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The Lifeline

Bringing you the best local stories in and around our community.

We've Got It Covered

Featured Photo from We've Got It Covered

100 issues. 100 covers.100 remarkable stories that are part of our community’s rich history. To celebrate the 100th edition of Lake Mary Life, we caught up with some of the cover stars who’ve made our magazine so special. We couldn’t follow up with everyone, of course. Some have moved away, some are no longer with us, but everyone who has graced this magazine’s most prominent page will forever be part of the Lake Mary Life cover family. Join us for a family reunion of sorts as we reconnect with some of our favorite cover folks from years past.

Derner Dreamers and Doers - 2003

The Derner sisters graced our first ever cover when both girls were chosen as Disney Dreamers and Doers at their respective schools. 

Morgan played D1 lacrosse at Jacksonville University where she earned both a BS and MBA. She lives in Atlanta where she is a manager for Tesla. 

Paige is now on staff at Lake Mary High School where she teaches biology and anatomy and is head coach for the boys and girls water polo and swim teams. 

Trailblazers Update - 2007

Back in 2007 we were honored to have members of the Be A Trailblazer organization on our cover. This group of civic-minded citizens was formed in 2001 when members of the boards of three homeowners’ associations banded together to improve the conditions and appearance of Rinehart Road, where their homes had been built. In a cooperative agreement with the City of Lake Mary, the Trailblazers’ mission was accomplished, but they didn’t stop there.

Fast-forward to today. The group is still going strong. Here’s a short recap of all of what this dynamic group has accomplished.
The Rinehart Road trail project was finished in 2005 with $235,000 raised and invested.

The Lake Mary Playground and Splash Park, completed in 2008, was the largest project so far with $750,000 contributed by the Trailblazers, the City of Lake Mary, and a state grant.

In 2008 the group took over renovating and retooling the Lake Mary Historical Museum, and several members of the Trailblazers continue on as volunteers.

The Lake Mary Cemetery project began in 2009 and was completed in 2011. Most, if not all of the funds were provided by the City of Lake Mary.

The Lake Mary Trailblazer 5K continues to be a great event that brings the community together while raising thousands of dollars for the organization’s continuing projects.

And their most recent project will come to fruition on November 11 at a breakfast and ceremony that will dedicate the Veterans Memorial that the group worked on with the City of Lake Mary. 

Many of the original members of the group continue to volunteer with Trailblazers and many have joined in the fun. Sadly, two members who appeared on the original cover, Martha Miller and Allan Plank, have passed on. Trailblazers have planned a reorganization and will now be led by Pat Blake, who has been a strong supporter and fundraiser for many organizations supporting our citizens for many years. Pat will be assisted by Ann Burnham who will be vice president, Shirley Gray will serve as treasurer and Bob Boardman will be secretary. 

As Lake Mary residents, we all owe a huge debt of gratitude to every one of the people who volunteered in the past and those who continue to make Lake Mary a great place to live, work, and play.

Lake Mary Events Center Opens: The Rauch Family Now - 2008

When the Lake Mary Events Center opened in 2008, it was big news in Lake Mary. We photographed the couple who were responsible for the very first event at the new venue – Meredith and Patrick Rauch. The Rauches will celebrate 12 years of marriage in February. After getting married, Patrick earned his master’s degree in architecture, and in February 2013 the couple welcomed their beautiful twins Evan and Lila. “Life has had its ups and downs over the past 11 years, but we have much to be thankful for,” says Meredith. The family currently lives in Windermere. 

Longwood’s Favorite Quadruplets - 2017

From left to right Robin, Brenna, Laurel, and Lizzy Faraji are now three-and-a-half years old. They are as cute as can be and in perfect health. Their mom Amie reports that they are all done seeing specialists and only see their pediatrician. The girls love arts and crafts, playing together, and are mid-potty training. 

“It’s definitely been a busy three-and-a-half years,”  says Amie, “but the best part of this whole experience has been watching them all become best friends.”

Karoline Tuttle - 2016

Karoline is currently a sophomore at Lake Mary Preparatory School. Within weeks of entering her freshman year, Karoline verbally committed to play women’s collegiate golf for the University of Florida. Some of her many accolades and awards include being named Player of the Year by U.S. Kids Golf at PGA’s Honda Classic and leading the Lake Mary High School girls’ golf team to the Florida State 3A title by 26 strokes. She was also the Florida Individual State Champion for 2018-19, has won three AJGA Championship titles, and has won five Florida Junior Tour Championship titles.

Lake Mary High Alumni Return to Teach at Their Alma Mater - 2006

In 2006 there were 20 teachers and administrators who worked at LMHS who were also graduates. Eight of those alumni have remained and are now joined by an additional 14 (including principal Dr. Mickey Reynolds), making the grand total 22. Turn to page 76 for information about these alumni.

Evan and Laine Purutcuoglu and Joey Taylor - 2009

Lake Mary Life staffers’ kids appeared on our holiday 2009 cover. It was shot at the Frank Evans Center. Evan Purutcuoglu is a junior at Lake Mary High, where he is enrolled in the AP Capstone program and plays on the golf team. His sister Laine is a freshman at Lake Mary High and enjoys cheer and dance. Joey Taylor is a freshman at Crooms Academy of Information Technology. He loves all things Marvel and Star Wars.

Madison Feltis - 2013

Madison graduated from the University of Central Florida in 2019 with a bachelor’s in elementary education. She is currently enjoying her first full-time job at Funds2Orgs as a fundraising coach. She is looking forward to teaching theater in the Orlando area soon.

Soul Sistas Forever - 2015

When we met Audrey and Christina in 2015 they were both battling rare forms of breast cancer. They found each other through The Gina McReynolds Foundation. Audrey was about a year ahead of Christina in their journeys, and Audrey guided Christina through her treatment. They became sisters-in-arms, online… and hadn’t met until Lake Mary Life arranged a meeting and photographed it for our cover. This time we set their families up with tickets to see a show at the Orlando Repertory Theatre, and this reunion was just as sweet.

It has been more than four years since that original meeting, and the busy moms haven’t skipped a beat.

Audrey celebrated her six-year cancer free mark in April 2019  and looks forward to turning 40 in 2020. She is a social media manager and copywriter for Think Creative Inc., and has been growing her freelance writing business. Her eighth children’s book was just submitted for publication. “Going through cancer lit a fire under me to truly honor my passions and dreams and not to wait for something to happen but to work hard in pursuing them,” Audrey explains. “We’re making a point to travel more with kids and friends, and I’m trying my best to live out my mantra ‘live while you’re alive’ even if it means I don’t end up getting very much sleep.”

Christina reports great health and is about to hit her five-year cancer free mark. She is a teacher at Sabal Point Elementary now and keeps busy with her husband and two daughters playing tennis, running, and traveling together. Last summer they had the trip of a lifetime at Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks.

“Seeing Audrey and her gorgeous family was such a treat,” says Christina. “Her words of encouragement over these past several years continue to keep me sane. She’s my soul sista!”

Stan Barriga - 2013

TransLife brought Stan to our attention six years ago because of a lifesaving pancreas and kidney transplant that he had undergone. Six years later, Stan and his family are in a constant state of celebration. November is a very special month for the Barrigas. The twins, Emma and Patrick (named for his dad’s organ donor), first graders at Bentley Elementary, are turning seven. November 2019 marks not only 13 years since his lifesaving surgery but is also the 20th anniversary of his being a customer service professional with a local financial firm. And since we first met, Stan has lost a whopping 60 pounds – a healthy step for anyone, but specifically for a juvenile diabetic who suffered a heart attack in 2013. 

 Stan and his wife Jasmine spend a great deal of time volunteering at Bentley and for several local nonprofits including Relay for Life, Autism Speaks, and Nathaniel’s Hope, an organization that provides respite for parents of special needs children. Because Stan and Jasmine had been volunteering for several years at Nathaniel’s Hope prior to the birth of their children, they were fortunate to get an early diagnosis for their daughter Emma who has autism, thus affording them an early intervention. For this, Stan and Jasmine are eternally grateful.

“I can’t speak for everyone in our family at Lake Mary Life,” says publisher Sheila Kramer, “but I can say with certainty that meeting and getting to know Stan Barriga has been one of the most memorable highlights of my Lake Mary life.” 

The Krekel Family - 2006

In our September 2006 edition, we did a feature story about families in Lake Mary that had hosted exchange students over the summer. One of those families was the Krekel family. With four of their own children at home, Deb and Mike Krekel stepped up when there were two young boys who needed to be placed. At the time, Natalie, Deb and Mike’s youngest, was a sweet, three-year-old who had been adopted from a Chinese orphanage a few years earlier. Right after Natalie arrived, the Krekels learned that their new daughter was an identical twin. While the orphanage said they tried to keep them together, Natalie’s twin sister was adopted by a family in Ohio. But even so, the Krekels hoped to unite the girls at some point.

Natalie, now a junior at Seminole High School’s Health Academy, first met her twin sister Rachel at Disney World when the girls were just five years old. Since that time they’ve grown closer with the help of social media and FaceTime. Natalie reports that as she and her sister get older, they talk more often. 

“I turned her on to my favorite band, BTS, so now we both listen to the same music,” she says. Since Rachel is a dancer, she has traveled to perform at Central Florida theme parks several times and the families always make time to be together. Both twins love the opportunity to meet each other’s friends. 

When Natalie and her grandfather, Charlie Stout, recently visited our offices, they were asked if the girls really are really identical, Charlie quickly replied, “Of course, they’re identical. 

Then he paused and said, “Well, I’d say about 99.9 percent.”

Price Harris - 2011

One of Lake Mary Life’s favorite local organizations is the Rotary Club of Lake Mary. When we learned that Rotarian Don Harris’ son Price, a West Point grad who was serving in Iraq, was bringing food, clothing, toiletries, and toys to women and children who had been imprisoned for their husbands’ crimes, our interest was piqued. Then when we discovered that our local Rotarians were sending him these items, we were sold!

Here’s a quick update on the family: Don and his wife Janie still live and work in our community. Don is as active as ever in the Rotary Club. Both of their children, Olivia and Price, have moved back to St. Louis, where they were born and raised. 

Price is a financial planner and is a major in the Missouri National Guard. Following in his dad’s footsteps, he is a member of the Rotary Club of St. Louis. His wife Taylor is a doctoral candidate in biochemical engineering at Washington University and works as a consultant in her field. 

Olivia is a personal banker and is married to Navy veteran A. J. Seals. They are the proud parents of their infant daughter Evelyn Jane.

Legos Were Just the Beginning - 2014

When we met Conner Schoneck and Chase Stacy in 2014, they were the two young moviemakers chosen in the state of Florida to receive an award from the National PTA. They both happened to live in Lake Mary, and they both had entered the PTA’s Reflections competition using stop-motion Lego movies. Five years later it’s quite clear that entering (and winning) that national competition was just a stepping brick to their future successes.

Conner Schoneck
Conner is a freshman at PSI High and has moved on from Legos to 3D printing, aeronautics, and American history. He started a 3D printing business, Third Dimension Prints, and will have a booth at the Longwood Arts Festival selling his creations. He also attended the Pensacola National Flight Academy and spent three days planning and flying virtual missions and experiencing life in the Navy. 

In May, he went to Washington, DC for a national We The People competition- and debated with his team – winning first place at the state level. He loves attending PSI HIgh and enjoys building and creating new things and working with local businesses to create a better future.

Chase Stacy
Chase is 14 years old and looking forward to high school next year. He has achieved the rank of Star for Scouts of America and was recently elected Senior Patrol Leader by his Scout Troop. Chase is a straight-A student and has earned the honors of entry into National Junior Honor Society, Quill Creative Writing Society, and scored in the top one percent of students in the State of Florida on his Algebra 1 End Of Year exam. He was selected as Prefect for his middle school.

Chase is one of four students selected from the eighth grade to lead the school in volunteer work, leadership, athletics and academics. He enjoys playing for Seminole Youth Soccer and his school’s team for the past several years. One year ago, Chase and a few friends created a VEX robotics team for his middle school. The Robotics Team earned a place in the State Competition during its first year in existence and won the coveted Amaze award for its creative design. 

Still Dazzling - 2008

Erika Parente 
After graduating high school in 2009, Erika went to the University of South Florida and earned a bachelor’s degree in business management. She’s now living in New York City, working at Socialyte, an influencer marketing agency, and as a freelance makeup artist. She’s had the privilege of doing Paris Hilton’s makeup, been featured by NARS cosmetics, as well as assisted on L’Oréal and CoverGirl campaigns. She’s been to 20 countries and hopes to accomplish her dream of visiting all seven continents by the time she’s 30.

Brittany Szafran Brittany graduated from the University of Central Florida with a bachelor’s degree in advertising and public relations. She now works in marketing and lives in Palm Beach Gardens with her husband Ryan and two kitty-children. They’re both passionate about sustainability. Their next great adventure is moving into a tiny home they recently renovated - a 36-foot fifth wheel RV. Sparked by curiosity, wanderlust, and the desire to connect, they want to encourage others to adventure, too. They share their experiences and tips at NoEndAdventure.com and on Instagram @NoEndAdventure. 

Jessie Wilson
Jessie received her Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Central Florida in event management while pregnant with her now-one-year-old daughter, Alessandra. She is currently planning a winter wedding with her fiancé Michael. 

Triplets - 2006

In our March/April 2006 edition, we learned that Lake Mary was home to many sets of triplets – busy families with very special threes. We caught up with three of these adorable trios who appeared on that cover – the Smiths, the Nelsons, and the Timmons triplets wowed us in 2006 – and are now happily all in college. Here’s a quick update on these now delightful young adults.

The Smith family
Michelle and Tony Smith raised their three boys on the soccer field – and the sport has stayed with them all these years. All three brothers were Elite Clubs National League players for the Orlando City’s youth soccer club throughout their high-school careers. Eric (blue sweater) attends the University of Central Florida, where he majors in IT and plays club soccer. He works for Disney and is part of its Aspire program. His brother Noah (purple sweater) attends his parents’ alma mater, Iowa State University, where he majors in business. He coaches youth soccer for the Des Moines Menace Soccer Club, plays club soccer, and acts as a referee. Bennet (green sweater) is a Gator who is studying engineering with an emphasis on solar energy and research. He plays club soccer for the University of Florida.

The Nelson family
Triplet mom Monica Nelson reports that her trio of Chase, Carter, and Campbell (listed in birth order) graduated last spring from Trinity Prep where they played baseball and lacrosse. Monica and her husband Kurt still live in the same Magnolia Plantation home, but there’s a lot less noise than there used to be. Chase became interested in sports journalism while in high school and now attends one of the nation’s best schools in the field – Indiana University. Carter and Campbell both attend Auburn and major in business administration. Campbell was recruited to play lacrosse by Auburn, but chose to have a more traditional college experience.

When asked about her fraternal triplets, Monica says that they are completely unique personalities who truly mimic the birth order stereotypes.

The Timmons family
We met the Timmons triplets when they were first graders at Heathrow Elementary. Now they are juniors in college. Nathan, Sean, and Tyler graduated from Seminole High in 2017 – Nathan from the International Baccalaureate program and Sean and Tyler from the Health Academy. All three played lacrosse and in their senior year were part of the Seminole High football team that reached the state semi-finals.

Kelli and Mike Timmons report that their boys have totally unique personalities and live independent lives. Nate and Sean are now at Florida State University, double majoring in finance and real estate, but belong to different fraternities. Tyler chose to go out of state to create his own path and attends West Virginia University. “It warms my heart that the boys make an effort to visit each other at school,” says Kelli. “They’ve  made several road trips – with more plans underway.” 

Class Party - 2016

Ashley (Barnette) Lorello
Newlywed Ashley Lorello is currently living in Silver Spring, Maryland with her new husband, Kevin, and their sweet pup, Beauregarde. On the weekends, they enjoy metro-ing into DC and taking in the museums, art, and culture. They recently traveled to Italy and are hoping to head to Switzerland in 2020. 

Chris Pombonyo
Since representing Seminole County as the 2017 Seminole County District Teacher of the Year, Chris has been traveling across the country speaking to K-8 educators as a presenter for the Get Your Teach On conference. In addition to his role traveling as a speaker and presenter, Chris still teaches in the classroom each and every day. After having the opportunity to teach in Harlem, NY, Chris is back in Seminole County at Midway Elementary School of the Arts, where he first started teaching. 

He is currently a third-grade teacher and ELA Instructional Coach where he has the opportunity to continue to mentor and work with both students and teachers. Keep up with Chris on  Instagram/Twitter: @ChrisPombonyo

Leslie Antmann
Leslie is now in the middle of her 14th year at Markham Woods Middle School where she’s still teaching chorus to grades 6 to 8. She is proud to have taken her students to perform in New York City at Carnegie Hall and to continue leading a program focused on student excellence, leadership, and an understanding of artistry.

Leslie and her husband John have two little boys, Benjamin and Joshua. As a lifelong Seminole County resident, Leslie is grateful and excited to teach the students of SCPS for many years to come.

 
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