Tag Archive | john campbell

Little Girls With Big Dreams

You can tell a lot about a person by scrolling through their Facebook feed. Mine is filled with pics of my kids, a shout out for Autism Awareness, a screen grab about baseball, and a #ThrowbackThursday pic to my bff and fellow TV-retiree John Campbell. I’m a woman who loves her babies, promoting causes close to my heart, I am obsessed with baseball and I LOVE looking back at memories that still make me laugh.

Yes, I get that social media can be dangerous and scary.. but it can also be inspiring and encouraging. Like it or not, it’s something our current generation has grown up with and the question is not whether or not they’ll use it, it’s HOW can we ensure they use to wisely and positively.

Example: a teenager in Hastings is already painting a beautiful portrait of herself through snapshots and posts. No questionable images or shake-your-head moments.. but moments showcasing her achievements, service, and friends. She is a young woman who, for years, has been looking up to Nebraska’s best and brightest, who all happened to wear crowns.

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That’s Olivia Terwey on the left. When this photo was taken, she was in the 3rd grade, and Little Sister to Miss Northwest Megan Dimmitt at the 2013 Miss Nebraska Pageant.

“[Megan] is my role model,” Olivia told me recently. “She’s such a ray of sunshine no matter how stormy the weather. She’s genuine and hard working. She’s generous and kind. She’s successful and works so hard for what she wants. I want to be just like her.”

Megan may be the Queen of Olivia’s heart, but she’s got a full court.

Olivia’s Facebook albums are filled with photos of Miss Nebraska titleholders, all of whom have inspired her in different ways over the years, as a little girl who grew up following the program.

“I attended my first pageant at 5 months old and my mom says I was so in awe of Brittany Jeffers. (Still am!)!!” said Olivia. “When I was in 3rd grade, I was Megan’s Little Sister, and she is still the best Big! The year before that, my cousin was a Little Sister. Mariah Cook was my aunt’s ‘host daughter’, and my cousin was her Little Sister and she won! Lianna Prill was also my aunt’s ‘host daughter’. I’ve just been so inspired by such phenomenal women who I’ve wanted to emulate my entire life! I used to say to my mom, ‘when I’m big enough to wear a crown and a sash, I can’t wait to wear it to Applebee’s!'”

Now, it’s Olivia’s turn.

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Photo courtesy Jenn Cady Photography

In February, this first year she was eligible to compete, Olivia was crowned Miss Sandhills Outstanding Teen. (“I’m the baby of MNOT this year!”) No word if there was a trip to Applebee’s after, but there has been plenty of excitement – and service, just like the role models who came before her.

“Service is definitely the most important to me!” said Olivia. “It’s about giving. My mom always shares the quote, ‘for it is in giving we receive,’ and I believe that is so true. Be the change you wish to see in the world. I get so much more out of giving than the ones I’m helping. Serving others puts life in perspective, it keeps you thankful!”

 

 

“[My platform is] Get Up and Dance, providing free dance classes to under-privileged youth,” said Olivia. “My mom teaches at a school that’s 93% poverty. It made me so sad to know some of her kids could barely afford shoes, let alone extras like dance. Dance is my passion! It helps me not only stay in shape, but it’s my outlet. I doesn’t matter what I feel, I can dance it out and leave it all on the floor. I want all kids to have the opportunities I have been so fortunate enough to experience. Whether it’s teaching a class every Friday afternoon at Lincoln Elementary, library, or visiting a preschool, I love watching their faces light up when they begin to dance and the excitement we all feel as they improve. It’s incredible.”

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Olivia hopes to someday have a career in dance, and notes the poise, confidence, and public speaking skills she’s already improving by being a Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen titleholder. She’ll compete for the state title in just two weeks, representing Hastings Middle School in Omaha. She’ll be partnered with a Princess, just like the Little Sister program she was once a part of.

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“The best part is seeing a little girl’s face light up when she sees you,” said Olivia. “I had a little cutie pie at an event hug me goodbye and say ‘have fun in your castle!’ It was so precious.”

Regardless of the outcome, Olivia’s goals are clear… she wants to have the same impact that all of her heroes had on her, creating a new generation of little girls who feel special and empowered to take on the world.

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“I want to be the Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen that left a legacy of being warm and friendly,” said Olivia. “I want to inspire others to get involved in community service and spread kindness! These are women who are strong and successful, all working toward the greater good of our state and country.”

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To follow Miss Sandhills’ Outstanding Teen Olivia Terwey on Facebook, click here.

For more information about the Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen program or to become a contestant, CLICK HERE to follow the organization on Facebook, or CLICK HERE to follow the organization on Twitter. You can also contact Director Heather Edwards at heatheraloseke@gmail.com or Director Kali Tripp at KaliNicoleTV@gmail.com.

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The Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen Competition takes place April 28 in North Omaha, Nebraska.

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PREVIOUS.. Miss Twin Rivers’ Outstanding Teen Rachel Young

NEXT.. Miss Omaha’s Outstanding Teen Phoenix Stanford

#MonarchsForLife

A few posts ago.. I mentioned my letter jacket.  I know that you, my wonderful, loyal readers.. have been dying for another look ever since.

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BAM!! And this time, you get the added bonus of seeing KETV’s Rob McCartney in HIS letter jacket, too!  (Here’s a secret.. the embroidered name on his is ‘Robby’.  It’s pretty fabulous.)

WE ARE PROUD MONARCHS, FOLKS!  Rob and I both went to Papillion-La Vista High School, along with KETV alums Adrian Whitsett, John Campbell and Brittany Jones-Cooper.  For awhile, our News Director Rose Ann Shannon joked that if you weren’t from Papillion, you weren’t going to get hired at KETV!

My family moved to Papio when I was five years old.  I was a proud Carriage Hill Cougar all seven years of elementary school, went to Papillion Junior High during construction of the second story, and graduated from PLHS before there was a second high school.

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I love this town.  I love working in an area that includes the place I grew up.  I love that Rob and I can still take part in events, like the Papillion-La Vista Schools Foundation Gala above, and reconnect with the same friends, teachers, and colleagues we’ve known for years.  (Want a big laugh?  CLICK HERE to watch our tribute to Rob on his 20th Anniversary at KETV, with the help from the people of Papillion!)

There’s no Miss Papillion or Miss Sarpy County (yet!), so one of our most impressive butterflies, Jenni Wahonick, recently flew west to represent our city and a powerful message at the 2016 Miss Nebraska pageant.

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Photo courtesy Jenn Cady Photography

“Someone told me to surround myself with people who I aspire to be,” Jenni told me recently.  “The women I have gotten to know because of Miss Nebraska are so kind-hearted, intelligent, and passionate, and I am a better person for knowing each of them.”

Jenni says she inititally got involved with the pageant as a teenager because it sounded like fun.  The relationships she made, and scholarship money she brought home, kept her coming back for more.

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Jenni, presenting at the University of Central Missouri’s undergraduate scholars symposium

“It’s helped me pay for my college education,” said Jenni, a senior at the University of Central Missouri.  She’s majoring in Special Education for Severe Developmental Disabilities to help and empower people she’s been helping for nearly a decade.

“I have worked closely with the special needs population for the past nine years,” said Jenni.  ‘During my time at UCM I have worked at a group home for three years and spent a winter at a camp for people with disabilities.  I have also developed and taught dance class geared towards the special needs community at the community center.  I’ve been a regional recruit team member for Missouri Miss Amazing, and help organize and spread the word for End The Word campaigns on campus.”

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Crowned Miss Twin Rivers 2016 in February, Jenni took her advocacy one step further, calling her personal platform of service ‘Celebrating Abilities in the Differently Abled.’

“Whether it was in a group home, as a classroom aide, or at a camp, I have found that there is an emphasis on what a person with a disability cannot do,” said Jenni.  “However, I’ve found it to be more productive to instead focus on their strengths.  Everyone has abilities and everyone has disabilities, but isn’t it just easier to appreciate a person for who they are?”

For Jenni, these efforts are all part of a natural desire to serve others.  Over the last four years, she’s volunteered for more than 40 different organizations.  Jenni is also the Philanthropy Chair in her sorority, Alpha Sigma Alpha, and was recently nominated for the Greek Leader of the Year award.

“I love to volunteer because of the poeple and opportunities it exposes me to,” said Jenni.  “Every time I volunteer for an organization, I learn something new and grow as a person.   I love going to visit my friend at the veteran’s home and delivering meals on wheels.”

Jenni does all of this in addition to her other activities; she holds numerous leadership positions in the Greek system at UCM, she’s a member of Rho Lambda and Order of Omega (Greek Honor’s fraternities), she’s in the Honor’s College, she’s modelled for Kansas City Fashion Week, and she works as a princess character at the Omaha Children’s Museum.

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“I especially love my princess job because I am able to make connections so quickly with the children who visit me at the museum,” said Jenni.  “It’s a great teaching tool because children generally want to listen to what you have to say when you’re wearing a poofy dress.”

Ironically, the same often holds true with a crown and sash.

 Jenni has networked across the UCM campus to draw support and raise money for her mission, for Children’s Miracle Network, and for the Miss Nebraska pageant.  She’s also drawing upon her own strengths, using her training as a Dance minor to choreograph UCM’s main stage dance concert and to earn her certification as an Autism Movement Therapy Instructor in Los Angeles.

“I truly value the relationships I make and the opportunities I am given,” said Jenni.  “I’m so blessed to have so many experiences, and I like to step out of my comfort zone so I can really grow as a person.  After two of my sorority sisters passed away in a car accident my sophomore year, I haven’t taken for granted the people in my life.  I think people are put in your life for a reason and everyone has something valuable they can teach you.”

In one month, Jenni Wahonick hopes to do just that, even using the talent competition not to showcase dance (which she’s trained in), but to educate the audience about teachers, the profession she plans to pursue.

“My talent is reading slam poetry,” said Jenni.  “The poem I read is ‘What Teachers Make’ by Taylor Mali.  I feel powerful performing it, and I love to see how the audience will react to it.  Most people are close to someone who is a teacher, so it is easy to relate to.”

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 Before you jump to any conclusions about Jenni’s talent, or the Miss American Organization in general, this young woman notes how her confidence for interviews and speaking in front of a crowd has grown because of her involvement in this system.

“Competing in a pageant like Miss Nebraska is not easy to do.  There is a lot of preparation that goes into each phase of competition,” said Jenni.  “Because of my interview preparation, not only am I more comfortable speaking under pressure, but I am also more educated and concerned about what is going on in the world.  Because of the swimsuit competition, I have learned to love my body and treat it like a temple.  I am constantly striving to be the best version of myself.  Each phase of competition makes me a better person, and my experience holding a title has made me view myself as a leader and role model in my community.”

OUR community, says this blog author and Jenni’s fellow Papio native.  I hope to see our hometown raise up and support ANY young person working hard and finding success, and especially so in this case. The symbol of our city is the Monarch, and we may soon have real royalty in Papillion.. Miss Nebraska 2016.

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Photo courtesy JKG Photography Omaha

“Miss Nebraska is my dream job becasue making connections with people is my very favorite thing to do,” said Jenni.  “Whether I win Miss Nebraska or not, I will continue to make philanthropy and service a huge part of my life and view myself as a role model in the community.  My platform is more than just a platform to me, it is what I have shaped my entire life around.  However, with the title of Miss Nebraska I will be given more credibility to really take these things to a new level.  As Miss Nebraska, I would continue to work every single day to share my message with anyone who would hear it.”

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CLICK HERE to follow Miss Twin Rivers 2016 Jenni Wahonick on Facebook, where you can also message her about appearances and events.

For more information about the Miss Twin Rivers/Miss Sandhills Pageant, contact Directors Barb Smith or Becky Smith-Wagner by phone at 308-532-4720 or by email at wearhousedance@hotmail.com.

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The 2016 Miss Nebraska Scholarship Pageant takes place June 8-11 in North Platte, Nebraska.  Learn more on THEIR WEBSITE, FACEBOOK PAGE, or follow ON TWITTER and ON INSTAGRAM.

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PREVIOUS.. Miss Panhandle’s Outstanding Teen 2016 Shaniah Freeseman!

NEXT.. Miss Chadron’s Outstanding Teen 2016 Emma Wilkinson!

To read more about this year’s contestants, or the Miss Nebraska/Miss Nebraska’s OT classes of 2015 & 2014, click the THERE SHE IS link at the top of the page!

Talking To The Walls

I had four words listed on the back of my high school letter jacket.

DRAMA CHOIR SPEECH ACADEMICS

I had friends who shook their heads and cried NERD.  They were probably right.. I mean, who does that!?!  But you know what? I was PROUD.. and I’m still proud today.

<Pardon me while I climb onto my high horse.>

I’m a 3-time high school state champion in Nebraska with two individual titles in Persuasive Speaking and a team title for Mock Trial.

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My weekends from October to May were spent like this.. waiting for food with my team at any local Valentino’s or Village Inn we could find after a long day of competition.  We worked for weeks prior fine tuning our speeches, our interpretations of plays and poetry, and our research and knowledge of current events.  I think those days served us pretty well.. the two people in this picture are still my friends almost 20 years later.  Cassie is a respected pharmacist, wife and mom on the east coast, John was my fellow KETV reporter and meteorologist before joining the private sector and raising three boys (one a foster kiddo) with his wife in Texas.  We ALL use public speaking in our jobs, and we are all better in our careers and beyond because of those long days and quick years at speech tournaments. To those who didn’t compete with us,  we were likely just the weirdos they saw talking to walls.  To everyone in our circle, the more you practiced to that audience of brick, the more often you’d see your name on those ‘finals’ lists, and the more trophies you brought home at the end of each weekend.

Times may have changed since my high school years (if you need proof, look at my hair again..) but that unspoken thread connecting speech kids is still strong.  Now though, as I’ve learned from Scottsbluff High School’s Ashlynn Haun, we’re called ‘speechletes’.

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Photo courtesy Jenn Cady Photography

“I am a Varsity memeber of the SHS Speech team and love every minute of it!’ Ashlynn told me recently.  “It has helped develop my speaking skills and meeting other speechletes is a blast!’

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Ashlynn was a contender and winner at several high school meets this season, making district finals in two separate events.  That alone is impressive, let alone considering Ashlynn was also busy with golf, 4-H, dance and her school’s musical (click here to listen to Ashlynn sing!)

“My family, friends and the members of my community all play important roles in my life,” said Ashlynn.  “My family has always supported me through all of my endeavors.  My friends and community members help each other in so many unknown ways, it truly amazes me.  These people are important to me because they are uplifting and kind, and I hope they view me in the same light.”

That devotion to her community and those in it led Ashlynn to several service projects, often with 4-H Junior Leaders.  She wanted to become more involved and meet more people.. and found the Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen program.  Ashlynn was crowned Miss Gering’s Outstanding Teen last fall.

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“By being involved in the program I have been able to improve my leadership and interview skills,” said Ashlynn.  “The Miss America Organization is a wonderful scholarship program for young women everywhere.  This experience isn’t about winning or losing, it’s about meeting interesting new people and giving back to our communities.”

Ashlynn does that both through philanthropy and emotion.  She often gives back through dance, sharing her gift with audiences as both Miss Gering’s OT and as a teaching assistant at Tabor Dance Academy.

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“I LOVE being on stage!” said Ashlynn.  “Performing gives me such a thrill and has always been fairly easy for me.  I love being able to entertain others while doing something I’m passionate about.”

Ashlynn is also focused on her personal platform, ‘We Are All Survivors’, advocating for cancer survivors and their families.

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Ashlynn on Facebook: ‘Had a blast talking about my platform and participating in the Boxer Rebellion 5K today!😊This great event brings awareness to colon cancer and raises money for Festival of Hope.’

“Almost everyone knows someone affected by cancer in some way, whether it be a family member, a friend, or a friend’s family member,” said Ashlynn.  “My platform is centered around supporting not only the patient, but also those who care for them.  I know personally that seeing someone you love hurt and struggle is terrible.  Often people don’t know how they can help, so I want to spread creative ways that will be most beneficial to these families.”

Here’s a young lady who not only has big ideas, she’s using her words and abilities to bring those visions to life.  She also admires those same traits; when I asked her who her role model is, she didn’t name a celebrity or high-profile stranger.

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“Someone who is a role model for me is my fellow dancer, speechlete and schoolmate Emily Ostdiek,” said Ashlynn.  “She inspires me because she is extremely kind, talented and is always smiling.”

THAT inspires me.

Speech kids RULE.  Speech kids who are also pageant girls are AWESOME.  These women aren’t just talking to walls or waving manicured hands, they are promoting causes and showing everyone around them the power of grace, intelligence and positivity.  Ashlynn Haun wants to represent all of that.. along with her school, her hometown, and speech kids everywhere.

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“I should be Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen because I have pride in my community, county and state,” said Ashlynn.  “I would use my leadership, desire to serve others, and poise to represent them in a very positive light.  I would also take the opportunity to support cancer patients and their families in a more public format to bring awareness to my platform.  I love being part of and promoting the Miss America Organization and would enjoy becoming a bigger part of it.”

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CLICK HERE to follow Miss Gering’s Outstanding Teen 2016 Ashlynn Haun on Facebook.  You can also contact Ashlynn for appearances and events by emailing ashlynnhaun@gmail.com.

For more information about the Miss Gering/Miss Western Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen Pageant, visit THEIR FACEBOOK PAGE.  For information on becoming a contestant, contact Director Kyla Ansley at 308-631-0938 or by email at kyla_ansley@hotmail.com.  You can also email thirtyone.hayes@yahoo.com.

For more information on becoming a Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen contestant, contact Director Heather Edwards at heatheraloseke@gmail.com or Director Kali Tripp at kalinicoletv@gmail.com.

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The 2016 Miss Nebraska Scholarship Pageant takes place June 8-11 in North Platte, Nebraska.  Learn more on THEIR WEBSITE, FACEBOOK PAGE, or follow ON TWITTER and ON INSTAGRAM.

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PREVIOUS.. Miss Nebraska State Fair 2016 Payton Merritt!

NEXT.. Miss Gering 2016 LaRissa McKean!

To read more about this year’s contestants, or the Miss Nebraska/Miss Nebraska’s OT classes of 2015 & 2014, click the THERE SHE IS link at the top of the page!

Thank You, Kung Fu

Everything happens for a reason.

A relationship falls apart, and your heart breaks.  Then you find that one person you are truly meant to be with.

You don’t get that job you worked so hard for and had your heart set on.  Then an opportunity develops you hadn’t even envisioned as a possibility.

While trying to make people laugh at an event, you perform your best kung fu move, hit your head, go to the hospital, and learn you have inoperable cancer.

Wait.. WHAT?

That is just the BEGINNING of the story for my friend, David Wenzel.  THAT moment, a kung fu kick, led to his diagnosis.. and a roller coaster of life changing events including divorce, unplanned pregnancy, and love by accident (is there any better kind?).  His story is the stuff Hollywood is made of, and I’m so very honored he’s letting me share some of it here.

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David and I both went to high school at Papillion-La Vista (go Monarchs!).  He was one of those rare Jack-Of-All-Trades, involved in drama, speech, mock trial and band.. but also ran cross country, played golf and baseball, and was friends with EVERYBODY.  We didn’t have a ‘class clown’ award for our senior class, but David was THAT guy who was forever the center of attention and could always make people laugh.

ELECTION

Our junior year, David’s ‘status’ skyrocketed, when he was cast in Alexander Payne’s film Election, shot at our high school in 1997.  David got his own trailer, made the final cut that hit theaters and I think still gets royalty checks for like $10 from time to time.  (His ‘thumbs up’ scene with Reese Witherspoon still cracks me up!)

While many of us chose Creighton, UNO or UNL for college, David chose Cedarville University in Ohio, a school known as a top Midwest Christian school.  Faith was always important to David (he grew up in Omaha’s Christ Community Church.)  We’d all hang out together from time to time when he came back to Nebraska, but as you often do, many of us lost touch.  He got married, moved to Michigan, and life went on.

Years later, I was working with another Papio alum (and friend!) John Campbell here at KETV.  John asked, ‘have you heard about David?  He has a brain tumor.’

SHOCK.  I was engaged to my husband at the time, planning our wedding and life together, and the idea of being faced with cancer, faced with DEATH, was mind-boggling to me and terrifying.

That was NOTHING compared to what David was going through six years ago, especially, how his diagnosis came about.

“I attended an Experts Conference in San Francisco,” David told me recently.  “The conference instructed us to start every conversation with ‘what are you an expert in?’  Since I was actually an expert in training and working with other experts, my answer was quite confusing.  I gave up and started telling people I was a Kung Fu expert.  Late one night after hearing my response, a guy wanted to start a fake kung fu battle with me in the hotel lobby.  Never one to turn down an opportunity for a good laugh, I took him up on it.  He delivered a fake roundhouse kick to the head.  I quickly turned as though he hit me and struck my head on a concrete pillar.  I turned back around to laugh it off but realized I couldn’t speak.  It was my first seizure.”

David tried to shrug off what had happened, but the next morning on the final day of the conference, he suffered another seizure, much worse than the first.

“I fell to the ground shaking, then passed out,” describes David.  “I woke up as I was being loaded into the ambulance; I remember joking with the nurses and hospital staff, even tweeting about this entire crazy scenario!  After three to four scans, a doctor came into my room and told me I was diagnosed with a Grade II Oligoastrocytoma, a terminal and inoperable brain tumor.  I stopped breathing.  I remember thinking they had delivered this news to the wrong person.  I was in remarkable shape, never broke a bone, never even had a cavity.  And this (somewhat horrible) thought crossed my mind: this doesn’t happen to people like me.”

The doctor left.  A nurse sat down with David and held his hand as he cried.  For hours, he was alone, trying to process what was happening.

“I remember trying to truly ‘understand’ the idea that everything, forever, would be different,” said David.  “Knowing from that moment on, the future would forever be changed.  A few hours later I started making calls to my wife and family.  It was rough.  Just tears after tears after tears.”

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John and I, and many of David’s old friends back in Nebraska, followed what happened next on his blog, Jump David Jump.  I don’t know if it was from his amazing PLHS English teacher Mary Birky or from countless hours listening to the Dave Matthews Band on repeat, but David has always had a way with words, and sharing his own story was no different.  Clearly we weren’t alone in following his journey; David soon started receiving invitations to speak at universities, churches and conferences.  People wanted to hear about his treatment, taking an all-natural approach to beat cancer rather than trying conventional measures (read more here.)  They wanted to hear the crazy story about his diagnosis. Simply, as I’ve written before, people want to be inspired.

“This was the first moment in my life when I was positive that I had a unique story to tell, was given opportunities to tell it, and was receiving messages that people’s lives were being changed because of it.  At this point, I was in full appreciation for the life that I had been given,” said David.  “Everyone was so supportive, but over time my (at that time) wife had issues with me continually sharing [my story].”

The couple tried a new church, a place where David grew uncomfortable after a few months.  He wanted to leave, she wanted to stay.  Eventually, the two divorced.

Everything happens for a reason.  Try telling that to a young man with cancer, recently divorced, who just years earlier was healthy, happy and had the world at his fingertips.  Adding to it, David didn’t know anyone else who’d been through a divorce.. until he met Lori.

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Photo courtesy The Awesome Mitten

The Chicago native moved to Grand Rapids for college, then opened The Sparrows coffee shop, which became one of David’s favorite spots for coffee.  The two met when Lori asked for writing help for her non-profit group, and their friendship blossomed after-hours, comparing stories about issues in their respective relationships.  Doctors had told Lori she couldn’t have children.

David proved that theory wrong.

“My first and only one-night stand,” said David.  “One night, one baby.”

Lori became pregnant; the two friends had only known each other for about a year.

“I was in shock.  Like, actual shock.  I couldn’t believe it,” said David.  “I was so afraid that the goodwill I’d built up around me would all come crashing down.  But I experienced so much love from my friends and family.  I couldn’t believe how well everyone handled it.”

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May 15, 2014, Marian Wenzel entered the world.

“Marian has two meanings: ‘bitter’ and ‘long-awaited child’,” explains David.  “So to each of us, she was that.  She was a complete surprise, and in many ways, a bitter one.  But in the end, she was the best surprise possible, our long-awaited child.  I suppose we just had to live some life and make a few mistakes before she could join us as the miracle of all miracles.”

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A MIRACLE, not a mistake, as David says God proved just a few months later.  Lori, who thought she was incapable of having children, became pregnant again.

“Lori and I had determined that God knows what is going on.  If I was on death’s door, he wouldn’t get Lori pregnant again,” said David.  “She walked onto the front porch where I was enjoying a beer and grinned as she showed me the positive pregnancy test.  My response this time was quite different from the first.  We were so happy.  Apparently, Lori and I are quite fertile people.”

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May 15, 2015, one year later TO THE DAY, Lori delivered Viola Wenzel at the couple’s home.  Irish twins.

Note what I wrote there.. the couple.  Between baby girls, David and Lori made a big decision.

“I realized that Lori had become my best friend,” said David.  “It took a few months of complete shock before I dug myself out of my past to realize that I honestly loved her.  And since then, she has become my beautiful constant.  She’s my center pole in my tetherball version of life.”

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The two married, at The Sparrows, just before Christmas.

I wish I could just type HAPPILY EVER AFTER, and leave David’s story at that.  But thinking back to when he married Lori jars another memory.. David being rushed to the hospital in the weeks before his wedding.  In the midst of such an incredible story, remember, David has terminal cancer.  He had made it six years, keeping a high quality of life through alternative treatments.. but also suffered seizures so bad that by December, he became unable to drive.

In September, when Marian was just four months old, David’s doctor told him his brain tumor was still growing, and without conventional treatments, he had possibly two years to live.  If he pursued chemotherapy and radiation through the Proton Therapy being advised, there was a 50% chance he’d have ten more years.

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David began treatment in March.  He lost a lot of weight, his hair, and at times, even memories embedded in his heart like his daughter’s name. Hopefully, he gained TIME.  Time to post the CUTEST pictures of his sweet girls together, all three of them.  Time to share that witty sense of humor with the world, as he always has. Time to continue to pursue his passion to write, contributing to and ghostwriting several books, and now… his own.  David is currently raising money through Kickstarter to fund his own book: Thank You Kung-Fu.  

“I have learned, first hand, that in all the messiness and disorder and pain and anger and hopelessness, there is a God.  And what God originates, He orchestrates,” said David.  “I know I can’t speak for anyone else, but I can share my story of how three miserable things happened in my life and through each of them, God has been quietly leading me towards where I am right now.  And I can honestly say, my life has never been better.”

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Photo courtesy Jon Melton

As of today, David’s supporters have donated about $34,000; a recent event through Failure Lab raised $8,000 in one night alone.

CANCER SUCKS, guys, it just does.  This terrible, horrific disease steals away fathers, friends, mothers, wives.. it is cruel and mean and blind to who it attacks.. people that the world NEEDS, people who are innocent and undeserving of this terrible fight they’ve been dealt.  I wish I could Kung-Fu cancer.

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Photo of David & Lori courtesy Jill Devries Photography

David Wenzel is trying, directly and indirectly.  He’s fighting his own battle for himself, his wife, and his beautiful, baby girls.  He’s also sharing his story to help others fight.. maybe against cancer, maybe against other demons.  I will NEVER justify cancer, but David Wenzel is living proof everything happens for a reason.

Note.. LIVING proof.

With that, I leave you with two final messages.  From me, maybe you don’t believe in fate.  Maybe you don’t believe in God.  Whatever you believe in, find HOPE in something.  Search for whatever makes you happy and gives you strength, and JUST DO IT.  In the end, who knows how much time any of us has?

David certainly doesn’t know.  But he’s still making people laugh, still the center of attention, and very much so, living life to the fullest.  He leaves you with this.

“I have no idea what you are going through, but I am positive there is a God who knows.  He has not forgotten you.  He knows you and loves you and wants you to know you are not alone.”

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Photo courtesy Gorilla

To learn more about David Wenzel and his memoir, Thank you Kung-Fu, click here to visit his Kickstarter fundraising site, active through July 25.  As of this post, David was approximately $6,000 from his fundraising goal.

David invites you to click here and visit his blog, Jump David Jump, to follow his journey.  You can also click here to learn more about his work with Robin Hood Ink.