Gasparilla: Beginning a tradition

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Bauduc jumps on Wojcik’s back to pose for a photo. Photo courtesy:  Kristopher Rodriguez

For best friends Anna Bauduc and Aley Wojcik, Gasparilla is the beginning of a new tradition.

After meeting a few months ago, Bauduc and Wojcik have become inseparable. To honor their friendship, they’ve decided to start a tradition of attending Gasparilla every year together.

“I love traditions, so this was a no brainer,” Bauduc said. “We want our friendship to last no matter what and what better event to come to then Gasparilla?”

Their goal is to maintain contact throughout the years to come. Coming together for this event will keep their friendship alive.

“We all know that as we grow up, we lose some friends,” Wojcik said. “We’re doing this because we know Gasparilla will be around for a while and that gives us an event to come back to every year.”

They’ve heard about Gasparilla from their friends and siblings, but the amount of fun they’ve had was surprising to them.

“I was a bit skeptical about this whole thing,” Wojcik said. “This just seemed like a place where people come to get drunk and that’s not really my scene.”

She was happy to see how wonderful everyone around her was. Finding out that these people are friendly and are here to have a good time has made the event exceed her expectations.

“We met a guy who came all the way from New York,” Bauduc said. “He told us his parents used to come to Gasparilla ages ago and he wanted to see what all the hype was about.”

With around 200,000 people parading down Bayshore Boulevard, this year’s Gasparilla lived up to its reputation.

“It is pretty intense at first with all the people around you,” Wojcik said. “But once you get used to that and the beads start flying, it’s all fun.”

Bauduc and Wojcik spent the day chronicling their adventures through pictures. Bauduc jumped on Wojcik’s back at one point in excitement. They were both clearly enjoying their time at Gasparilla.

“Hopefully we’ll be here next year and the year after that,” Wojcik said. “Knowing my luck, something ridiculous will try and prevent me from coming.”

“The beginning of a tradition is always nerve-wracking,” Bauduc said. “But we hope we can continue doing this and maybe when we’re old and boring we have kids we can pass along the tradition to.”

Collecting The “Booty” From the Pirade Of Pirates

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Photo by Dana Achatz

Even though some people view Gasparilla as a holiday to make it an all day party Marilyn Pereira wasn’t convinced. Pereira decided to stay away from the madness at Bayshore Boulevard and work a double shift as a server at World of Beer on Saturday. To her there was not much of an appeal to attend the event. It was more important to her to make some money than see the parade.

“I didn’t request off for Gasparilla because I didn’t really even know what it was,” Pereira said. “I just moved here and I didn’t know Gasparilla was today until pretty much everyone I work with requested off.”

Sometimes called the Mardi Gras of Florida; the Gasparilla Parade of Pirates attracts thousands to Tampa every year. The parade takes over the streets of downtown for a majority of the day. People from all over Florida make the trip to celebrate, and most of them are dressed up like pirates.

Pereira worked all morning and through most of the evening. She said she saw an increase in customers during her second shift Saturday evening after the parade had ended.

She described large groups of people of all ages weighed down with beads and wearing fake black beards and hats with giant feathers. She seemed to find the outfits a little silly. Even though she made more money than she had originally expected, she decided it might be worth it to attend Gasparilla next year.

“Yeah I would go. It would’ve been fun to tag along with someone,” Pereira said. “Maybe next year.”

Pre-med student regrets spending Gasparilla’s day in class

Ashtyn Leep was not pleased to spend her Gasparilla Saturday in class. Photo: McKenna Kelley
Ashtyn Leep was not pleased to spend her Gasparilla Saturday in class. Photo: McKenna Kelley

After taking a quiz on the basics of experimental design, USF sophomore Ashtyn Leep watched the teaching assistant explain the different parts of the microscopes they would be using for their biology lab late Saturday afternoon.

Leep was in her second class of the day, having spent the earlier part of the afternoon in a physics lab. While taking classes over the weekend would be less than preferable in any given week, Leep was particularly frustrated on this Saturday.

While she pulled on her white lab coat in the Interdisciplinary Sciences building, her friends were enjoying the general mayhem of the Gasparilla Pirate Fest on Bayshore Boulevard.

“I hosted a pre-gaming party for my friends, and I didn’t go to Gasparilla,” said Leep. “I’m so mad, I almost cried.”

Her plans to attend the parade were complicated last week when a classmate pointed out that event overlapped with her 2 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. labs. She remained hopeful that she might make it for a brief time, so she did not cancel the party. It became clear to Leep Saturday morning that it would be impossible to make the trip from the university area to South Tampa and be back in time for her classes.

“I got Taco Bell to make myself feel better,” said Leep.

Leep said friends from as far away as Boca Raton began their day imbibing at her house. Some even borrowed her clothes for the parade. She sat on the sideline, preparing to learn about the parts of a microscope instead of the art of bead catching.

“My friend’s dad is a doctor, so I was tempted to have him write me a doctor’s note,” she said. “But I didn’t.”

Freshman Shawna Miller said she has gone to Gasparilla with a big group of friends and family every year until this one – she was also stuck in the lab. Like Leep, she had to live vicariously through pictures and videos her friends posted on social media.

“All of my friends are on Snapchat,” said Miller. “They’ve got their beads on, and I’m in a biology lab.”

Leep still had a bit of fun ahead of her. Her friends planned to return to her house after the parade to continue celebrating Gasparilla – and they owed her some of their treasure.

“They got me beads,” Leep said. “Hopefully. I’ll be mad if they didn’t.”

Students not ready to kick the habit on campus

 

At the beginning of the new year, the University of South Florida implemented a tobacco ban across campus. After nearly two months, however, the university is having trouble enforcing it.

“Any time you change policy, or you change anything, you’re gonna’ have a few people that are maybe resistant to change, or are not ready to change just yet,” said Adam Freeman, USF Media/Public Affairs manager.

There is no law enforcement involved or surveillance used. Instead, the policy is peer enforced. The idea is that students and faculty hold each other accountable.

“If you see somebody on campus smoking using tobacco, if you feel comfortable, you can approach them and simply tell them this is a tobacco and smoke free campus and politely ask them to stop,” Freeman said.

Students and staff at USF have not exactly jumped on board with this concept yet. Instead, smokers have been gathering in the places that were designated smoking areas and sparking up just as they have in the past.

For a student who wishes to peer enforce, the process involves first asking the smoker to stop. If that doesn’t work, then reporting the smoker to the nearest building manager is the next step. The building manager then could turn them in, subjecting the smoker to either the student code of conduct or disciplinary action, which depends on the position of the offender.

A protest was held Wednesday by several smokers, but USF is not budging on its tobacco policy.

Behind the scenes of No Clubs Media

The Tampa Bay area is host to various bands and artists throughout the year. No Clubs Media helps make the events possible by specializing in campaigns and social media.

No Clubs Media Marketing Director, Kristin Stigaard, is a part of a team that creates the shows for concertgoers.

“People don’t realize that we are the people that put on these shows because we don’t really market ourselves,” Stigaard said. “We market the shows.”

According to their website, No Clubs State Media is a promotional company that has brought iconic and original entertainers to the area for the past 25 years. They promote the shows through campaigns and social media.

State Theatre is one of the many venue halls that host the shows promotional companies put on.

“No Clubs is the kind of company where they book the up and coming bands and they keep booking them as they keep rising,” State Theatre Public Relations and Marketing Director Lucy Volpe said. “They start here at State Theatre and keep growing from there.”

Some of their more notable names include: Red Hot Chili Peppers, Lady Gaga, Kendrick Lamar and Carly Rae Jepsen.

“It’s kind of like a community when you’re in a concert setting and you’re singing along,” said Stigaard. “That’s what we do.”

Poetry fights against black on black crime

 

Andrea Little and Hector Angus are not your typical college students. They are owners of a grocery store, 1 Apple Grocery.

The University of South Florida students put their money together to help a low-income neighborhood thrive in this “food desert.”

Phil Scott has been president of Black on Black Rhyme Tampa for the last three years.  The poetry troop is the longest running in the Tampa area.

The troop assembles every third Friday of every month at Joffrey’s Coffee House. Their aim is to help the people in the poorer side of the community be able to express themselves in a healthy way.

When asked, “is it worth it,” Phil Scott answers, “Undoubtedly. From the neighborhood that I come from, it’s vital to our survival as a community, in order to have these outlets for us”.

Located at the corner of 8th and 15th street in downtown Ybor, Joffrey’s Coffee House hosts the Black on Black Rhyme shows every third Friday of each month.

Phil Scott is FAMU graduate, obtaining a Bachelor’s Degree in Science and Music. He is currently the band director at Van Buren Middle School.

He says, “I didn’t choose Black on Black, Black on Black really chose me.  It was kinda like they just welcomed me with open arms”.

Black on Black Rhyme Tampa show times are available on the Tampa Bay Poetry page on Facebook. Be sure to check out there show this Saturday evening at 8:30 p.m.

A second home at the Y

Carrollwood, FL- For some people, YMCA is a classic party song and dance, for many others, it’s a place called home.

Officially referred to as, “the Y” now, this nonprofit organization is still a place of comfort. Whether it be an after school program or a late night gym session after a long day at work, it’s a second home for some.

The Y defines themselves as a nonprofit organization like no other, with locations in 10,000 neighborhoods across the country.

In Carrollwood, the Bob Sierra Family YMCA underwent major renovations using money donated entirely by the public and parents of the children who spend their days there.

Through these generous donations, the Top Flight Gymnastics portion of the Y was built.

Inside these four big walls, children ages 2-17 spend time escaping the real world and its problems by entering a safe place with their friends.

Destiny Garcia is one of the many gymnasts at Top Flight. She uses her time there to escape from anything going on outside the gym.

“It means a lot to me because its very encouraging and it helps a lot of us get through many problems that we have,” Garcia said.

With their friends, these future gymnasts work hard. This place is more than a place to go when school lets out, it’s a second home.

“I’m here 24/7 from 3:30 to, I would have to 7 or 8:30, everyday, Monday through Friday including today, it’s a lot of work, it’s like either you commit or you don’t commit,” gymnast Emma Barton said.

The YMCA is committed to making sure kids like Emma will always have a place to call home.

To learn more about the Y, visit: www.ymca.net.

Parking for booty during Gasparilla

Henry Sutter outside the Business Law Group
Henry Sutter outside the Business Law Group, P.A.
Sherry Cook fundraising for the Tampa Lighthouse for the Blind.
Sherry Cook fundraising for the Tampa Lighthouse for the Blind.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Along West Platt Street, people were profiting for different causes by offering parking spots in private properties.

Sherryl Cook, employment specialist at the Tampa Lighthouse for the Blind, was one of them. She started at the parking lot around 9:30 a.m.

The Tampa Lighthouse for the Blind is a non-profit organization that offers rehabilitation programs for persons who are blind or visually impaired.

“It usually picks up around one when the parade is going on,” Cook said.

The idea started 16 years ago when one of her coworkers discovered a group of homeless charging people for using their office parking lot during Gasparilla. They decided it would be a good idea create a fundraiser to collect donations to support the organization.

They agreed to a price match with other nearby parking lots to make it fair. This year they charged 20 dollars for each spot.

There were 50 spots, and Cook said she planned to be there until 2 p.m.

Cooks’ plans for the rest of the day were going home and resting after a long morning at the parking lot.

Henry Sutter, 57, was another Tampa resident who decided to make some profit out of Gasparilla.

Holding a “Best Parking” sign, Sutter started at 9 a.m. working at the parking lot with his wife Patty Sutter, who works as a legal attorney at the Business Law Group, P.A., a community association law firm.

They have done this before for collecting money and donating it to the Boys Scouts or churches. This year they did it if for their own profit.

“This is year is going to my daughter’s college car fund,” Henry Sutter said.

They had 35 spots. They charged 30 dollars per car.

“Once every two or three years, I’m here,” Henry Sutter said. “We rotate turns with other people from the law firm.”

Education abroad, not so foreign anymore

The University of South Florida is more globally connected than ever before. This year, USF Education Abroad ushered in over a thousand international students. With 25 programs to choose from, more and more USF students are going overseas.

“We have grown in our diversity of programs and our diversity of students in participation, and we have also just simply grown in number of students we’re sending,” said James Pulos, the Associate Director of Education Abroad.

The Education Abroad office was not always the big program that it is today. Before the 1980’s, international programs were singularly organized by professors and staff. Over the decades, the independent programs unified to become what is known today as Education Abroad. Prior to this, the office was called Study Abroad. Before that it was International Programs, and earlier Travel Study.

Today, USF is sending and receiving students from all over the globe. This semester there are students from universities in England, Australia, Sweden, Denmark, Japan, and Spain.

International students choose USF for multiple reasons.

Danish exchange student, Aske H. Muller chose USF for the weather and academics. “I wanted to live in a warm place, and a nice climate so I looked up Florida and California. Actually, USF was my first priority. I didn’t know it before I started looking into it, but it just seemed like a cool university.”

The exchange experience is different for each student, but the ultimate reward is creating global citizens within USF.

“Watching a student return from that and say, in the most positive and life-changing way” Pulos said, in regards to his favorite part of working with Education Abroad. “I have been changed and transformed, and I will carry this experience with me not for the remainder of the summer, not for five years, but for the rest of my life.”

Keeping Sinatra alive, one performance at a time

Rick Michel laughs as he recalls a conversation with his mother before singing Sinatra’s “You Make Me Feel So Young.”

At the age of seven, already dabbling into the world of impersonations, he asked his mother which of his impressions was her favorite.

While first requesting Paul Newman, his mother responded with, “How ‘bout Frank Sinatra?”

Michel, a Las Vegas singer, attributed this moment to the start of his career.

“I went down to the basement and got one of the old 33 and one-third albums out, it was Nelson Riddle’s “Sound for Swinging Lovers”, and I took the first cut and I put it on my Panasonic Reel to Reel that I got for my bar mitzvah,” Michel said in between songs at the Largo Cultural Center’s Tonne Playhouse. “Next thing you know, I’m doing Frank Sinatra.”

Michel has been an impersonator for more than 30 years, first as a stand-up comedian and now as a musician. Michel has had the opportunity to share the stage with many successful 1960’s and ‘70’s celebrities; including Rich Little, Mickey Rooney, John Byner and Sherman Hemsley.

“Forever Sinatra: A Tribute to Frank Sinatra” is different from the other comedic acts in his repertoire.  He doesn’t pretend to be Sinatra, but rather pays tribute to his idol’s long and wonderful career.

“Nobody can fill his shoes, that’s why I call it an interpretation not an impersonation,” Michel said. “I’m emotionally drained after every show.”

Michel has had Frank Sinatra, President Gerald Ford, Tony Curtis, Bob Hope and Steve Allen in his audience. Meeting Frank Sinatra, he said, was the height of his career.

“There are a lot of moments where I have literally pinched myself,” Michel said. “His aura, I mean standing next to him I can see why women get weak at the knees.”

Michel’s goal is to touch upon all aspects of Sinatra’s life by choosing a variety of music that best represents his career.

In Sunday’s matinee performance, the audience was treated to Sinatra’s greatest hits, including “I’ve Got the World on a String,” “Lady is a Tramp,” “The Way You Look Tonight,” “Fly Me to the Moon,” “Strangers in the Night,” and “New York, New York.

Almost every seat, in the Tonne Playhouse’s 466 seats, was sold as the audience routinely interrupted the performance with applause.

“It’s just like Ol’ Blue Eyes,” said B.A. Rand Marsters, a Canadian painter and musician in the audience. “I’m a big Sinatra fan and he does him justice.”

The audience responded especially well to the chemistry between Michel and the three other members of his band: Ray Von Rotz on Drums, Mark Neuenschwander on Bass and Stan Collins on the Piano. Michel doesn’t travel with a band, instead he picks up local musicians in the city where he is performing.

“It’s too expensive to travel with a band,” said Leslie Gregory, Michel’s wife of nine years. “You play so many cities, you know people and who contracts bands.”

The performance did not miss a beat once, in fact, the four of them were chatting on stage like old friends throughout most of the show.

“When you’re pros, it makes it easy,” Michel said.

Michel loves being able to bring the audience to a different time. Hearing people tell him if they close their eyes it’s like Sinatra was there is one of his favorite parts. He couldn’t imagine another career.

“It’s the music, it’s the passion, it’s the words,” Michel said. “I can feel the music through my soul.”

 

 

Photo gallery: Fun in the Sunset at Pier 60

The Sunset at Pier 60 Daily Festival is located at Pier 60 on Clearwater Beach. It is a weather permitting event that is every day from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. It starts two hours before the sun sets and lasts two hours after the sunset fades away.

At this event, skilled crafters and artisans come together to display their handmade crafts and entertainers perform their latest tricks for the public to watch. The Sunset Celebration Festival started on March 17th, 1995 and in 2015 the festival celebrated their 20th Anniversary.

Oxford Exchange mixes classic, contemporary

Many know the Oxford Exchange as a relaxing place to dine in, have coffee or shop, but what many don’t know is how the Oxford Exchange became what it is today.

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The building, located at 420 West Kennedy Blvd., has gone through numerous changes over the past decades. It was originally built in 1891 as a stable for the Tampa Bay Hotel, now the University of Tampa’s Plant Hall. The Oxford Exchange opened in 2012.

“The owner, Blake Casper, went to college in London and was inspired by the university libraries and the old clubs, all the architecture there. He really thought that sense of community was missing here in his hometown of Tampa,” said Sarah Dyles, the director of public relations.

 

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The idea started with a small bookstore and soon took off from there. The owner and his team have done their best at preserving as much of the old material as they could.

“The original brick walls are exposed,” said Dyles. “The original wood floors are actually above us on the ceiling. We found old horse shoes and milk bottles that were left behind from over a century ago.”

The building has an authentic, historic appearance. Its unique architecture and design helps draw people in.

“I would say the most unique thing is the space, all the different facets,” said sous chef Rachel Bennett. “They have the commerce club, the atrium, the conservatory and the retail shop. There are not very many restaurants where you get to have all these different kinds of elements.”

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Coffee and tea are common favorites. Many people enjoy sipping their beverages while lounging on the big, comfortable, leather sofas.

“I really like coming here on Fridays after my yoga classes,” said Daniella Salgueiro, a University of Tampa student. “The environment is very soothing and relaxing. I like to have my coffee here in the morning, and sometimes I’ll have a little treat.”

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In the center of the building is the atrium, a simple gathering space. The Oxford Exchange does not offer Wi-Fi. They prefer people are not staring at their phones all day long, but rather are interacting and collaborating with one another.

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“They’re doing things with people, the way they did back when this building was originated,” said Dyles.

Poetry highlight of USF German Day

This year’s German Day theme was “25 Years of German Unity.” The event was held on Oct. 23rd and was sponsored by the German Embassy in D.C.  The German Section at USF and the German Culture Club presented the event, which consisted of a poetry slam and a poster contest. There were also free refreshments, raffle prizes and other items given away. 

Trick or Trot brings donations, holiday spirit

As they approached the finish line, it was unclear whether Superman or the Ninja Turtle would get there first.

Eventually Superman edged to victory over Michelangelo, closely followed by Minnie Mouse, a pumpkin and a 6-foot Viking. This was all part of the Trick or Trot 5K Fun Run, which was held Oct. 24 by Help for the Homeless at the University of South Florida’s Fitness Trail.

“I think a lot of people had fun, and it was great with the music and with the raffle,” Stephanie Radu, president and founder of Hope for the Homeless at USF, said.

Radu, a biomedical sciences major, founded the organization in January of this year, with this being its first event. Each runner paid a $15 fee that was donated to the Ybor Youth Clinic.

“The money is going toward care packages that will all go to the homeless,” Radu said. “We will put a lot of effort into making and distributing them.”

Cameron Purvis of Florida College won the race with a time of 16:27 and was awarded a Halloween-themed trophy in the shape of a skull, despite not wearing a costume for the event.

“I actually kind of forgot about dressing up,” Purvis said. “Once we were on our way we were like ‘wow we forgot our costumes.’”

Purvis said he had not been training for this race in particular but decided to sign up when he saw the money raised was going to a good cause.

“I’ve been putting in a lot of mileage this season and was looking for a good race to sign up for,” Purvis said.

Over 100 people signed up for the race, which raised over $2,500 via donations and raffle ticket purchases. Radu’s goal was $3,000, but she was pleased with the result.

“I’m a little optimistic so I’m happy with $2,500,” Radu said.

Radu believes that not enough was being done for the homeless in Tampa, which is why she set up this organization.

“I feel very passionately about helping the homeless community,” Radu said. “We’re trying to get rid of that bad stigma that’s around them. There’s a lot of homeless youth in Tampa.”

After their first event, Radu is optimistic there will be many more. “We hope to hold another event in the spring and to make this event an annual one,” Radu said.

Some of the sponsors of the event had representatives at the race handing out free treats to participants. Amazon representatives, for example, were at the event giving out water bottles to runners after they had completed the race. They also donated items that were used as prizes in the raffle that took place.

There were many volunteers at the race who ensured everything went as smoothly as possible. The DJ, the referees and the event managers all volunteered to set up and run the event.

The DJ gathered a lot of attention after the raffle took place, playing “Cupid Shuffle” that made around 20 of the runners join in with the dance.

Even some of the adults dressed up. Photo by Connor Vice
Some of the adults even dressed up. Photo by Connor Vice.

Photo: Lunch at Trinity Cafe

Trinity Cafe is a free restaurant that provides hot meals to the homeless, hungry and working poor. However, Trinity Cafe is about more than providing a meal, It is about treating guests with compassion and respect they might not normally receive. Trinity Cafe’s lunch service takes place Monday through Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. The lunch service includes enthusiastic volunteers who will serve guests drinks, a meal and provide them with conversation. At Trinity Cafe, you will find kindhearted people and delicious food.

Walk to benefit those with Alzheimer’s Disease

Someone’s parent, child or loved one can have Alzheimer’s disease, and while this disease is prevalent in seniors, it can affect anyone of any age.

Alzheimer’s robs an individual of their memory and other cognition functions and to date, there is no cure.

Participates in the Walk to End Alzheimer’s walk to raise funds for awareness of this disease and for caregivers.

USF students experience high intensity workout

At the USF recreation center, students have the opportunity to become physically fit. Recently, a new class is offered where students have the ability to test their limits and go above and beyond. This class is open for all students from beginners to expert level. What makes this class different from the others is that it is a full body intensity workout, it focuses on all part of the body and leaves you feeling pumped.

 

At the University of South Florida Recreation Center, students have the opportunity to become physically fit and active.

The full body high intensity workout class has begun in which students have the ability to test their limits and go above and beyond. The class is open for all students from beginners to experts.

This class is different from other ordinary classes because it is a full body intensity workout. This focuses on all parts of the body and leaves you feeling pumped and energized.

Photos: Students adjust to life in America

Traveling from the University of Exeter in England, Alexa Carter, 20, and Freya Owen, 20, are attending USF for a year studying abroad. Carter and Owen take pride in not forgetting their home country in their day-to-day routine as they live temporarily in America with the hopes to come out of the experience more culturally aware.

Traveling from the University of Exeter in England, Alexa Carter, 20, and Freya Owen, 20, are attending the University of South Florida for a year studying abroad.

Carter and Owen take pride in not forgetting their home country in their day-to-day routine as they live temporarily in America.

Local Artists Showcase Talent at Don’t Stop St. Petersburg

Don’t Stop St. Petersburg just came back for the event’s third year in the Arts District of downtown. Over 40 local and regional musicians came out to play on the streets showcasing some of the raw talent this city holds.

The event was crowded with people checking out all of the musicians, artists and other vendors that volunteered for the event. There was a wide variety of art styles and food, representing the artistic diversity in St. Pete. The event served as a great venue for bringing the community together for the day.

Several successful bands such as Underoath and Sleepwave have come out of St. Pete, and events like this are a great way for local musicians to get noticed and supported. The same thing goes for the other vendors that are hoping to grow their businesses.

Don’t Stop St. Petersburg was a great success, and there is no doubt that we will be seeing it come back again next year.

Photo: Training for success

Fitness enthusiast Tyler Butler is training to compete in the 2015 Strength Camp Challenge in late November. He has put in hard work and dedication, hoping it will pay off in winning the $10,000 prize. Butler aspires to be a good role model to family and friends and tries to inspire them to lead a healthy lifestyle.