Buzz Briefs

Making the Headlines
In the digital age, it’s hard to find a journalist who understands the true meaning of reporting: to inspire. Dave Helling, multimedia reporter and columnist for The Kansas City Star, has been named the winner of the 2012 Headline Award from Johnson County Community College’s journalism and media communications department. The Headline Award is given to local journalists whose example serves as an inspiration to student journalists at JCCC. It also recognizes individuals who have made significant contributions to local journalism. Helling provides videos for The Star’s Web site, as well as writes regularly for the print edition. Before joining the newspaper in 2005, he was an anchor/reporter for KCTV-5 from 1999 to 2005, and also for WDAF-TV from 1984 to 1999. A graduate of Shawnee Mission West High School, Helling’s additional awards include Freedom of the Press Award, ACLU; three Emmy nominations; and silver medalist, New York Film Festival.

Relay for Life
On March 2, 700 high school students gathered in Blue Valley West’s gym for a night of food, fun and fundraising. Students from Blue Valley West, Blue Valley and Blue Valley Southwest spent the night as part of the American Cancer Society’s Relay For Life Event. Each student had to raise $100 to spend the entire night; all others could stay until midnight. The Olympic-themed event included several basketball games, music, group activities and speeches from cancer survivors and family members affected by cancer. As a school, Blue Valley West raised more than $23,000 of the $92,000 raised by the three schools for cancer research, a $20,000 increase from last year.

The Perfect Score
Tim Webber, a junior at Olathe North High School, is part of the less than 1 percent of students nationally who scored a perfect 36 on the ACT. Webber took the test three times to achieve the perfect score in February. “I was hoping to get a 36, but I was surprised when I found out,” Webber says, adding he had received a 34 and 35 on past tests. Webber is considering studying journalism at Northwestern University, Drake University, Creighton University or Iowa State University. Webber is a member of the 21st Century Programs Distinguished Scholars Language Arts and he is involved in debate at Olathe North.

Race to the Finish
Husband, father of four, and respected president of the Greater Kansas City Sports Commission, the late Kevin Gray will be honored with the inaugural Kevin Gray Father’s Day Run on June 16, 2012. Established to offset expenses for Kevin and his wife Katy’s four daughters, the race will benefit the Kevin Gray Family Education Fund. The race will also benefit the University of Kansas Cancer Center in helping find a cure for adult sarcoma, the form of cancer that took Kevin’s life too early, and the Greater Kansas City Sports Commission and Foundation, which Kevin led from 1989 until 2011. With a unique course that takes runners around LIVESTRONG Sporting Park, CommunityAmerica Ballpark, and the Kansas Speedway, the race will begin on Village West Parkway outside of LIVESTRONG Sporting Park and finish in the stadium. Runners should be stretched and ready to run or walk at 8 a.m. There will also be a Kid’s Fun Run at 9 a.m. An awards ceremony and after-party with music and vendors will take place post-race. Parking will be available in the lots along Stave Avenue between LIVESTRONG Sporting Park and the Kansas Speedway. For more information, visit

Spinnin’ Something New in California
SPIN! Neapolitan Pizza is opening new locations in the Sunshine State and bringing its gourmet artisan pizzas with it. Johnson Countians know SPIN! well for its fresh ingredients, traditional Pizza Rossas and Pizza Biancas and community involvement, and now Southern California will enjoy all SPIN! offers, too. The company has completed an agreement with Craig Hofman, owner of Lucille’s Smokehouse BBQ, to develop 35 SPIN! restaurants in Southern California. Hofman, who has 15 Lucille’s locations in California, Arizona and Nevada, will be the company’s first franchisee. SPIN! owners and operators Gail and Richard Lozoff and Edwin Brownell also developed Bagel & Bagel, which started in Kansas City, Mo., and became Einstein Bros. Bagels. SPIN! has been recognized both in and outside of Kansas City and was recently named one of the “Rest of the 101 Best Restaurants” in the nation by top foodie Web site Its Margherita Pizza was crowned one of the nation’s best dishes of the year by a national restaurant magazine, its architecture won Best of Show at the Mid America Design Awards, and the SPIN! brand has been featured in numerous graphic design publications. SPIN!’s menu is created in collaboration with James Beard Award-winning chef Michael Smith. SPIN! Neapolitan Pizza has four Greater Kansas City locations: Kansas City, Lee’s Summit, Overland Park and Olathe.

Chew on That
In the past decade, it’s been hosted by kings and presidents, been the most searched Web site on Google, played host to Snoop Dogg, Eve, and Dennis Rodman, and even helped out the environment. The 14th Edition of Gumball 3000 promises to be as jaw-dropping and drool-worthy as ever as it goes coast to coast with more than 100 amazing cars and 250 participants. The rally will take car lovers on a wild ride from New York to Vegas to Hollywood, even making a stop in Kansas City. Beginning May 24, Gumball will travel through six big U.S. cities and Toronto, Canada, leaving a trail of dust and dream-like memories in its wake. Gumball will spend a night in Kansas City May 29 and then head to Santa Fe for a little rest and relaxation before partying in Las Vegas. Along with its usual array of Lamborghinis, Porsches, Ferraris and Aston Martins, it has some incredible supercars lined up for the grid including Bugatti Veyron Super Sports, Pagani Zondas, Lamborghini Aventadors, Aston Martin One-77s and Ferrari 458s. For more information, visit

Happy Birthday, Harry!
Travel back to the historic 1940s and celebrate the life and times of Harry Truman on May 5 in Independence, Mo.

photo: Independence Tourism

The “All-American Hometown Birthday Celebration” will begin the day’s festivities with a parade in the square. Shop, dine and even view cars on display from the 1940s, before hopping on the Truman Trolley, which will run a circuit from the Square to and from many tourism attractions. With a nod to Truman’s famous sign “The Buck Stops Here,” ride all day for only a buck a person and visit the 1859 Jail and Marshal’s Home, the Harry S. Truman Library and Museum, the Puppetry Arts Institute, the National Frontier Trails Museum, and more. Catch a vintage flick at the Pharaoh Theater across the street from the courthouse and even search for treasures at the big yard sale on the grounds of the Bingham-Waggoner Estate. Harry rode the train often, especially during his famous Whistle Stop Campaign and as he traveled back and forth to Washington, D.C. Cap the night by celebrating Harry’s love affair with trains and enjoy free cake and punch while watching model trains run. For more information call (816) 325-7111 or go to

Knock Out
St. Paul Catholic School held the first annual Chef’s Classic Knock OUT ‘Bout March 24 at St. James Academy. An estimated crowd of over 200 individuals, 24 vendors, eight competing chefs, four celebrity judges and one fantastic emcee rounded out a very successful event. Eight local chefs brought their best to the ring as they sparred during two rounds of head-to-head competition where VIP ticket holders voted for their favorite chef’s dish from each round. The combined top 2 scores from each round were chef Charles d’Ablaing from Chaz on the Plaza and chef Brandon Winn from Room 39 which qualified them to move to the Final Round in the LIVE Iron Chef-Style cook-off. A panel of four celebrity judges selected the final Chef’s Classic Title Champion chef Charles d’Ablaing, who will proudly display the Chef’s Classic Traveling Trophy at Chaz on the Plaza. Boxing announcer and emcee for the event—chef Mark Allen Mollentine—is a founder of KC Food Artisans, owner of the Governor’s Meeting House and an alumnus of St. Paul Catholic School. In addition to the chef competition, the event also featured a food and beverage experience highlighting food, wine and culinary vendors from around the metro area sampling and selling to guests.

Future Leaders of Science
The Stowers Institute for Medical Research in Kansas City, Mo., was ranked among the top 10 U.S. institutions listed as “Best Places to Work: Postdocs,” which was recently announced by The Scientist. Hailing from all over the globe, postdoctoral researchers come to the Stowers Institute to broaden their skills and prepare for an independent research career. Postdocs make up the single largest group of Stowers scientists and play a vital part in the Institute’s everyday research operations. Recognizing the important contributions of postdoctoral researchers to the research mission of the Stowers Institute, the Institute puts a big emphasis on enhancing the quality of the postdoctoral experience. On-site core technology facilities and research advisors—a resource unique to the Stowers—provide an unparalleled scientific support system that puts postdocs’ research on the fast track while mentoring programs, career development activities, extensive campus services and generous benefits smooth the path to an independent research career. The results are based on responses from over 1,500 postdocs. To view the 2012 rankings, visit

Shooting for the Stars
The recipients of The Arts Council of Johnson County’s Shooting Stars scholarship were recognized at the Annual Shooting Stars Gala at the Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art and Yardley Hall April 1. Founded by Robert G. Endres in 1997, the first Shooting Stars Recognition, Awards and Scholarship Program celebrated just 27 finalists. Fifteen years later Endres’ dream continues, recognizing nearly 1,000 students, awarding more than $200,000 in scholarships and $60,000 in teacher honorariums since the program’s creation. To become a Shooting Stars finalist, students must be residents of Johnson County, a graduating senior in high school, and nominated by an arts educator in one of nine scholarship categories. Once nominated, finalists either perform a live audition or submit their portfolio of work before two professional judges. The Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art also exhibits one piece from each of the 2-Dimensional, 3-Dimensional, and Photography Finalists.
Blue Valley And Olathe Districts Finalists in the categories of:
Literature: Clayton Shuttleworth 1st place, Blue Valley North High School
Photography: Ellie Olitsky 1st place, Blue Valley North High School
Strings: Danielle Hoisington 1st place, Olathe East High School
Wind & Percussion: Benjamin Gunnarson 1st place, Blue Valley Northwest High School
Theatre Performance: Nick Pelaccio 1st place, Olathe Northwest High School; Alex Petersen 2nd place, Blue Valley High School
2-Dimensional Art: Sara Haug 2nd place, Blue Valley North High School
Voice Classical: Aaron Holthus 1st place, Olathe East High School

Race for Red
This Mother’s Day, more than 4,000 women and girls will celebrate by running, walking, and enjoying the festive atmosphere at the Mother’s Day 5K. The event takes place at 8 a.m. on Sunday, May 13, in Corporate Woods. As Kansas City’s only run/walk by women, for women, the event is known for its female focus and its sense of camaraderie. All in good fun, on-course posters dispense motherly advice like “Eat your vegetables.” First-timers get a tiara from Daisy, the race mascot, and kids can make Mother’s Day cards in the Family Fun Tent. Every entrant gets a women-sized t-shirt, a finisher’s necklace, and a chance to use a unique Mother’s Day 5K tradition: the decorated port-a-pots. Women enjoy the chance to socialize with their mothers, daughters, sisters and girlfriends while also starting the holiday with some healthy activity. Now in its eighth year, this is a light-hearted event with a serious purpose: to inform, motivate and inspire women to exercise for better health. A portion of race proceeds will benefit the American Heart Association Go Red For Women campaign. Kansas City Express, a running and walking club for women, hosts the Mother’s Day 5K as part of its mission to promote women’s health through fitness. For race information and registration, visit or phone (913) 643-1460.

A STEMS Garden Party
Located on more than two lush and wooded acres overlooking a tranquil fountain, the 2012 Overland Park Arboretum & Botanical Garden Show Home is a 5,200-square-foot luxury home currently being built by award-winning builder Jeff Ashner. The custom-built home, located in the upscale Overland Park gated neighborhood of Rockwood Falls Estates, is a $1.7 million French Provincial-inspired home with professional landscaping and an inviting lakeside pool. The stunning home is the host site of the Art & Recreation Foundation of Overland Park’s 5th annual STEMS: A Garden Soiree’s Sponsor and Patron Party on June 21. The STEMS VIP sponsor reception to debut the one-of-a-kind home will be catered by Wil Jenny’s with the event cost underwritten exclusively by sponsor Capital City Bank located at College Blvd. and Metcalf in Overland Park. Partial proceeds from STEMS will fund the Arboretum’s Train Garden. The fully furnished home by noted interior designer Janet Alholm will be open to the public for touring beginning Friday, June 28 through Sunday, July 15. All proceeds for touring the home and donations benefit the Overland Park Arboretum & Botanical Gardens. The on-site construction Web cam, floor plans, sponsor information and a calendar of upcoming events at the home are located on

Sixteen Bright Students
Sixteen Leawood Middle School (LMS) students clinched the 2012 Kansas State Science Olympiad championship held in Wichita, Kan., on April 7. The Leawood Middle School Science Olympiad team is coached by Flora Haug and supported by a very dedicated team of parents. A total of 35 middle schools, which were selected from four regional competitions, participated in the state competition. The competition included 23 academic events covering biology, physics, chemistry, earth science, engineering and inquiry. The events ranged from pencil and paper “tests” and performing lab experiments to building a structure or robot. The LMS team will travel to the University of Central Florida on May 18-19 for the 2012 National Tournament. The Leawood Middle School Mathcounts team is coached by Paul Brentano and Feng Xie. A total of 80 students, who were selected from five chapter competitions, advanced to the Kansas State Mathcounts competition held in Salina, Kan., March 3. Grace Brentano and Jenny Huang finished first and second respectively in the individual competition and will be representing Kansas in the nationals. Additionally, each won a $1,000 scholarship to Kansas State University.

See Life at SEA LIFE KC Aquarium
Before its grand opening April 6, SEA LIFE Kansas City Aquarium invited members of the media to an exclusive first look at the new attraction. On April 3, members of the media were invited to receive a complete tour of SEA LIFE Kansas City with all 5,000 of its new sea creatures. Along with their Young Environmentalists, 12 young people who are champions of the environment and special members of the SEA LIFE team, the SEA LIFE staff guided guests through a maze of more than 30 display tanks in 12 different habitat zones featuring more than 5,000 sea creatures. SEA LIFE Kansas City is the fifth SEA LIFE aquarium launched in the U.S. For more information, visit