Over the last several weeks, I have had many ask me why I haven’t entered a stay-at-home order. Although we’ve started hearing talk of a soft re-opening to our facilities and economy, I wanted to take the time to give you a long-form response to that important question, as follows.
I recently received a compelling email from a grocery store worker imploring me to issue a stay-at-home order. My heart was touched by her plight. She felt there were too many people in her store, some of whom were not social distancing. Her concerns were genuine. I felt a desire to help.
And the truth is I have some power to do so. With the stroke of a pen, I could enter an order criminalizing failure to follow guidelines to reduce the spread of COVID-19. It’s likely that some, perhaps many, would be influenced to change their behavior by such an order. And it’s probably not too far a stretch to say that, in the end, lives could be saved by that pen stroke.
So with that in mind, why wouldn’t I choose to enter an order?
In responding, let me be clear that I am not ruling out the possibility of entering an order. We all know this is a fluid world we’ve entered. I respect those who feel differently from me on this, including those mayors who have entered stay-at-home orders.
But let me start my explanation with a foundation piece, so that we are all on the same page: A stay-at-home order is, well, an order. Compliance becomes mandatory; non-compliance a crime.
Are we prepared to have Provo criminalize, for example, gatherings of two unrelated persons with no authorized purpose? A barber opening his doors to give someone a haircut? A conversation between neighbors, if they happen to be 4 and 1/2 feet apart?
Importantly, having no order in place sends a signal that citizens are partners in this effort. I love that signal. It resonates with me. An order, to me, sends quite a different signal. What are citizens under an order? The problem? Something to be managed and controlled?
I ask, are the citizens of Provo, speaking of them collectively, people we can trust and partner with or must they be grabbed by the ear to do the right thing? Let’s set aside for a moment how big a deal citizenship in the community is to our residents (we have the merit badges in our closets to prove it!) or how we lead in volunteerism or how service-oriented we have long been as a people.
My perspective over the last few weeks has been this: Our citizens and institutions have shown incredible trustworthiness. In Provo (and elsewhere), citizens and institutions are, as free-will acts, sacrificing for the greater good. Let’s applaud them for that. That’s my instinct. It’s to cheer free-will citizens and institutions on in their good behavior, not slam down an order upon them.
You may ask: but couldn’t you just not enforce the order except where a violation is extreme? Sure, and if we were to enter an order, we probably would. But is it wise to add to the mental load Provoans are already bearing, by having them dwell under an order? Is that the solution to our problems — a criminal order hanging over us?
What we need now is sunshine over our heads. We need happiness. We need positivity. Jobs have been lost. Paychecks shrunk. Souls are being battered. Since the COVID shutdown, our valley has experienced a spike in suicides. Mental health issues are being exacerbated. So, shall I place on the shoulders of those already weighed down the cloak of a criminal order?
What I want to offer citizens now is respect. Is appreciation. Is relief. To me, here and now, freedom from an order is just what the doctor ordered.
Returning to the powerful pen stroke I referenced earlier, let’s be clear that it is you, the citizens, who, through an election, placed that pen in my hand. I am grateful to you for that and very humbled by it. And it’s with citizens in mind, you who are, in a sense, the real sovereigns of this land, that I set that pen down and instead choose to err on the side of honoring your free will and treating you with the respect I am positive you are worthy of.
For now, I have been content to exercise the only power I’ve felt powerfully good about exercising in these circumstances: the power of persuasion. I have stood united with our City Council members, fellow mayors in the valley, and our Utah County Commissioners, in urging everyone to follow the guidelines and directives we’re receiving.
I thank you for all you have been doing — and sacrificing — to flatten the curve. It’s been my hope and prayer and conviction that through free-will cooperation, we can lift and save far more than we ever could through the compulsion of an order.
The biggest get for BYU men’s basketball in the 2020 recruiting class — literally — was 7-foot-3 Purdue graduate transfer Matt Haarms.
Cougar coach Mark Pope and his staff also worked hard to bring in five other athletes, including three high school seniors and two junior college transfers.
Two would-be incoming freshmen are still planning on serving church missions, according to Pope. Richie Saunders, who prepped at Wasatch Academy, was in the BYU locker room celebrating with his future teammates after their big win over No. 2 Gonzaga in February.
“We’re clearly so excited about Richie,” Pope said. “He was one of the leading scorers on one of the top high school teams in American. He has great length and can really shoot it. He also has an incredible desire to become a great defensive player. He led his team in steals this year. When we were trying to get him done, we had some real conversations about how he wants so badly to win.”
Pope said Dallin Hall’s most impressive skill is how he sees the floor, which was on full display during Fremont’s run to the Class 6A title in March. Hall averaged 22.7 points, 7.6 rebounds and 7.1 assists per game in 2019-20 and was named Utah’s Mr. Basketball.
“I’ve personally been recruiting him a long time at different universities,” Pope said. “He has extraordinary vision and a college-ready body. He can shoot the ball and is a physical guard. The way he reads ball screens is so advanced.”
New Mexico junior college transfer Gideon George and SLCC’s Spencer Johnson will also join BYU next year. George averaged 14.5 points, eight rebounds and 1.5 steals per game this year while shooting 51% from the field.
“You all are going to love this young man,” Pope said of George, who is originally from Nigeria. “He is such a beautiful human being. He’s so genuine and dedicated to his community. He’s a freak of an athlete.”
Johnson, who prepped at American Fork, averaged 13.2 points and five rebounds per game while shooting 49% from the field and 37% from the 3-point line. He helped lead the Bruins to a No. 4 national ranking before the postseason was canceled due to the COVID-19 virus.
“This Spencer Johnson, he took the hard road (junior college) and became region player of the year,” Pope said. “I love how his athleticism went through the roof. He’s a gifted defender, he can shoot the ball and he can make plays.”
Another high school senior, Rocky Mountain High School (Idaho) forward Townsend Tripple, had already received his mission call to Argentina but has opted to delay his call and join the Cougars this fall as a walk-on.
An Orem man was taken into custody under the suspicion of committing several criminal acts after loss prevention employees at a local Walmart detained him.
Officers with the Orem Police Department responded to the Walmart in Orem on Saturday after loss prevention employees detained a man they say committed or attempted to commit retail theft, according to the probable cause statement filed in support of the arrest.
When authorities arrived on scene, they identified the man as 26-year-old Devin James Anderson of Orem. Loss prevention employees told officials Anderson had come into the store and purchased several items in the electronic section before gathering more items to purchase at the front of the store.
According to arrest documents, Anderson went through the self-checkout stations and scanned several of the newly gathered items but omitted three pieces of merchandise that totaled over $150. Loss prevention employees said while checking out, Anderson would put several items beside the scanner but would only scan some before putting all items in the bag.
Officers read Anderson his Miranda Rights before beginning the interview where Anderson allegedly told police he had intended to purchase the items but must have accidentally missed scanning the allegedly stolen products.
Anderson has been convicted of theft a dozen times since 2013, with four of the 12 convictions ending in felony charges as recent as January 2019. Additionally, Anderson had been banned from all Walmarts across the nation.
Officers asked Anderson about his history of retail theft and shoplifting in a similar manner, and he allegedly told police that it was a misunderstanding and that he had every intention to pay for the items in question, according to the probable cause affidavit.
Authorities conducted a search of Anderson’s person before leaving the store and found nothing. Officers asked Anderson if he had anything on his person, as officials stated he allegedly has a habit of concealing drugs and drug paraphernalia, but Anderson told police he did not.
When Anderson was transported to the Utah County Jail, he was scanned. According to arrest documents, an image of a meth pipe appeared on the screen as Anderson was scanned, and he was strip searched. Officials discovered a bag containing a glass pipe in Anderson’s underwear, and in the pipe, authorities observed a usable amount of a white, crystal substance.
Officers field tested the substance, which indicated a positive reaction for methamphetamine. Anderson has been convicted of four felony drug convictions since 2014, with the most recent occurring in 2017.
Anderson was taken into custody under suspicion of second-degree felony retail theft, second-degree felony pattern of unlawful activity, third-degree felony possession of a controlled substance, third-degree felony possession of a controlled substance within a correctional facility, class B misdemeanor criminal trespass and class B misdemeanor possession of drug paraphernalia.
He is currently being held at the Utah County Jail on $10,000 bail.
Lehi officials took a Salt Lake City man into custody after he allegedly broke into and stole several items out of a local hotel that had temporarily closed due to the pandemic.
According to the probable cause statement filed in support of the arrest, detectives reported to the scene of a potential forced-entry burglary at the Springhill Suites in Lehi on 2447 W. Executive Parkway on Monday.
When officials arrived, they discovered a room on the ground floor had a broken window and personal property belonging to the suspect, 36-year-old Randy James Urban, was found inside the room.
Police seized the items and continued their investigation, finding video surveillance of Urban allegedly frequently visiting the hotel around 6:30 p.m., according to arrest documents. The hotel has been temporarily closed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Officers set up a perimeter around the hotel before they observed a man walk toward the building at about 9 p.m. The man matched the description of Urban, and according to the probable cause affidavit, he appeared to be “scoping out” different hotel rooms as he walked around the building.
Authorities approached the man before he reached the window and detained him, positively identifying him as Urban using his Utah identification card. Urban allegedly told police he had used rocks and a shovel to break into the closed hotel where he planned to stay until it opened after the coronavirus pandemic.
During further investigation, officials discovered Urban had allegedly stolen food from inside the hotel, a computer, an internet router and video cameras, all of which belonged to the Springhill Suites. According to arrest documents, Urban allegedly told police he had planned to set up the cameras to see if anyone was coming.
Officers also observed damage inside the hotel room and to the surrounding property.
Urban was taken into custody under the suspicion of third-degree felony burglary, class A misdemeanor criminal mischief and class A misdemeanor theft. He is currently being held at the Utah County Jail on $7,500 bail.
The emphasis The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has put on the name of the church came full circle during April’s General Conference with the introduction of a new symbol to identify the faith.
President Russell M. Nelson unveiled the Thorvaldsen statue of the Christus, a statue that has become iconic to the church, as part of that new symbol or logo.
However, at least one designer believes the symbolism should have been more in keeping with the modern church as it moves forward in time rather than staying in the 1800s.
Randall Smith, owner of modern8 in Salt Lake City, said he is not surprised the church settled on the Christus.
“It’s a very safe logo,” Smith said. “It’s sweet, safe and expected but not progressive.”
A church statement concerning the new church symbol said, “This new emblem emphasizes the name of Jesus Christ and His central role in all the Church does.”
The symbolism is described in the following church statement: “The name of the Church is contained within a rectangular shape that represents a cornerstone. This idea has biblical roots. The Apostle Paul, employing a construction metaphor in a letter to the first century Saints in Ephesus, wrote that the Church is built upon the foundation of apostles and prophets — Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone. The center of the symbol is a representation of Thorvaldsen’s marble statue, the Christus. Jesus stands under an arch as a reminder of His emergence from the tomb three days after His death.”
The symbol portrays the resurrected, living Lord reaching out to embrace all who will come unto him, Nelson said.
“This symbol should feel familiar to many, as we have long identified the restored gospel with the living, resurrected Christ,” Nelson added.
Smith worked in the design department of the church from 1972 to 1979, after which he left to start his own design company.
“I was on the design team for the first church logo,” Smith said. “At that time every department had its own look and feel.”
He said at that time the church wanted to introduce a new look and put emphasis on the name.
Other Christian denomination images and logos contain crosses, crests, lettering and more.
The Catholic Church maintains symbols for saints and apostles as well as the Virgin Mary. There are crests and shields for every internal organization from The Knights of Columbus to Saint Patrick’s Cathedral.
Protestant denominations utilize the cross, and other designs representing everything from fire to the Tree of Life to the Ichthus Fish meaning Christ or Christ, the Fisher of Men.
Noticeably, there are very few Christian denominations that have one or two fixed symbols representing the church and less that actually use the image of Christ.
Smith said that in meeting with the First Presidency during those early days, they decided to use typeface and wording to represent the church. By the mid-1980s, the words “Jesus Christ” were enlarged and made the focus.
“They used bespoke custom typeface from Johnathan Hoefler, a typographer in New York,” Smith said.
Even with the changes to the typeface, there was still not the strong representation of the church being Christian, Smith said.
Smith added that over the years he has been contacted by church entities to join in making suggestions and changes, but that he declined.
It wasn’t until the new symbol was introduced at conference that he felt the logo at least had some visual interest.
“Now we’ve got the words Jesus Christ larger plus a picture,” Smith said.
Smith, who has taught design at the University of Utah for 25 years, said there was a connection between architecture and design.
“We (the LDS Church) are more aggressive with architecture,” Smith said. “Like the Cardston, Alberta Temple is a Frank Lloyd Wright design.”
Smith said he would like to see a more progressive, modern technique in the symbolism and branding of the church.
“I’m more attracted to the new Tabernacle Choir logo than the church’s. It’s more modern,” Smith said.
That is exactly what Mack Wilberg, choir director, wanted.
“The Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square has a new look and modern direction, making it even more relevant to listeners and viewers throughout the world,” said the choir press release.
It is also designed for a digital use and for modern social media platforms.
“The new logo honors the visual heritage of the choir and orchestra using contemporary organ pipes,” Wilberg said. “The curve of the organ pipes recalls the domed roof of the Tabernacle, and the strong vertical thrust of the pipes points us toward God. We love how this new look visually represents the work of the choir and orchestra to bring people closer to the divine through music.”
When it comes to the Tabernacle Choir logo, Smith said they used a traditional representation in a more modern way.
Smith believes that is how the new church symbol should have been. It could have a more modern Christ for a more interesting look, rather than a mid-European, 19th century look.
Smith said the desirable outcome of a more modern look would bring a wider appeal. The symbol also could have been more uniquely LDS.
Smith won’t see much change anytime soon. Nelson said the year-long research into what the symbol should be was inspired.
“We have gone to these extraordinary efforts because when we remove the Lord’s name from the name of His Church, we inadvertently remove Him as the central focus of our worship and our lives,” Nelson said.
Nelson, who has given strong emphasis to the correct name of the church in his ministry since at least 1990, said according to a church statement, “When we take the Savior’s name upon us at baptism, we commit to witness, by our words, thoughts, and actions, that Jesus is the Christ.”
Everyone has a right to their own opinion, Smith said. Smith’s would be to push the boundaries of technique and design to find something that is distinct for the church as it moves further into the 21st century.
Officials took an Orem couple into custody after a slew of reported incidents allegedly led back to them.
According to the probable cause statements filed in support of the arrests, police responded to the first incident in the late evening of March 25 into the early morning of March 26. A woman contacted police after she discovered her backpack had been stolen from her vehicle as it was parked at her residence.
The woman told police the stolen backpack contained several personal documents, her passport and a tablet. Later in the day on March 26, the woman was notified through her bank that $4,000 had been transferred out of her bank account into another account at the same bank using personal information. The woman told police she was not aware of, nor did she authorize, the transfer.
The owner of the bank account where the money had been transferred was contacted and told police that he had been contacted by 38-year-old Shawn Kenneth Miller of Orem earlier in the day. Miller allegedly asked the man if he could transfer money into his bank account and have him give Miller the money that had been transferred, according to the probable cause affidavit. The man agreed.
After Miller allegedly transferred the money into the man’s account, the account holder withdrew the money and took it to the parking lot of a Smith’s located in Murray before giving the money to Miller and leaving. According to arrest documents, the account holder kept $300 of the money he withdrew.
A man reported his gold Hyundai Elantra had been stolen from its parking spot in Orem on April 11. The man told police his wallet, which also had his credit card in it, had been left in the vehicle when it was stolen.
Later that day, the man’s credit card was used at the Home Depot in Lindon to make a $269.53 purchase, at the Smith’s in Lehi to make a $345.27 purchase, and at the Target in American Fork to make a $230.73 purchase.
Video surveillance from the Home Depot and the Smith’s Marketplace showed the same man; however, at the Home Depot the man was wearing a blue bandanna over his face and at the Smith’s he was wearing a white mask, according to arrest documents. In both instances, the man was wearing the same shirt, hat and sunglasses.
The Target also obtained video surveillance of a man wearing the same shirt, hat and sunglasses as well as the blue bandana over his face, but he was with a woman who also had a mask on.
On April 29, officers with the Provo City Police Department located the gold Hyundai Elantra in Provo and discovered Miller and his girlfriend, 38-year-old Alee Cooper of Orem, in possession of the vehicle.
Inside of the vehicle, officers discovered the same blue bandana and hat from the Home Depot and Target videos as well as the man’s stolen credit card, according to the probable cause affidavit.
During a further search of the vehicle, police discovered over 100 new and used syringes, heroin, a scale including calibration weights, over 40 empty bags ready for packaging, and eight of the same bags containing balloons or raw-powered heroin measuring a total of 7.24 grams.
Authorities also found tools consistent with those used to enter homes or cars, including a spring-loaded, glass window punch. A social security card belonging to another person and identifying documents belonging to other people were also discovered.
Miller and Cooper also had personal property, including clothing and food, inside the vehicle. A large portion of the clothing, according to the arrest documents, was consistent with the clothes worn by Miller and Cooper while they allegedly committed vehicle burglaries, credit card frauds, money laundering, home burglaries and thefts.
A badge that was stolen from Adult Probation and Parole and another badge stolen from the family of a deceased Millard County Sheriff’s Deputy were also located in the vehicle alongside a computer, cellphones and other personal items reported stolen.
During an interview with authorities, police showed Miller the video surveillance from each of the stores. Miller allegedly told police he went into Home Depot and Smith’s while Cooper was waiting for him in the Hyundai Elantra in the parking lot.
Cooper was shown the same video surveillance and allegedly told police she was with Miller when he stole the vehicle, but she asserted that she told him not to do it. Cooper also allegedly told authorities after Miller stole the vehicle, they went to Home Depot and Smith’s and Miller went into the stores while she waited in the vehicle.
Both suspects were wanted in connection with several home and vehicle burglaries across Utah County and Salt Lake County starting in November. According to the probable cause statement, the pair have several pending cases in at least five jurisdictions in Utah County and were out on bail while awaiting court dates.
Both Cooper and Lee were taken into custody under suspicion of first-degree felony engaging in continued criminal enterprise, two second-degree felony counts of pattern of unlawful activity, second-degree felony money laundering, second-degree felony receiving or transferring a stolen vehicle, second-degree felony theft of an operable vehicle, third-degree felony theft, two third-degree felony counts of identity fraud, third-degree felony possession of another’s identifying documents, third-degree felony theft by receiving stolen property, and third-degree felony unlawful acquisition of a financial card.
The couple are also facing potential charges of class A misdemeanor burglary of a vehicle, class B misdemeanor manufacturing burglary tools, class B misdemeanor possession of drug paraphernalia, and class B misdemeanor unlawful use of a financial card.
Miller and Cooper are currently being held at the Utah County Jail on $10,000 bail. Officials have requested the couple be held without bail.
A 22-year-old female involved in a crash with a semitruck in Spanish Fork Canyon on Monday died from her injuries.
Authorities identified the woman as Joy Johnson from Spanish Fork.
On Monday, an eastbound semitruck with a trailer was traveling into Spanish Fork Canyon where a small Mazda Tribute, driven by Johnson, was turning left off of Powerhouse Road. Johnson’s vehicle was T-boned by the semitruck on the driver’s side, according to Lt. Brandon Anderson, police spokesman.
Johnson sustained severe head trauma in the accident, Anderson said. She was flown by medical helicopter in extreme critical condition.
Police released Johnson’s name and news of her death on Wednesday.
A line of cars formed near the Pleasant Grove High School tennis courts on Wednesday as seniors and parents picked up their 2020 graduation packets.
It was a short route — just around the parking lot — but it was a poignant trip for Rochelle Curtis, who was accompanied by her senior daughter, Christina.
“I feel pretty emotional driving through,” Rochelle Curtis said, tears flowing freely. “At first we had a lot of hope that she’d be going back to school in just a couple of weeks. Then we thought maybe May 1. We really hoped she would be able to have some sort of a normal end of the year. When it was announced they wouldn’t go back to school anymore, that’s when it really hit.”
On Wednesday, the seniors were able to pick up pre-ordered caps and gowns, along with honor cords and graduation signs to display in their front yards. A graduation walk will take place the final four days of school (May 21, 22, 26 and 27) for graduates and their immediate family, observing proper social distancing guidelines. On the evening of May 28, a graduation video will be streamed online. Following the video the “G” between Grove Creek Canyon and Battle Creek Canyon will be lit, accompanied by fireworks obtained through donations to the Alpine School District.
Pleasant Grove principal Steve Stewart released graduation plans earlier this week in a letter to the school’s 650 seniors.
“Once we had talked as principals about some of the ideas we had, each school was allowed to come up with what we felt was best for our community,” Stewart said. “We wanted to do the graduation walk in our auditorium with ‘Pomp and Circumstance’ playing and give them a chance to get their picture taken in front of the block ‘PG.’
“For me it was very scary to wonder if what we’re going to do is going to be enough. We’re still tweaking the plans, but the feedback we’ve gotten from the Pleasant Grove community has been wonderful and positive.”
Stewart said the logistics and the uncertainty of the future made planning graduation especially difficult.
“You’re sitting in an empty school and just wondering what’s happening,” he said. “You wonder what people are thinking and what they need, and what we can provide, and if it will all come together.”
Pleasant Grove senior class president Francisco Calderon and vice president Emily Trewartha sat in camp chairs in the parking lot, holding up signs and greeting parents and students as they picked up their graduation packets.
“I don’t even remember what my last day of school was like,” Calderon said. “I don’t remember what I was doing that day or who I was talking to. It’s sad that I don’t remember my last day. But I think the school has done well with the situation it’s been given. It really shows they do care about us and they miss us a lot.”
Calderon said he will attend Southern Utah University in the fall and is ready for the next stage of his life.
“It’s kind of like, ‘What’s left to stay for at this point?’” he said. “You love high school but this is such a weird situation we’re in now that everything is almost done. It’s hard because the last month of your senior year is when all the fun stuff happens, like Lagoon Day. It’s like all the hard work with no payoff at the end.”
Trewartha said she was glad she still was able to participate in Pleasant Grove’s “Save Ferris” activities in late December, which is a fundraising effort ending with a dance that brings in students from other schools and as far away as St. George.
“Our senior year has been really good,” she said. “We’ve already made a lot of memories and I’m grateful for them. It’s been hard, realizing I’m not going to get to go to prom. I’m really sad about prom. But everyone is going through this and everyone is losing something.”
Trewartha said she was happy to be able to greet her fellow seniors on Wednesday.
“This will be good closure for me,” she said. “There are a lot of people I wouldn’t have seen otherwise, so it’s good to be able to say goodbye to them.”
Sitting in an SUV with her mother after collecting her graduation packet, Christina Curtis couldn’t help but still be disappointed that her senior year is ending under the restrictions of the COVID-19 virus.
“I’m trying to have a positive attitude and be happy that at least something is happening,” she said. “The biggest thing I cared about was seeing all my friends at graduation. But it’s nice that it’s not unknown anymore, even though it’s not what I was hoping for.”
As a high school football coach, Andy Stokes has helped his athletes face and overcome numerous challenges on the gridiron.
His wife, Tia Stokes, focused on helping others overcome challenges through her charitable dance teams Kalamity and Kaos at The Vault dance studio in Orem and St. George. Their efforts have raised almost $600,000 for 50 different charitable causes since 2007.
Now, however, the Stokes family finds itself on the other side as it is now facing an devastating challenge of its own.
Tia Stokes was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia last week, which according to http://cancer.org is “a type of cancer in which the bone marrow makes abnormal myeloblasts (a type of white blood cell), red blood cells, or platelets.”
“We found out Friday,” Andy Stokes said in a phone interview Monday. “One of my assistant coaches, Josh Arnold, is a doctor and he started taking care of Tia last week. She had been feeling sick off and on since December but he started doing blood tests and X-rays. On Friday afternoon he came to our house and informed us that things didn’t look very good and that the oncologist wanted her to go straight to LDS Hospital.”
He said it was a shock to the family but they weren’t thinking it was cancer. They followed the instructions, leaving their five children with family as they went to the hospital.
The restrictions that are in place as part of efforts to limit the risk of patients during the COVID-19 pandemic, however, meant that Andy Stoke couldn’t go into the hospital with his wife.
“No one is allowed on the cancer floor and they have the bare minimum of staff there,” Andy Stokes said. “We basically had to leaver her at the entrance and go. It’s been tough to say the least — but she is a tough girl.”
He knows that Tia Stokes is a fighter who will face this challenge like she has others in her life.
“Everyone who knows her knows her energy,” Andy Stokes said. “She wants to help everybody and make sure everyone is taken care of. That’s kind of her life mission. She just lights up everybody’s world. She is the one person who can beat this thing because her whole life motto is we can do hard things. The kids in the studio say that everyday.”
Andy Stokes is tremendously proud of everything his wife has accomplished.
“I think her whole message of life is to be the change, be the difference for other people,” Andy Stokes said. “Tia has essentially been raising money for other people forever. When we got married, we started a company that created a nonprofit dance studio that put on concerts for people who have calamities in their life. That’s who Tia is. We are doing all that work but we never thought it would hit home.”
The first person to benefit from the charity work was a dancer in the company who had leukemia, Andy Stokes said.
He said that even now as she faces a tough battle with cancer, she is still looking at it as an opportunity to have an impact.
“She’s using this platform to help other people in the same situation and that it’s OK,” Andy Stokes said. “People can fight together and she can inspire people from this place. Making people’s lives better is always where she pushes.”
He said that the first steps for Tia Stokes resulted in some positives.
“Everybody who has bone cancer like this starts with the same treatment process,” Andy Stokes said. “Depending on how your body reacts to that, then they move on to whatever the next step may be. It’s serious. She had quite a few cancer cells in her bone marrow and in her blood, so we got her in there in a good time. She started the chemotherapy Sunday and the tests are showing it is working — but it’s a tough one for adults to beat.”
Even in just a couple of days since getting the difficult news, Andy Stokes said the support from so many has been overwhelming.
“She has a huge community of people behind her, praying and fasting for her,” he said. “We can feel it. The response has been unbelievable and we are so grateful. We’ve been doing fundraisers for 12 years, but you never put yourself in the shoes of those people. People want to do anything they can do to help. It’s humbling. It’s quite an experience to see people’s humanity and their love for their fellow man.”
A GoFundMe page (see info box) was started on Saturday to support the family financially and as of Monday afternoon it had already raised nearly $30,000 with donations from nearly 400 people.
“Tia is a force for good!!!,” the GoFundMe organizer Cambria Hauck said on the page. “She is absolutely AMAZING!!! I know so many people want to give back and the best way we can support her in this time is faith, prayers, fasting, and financially! Anything helps as she starts her journey to kick cancer!!! I know this is a long shot, but I would love to match the amount she has raised for so many families through the years, $600,000 I know miracles can happen!!! Please pray and fast!!!! Let’s do this!!!! As Tia has taught so many to say, ‘I got this!!!’ ‘I can do hard things!!!’ ‘God is amazing!!!!’”
Hauck added that she will post updates on Tia Stokes’ progress on the GoFundMe page as it becomes available.
Here’s what’s going on inside Darnell’s head. I’d like to introduce you to a writer with charm, talent and wit. Unfortunately, he couldn’t write this column so you’ve got me instead.
Welcome, Matt Haarms
There are a lot of reasons why Haarms coming to BYU is a good thing.
Let me name a few.
1. He’s a 7-foot-3 rim protector.
2. He chose BYU even though some other pretty big schools (Kentucky, Gonzaga, Arizona) were after him.
3. He’s a skilled senior who has been through the Big Ten wars three times. Alex Barcello is the only other senior on the roster, so experience matters.
4. He gives BYU more versatility in the lineup, and college basketball is all about matchups.
5. He plays with a lot of emotion. In fact, BYU coach Mark Pope compared his approach to the game to the way Zac Seljaas played last season.
The “BYU Way” under Pope is pretty simple: How do you fit and what role are you willing to play for the team to be successful? Pope bragged about having the best locker room in America last year and admitted that might be difficult to duplicate. But if Haarms is willing to work and fill a role, another really good season could be on the way.
Pope and his coaching wowed Haarms during the recruiting process with a statistical breakdown of his game and how they plan on helping the big man improve.
I could see Haarms averaging in double figures and blocking two or three shots a game, sharing time on what is a deep but young front line.
Plus, he’ll give headline writers an nearly endless variety of “Haarms” puns.
Did I mention Haarms is left-handed? Everyone knows all the best people are left-handed.
From the grapevine
Hearing good things about Jesse Wade finally getting healthy. The former Davis star and Gonzaga commit could really be a wild card when it comes to the 2020-21 season.
Let’s get rich
My idea to make a million: Silent buzzers to place on teenagers and young adults who are so wrapped up in their devices or wearing headphones that they don’t hear Mom or Dad call for them from another room. Push a button and the buzzer goes off to let them know they are needed.
BYU’s Gabi Garcia Fernandez was named the AVCA Player of the Year in men’s volleyball last week and the award was rightfully earned. The improvement the already supremely talented opposite hitter made between his sophomore and junior season is pretty remarkable. He raised his hitting percentage (from .281 to .343) and was much more consistent with what is one of the best jump serves in the world.
The good news is he’s coming back next season.
Did you miss being able to watch the BYU spring football game?
Over the years the BYU spring game hasn’t really amounted to much. One year, Bronco Mendenhall didn’t even hold one because he didn’t feel he had enough healthy offensive linemen. Kalani Sitake generally holds out most of the key players during his spring games, so you get good looks at athletes who likely won’t get any playing time during the regular season.
The Nebraska athletic department decided to present a virtual spring game last week with play-by-play announcer Greg Sharpe and color man Matt Davison providing commentary.
The lineups included all-time greats from Husker history, guys like Johnny Rodgers, Mike Rozier, Irving Fryar, Tommie Frazier, and Eric Crouch.
Nebraska generally gets upwards of 80,000 at its spring game and the Husker fans showed up digitally for the virtual version: 281,350 unique viewers, 24,320 peak live viewers, 525,740 total views and a million total people reached.
The White team won 60-57 in overtime.
Fun fact: I was working at the Lincoln Journal Star in 2012 when the Nebraska spring game was canceled because of bad weather. Aside from 2020, it’s the only other time in school history without a spring game.
There is at least one movie star who is doing something productive during the coronavirus outbreak. John Krasinski is hosting a home-produced program on YouTube called “SGN” which stands for “Some Good News.”
He highlights good news coming from acts of kindness and sacrifice to counteract all the bad news we’re hearing and reading these days.
He held a “Prom 2020” event with surprise Zoom visits from the Jonas Brothers and Billie Eilish while high school seniors in prom outfits danced in their homes.
There was another story about a young girl who had tickets to see “Hamilton” in Florida but the performance was canceled due to the coronovirus. Krasinski and his wife, Emily Blunt, called the girl on Zoom and told her they were sending her to New York to see a production of “Hamilton” on Broadway when the crisis was over.
But that wasn’t all.
“Hamilton” creator Lin-Manuel Miranda came on the call and started singing the opening number. He was eventually joined by the entire cast of “Hamilton” on the Zoom call.
It was electrifying and a lot of fun.
Smart and strong
Lest we forget that they are also students, 91 BYU student-athletes received degrees this spring. There are plenty of exercise and wellness and exercise science degrees, along with a few for finance and economics. Addison Pulsipher (BYU football) received a mechanical engineering degree and Miki Jauhiainen earned one in computer science.
The one and only
If you’re former BYU star Taysom Hill, you know you’ve arrived when you sign a big NFL contract — and during the NFL draft, pundits keep referring to other athletic quarterbacks as “Taysom Hill” types.
A glorious run
comes to an end
The virtual NCAA Tournament on YouTube (sponsored by Reddit) ended last Monday with BYU falling short in the championship game to Seton Hall 79-77.
It was kind of a crazy game. BYU led by double digits in the second half but trailed by seven with less than a minute to go. The Cougars somehow cut the deficit to two and had the ball with seconds to go. Jake Toolson missed a contested 3-pointer from the top of the key and Seton Hall hung on for the win.
Mark Pope will take a lot of grief for keeping Toolson on the bench in the second half due to foul trouble even though the Cougars were struggling to score. And Yoeli Childs fouled out as well, though he wasn’t getting nearly enough touches.
There is a very emotional “One Shining Moment” at the end of the game, too. Make sure you watch that one.
That’s all for now, but for this: Remember to be yourself. Everyone else is already taken.