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Fashion forward! Meet Daytonian of the Week Caressa Brown 

Make no mistake, Caressa Brown has more than the look. 

The director of Dayton Emerging Fashion Incubator (DE-FI),  is on the grind to strengthen Dayton’s fashion industry. 

She is the latest Daytonian of the Week.

>> Women smashing their way into upcoming firefighter challenge

What do you do and why do you do it? 

That’s a loaded question.😂 I am the owner/director of the Dayton Emerging Fashion Incubator (DE-FI) LLC, a volunteer-based community outreach organization that works with area designers in building their brands, establishing their clientele, learning runway production, and editorial shoots. We also develop aspiring models by providing them with world-class runway experience, tearsheet quality images, and put them in front of the world’s top modeling agencies. 

In regards to why I do what I do, it’s both simple and complex. I sometimes refer to myself as the supermodel that never was. At the age of 12 back in 1992-93, my self-esteem was beneath the gutter. I was tall, thin awkward, had bucked teeth, 4 eyes, and a 5head. 😂 I was teased mercilessly, and as a way to improve my self-esteem Mom worked 3 jobs and enrolled me in Bette Massie modeling school in Centerville.

After the first session, the instructor called me and my mom in for a meeting and told us that out of all of the models registered in the school, she believed that I had the most potential to actually become a model and waived the remaining tuition. Fast forward 5-6 weeks later. After attending “free” modeling classes, Bette Massie discovered that there was no money on the books for me and called my mom and me in for a meeting. Long story short, the instructor had not received Bette’s approval to waive my tuition, and Bette basically said we either pay or leave the program; we left the program. 

>> Honey Boo Boo looks all grown up during mother-daughter outing

However, later that year, I came across a casting call for an agency out of Cleveland that was scouting in Dayton and out of the 100+ models that were in attendance, I was the only one selected and offered a contract with the agency. We signed the contract. Shortly after, my mom was involved in an auto accident, and then later was diagnosed with Multiple-Sclerosis and could no longer work. So with my mom unable to work, we could not afford to travel to the agency or seek out work as a model. 

Fast forward several years later to 1998, I attended a modeling convention in Columbus, where I was scouted by the president of Click Models for their Atlanta agency. At the time, I had braces on so they wanted me to travel to Atlanta and start developing me while waiting for my braces to come off. However, I had just started working at General Motors, Truck and Bus in Moraine, just started my freshman year in college at Wright State on academic scholarship, and on top of that I was the caregiver for my mom and without having any additional support. I never made it to Atlanta work with Click. 

>> PHOTOS: Art Ball 2018, Dayton’s red carpet night

In 2001, after attending a casting call at a mall in Cincinnati for the world’s top agency at the time, Elite, I was selected as regional semi-finalist in the Elite Model Look Competition, and the Scouting Director for Elite in Chicago offered me a contract. Aside from the fact that my braces were off, nothing had changed in regards to the load I was carrying on this time, I was flunking out of college, battling depression, working 50+ hr/week at GM, and still serving as a caregiver for my mom and I never made it back to Chicago to work with Elite. 

I said all of that to say this, I know what it’s like to have a dream and be so close that you can feel, taste, and see it and then have no support to help you obtain it. I do what I do to be the support system for area fashion professionals that I wish I had when I wanted to be a model and as a result of building a nurturing and strong support system for emerging talent we can say that designers have gained firsthand experience working behind the scenes of some of the top design houses for the former Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in New York. Their designs have been featured on the covers of Vogue Africa and in the pages of Vogue Italia, and Essence magazines, they have also had their designs featured in music videos, commercial print, and film. Over 70 of our models have been signed to agencies around the globe. They have appeared on Project Runway, in the pages of Vogue, have been signed to some of the world's top modeling agencies including Factor, Red, and Next, and have walked for New York, Paris and Milan Fashion Week for designers like Marc Jacobs, Miu Miu and Versace. 

>> SHOP LOCAL: 8 fashion boutiques to help you refresh your wardrobe for spring

 

Cats, dogs, neither or something else? 

I’m about to lose a bunch of friends with this one; I’m a dog person. 😂 Most of my friends have cats; they’re just too shifty for me. 😂

 

What do you love about life in Dayton? 

I love the fact that Dayton has the small-town feel yet has big city opportunities. If you want a quick getaway, you’re only a few hours away from at least 8 major cities. Also, I’m a true foodie. I’ve had the opportunity to travel across the country and eat at some of the finest restaurants and nothing comes close to the amazing local cuisine and eateries in Dayton. 

 

What would you do on a perfect date in Dayton? 

I’m a pretty low-key person and enjoy the simple things so my idea of a perfect date in Dayton would be to take a long walk at one of the Metroparks, lay out a blanket, have a picnic and enjoy the serenity. 

  

Where do you go for a great time? 

I’m a big kid at heart, so I love Scene 75, I celebrated my 35th birthday there with a Ghostbusters cake a few years back. Plus I’m super competitive and I can allow my alter-ego to come out and talk trash while doing rapid-fire rounds in Laser Tag, defending the corner in go carts, and just beating the crap out of my friends and hoping that they are still my friends after I beat them. 😂

 

Why did you decide to settle in Dayton? 

I was born and raised right here in Dayton, and as my mom always says, “I’m Dayton born, Dayton bred, and when I die, I’m gonna be Dayton dead.” 😂

How did you get involved with your business? 

That’s another loaded question. 😂I never planned to start a fashion organization. I was essentially left holding the bags from the failed Dayton Fashion Week in 2012. A lot of people — self-included — were hurt, deceived, ripped off, and taken advantage of...

 >> Dayton Fashion Week launched  (July 23, 2012)

>> Are size 0 to 4 models too small? (Feb 10, 2012)

Several months after Dayton Fashion Week ended, I was approached by Lisa Grigsby and Billy Pote from Dayton Most Metro. They asked me if I would be interested in creating my own fashion organization, and if I did, they would back me up. After thinking about it and reaching out to a few friends and those who had been burned by Dayton Fashion Week, together we created this grassroots fashion movement called the Dayton Emerging Fashion Week (DE-FI) LLC; a lot of people think that we just renamed the company because 99% of the people who quit DFW after I walked away joined me in creating (DE-FI). 

We launched in July 2013, and invited all of the designers, sponsors, and talent that was burned by DFW to participate free of charge in our event; the businesses who had taken out ads in the Dayton Fashion Week magazine FIQ where all of the images were pixelated and of poor quality, we offered them a do over at our Fashion in the Mystic Garden Launch Party at SunWatch Indian Village, which was a sold-out event with 250+ people in attendance and gave them free ads in our magazine (DE-FI)ance. I went on to get about 5 seasons of behind the scenes experience at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in New York. We now own the rights to the name Dayton Fashion Week branded as Dayton Fashion Week by (DE-FI), and the rest as they say is history. 

What should people know about Dayton’s fashion community? 

The vast majority of the designers that we work with are self-taught, a few had to leave the city to receive a formal education in fashion. My ultimate goal is to have an accredited fashion design program right here in Dayton; the closest program is at Miami University, who rolled out their program about two years ago, we’ve had the pleasure of partnering with them on several occasions. 

Dayton’s fashion community is more than just models, designers and fashion shows. This is a $900 billion dollar a year industry that every major city in Ohio and across the country has embraced. There’s a need for photographers marketers, business managers, investors, writers, social media experts, legal advisors, accountants, hair and makeup artist, boutiques, wardrobe stylist, textile makers, sewist and seamstress, and so much more and (DE-FI) has made a place at the table for them all and we have people traveling from around the country to work with us. Every door that opens for me, I hold it open for the rest of my (DE-FI) family to enter. 

Dayton has the eyes of some of the most influential people in fashion watching what’s going on here because we’ve essentially taken every aspect of what makes New York City the fashion capital of the world and we are re-creating it right here in the Gem City, slowly but surely we are establishing a market that allows fashion to be a viable way to make a living in Dayton. 

In February of this year, I was invited to New York Fashion Week as a journalist for our magazine (DE-FI)ance as a fashion influencer by one of the most influential fashion producers in the industry. That alone was a game changer for our organization and we’ve been working on revising our strategic plan for the past couple of months to align with this heightened level of exposure that our talent is receiving. Last month we quietly rolled out our sewing and micro-manufacturing team to assist with our designers production of their lines as well as meet the needs of other businesses and boutiques that need sewing assistance. 

What is Dayton’s best hidden gem? 

Aside from (DE-FI) ;-) I’d have to say SunWatch Indian Village and Archaeological Park is my favorite hidden gem. 

>> 5 things you must experience at Sunwatch’s Pow Wow this weekend

What inspires you about Dayton? 

There’s no quit in this city. Things don’t always go as planned and we’ve had more than our fair share of bumps and bruises yet we have some of the most persistent, innovative, and empowering people that go hard for not only the city but their causes every day, and thanks to platforms like Dayton.com we have an opportunity to meet those hidden figures. 

If you could change or bring one thing to Dayton, what would it be? 

Sometimes, I think we play it too safe as a city. We embrace what we understand and all too often recycle the exact same people to do the work leaving a lot of new talent disenfranchised or if they are included, it’s more or less of a symbolic gesture vs. a sincere attempt of embracing diversity of thought and growth. I’d love to see Dayton let down its guard, kick in a few doors and make a place at the table for everyone by creating a blue print as a guide for others to follow. Competition is not a bad thing. 

What do you think Dayton will look like in 10-15 years? 

In 10-15 years, we’re going to have Generation Z running things in Dayton, this is a generation that knows no limits and has already made its mark on the culture. It’s going to be an exciting time to be a Daytonian, I’ve got my running shoes on and ready to keep pace.

Q&A: Lilly Wilker, local 11-year-old animal impressionist, ecstatic about her America’s Got Talent journey

Lilly Wilker, an 11-year-old from New Bremen, stole judges’ hearts with her animal impressions on NBC’s America’s Got Talent, which aired June 5. 

>> Local girl neighs and quacks her way to the next round of America’s Got Talent

Wilker took some time out of her busy schedule to give us a peek at her journey on the television show, and how her roots on a farm in Ohio inspired this journey.

>> Women smashing their way into upcoming firefighter challenge 

What did it feel like to audition for America’s Got Talent? 

To audition on America’s Got Talent was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. I feel so honored to have made it to audition live in front of the four most famous judges ever. 

 

How did you feel when you found out you moved on to the next round?

Moving on to the next round was an absolutely amazing feeling. Getting four yeses was out of this world. It made me cry because I was so happy. It was an honor to perform in front of them and hear their positive comments. 

 

When did you start practicing and taking seriously the animal impersonations? 

I practice usually every day! It isn’t for long amounts of time. However, at about the age of eight, I got really serious about my talents when I was discovered without searching for opportunities and was asked to go to different shows and do live interviews and be on national TV shows.

 

What is your favorite animal to impersonate? Is there an animal at home of this species that is close to you? 

My favorite animal to impersonate is definitely the rooster. The rooster call has been known to be my signature call. Yes!!! I have a rooster in my barn full of animals. I have eight hens, nine sheep, two goats, three horses and two dogs.  

If you won the cash prize, what would you do with the money?

If I were fortunate enough to win the cash prize of a million dollars, I would set some aside for my future, donate a generous amount to hospitals, and animal shelters, etc. 

 

What do you love most about Ohio (home)?

What I love most about living in Ohio, but especially my small little town of New Bremen, is the closeness I have in the community, living on a small farm in the middle of fields, being able to have animals in the barn, swimming in our pond, and hanging with my friends and family. I love the way we get to have all four seasons here and being a girl that loves to be outside and behind the barn with my animal friends.

 

Did any of the judges’ reactions surprise you, or make you extra happy? 

Getting all the yeses from the judges made me ecstatic, but I think especially the one that excited me the most was Simon because he gave me my first YES! Simon loves animals too and he told me I do amazing things with my voice. He told me I am going to go far with my dreams.

 

What would you like your supporters and fans back here in Ohio to know?

I would like all my supporters and fans to know that dreams do come true, you just have to work hard, dream big, have a sense of personality and most of all just have fun. Always remember you can be what you want if you just dream big. I also want people to know that a small-town girl ... can make a difference and that you can achieve anything and everything. At the end of the day, it isn’t about the money, it is about making people smile and touching their heart in some way. I am me and I am just doing what I love to do! ... entertain. Follow me, support me, and I will be sure to make you all proud on this adventure I am on.

>> St. Anne’s Hill Historic District to host HUGE community yard sale this weekend

You can watch America’s Got Talent on NBC Tuesdays at 8 p.m. EST.

Daytonian of the Week: Tom Helbig, founder of Tomfoolery Outdoors

As of this morning, Tom Helbig is cruising on his bicycle through reportedly, 68 degree and sunny Portland, Maine, en route to Canada, craving a Dayton craft beer and some Taqueria Mixteca. 

His East Coast cycling trip began in February in Key West, Florida and will wrap at the end of June when he returns to Dayton to resume organizing and planning Tomfoolery Outdoors adventures — the Dayton business Helbig founded in May 2014 based on the principles of his life’s mantra, “Live Active, Laugh More, Inspire All.” 

>>Meet the local guy who just hiked 1,400 miles across Ohio

Helbig’s childhood was spent camping near his home in the Cleveland area, boating on Lake Erie, trips to Ohio state parks and making cherished memories outdoors with his family. The Bowling Green State University grad moved to Dayton in 1998 and after nine years of dedicated work with the Special Olympics of Miami County, got heavily involved with FiveRivers MetroParks in 2007 as an outdoor program event planner.

>>12 top hiking trails in Dayton and nearby

“I took my experiences between those two jobs and my own personal interests and thought I could start my own company, put my own spin on it and also allow more time for adventures,” Helbig said.

The realization that he could make his enthusiasm for adventures a lifestyle didn’t come without sacrifice. Through careful planning and living simply, Helbig has been able to run a successful outdoors events company and inspire people in Dayton to jump into adventures they thought were unrealistic — all while fitting in personal, month-long adventures throughout the year. “It’s (Tomfoolery Outdoors) a community of people who want to make the world a better place and play outside,” Helbig said. 

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“I had this epiphany that I was having conversations with friends about event ideas, T-shirt concepts, maybe guided trips that I could offer and I thought well, I’m doing a lot of talking ... and I decided I wanted to take those campfire discussions and turn them into action,” Helbig said.

Get to know Tom Helbig, our Daytonian of the Week:

How do you make this lifestyle possible? 

“All my adventures are human powered. I find free places to camp, people host me in their homes, I partner with certain organizations along the way. It’s just being creative, living simply, not caring about glamorous material things and using the income I do bring in from Tomfoolery Outdoors events.”

Do you think Dayton has a big taste for adventure?

“When I moved to the Dayton area in 1998, at that time, being honest, I was not excited about moving. Then things started to change. I got involved with the outdoor amenities that were available, a guy took me fly fishing, then I started spending time on our rivers paddling and fishing, exploring the bike trails. I just really started to become part of the community, and I was loving it. 

Loving it to the point now where, even though I’m off on some of these longer adventures, I’m one of the biggest advocates for what Dayton has to offer. I’m really proud to say when I’m on my adventures, that I’m from Dayton, Ohio.”

Do you think some people hesitate before setting off on an adventure?

“I actually hear that a lot and it makes me sad when I hear somebody that isn’t pursuing something that they always wanted to do ... ‘Oh I wish I could do x, y and z,’ — that’s troubling to me and when I hear those things I start to ask a lot of questions of, Well, why not?’ And you’ll hear excuse after excuse of why they haven't pursued something that would make their life that much better. I ask a lot of questions that hopefully stimulate some thought and even offer some suggestions as to how they can do it. Then, if I’m able to stay in touch with those people, I’m going to be their biggest cheerleader. I’m going to hold them accountable and try and get them to do those things they’ve always wanted to do.”

“Live Active, Laugh More, Inspire All.” Why is that Tomfoolery Outdoor’s mission statement?

“In my mid-30s, so right before I started Tomfoolery Outdoor’s, I was feeling really out of balance with my work and life. Just spending too many hours at work behind a desk, and I just felt a need for something different and better. So I thought, OK, how am I going to live the rest of my life. I boiled it down to those three principles, how I wanted to guide the rest of my life ... Over about a six-month process, that led me to founding Tom Foolery Outdoors. So that is not a marketing slogan. It’s how I live my life and I want the company to behave in our community. 

>>Your guide for where to paddle in Dayton

What are some of your favorite Dayton spots for day-trip outdoor adventures? 

“For favorite spots in the Dayton-area for a hike, you can’t beat the Twin Valley Trail over in Germantown. I love to fly fish on the Great Miami River, mountain biking at MoMBA or John Bryan State Park and paddling on any of the local rivers.”

What is your favorite place to eat in Dayton?

“I love going to the 2nd Street Market, Fusian, Arepas, Mudlick Tap House, Taqueria Mixteca and Trolley Stop. I am excited to be back in Dayton, I’ve been gone for three months now, and I’m looking forward to seeing friends and when I get back, I’ll be in the heart of my Tomfoolery Outdoors events season. And one of the things I’m going to focus on when I return from this journey is, I want to make sure that my lifestyle and brand is more than just long adventures. Those adventures are getting people’s attention, which is awesome and I’m very grateful for that. But within that, I want people to get the message that you can get adventure in your daily life by appreciating those things we have right here locally.”

For all the details on this season’s Tomfoolery Outdoors adventures and the charities involved with each event, visit tomfooleryoutdoors.com.

He’s the guy behind the camera. Meet Daytonian of the Week Tom Gilliam.

When Tom spots you, you’ve been spotted. 

Over the last few years, Tom Gilliam has become the go-to photographer for Dayton.com, snapping photos at most of Dayton’s major events every weekend. 

We caught up with Tom, our latest Daytonian of the Week. 

>> RELATED: Meet Tom Gilliam, founder of DaytonGram

What do you do and why do you do it? 

My full-time career is in IT support for Charter Communications. I have been working at the same company for over 22 years (even though it has had many different names) since I was 17 (I'll be 40 in July). 

 

Freelance photography is my second job. On most weekends, I cover at least two events and/or festivals in the Dayton area for photo galleries that are published on Dayton.com the following Monday or Tuesday. Additionally, I write and photograph an ongoing series about historic buildings in the Dayton area called The Buildings of Dayton, also for Dayton.com. Various companies and organizations hire me for commercial photography jobs as well. 

 >> PHOTOS: Did we spot you at Culture Works’ Artini this weekend? 

Even though computers and technology have always been an interest of mine, I work an IT career as my primary source of income to provide for my wife, son and daughter. Photography started out as a hobby but is now a second career which further helps in supporting my family. With that being said, I still have much love for photography. There are aspects of it that I do for no other reason than simply having fun and creating art.

 

I'm currently in my fourth year serving on the Dayton History Bell Board at Carillon Historical Park. The board plans and executes two major fundraising events every year (Fleurs de Fête & Ringing In The Holidays). I also contribute my photography for the "Views Around The Park" section of Dayton History's quarterly member magazine, "The Heritage." Giving back to my community is important so I do what I can with the small amount of extra time I have to spare. 

 

I've been playing in Dayton-area bands on and off since 1997. Before I started doing photography, music was my main hobby and only artistic outlet. The name of my band is called Ghost Town Silence. My bandmates are my closest friends Gavin Spencer (bass/co-lead vocals/songwriter), Jason Johantges (rhythm guitar/songwriter) and Brian Winter (drums/percussion). Our name was The Rebel Set from the time we started playing in 2005 until 2014. I play lead guitar, sing co-lead vocals and co-write our songs. We have released the following albums: "Ghost Town Silence" (2008), "Across The Relentless Sea" (2009) and the EP "Shadows" (2015). We're currently writing our 4th album and hope to record it this year. Playing music with my friends is always a lot of fun. The only challenge is lining up our schedules.

>> You've probably driven by this home without knowing one of Dayton's captains of industry lived there

 

What superpower would you love to have?

 

I would love to have the ability to clone myself in order to be everywhere I need to be and want to be at the same time. My favorite movie is “Back to the Future” so it would also be nice to have the power as a human to travel through time without the aid of a time machine (even though the DeLorean time machine is amazing). Using my time travel superpower, I would go back in time to experience Dayton's past starting in 1796 (the year our city was founded) and visit during important moments in the history of the DYT.

>>  MORE: The largest international festival in Dayton and Ohio is back for a 45th year 

What do you love about life in Dayton?

We really do have it great here. The cost of living in the Dayton area is so much lower than most of Ohio and the rest of the United States. I live in a Cape Cod style bungalow in the Belmont neighborhood in the City of Dayton. Immaculate Conception Church & School plus Belmont Park are closeby, so it’s definitely a nice area to walk my dog Simba and get a little peace and quiet at the Shrine of Our Lady of Belmont. This is definitely considered cliché by some people, but going to a Dayton Dragons game at Fifth Third Field is a special thing for Daytonians and should never be taken for granted. We get to see future Reds players in an early stage of their careers plus current Reds on rehab assignments. The ballpark was also an early catalyst for the redevelopment renaissance we're seeing in downtown Dayton today.

I love that Dayton is a big city with a small-town feel. I can always count on running into a friend or acquaintance when I'm out around town.

There are so many talented musicians and artists here in Dayton! Where do I even begin? 

What would you do on a perfect date in Dayton?

Dinner at Blind Bob's followed by a walk in the Oregon District.

 

>> PHOTOS: Take a look inside the former Schantz house 

How did you get involved with photography?

 

In late 2011, I downloaded the Instagram iPhone app and created a personal account. At the time, my son (who is now 10) would fall asleep in the car after leaving the Boonshoft Museum of Discovery, Carillon Historical Park and many other places I'd take him to. I started to take drives in downtown Dayton while he was napping since I didn't want to wake him. In order to pass the time and do something productive, I'd pull the car over, park and stop for a minute or two to take pictures of buildings with my iPhone. The first building in downtown Dayton that I posted a photo of was the Conover Building (aka American Building and RTA Headquarters/Wright Stop Plaza). That's where my fascination with photography started. Close to the time that I started posting photos on Instagram, I discovered Dave Schmidt's @cincygram account and we started following each other. Dave's photography of Cincinnati inspired me to start @daytongram on July 10, 2013. I didn't see anyone else on IG at the time with an active account showcasing the Dayton area exclusively so I figured I'd give it a shot. What started as a fun hobby took on another meaning when I realized I could use my photos of Dayton to get people more excited about the city.

 

What are your favorite things to photograph in Dayton? 

 

Interiors and exteriors of historic and architecturally significant buildings, especially old theaters and churches. 

The Dayton Arcade is definitely at the top of my list. In 1993, the arcade was open during Christmastime for "Holly Days", part of the Downtown Dayton Partnership's Dayton Holiday Festival before closing for good after the holidays. I was 15 at the time and got to visit once while it was still open. The place was packed with festive people and decorated with beautiful lights. I've been photographing/advocating for The Dayton Arcade since 2013 so it is an exciting time knowing that its redevelopment/rebirth by Cross Street Partners, The Model Group and McCormack Baron Salazar is imminent on the horizon.

>> Have you noticed this sleeping giant in downtown Dayton?

 

From February 2016 until June 2017, I professionally photographed the construction progress at Delco Lofts every month for the building's developer Crawford Hoying. On Monday, I did a photo shoot at Delco Lofts. The photo shoot made me realize how unique of an experience it was to have been there documenting it's progression from start to finish. Now, I appreciate it even more. Charles Kettering's restored corner office on the 6th floor of the building is now a Clubhouse for residents and a must-see. The new industrial windows that were designed to the original specifications are amazing and the shadows they provide for photography can't be beat!

 >> RELATED: Insider’s look at Delco Lofts (May 10, 2017) 

My favorite place to take skyline/cityscape photos of downtown Dayton is from Deeds Point MetroPark.

When it comes to photography of the city via rooftops, that's a tie between the Liberty Tower and Delco Lofts. The 20th floor balcony of the Fifth Third Center's penthouse also gets an honorable mention after last weekend's Culture Works Artini event.

>> FLASHBACK: Dayton’s Liberty Tower was taken over by Danny Glover, Robert Redford movie

What have you learned about this city from taking its pictures? 

When I first started doing photography, I used to say that much of the beauty of this city wasn't always visible on the surface. The beauty was always there but you had to have a keen eye and look for it. With all of the redevelopment/revitalization happening downtown and in many of the city's historic neighborhoods, the beauty of Dayton that has always been there is much more visible and refined. I've also learned that the history of Dayton is more extensive than I could've ever imagined. There's much more to our story than the Wright Brothers, NCR, etc. I've also made many connections and friends in Dayton through my photography work. Even though I've being doing photography here for a little less than five years, I feel like I've known the people I've met along the way my whole life.

 

Where do you go for a great time?

 

I work a lot so its nice when I get that rare chance to stop at Warped Wing for a beer. There's a great vibe and sense of community at the brewery. Most of the staff have been there since the start so I always know I'm going to see a familiar and friendly face. That's my favorite brewery but I love all of the ones in the Dayton area that I've been able to visit. Yellow Cab Tavern is one of the best places in Dayton. It's an organic community event space ran by a great group of people. Even though most of the time I've spent there has been working photo assignments for various events, I've always had a a wonderful time at the Old Yellow Cab.

>> Hop on Dayton’s craft beer trail 

When it comes to a great time in Dayton with my wife and kids, we visit the Boonshoft Museum of Discovery and Carillon Historical Park regularly. It also helps that we have family memberships to both places. Some of our favorite Dayton festivals to attend as a family are the Germanfest Picnic & Dayton Celtic Festival (both at RiverScape MetroPark) and the Jewish Cultural Festival at Temple Israel. Young's Dairy (closer to Yellow Springs) is also a family favorite trip to get some ice cream and check out the farm animals.

 >>  Best spring and summer festivals we just cannot wait for

A lot of what I really love about Dayton is simple. I'm very much a creature of habit so one of my favorite things to do on lunch from my IT career if I'm not using my lunch time for a photo shoot is to park my car by The Dayton Arcade (could be either Third, Ludlow or Fourth Street sides). I will then walk by the arcade to admire its architectural beauty and possibly take some photos with my iPhone even though I've done that walk countless times. After that, I'll cross Third Street and head into Courthouse Square to get a chicken sausage and a Vienna Beef hot dog with Louisiana Hot Sauce (both dogs must have caramelized onions) from Dave Parker at the Dogs for Dogs mobile hot dog stand. Fritos corn chips and a drink are also a part of that particular lunch. Dave and I will usually talk about how bad the Cincinnati Reds are playing (we're both frustrated fans of the team). After I get my food, I'll sit down at one of the picnic tables on the square, eat, relax, listen to the music if there's a band playing and people watch. Other favorite food places of mine include Canal Street Arcade & Deli and Carmen's Deli.

 

Great times outside of Dayton include going to Reds games in Cincinnati, concerts, day trips around Ohio, zoos and yearly family trips to Walt Disney World.

 

What would you change about Dayton?

 

Negative attitudes to positive ones. Though this statement is coming from someone who loves history (especially Dayton's history), we should appreciate the past successes of our city but not expect our present and future to be the same kind of success as had by previous generations. We need to make Dayton the city we want it to be in 2018 and beyond. On social media, I see older generations bashing Dayton (downtown, in particular) from the suburbs and many times from out of state (former Daytonians). I encourage the people who do this on a regular basis to come downtown, experience all of the great things there are to see, do, eat & drink and re-evaluate their feelings. They may be pleasantly surprised that Dayton doesn't suck like they claim it does. Most of the negative people haven't actually visited Dayton in 5, 10, 15 and 20 years. The success of this city is a team effort and I believe that if everyone chips in just a little bit, we will be much better off for it. It could be volunteering at an event, donating money to a local cause, taking the initiative to pick up trash in your neighborhood even if it technically isn't your responsibility or giving time to feed the hungry at a soup kitchen. These are merely examples and I encourage everyone to do what works for them. Our city, like every other city has serious issues to face on a daily basis. However, we should embrace and celebrate the positive things happening in Dayton while continuing to work hard and be the change we want to see here. The negativity will never go completely silent but if we can lessen the noise, that's something for all Daytonians to be proud of. 

 

What should people know about Daytonians?

 

I'm amazed by the amount of successful charity fundraisers/benefits in the Dayton area. Daytonians have a huge heart when it comes to philanthropy, whether its donating money, time/talent or both to great causes. 

 Lastly, people should know that Daytonians love free parking!

 >> 7 downtown Dayton parking hacks

Daytonian of the Week: Meet the woman who brings the fun to Dragons games

Ever wondered who plans the fun at the Dayton Dragons games?

Well, you’re in luck — she’s our Daytonian of the Week. Meet Katrina Gibbs, Director of Entertainment for the Dayton Dragons.

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The Beavercreek native graduated from University of Dayton in 2006 as a psychology and religious studies major. Shortly after, Gibbs returned to UD, and in 2013, graduated with a masters degree in Pastoral Ministry.

>> What to do and how to make the most of a Dayton Dragons baseball game

I spoke with Gibbs to learn more about how she took on her role with the Dragons, what that’s like, and what she thinks makes Dayton special.

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When did you become the Dragon’s Director of Entertainment?

This is my third season in the role of Director of Entertainment. I started working with the Dragons on the Green Team for the 2011 season through the 2013 season. 

Can you walk us through a typical day in your shoes – game day or otherwise?

During the off-season, I am busy planning for the upcoming season -- booking national entertainment acts to appear at select games, brainstorming and creating new and exciting on-field skits, hiring new Green Team and tech crew members, and training our entertainment staff in everything from dance rehearsals to game day procedures to unsurpassed customer service -- everything needed for a family-friendly and fun experience. 

Once the season begins, I’m executing plans that have been carefully laid out in the off-season and managing my entertainment team. I communicate with the various groups that perform for our Spotlight on Dayton series, highlighting the local talent of different groups here in the greater Dayton area. I create game logs each night which have all the on-field entertainment, so our fans see a fresh and fun show each time they come to the ballpark. We have over 180 different skits that I can choose from, and that number grows every year!

As a Beavercreek native, how does it feel to be working such an important role so close to home?

I love being able to entertain folks so close my hometown! When people hear I work for the Dragons, almost everyone has a fun story or a special memory connected to a Dragons game. I love being a part of those memories. Knowing that I have a hand in the fun and excitement of coming to a Dragons game is something that I take pride in and something that brings me joy. 

What is it about Dayton that interested you both in staying here permanently?

I left Dayton after I graduated from undergrad and joined Disney Cruise Lines working on board their ships as an entertainment host for four years. I loved the opportunity it gave me to travel, but I also looked forward to the feeling of coming home to Dayton. I moved to Orlando for a short two years after I graduated with my masters, but the frantic pace of the bigger city (paired with insane traffic) was enough to bring me back home when the opportunity arose. It’s great to be back among family and friends as well as a more relaxed pace of living that the Midwest offers. Dayton is growing every year, and it’s fun to see what new and exciting things are popping up in and around the city. 

How has Dayton shaped your life and career?

Community involvement is one of the cornerstones of the Dragons organization and has inspired many different programs. One of these programs that I get to partake in is through our school program. Every January through March we go out and host assemblies at local schools focusing on various topics from healthy lifestyles to teamwork. I get to interact with teachers and kids, facilitate games, and get create excitement towards their school’s upcoming night at the ballpark.  

Share a memory that happened in Dayton that resonates with you.

One of the skills we teach our entertainment team is a few basic sign language skills, which allows them to interact with the deaf community. One year, when I was helping with our MVP program visiting local schools, and I had the opportunity to put my skills to good use. I saw a student who was with an interpreter and I went over to communicate with her using the few signs I knew and included her in the assembly fun. It was such a special moment. 

What do you find most inspiring about Dayton? 

I love that people in Dayton support the local businesses and restaurants. 

What’s your favorite thing to do in Dayton? Favorite place to eat? Favorite shop? I love attending Dayton’s amazing cultural festivals! There’s nothing like a good band with an accordion! 

What do you see for the future of the Gem City in the coming 5 years?

In the last few years, we’ve seen lots of growth around Fifth Third Field. It has really changed the feel of downtown and it’s great to see people out and about. I can see that growth of the downtown community continue in the future. 

>> Your guide to an exciting 2018 Dayton Dragons season

This former NFL player is tackling Dayton community problems head-on

While most of his peers were pondering parties and first jobs, then University of Cincinnati student LaVar Glover had his eyes set on an NFL career and registering his 15-year-old brother in high school. 

>> 50 things to do in Dayton in 2018

Glover, a Jefferson High School graduate raised partly in Residence Park, said it was helping his younger brother James Phillips get back on track that helped gear him towards a life of service when his 10-year career in professional football ended. 

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“I felt all those young guys were like my younger brother,” Glover, who operated The Glover Youth Program from 2009 to 2013, said. “If I can motivate him (my brother), I can motivate others.” 

>> RELATED: Pro football player Glover aims to inspire youth (June 7, 2010)

Through the nonprofit, Glover provided boys in foster care and/or a juvenile courts system with residential placement, mentoring, life skills development and therapeutic treatment services. 

>> Subscribe to the What Had Happened Was podcast for more interview from Amelia Robinson

“I felt like I had always been a humble kid, that come from humble beginnings. Growing up with lack of resources and growing up poor makes you appreciate what you've got,” Glover said. “I was always comfortable in my own skin because I didn’t have much.” 

>> RELATED: Call CAP — not the cops — during these local life emergencies

During his career in football, Glover, was drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers before being signed by the Cincinnati Bengals and the Detroit Lions. 

Following a three-year stint in the NFL, he played seven years in the Arena and Canadian Football Leagues. 

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Dayton called him home when his football days were done. 

“I wanted to be around my family,” he said. 

He said he was nurtured in the community he grew up in, recalling Little League and going to the Wesley Community Center.

“I was familiar with the community. I had a community network,” he said. “Dayton was good to me.” 

We caught up with LaVar Glover when he was honored as the Daytonian of the Week from April 18-25. 

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What do you do, and how did you get involved in Community Action Partnership? 

I am the Director of Self-Sufficiency and I facilitate and coordinate “Getting Ahead In a Just-Gettin’-By World” workshops in Montgomery, Greene, Preble and Darke counties. 

[The workshop] is about building resources for a better life for those living in poverty or unstable situations. In Getting Ahead, we study poverty and near poverty through the lens of economic class to better understand how our society and the economy work. In groups of 12-14 people, we investigate the impact that poverty and low wages have on our community and what it takes to move from a just getting-by world. The idea of “Getting Ahead” means action and movement- getting ahead of where we are now, toward a brighter future. 

 I first learned of CAP through my wife (Ivy), who previously worked for CAP in the Marketing Department. 

 Becoming the Director of Self-Sufficiency was a great fit for me. I genuinely care about helping others, I am a coach at heart, and I grew up in poverty. 

What superpower would you love to have? 

I would love to be able to fly like Superman. 

What do you love about life in Dayton? 

Dayton is small but impactful. 

What do you wish people knew about CAP? 

I wish people knew all of our services and the many counties we serve. CAP is an organization that helps people become more stable with a variety of programs. Our newest programs are the Legal Clinic, Transportation Services, and Getting Ahead. We also have free Tax Services and Computer Classes, to name a few. 

What is the most important thing you learned from your NFL career? 

Make every day count. 

What advice do you give to student athletes hoping to make sports a career? 

Be humble. Be coach-able and work beyond your limits in the classroom and on the field. Prepare for adversity and fall in love with the process of being the best person you can be. 

What is the last book you read? 

“The Magic of Thinking Big” by David J. Schwartz. 

Where do you go for a great time? 

Great times for me are spent with my family at our golf courses and bowling alleys. 

>> GOLF: Personnel changes at area courses abound as new season begins

What would you change about Dayton? 

I would like to rehab all of the abandoned buildings (downtown) and homes throughout the community. Also, I would like to change the negative stigma Dayton sometimes carry throughout the community. I’m ready for Dayton Public Schools to be recognized as a great school district again. 

What should people know about Dayton? 

Dayton is on the move with re-developing the downtown areas. Dayton has beautiful real estate and is prime for business opportunities. Dayton has many resources for people in need. 

Meet the woman who transformed this former Dayton church into an artist’s dream home

Sharon Middelchylde’s favorite holiday is Halloween.

It was her favorite holiday when she constructed a fake cemetery in her old backyard on Fairview Avenue, and it’s still her favorite as she celebrates in her current home that just happens to have an accompanying cemetery.

>> PHOTOS: The inside of this former abandoned church will stun you (in a good way)

“Halloween ... It’s kind of my thing,” Middelchylde said.

Four years ago, Middelchylde’s friend told her about an abandoned church for sale on Wagner Ford Road. After an initial tour of the property, she thought “Bing!”

A contract was signed the very next day, and she was the proud new owner of a former Methodist and Pentecostal church. 

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As soon as the rain-soaked carpets that used to adorn pew aisles were ripped out and the pews themselves were hauled away, Middelchylde began the transformation. Initial renovations and repairs weren’t easy. But even then the work was enjoyable, because she dreamed of opening

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The endeavor, however, was something she realized she didn’t want to begin at the age of 65. She knew it was time to sell.

“It needs to be something for somebody,” Middelchylde said. “For just one person to live here — seems like a waste.”

Showing me around her on-the-market home — wearing a brown corduroy pant and jacket combo that could only be found by your coolest auntie at her favorite thrift shop — it was clear that Middelchylde has spent the last four years pouring her personality into every corner of the place. 

“You’d have to pay me to go to a mall,” Middelchylde said. “I’d rather hang dry wall or something like that.” 

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It’d be easy to imagine the home being scattered with random thrift finds placed haphazardly until the space seemed complete. The reality was that every room seemed decorated with purpose and care. Years of perusing Craigslist for out-of-the-ordinary freebies, thrift shopping and even creating her own original art has made the Wagner Ford Road home a space that could inspire creativity in the most tired of minds. 

Alice Jane, Catarina and Matilda, Middelchylde’s three dogs, seem to enjoy the 5,272 sq. ft. home as much, if not more, than their owner. In addition to the lucky trio, two cats also share the home— and maybe a friendly spirit or two. 

“There’s nothing here that’s mundane. I can tell you that. Never mundane. In ways that I didn’t anticipate or had ever imagined,” Middelchylde said.

She recounted a few instances of hearing the sound of a man stomping off his snow boots, clomping down the stairs and then going silent. Despite any energy Middelchylde has felt, she said she has never felt more safe in her life. 

“I hope the right person comes along and buys it. If not, I’ll just stay here and open a spooky bed and breakfast ... It’s the very essence of the place that’s going to sell it,” Middelchylde said. “Not the commercial value. It will just be someone that fits. That it fits.”

Who was Omar Sharif? Google honors 'Lawrence of Arabia' actor

In honor of what would have been famed Egyptian actor Omar Sharif’s 86th birthdayGoogle featured a dashing illustration of “The Noble” on its home page.

>> Read more trending news

On this day in 1932, Sharif was born Michel Demitri Shalhoub in Alexandria, Egypt, to a Lebanese family of Melkite Catholic descent.

It wasn’t until 1955, when he converted to Islam, that he changed his name to Omar Sharif, a surname that translates to “noble” or “nobleman” in Arabic. 

Before becoming an Egyptian and Hollywood actor and playing the iconic role of Arab warrior Sherif Ali in the 1962 epic “Lawrence of Arabia,” Sharif worked for his father’s lumber company. 

According to Al Jazeera, Sharif also attended Cairo University and graduated with a degree in mathematics and physics. He left the family lumber business to study acting at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London.

He married Egyptian actress Faten Hamama in 1955, soon after converting to Islam, but the pair divorced in 1974.

After being nominated for an Oscar for his role in the Hollywood hit “Lawrence of Arabia,” Sharif went on to gain international fame, scoring roles as a king of Armenia in “The Fall of the Roman Empire” (1964), a Mongol leader in “Genghis Khan” (1965) and a Russian doctor in “Doctor Zhivago” (1965) among others.

He also earned two Golden Globes and a UNESCO Einstein medal, an acknowledgement of his contributions to cultural diversity, Google wrote in its doodle blog.

At one point, Sharif even ranked among the world's top contract bridge players and co-wrote a syndicated column on the game for the Chicago Tribune.

But according to Al Jazeera, “international recognition came at a hefty personal price.” In an interview with The Associated Press in 2003, he said the global fame “separated me from my wife, from my family ... We didn't see each other any more and that was it, the end of our wedding. I might have been happier having stayed an Egyptian film star."

Sharif, 83, died of a heart attack in Cairo, Egypt, on July 10, 2015. His ex-wife, Hamama, had died six months earlier.

More at google.com/doodles.

WATCH: Tom Brady beats Stephen Colbert in beer-chugging contest 

Whether it’s playing football or chugging beer, New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady is a competitive guy.

>> Read more trending newsBrady was a guest on "The Late Show with Stephen Colbert" on Monday night, and when challenged by Colbert to slamming down a pint of beer, he did not hesitate.

Colbert was asking Brady what foods he missed eating as he maintains a strict, healthy diet, and he mentioned, “cheeseburgers, pizza, beer, things like that.”

“You don’t drink beer?” Colbert asked.

“Rarely,” Brady said.

But when Colbert pulled out two glasses of beer, the contest was real.

“I was a pretty good beer-chugger back in the day,” Brady said. “Are we competing?”

“I don’t know if you’re a competitive guy,” Colbert said.

He was. Brady dusted the talk show host easily.

O.J. Simpson's 'hypothetical’ confession causes social media furor

Nearly 24 years after the murder of O.J. Simpson’s ex-wife and her friend, the public continues to be alternately fascinated and revolted by the former NFL star-turned-actor’s actions on the night of June 12, 1994.

>> Read more trending news

Sunday night, Fox aired an interview that had been shelved since 2006. In the two-hour special, “O.J. Simpson: The Lost Confession?” Simpson “hypothetically” walks publisher Judith Regan through the events that culminated with the murders of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman.

After a contentious and controversial trial, Simpson was acquitted of both murders on Oct. 3, 1995. On Sunday, an interview was aired in which he revealed details from what he called a hypothetical scenario that he also laid out in his book “If I Did It.”

The show caused a great deal of buzz on social media as posters used the hashtag #DidOJConfess during the broadcast, Fox reported.

“The interview was a narcissist cesspool,” JRM tweeted.

“Congress should pass legislation to exclude murder and other violent crimes from our double jeopardy laws and call it ‘Nicole's Law’ after Nicole Brown Simpson,” Aaron Clark tweeted.. 

Others remained convinced of Simpson’s innocence.

“OJ Simpson was innocent… the gloves didn’t fit,” Twitter poster Don Corleone wrote.

“Can they let this man Live please!” Sluweekay wrote.

Years later, the Simpson case remains a polarizing one. The audacity of the interview, even one that is now a dozen years old, remains stunning.

Here is the verdict from the trial, read by the jury foreman on Oct. 3, 1995:

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