December 2011

Winter Wonderland

This holiday season, marvel at The Jody Phillips Dance Company’s (JPDC) annual performance of “Winter Wonderland” in support of Operation Breakthrough (OB). With proceeds benefiting the charity, the dance studio will perform at 6:30 on Dec. 15 at Blue Valley High School. A nationally accredited, not-for-profit corporation, Operation Breakthrough adopted out more than 1,595 families in 2010. Today OB cares each weekday for more than 600 children, ages 6 to 18 years. For more than two decades, the staff at Operation Breakthrough, with much support from the community, has provided Christmas gifts and holiday meals to families in need in the central city. Raid the nearest holiday mart and stock up on options for the Ugly Christmas Sweater Party, an annual party that supports Operation Breakthrough; JPDC will also host a toy drive in support of both organizations on the night of the performance.

Pass the Syrup, Santa

Chow down on a delicious pancake breakfast complete with syrup and Santa at The Lodge at Ironwoods Park on Dec. 3. Bring the kiddos for a morning at the park when The Parks and Recreation Department holds its 10th annual “Breakfast with Santa.” Have a picture taken with Santa and view it online at where you can print them for free shortly after the event. Don’t forget to bring a wish list! Santa and The Parks and Recreation Department mascot, Leawoody, want to get a jumpstart on their holiday tasks. All participants will also create a holiday craft. While you’re at the park, be sure to stop by the Oxford School House (FREE Admission) for “Holiday Traditions on the Prairie.” Learn about holiday celebrations on the plains at the turn of the century from 9:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 3. “Breakfast With Santa” will go from 8:30–10:00 a.m. (Session I) or 10:30 a.m.–12:00 p.m. (Session II) for $11 per person. To register, please call (913) 339-6700 ext. 154.

Beds on Wheels

After weeks of voting via Facebook, Sleepyhead Beds was awarded one of five $25,000 grants from the Mercedes-Benz Community Stars program on Nov. 3. The funding, a true game-changer, will allow Sleepyhead Beds to provide a comfy place to sleep at night for countless more children. The Mercedes-Benz Community Stars program is a way for Mercedes-Benz dealers across the country to support deserving organizations in their communities. Locally, both Aristocrat Motors and Mercedes-Benz of Kansas City have supported Sleepyhead Beds through bed drives and have helped increase awareness of the organization throughout the city. During the last three weeks in October, Facebook users had the chance to vote for their choice of 15 different finalist organizations from across the United States. Each organization posted a short video to share their mission with Facebook users. Sleepyhead Beds has not yet determined what the $25,000 will specifically be used for, but initial ideas include buying a new truck to help make delivering local beds more efficient. For more information, or to donate a bed, visit or call (816) 547-9965.

March to the Music

Olathe North High School senior Forrest Goyer has been selected to be a member of the 2012 U.S. Army All-American Marching Band. Goyer will join an elite group of musicians who will perform during halftime of the U.S. Army All-American Bowl at the Alamodome in January in San Antonio, Texas. A drum major and trombone player, Goyer is recognized as one of the top 125 high school senior marching musicians and color guard members in the country. The U.S. Army All-American Marching Band will showcase these top marchers’ talents during the largest celebration of high school football in America, the U.S. Army All-American Bowl, televised live at 1 p.m. EST on NBC on Saturday, Jan. 7.

The Heart of the Matter

When it comes to matters of the heart and advanced stroke care, thousands of area residents will now have access to Overland Park Regional Medical Center’s unique multi-specialty Heart and Vascular/Neuroscience Lab, which features advanced technology and a team of multi-specialty physicians. The unique cath lab, which offers numerous options for diagnosis and treatment of cardiac disease and advanced interventional stroke care, debuted Nov. 8 at OPRMC. The hospital is an accredited chest pain and stroke center and was recently recognized by The Joint Commission, the nation’s leading accreditor for healthcare organizations, for achieving quality thresholds in every key quality measure for which it provides care, including heart attack and heart failure. The Heart and Vascular/Neuroscience Lab enhances the services already offered by the hospital, bringing heart and stroke care to a new level. For more information on Overland Park Regional Medical Center, visit

Fish for Thought

Something fishy is going on at Crown Center. Kansas City will be acquiring 50,000 square feet of underwater fun at the new Sea Life at Crown Center. Set to open in Spring 2012, KC’s first aquarium experience will be nearly double the size of the Phoenix, Ariz., location. Sea Life will occupy the first floor of the Halls department store, as well as a portion of the second floor. To accommodate this large undertaking, Halls’ men’s department will relocate to space on the third level of the Crown Center Shops. The Hallmark Cards product department within Halls will be consolidated into the Hallmark store at Crown Center, while the home decor and kitchenware departments will be relocated on Halls’ second level. The two-story aquarium will host more than 30 displays of unique marine life for visitors to enjoy. Sharks, stingrays, seahorses, and starfish are among the marine life to be included, complete with a walk-through underwater tunnel.

Holiday Shop

Let the shopping begin Dec. 2. For thousands of families in need, the date marks a special time of year: the opening of the Johnson County Christmas Bureau’s (JCCB) 2011 Holiday Shop, located at the Great Mall of the Great Plains in Olathe. By appointment, more than 12,500 low-income Johnson County residents will select groceries, personal care items, children’s clothing, gifts, books, winter coats, hats and gloves to make this holiday season a giving one. To help meet their goal of catering to the swelling number of families seeking holiday assistance, JCCB has placed 50 donation barrel locations throughout Johnson County and is asking for in-kind and cash donations through the duration of the 9-day Holiday Shop, ending Dec. 10. JCCB kindly requests all donations be new items, with the exception of gently worn or new coats and books. Roughly 3,000 community volunteers donate their time from Shop Move-In in mid-November to Shop Take-Down in mid-December. To view a complete list of needed items, or to volunteer at the event, visit

Teenage Dreams

Gracie Schram has had a busy summer, including a trip to Purdue University and Sacramento, Calif. for the United Methodist Youth 2011 Events, singing in the kid’s chorus for the very first opera at Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts and practices for the female lead in the Lyric Opera of Kansas City’s “The Giver.” A hectic schedule doesn’t faze 13-year-old Schram, who released her second CD “Different” in July, in the hopes to continue her mission to help orphans around the world. She released her first CD in 2009 at age 10 after hearing about the living conditions of AIDS orphans in Africa. Through that project, she was able to raise more than $20,000 and used those funds to build two tilapia ponds in Africa and an orphan home in Haiti. The teenage singer, songwriter and philanthropist was featured in the April 2010 issue of 435 South. Come help Gracie celebrate her new CD at her launch party at The Refuge from 7-9 p.m. on Dec. 2. You can get more details from the events section of the singer’s Web site at

 Parent College: Winning the Toddler War

Conquer the battle over vegetables, bedtime and potty training when you go back to school for a little Parenting 101. “Winning the Toddler War” in The University of Kansas Hospital’s December Parent College program will host the hospital’s Jennifer Dioszeghy, MD, as she provides tips and tricks to win the fight against the terrible twos.

This community program will be from 5:30 - 7 p.m., Dec. 20, in the Pediatrics Conference Room at The University of Kansas Hospital’s Pediatric Urgent Care, 7301 Mission Road, Suite 350, in Prairie Village. There is no charge, but space is limited. Registration is required by calling (913) 588-1227 or visiting

Cover Art

The Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art’s painting by Dana Schutz graced the cover of the November issue of Art in America. Bruce Hartman, the museum’s executive director, purchased the oil on canvas titled Swimming, Smoking, Crying, with Marti and Tony Oppenheimer two years ago at the Art Basel Miami Beach art fair in Florida. The painting hung in the Nerman all summer and is now traveling with the Dana Schutz exhibition organized by the Neuberger Museum of Art at Purchase College, State University of New York. Schutz, viewed as one of the most important up-and-coming artists of the past decade, has another piece titled Surgery on exhibit at the Nerman now.

Haunting Horizons

Caught between land and sky, artists have been inspired by the mysterious beauty of the perpetual line that connects the two entities. The Kansas City Jewish Museum of Contemporary Art (KCJMCA) concludes its 20th anniversary season with “Overland, “a group exhibition at the Epsten Gallery at Village Shalom that highlights the subtle magnificence of the horizon. Featuring artists who maintain an active outdoor studio practice in the creation of their work, the exhibition presents new and recent works by Marci Aylward, John Davis Carroll, Lisa Grossman, Mary Ann Strandell and Jane Voorhees who explore the relationship between land and sky, foreground and vista, flat and infinite, and life at human scale set against nature’s epic backdrop. Moving between studio environments both inside and outdoors, each artist explores this subject relative to different issues of remoteness, memory, humanity’s impact upon the environment, relationships between the organic and inorganic, and nature’s evolutionary ebb and flow. For more information, go to or call (913) 266-8413.

Destination: Kansas City!

Exotic destinations like Curacao and Ghana have nothing on Kansas City which Frommer’s recently named as a Top 10 Travel Destination for 2012. Kansas City, with its burgeoning arts scene and unique cultural attractions, is the only American City included on the annual list compiled by editors. Appearing alongside cities in Japan and Spain, Kansas City was praised for its local attractions, including the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, the College Basketball Experience, and the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum. The new Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts was even hailed as an “architectural icon” by Frommer’s. KC’s famous barbeque joints are mentioned as a must-taste part of visiting. Amy S. Eckert, whom the KCCVA hosted last year during a meeting of the Society of American Travel Writers, wrote the Kansas City section.

Get Energized!

Learn how to address cancer-related fatigue and have better energy in your daily life by attending “Get Energized! An Intro to Wellness for the Cancer Survivor.” Gain tips and tools to get stronger, feel better both physically and emotionally and reduce the overall risk for cancer recurrence and other diseases. This free community wellness program will be from 11 a.m.-12:15 p.m., Dec. 7, at Kansas City Cancer Center-Southwest, 12200 W. 110th St., in Overland Park. For more information and/or to make the required reservation, call Sami Papacek at (913) 577-5834 or visit