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Tobacco-free burgers better, coalition says

Burger Day Coalition

“Burgers taste better without tobacco,” was the message Canadian County Against Tobacco (CCaT) Coalition wanted to share with festival-goers at El Reno’s Burger Day May 3.

The group set up a game tent in the Kids Zone area and handed out burger-shaped stress balls and other prizes for visitors who correctly answered questions related to the dangers of tobacco and the marketing tactics of the tobacco industry. The coalition wanted to bring awareness to not only the negative health effects of tobacco use, but also the positive things that happen when a person quits, such as an improved sense of taste, said Jenny Kellbach, tobacco prevention coordinator.

Studies have shown that nicotine can affect taste by reducing taste sensation and even blocking taste centers in the brain, Kellbach said.

“Many smokers experience dulled senses of taste and smell and even decreased blood supply to taste buds,” Kellbach said. “The decrease in these senses typically goes unnoticed until a person quits using tobacco.”

For the first time, Burger Day had tobacco-free areas in both the food court and Kids Zone, Kellbach said.

“Main Street takes pride in providing a fun, family-friendly and safe environment for festival-goers,” El Reno Main Street Director Debbie Harrison said. “Restricting the Kids World and food court areas to a tobacco-free zone was an easy decision that benefited attendees.”

The coalition also offered free resources to festival-goers who were ready to kick the habit. Throughout the day, 15 individuals registered for the Oklahoma Tobacco Helpline and received a quit kit to help them get started and stay motivated while trying to quit.  Although the tobacco industry works hard to keep people smoking, the Oklahoma Tobacco Helpline is a great resource for anyone age 13 and up who wants to quit.

“The tobacco industry spends millions of dollars advertising to Oklahomans and uses bold flavors to appeal to kids,” CCaT member Kim Baker said. “It’s important to counter those messages with truthful ones about the negatives of tobacco use, even if it’s as simple as ‘Burgers taste better without tobacco.’”

Canadian County Tobacco Prevention Program is a community-based program working to reduce tobacco use and promote prevention of tobacco initiation in youth. Canadian County is funded as a Community of Excellence in Tobacco Control through the Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust (TSET).

For more information on CCaT, contact Kellbach at (405) 262-0042. For free help to quit smoking, contact the Oklahoma Tobacco Helpline at 1-800 QUIT NOW or visit

An inspiration, an adventure

reyes family

By Traci Chapman

It was the kind of news that could bring anyone down, but for Kenny Reyes being told he had Multiple Sclerosis became just one more challenge.

It’s the way he’s lived his whole life, say his friends, co-workers and family – and in the process, he’s helping a lot of people who share a disease that can cripple the soul as much as it can the body.

Kenny Reyes has what many people would call a “dream” life – married to Allison for more than 12 years, the couple has two daughters, Haylee and Sydney. Kenny is a Nichols Hills firefighter and has been for 13 years; Allison is a teacher at Mustang Trails Elementary. The 36-year-old coaches both of his daughters’ soccer teams, plays soccer himself and is active in the family’s church, The Bridge in Mustang.

In July 2011, a lot of things changed, but yet, the changes were not as far-reaching as one might expect, Kenny said. It was on July 4 of that year he noticed some numbness in his legs. A trip to the doctor first garnered a diagnosis of a pinched nerve, but with the numbness spreading to the rest of his body, Kenny was referred to a neurologist. It was the beginning of a long series of tests and trials.

How to help: Visit Kenny Reyes' Walk MS page -

How to help:
Visit Kenny Reyes’ Walk MS page by clicking above

“In July and August of that year I had four MRIs and they found a legion on my spinal cord,” Kenny said. “It was on Sept. 1 I got the results – I learned a bunch of new words at that time.”

Those words were Multiple Sclerosis and all of the long words associated with it, the names of medications and treatments designed to keep him healthy. An unpredictable and often disabling disease of the central nervous system, MS interrupts the flow of information with the brain and between the brain and the body. Symptoms can range from numbness and tingling to blindness and paralysis.

For Kenny, the symptoms abated with a regimen of daily injections and frequent tests to monitor his condition. It was news to a man in his mid-30s that could cause depression, desperation – what it brought out in Kenny Reyes was determination, Allison said.

“He’s always been upbeat, a happy person, and this hasn’t changed that,” Allison said. “He’s been a rock, but more than that, he’s inspired people.”

It was early on Kenny received some inspiration of his own – from people involved in Walk MS, an annual event held across the country aimed at increasing awareness about Multiple Sclerosis and raising funds for research. In the metro area, the walk was historically held at the Oklahoma City Zoo.

For two years, Kenny and his family traveled to the zoo to be part of the MS Walk. It was a time to meet others battling MS, lend and gain support and help others understand what the disease was all about. Kenny said it was an eye-opening experience.

“These people, they are so brave and some of them are facing so much,” he said. “I’ve been so blessed and fortunate because I’ve had no reoccurrences since 2011, but not everyone has been that lucky.”

Luck wasn’t really the determining factor in Kenny’s success so far, his family said. His commitment to staying physically active, positive attitude and the fact he went to the doctor quickly and got a fast diagnosis were all factors working in his favor, they said.

“We were so blessed because I had great doctors who didn’t give up and followed through until they figured out what it was,” Kenny said.

Through their journey, the walk was an annual reminder of those blessings, Kenny said. This year, Kenny and Allison moved from participants to organizers, when the walk needed a new home. Suggesting Mustang, the couple was part of the team that visited the city and discovered it would be a “perfect” place for the event, set for May 3.

“We’ve had the largest team the last two years, but it’s especially exciting for the walk to be held here, in Mustang,” he said.

Check-in will begin at 9 a.m., with the walk starting at 10 a.m. May 3. There will be two routes, Kenny said – one 0.6 miles and the other 1.3 miles, both winding through the park. Walkers must be pre-registered to participate.

“Our number of walkers are a bit down from last year right now, but we’ve heard donations are slightly up,” Kenny said. “I think some of that is to be expected with a change of venue, but we’re excited about the donations.”

According to Kenny’s Walk MS page, his team has raised more than $1,400 this year, and he hopes to go much higher. He also hopes to let people know about the disease and how much their contribution can help through the walk, he said.

“I don’t see it as a handicap or anything bad like that – I see it as an adventure,” Kenny said. “God’s put me in this for a reason, and I intend to make the most of it and do the most I can do.”



How to help:




Students bring Smaug to life

smaug 1

By Traci Chapman

It was anything but desolation in Mustang Elementary’s art room last week, as Smaug from the Hobbit book and film series came to life.

Led by teacher Kent Hathaway, the giant dragon and his treasure were made completely of milk cartons. It’s the fourth project completed by the school for the Made by Milk contest. Hathaway and his students have won the last three contests they entered with creations of a coral reef, Golden Gate Bridge and space shuttle.

On Friday, Hathaway introduced students to the Hobbits’ story. With full voice impersonations, props and a “Gollum” move or two, the Mustang Elementary “artist in residence” made the characters real to groups of elementary schoolchildren.


Pictured with Smaug:


Miguel Lara

Olivia Scott

Lauren Johnson

Gracelyn Higgens

Trajen Williamson

Cadence Keller

Tritan Santillan

Mason Lake

Truit Barnes

Cameron Bell

Lane Hartwick

Hudson Hague

Hunter George

Tyson Wilson

Jaelyn Barker

Jett Preston

Jackson Jones

Brett Shannon

Casey Woods

Emily Yates

Teacher Kent Hathaway

Paper Clover proceeds to help fund memorial

Jesse Don Gorbet

By Traci Chapman

Some of this year’s proceeds from a national 4-H fundraising campaign will go toward the memorial of an area teen killed earlier this year.

The 4-H Paper Clover Campaign is in its fourth year of partnership between National 4-H Council and Tractor Supply Company. The two have combined forces to raise funds for 4-H in communities where Tractor Supply has a store.

This year, fundraising will be different, after 4-H’ers lost one of their own, officials said. Fifty percent of all funds raised from bake sales held as part of the event will be donated to the Jesse Gorbet Memorial. Gorbet and fellow El Reno High School student Karson Baker were killed in a March 2 automobile accident.

County 4-H teen leaders will hold two bake sales – one from 1:30 p.m. until 4:30 p.m. Sunday, April 28 in El Reno and the other in Mustang on Saturday, May 3 from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. Both sales will be held at the community’s respective Tractor Supply stores.

The other 50 percent of funds raised will be used to purchase Paper Clovers.

The Paper Clover Campaign runs through May 4. Shoppers at El Reno and Mustang Tractor Supply stores may purchase paper clovers for $1 or more at checkout. Funds go to benefit local 4-H programs and fund everything from camps and after-school programs, to scholarships and other activities, officials said.

Gorbet, an El Reno High School sophomore, was a member of Extreme 4-H Club from 2006 to 2011. He showed sheep at the Canadian County Livestock Fair, as well as junior livestock show and jackpot shows. He also participated in Farmhand Olympics, Share-the-Fun and several bake sales to raise funds for the Oklahoma City Ronald McDonald House.

The Paper Clover Campaign nationwide has raised more than $3.3 million, national 4-H officials said. Seventy percent of funds go back into state and local programs, officials said.

“Our Paper Clover efforts are one of the key ways our stores can give back to the community,” said John Wendler, Tractor Supply senior vice president of marketing. “By providing essential funding for hundreds of thousands of 4-H young people, we are able to support local organizations that are important to both our customers and our team members.

“We’re proud to help improve the many communities in which we have stores through our partnership with 4-H,” he said. “That is what Tractor Supply is all about.”

Mustang teen leader Brandy DeVous said the Tractor Supply Clover Campaign is a great way to support county 4-H programs.

“This year the Teen Leaders wanted to give back to the community, a bake sale is a great way for us to be able to give back to a cause that was a part of our 4-H family,” she said. “4-H teaches us so much about helping others and we are honored to be able help by giving back in the name of Jesse Gorbet.”

Donated funds will be tracked online and recorded by state and individual stores, Wendler said. For more information or to view the donation tracker, go online to

Donated funds will be tracked online and recorded by state and individual stores, Wendler said. For more information or to view the donation tracker, go online to


MHS Relay for Life raises more than $73,000 for cancer research

relay best 3 web

By Traci Chapman

It was a time to remember, a time to rejoice, a time to raise awareness. And it was a time to walk, in the process raising more than $73,000 for cancer research.

Friday’s Relay for Life brought together hundreds of Mustang students, teachers and residents, all working toward a common goal – raising funds to stop cancer once and for all. While that accomplishment might lie somewhere in the future, the dedication of 33 teams and more than 400 participants was evident as they gathered on the Mustang Broncos football field, gearing up for a night walking the track.

(Photo/Traci Chapman)

Leading them was a group of local survivors, people who have battled – and won the odds – against cancer. Their battles inspired students, they said, who followed the group during the first relay laps. For others, it was the people who they had lost to cancer who inspired them. No matter what the reason, one thing was clear – according to Mustang’s Relay for Life website, the combined fundraising effort topped $73,576 this year.

“That doesn’t include all of the funds, we’ll still have money straggling in for several weeks or so,” said Mel Rogers with American Cancer Society.

Mustang has taken its relay efforts very seriously, as the event has grown “dramatically in recent years,” Rogers said. Mustang High School students are the driving force behind the effort. Students like Sara Wojcak, Ali Sylvester, Addison Riggs and many others worked tirelessly to pull the annual event together, Rogers and Mustang educators said.

“It’s amazing how much effort these kids put in – all of the hours, all of the hard work – they really have a lot to be proud of,” Rogers said.

City celebrates annual ‘eggstravaganza’

easter egg trav best 1 web

More than 3,000 people and 16,000 eggs were part of the city of Mustang’s annual Easter egg hunt April 26. More photos are on Mustang News’ SmugMug – 2014 Mustang Easter Egg Hunt.


Partnership makes play possible

yfs playground best 2 web

By Traci Chapman

Hundreds of people turned out on a sunny Saturday afternoon to make a new playground for children at the county shelter a reality.

Devon Energy partnered with KaBOOM!, a national nonprofit agency dedicated to helping children, to fund the new playground, after the shelter’s old swing sets and slides were destroyed in the May 31, 2013, tornado. The shelter is staffed and run by Canadian County Youth and Family Services.

The project was a community-wide partnership as well, YFS executive director Dee Blose said.


“We had so many people who contributed their time, ideas and money, and then there were the kids and their feedback,” Blose said. “It’s been a wonderful experience.”

The experience began with destruction, as the May 31 tornado not only destroyed the shelter’s playground, but also severely damaged the organization’s roof. Several areas of the building were impacted by water damage caused by storms that followed in the tornado’s aftermath and even now employees are scattered in temporary housing, as repairs continue on the complex, Blose said.

“It’s been a wild ride,” she said.

Saturday was a testament to those employees who have spent almost a year in limbo, Blose said. Several joined Devon employees in a force totaling more than 200 people, all coming together to build the new playground. From assembling the pieces to painting concrete and putting together walkways – and a myriad of other tasks – the project came to life “like a dream,” the director said.

“It’s been something we’ve been working on for a while and we’re so, so grateful to have had so much help and interest in getting it done,” Blose said. “Our kids will just love it.”

Devon pledged more than $2.5 million in relief after last year’s May tornadoes swept through Moore, El Reno and other areas of the state. KaBOOM! then stepped in on the partnership, helping to develop the shelter as a recipient of the partnership’s funds, Blose said. The shelter is the place where children and youth are taken after their parents or guardians are cited for abuse or neglect or for other reasons that make their home an unsafe place.

YFS serves Canadian, Kingfisher, Oklahoma and Blaine counties, although a slight majority – 55 percent – of its services are rendered to local children, Blose said. In addition to the shelter, YFS administers foster care, homeless programs, community counseling, maternity services, transitional living services, youth workforce investment programs and more, she said.

“We try to make ourselves available to help any of our children or youth who are in need of us,” Blose said.

Among those are the children and youth who come to the shelter after leaving their homes under traumatic conditions, at best, the director said. While they have caring shoulders to lean on and a safe place to rest their head, things like the playground help them to do what all children need – play and spend time outdoors.

“For a lot of children something like this might not seem like a big deal because they’ve never not had something this basic,” Blose said. “But it’s a very big deal not only to our kids, but also to all of us who care so much about them.”



A rainbow of inspiration

rainbow girls

Mustang Masons now have a rainbow of inspiration for their charitable endeavors, as the lodge was recently notified a Mustang Rainbow Girls Assembly was approved for the local lodge.

Lodge members voted several months ago to sponsor the assembly, but the group had its first hurdle – to find 12 members in order to be awarded a temporary status. They accomplished that goal, and on March 8, Mustang Rainbow Girls were officially recognized at India Shrine Center in Oklahoma City. In order to reach full status, the assembly must increase its membership to 25, Glenda Kelton said.

“The girls all agree this won’t be any problem at all,” she said.

Masonic Lodge 407 Worshipful Master Dan Cromwell said lodge members are excited to offer the opportunity to belong to Rainbow Girls to area women. Cromwell said he hoped to find members from Mustang, Tuttle, Newcastle, Wheatland and other surrounding areas. There are 25 active assemblies in Oklahoma, with several in the Oklahoma City metropolitan area, including Yukon. With the addition of Mustang and another new assembly, located in Pauls Valley, that number will increase to 27.

Rainbow Girls volunteer for charities, participate in events and activities, work on service projects throughout the community and make new friends across the state through the “basic teachings of faith, hope and charity,” Kelton said.

Mustang Masons recently sponsored fundraisers for several local groups and individuals, including Boy Scout troops, sports teams, special needs children, Project Graduation and others, Cromwell said.

“They have also provided services for many in the Mustang community such as building wheelchair ramps, removing graffiti from a railroad bridge, donating water to local firefighters during a brush fire outbreak, donating food to a local food pantry and many more,” Kelton said.

On Saturday, Rainbow Girls will hold a bake sale at Mustang Masons Saturday breakfast, held from 7 a.m. until 10 a.m. at the lodge, located at 406 E. state Highway 152.

“We feel we have a lot to offer the Mustang community in the way of service and leadership,” Cromwell said. “Sponsoring a Rainbow Girls Assembly is another way for us to reach out to Mustang and its surrounding communities.

“It will give young women an opportunity to be involved in service and leadership activities geared to make them better citizens of tomorrow,” he said.

For further information about the International Order of Rainbow for Girls, visit  For questions about the Mustang Masonic Lodge, call 256-6310.




Deans headed to nationals

Jamie and Meriruth

Redlands Community College sophomore Jamie Deans take her riding to a new level as she moves on to national competition.

Deans, from Yukon, earned the honor after her recent win as reserve champion in the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association semifinals.

Deans only began competing in western riding contests last April, when her Redlands instructor encouraged her to take a chance.

“I was nervous about it, but once I started, I loved it,” Deans said. “Since starting I have won a regional championship, reserve championship and reserve zone championship. “

The IHSA western show features competition where the student draws a horse he or she has never before ridden. With no time to warm up, the competitor must deal with issues that come up during the session, Redlands equestrian coach Meriruth Cohenour said.

“This makes mental skill just as important as physical skill,” Cohenour said. “The rider has to learn on the fly and deal with the situation as it arises, all while being judged.”

In order to qualify for regional competition, riders must earn enough points in the regular season. Deans had to compete against eight other students to earn the title of regional champion. After that, she moved into the semifinals where she made it through the preliminary round and won the reserve championship during finals.

Deans will be heading to Harrington, Pa. on May 4 to compete in the National Championship against the top 12 students in the United States.

I am so thankful for those who have pushed me and taught me, I couldn’t have done it without them.”


Hathaway given additional honor

hathaway and cornett

Mustang District Teacher of the Year Kent Hathaway was recognized at Oklahoma City Council’s regular monthly meeting Tuesday morning as Teacher of the Month. (Photo/courtesy Shannon Rigsby)