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March 2012

24 Professor's New Groove

Medical school professor and biomedical engineer finds a new calling as an alpaca farmer.


22 Moving Forward

Good Samaritan Tyler Ryan endures an unexpected sacrifice while helping stranded motorists.

Celtic Punk

10 Sports

Iron Kids

12 Louise

Love You Forever!

13 Shopping

Spring Has Sprung

15 Food

Vin Dolce March Madness

18 Business

Francis Tuttle Culinary Arts Edmond Kitchen & Bath

20 Home

Home on Wheels

31 Before & After

Platt College

39 My Edmond

26 Genesis Project Local family-style group home giving abused and neglected boys hope for the future.

28 Pursuing Passion Edmond lawyer, Shannon ForthDavies pens her first novel, set in Oklahoma City.

32 EARC An Edmond thrift store with a big mission to help the developmentally challenged.

36 Art of Manliness A wildly popular blog dedicated to uncovering the lost art of being a man.


Taylor Hukill, Athlete

$ To advertise, call Laura at 405-301-3926 6

13431 N. Broadway Ste. 104 OKC, OK 73114 Office: 405-341-5599 Fax: 405-341-2020

PUBLISHER Dave Miller EDITORIAL & ADVERTISING MANAGER Krystal Harlow EDITOR Erica Smith ADVERTISING SALES Laura Beam Lori Cathey PRODUCTION DESIGN Tanner Yeomans Karen Munger PHOTOGRAPHY Marshall Hawkins DISTRIBUTION The Edmond Outlook is delivered FREE by direct-mail to 50,000 Edmond homes.

(Volume 8, Number 3) Edmond Outlook is a publication of Back40 Design, Inc. Š 2012 Back40 Design, Inc. Articles and advertisements in Edmond Outlook do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the magazine or Back40 Design. Back40 Design does not assume responsibility for statements made by advertisers or editorial contributors. The acceptance of advertising by Edmond Outlook does not constitute endorsement of the products, services or information. We do not knowingly present any product or service that is fraudulent or misleading in nature. Edmond Outlook assumes no responsibility for unsolicited materials. 7

CELTIC PUNK by Heide Brandes


f you’ve hit any of the metro’s St. Patrick’s Day celebrations, you may have heard the Righs play. For those more hardcore into the local punk or Sca scene, you’ve definitely heard them at places like The Diamond Ballroom, the Opolis in Norman or The Conservatory. For the group of six, most hailing from Edmond, it’s an eclectic mix of old-school punk, Irish metal and traditional Celtic salted with a touch of reggae and Sca. The Righs (pronounced “rigz”) is Oklahoma’s first punk Celtic band, and although they’ve laid low for the past year, they are gearing up to jam the city again with their one-of-a-kind sound utilizing electric guitar, bass, drums, banjo, violin, mandolin and even trumpet. “We put a lot of energy into it when we play,” says Ronnie Meyer of Edmond, drummer. “When we play in a bar and people start drinking, they love Irish music. Everyone gets into it. You can’t help but have a good time with this music.” In January 2010, The Righs released their second album entitled “Roses,” a mix of 18 songs over 70 minutes long, and on St. Patrick’s Day this year, the Righs will come out of the shadows to play at the Belle Isle Brewery in Oklahoma City. The band, formerly known as The Rivers, was formed in late 2005 by Nathan Williams of Edmond, vocals and acoustic guitar. “I was trying to put together something different, something kind of indie/folk/emo,” said Williams. “I brought in Jack (Jackson Alexander Templeton Smith) as the drummer. We’re a tight-knit group because we grew up around Edmond. Jack and I knew each other from high school.” Smith and Williams started in with writing music, but the sound didn’t click until Smith wrote a song with a heavy Irish influence. “I wasn’t interested in my Irish heritage until high school, and I heard Flogging Molly and bands like that, and I liked it,” said Smith. “Flogging Molly was my first exposure


to full-blown hard Irish punk.” The Irish sound felt right. Soon, the band, which now includes bassist John Slawson and Omid Nowrouzi of Edmond, were pounding out songs left and right with a shot of Irish influence. “The Irish have happy songs, drunk songs, sad songs, sad drunk songs and happy drunk songs,” said Williams. “Summed up, we had 15 songs about drinking, love and death.”

"I wasn't interested in my Irish heritage until high school and I heard Flogging Molly." All the members were veterans of the local punk scene. Slawson and Nowrouzi brought in their own talents with Nowrouzi learning the mandolin to add a different sound. The band picked up Jian Azimi, violinist, while Smith and Williams were at the University of Oklahoma for college. By late 2006, they were sharing the stage at local venues throughout Oklahoma City and Texas, playing with touring acts like Big Reel Fish, The Toasters, The Business, Flatfoot 56 and Street Dogs. By 2007, the Rivers had changed the name of their band to the Righs and the first album, “The Rivers Run Deep,” was recorded and produced by Chris Harris of Bell Lab Studio and Subatomic Sound in Norman. The second

album, “Roses,” was mixed and mastered in 2009 at Green House Recording studio in Moore, which ironically was owned by their former drummer David Johnson. “We went through six drummers before we found Ronnie,” said Williams. “It was right after our second album was recorded that he came on.” The Righs hit the Oklahoma scene playing venues like VZD’s, The Belle Isle Brewery, The Conservatory, the Blue Note and the Opolis. Their shows are filled with a lot of music, and a bit of good ol’ Irish pub fun. They play with the audience and become part of that energy. “I have a wireless violin, which gives me the freedom to run around in the audience.” said Azimi. “I’ll jump out into the pit and dance with them and play at the same time.” The future for the band includes more venues. “We’re trying to get back on the horse,” said Williams. “We played about seven shows last year, and we want to play 52. We love going to out-ofstate shows.” The band is also working on a third CD with a heavier mix of other genres, including reggae, Sca and folk. “We will do a lot with the Sca sound,” said bassist Slawson. “A lot of new stuff.” For the Edmond boys, the music itself is what brings the biggest reward. Look for them on Facebook and listen at 9


by Dena A. Edwards

Chloe Case


raining and competing in one sport takes dedication, commitment and perseverance. Training for three sports simultaneously? That takes three times the effort, but brings three times the reward, as one Edmond family discovers. They have two children competing in youth triathlons as part of the Oklahoma City-based H-I-S Racing team. H-I-S team training starts in April and lasts through September, but Mason and Chloe Case train year-round, said their mother, Beth Case. Both kids just joined the Chesapeake Swim Club, primarily to improve their swim times for triathlon competition. 10-year-old Chloe, a Charles Haskell Elementary fifth-grader, and 12-year-old Mason, a seventhgrader at Summit Middle School, were introduced to triathlons in 2009, when the family cheered on a family friend who was a triathlete. “(After watching him), we saw there was an IronKids (competition) in Oklahoma City a few months later, so we thought, ‘what the heck,’” Beth said. “Both kids were good runners, were fairly good swimmers, and had been active in sports since they

were little bitty, so it wasn’t really a stretch.” The two children had no training, no fancy equipment or bikes; they just showed up, she said. “I think we even had to scrounge up a helmet from a neighbor.” As a junior competitor, Chloe swam 75 yards, rode two miles on her bike and then ran a halfmile, earning sixth place. Mason took seventh place in the intermediate category, swimming 150 yards, riding four miles and running a mile. They both loved the experience, and Chloe decided to continue training for the 2010 season. Mason didn’t commit to the sport until the following year. Although Chloe prefers individual sports, she likes to be part of a team, so to train, she joined the newly-formed H-I-S Racing team, sponsored by H-I-S Paint Manufacturing Company and coached by 19-year-old Talbot Cox. Cox understands triathlon fever. As a seven-year-old, he watched his dad compete in his first triathlon. He then raced in his first event three months later, and has never looked back. Cox became a more serious competitor when he was 10, competing in the national championships

“When you train with others, you bring out the best in each other.”


in Colorado Springs, Colo., almost making the top 10. At age 14, he raced his first Half Ironman — a 1.2-mile swim, 56-mile bike ride and 13-mile run — and finished in less than six hours. Just last year, Cox became “draft legal” which allowed him to compete in the top level of the USA Triathlon junior competition: Junior Elite Cups. Drafting is a cycling technique which, once conquered, allows riders to ride in tightly-grouped packs to take advantage of the aerodynamics. Non-draft riders might average 18 miles per hour, while draft riders will average 27, Cox said. After taking off most of 2010, he traveled to West Des Moines, Iowa, to compete in a national competition, and was astounded at the advancements made by other competitors from across the nation. The difference? Team training. The athletes that were members of one of the nine triathlon teams in the nation were consistently higher achievers. Cox approached his dad, Tony Cox, triathlete and owner of H-I-S Paint, with the idea of starting a racing team, and H-I-S Racing was born. The first practice was in mid-June, and involved only Tony, Talbot and Talbot’s two younger sisters. By national competition in September, H-I-S Racing had 23 team members ranging from age 7 to 19. Chloe Case

was one of them. The team practices roughly two hours a day, six days a week April through September, but many of the kids like the Cases train the different aspects year-round: riding bikes on indoor trainers, running on treadmills and swimming indoors in the cold months. Cox also teaches them nutrition and the mental strategies, transitions and tactics to shorten their times and improve their performance. In 2010, Chloe placed 24th at the National IronKids triathlon in St. Petersburg, Fla. The experience showed her that she could compete against athletes that had been competing longer, had better equipment and were more fine-tuned, Beth said. “It gave her something to shoot for.” Last season, she won first place at seven different triathlons and was named Top Overall Female for the South Midwest USAT championship series. She also increased her ranking to ninth place at the IronKids Nationals. Her brother Mason competed in 2011, as well, and even with his year off, he won two different events and placed in the top five in every triathlon in which he competed. In his first IronKids Nationals competition, he placed 22nd. Coach Talbot had a successful year as well, and has fully committed to achieving his dream of qualifying for the Junior Olympics. He graduated high school early last December and trains daily, working toward winning the 2012 Dallas ITU (International Triathlon Union) Triathlon Pan American Cup, which would qualify him for the World Championships in New Zealand. “When you train with others, you bring out the best in each other,” he said. “Someone is always there to push you to excellence.” “Triathlons are touted as an extension of play for kids,” Beth said. “Kids naturally ride bikes, swim in the summer and run around playing. If you are going to play, why not do it with friends?” 11

LOVE YOU FOREVER! by Louise Tucker Jones


orty-six years ago my handsome bushes or watering trees. What happened? Just young, soldier-husband placed a weeks earlier we were living life normally. How wedding ring on my finger and kissed could he be gone forever? At night I would crawl into me as his wife for the first time. Less bed, exhausted, and cry on Carl’s pillow, asking God than 12 hours later, why he took my husband. we stood in front of his Finally, I started dark, Army barracks writing down memories with snow falling and for the anniversary book. said our goodbyes Sweet, sad and even before he went funny things like the time overseas. 15 months Carl decided to teach me later Carl came home how to shoot a rifle. He on a 30-day leave then forgot that I grew up on kissed me goodbye a farm with four brothers again before boarding who sometimes took me a plane to go right hunting. Needless to say, back overseas, taking he was a bit perturbed my heart with him when I hit the target. each time he left. Or the special memory Eventually he came of seeing our newborn Saying goodbye after Carl's 30-day leave son for the first time and home for good and we spent 45 wonderful years together before our realizing our love created this beautiful baby. final goodbye kiss in an Intensive Care Unit. It was But Carl wasn’t here to write the letters I had there that I slipped his wedding band off his finger requested. Then one hot summer day, and onto mine where I have worn it these nine plus our oldest son, Aaron crawled into months since his death. It’s a hard journey and I miss the attic and found a treasure—a Carl every minute of every day. He is my first and last box of love letters from my beloved. waking thought. Over a year’s worth of airmail Last year we were extremely busy on our 45th letters with upside down stamps anniversary and put our celebration on hold. I that meant, “I love you,” sent planned to write 45 special memories about our across the ocean. It had been years dating days and early marriage and put them in a since I had seen those letters and book for Carl. He was to write me a letter every day I thought they were lost forever. I for a year. (Okay, my idea and he hadn’t totally agreed sat down and read them one by to it.) Then life changed forever. Carl became ill and one, taking time to enjoy each at the end of May, pancreatic cancer took his life. hand-written sentiment like a There are no words to describe the grief that delicious delicacy. overwhelmed me as I realized my husband would Then I read them again and again. Oh, the never again walk through the back door of our home beauty of his letters, each ending with, “I love and give me a hug or a kiss. Never another phone you more today than yesterday and even more call or e-mail. No more smiles, caresses, laughter or tomorrow.” Such passion, love and sweetness. How tender words. I traipsed our acre plus yard that Carl he carved our initials in a tree on Valentine’s Day loved so much, wishing I could find him trimming because he was in the field (mountains) training


About the Author Louise Tucker Jones is an award-winning author and inspirational speaker. Author and co-author of four books, her work has been featured in numerous publications. Contact her at: or

and couldn’t send a card, telling me, “Someone in Western Germany knows I love you!” Yep, I cried! I cried again when I read a PS that said, “I will be with you forever!” A 45-year-old promise now coming straight from heaven to my heart.

“Aaron found a treasure - a box of love letters from my beloved.” So yes, I will definitely celebrate our anniversary on March 4th, even though Carl isn’t here with me. I will glance at the clock and say, “Happy Anniversary, Darling,” at 5:20 p.m., the exact time we were married. I’ll enjoy our anniversary dinner of cheeseburgers and french fries then I’ll play some Elvis love songs that remind me of Carl and our many years of loving each other. In fact, I’ll do what I’ve done many times in these last months. I’ll wrap Carl’s comfy, denim shirt around me that still holds a faint aroma of him and dance to the music as if my beloved were holding me. I will celebrate our

life, our love and our happiness of 45 plus years. And if I’m lucky, I will feel Carl’s arms around me as I dance and hear him whisper, “I’ll love you forever!”

The Balanced Life Weight Loss Clinic

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Shop, Support, Save a Life. Our Sisters’ Closet is an upscale Edmond women’s resale shop benefiting battered women and children receiving services at the YWCA OKC. Located 3 blocks North of 2nd, between Broadway & Boulevard at 101 E. Hurd. Open Tues-Fri 10-5:30 and Sat 10-5. • 348-2442 • And at I-240 & S. Penn. (NW corner Walnut Sq.) Mention this ad for a Shopping Discount!

Kern’s Interiors has moved! Come visit us at our brand new location, 3409 S. Broadway Ste. 500, in the Market Depot, right next to Charlestons. Kern’s offers gorgeous furniture & accessories for all areas of your home, plus enjoy 50-70% off all in-stock upholstery during the month of March! • 285-2374 Open M-F 10-6 and Sat 10-5.

Leave the spring cleaning to us! We’ll take care of all the sweeping, mopping, vacuuming, laundry, dusting, bed linens & more! We offer years of experience and competitve rates. For a free estimate call 740-6004.

Beaucoup Boutiques has MOVED! Visit us at our brand new location in downtown Edmond. We feature over 15 vendors offering an array of boutique clothing, purses, decor, hand-made jewelry & children’s items. Open Mon-Sat 10-5:30 • 285-7511 Located at 111 S. Broadway

Beadle Dee Bead & Gift Shop

GRAND OPENING special at Beadle Dee March 8th - 10th! Stop by and enjoy sale prices and drawings all three days. You’ll find a variety of exquisite crystals, pearls, glass, gemstones and other beads, plus supplies and gift items. Classes and parties also available! Located at Danforth & Santa Fe in the 7-11 Shopping Plaza 715-5820 • Find us on Facebook (Beadle Dee-Beadle Done)

Anabelle’s Galleria Don’t miss Anabelle’s Galleria Spring and Summer Fashion Show, Saturday, March 10th at 7 p.m. See all the latest runway styles walking the catwalk and then shop and take home your favorites. Admission is free! 1201 NW 178th (2nd & Western) • 359-1189 • Find us on Facebook!

Spring is in the air! Visit Hip & Swanky and check out all the hip new caps and tees for sports moms. You’ll also find an amazing selection of Corral and Old Gringo boots, jewelry and accessories. Located at 1247 E. Danforth • 341-3066 (Kickingbird Square) 13


VIN DOLCE by Dena A. Edwards


trains of live music now drift down the streets of downtown Edmond every weekend, filtering from its newest tenant — Vin Dolce the Wine Bar. This laid-back, upscale urban wine bar at 16 S. Broadway, fills a new niche in the Edmond entertainment industry, bringing together trendy music, local artists and musicians, delectable small-plate options, designer beers and one of the largest selection of quality wines in town all into one modern location. Owner Melanie Chesser has seen her dream come to fruition. An established real estate agent in the Edmond area for nearly 20 years, Chesser was dealing with burnout. Her husband encouraged her to turn her “pie-in-the-sky” of owning a hospitalitytype business into reality, so Vin Dolce was born. “I’ve always been crazy about wine,” said Chesser. “I used to be an avid collector. I’d come home from a long day, open a bottle of wine and start cooking. It was so relaxing. That’s how it started.” Vin Dolce conceptually started out as a wine and dessert bar — hence the name: “Vin” which means wine and “Dolce” which means sweet. But eventually Chesser chose to add a list of small gourmet plates to the menu as well. Their newest menu now includes not only the staple Artisan Board, which is a plate filled with cheeses, seasonal fruits, olives and nuts, but also small bites such as truffle parmesan popcorn, prosciutto-wrapped asparagus, and Swiss cheesestuffed pastry with balsamic strawberries. Other offerings include crab cakes, steamed mussels, smoked salmon and seasonal soups. “We also just added a list of flat breads, which are like gourmet pizzas without the sauce, and are

Owner, Melanie Chesser delicious and a huge hit,” said Chesser. Her favorite is the Black and Bleu — blackened beef tenderloin, blue cheese fromage and sliced red onions. The dessert list is also impressive, with enticing sweets such as crème brulee cake, Kentucky bourbon pecan pie and chocolate covered brie. But the star of Vin Dolce’s menu is their impressive list of national and international wines, 65 of which are available by the glass and all of which are stored in a climate controlled cellar. “We have a great variety of wines that you don’t usually see,” said Chesser, “especially in our Interesting Whites and Interesting Reds categories.” Wine flights are now available to allow guests to sample several different varieties. And wine stations are set up along the back bar with a wine pres-

ervation system that pumps nitrogen in to keep the wines fresh for up to 90 days. This allows Vin Dolce to sell high-end wines which retail for an average of $400 per bottle by the ounce, half glass and glass, an option rarely available for this caliber of wine. The contemporary wine bar’s staff is well educated on the different wines, and wine classes, monthly wine dinners and wine tastings by vintners are all offered as well. “It’s a complete package for wine lovers,” said Chesser. Vin Dolce the Wine Bar’s hours are 4 to 10 p.m. Tuesdays and Wednesdays, 4 to 11 p.m. Thursdays, and 4 p.m. to last call Fridays and Saturdays. Local musicians perform every Thursday through Saturday night with no cover charge. For more information, go to 15

MARCHMADNESS by Krystal Harlow

Dan McGuinness

Let's Do Greek

Wing Stop

Sensational food and lively entertainment make this warm Irish pub the place to be in March! Begin your party with crunchy fried pickles or loaded cheese fries, followed by Dan’s famous Fish N’ Chips at a table with your own flat-screen TV. Enjoy amazing Happy Hour specials every day, Karaoke and Ladies Night on Thursdays and great live music on the weekends. And don’t miss their BIG St. Patty’s Day Indoor/Outdoor Party Saturday, March 17th. Visit or stop by 3005 S. Broadway in Edmond.

Great food is the name of the game during playoff season and no one does it with flavor and flair like the renowned family at Let’s Do Greek. Catch the games on TV while you enjoy their award-winning Gyros, sandwiches, salads and vegetarian and rice dishes, plus great sides like Feta Fries and hummus with pita. Take home family-style servings of your favorite entrees or Gyros meat by the pound. Catering and private party room available, too! Stop by 180 W. 15th in Edmond or the First National Building, downtown OKC. Visit

Hosting a party at home during the play-offs is a snap with Wing Stop’s incredible line-up of regular and boneless chicken wings. Choose one of their combos with nine tempting flavors like Cajun, Hickory or the famous Original Hot, sauced and tossed to juicy perfection. Always made fresh to order, their 10-100 piece party packs come complete with creamy dips and sides. Dine in or call 755-4411 for take-out orders. Open Sun.Thurs. 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. and Fri. & Sat. 11 a.m. to midnight at 12225 N. Penn. Visit


Earl's Rib Palace

Cimarron Grille & Casino

Discover the all-new sizzle of this Edmond oasis! Now in its new location, Habaneros instantly warms you with the irresistible aroma of authentic Mexican food and rustic urban charm. Enjoy all your favorite dishes and house specialties like the plump Chili Rellano, giant burrito and Pork Chili Verde. Settle into a comfy booth or seat at the spacious bar for $1.50 Bud Light or Coors Light draws during March Madness as you catch the games on TV. Dine often to try the chefs’ new recipes at Waterloo and Broadway, next to Sonic, or visit

Check out Earl’s sensational new St. Louis pork spare ribs with more meat on every rib! Dry-rubbed and sauced in the smoker, they caramelize to tangy perfection. Available in limited quantities on Friday nights only, enjoy a half slab and two sides for just $12.99. Watch the games on five TVs and enjoy beer buckets with four domestics for $6 or four imports for $9, available any time. Smoked brisket, pulled pork, hot links, turkey and chicken, plus delicious sides offer a feast for all tastes. Visit 2121 S. Broadway or

Get away for some food and fun! Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day on Saturday, March 17 from 7-10 p.m. with hot seat drawings every 30 minutes to win $50 in free play. Beads will be passed out, too, while available. Enjoy $1.50 beer and great Irish food specials. Kick back at Cimarron Grille any time for your favorite burgers, breakfast and dinner foods while you catch the games on TV. It’s a month of fun you don’t want to miss! Located at 821 W. Freeman Ave., Perkins, OK. Call (405) 547-5352 or visit

16 17

Francis Tuttle Culinary Arts Program by Melanie Phillips Clemens Whether dining in or out, a delicious meal always delights the senses. And the chef behind these indulgences, whether professional or domestic, may have received their training in Francis Tuttle Technology Center’s Culinary Arts program. Known for their service to the greater Oklahoma City area for almost 30 years, Francis Tuttle continues to excel in its efforts to meet the demand for highquality career training, enhancement and continuing education and personal interest for adults. The recent expansion of their culinary arts program is an indication of their commitment to excellence. Marc Dunham, director of culinary arts, shared his excitement for the new training facility. “This facility is top-notch in terms of equipment and design. It will be one of the top facilities in the nation available to high school students.” Francis Tuttle currently serves six school districts including Edmond, Deer Creek, Crescent, Millwood, Putnam City and Western Heights. Since the expansion, capacity for students in the


culinary arts program has grown from 64 to 160 and ultimately will accommodate 252, proving the local demand for this specialized training. “A year from now we’ll have our first graduating class from this facility. Currently our students receive college credits as well as a serv safe certification and we’re working toward accreditation through the American Culinary Federation. I’ve been with Francis Tuttle for over a year and one of the things I’ve learned is they do a great job of assessing the needs of the industry and they go all out to meet those needs,” said Dunham. ‘Going all out’ accurately describes the transition from 5,000 square feet to 31,000 square feet, fully equipped with a teaching restaurant, six instructional kitchens and a demonstration kitchen for visiting chefs. “Right now we operate in two kitchens that are adequate for the programs we’ve had but we’re meeting a bigger demand for culinary training. A lot of intention was put into this building. We hired a kitchen consultant that did a phenomenal job. Within the next three years we’ll add more

Marc Dunham, Director of Culinary Arts kitchens as well as pastry and baking programs,” said Dunham. The anticipation for this facility that ‘opened for business’ on February 27 is parallel only to the onsite teaching restaurant, full-service bakery and cafeteria that will open to the public in April or May. “We’ll have a business cafeteria that will function like a school cafeteria but with a chef’s touch on nutritious food,” said Dunham. Francis Tuttle provides rigorous curriculum and state-of-the art equipment and facilities. And their Culinary Arts program offers day and evening classes. It is located at 12777 N. Rockwell. For more information, call 717-4900 or visit

Edmond Kitchen & Bath From House to Home

by Melanie Phillips Clemens ‘There’s no place like home’ is more than a popular saying, it’s a sentiment felt in the hearts of most. Even better is a home designed to reflect the individuality of its owner. That’s where Edmond Kitchen & Bath steps in with creative kitchen and bath ideas to suit even the most particular homeowner. Owners Brenda and Robert Helms often work hand-in-hand to create dream kitchens and baths. “Bob and I handle different ends of the spectrum. While his area of expertise is the construction end, mine is the design,” explains Brenda. “He inspects for load bearing walls and keeps my lighting and electric plan routed correctly. I am inspired by texture and the function of the space. On more involved projects we work closer together and brainstorm on how to build something or make it do this or that. Sometimes we are faced with odd angles in a kitchen and we collaborate on how to make it aesthetically pleasing while maximizing storage.” The secret behind every design is linked to Brenda’s natural creativity and the team they have assembled. Junior designer Megan Greve plays a big role. “Megan and I bounce ideas off each other and

sharpen each other. Scott and Lauren, two of our multi-talented field crew instill confidence on the job. And Paul’s attention to detail in trim carpentry is always appreciated. Our team of talents enable us to look at a space and see its potential as a makeover, a full remodel or something in between as it relates to the clients needs.” Homeowners who are uncertain as to what direction to take their home find comfort in the fact that Brenda and Megan know what it takes to help them achieve the kitchen or bath that fits their style. “We try to find what inspires them by asking specific questions. Sometimes it’s a certain color palette or or a feeling they want their home to have. Once we’ve uncovered their passion, we look at their budget to determine whether a makeover or remodel is the best course.” Helms also added that, “Not everyone wants a designer kitchen. Sometimes quality work with well-coordinated, updated finishes is the goal. Others are able to go a little further with unique granite or custom cabinetry. Our job is to determine how best to serve the clients’ needs. It makes for good business and good relationships,” said Helms.

Owners, Robert & Brenda Helms This philosophy has proven successful for Edmond Kitchen & Bath with customers expressing trust in a company that, according to Helms, “makes them feel comfortable. We make the process easy and take the uncertainty out.” Edmond Kitchen & Bath’s showroom is located at 243 N. Broadway in Edmond, directly in front of the Post Office. Showroom hours are noon to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. For more information, visit or call 285-1926. Or drop by an open house, the first Sunday of each month from 1 to 3 p.m. 19

HOME ON WHEELS by Dena A. Edwards


nlike the laughable recreational vehicles made popular by such movies as Chevy Chase’s “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” and “RV,” the luxury motor homes on Lee’s RV Superstore lot, 13111 N. Broadway Extension, are truly lavish homes on wheels. And then some. Ginger-glazed cherry hardwood cabinetry, heated polished porcelain floors, Corian countertops and wall sconces are features most would be shocked to find in these top-of-the-line homes on wheels. But this list of high-end amenities only starts here. Also on that list would be four 40-inch LCD flat screen televisions with Blu-Ray players, Dolby surround sound, video game system hook-ups, and in-motion satellite viewing. Four zones of heat and air conditioning ensure that every area is comfortable for passengers. The beautiful decorative ceiling boasts 56 different lights, most of which are recessed. Rows of channel lights line the kidney-shaped ceiling cloud, emphasizing the designer feature. The kitchen area might be small, but it’s filled with quality amenities


equal to what would be found in a residential gourmet kitchen – a convection microwave, under mount Corian sink with a pull-out spray chrome faucet and a garbage disposal, a full-sized Frenchdoor style stainless steel refrigerator with an ice and water dispenser, glass cook top and even a hidden cabinet dishwasher drawer. And although the interior is only about 400 square feet, the top-end motor homes have a full bath and a powder bath inside. The full bath has a separate toilet and sink space with a door for privacy, plus a glass shower with Corian walls and a teak fold-down seat, and another sink with ample storage and countertop space. All backsplash areas in the RV have designer glass tile accents to add that extra touch of class. For sleeping, one of the soft leather seating areas in the main cabin encases a queen-sized pull-out bed, and the master bedroom contains a king-sized sleep number bed. The master closet is surprisingly large, with room for a stackable washer and dryer, a safe, plenty of clothes storage and even a built-in shoe rack. The entire master area is set apart with

beautiful decorative sliding glass and wooden doors. “Traveling in one of these motor homes really is like being at home. Once you’ve done (a long trip) in an RV, you won’t want to start a long trip any other way,” said Lee Litchfield, president and owner of Lee’s RV Superstore. Litchfield began with this company as a salesman in 1978. 18 months later, at age 22, he bought the company, which at that time was named Cagle and Eaton RV City. Then in May 1997, he opened the current location in Edmond along the Broadway Extension. Litchfield knows from experience. His own family of four started with a tent trailer for camping trips. Then they upgraded to a fifth wheel – a motor home pulled behind a truck. But they got tired of not being able to utilize the motor home until they arrived at their destination.

“Our first real road trip was when my oldest was 16 and my youngest was 12,” Litchfield said. The two teenagers were not excited about making the

! or te ll F ima Ca Est e Fre

Lee Litchfield, owner of Lee's RV Superstore

two-week trek to and through California. But after driving in ultimate comfort and being able to see so much – they saw Yosemite National Park, Hollywood, Disneyland, the Golden Gate Bridge and the Grand Canyon twice – they loved it and that’s the only way they want to travel now, Litchfield said. That’s why many customers buy motor homes, he said, because they have great memories of traveling that way as kids, and they want their own kids and grandkids to have the same experiences. Even though the RVs weigh about 50,000 pounds, they have a unique steering system that makes controlling the vehicle easy with little effort. “You can turn around a corner with one finger,” Litchfield said. “It’s a super power steering. When you go from driving the RV back to your car, it feels like (your car’s) power steering is out.” The Comfort Drive System constantly re-calibrates for the wind and road angles, to keep the driver from needing to correct the steering for steady strong winds or the crowns built into most roads. Typically, drivers of cars keep to around six to eight hours of straight driving per day. With this driving system, you can easily handle 10 to 12 hours, Litchfield said. “We drove to California a few years ago through a blizzard,” he said. “The wind was blowing about 45 or 50 miles per hour all the way across I-40. But we actually forgot all about the wind until we had to stop and get out, then it was like, ‘Whoa!’” Typically the luxury RVs run between $200,000 and $700,000. They run on diesel, to keep fuel costs somewhat down, but even with the high fuel costs and low gas mileage, traveling by motor home is still economical when you factor in the opposing costs of hotels and restaurants, Litchfield said. In an RV, you don’t have to make as many stops, because you have restrooms onboard, and you can prepare your own meals when you want, while you are driving. You also get to sleep in your own bed, on your own sheets, with your own things around you. A huge benefit to RV travel, he said. Litchfield also began his own small company, Custom Coach Manufacturing, to trick out custom motor homes for those clients who really want something unique. Custom Coach offers more than 60 different custom options, plus can trick out the RVs with nearly anything the client wants. Many of these clients are entertainers or large corporations. Custom Coach customized Chesapeake Energy’s “Big Blue” – a motor coach with a dual-fuel system that runs on compressed natural gas and diesel. Big Blue was created basically as the ultimate tailgating party, Litchfield said. The interior has four bunk beds, each bunk with its own flip-down television with a DVD player. The exterior has four large LCD TVs under huge retractable awnings for big corporate presentations, or entertaining big client groups with watch parties. “(We designed it) for champagne parties for a thousand clients,” Litchfield said. Big Blue has been all over the country – from Thunder games, to the Super Bowl, college bowl games, you name it, he said. When you have all the amenities of a luxury home on wheels, the sky is the limit.



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precautions taken, Tyler began changing the tire. As he was retrieving a spare from the couple’s trunk, the unthinkable happened. A driver, who would later be described by police as inattentive, slammed into Tyler, sandwiching him between the two cars and crushing the lower half of his body. People at the site rushed to his aid, finally releasing him from the grip of the cars. Tyler was just coherent enough to give out his mother’s phone number. A nearby resident and UCO coach quickly stepped in to wrap a belt around his leg in an effort to stop the bleeding. The injuries Tyler suffered were severe. The bones in his legs were broken along with three vertebrae in his lower back. He had a number of contusions and lacerations on his body as well as damage to his head. The work done to repair Tyler’s broken body would take weeks along with nine separate surgeries. He was given staples in his head as well as two rods and eight screws in his right leg. Unfortunately, the damage to his left leg was so severe that it had to be amputated from the knee down. As if in a domino effect of bad news, Tyler did not have medical insurance. In total, his medical bills came to more than $700,000, a figure that

While retrieving a spare from the couple's trunk, the unthinkable happened.

provided by Angela Wilkes Photography company for which Tyler was employed. “He’s the kind of kid who would ask, ‘What can I do to help?’ With hazard lights on and other safety

Jay Mills & Paul Campbell of Jay's Valet with Tyler Ryan

provided by Angela Wilkes Photography


yler’s experience is one you’d expect to see in a movie and at the same time, every mother’s nightmare. A simple trip to the grocery store ended with an accident that would change his life forever. But it was his incredible character that would move all who heard about the tragic turn of events for this Good Samaritan. On the evening of November 9, 2011, 24-yearold Edmond resident Tyler Ryan was on his way to Crest Foods when he spotted a couple with a child on the side of the road near 15th Street and Santa Fe. Their tire was completely shredded. A valet of six years at Remington Park, Tyler knew his way around a car and jumped in to help. “It didn’t surprise me that he was helping someone,” says Jay Mills, owner of Jay’s Valet, the

was relatively untouched by the inattentive driver’s insurance. Despite the immeasurable difficulty of his situation, Tyler remained in good spirits. During his hospital stay he was visited by family, friends, well-wishers and the family he had stopped to help. Tyler immediately turned the attention to them. “The first thing Tyler said was, ‘How are you all? How’s your car?’” said his mother, Shirley Coleman. While most people might let this sort of lifechanging event darken their spirits, Tyler has been an inspiration to those around him. “Tyler’s always been a positive person,” says close friend Jelena Teh. “And [this experience] hasn’t changed that.”

Pinch Proof

Barrett Jewelers 22

Tyler a Certificate of Excellence and a medal for his courageous efforts and selfless bravery. In addition, Tyler and his family are to receive an expensepaid trip to Challenge Aspen, a summer program designed to help the disabled recognize their true abilities. As news of Tyler’s heroism spreads, people everywhere continue to be touched by his story. During the Oklahoma City Thunder game on January 25, he was awarded the Devon Community Hero award. Kevin Durant also showed his support by sporting a Keep Moving Forward bracelet the entire evening. As for his recovery, Tyler says it’s coming along “surprisingly quickly.” On December 12, he took his first steps with the use of a prosthetic leg, his family cheering alongside him. After his release from strength and conditioning therapy December 23, Tyler returned home with his family. He has since done a number of physical therapy sessions, building his strength and adjusting to his new physical condition. As his strength continues to grow, Tyler gets closer to walking again. However, as Tyler continues to heal there is no foreseeable end to the medical bills increased by his hospital stay, physical therapy and prosthetic leg which will need to be replaced over time. It is

provided by Angela Wilkes Photography

It is this outlook that has brought the community to rally alongside Tyler, offering hope, encouragement and a number of fundraisers to help cover his medical expenses. One such endeavor is the Keep Moving Forward bracelet, worn by a number of supporters including Denver Bronco Tim Tebow. Tebow wears the bracelet in encouragement of Tyler, before and after every game. “Keep Moving Forward” has become Tyler’s motto. Coincidentally, the words were inspired by a tattoo he had gotten just nine months prior to the accident. “It was just a motivator, something I could always look at,” he says. He recalls his parents’ “shocked” reaction to the massive image on his entire forearm. Of course, this message would prove both healing and prophetic later during Tyler’s recovery. “We think it’s really cool now. We like it,” says Coleman. Moving forward is precisely what Tyler has done with the help of his family and friends. On January 5, Jay’s Valet hosted a surprise benefit for him in which they raised $22,500 to put toward Tyler’s medical expenses. It was an emotional evening that included a call with country singer Vince Gill, who offered motivational words. Also at the benefit, Army Maj. Gen. Myles Deering awarded

Army Major General Deering with Tyler Ryan the generosity of those who find that willingness to help a stranger in need, like Tyler did, that will get him through. While the future may be uncertain, to Tyler it’s simple. He’ll keep moving forward. And he’ll do it with an immense support team at his side. To donate to the Tyler Ryan fund, learn more about upcoming fundraisers, or offer words of support, go to or call Jay’s Valet at (888) 368-5297. 23



any people can describe their professional existence in a simple word or two. Writer. Accountant. Teacher. Doctor. There may be a few true Renaissance men and women left amongst us. But, a few come close. And often, you find them in the most interesting vocations. Meet Steve Hull, Ph.D. — animal scientist, medical school professor, biomedical engineer, academic researcher and now, alpaca farmer. “You know what Ph.D. stands for, right?” Hull quips. “Post hole digger!” Indeed, each day Hull is manager, ranch hand, janitor, dietician and even animal midwife when necessary. And he couldn’t be happier, even finding humor in the track his life has taken. “I used to watch (David) Letterman. Now I listen to the ag report,” he says. Hull’s story begins on a small New England farm where he grew up raising a variety of livestock. His love of animals inspired him to earn a degree in veterinary and animal sciences from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. He soon found himself pursuing a career in academic medicine, earning a second degree in biomedical engineering and ultimately obtaining a Ph.D., studying physiology and biophysics. Eventually Hull made his way to the University of Oklahoma as a professor, teaching cardiac surgery, publishing extensively on neurocardiology and lecturing at universities across the country.

In 1998, despite his intense workload, he took an opportunity to partner with a friend in founding a small alpaca farm. By 2001, he realized he was enjoying his time on the farm enough to make a daring career change. “I always told my students, ‘When you don’t enjoy what you’re doing and like doing something else, do something else!’ I simply took a bit of my own advice,” laughs Hull. His wife, Dr. Kathy Reilly, a family physician, and children Tom, David and Katy joined in the new venture. An alpaca is a smaller relative of camels and llamas — too small to be a working animal. While some people raise alpacas as pets, an alpaca’s real value is found in its fleece. The very fine, cashmere-like fibers are much softer and warmer than sheep’s wool, and can be spun into yarn to make hats, scarves, gloves, purses, coats and other clothing. A single alpaca can supply four to five pounds of fleece each year that can be used to make hundreds, even thousands, of dollars worth of goods. A typical day on an alpaca farm is far from typical. For starters, one must prepare for a lot of hoofing — pardon the pun — as in nine-plus miles of walking daily. Up by 5:30 a.m., Hull’s day starts with a quick check of the herd. Very gentle and clean animals, even the herd of 60 to 70 alpacas doesn’t smell. Still, the barn needs to be cleaned out daily, so the animals are let out to pasture along with a few guardian dogs. Hull will check on the

“I used to watch Letterman. Now I listen to the Ag Report.”


herd several times throughout the day, which is otherwise filled with the endless sort of tasks that greet any farmer or rancher. Every April, the alpacas are shorn, and though they are native of the high altitudes of Peru and western South America, they adapt well to Oklahoma’s hot summers. When he’s not outdoors, Hull usually can be found on the phone or answering emails from around the world. His “quiet farm lifestyle” seems anything but. Hull is an expert source for others interested in raising alpacas and has been conducting seminars worldwide for more than a decade. Some seminars are geared toward laypeople at civic luncheons and similar events. These “stories from the farm” are entertaining tales with heartwarming and inspiring morals. Other seminars focus on the intricacies of raising alpacas, with information on nutrition, breeding and care. Hull relies heavily on his

Steve Hull, Ph.D. on the farm with his alpacas experience in engineering, animal science and medicine for these messages. Hull and partner Tom Cameron run Timberlake Farms, an excellent resource for the alpaca farming community. In addition to maintaining a herd and selling alpacas, the farm works with other farms in operating a fiber loom. The farm sells the fiber and fleece-made goods on site in addition to distributing the goods via a nationwide alpaca co-op. Timberlake Farms, located five miles north of Pops on Route 66, also welcomes visitors. “Alpacas sell themselves,” says Hull. “The belief that all alpacas spit is no more true than to state that all dogs bite. They’re great animals. My only alpaca mistake was not starting this career 10 years sooner!” 25

THE GENESIS PROJECT by Lindsay Whelchel


he little boy, we’ll call “D,” is 8 years old. His hopeful eyes peering out from under a mop of dark brown hair will endear him to you instantly and his self-awareness just might astound you. What he says, however, could break your heart. His words, about behaving well and finding a home, about his future, and about change, are well beyond his years, but they speak volumes to what he has endured in his young life. He and approximately 15 other boys at any given time live at a family-style group home for abused and neglected boys age 6 to 12 called the Genesis Project. The home and nonprofit organization, located just outside of Edmond, formed in 1985. Executive director Todd Madland came aboard the organization in 1987 and describes the idea for the project as one that formed from an increased awareness in the ’80s of child abuse issues in the state. With that awareness came the realization that there were few options for young boys of that particular age group who had been sexually or physically abused. The problem is still an issue today, Madland says. The group home, which contracts its beds out to the state Department of Human Services, is at capacity almost 100 percent of the time. Madland adds that as a result, young boys are ending up spending long periods of time in hospitals or bouncing around from one foster care situation to another. “If you’re six and you’ve spent three years in a psychiatric hospital, you’ve missed a big chunk


of your childhood which has already been really damaged by the fact that the people that should be taking care of you have hurt you,” Madland says. Regularly, the boys have lived at 16 other places before their long road took them to Genesis. Those places, whether from behavioral or other issues, simply did not work out, Madland explains. “I think what happens is the kids are abused so traumatically so early on that you don’t recover from that very

“They don't have to be ashamed of what happened to them because it's not their fault.” quickly, so a lot of people just aren’t prepared for that,” he says. It is perhaps this bumpy road that has prompted D to be concerned with holding himself accountable for his behavior. He says that he has been working with his therapist, one of which the boys see regularly in their treatment program at Genesis. “I’ve been learning about controlling my anger, seeing if I can have a home to live in,” he says. While he may be learning that his actions are in his control, what happened to him certainly was not, and that is something Keith Speers is adamant that the boys know. “I would like the boys to be

proud of themselves and know they can lift their head up high wherever they end up in life,” he says. “They don’t have to be ashamed of what happened to them because it’s not their fault.” Speers is one of 27 employees and works hands-on within Genesis’ 24-hour care system as a trauma rehabilitation specialist. He says that there are both great challenges and rewards in his job. One challenge, he explains, is the task of reshaping the children’s way of thinking. “Trying to get away from thinking that people want something from them at all times, because these boys, that’s what a lot of them think,” he says. “To know that you’re genuinely trying to help them, that you don’t want anything from them,” Speers says of his goal. Speers says the rewards to working at Genesis are many, but laughs when he says playing with the boys and getting to act like a big kid is one of them. And if anyone knows the importance of getting to act like a kid, it’s program coordinator Reggie Richardson. Richardson has been working with Genesis for the past 18 years and organizes the activities and outings for the boys. During free time the program institutes recreation opportunities, from going out to arcades, swimming, and going out to eat, in an effort to socialize the children and let them interact with other kids their own age. Richardson emphasizes the need to let the boys be kids again. “They’re just trying to figure out things and learn and make their way. They haven’t been taught a lot, so that’s our job to teach them and hopefully they’ll get

better,” he says. He adds that they are always in need of funds to be able to expand their outing options for the boys. Madland echoes this sentiment. “We’ve had a few hard years fundraisingwise,” he says and adds that they hope to do some renovations and eventually build a gymnasium for the kids. In addition to funds, they can always use help with other things. For example, they are still trying to clean up from the ice storm of last year, Madland says. With DHS funding 85 percent, that leaves the other necessary 15 percent of funds up to donations. And that work is very concentrated, says Madland, who explains that Genesis ideally likes to keep the boys in the program at least two years and then through DHS the boys will be able to find therapeutic foster homes or adoptive homes to go to. It is during this time that focusing on academics is important, he says. To do this, Genesis contracts with Edmond schools to provide two full-time teachers. “It’s not unusual for a boy to come here and make up

Genesis Project staff member plays with two young residents three years of school in one year, just by getting really excited about school. If it wasn’t for that, if he was just bouncing around from other places, he may not get excited about school,” Madland says. Time, he adds, is of the essence, in starting rehabilitation and academic focus at as early an age as possible. “Kids are really good, given structure, given therapy, given lots of nurturing and a predictable environment, kids can change.” And it is this change toward a better future that Genesis has instilled in D. He giggles and says he wants to be a “plunger,” meaning plumber, when he grows up, his amusement of the task stemming from his love for helping out around the house. A fundraising event is being planned for May 1 at the Chesapeake Boathouse. For more information on how you can help, go to 27



n Edmond lawyer is taking her career to another level, mixing her imagination with traces of reality. Since December, Shannon Forth-Davies, partner at Lester Loving & Davies, is also a published author. Action, mystery, suspense, a little comedy and a hint of romance are unfolding across Oklahoma City on the pages of Forth’s first book, “Hunting License.” “They always say you should write what you know about. I do know about practicing law and so some of what is in here relates to my experiences,” said Forth. She added that still a big part of the content is fiction. “It’s just fun and things I wanted to tell a story about.” Years ago, during a proceeding in a divorce case that a distant acquaintance worked on, the husband walked into the courtroom and shot everyone. “That was awful and the young lawyer really kind of stuck with me,” Forth said. “I’ve always wondered what kind of story (you would) make out of that.” She used the incident as the basis for her book’s storyline. The main character, Simms Mitchell, is also a lawyer. “She is tall with long black hair and her eyes are a gorgeous blue color. She is a strikingly beautiful woman,” explained Forth. Simms works for the FBI but after an undercover operation goes bad, she decides to move into the legal field. A sexual harassment case takes an unexpected turn and Simms tries to stop a murderer from killing more victims. “Over the course of the book Simms goes through a lot of things, she questions herself and challenges herself and at the end she is somebody different.” Simms lives on a ranch in north Oklahoma City, dines with colleagues at the Petroleum Club downtown and often drives up and down May Avenue. She enjoys spending time with her friends. Bobbie Joe is a typical Oklahoma girl with “big puffy hair” who “eats cheeseburgers and drives around in her beat-up old car.” Elizabeth is a psychiatrist. Jack is also a lawyer, who owns a ranch and likes

Shannon Forth-Davies with Corporation Commissioner Patrice Douglas bull riding. The Oklahoma landscape, the sunsets and the weather are widely featured in the book, immersing readers deeper into the narrative. “I really want people to have enjoyed reading it,” Forth said. Coming up with a title was a big challenge. “I finally settled on ‘Hunting License’ because pretty much everyone in this book is hunting someone else. And license was kind of fun, because I am a lawyer, it’s kind of a legal thing.” While working on the draft, Forth took several master’s-level creative writing classes at UCO. “It was very rewarding to sit in the classes and hear from the professors that I should keep going.” Growing up, Forth never thought she would be a lawyer or writer. As a student at Edmond Memorial High School, she participated in several school plays and took dancing classes. During her first years in college, Forth pursued an acting and fine arts degree. “I was thinking about going to New York and trying to make it as an actor or dancer, or something like that but I met my husband to be and I decided, I think it would be much nicer to get married and live here and pursue other things.”

“They always say you should write what you know about.”


continued on page 30

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continued from page 28 Forth took a First Amendment law class and really enjoyed it. A friend suggested she take the LSAT and she got accepted into law school. “Turned out I loved the law, and still do.” She admitted she hasn’t danced in years but remembered how one professor often joked about her contrasting interests. “He used to go, ‘Whoa, Ms. Forth, are you still dancing around that legal argument?’ And I go, ‘OK, that’s getting really old.’” Forth enjoys painting and some of her works are displayed at several homes and businesses. “I love seeing color on paper, it just makes me happy.” She also loves to drive her children to their various activities, because she can spend time with them. Forth’s resume also includes member of the Board of Directors of the Edmond Chamber of Commerce and Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Leadership Edmond Alumni Association. She is currently working on two new books. “Liquor License” will be the second book from a


Law Partners Shannon Forth-Davies and Andy Lester series of license-themed thrillers, featuring the same characters. “The Obituary Writer” is a story about a young woman who returns home from a big city to save her family’s newspaper. Forth plans to continue writing books and has started a publishing company.

However, she is keeping both of her jobs and all of her hobbies. “I just want it all,” she joked. “Hunting License” is available online and at local bookstores. For more information, go to



Before After G

lamorous dreams of becoming a race car driver or ballerina can fill the minds of children at a young age. Those aspirations may dwindle with time or become a determination that drives them towards those dreams. However for some children, their desitny becomes one they thought they’d never pursue, but once fulfilled becomes an unexpected ‘dream come true.’ Such is the case with Robin Obert whose upbringing in the restaurant industry eventually led her to Platt College and ultimately to her dream job as executive chef for Governor Mary Fallin. As a child, Obert’s family owned and operated several restaurants as well as the first man-made water park, Big Surf, in Tempe, Arizona. As an adult, Obert is thankful for her childhood. “My dad had this incredibly strong work ethic. Summers, at just 12 years old, he’d get us out of bed early to get the park ready. He’d say, ‘Don’t ever expect your employees to do something, you’re not willing to do.’ That’s always stuck with me. There’s nothing I’m not willing to do because he was willing.” With this strong work ethic and perseverance, Obert was driven to succeed in anything except follow in the family business. “I swore I’d rather starve than work in the restaurant business because I was always working,” laughed Obert. “Yet, that’s how I put myself through college.” After attending colleges in Colorado and San Diego, circumstances brought Obert to Oklahoma where the dream


by Melanie Phillips Clemens

began to unfold. “When I moved to OKC I saw the ads for Platt College and was intrigued. After touring the facility, I was impressed with what they had to offer. Even though I’d always held parties at my house for 40-50 people, it wasn’t until after visiting the college that I gave in to what I knew I was called to do,” said Obert. Obert’s cooking education began when she was a child, but Platt College gave her the classical techniques and refreshed the skills that helped her become the chef she is today. “I’ll never forget when we’d have catering events at our water park and have 3500 people a day. My dad handed me a cleaver and gave me cases of whole chickens to cut up,” laughed Obert. “In hindsight, I think I’d never give my 12-year-old a cleaver, but I never hurt myself because he taught me how to hold it. It’s surreal, but it’s who I am.” After graduating from Platt College in 2005, Obert was asked to open and develop Café Broccato, Platt College’s pastry school in Moore. After a year as general manager and executive chef at Café Broccato, Obert became an instructor at Platt’s north campus. During her fourth year, Obert was offered the position as executive chef to Governor Fallin. “I received an email stating the governor was looking for a chef, asking if I was interested. I initially told them I wasn’t because I loved my job. But then, I emailed them back stating that I‘d meet with them,” Obert recalled. Obert began

her position as executive chef in the governor’s mansion on November 2 of 2011 and according to Obert, “It’s been absolutely incredible.” As an executive chef, Obert brings the same dedication and work ethic that her father instilled in her so many years ago. “Cooking is my passion, it’s what I live for. It’s all about people and how you can step up to the plate and give back. If you’re not living your passion, it’s hard to enjoy what you’re doing. I’ve got the absolute best job in the world and I owe much of that to my education at Platt College.” Platt College offers the only ACF Accredited Culinary College in the state of Oklahoma. Aside from Culinary and Pastry Arts, the college also offers varying diploma and degree programs in Allied Health and Nursing.

Licensed by OBPVS

North: 749-2433 Central: 946-7799 Moore: 912-3260 31

LITTLE SHOP, BIG MISSION by Christy Shuler EARC Donation Center & Thrift Store at 100 E. 3rd in Edmond


ust a little thrift shop at Third and Littler; that’s what some might see when driving past the EARC store. What they probably don’t see, however, is the incredible vision behind it. Just outside the shop is a young man unloading the truck, which is quite full. They have just made their run for the day. The man hoists a large TV from the back of the truck and carries it into the store, a huge grin spread across his face. As he takes it inside, another young man happily greets customers from behind the counter. Eventually, the proceeds from this television, along with the rest of the items in the store, will help fund their paychecks along with those of other developmentally challenged individuals like them. According to a study done by the Oklahoma Developmental Disabilities Council, there are more than 63,000 developmentally disabled persons in the state. There are 14,602 currently receiving funds. EARC, or Employment and Residential Centers, currently employs roughly 130 client and staff individuals in Edmond. They hope to keep increasing that number. There weren’t always such opportunities for people with special needs. In 1970, when EARC opened their first thrift store in Edmond, their goal

was to raise public awareness of developmental disabilities and provide opportunities for disabled adults, particularly employment within their store. However, there was no funding for such a project and the agency relied solely on volunteers and donations to achieve their goal. Today, EARC, a United Way partner agency, operates three thrift shops, two living centers, and provides assisted living services as well as in-home support to their clients. In addition, they run the Trails Sheltered Workshop which gives special-needs individuals work training through subcontracted jobs. Working alongside a supervisor or job coach, EARC allows these individuals to work directly with the public in a number of various positions both in and outside the thrift stores. “Many people in Edmond know about [our] thrift stores, but they don’t know what we do,” says executive director Bonnie Wells. “It’s not just a thrift store, [we are] creating jobs and opportunities for our clients.” However, the experience they give to their clients is not just about a paycheck. While many individuals with developmental disabilities are given government subsidies, they still have a need to prove themselves by being a part of something, explains Wells. Simply having the means to survive does not

EARC allows special needs individuals to work directly with the public.


replace feelings of self-worth. “Being productive and being in a real job where you feel good about what you’re doing is what we’re trying to do with our clients” she said. And while some special-needs adults do find work outside of their agency, these individuals often face trouble with the social aspects of their employment. Communicating with their supervisors and co-workers and fitting in can be more difficult than simply learning a routine task. EARC provides additional support in these areas so that their employees feel that they are an essential part of a team. Last year’s annual report by the Oklahoma Department of Human Services states that in Oklahoma County, 2,204 developmentally disabled are receiving state funds. However, 1,590 remain on a waiting list. “There are a lot of people with service needs out there,” explains Wells. The means to provide that support, however, lies mostly in the hands of the public. Donations are what drive EARC and their mission to success. Donated items in good condition are resold in the stores and the money is used to pay employees as well as fund work projects, transportation and housing services. Fewer donations mean fewer jobs for the coaches as well as clients and less money to house and transport these individuals. Thinking about donating but afraid your ’90s T-shirt won’t sell? Donate anyway. EARC accepts 100

percent of all donations and non-sellable items are placed into salvage where they are recycled and sold. With two shops in Edmond and one in Guthrie, there are even more opportunities to stop by. In addition, EARC offers pickup services for items too large or heavy to be brought to the donation center. And receipts are available for tax deductions. As a small local agency, EARC prides itself on being an Edmond facility through and through. After all, the work they are doing is not just for their clients, but for the community. In essence, the more jobs they create, the more money is being circulated into Edmond. And they want to continue serving Edmond by building more job opportunities for its residents. That is, if folks keep visiting and donating to its thrift stores. “Edmond has always been a very generous community,� said Wells. Thrift stores are located at 1408 E. Oklahoma Ave. in Guthrie, 92 E. 15th in Edmond, with the donation center at 100 E. Third in Edmond. For more information, go to For donation pickups, call 285-7658. 33

(Left to Right) Resident Carl Hill, Jeff Shoemake, Gene Shoemake, Resident Marty McCharen & Board Member Earl Madison

COMMUNITY AT ITS BEST by Melanie Phillips Clemens


klahoma, known for being friendlier than your average state, is also known for its extreme weather. In the aftermath of an Oklahoma storm, damaged roofs are often the result. Although Gene Shoemake, of Premiere Roofing, and his team have more than 16 years experience re-roofing over 2,200 Oklahoma homes, nothing could have prepared him for what happened in the summer of 2011. While Shoemake was doing minor repair on properties in Edmond’s Vintage Garden Homes Phase I, a tornado went across the northwest side of OKC causing further damage. “People from Quail Creek and Nichols Hills were calling us to come fix their roofs. But Vintage Garden Homes required some emergency repairs and we needed ‘all hands on deck‘ to attend to them. The temptation was to forego all repair work and concentrate on nothing other than contracting with homeowners to replace entire roofs, but I couldn‘t do that. I had promised to do the small emergency

repairs at Vintage Garden Homes, and that promise had to be honored. The large roof replacements had to wait,” said Shoemake. Later, Shoemake was asked by the Vintage Garden Homeowner’s Association to meet with their senior insurance adjuster and that began the journey Shoemake will never forget. “The adjuster started chalking up the roofs that had hail damage when she asked if I was going to help her. Out of respect for her and deference to her and the company, I wasn’t marking anything until I knew what she determined to be hail damage. She appreciated that courtesy,” said Shoemake, “and approved all 41 duplexes for full roof replacement.” The homeowner’s association voted unanimously for Shoemake and Premiere Roofing to re-roof all 41 properties, ensuring accountability if problems arose afterwards. Shoemake and his team delivered exactly what they are known for, excellence and timeliness, at a fair price. “My son, Jeff and I supervised every

Nothing could have prepared him for the summer of 2011.


job and coordinated to make sure one of us was always there. Jeff helped maintain goodwill with the residents and as a vital part of the team, I couldn’t have done it without him,” said Shoemake. Working from 7 a.m. to dark, six days a week, the team finished the project two weeks early. “The association was so pleased with our work, how we treated the homeowners, our degree of professionalism and clean up that they held a surprise party for us to show their appreciation. When I opened the door they started singing, ‘For He’s A Jolly Good Fellow.’ When Jeff walked in later, they did it all over again for him. I’ve never been treated with such incredible kindness,” said Shoemake. “It was a privilege to be honored with a project of this magnitude, especially in a beautiful neighborhood with so many wonderful people who went out of their way to be friendly and helpful. Vintage Garden Homes is an exceptional community here in Edmond. We are grateful that they favored us with their business,” said Shoemake. For more, visit or call 478-2717. Located at 11th and Broadway (By Appointment Only) License number # 0374

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by Nathan Winfrey


eddy Roosevelt. Atticus Finch. Ron Swanson. These men embody the kind of masculinity that Brett McKay and his wife, Kate, try to examine with, a blog dedicated to uncovering the lost art of being a man. Brett grew up in Edmond and graduated from Edmond North High School in 2001. He started the blog in January 2008 while attending law school at the University of Tulsa. Reading headlines in men’s magazines, he noticed that they all offered the same things: tips on how to get six-pack abs and how to pick up women, and they pushed the idea that real men buy $500 suits. They were selling a fantasy

Brett & Kate McKay


lifestyle, so Brett decided to start the men’s magazine he always wanted to read. “Word started spreading and here we are four years later with two books and a really big following on the ’net,” he says. Kate started helping with the site when it got too big for one person to handle. She has a bachelor’s degree in history and a master’s degree in religion. “Her history background helps out quite a bit. We talk a lot about the historical aspects of masculinity in America,” he explains. She also was a history professor at Tulsa Community College before they started doing the site full-time. In a typical week, they publish articles Sunday through Wednesday, and they work together on everything they write. They spend a lot of time looking for images in antiques stores, public domain sites and old magazines. They have written more than 1,000 articles, the website has more than 125,000 daily subscribers and the site enjoys 7,000,000 page views per month. Running “The Art of Manliness” has become a full-time job for the couple. But, Brett and Kate don’t claim to be experts on masculinity. “I’m learning right along with these guys,” Brett says. “Whenever I write something, I try to live it.” Brett wrote an article on how to change the oil in a car, but he had never done that before so he had to do it. They write a lot of articles on being a better husband or a better father. “You can’t help but

be changed by that,” he says. Sometimes Kate holds it over his head. If he forgets to hold a door for her, she might remind him that he just wrote an article about that. “It’s helping me become a better man, I think,” says Brett. “I have a lot to learn. There’s so much out there for me that I could do to improve my life, it’s kind of humbling and it’s kind of daunting, too, but you just take it one day at a time.” The site’s monthly podcast offers interviews with people who may have insights on masculinity in America today or people who have improved themselves. Past guests have included a historian on freemasonry, a counselor, fitness experts and Nick Offerman, an actor famous for his role as Ron Swanson on NBC’s “Parks and Recreation.” “I love that character,” Brett says of the mustachioed, selfreliant caricature of masculinity. “It’s one of the best characters that television has put out in a while.” In real life, Offerman also is a professional woodworker, so Brett interviewed him on the role of Swanson and his work as a craftsman. Brett says TV characters like Swanson are a good sign of where this nation’s perception of masculinity is headed. “You see it all over the place,” he points out, in products made for men, the revival of Old Spice deodorant, sites like his that are starting to pop up that encourage men to be better at being men and media that revive aspects of masculinity and spin it into something new.

“Instead of...being men of action, we sit around and passively consume entertainment.” is polished with a vintage aesthetic filled with old photos and drawings of men with pomade-slicked hair and handlebar moustaches. “I’m sort of a nostalgic guy, and whenever I think of manly men I think of men like my grandfather and men of that generation.” Teddy Roosevelt is one of Brett’s personal heroes. He thinks the former U.S. president possessed many of the attributes that exemplify masculinity, like the idea of a strenuous life, of being a renaissance man — an outdoorsman but also an intellectual. Atticus Finch from the classic novel “To Kill a Mockingbird” is another example. Finch is compassionate, very strong and stands up for what’s right and what he believes in. Brett says the biggest factor in society that is hurting men is consumer culture. “It makes us so passive,” he explains. “Instead of going out there and creating things and being men of action, we sit around and passively consume entertainment.” Brett decries the lifestyle of excessive TV-watching, video games, and Web-surfing. He cites that, anthropologically, a mark of manhood is when a person starts to produce more than they consume. Brett thinks a lot of men, particularly in their 20s, aren’t doing that. “I think that men are looking for something more out there among all the content that’s made for men,” he says. “A lot of young men, particularly in their 20s, are trying to figure out what it means to be a man.” Brett says there aren’t many great resources out there, and that people are tired of the superficiality of a lot of it, so they keep coming back to his site. “Without fail, for the past four years, we’ve doubled our traffic every year,” he states. “We’re on track for doubling it again this year.” He says one of the keys to a successful blog is consistency. “You can’t just sort of write every now and then,” he warns. “Write great content. Don’t write about what your cat did that day. You want to be as useful as possible to people.” As for gaining traffic, Brett suggests, start with your friends and family and find a website or blog that’s a little bigger but in the same niche as yours and write a guest post for them so that you can expose your own blog to new readers who might enjoy your content as well. Find them on Facebook or submit an article to “The Art of Manliness,” by emailing 37



OUTLOOK by Krystal Harlow

Name: Taylor Hukill, Athlete Tell us about yourself. What sports do you like to play? Well, I'm in 4th grade at Westfield Elementary in Edmond. I've been competing in adaptive track & field for four years and wheelchair basketball for two years. My mom and dad are Ryan and Brooke Hukill and I'm one of five kids. We're a family full of athletes. I just play sports a little differently. Can you tell us why you're in a wheelchair? This is the way that God made me...I was born with Spina Bifida, which keeps me from walking but doesn’t keep me from running you over with my wheels, so watch out cause I’m fast! How did you get started in Wheelchair Basketball and how long have you been playing? I was at a car show and a family spotted me in my wheelchair. They have a son in a wheelchair so they came over and just started telling us about the GODSA organization. That’s when I started competing in track & field. And two years ago, I started playing basketball. What is GODSA? The Greater Oklahoma Disability Sports Association exists to develop, sponsor and promote recreational and competitive athletic opportunities for individuals with physical challenges. You can also visit to learn more. Are these wheelchairs modified for sports? Yes, most adaptive sports require a unique chair designed specifically for that sport, which makes for a packed garage at home. My parents tease me that I need my own garage. We currently have a field chair, a track chair, a basketball chair and a special bike called an AmTryke, so I can ride bikes with my brothers and friends. Then, of course, I have my everyday chair. Are there other wheelchair basketball teams in the metro to play? No, so far, we’re the only team here, so we travel to surrounding states to play other teams in our division. We currently have qualified for Nationals, so we’re all very excited about going to Colorado Springs in March! Any short or long term goals? Right now I'm working towards my first one mile race and then a 5k with my mom and sister. One day I'd like to get a college scholarship to play basketball. What advice do you have for other young athletes? No matter what anyone tells you, if you want to do something, find a way!

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Profile for Outlook Magazine

Edmond Outlook March 2012  

he Edmond Outlook is Edmond, Oklahoma's monthly community magazine. Since 2005, we've published hundreds of stories about Edmond residents,...

Edmond Outlook March 2012  

he Edmond Outlook is Edmond, Oklahoma's monthly community magazine. Since 2005, we've published hundreds of stories about Edmond residents,...

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