Buzz Briefs

Shannon Vreeland dreams of winning a gold medal at the Olympics, and this year, her dreams could come true. Securing a spot on the United States Olympic swimming team at the trials in Omaha, Neb., the Blue Valley West graduate is on her way to London. A former Kansas City Blazers United States swimming club competitor, Vreeland is a junior at the University of Georgia. Go for the Gold Shannon—you are Kansas City’s new hometown hero!


InterUrban ArtHouse of Overland Park received a lot of love this summer as the National Endowment for the Arts selected the program as a recipient of the $150,000 “Our Town” grant. Of the 317 applications received, only four were granted the full $150,000 reward. The “Our Town” grant supports creative projects that help communities establish arts-based programs. In downtown Overland Park, this translates to the establishment of the InterUrban ArtHouse facility. The ArtHouse will serve as a multifaceted space with creative opportunities for all artistic mediums. The National Endowment for the Arts loves InterUrban ArtHouse and in turn the InterUrban ArtHouse loves the community. It’s a win-win situation for everyone! 


Sprint unleashed its new 4G LTE wireless phone to select cities on July 15. As Sprint’s worldwide headquarters are located in Overland Park, Kansas City easily made the cut. The new device is designed to be faster, receive better signal strength and offer expanded coverage. Sprint is Kansas City’s hometown provider serving more than 56 million consumers. Johnson County’s business giant was also ranked No. 3 in Newsweek’s Green Rankings for 2011 making it the greenest telecommunications company in the world.


For 33 years, Martha Hunt dedicated her heart and soul to protecting those in need from domestic violence. Beginning as a network of safe houses in Johnson County, Safehome has always been a place where women and children could seek refuge from abuse. Under Hunt’s careful tutelage, Safehome has helped more than 6,900 survivors of domestic abuse obtain safety, counseling, medical advocacy and legal advice. Now, Safehome honors Hunt, who passed away June 29, 2012 by carrying on her legacy. Remembered for her compassionate spirit, strong leadership and visionary work, Hunt’s life work will continue to assist families in need of refuge.


The Grammy Museum has launched a revolution, a Music Revolution, and it debuted right here in Kansas City. The new education initiative offers talented youth the opportunity to engage in musical discourse and performance with their peers. The student-selection process was rigorous, and Kansas City had no shortage of talent. Twenty-four area students were selected for the program, which began June 18. Students will develop new relationships and broaden their musical and creative skills with help from celebrity guests Phil Collen of Def Leppard, Keb Mo, Andy Gibson and more.


Official construction on the new, state-of-the-art Teva Neuroscience campus started July 9 at the 11100 block of Nall in Overland Park. Upon completion, this site will feature a five-story Class A 150,000-square-foot office building with expansion capabilities of an additional 100,000-square-foot building. Completion of the facility, which will eventually house upwards of 400 Teva employees, is scheduled for 2013. Teva Neuroscience is a subsidary of Israel-headquartered Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd., a leading global pharmaceutical company, and is dedicated to supporting and improving the lives of individuals with neurological disorders. Its main products are drugs for treating multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease. The company was established in the mid-1990s as a joint venture with Marion Merrell Dow. Teva chose Overland Park for its new office because of the area’s history of success. As the largest maker of generic pharmaceutical products, Teva Pharmaceuticals has a direct presence in at least 60 countries. “This is an exciting development for Teva’s U.S. Brand Pharmaceuticals group and we are looking forward to establishing a presence in the Overland Park community,” says Larry Downey, executive vice president for Teva U.S. Brand Pharmaceuticals. Overland Park Mayor Carl Gerlach says the addition of Teva to the community is a wonderful asset. “A successful community is truly a reflection of its people and businesses. I know with Teva’s proven success and leadership, Overland Park will benefit in so many ways.”


Coach Al Buehler is the king of the finish line. He has coached generations of athletes, from the collegiate level to Olympic medalists. All his triumphs come to the forefront in Amy E. Unell’s new book, which Unell wrote with her mother, Barbara C. Unell, “Starting at the Finish Line: Coach Al Buehler’s Timeless Wisdom.” Unell, a Kansas City native, teamed up with basketball superstar Grant Hill to create a documentary about Buehler with the same title. The inspiring book includes personal, never-told stories from Olympic athletes coached by Al Buehler, including three-time gold medalist Jackie Joyner-Kersee. Buehler, a collegiate track and cross country standout himself, coached at Duke University for nearly 60 years, leaving an indelible impact on students. His legacy is carried on through the countless “Coachables,” or words of wisdom, found in Unell’s book.


Jean Tyrell of Leawood represented the Midwest PGA Section in the second annual Ryder Cup Junior Golf Academy. The weeklong program is designed to expand the outreach of the Ryder Cup and provide aspiring, accomplished young golfers an elite player development academy. The Academy teed off July 1, 2012 at the PGA Center for Golf Learning and Performance in Port St. Lucie, Fla. Tyrell is one of 84 selected. Hats off to Tyrell, who had to be nominated for the Academy to receive an invitation from the Midwest PGA Section.


The next American Idol may be hiding right here in Kansas City. On June 11, 10 Kansas City-area high school students were chosen as finalists for KC SuperStar, an American Idol-style singing competition. Held at the Jewish Community Center in Overland Park, the competition’s finalists represent a talented cross-section of Greater Kansas City. Winners of KC SuperStar will receive scholarships up to $7,500. Additionally, the finals competition will honor University of Kansas Basketball Coach Bill Self, who was selected as the Community SuperStar for his long-standing commitment to youth-oriented projects and programs. The battle to be Kansas City’s SuperStar gets even hotter in the final round on August 26 at Yardley Hall at Johnson County Community College.