and enjoying amazing rides and attractions without waiting in line. Tours are available for Universal Studios Florida or Universal's Islands of Adventure, or both if you choose the two-park option. https://www.universalorlando.com/web/en/us/ticketspackages/vip-experience/vip-guided-tours



Get Back to Nature at Bill Frederick Park By Nancy Glasgow

MetroWest residents need look no further than Bill Frederick Park at Turkey Lake for a unique nature experience close to home. Renamed in 2004 for longtime City of Orlando Mayor Bill Frederick, the park encompasses 183 acres of land along Turkey Lake, which is one of the top-five-rated fishing lakes in Florida. Nature lovers will find a wide variety of recreational activities and picturesque vistas to enjoy. With its convenient location close to many of Orlando’s largest attractions and theme parks, Bill Frederick Park’s RV campground offers an attractive alternative to staying at a traditional hotel. For drone enthusiasts, the park features a dedicated Drone Zone complete with multiple outlets for battery pack charging at the Drone Zone pavilion. Other activities at Bill Frederick Park include bird watching, canoeing/kayaking, fishing, and biking/jogging.

Bill Frederick Park Amenities Include: n n n n n n n n n n n n n n n n n n n n n n n n

Bird Watching/Nature Boat Rentals (Canoe/Kayak) Disabled Accessible Drone Flying Area (dedicated) Electricity for Rentals Fishing Pier Fitness Station(s) Gazebo Grills Hiking Lakes Meeting Space Open Space Parking Lot Pavilion(s) (small, medium, large) Picnic Tables Playground (ages 2-5) Playground (ages 5-12) Restroom Facilities Trails (bike/jogging) Volleyball (Sand) Walking Path (Paved) Camping (RV Campground will be closed July through September 2022 for renovations) Swimming Pool

For more information, visit: https://www.orlando.gov/Parks-the-Environment/Directory/Bill-Frederick-Park-At-Turkey-Lake. Bill Frederick Park at Turkey Lake contact information: 407-246-4486 bfprentals@orlando.gov



+ IN THE Kitchen

Spruce Up Your Grilling Routine Here are some new ways to take your grilling to the next level for Summer 2022. By Erica Rudnick Macalintal


ummer is the optimal time for grilling. The weather has warmed up (considerably in Florida!), the sun stays out later, and backyards are rife with get-togethers and pool-goers. It is the best time to enjoy and explore outdoor cooking. Be it on a large, fancy professional grill, a small, compact one, or an indoor version, grilling is a fun and delicious way to celebrate the heat. While throwing meat on the fire seems like a simple, even primordial way to prepare food – there’s an art to it and loads of fun new ways to spruce up your grilling routine. Here are some new ways to take your grilling to the next level for Summer 2022!

Revisit the Slow Roll

Cooking low and slow is an art that makes meat fall-off-the-bone tender and well worth the wait. This method of cooking allows tough tendons and muscle to become soft and malleable, allowing for melt-in-yourmouth results. Brisket, pork roasts, and whole chickens all do amazing when cooked on low heat or long simmers.

Pro-tip: Invest in a meat thermometer. There’s nothing like overcooked meat. It can ruin the experience and defeat the purpose of all your hard work. Having a good meat thermometer will ensure that your temperatures are reaching the appropriate times for optimal eating.


Central Florida Lifestyle | June 2022

Incorporate International Flavors

Incorporating international flavors and cooking methods has become a fun new way to enjoy grilling. African-Style grilling and Korean BBQ have emerged as new favorites among meat aficionados. There are varying philosophies and techniques behind both cultures’ cooking recipes that make them especially great to feature at your next cookout. Korean bulgogi and galbi are marinated meats that make a delicious new accompaniment to any barbeque, while buldak brings new levels of heat to chicken. Recipes for Senegalese yassa, Nigerian suya, or South African sosati are widely available (everyone has their favorite) and are steeped in flavors that you’ll want to share.

Embrace and Explore Vegetarian Options

Vegetables cooked on the grill emerge with a depth of flavor that makes them worthy of being the centerpiece rather than just a side. Consider squash, zucchini, mushrooms, potatoes, onions, and tomatoes for grilling. You can put them on a skewer like a kabob and then remove them later to cushion meat or act as its own entrée. Or you can use corn on the cob, which comes with its own handle. Don’t forget options like tofu, tempeh, and other plant-based proteins, just so long as they can hold their structural integrity over the heat.

Grilled Vegetable Medley: 1 butternut squash 1 zucchini 1 yellow onion 6-8 mushrooms 6-8 cherry tomatoes 1 package tempeh n n


Chop all vegetables and tempeh into 1-inch cubes. Coat tempeh and vegetables in 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon pepper and 1 teaspoon paprika. Place vegetables onto grilling skewers and cook over medium grill heat, flipping after 5-7 minutes, or until preferred crunchiness.


A Caterer? Live Entertainment? Or even an Outdoor Restroom that’s ADA compliant?

We do it ALL and more! Krush Caters is a full spectrum event and catering company. You can rent a mobile stage for your entertainment, outdoor tent, food truck/grilling trailer, ticket stands, games, bounce houses and decorations. Catering options of all cuisines are available. We also provide custom gift options for your special event. Contact us today to plan your next event!

(321) 754-0955 contact@krushcaters.com krushcaters.com



My Pick for the MOST INFLUENTIAL MEN in West Orange West Orange is Central Florida’s Most Booming Area

By Austin Arthur


or this month’s “men’s issue”, I was asked to write a piece on some of the most influential men in West Orange County. After seeking wise counsel on this assignment, one community leader suggested to me that I do the piece on the West Orange Town and City Managers. This revelation was an excellent one, as our towns and cities are all Commission/CouncilManager forms of government. Meaning that our elected commissioners, or council members, appoint a single executive authority to run the city or town, which holds the title of “City Manager” or “Town Manager”. The below four men are objectively the most influential people who are shaping West Orange through their decisions and actions. Being a “Man of the People” myself, I am glad to report that, via our influence over the political leaders who appoint them, we are still in control of our communities. I spoke with these men and am happy to deliver the below reports.


Central Florida Lifestyle | June 2022

TOWN OF OAKLAND | Steve Koontz

Oakland is truly a hidden gem within West Orange. Ironically it is one of the oldest communities and was established in 1887. Hugging the bottom end of Lake Apopka’s South Shore, it is home to many beautiful historic waterfront and water-view homes along dirt roads and huge trees. With a population of just under 4,000 people, many are aware of who their town manager is, Steve Koontz. Mr. Koontz believes in the preservation of green space and dirt roads but also understands property rights and labors tirelessly to keep the historic charm of the community. A true servant leader, he told me how his role is to follow the vision of the elected Town Commission. Out of the 100 staff members, about 60 of them hold positions related to Oakland Avenue Charter School, the town’s very own elementary school. One major initiative for this town manager is to keep his town quiet and peaceful. Therefore he is focusing on traffic issues on Oakland Ave. He has been continuing the development of roadmap plans for traffic calming measures and sidewalks on the road. On this he stated, “We need to keep Oakland Ave a community road. If you want to move fast, you need to be on Highway 50. If you are in town, then you are here to be in town.”


experience, but the staff experience as well. Mr. Frank told me that City of Ocoee employees get some of the best medical insurance and petition benefits there is. Through chains of management, he leads nearly 480 employees that labor to make the city run. Having both an engineering technology degree and a master’s degree in public administration, one may be surprised to learn that his first role in government was that of a police officer. Now through nearly two decades of leading a city with a population of over 49,000, Mr. Frank told me that “Ocoee is a great place to live”, and that he would “put it up against any other city in Central Florida”.

12 years ago, this very popular community was facing a dark period in its history, as the former police chief had been arrested and subsequently, the town manager of that time resigned. However, times have changed drastically, and Windermere is now a shining community of excellence. Great thanks to an incredible new police chief and with the overarching leadership of the current head of the town, Town Manager Robert Smith. He stated that his favorite thing about Windermere is the sense of community, “being able to interact one-on-one with residents and being on a first-name basis with them”. This is possible as the town has a population of only 3,300 residents. He leads 36 staff members to run the town. Among many initiatives in progress, this town manager seeks to complete the Windermere Ward Trail and wants to bring potable water to the residents of the town (the town currently uses a wellwater system).


Out of the four West Orange communities we are looking at, Windermere is one of two which meet the classification of “town” rather than “city”. The town is located on the southeastern side of West Orange, and webs between three main lakes which are Lake Butler, Lake Bessie, and Lake Down.


The City of Ocoee is the most eastern part of our West Orange Community and goes north, hugging Lake Apopka above the Winter Garden areas that do the same. It ends when it meets the City of Apopka border about a mile south of Magnolia Park. The City Manager is Rob Frank. He has led in this position for 18 years and was the tip of the spear for many changes within the local government. In 2004 when he took this powerful role, he began to make many adjustments including repositioning individuals in their ranks within Ocoee staff. He seems to have focused not just on the citizen

Geographically, and to some perhaps in other ways too, Winter Garden is the heart of West Orange. However, it was not always that way… for those that have been around long enough to remember, it was once nicknamed “Winter Garbage”, highlighting the downturn the community felt after the citrus freezes of the 1980’s. However, with the leadership of many different men and women, Winter Garden came back in a huge way. Former City Manager, Mike Bollhoefer had a lot to do with the progress and success we see now, indeed his strong leadership style is legendary in the West Orange community. This is why his recent resignation had many wondering if the city will continue on its strong path. A new powerful leader would be needed to fill his shoes. Winter Garden found that in the newly appointed City Manager Jon C. Williams. In 1999, Mr. Williams began his government career in Edgewater as a code enforcement officer. Eventually he would become City Manager of Longwood and from there came over to Winter Garden. He now is the head of over 373 full time equivalent staff members for a city of nearly 50,000 residents. Mr. Williams attributes the city’s wild success largely to the people who are on staff. He explained that they do a lot of “lean” thinking and work together in all manner of roles. There is no doubt that with Winter Garden’s beautiful and incredibly popular downtown area, the city is at risk for over development. Mr. Williams seems to understand this risk well. It appears that he will be a great leader for Winter Garden… because he understands what most Winter Garden residents want. That is, to “maintain our family friendly atmosphere,” according to his own words.

Austin Arthur is a local business owner and community advocate for West Orange County, Florida. Along with his brother, Zander Arthur, he is the Co-CEO of Stars and Stripes Management Systems in Winter Garden, which is a multi-brand digital marketing and management company which includes the very popular “Gymnastics USA”. A promoter of traditional family and community values, he has been writing about, and advocating for, West Orange County for some time and is active on many boards and other community groups. Austin and his wife, Kellie, are residents of Winter Garden, where they are raising their three children. www.austinarthur.us



+ WINE & Spirits

Cheers to Dad

Gift your mixology skills for the ultimate cocktail hour with dad this father’s day. By Nicole Paskowsky

June is a time to celebrate the fathers in our lives. You can laugh at his dad jokes or buy him a tie, but why not sit down and share a drink? A cold brewsky is great while watching a game, but a special occasion is an excellent time to sip the hard stuff. Whether shaken or stirred, these cocktails are perfect for enjoying with dear ol’ Dad this Father’s Day — or any time of the year.

Old-Fashioned If there’s one thing dads tend to love, it’s history. The enduring classic dates way back to the late 1800s when patrons would ask for a drink made in the “old-fashioned way.” It’s said a bartender in Louisville, Kentucky, invented the sophisticated blend of bourbon, bitters and sugar in honor of Col. James E. Pepper, a prominent bourbon distiller. The city celebrates “Old-Fashioned Fortnight” during the first two weeks of June, leading up to National Bourbon Day on June 14. Is it a coincidence that Father’s Day is right around the corner? Combine ½ teaspoon sugar and 3 dashes bitters to a rocks glass, then add 1 teaspoon water and stir until the sugar nearly dissolves. • Fill the glass with large ice cubes, add 2 ounces bourbon, and gently stir to combine. • Express the oil of an orange peel over the glass, then drop in.

Bloody Maria Why reserve brunch cocktails for Mother’s Day? Dads love day drinking too. Start his day off with this twist on the Bloody Mary, which swaps the typical vodka for tequila. The mix blends tomato juice with a kick from a hefty dollop of horseradish and two hot sauces for a spicy, south-of-theborder spin. Top it off with an array of salad accouterments. Dad always said to eat your veggies. •


Central Florida Lifestyle | June 2022

• •

Combine 2 ounces tequila, 4 ounces tomato juice, ½ freshly squeezed lemon juice, ½ tablespoon horseradish, 4 dashes Worcestershire sauce, 2 dashes Tabasco, 2 dashes Tapatio, 1 pinch celery salt and 1 pinch black pepper to a shaker and fill with ice. Shake briefly and strain into a pint glass filled with fresh ice. Garnish with lime and lemon wedges, cucumber spear, sweet pepper slices, jalapeno pepper slices and queso fresco.

Hemingway Daiquiri Any dad who loves beaches, fishing and rum has undoubtedly come across a daiquiri, allegedly invented in 1898 by an American mining engineer working in the town of Daiquiri on the southeastern tip of Cuba. Named for Hemingway and a favorite of JFK, this classic is a bright and pleasantly sour rum concoction that bears no resemblance to the frozen fruit slushie you’d see on a table at TGI Fridays. The OG version has three simple ingredients: rum, raw sugar and fresh lime juice. Enjoy it with your old man and the sea. • Add 2 ounces light rum, 1 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice and ¾ ounce sugar syrup to a shaker with ice and shake until well-chilled. • Strain into a chilled coupe glass. • Garnish with a lime twist.

Special Olympics Feature

The Ironman Get to know hometown hero Chris Nikic and learn how he prepares to compete at the 2022 Special Olympics USA Games!

By Alexis George


he Special Olympics USA Games unites thousands of athletes, coaches, volunteers, and fans from all 50 states and the Caribbean. Hosted in Orlando from June 5-12, the Games “will promote the ideals of acceptance and inclusion through sport while highlighting Special Olympics’ work in education, health, and community-building.”

There are 19 Olympic-type team and individual sports, and 23-yearold hometown hero Chris Nikic is competing. When Chris first became involved with the Special Olympics it was with the intention of having fun and being a part of something greater than himself. “When I was nine, I used to play golf and basketball for guys and I wanted to compete in the Special Olympics and the whole world needed to know that I can do the Ironman,” Chris says. So, the commitment began. Chris started training so he could overcome physical obstacles with the goal of competing in triath-


Central Florida Lifestyle | June 2022

lons. And in 2019, that dream turned into a reality when Chris completed his first triathlon. In January 2020, he went on to complete an Olympic distance triathlon and in May 2020 he completed a 70.3 Half Ironman. Then on November 7, 2020, at the age of 21, Chris made history as he became the first person with Down Syndrome to complete a full-distance IRONMAN triathlon with a 16.46.09 finish line crossing time. He recalls the feelings running through him after accomplishing his goal.

Marquis Johnson, a friend of Chris, who helps with his training and business management says it was an inspiration seeing Chris cross the finish line. “It wasn’t a shocker because I’ve been around him and I know what he’s capable of, but it was more about seeing that he did it, “Johnson says. “The whole world was stopping but he kept going and that’s the biggest inspiration I got from it, is that no matter what’s going on just keep going,” Johnson says. For all his hard work, Chris was awarded the Jimmy V Award for Perseverance as part of the 2021 ESPY Awards.

“I heard the famous words: ‘you’re an ironman’. I felt nice after parents telling me I’m a hero to kids,” Chris says.

In his day-to-day life, Chris is known for following his mission to honor God by being the best version of himself so that he can be an example to others. This is accomplished as he lives by the motto “1-percent better every day”. The motto first started when Nik Nikic, Chris’ father, and Managing Partner of Sales Optimizer LLC,

formulated a training program with Chris’s Unified Partner coach, Dan Grieb. According to Nikic, together they utilized a 1% better sales performance tool and adjusted it for Chris’ exercise to get 1% better, stronger, and faster every day. Chris says the motto helps him learn repetition while motivating him to fight harder.

These three principles are then incorporated into all of Chris’ training workouts. According to Nikic, training hours and level of intensity vary depending on the day, but currently the focus is to increase Chris’ speed so that he can win. “That’s a big goal by the way because his competitors in the states are

In addition to having the opportunity to compete and get 1% better every day through his involvement with the Special Olympics, Chris has benefitted in more ways than he could have ever imagined. “I enjoy getting a house, a business, community, friends, a girlfriend, inclusion, being a public speaker and I get to travel everywhere,” he says. Nikic expressed how much of a blessing it has been to witness Chris flourish.

While the goal is to grow every day, since the Ironman is a long-term commitment, Nikic says there are still some simple rules he has in place to ensure that Chris is prepared for training and receives the help he needs. Make Everything Fun- “We build fun into everything he does every day, and that’s part of my job to say: ‘hey what are we going to do today buddy?’ ``We're going to do swimming’- great, how do we make it fun?” We Avoid Pain- “We do not like pain and so we make sure that whatever he’s doing is slow and gradual and he improves a little bit at a time, so he doesn’t experience any real pain.” Let’s Just do One More- “And the game of one more is really a fun game. So, he did 20 push ups yesterday, right? The game today is let’s just do one more.”

so fast. They can’t do the Ironman distance like he can, but they are fast for a short distance,” Nikic says. “The 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place finishers at the state championships were about 25 or 30 minutes faster than Chris. So, if Chris is going to compete with a chance to win it, he’s going to have to get about 30 minutes faster by June.”

“It gives us a sense of relief because he can live a full and inclusive life, you know like we all dream for all our children. It especially makes us feel good because he’s such a good role model and example for other parents like us and other kids like him to say that they can achieve things they never thought possible,” Nikic says. “He has shown all of us--parents, siblings, friends, peers, the community, that our kids can do amazing things and the whole community benefits from them being included.”

Johnson believes that between training and Chris’ determination, this goal can be accomplished. “I’m excited, it’s going to be major,” Johnson says. “He’s getting ready. It’s been a process but it’s so great to be a part of that process and see everything come together because he’s been using his disability as a superpower. So, this whole time he's been training for endurance but now he’s training for speed and that’s been a process but over the past year he’s gotten so much faster.”

As for Chris, he looks forward to competing here in Central Florida, where he has home court advantage. He says he only has one goal- “to win”! For more information about Chris and The Games visit 2022specialolympicsusagames.org



* Present in photo






SHANE SAPP Volleyball








JAMES COWAN Cheerleading

KARALIN KRINER* Cheerleading

BROOKE SEIBERT* Cheerleading








SOPHIA COWAN Cheerleading


DAVID WOLF* Volleyball











JADE RODRIGUEZ* Cheerleading



• • • • • • Promotional Feature • • • • • •


Time-Sharing in Florida By Michael B. Brehne, Law Offices of Michael B. Brehne, P.A


appy Father’s Day! Although most fathers will be celebrating this day with children, family and friends, some fathers may not. This is because some fathers may be amid a divorce and may have barriers to building or continuing relationships with their children. Unfortunately, when parents don’t have a tight temporary parent plan or other formalized agreement, each parent can make contacting the children difficult and nerve wracking. However, the law is on the side of right. By that I mean – most of the current laws regarding time-sharing are interpreted as being equally applicable to both parents. They are not specific in that regard, but they are applied mostly evenhanded. Fathers are likely to get a more secure chance at a fair outcome in their divorce with proposed legislation that is likely to pass in Florida. Previously, the legislature attempted to rectify any inconsistencies in the application of alimony awards and time-sharing with children, but the previous governor vetoed the bill. That bill would have, in addition to alimony

and time-sharing, addressed the length of time a divorce proceeding could last. Under most circumstances it would have had to end within 18 months. The current bill has several key features that are likely to balance the playing field among parents and support payors. In particular, the bill has a provision that will make the presumption of equal time-sharing law. The current statute implies that, but the new one is expected to make it abundantly clear and require certain exceptions to be met before a judge can deviate from 50/50 timesharing. This alone can reduce the length of time a divorce proceeding can last and cut down on attorney’s fees dramatically. Another provision will eliminate permanent or “lifetime” alimony. This is a realistic approach to the problem of seniors having to extend their working career beyond expected retirement or to pay alimony from passive income or their life’s savings long after they retire. The new law will allow for a “wind down” of alimony payments of 25% for the 4 years preceding retirement. It also considers the average retirement age as

opposed to allowing judges to ascribe a “reasonable retirement age” for the litigant in front of him/her. Alimony will now be calculated with limitations as to the length of time it is payable as well as caps on the amount a payor is liable for. Most of the new provisions have a limit on alimony payments based on ½ the length of the marriage. The payments, which previously had no statutory limitations, are going to be limited to 35% of the difference in income between the parties. This is another advantage to litigants because it cuts down on unreasonable demands and expectations of long-term extravagant support. Yes, this will also cut the length of divorce proceedings and reduce attorney’s fees. Hopefully the bill will become law. If you have any questions or concerns about your potential divorce, please call us for a personal in office consultation. At the Law Offices of Michael B. Brehne, P.A., we design a strategy tailored to your family’s needs.

Michael Brehne has dedicated his 24-year career to representing injured people in motorcycle and car accidents, and represents people when their insurance claims have been denied. He has earned a reputation as a tenacious and skilled trial lawyer when representing his clients against large corporate defendants and insurance companies. He is also the author of “Watching Out for Florida Motorcyclists: Legal Rights of Injured Bikers.”


Central Florida Lifestyle | June 2022

+ ON Trend

Men’s Summer Fashion Trends 2022 By Alexandra Sullivan



un’s out, what’s in? Your guide to summer 2022 men’s fashion is here! The Florida heat is no joke, so here is your guide to not only feeling cool but looking cool

There are a few essentials you should have in your closet that can be incorporated into many different looks. A white T-shirt, a cotton button-down, a sensible pair of sneakers and an accessory or two of your choice. Accessories can be anything from a pair of sunglasses to a wristwatch to a bandana. Whatever suits your personal style. There are many different trends to look out for this summer, starting out with “preppy” and “work leisure” styles. To accomplish these styles, throw on a pair of structured joggers or trousers with a thick T-shirt or cotton button-down. Don’t be afraid to play with prints and earth toned colors. Micro florals and tropical prints are big players in this trend, so make sure to keep an eye out for those next time you buy clothes. In the “work leisure” style, and in most of these trends, sensible shoe choice is a must. Throw out your flip-flops and grab yourself a pair of sneakers. Some sort of polished sneaker is ideal, and you can’t go wrong with white or brown leather. This style can also be elevated for a night out with a pair of nice trousers, a belt, and a long-sleeve button-down.


Central Florida Lifestyle | June 2022

There’s also a new trend that has been around for the winter and is going to be moving into the summer. I present you with “gorpcore.” Stay with me. “Gorpcore” is a type of style that largely incorporates utility, hiking, and camping wear. It gets its name from a term for trail mix, “Good Ol' Raisins and Peanuts”. To join in on the “gorpcore” trend, try wearing tees with nature graphics, cargo pants, hiking boots and earth tones. Stray away from denim and grab a pair of water-resistant shorts. To come up with trendy outfits in your style, a good recipe to follow is a french T-shirt tucked into pants or shorts. If you don’t know what french tucking is, it’s when you tuck your shirt into the front of your pants and leave the rest untucked. Pair it with a close-toed shoe and accessorize. This is the summer to accessorize with flashy sunglasses. If you've held onto a pair of sunglasses from the 90s, now’s the time to break them out! It’s trendy to play with colors and prints, stray away from denim and wear a polished sneaker to look put together. This summer is all about having fun and making bold statements. Just make sure to wear breathable fabric, protect your skin with SPF and wear clothes that you feel confident in.

+ HEALTH & Wellness


Learn more about Lake Nona Performance Club’s ROX Climbing Gym


id you know that rock climbing is one of the best totalbody exercises you can do? In addition to working all the major muscle groups in the body, you can also burn over 500 calories or more in just an hour, making it one of the best and most fun forms of exercise you can do! While rock climbing is a great tool to improve your fitness, the benefits go way further. The Lake Nona Performance Club houses one of the largest and most sophisticated climbing gyms in the country, featuring climbing routes for beginners all the way to the most advanced. ROX Climbing Gym has something for everyone.

Rox At A Glance

If you are into math, here are some numbers that will get you excited about what we have to offer in our over 6,000 square feet of rockclimbing terrain.

Bouldering Terrain Breakdown: ■ ■ ■ ■

Max Height 13’ 6” Beginner Terrain – 642 sq/ft Intermediate Terrain – 831 sq/ft Advanced Terrain – 1350 sq/ft

Roped Terrain Breakdown: ■


Lead Terrain Wall: Max height 42’ @ 1587 sq/ft – 7 Climbing Lanes Central Tower: Max height 29’ 6” @ 1785 sq/ft – 13 Climbing Lanes

Central Florida Lifestyle | June 2022

Cutting Edge Rock Wall Technology

The Lake Nona Performance Club is one of the first climbing centers in North America featuring the new, Walltech by Eldorado Climbing Systems. This is a wood-based climbing system with a glass bead texture. Yes, glass bead. This texture is not only durable but allows great contact while smearing for those high-end climbers but is subtle enough to minimize abrasion for the newer climbers encountering the wall for the first time.

Physical Fitness + Mental Fitness

The benefits of ROX goes well beyond the immense size and incredible technology. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, we have experienced extreme difficulties with mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, and stress taking a toll on many in our society. With light at the end of the tunnel, exercise is one of the best forms of stress relief we can do and rock climbing specifically can positively impact many areas of our mental health.

Kids Rock, Too

Lake Nona Performance Club takes a great deal of pride in getting children more physically and socially active. Studies show that rock climbing can help a child’s development by improving motor skills, balance and coordination while building stronger social relationships.

Kids In Motion

Those who are 6-12 years old have the option to participate in Kids in Motion Programming which offers age-appropriate programming in a safe, secure, supervised environment. ■ Ages 6-12 can register for scheduled programs throughout the facility including: + Rock Climbing in ROX Climbing Gym + Activities in the courts such as volleyball, basketball, badminton, and pickleball + Activities on the Sports Performance track + Swimming in the Family Pool + Yoga for kids The Lake Nona Performance Club is dedicated to creating the healthiest community in America and ROX is at the center of that initiative. While rock climbing can be fun and entertaining for all ages and fitness levels, the health benefits of rock climbing go much deeper. Whether you are at ROX for your personal fitness, as a corporate outing, or hosting your child’s birthday party, ROX is for everyone. We at LNPC ROX Climbing Gym would love to meet you! Scan the QR code to book a tour today to find out how to customize your membership that includes the ROX Climbing Gym.

OUR SERVICES • Asphalt Resurfacing • New Construction • Asphalt Milling & Repaving • Asphalt Maintenance • Pothole Repair • Utility Cut • Asphalt Patching • Pavers


ASPHALT PAVING Ensley Inc. was founded in 1984 and has remained a well-respected asphalt contractor in the Central Florida area for 37 years. We take pride in the quality of our work, and in providing our customers with sustainable results. Our team has a collective commitment to deliver excellence in safety, service, and professionalism in every job we take on. We offer honest competitive pricing, fair and thorough estimations and believe in providing the most value to our customers. Trust is important in hiring contractors. We seek to see the job from the customers’ point of view to come together to find the best solution for the project. We work around your schedule, completing the job on time, and without interfering with your business. A trusted member of the Better Business Bureau, Ensley Inc. provides a superior service that speaks for itself. Ensley Inc. is a Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business and is a Florida Certified Veteran Business Enterprise.



At Ensley, Inc., our success depends entirely on the dedicated men and women that make up our team. We base our hiring and training practices on our sincere belief that an investment in our employees is an investment in our company’s future. We do everything in our power to nurture and promote the talents of our employees. That begins with a rigorous application and hiring process. We’re proud of our culture of investment that promotes advancement through the ranks of our company. A career with Ensley is an opportunity to develop as an individual and leader in your community.

As Florida’s leading asphalt paving contractor, we offer opportunities for advancement at every stage of your career. See what a future with Ensley could look like. Visit www.ensleyinc.com/jobs for our current open positions.

Ensley, Inc. 408 S Holly Ave, Sanford, FL 32771 Office: (407) 323-5520 | Fax: (407) 323-5681 | contact@ensleyinc.com

+ HEALTH & Wellness

Man’s Best Friend Here are some ways dogs have proven to improve mental health.

By Alexandra Sullivan


une is National Men's Health Month, and that includes mental health. Mental and physical health are both equally important and having conversations about ways to improve mental health is becoming more and more necessary. As we discuss mental health, it’s important to address the elephant in the room… or maybe the more domesticated animal. Your dog. Anyone with a furry friend can attest to the joy they can bring to a home. After all, dogs are considered “Man’s Best Friend” for a reason. Over the years, dogs have become companions to humans. Turns out, there’s a reason that having your dog around may alleviate feelings of stress and loneliness. Studies show that canine companions directly correlate to improving a person's mental health. While any dog can make the people around them feel doggone good, there are certain dogs that are trained to help humans in more specific ways. Service dogs are trained to work and perform tasks for one specific person who has a disability, according to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Service dogs can be anything from guide dogs who guide the visually impaired, or PTSD service dogs who alert and interrupt anxiety and panic attacks. There are also dogs that can serve the purpose of providing emotional support. The ADA distinguishes service dogs from emotional support dogs based on whether the animal has been trained to perform a specific task or job directly related to the person’s disability. These cuddly companions are exceptionally good at providing comfort to their owners.


Central Florida Lifestyle | June 2022

There are even teams of dogs that volunteer at various places with the intention of bringing comfort and ease to people going through a hard time. You may have heard about the dogs frequenting hospitals, therapy offices and even some police stations. These animals are considered “therapy dogs.” They help to distract and comfort humans who may be struggling with trauma or illness. One dog, named Parks, was recently brought to the Orlando Health Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children as a facility dog. According to Orlando Health, the 2-year-old Labrador retriever knows over 40 commands and spends his time comforting chronically ill children. Parks is one of many dogs who is trained to be there for anyone in need of a cuddle. Even if your pet isn’t the kind with a title, they are certainly helping your mental health, nonetheless. Every dog can alleviate stress and provide comfort to its owners. So, give your dog an extra cuddle today. Mental health is something that should be taken seriously and surrounding yourself with people — and animals — that make you feel safe and happy is a must.

h os JRecommends By Josh Garrick

For those sultry summer nights, tickets are on sale at drphillipscenter.org The 2022 Dr. Phillips Center “Applause Awards”

WORLD BALLET Competition GALA at the Chapin Theater

June 4

Orange County Convention Center

The Dr. Phillips Center will celebrate top HIGH SCHOOL talent at its 8th annual “Applause Awards,” (modeled after Broadway’s TONY Awards). A panel of prestigious casting agents have selected 400 students from 30 high schools for this ultra-high-energy evening featuring live performances by the winners, AND thousands of dollars in scholarships. Tickets at drphillipscenter.org.

June 18 at 7 pm

Jesus Christ Superstar – the 50th Anniversary Production

Every summer in June, Orlando is honored to host the World Ballet Competition. Packed into one talent filled week, young dancers from around the world compete for prizes and recognition of their youthful artistry. The week ends with a GALA that brings together the winners with guest performances by some of the world’s greatest dancers. Visit worldballetcompetition.com or call 407.849.4669

Dr. Phillips Center

Ragtime: A Benefit Concert by CFCArts

June 7 to 12

June 18 & 19 at 3 pm and 8 pm

In celebration of the musical’s 50th Anniversary, a magical new production of this all-time audience favorite – Jesus Christ Superstar – is being called a “Reinvention for a new Millennium.” Appealing to both theater and concert music fans, the iconic music by Andrew Lloyd Webber, Superstar’s legendary score reflects the rock roots that literally “defined a generation.” Visit drphillipscenter.org/event

CFCArts invites us to Ragtime: A Benefit Concert. At the dawn of a new century, in turn-of-the-century New York, three very American stories are woven together united by a belief in the promise of the future. Confronting the timeless contradictions of wealth and poverty, freedom, and prejudice, hope and despair, the characters come to understand what it means to live in America.

“3rd Thursday” – Monthly at City Arts Center June 16 from 6 pm to 9 pm Now that ‘masks’ are coming off, the “3rd Thursday” event, hosted monthly by the Downtown Orlando Arts District, is a great way to come back to being among people. The diverse crowd is friendly, and the art on the walls is as diverse as the crowd at the uniquely green “Kiene Building.” 3rd Thursday is a FREE event, and the Art is affordable at any price range. Call 407.648.7060 or visit downtownartsdistrict.com


unless otherwise indicated:

Central Florida Lifestyle | June 2022

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix™ in Concert with the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra June 25 & 26 at 2 pm and 7 pm Experience your favorite movies transformed with the music of the Orlando Philharmonic LIVE in the Harry Potter™ Film Concert Series. Now audiences can rediscover the magic of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix™ while the OPO performs Nicholas Hooper’s unforgettable score and Harry Potter™ soars across the big screen in high definition.

The Masked Singer hosted by Natasha Bedingfield

Chicago - A Dr. Phillips Summer Stock Production

June 28 at 7:30 pm at the Dr. Phillips Center

July 15 to 17 at 2 pm and 7 pm

Get ready to unmask the craziness. The Masked Singer national tour is coming to Orlando, bringing the hit television show to the next level on its first-ever North American tour. Audiences can expect ‘characters’ brought to life, celebrity guests, and a spectacular live show for audiences of all ages. So “who is that behind the mask?”

Join the naughty fun as Dr. Phillips’ talented pre-professional college actors put on this full-length Broadway favorite about Roaring Twenties Chicago. On “death row,” Roxie and “Merry Murderess” Velma Kelly vie for headlines in search of fame, fortune, and acquittal. Featuring a dazzling, finger-snapping score and immortal staging by Bob Fosse, tickets are on sale at drphillipscenter.org.

JEAN-MICHEL BASQUIAT: Heroes and Monsters

Orlando Big Band presents: “Sizzling Summer Swing”

Orlando Museum of Art

Steinmetz Hall

Now to June 30

July 23 at 8 pm

At the time of his tragic death in 1988 at the age of 27, JeanMichel Basquiat was among the most important artists of the 20th century. Created in 1982, the works in this exhibit present a special group of paintings being shown for the first time. Considered to be Basquiat’s best period, by 1982 he had established his raw, expressionist style and the ‘symbols’ that would recur in his work. Call 407.896.4231 or visit omart.org

Celebrate the hottest swing era music from the ‘30s and ‘40s, enjoying big band classics from Glenn Miller, Benny Goodman, Artie Shaw, The Andrews Sisters and more. Orlando Big Band’s 10-year anniversary celebration promises a tune-filled evening of timeless music in the new Steinmetz Hall.

Steely Dan August 1 & 2

Summer Serenades: The Philharmonic Brass Quintet The Plaza Live at 425 N. Bumby Ave in Orlando July 10 at 1:00 pm When it comes to “fun times” with chamber music, you can always count on Brass Players to provide special music with a bit of tongue-in-cheek performance. For this concert Brass players from the Orlando Philharmonic offer music, fun, and conversation as part of a 5-concert “Summer Serenade” Series. Call 407.770.0071 or visit Orlandophil.org

Steely Dan helped define the soundtrack of the ‘70s with hits such as “Reeling in the Years,” “Rikki Don’t Lose That Number,” and “Peg drawn from their seven platinum albums released between 1972 and 1980. Their sound (and notoriety) survived the ‘80s and ‘90s to 2000 when they released their multi-GRAMMY® winning Two Against Nature and were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2001. Each ticket purchased online comes with a CD! … and when you wonder about WHEN you should purchase your tickets, we can all take a lesson from these two much-anticipated performances: Chris Rock: Ego Death World Tour July 27 & 28 SOLD OUT or Alicia Keys September 17 SOLD OUT Call 844.513.2014 or visit DrPhillipsCenter.org

Josh Garrick has been creating, fundraising and writing about the Arts for all of the 24 years he’s lived in Orlando. In recognition of his service to the Arts, Mayor Buddy Dyer named June 27 as “Josh Garrick Day” in the City of Orlando.



+ BUSINESS Spotlight

It Takes a Village ELEVATE Orlando’s mentorship pipeline gives students a leg up for success. By Nicole Paskowsky


he best way a mentor can prepare another leader is to expose him or her to other great people.” Those words from leadership guru John Maxwell perfectly express the philosophy ELEVATE Orlando applies to build future leaders in Central Florida. The organization, which pairs Orlando-area students with Teacher/Mentors as an elective class in school, believes it takes the community working together for urban youth to thrive. The Teacher/Mentors take an active role in the students’ academic and personal lives, organizing activities that range from college interviews and job shadows to dinners and beach days — and it works. ELEVATE Orlando students have a 100% graduation rate, with 96% moving forward to continued success in college, vocational school or military careers. The program is even getting national notice, recently receiving a $200,000 grant from the NBA Foundation. In 2021, the NBA committed $300 million over 10 years to drive greater economic empowerment for Black youth. Its recent round of grantmaking focuses on workforce development, pathways for higher education, mentoring and entrepreneurship. It’s no wonder that ELEVATE Orlando is one of 40 organizations — and one of just three in Florida — to receive the honor. “We are grateful for this amazing investment by the NBA Foundation, which will strengthen ELEVATE Orlando’s College and Career Pipeline Program exposing Central Florida’s urban youth to emerging industries, equipping them to thrive and contribute to their community,” says Jonas Cayo, Operations Director at ELEVATE Orlando. ELEVATE Orlando’s College and Career Pipeline Program starts in middle school when 8th-graders declare a major and participate in industry-specific activities to increase their breadth of knowledge in their prospective career


Central Florida Lifestyle | June 2022

interests. The program incorporates after-school activities that expose students to careers in those fields. Students recently participated in a mock trial at the University of Florida’s Levin College of Law, serving in roles from plaintiffs to attorneys and jury members. Students also participated in the Medical Enrichment for Diverse Students Program (MEDS) at the UCF College of Medicine, where they were able to interact with medical professors and students while participating in hands-on activities in myriad potential healthcare careers. These experiences are eye-opening and inspiring, especially for struggling middle-of-the-road students at risk of falling behind and giving up on their education. Many participants come from single-family homes and deal with significant personal setbacks. They are often the first in their families to graduate high school and attend college, all thanks to a mentor investing early on to guide the way. In turn, middle and high school students pay it forward and become mentors through the Little ELEVATE program, which pairs them with an elementary school buddy to teach reading lessons. Through this cross-age mentoring, ELEVATE Orlando forms an extensive mentorship pipeline that reaches 2,000 Orlando-area students every week. It all comes back to ELEVATE Orlando’s main motto: No one gets there alone. Helping first-generation graduates succeed creates an ever-expanding pattern, where those students return to their communities and continue to enrich the next generation. “It takes people from the community to solve problems in the community,” Cayo says.


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+ YOUR Local

Why Should We Care About Good To Great Transportation Infrastructure? By Stina D'Uva


aving run the West Orange Chamber since 2001, I consider myself an expert in the Chamber world. Even though running the chamber allows me to be involved in so many important issues facing our growing community, I cannot say that I am an expert in all of those issues. However, because of my role, I have access to experts in many fields and many of those revolve around the infrastructure that makes us the community we are today. Our infrastructure is basically the systems and functions that sustain us as a community. We all know that good schools, parks, natural environment, energy choices, access to telecommunications and internet are just some things we enjoy as residents and need for this community to recruit and sustain businesses that empower a community. Recently, however, many of you have participated in conversations or at least heard about a sales tax that would enable improvements to and the expansion of transportation infrastructure for Orange County. Many may think that transportation infrastructure is just about roads, yet as important as roads are, widened or not, there


Central Florida Lifestyle | June 2022

is so much more that impacts our daily lives and quality of life under such a big title. Transportation infrastructure includes sidewalks, pedestrian crossings, bike and walking trails, bus service and other mass transit options, street lighting, traffic signalization, drainage structures, and future technologies to make things even more efficient and safe. We all need and want these improvements, yet they come at a price. Many of us moved here because of the newness of West Orange, the sunshine, no traffic to speak of and no state income tax. Even though we continue to worship our sunshine and the lack of a state income tax, other aspects of our community are changing and will continue to do so as more and more people figure out our secrets for living in Florida. If we want to address some of the changes with an expanding population, especially when it comes to transportation infrastructure, we have to develop another source of income. We need to go from good infrastructure to great and with a dedicated funding source, we can get there. That is why the West Orange Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors voted to support an

item that will be on the November ballot, a one cent Orange County transportation sales tax. These 20 yearlong taxes would be paid primarily by the tourists visiting our community; 51% which amounts to billions of dollars. This tax will also enable us to receive up to $16 billion, over five years, of federal infrastructure dollars. Our towns and cities will be able to truly tackle local issues that impact us every day.

Mayor Demings speaking at chamber.

Vote YES on the November ballot for the safety and efficiencies that this tax will enable for our community.


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+ YOUR Local

Fathers as Part of the Team

By Don Long, Lake Nona Regional Chamber of Commerce


uring May, people in our nation and around the world celebrate Mother’s Day. Now, during June we will honor fathers of the world. You may not know how historically appropriate it is that Father’s Day follows Mother’s Day on the calendar. However, this makes sense because Father’s Day was created 58 years after Mother’s Day which was established in 1914. Perhaps, this is because the love of and for our mothers is one of the most valuable and visible emotions while the emotions related to fathers are not displayed as often. But I cannot find a historical reason for the priority of these processes except that at one point there were several suggestions for a Parent’s Day rather than the two holidays we celebrate now. Personally, I prefer that we celebrate both. While most of the world’s mothers are seen as the center of the home,

fathers are often seen as more distant. This should not be mistaken as a measure of their involvement in the preservation of the family and home concept. As Father’s Day arrives on June 19 this year, we can grasp the opportunity to honor our fathers with the respect and love bestowed on our mothers. In my opinion, parents work as a team in most households to support the family structure for however long the team can survive. While many teams fail in the home atmosphere, countless others also continue to thrive as a team during separations and even divorce. Without the love of both parents this team concept would not survive. Father’s Day 2022 will present an opportunity to honor, respect and cherish our father figures whether biological, adopted, step, or in-law. For most, these father figures provide

strong love and encouragement when we need it most. As I reflect, I am thankful for my biological, step and in-law fathers who each in their own way embossed a lasting legacy on my life. Without them I would not be a capable household handyman, a man who respects the sacrifices and honor owed to our veterans, or a person who learned of the hardships faced by the strong immigrants who came to this country to help build it into the home of the brave. Though none of my three father figures are still with me, I wish we could tackle a task together, get the grill going, take a walk in the woods, listen to some old records, share a meal, or listen to tales of gallantry and hardship. This is our chance to show our love and respect for one of the home-team.

LNRCC is a membership not-for-profit organization with offices located in Lake Nona at 6555 Sanger Rd, Orlando, FL 32827. It is not affiliated with, or sponsored by, Lake Nona Property Holdings, LLC, or its affiliated entities. Comments or requests for information are encouraged at Administration@LakeNonaCC.org.


Central Florida Lifestyle | June 2022





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Sonobi: Leading the Way in Audience-First Innovations Learn more about the local independent tech company Sonobi and its Chief Executive Officer Michael Connolly By Alexis George


t was in the early 2000s, while attending college, when Michael Connolly first knew he’d have a career in tech. He could see the world changing from analog to digital right before his eyes, and it made sense as an aspiring entrepreneur to follow the trend. “Growing up in that environment at that time it didn’t make a lot of sense to focus on building a steel manufacturing company but to focus more on building a digital platform business that could take advantage of the way people’s lives were changing and how technology was changing,” Connolly says. Years later in 2010, Connolly acted on his intuition. He had recently returned from Iraq and was working as a flight instructor in the state of Florida. According to Connolly, he was planning to return to Iraq on a contract, but the deal fell through. So, he had a decision to make. “At the time I just decided to strike out on my own so I called up my brother-in-law who was a technologist and software engineer and told him that I had an idea of building a series of online web properties that we could monetize and that if he would help me then I would give him some portion of the revenue in exchange,” says Connolly. “He agreed and we started it, just the two of us.” Called Digital Tech Publishing, their creation was an innovative software company that built online web applications, reaching over 30 million unique visitors per month, and serving 1.5 billion ad impressions per month. Shortly thereafter, Justin Kennedy came on to lead its monetization efforts. Connolly had met Kennedy years before in Army Flight school and now that Kennedy was out of the Army, the pair would have a chance to join forces again. Digital Tech Publishing was acquired in 2012, but Connolly says the concept around how they managed data was the foundation for Sonobi. Together, Connolly and Kennedy were determined to take a chance on starting an advertising technology company and founded Sonobi.


Central Florida Lifestyle | June 2022

Today, Sonobi is an independent technology company that provides a fair and equitable media marketplace that connects advertisers directly with publishers. Simply put, it’s a real time exchange of data and media for the open web. Connolly serves as the Chief Executive Officer and Kennedy serves as the Chief Operating Officer. With access to over 150 million people across premium publications on the Sonobi platform, the company creates trusted connections with today’s most valuable audiences. Sonobi also offers the only Programmatic + Push Notification platform with an owned and operated network of 110+ million subscribers. This allows the company to increase clients site traffic while creating another stream of revenue utilizing push notification technology. For this and many more reasons, Sonobi has been an innovator in the AdTech industry over the past 10 years. Some of the company’s most notable accomplishments include being the: ■ ■ ■ ■ ■

First to launch automated yield optimization for small and medium sized publishers in 2012. First to develop consumer side addressable identity framework in 2016 First in programmatic reservation-based buying First to execute a nationwide addressable campaign First to launch header bidding for premium publishers through its proprietary APEX integration

Connolly says while the bidding protocol Sonobi built to connect advertisers to publishers without going through Google is most noteworthy, that he is most proud of the company’s retention rate. “But really the biggest innovation of all is the retention rate and tenure of our employees from startup dates to now where we have one of the most extraordinary retention rates for a technology company with the average tenure of employees here at Sonobi being 7 ½ years and we’re only 10 years old,” Connolly says. “So, the thing I’m most proud of is we continue to build really cool products that change the way people buy and sell data and media but we’re doing all of that with the same people.”

In continued efforts to expand and build more products, Sonobi announced a partnership with Cohere Capital in 2020. Through this partnership, Sonobi could acquire additional companies to strengthen and grow the company inorganically. That’s where they found Amply Media. Located in Kansas City, Missouri, Amply Media specifically allows Sonobi to enhance their data capabilities and enhance their product offerings to customers. Today, Sonobi is approaching 100 people with offices here in Winter Park, FL and Kansas City, Missouri. And with zero outside funding Sonobi’s JetStream platform now powers over 1 trillion transactions per month between 6,000 brands and hundreds of premium web publishers. The company culture is partially responsible for the success Sonobi has achieved in a relatively short time span. “You’re not an employee, you’re an owner. And owners just have a different level of caring about the outcome than employees do, so we try to embody a culture of owners here and not employees,” Connolly says. “There’s


just been so many little factors that go into gathering the ingredients that have gone into building the great culture we have. Honestly, I’ve not seen it anywhere else.” It is equally important to note that Sonobi was founded here in Florida and that all the company’s technology has been built by Central Florida engineering. “[Central Florida] has been good to us and provided us with the talents and resources to grow into the business we’ve become today,” Connolly says. According to Connolly, the next phase of growth can be achieved by executing Sonobi’s inorganic strategy and making good investment decisions on mergers and acquisitions. “Where I see us in five years is a bigger version of what we are now, a more prominent version of what we are now, and hopefully with a more diverse set of revenue generating products beyond just our core platform through acquisition,” says Connolly.

To learn more visit: sonobi.com

Michael Connolly is the Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder of Sonobi. With over 15 years of leadership and management experience, Michael has spent his career focused on developing unique and innovative software solutions for advertising technology, online web, and mobile applications, with fully automated and executed revenue models.

He is a former ARMY CPT, Blackhawk helicopter pilot, and Iraq War veteran. He was recognized as one of Florida’s most successful young executives under 40 by Orlando Business Journal in 2013 and was the recipient of the Ernst & Young Florida Entrepreneur of the Year Award for Advertising and Marketing. Michael holds an MBA from Massachusetts Institute of Technology.



+ SOMEONE You Should Know

Drawing Interest By Tarre Beach

Longtime College Park resident Ethan Long who has entertained, educated and inspired kids for decades gets ready to launch his NFT collection.


hildren’s book illustrator Ethan Long lived with his wife and three children in College Park for decades. He loved the close-knit neighborhood and being involved with his kids’ school activities: PTA, soccer and Halloween costume contests. Though his kids are now grown, Ethan isn’t hanging up his pen and paper any time soon. He’s starting a new adventure with NFTs and so much more. Long is also well known around town for his public murals. While some may be gone now, beginning in 2012 as part of a College Park Main Street and City of Orlando joint initiative, Long ultimately completed 12 murals. You can still see Long’s whimsical murals on utility boxes on Edgewater drive, and at Lockhart Elementary School, just to name a few places. He’s had what one might call an illustrious career. Long has had over 125 books published, created “Scribble and Ink,” an Emmy-nominated online interactive series with PBSKids.org and “Tasty Time with ZeFronk” which aired on Disney Junior from 20082010 and was also Emmy-nominated. Along with those accomplishments, Long has many awards and honors to his name, including the 2017 Florida Book Award Gold medal for his book Big Cat, the 2020 Kidscreen Awards Gold Medal for Scribbles and Ink and the Theodor Seuss Geisel Gold Award Winner in 2013 along with having several of his books named book of the year. Although Long and his wife, who are now emptynesters, recently moved to Littleton, Co, he says being part of the College Park community has been one of the best experiences of his life. “l’ll never lose those connections. I think College Park is one of the best places to live and raise a family.” Long still has family in the Central Florida area and visits several times a year. A graduate of the Ringling College of Art and Design in Sarasota, Long is beginning his NFT journey with a new dedicated character named Stamp Pete the bull. Riffing on the idea that NFTs are collectible, Ethan uses Stamp 50

Central Florida Lifestyle | June 2022

Pete’s adorable mug to make stamp-looking portraits. Ethan has learned more about how to create unique digital iterations of each image for this project and has had a lot of fun doing it. He says he doesn’t know where Stamp Pete will go next, but he’s excited to be embarking on a new adventure with his bull buddy. “NFTs are not very mainstream right now. But I find it an interesting process to not only make this art, but to be able to have this new work coexist with my children’s entertainment work. Kids may not be interested in NFTs at the moment, but it could be like baseball or Pokemon cards. The audience could be adults, gamers or maybe even kids down the road. It’s all very exciting.” Alongside his NFT project, Long is working on fine artwork and hopes to have some of his pieces in galleries in Santa Fe in the future. “I love making kids laugh. There is also a more serious side of my work I’d like to explore,” Long says. “I’m so grateful to have this amazing career where I can grow and learn and try something different. I can’t wait to see what comes next.” Check out Ethan’s work at www.ethanlong.com and www.ethanlongnft.com!

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