Labor Run 2015

Looking for something fun to do on Labor Day? Come join us at Sedgwick County Park for Labor Run 2015. It’s a fun run/walk event that benefits The Treehouse, an organization that offers mothers and babies a brighter future through sharing God’s love, basic necessities, education, and genuine personal care. Please help us make this event a success by participating. Brian and I are helping with the run again this year so we hope to see you guys there!

Click below to see pictures from Labor Run 2014.

Labor Run 2014

Click below to see pictures from Labor Run 2013.

Labor Run 2013

John Fullbright at Bartlett Arboretum

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Brian and I took my little sister Nickira to Bartlett Arboretum last Sunday for the John Fullbright concert. He is amazing. If you’ve never seen him perform, you’re totally missing out. Although, I understand if you’re not into Americana/Folk music.

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I really enjoyed the show but I know it’s not for everyone. The music put Kira to sleep. Nothing against John Fullbright’s musicianship because it really doesn’t take much. She falls asleep while riding in the car from one side of town to the other.

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We walked around during the intermission to take some photos. That seemed to perk her up. She loved exploring the “secret” garden.

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She really enjoyed the swing.

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Here are my favorite photos from our outing.

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At least now Nickira has been exposed to American/Folk. Maybe one of these days it won’t put her to sleep and she’ll actually enjoy it. LOL. In the meantime, here’s a video of John Fullbright for you all to enjoy…

Women at GT Wine Pairing Event

My friend Faith and I attended the 5th annual wine pairing event hosted by the Women at Grant Thornton a couple of weeks ago. They had it at the Petroleum Club which is just a floor above ours in the Ruffin Building. I took it as a sign that I had to attend. LOL.

It was a Monday night so I had to find a sub for my Aqua Zumba class. Lucky for me, Jen Cole was available to sub so I was able to attend the wine pairing and networking event.

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It was a great turnout. I even met one of Darcy’s old friends, who happens to live on the East side. Naturally, I went full on Zumba recruitment mode. I think I might have been more outgoing than usual because of all the wine. I found out about the event through my Leadership Wichita classmate, Jennifer Wold. Her husband Kris was in charge of the wine and he poured the tastings very generously. I was so glad that Brian and I planned ahead and he took me to work that day so I didn’t have to drive myself home. There’s no way I would have made it.

The first pairing was Natale Verga Prosecco with raspberry truffle. I’d had prosecco before so I knew that I would like it. The chocolates were from Cero’s Candies and they were all yummy. The raspberry truffle went great with the prosecco.

The second pairing was Elio Perrone Bigaro Rose with spring fling truffle. Of the five different types of wine I tasted that night this was my favorite. I guess this is supposed to be one of the best semi-sparkling moscato rosés on the market today. It’s made made with a blend of moscato and brachetto grapes with the pink color coming from the brachetto skins sitting with the juice for a short period of time. Sometimes I find moscatos too sweet but this had the perfect flavor. I liked it so much that I went looking for it on our very next trip to Groves (our favorite liquor store). As luck would have it, Groves carries this specific wine so it’s now in my regular rotation.

The truffle this was paired with consisted of passion fruit puree with orange in a white chocolate ganache layered with vanilla-infused dark chocolate ganache. It was another delicious truffle, which I liked even better than the first one.

The third pairing was Fritz Late Harvest Zinfandel with Saigon cinnamon truffle. Zinfandels are dessert wines that are great paired with chocolate, strawberries, or cherries so you couldn’t go wrong with this pairing. I typically like zinfandels and I liked this one but, after tasting wine #2, everything paled in comparison. The truffle was a Vietnamese cinnamon truffle coated in dark chocolate. All of the chocolates were fantastic but this was my favorite chocolate of the bunch.

Fourth was Rutherford Hill Port with fleur de sel caramel. This port is made of 100% zinfandel but don’t let that fool you. It was very, very strong. The dark chocolate dipped caramel sprinkled with fleur de sel salt was the perfect pairing. I took one of these to Brian when he picked me up. He loved it.

The fifth and final pairing was Dolce late harvest wine with orange cream. Dolce is considered “Liquid Gold from Napa” and is extremely limited in production. I was told each bottle cost over $90. I found it too sweet and was quite relieved to discover I didn’t like it. I can stick to my $10 to $20 bottles. LOL.

This wine was paired with fresh orange cream dipped in milk chocolate. The orange cream truffle was very sweet, which made it the perfect match because it toned down the sweetness of the wine.

Jennifer and her husband Kris did a fantastic job of matching the chocolates with the wines because each truffle complemented the wines they were paired with very well. In most cases the chocolates enhanced or accented the flavors in the wine and, in the case of the final pairing, the truffle toned down the sweetness of the wine. I wouldn’t have drank that wine by itself but it wasn’t too bad when paired with the orange cream truffle.

Out of all five wines I’d only tried one before so the event opened me up to new wines I’d never tried before. I even found a new favorite, the Elio Perrone Bigaro Rose from pairing #2. Also, I’d never had Cero’s truffles before so now I have a reason to go to their store.

Besides the delicious wine and decadent chocolates, Faith and I also had the rare opportunity to visit with other professional women in the area. It was a wonderful networking event so hats off to the Women at GT who hosted the event.

I wish there were more of these events throughout the year because it’s a great way to meet and network with other business women in the community. I would totally go to all of them, and not just for the wine or chocolates either. We have some amazing women in Wichita. I’ve met a few and am ready to meet some more.

Brian’s Birthday Weekend

Here’s the long story about this weekend for those who are interested. Last year I took Brian to the Dominican Republic for his 40th birthday. This year I wanted to do something special but not that grand. We were initially going to Kansas City, Missouri or somewhere drivable. Jay and Becca mentioned they were going to be visiting Sandals Whitehouse over Brian’s birthday and, if we wanted to tag along, we could get a really good deal now that Brian is moonlighting as a travel agent.

We’d been to Jamaica a few times already but we’d never been to Sandals Whitehouse so we were kind of excited about it. We were to leave on Brian’s birthday, Saturday, and return on Wednesday so I’d only miss three days of work. Since it was kind of a last minute trip, the hotel was already fully booked on one of the days so we just couldn’t make it work. Lucky for us, we held off purchasing airfare until we could secure our rooms so we weren’t out anything (except for some clothes and shoes I’d bought specifically for the trip but I can wear those this summer).

Because the Jamaica trip fell through, we had absolutely nothing going on. Naturally, I was accepting invites left and right. We got invited to a tasting lunch at Gianni Bacci’s, and then the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Beta Kappa Omega chapter’s 80th anniversary gala on Saturday, and then on Sunday we had a birthday dinner for Brian at Bonefish Grill (Thank you, mom!) and the Down to the Wire: 24 Hour Film Race showcase at the Wichita Orpheum Theatre. Had it not been Brian’s birthday weekend, I probably would have said yes to even more stuff. LOL.

SIDENOTE: It’s not very often that I have this much freedom on weekends because I teach Zumba every Saturday and Sunday at Andover YMCA. I just happened to have subs lined up this past weekend because I thought I was going to be in Jamaica.

Here’s our conversation leading up to the weekend…
BRIAN: You hijacked my entire birthday!
CHING: What do you mean? We had nothing planned.
BRIAN: That’s what I wanted to do.
CHING: Nothing? You wanted to do nothing at all? You are such a bump on a log! You need to live and do stuff.
BRIAN: I’m not a log.
CHING: No, you’re a bump.

I’d normally feel bad about taking the whole weekend over but we’d been celebrating his birthday pretty much all month (last weekend we had Abuelo’s and Redrock Canyon Grill) and we’re going to continue celebrating when his parents visit this weekend. On top of that, the weekend turned out fantastic. Even he will admit that he had a blast.

Anyway, we’ve been together for about 16 years now and we are compatible in every way. I think the only thing that really causes a bit of tension (though nothing serious because we don’t really have serious fights anymore, we make such a great team) between us is that Brian wants to do NOTHING and I want to do EVERYTHING. I suppose that’s how we balance each other out. I would probably die of exhaustion if it weren’t for Brian and he probably wouldn’t experience life as much if it weren’t for me.

Headed to Gianni Bacci's for lunch. Things were going swimmingly until it started raining. LOL.

This is a picture of us on our way to the tasting lunch at tasting lunch at Gianni Bacci’s. We had to pull over on the way there to roll the top up because it started raining.

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Brian got to try a couple of different beers with lunch.

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Thanks to our friend Ebony for the gala tickets.

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I don’t know about Brian but hearing Sheinelle Jones‘ keynote at the gala was definitely the highlight for me. She’s so inspirational.

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We got to hang with the Shermans also, which was an added bonus.

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On Sunday we met mom and Jenni at Bonefish for a birthday dinner in Brian’s honor.

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Mussels! Mmmm!

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Can’t go to Bonefish Grill and not have bang bang shrimp.

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Brian had the sirloin and crab cake with double mash side.

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Jenni had the fontina chop with au gratin potatoes.

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I had the imperial tilapia with double jasmine rice. I don’t care what they say about tilapia. I still like it.

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Mom had the bang bang shrimp tacos.

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We all shared a creme brûlée for dessert.

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We ended the evening at the Orpheum for the Down to the Wire: 24 Hour Film Race. What a wonderful weekend!

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P.S. This one is our favorite out of all of the film entries.

Lemon Parade from Eron Rawson on Vimeo.

2015 Celebrity & Chef Cookoff

Brian and I had a blast at the Celebrity & Chef Cookoff on Tuesday night. It’s a benefit for the Wichita Orpheum Theatre and it’s one of our favorite fundraising events.

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We missed it last year because we were celebrating Brian’s 40th birthday in the Dominican Republic. Our friend Jimmy (pictured above) who is on the Orpheum board was nice enough to save us a spot at the table this year.

The event has grown so much since the last time we attended in 2013. The event was held at the Wichita Marriott hotel that year. Because of the increased attendance they had to move the event to the Intrust Bank Arena last year and that’s where the event was held again this year.

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Brian and I are nerds and actually asked for permission to park in the special Lexus VIP parking lot across from the arena. Lots of other people parked there but I didn’t see any other yellow hang tags. I guess we didn’t have to ask for permission after all because it was pretty much open to the public. LOL. We always follow the rules, though.

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I’m not sure if they did the same thing last year but this year they had our bid numbers printed on our wristbands. It made me feel like a hospital patient, which was odd, but made bidding really convenient so, in that regard, it was brilliant.

I didn’t really find anything that I couldn’t live without in the silent auction but some of the live auction packages were really good. I really wanted the “Movie Night at the Orpheum” package where you could have a private movie night for up to 1,200 guests, which would be great for a birthday or anniversary celebration. The package included free popcorn and fountain drinks for 500 people. If only we had that many friends!

The other package that we found appealing was the “Rock the Intrust Bank Arena” package for a concert suite, food, and beverages at the Intrust Bank Arena for the Boston and Blue Oyster Cult concert on August 9. The package includes use of the concert suite, 16 tickets (which is about how many friends we have that might be interested in going), 3 parking passes and $500 to spend on food and beverages (not including sales tax and gratuity). This would have been a perfect way to celebrate our 13th wedding anniversary, which is on the 10th. Alas, the bidding started out at our max budget. LOL.

I think they had record-breaking attendance this year and they also had great participation from area restaurants who generously donated food and services for the event. We got to try food from restaurants we haven’t even visited.

The following restaurants hosted tasting tables:

  • Bella Vita Bistro
  • Bob & Luigi’s
  • Café 402
  • Delicious Deliveries
  • Firebirds Wood Fired Grill
  • Freddy’s Frozen Custard & Steakburgers
  • Jersey’s Grill & Bar
  • Kanai Sushi
  • Lotus Leaf Café
  • Lou’s Charcuteria
  • Mead’s Corner
  • Molino’s Mexican Cuisine
  • Old Mill Tasty Shop
  • Chef Jeremy Pacacha
  • Rocco’s Little Italy
  • SAVOR at Intrust Bank Arena
  • Taste & See/Gianni Bacci’s
  • Todd Brian’s Brick Street Café & Tavern
  • Twizted Confections
  • Wagonmasters
  • Woodfire Grille at Kansas Star Casino

Brian and I had two totally different strategies for sampling all the food. I ate as I went so I was completely full halfway through, which was a real bummer because I really wanted to try everything. Brian, on the other hand, collected food from almost all of the tasting tables before feasting.

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Brian brought almost a dozen little plates back to our table. This is a picture of just a few of them. It was quite hilarious. I think both times he ran into Chef Jason, who was one of the judges, he had several plates full of food in his hands.

The other judges included Bobby Lane, Chester’s Chophouse Executive Chef, and Denise Neil, Wichita Eagle food columnist/writer. The late Tanya Tandoc was also slated to judge. May her beautiful soul rest in peace.

The team of Ben George, Executive Chef of SAVOR at Intrust Bank Arena, and Adam Mills, President and CEO of the Kansas Restaurant and Hospitality Association won this year’s cookoff. Other celebrities who participate in challenge included Barbara Baan, host of KSN’s Baan Appetit; Dan Ihm, Vice Present and General Manager of the Kansas Star Casino; Coleen Jennison, Cox Communications Market Vice President for Kansas; Mayor Jeff Longwell; Gary Oborny, Occidental Management Chairman/CEO; Scott Redler, Freddy’s Frozen Custard & Steakburgers Vice President/COO; and Jon Rosell, Executive Director of the Medical Society of Sedgwick County (MSSC).

The other chefs who competed were John Conklin, Rocco’s Little Italy; second place finisher Jason Fisher, Café 402 located inside the Downtown Wichita YMCA; Paul Freimuth, Harvest Kitchen located at the Hyatt Regency; Paul Guerrero, Firebirds Wood Fired Grill; Jim McNulty, Kansas Star Casino; Jeremy Pacacha, Eurest Dining Services at Spirit Aerosystems; and third place finisher and last year’s co-champion Adrian Prud Homme de Lodder, Bella Vita Bistro.

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Even though four-time champion Chef Jason Febres (of Taste & See/Gianni Bacci’s) wasn’t competing this year there was some stiff competition. When I walked by to take these photos, I could tell that they were cooking up some amazing stuff based on the aromas wafting through the air.

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What an amazing event, benefitting a great cause — the Wichita Orpheum Theatre. We try to support the theater by attending events there every chance we get. Anyway, I hope Brian and I have the opportunity to attend the event again next year.

Tomorrow is the Final Day of Riverfest

I hope you’ve taken time this week to enjoy the Wichita River Festival. It only happens once a year after all. If you missed it, I guess there’s always next year.

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Brian and I got to walk in the Sundown Parade on opening night.

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Faith and her kids were there too. It was a ton of fun. Next year I’m thinking of inviting my little sister Nickira to walk in the parade with us. You can see more pictures here.

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Last Saturday we did Zumba at Ackerman’s Backyard at Riverfest.

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It was such a blast!

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I’m so grateful to Pat for organizing the event.

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Here’s a picture of me and Missy below.

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After doing Zumba, Brian and I waited in line to for the Wichita Wagonmasters River Boat Tour. I’d been to Riverfest before but I’d never had the patience to wait in line for one of the boat tours. This time we decided to wait it out because my friend Bill who is a Wagonmaster was the “voice” or tour guide.

It was super fun and totally worth the wait. The river boat tour is definitely my favorite event at Riverfest.

Tomorrow is your last chance to check out the 2015 Wichita River Festival and participate in some of the fun events. I encourage you to swing by and check out the festivities because it’s not happening again until next year. See you there!

2015 NPC Midway USA Championships

I can’t speak for Brian but I’ve been stuck in a rut lately and decided I needed some inspiration. As luck would have it, some of our friends were competing in a fitness competition so I ended up buying us a couple of front row tickets for that. Brian didn’t mind going because he knew he’d be looking at half-naked women all evening.

Here are some pictures from the show for you guys to enjoy…

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Some of the classes were stacked while others only had one, two, or a handful of entrants. Lots of competitors in this class.

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Top five below.

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With their medals.

Next class.

Top five with medals.

Another class.

Top five with medals.

Then the winners of each class take the stage to be judged together. They’re competing for the overall title.

Every inch of their body is scrutinized by the discerning judges.

They’re even made to switch places. It’s quite intense. Who do you think won this one?

Then we go through the whole thing all over again for the open classes. I don’t really know much about fitness competitions but I gathered, from watching all of the contestants, the open classes are tougher. At least in novice, previous winners can’t compete. In the open classes you’re competing with pros.

Top five with medals.

Next class.

One of the winners from novice made the top five.

Another class.

Top five.

Again the winners are judged together for the honor of overall winner.

Check him out.

I don’t know about you, but I prefer watching the women.

Our friend Jeanne is rightmost in the above photo and leftmost below.

Here’s a video of Jeanne.

These women had the most amazing booties. Actually, I take that back. They had amazing everything.

Here’s our friend Amanda. There were lots of competitors in her class.

Here’s a video of the introductions.

She got third in the novice class.

Here she is again in open.

Video from the open class.

There was some stiff competition but she managed to take home fifth.

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Morgan was the open bikini overall champion.

Here are some videos of posing routines.

Winners get to do a pose down.

I’m so glad we were able to watch our friend Jeanne compete.

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I don’t know about Brian I’m totally inspired. I’m up 20 pounds from my pre-thyroidectomy weight and I’m so ready to start shedding my excess baggage.

Congrats to all of the winners and all of the competitors last weekend. You guys are an inspiration to us all!

Mother’s Day Weekend

I hope everyone had a fantastic Mother’s Day weekend. We started ours off on Saturday night with grandma.

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They had a lovely reception at Cherry Creek for all the women residents. There were snacks, fruit punch (fake sangria) and sangria. They even had an acoustic guitar player.

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Grandma got a lovely carnation from Sharon.

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She also got first dibs on the sangria.

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For our part, we got grandma a Mother’s Day card and the Annie soundtrack that she’d been wanting since we watched the movie.

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Kudos to the Cherry Creek staff for putting together a nice reception for the residents.

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On Sunday morning we met dad, mom, and Jenni at Piccadilly Grill for brunch. We were on a bit of a tight schedule because mom and dad wanted to be at Derby Bowl for Logan and Matt’s first bowling league at 12:30 PM and then I had a Zumba class to teach in Andover at 1:00 PM. We managed to make it work.

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Here are some pictures of the fantastic brunch spread.

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The buffet today was double the size of their normal brunch.

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In addition to the regular buffet, there was a waffle station, omelette station, and a ham and roast beef carving station. They also had smoke salmon, various cheeses, and tabouli. Piccadilly is a Mediterranean restaurant after all.

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There was a huge selection of cakes and pies for dessert.

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Made me wish I didn’t have to teach Zumba so I could stuff my face silly. I still tried, though. At almost $25 per person, you best believe I tried to get my money’s worth. LOL. I’m kidding! I behaved (for the most part).

Piccadilly Grill on Urbanspoon

Anyway, I’m really glad that we got to have brunch today at Piccadilly. Brian told me that they’re going to be tearing the place down so today was the last Mother’s Day brunch before the demolition happens. I hope that Piccadilly Grill returns after the new building is finished. The thought of the restaurant closing really makes me sad. There are very few places that serve a fantastic brunch buffet here in town and Piccadilly is one of them.

If you’ve never been to Piccadilly Grill, I highly recommend checking it out. Specially since their days are numbered. Who knows when they’re reopen or if they reopen after the construction is complete. Check them out and let me know what you think in the comments below.

52nd Annual Honors Night

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Brian and I had the privilege of attending the Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce’s Honors Night a couple of weeks ago. It was at Beech Activity Center this year, the same place that Cards for the Cure has been held that last few years.

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You wouldn’t be able to tell that it’s the same place though because the tables were all decked out for Honors Night, complete with fancy table center pieces (each table had a different one) and a few bottles of wine.

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The event is a celebration of individual, corporate, and architectural achievements that enhance the Wichita community. Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception received the Keeper of the Plains Award, an award recognizing an architectural project completed by a firm, organization, or individual, which has contributed to the beauty of our community.

I’ve never been inside the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception (also known as Saint Mary’s Cathedral) since I’m not Catholic but the restoration is impressive. I definitely want to check it out one of these days and see the remarkable architecture in person.

Mr. Steve Clark received the Chamber’s most prestigious individual award, Uncommon Citizen. It’s an honor bestowed on those who have made uncommon contributions to the people and institutions of Wichita year after year.

Wichita State University received the Spirit of Wichita award which is only given to an institution that was previously recognized with an Over the Years award at least 20 years ago. This year’s Over the Years award recipients were Meritrust Credit Union, LDF, and Youth Entrepreneurs.

These videos are extremely well done so I had to share them with you guys. They’re so awesome that I almost want to win an award so that I could have my very own video vignette. LOL.

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Here’s a picture of the trophies. Below is a picture of Mr. Steve Clark with his Uncommon Citizen trophy and, below that, is a picture of Dr. Bardo who received the Spirit of Wichita award on behalf of Wichita State University.

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There are more pictures of the event on the Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce’s Facebook page. Brian and I are both grateful for the opportunity to attend the event and witness these honorees receive their well-deserved awards.

Congratulations to all of the awards recipients and thank you for all that you do for the Wichita community!

KANSEL Trivia Night

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Brian and I attended KANSEL’s trivia night with Karen and her husband Don and Shane and his wife Sarah a few weeks ago.

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They were quite serious about their trivia, complete with proctors throughout the banquet room and baskets for phones. Absolutely no cheating allowed.

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We may have sucked at trivia but we had the best team captain ever!

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