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Published: Monday, January 01, 2018 @ 6:00 AM
— A city is only as good as the people who call it home.
The Dayton area is teeming with incredible people. We are fortunate to have featured 52 of them in 2017 as part of our ongoing Daytonian of the Week feature.
There were artists, restaurateurs, an Emmy-winner, entrepreneurs, activists and four women calling their own shots in downtown Dayton.
>> RELATED: TOP DAYTONIANS OF THE WEEK FOR 2016
Here are the top 10 most-read Daytonian of the Week stories for 2018 in reverse order.
10) ERIC JERARDI
Blues guitarist, founder of the Eric Jerardi Band, wine expert and owner of Jerardi’s Little Store at 7325 Peters Pike in Butler Twp.
“People don’t realize how great they have it here in Dayton. You have to travel a lot to understand that. I live north and really love it here — no traffic issues, and I love the airport being so close. We are picking up direct flights all the time, and that’s nice for weekend getaways.”
>> RELATED: WHY ERIC JERARDI LOVES DAYTON
9) EMMY FABICH AND KATIE NORRIS
Downtown residents and outdoor advcocates. Emmy works for Bike Miami Valley, the region's only bicycling advocacy organization and Katie runs the program education for Link: Dayton Bike Share. Katie works for the City in the Department of Water, Division of Environmental Management.
Emmy: “People should know that Dayton is so lucky to have so many places to get outside, get active, explore and have local adventures right here. You don't need to spend tons of money or move to Denver: you could do a local bike touring trip on the nation's largest paved trail network, go whitewater kayaking on our national water trail system, or rent a bike at MetroParks Mountain Bike Area (MoMBA) and ride in the woods, or do a weekend backpacking trip on the Twin Valley Trail. The opportunities are endless! Dayton's got it going on. And I just love seeing the reaction on people's faces when you tell them all of the things that they can experience here.”
Katie: “Don't assume the perception you have of Dayton from five years ago holds true today. If you think there isn't something fun to do in Dayton for any age, on any day, then you're not looking hard enough. Also, Dayton isn't perfect, but if you see a challenge, ask yourself how can you work together with others to start addressing that challenge. We all have to take pride in where we live or work, and actively work to make it even better.”
>> RELATED: WHY EMMY FABICH AND KATIE NORRIS LOVE DAYTON
8) TERRY ADKINS & SUSAN AND JOE BAVARO
The trio own the Oregon Express Bar & Restaurant in Dayton’s Oregon Historic District.
Terry: “The Oregon District has always been a popular and successful business and entertainment destination and neighborhood of Dayton for the last 30 years. The recent explosion of additional interest and investment in the district and the whole downtown Dayton area bodes well. It all points to a future center city of multiple choices of where to live, work and play in a dynamic urban center for the Miami Valley region.”
7) DAVID SUTER
Force behind the Instagram accounts @IGersDayton and @entropic.
“Dayton has faced a lot of challenges as a community but what inspires me is the sheer number of individuals committed to making it better. Everywhere you look are small business owners working hard to get by because they are passionate about our city. It's that dedication and loyalty that continuously amazes me.”
>> RELATED: WHY DAVID SUTER LOVES DAYTON
6) BRYAN STEWART
Legislative aide to Dayton City Commissioner Christopher Shaw and founder of The Longest Table Dayton.
“Faux, forced, urban environments are being rejected by millennials. We’re moving downtown, we’re moving closer to cool amenities we can walk or ride a bike to and there’s huge potential in this trend. ‘Outsiders’ should start more businesses and offices in this space because it’s only going to grow.”
>> RELATED: WHY BRYAN STEWART LOVES DAYTON
5) THE DOWNTOWN BROWNS
Lisa Scott of Beaute Box Lashes Dayton; Kate Rivers of Twist Cupcakery; Juanita Darden-Jones of Third Perk Coffeehouse and Wine Bar and Jasmine Brown of De’Lish Cafe.
Jasmine: “We really are showing our people the importance of supporting each other... We are black women and we are working together.”
>> RELATED: WHY THE DOWNTOWN BROWNS LOVE DAYTON
4) MICHAEL SHUBERT
Owner of the Red Carpet Tavern
“I got me a big boy job when I was about 20 years old and stayed here. I did the family thing. I moved away briefly to Daytona. (I) came back. I like it here in Dayton. I like the Belmont area. I like to bring our neighborhoods back.”
>> RELATED: WHY MICHAEL SHUBERT LOVES DAYTON
3) BILL CASTRO
Equestrian and co-owner of El Meson, 903 E Dixie Dr., West Carollton
(Dayton) is small enough to get around and yet unique in the gem of restaurants we have.
>> RELATED: WHY BILL CASTRO LOVES DAYTON
2) ROB STRONG
Owner of Thai 9, 11 Brown St., and Canal Street Arcade & Deli, 308 E 1st St.
What inspires me about Dayton: “The many entrepreneurs I personally know in Dayton and its history of innovators with the visions and the willingness to see those visions through.”
>> RELATED: WHY ROB STRONG LOVES DAYTON
1) ALLISON JANNEY
Award-winning film and television actress and current star of “CBS’ “Mom”
The former star of “The West Wing” has a long list of film credits that includes roles in “The Help,” “Drop Dead Gorgeous,” “Hairspray,” “American Beauty,” “The Girl on the Train,” “The Hours,” “Finding Nemo,” “Big Night” and “Juno.”
“We are salt of the Earth. We are the people who are grounded and know what’s important about life and know that treating people with respect and kindness (is important).... I’ve always felt that the people I’ve met from Dayton are great people.”
Published: Wednesday, June 20, 2018 @ 1:28 PM
— Dayton’s Five Rivers MetroParks has been raking in quite a few well-deserved props lately — including National Geographic to Canoe & Kayak Magazine shout-outs. Our access to outdoor recreation and exploration is hard to match.
Plentiful resources and natural spaces aren’t enough for a city to become a thriving outdoor destination. It takes the passion and hard work of Daytonians like Grace Dietsch, Five Rivers MetroParks biologist, to help make our city’s opportunities a reality.
Before moving to Dayton in 2012, Dietsch frequently moved around the country for work — living in mountainous towns, once in a van by a river and other memorable locations — but said her roots have grown deeper in the Gem City since moving to the area.
Through her research and commitment to Dayton’s wild spaces, Dietsch has been a crucial part in the MetroPark’s success and the reason she is our Daytonian of the Week.
What brought you to Dayton? Where are you from?
“I moved to Dayton in 2012 when I moved in with the man who I now call my husband. We met while serving on the Ohio Interagency Wildland Fire Crew that same year and were both on the same two western wildfire assignments. When I first came to Dayton, I immediately got a great vibe from the community. I am from Rio Grande, Ohio, which has a population of around 800 people and throughout my adult life I’ve lived in various other places throughout Ohio, Virginia, Washington and Oregon. I’ve lived in small towns, college towns, mountain towns, and literally lived in a van by a river for a while. My roots were always very shallow, but they’ve grown rather deep here in Dayton!”
Are there some cool plants or animals that are in the Dayton-area that people might not be aware of?
Englewood MetroPark has one of the healthiest and most diverse salamander populations in the entire state. Huffman Prairie has an amazing prairie that will be in full bloom soon – this is a great place to see hummingbirds by the dozens, butterflies galore, and several uncommon grassland birds. I could go on and on about the cool things you can find at every single one of the Five Rivers MetroParks locations.”
Why did you become a biologist and what have you enjoyed about your job?
“This is my dream job! From a very young age I have felt a strong desire to be a voice for the voiceless plants and animals with which we share this planet. I’ve always dreamed of being in a position where I could make a real difference and this is it! Five Rivers MetroParks is an amazing place to work. There are so many passionate and dedicated folks here and everyone strives to accomplish what MetroParks was created to do — to protect natural areas, parks and river corridors, and to promote the conservation and use of these lands and waterways for the ongoing benefit of the people in the region.”
What’s been your favorite project or activity that you’ve done with the MetroParks?
“My favorite activities involve volunteers. We have amazing volunteers who work with us on a regular basis – from growing and planting trees and wildflowers, removing invasive species, conducting habitat assessments, clearing trails, picking up fishing line around ponds, and participating on prescribed burns. They work so hard right alongside our staff and we truly couldn’t do a lot of these activities without their support.”
“If I had to pick one activity, I would have to say conducting prescribed burns is my favorite. A good fire regime does wonders for restoring and maintaining a prairie, so the rewards are huge. Carrying out a burn take a lot of strategic planning, hard work and collaboration. It requires the support from nearly all departments at Metroparks. Plus, nothing brings a team together like safely and successfully burning a large field of grass.”
Why is it important for a community to support their MetroParks?
I can think of so many reasons! MetroParks exists to protect this community’s natural heritage – that means we are here to protect the biodiversity, native plants and animals, and cultural and historical components on more than 16,000 acres of land! We even have a policy that states we must keep at least 90% of lands we manage as natural area. Maintaining this much land as greenspace is good for the environment, good for the health of the community, and is good for the economic development of Dayton. MetroParks has 30 locations throughout the Dayton area that are clean and safe.”
Which MetroPark is your favorite?
“Hmmmm….that might be the toughest question of them all. My favorite is the one I am working in that day. I know that sounds cliché, but I really do find something uniquely amazing about each and every location. They are all beautifully maintained by park staff and play an equally-vital role in our community’s natural environment.”
Describe your perfect day in Dayton! What would you do?
“My perfect day would start out with a seat next to one of the wetlands at the Great Miami Mitigation Bank before sunrise. I’d spend the morning peacefully observing the wildlife and enjoying my surroundings. Then I’d want to paddle down the Twin Creek with my family for a few hours, stopping to fish some of the deeper pools along the way. The 2nd Street Market would be open on my perfect day, so we’d go there for spanakopita and baklava for lunch. Then I would hit up some of the cool shops in the Oregon District for a little shopping spree. I would end the day at Woodman Fen Conservation Area to see the outstanding summer display of lightening bugs. I’d probably be hungry again, so I’d have to stop at Zombie Dogz for a seasonal dog concoction.”
What keeps you busy when you’re not working with the parks?
“Our 20-month old daughter, 4 dogs, 2 cats, and 68 chickens! My husband and I bought a home on 10 acres last year. About 6 acres of that is wooded and I attempt to manage those woods like it’s my second job. The remaining acreage is pasture for future farm animals, a little bit of prairie and a LOT berry plants. It is a farm in the making and definitely keeps our family very busy.”
Why is Dayton special to you?
“I consider Dayton to be my second home. The people that live here are amazing and I have made so many good friends. There is great music, amazing places to eat, and really good local breweries. I have lived in mountains and foothills nearly all of my life and have a perpetual need to see big trees, hike steep ravines, and soak my feet in a cool, clear creek on a hot day. The fact that I can have all of these experiences, know such awesome people, and work at an amazing organization makes Dayton a very special and unique place to live.”
Published: Wednesday, June 13, 2018 @ 11:07 AM
— Make no mistake, Caressa Brown has more than the look.
The director of Dayton Emerging Fashion Incubator (DE-FI), is on the grind to strengthen Dayton’s fashion industry.
She is the latest Daytonian of the Week.
What do you do and why do you do it?
That’s a loaded question.😂 I am the owner/director of the Dayton Emerging Fashion Incubator (DE-FI) LLC, a volunteer-based community outreach organization that works with area designers in building their brands, establishing their clientele, learning runway production, and editorial shoots. We also develop aspiring models by providing them with world-class runway experience, tearsheet quality images, and put them in front of the world’s top modeling agencies.
In regards to why I do what I do, it’s both simple and complex. I sometimes refer to myself as the supermodel that never was. At the age of 12 back in 1992-93, my self-esteem was beneath the gutter. I was tall, thin awkward, had bucked teeth, 4 eyes, and a 5head. 😂 I was teased mercilessly, and as a way to improve my self-esteem Mom worked 3 jobs and enrolled me in Bette Massie modeling school in Centerville.
After the first session, the instructor called me and my mom in for a meeting and told us that out of all of the models registered in the school, she believed that I had the most potential to actually become a model and waived the remaining tuition. Fast forward 5-6 weeks later. After attending “free” modeling classes, Bette Massie discovered that there was no money on the books for me and called my mom and me in for a meeting. Long story short, the instructor had not received Bette’s approval to waive my tuition, and Bette basically said we either pay or leave the program; we left the program.
However, later that year, I came across a casting call for an agency out of Cleveland that was scouting in Dayton and out of the 100+ models that were in attendance, I was the only one selected and offered a contract with the agency. We signed the contract. Shortly after, my mom was involved in an auto accident, and then later was diagnosed with Multiple-Sclerosis and could no longer work. So with my mom unable to work, we could not afford to travel to the agency or seek out work as a model.
Fast forward several years later to 1998, I attended a modeling convention in Columbus, where I was scouted by the president of Click Models for their Atlanta agency. At the time, I had braces on so they wanted me to travel to Atlanta and start developing me while waiting for my braces to come off. However, I had just started working at General Motors, Truck and Bus in Moraine, just started my freshman year in college at Wright State on academic scholarship, and on top of that I was the caregiver for my mom and without having any additional support. I never made it to Atlanta work with Click.
>> PHOTOS: Art Ball 2018, Dayton’s red carpet night
In 2001, after attending a casting call at a mall in Cincinnati for the world’s top agency at the time, Elite, I was selected as regional semi-finalist in the Elite Model Look Competition, and the Scouting Director for Elite in Chicago offered me a contract. Aside from the fact that my braces were off, nothing had changed in regards to the load I was carrying on this time, I was flunking out of college, battling depression, working 50+ hr/week at GM, and still serving as a caregiver for my mom and I never made it back to Chicago to work with Elite.
I said all of that to say this, I know what it’s like to have a dream and be so close that you can feel, taste, and see it and then have no support to help you obtain it. I do what I do to be the support system for area fashion professionals that I wish I had when I wanted to be a model and as a result of building a nurturing and strong support system for emerging talent we can say that designers have gained firsthand experience working behind the scenes of some of the top design houses for the former Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in New York. Their designs have been featured on the covers of Vogue Africa and in the pages of Vogue Italia, and Essence magazines, they have also had their designs featured in music videos, commercial print, and film. Over 70 of our models have been signed to agencies around the globe. They have appeared on Project Runway, in the pages of Vogue, have been signed to some of the world's top modeling agencies including Factor, Red, and Next, and have walked for New York, Paris and Milan Fashion Week for designers like Marc Jacobs, Miu Miu and Versace.
Cats, dogs, neither or something else?
I’m about to lose a bunch of friends with this one; I’m a dog person. 😂 Most of my friends have cats; they’re just too shifty for me. 😂
What do you love about life in Dayton?
I love the fact that Dayton has the small-town feel yet has big city opportunities. If you want a quick getaway, you’re only a few hours away from at least 8 major cities. Also, I’m a true foodie. I’ve had the opportunity to travel across the country and eat at some of the finest restaurants and nothing comes close to the amazing local cuisine and eateries in Dayton.
What would you do on a perfect date in Dayton?
I’m a pretty low-key person and enjoy the simple things so my idea of a perfect date in Dayton would be to take a long walk at one of the Metroparks, lay out a blanket, have a picnic and enjoy the serenity.
Where do you go for a great time?
I’m a big kid at heart, so I love Scene 75, I celebrated my 35th birthday there with a Ghostbusters cake a few years back. Plus I’m super competitive and I can allow my alter-ego to come out and talk trash while doing rapid-fire rounds in Laser Tag, defending the corner in go carts, and just beating the crap out of my friends and hoping that they are still my friends after I beat them. 😂
Why did you decide to settle in Dayton?
I was born and raised right here in Dayton, and as my mom always says, “I’m Dayton born, Dayton bred, and when I die, I’m gonna be Dayton dead.” 😂
How did you get involved with your business?
That’s another loaded question. 😂I never planned to start a fashion organization. I was essentially left holding the bags from the failed Dayton Fashion Week in 2012. A lot of people — self-included — were hurt, deceived, ripped off, and taken advantage of...
>> Dayton Fashion Week launched (July 23, 2012)
>> Are size 0 to 4 models too small? (Feb 10, 2012)
Several months after Dayton Fashion Week ended, I was approached by Lisa Grigsby and Billy Pote from Dayton Most Metro. They asked me if I would be interested in creating my own fashion organization, and if I did, they would back me up. After thinking about it and reaching out to a few friends and those who had been burned by Dayton Fashion Week, together we created this grassroots fashion movement called the Dayton Emerging Fashion Week (DE-FI) LLC; a lot of people think that we just renamed the company because 99% of the people who quit DFW after I walked away joined me in creating (DE-FI).
We launched in July 2013, and invited all of the designers, sponsors, and talent that was burned by DFW to participate free of charge in our event; the businesses who had taken out ads in the Dayton Fashion Week magazine FIQ where all of the images were pixelated and of poor quality, we offered them a do over at our Fashion in the Mystic Garden Launch Party at SunWatch Indian Village, which was a sold-out event with 250+ people in attendance and gave them free ads in our magazine (DE-FI)ance. I went on to get about 5 seasons of behind the scenes experience at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in New York. We now own the rights to the name Dayton Fashion Week branded as Dayton Fashion Week by (DE-FI), and the rest as they say is history.
What should people know about Dayton’s fashion community?
The vast majority of the designers that we work with are self-taught, a few had to leave the city to receive a formal education in fashion. My ultimate goal is to have an accredited fashion design program right here in Dayton; the closest program is at Miami University, who rolled out their program about two years ago, we’ve had the pleasure of partnering with them on several occasions.
Dayton’s fashion community is more than just models, designers and fashion shows. This is a $900 billion dollar a year industry that every major city in Ohio and across the country has embraced. There’s a need for photographers marketers, business managers, investors, writers, social media experts, legal advisors, accountants, hair and makeup artist, boutiques, wardrobe stylist, textile makers, sewist and seamstress, and so much more and (DE-FI) has made a place at the table for them all and we have people traveling from around the country to work with us. Every door that opens for me, I hold it open for the rest of my (DE-FI) family to enter.
Dayton has the eyes of some of the most influential people in fashion watching what’s going on here because we’ve essentially taken every aspect of what makes New York City the fashion capital of the world and we are re-creating it right here in the Gem City, slowly but surely we are establishing a market that allows fashion to be a viable way to make a living in Dayton.
In February of this year, I was invited to New York Fashion Week as a journalist for our magazine (DE-FI)ance as a fashion influencer by one of the most influential fashion producers in the industry. That alone was a game changer for our organization and we’ve been working on revising our strategic plan for the past couple of months to align with this heightened level of exposure that our talent is receiving. Last month we quietly rolled out our sewing and micro-manufacturing team to assist with our designers production of their lines as well as meet the needs of other businesses and boutiques that need sewing assistance.
What is Dayton’s best hidden gem?
Aside from (DE-FI) ;-) I’d have to say SunWatch Indian Village and Archaeological Park is my favorite hidden gem.
What inspires you about Dayton?
There’s no quit in this city. Things don’t always go as planned and we’ve had more than our fair share of bumps and bruises yet we have some of the most persistent, innovative, and empowering people that go hard for not only the city but their causes every day, and thanks to platforms like Dayton.com we have an opportunity to meet those hidden figures.
If you could change or bring one thing to Dayton, what would it be?
Sometimes, I think we play it too safe as a city. We embrace what we understand and all too often recycle the exact same people to do the work leaving a lot of new talent disenfranchised or if they are included, it’s more or less of a symbolic gesture vs. a sincere attempt of embracing diversity of thought and growth. I’d love to see Dayton let down its guard, kick in a few doors and make a place at the table for everyone by creating a blue print as a guide for others to follow. Competition is not a bad thing.
What do you think Dayton will look like in 10-15 years?
Published: Wednesday, April 18, 2018 @ 6:00 AM
Updated: Friday, June 08, 2018 @ 3:25 PM
— While most of his peers were pondering parties and first jobs, then University of Cincinnati student LaVar Glover had his eyes set on an NFL career and registering his 15-year-old brother in high school.
Glover, a Jefferson High School graduate raised partly in Residence Park, said it was helping his younger brother James Phillips get back on track that helped gear him towards a life of service when his 10-year career in professional football ended.
“I felt all those young guys were like my younger brother,” Glover, who operated The Glover Youth Program from 2009 to 2013, said. “If I can motivate him (my brother), I can motivate others.”
>> RELATED: Pro football player Glover aims to inspire youth (June 7, 2010)
Through the nonprofit, Glover provided boys in foster care and/or a juvenile courts system with residential placement, mentoring, life skills development and therapeutic treatment services.
“I felt like I had always been a humble kid, that come from humble beginnings. Growing up with lack of resources and growing up poor makes you appreciate what you've got,” Glover said. “I was always comfortable in my own skin because I didn’t have much.”
During his career in football, Glover, was drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers before being signed by the Cincinnati Bengals and the Detroit Lions.
Following a three-year stint in the NFL, he played seven years in the Arena and Canadian Football Leagues.
Dayton called him home when his football days were done.
“I wanted to be around my family,” he said.
He said he was nurtured in the community he grew up in, recalling Little League and going to the Wesley Community Center.
“I was familiar with the community. I had a community network,” he said. “Dayton was good to me.”
We caught up with LaVar Glover when he was honored as the Daytonian of the Week from April 18-25.
What do you do, and how did you get involved in Community Action Partnership?
I am the Director of Self-Sufficiency and I facilitate and coordinate “Getting Ahead In a Just-Gettin’-By World” workshops in Montgomery, Greene, Preble and Darke counties.
[The workshop] is about building resources for a better life for those living in poverty or unstable situations. In Getting Ahead, we study poverty and near poverty through the lens of economic class to better understand how our society and the economy work. In groups of 12-14 people, we investigate the impact that poverty and low wages have on our community and what it takes to move from a just getting-by world. The idea of “Getting Ahead” means action and movement- getting ahead of where we are now, toward a brighter future.
I first learned of CAP through my wife (Ivy), who previously worked for CAP in the Marketing Department.
Becoming the Director of Self-Sufficiency was a great fit for me. I genuinely care about helping others, I am a coach at heart, and I grew up in poverty.
What superpower would you love to have?
I would love to be able to fly like Superman.
What do you love about life in Dayton?
Dayton is small but impactful.
What do you wish people knew about CAP?
I wish people knew all of our services and the many counties we serve. CAP is an organization that helps people become more stable with a variety of programs. Our newest programs are the Legal Clinic, Transportation Services, and Getting Ahead. We also have free Tax Services and Computer Classes, to name a few.
What is the most important thing you learned from your NFL career?
Make every day count.
What advice do you give to student athletes hoping to make sports a career?
Be humble. Be coach-able and work beyond your limits in the classroom and on the field. Prepare for adversity and fall in love with the process of being the best person you can be.
What is the last book you read?
“The Magic of Thinking Big” by David J. Schwartz.
Where do you go for a great time?
Great times for me are spent with my family at our golf courses and bowling alleys.
What would you change about Dayton?
I would like to rehab all of the abandoned buildings (downtown) and homes throughout the community. Also, I would like to change the negative stigma Dayton sometimes carry throughout the community. I’m ready for Dayton Public Schools to be recognized as a great school district again.
What should people know about Dayton?
Dayton is on the move with re-developing the downtown areas. Dayton has beautiful real estate and is prime for business opportunities. Dayton has many resources for people in need.
Published: Wednesday, May 23, 2018 @ 1:37 PM
— As of this morning, Tom Helbig is cruising on his bicycle through reportedly, 68 degree and sunny Portland, Maine, en route to Canada, craving a Dayton craft beer and some Taqueria Mixteca.
His East Coast cycling trip began in February in Key West, Florida and will wrap at the end of June when he returns to Dayton to resume organizing and planning Tomfoolery Outdoors adventures — the Dayton business Helbig founded in May 2014 based on the principles of his life’s mantra, “Live Active, Laugh More, Inspire All.”
Helbig’s childhood was spent camping near his home in the Cleveland area, boating on Lake Erie, trips to Ohio state parks and making cherished memories outdoors with his family. The Bowling Green State University grad moved to Dayton in 1998 and after nine years of dedicated work with the Special Olympics of Miami County, got heavily involved with FiveRivers MetroParks in 2007 as an outdoor program event planner.
“I took my experiences between those two jobs and my own personal interests and thought I could start my own company, put my own spin on it and also allow more time for adventures,” Helbig said.
The realization that he could make his enthusiasm for adventures a lifestyle didn’t come without sacrifice. Through careful planning and living simply, Helbig has been able to run a successful outdoors events company and inspire people in Dayton to jump into adventures they thought were unrealistic — all while fitting in personal, month-long adventures throughout the year. “It’s (Tomfoolery Outdoors) a community of people who want to make the world a better place and play outside,” Helbig said.
“I had this epiphany that I was having conversations with friends about event ideas, T-shirt concepts, maybe guided trips that I could offer and I thought well, I’m doing a lot of talking ... and I decided I wanted to take those campfire discussions and turn them into action,” Helbig said.
Get to know Tom Helbig, our Daytonian of the Week:
How do you make this lifestyle possible?
“All my adventures are human powered. I find free places to camp, people host me in their homes, I partner with certain organizations along the way. It’s just being creative, living simply, not caring about glamorous material things and using the income I do bring in from Tomfoolery Outdoors events.”
Do you think Dayton has a big taste for adventure?
“When I moved to the Dayton area in 1998, at that time, being honest, I was not excited about moving. Then things started to change. I got involved with the outdoor amenities that were available, a guy took me fly fishing, then I started spending time on our rivers paddling and fishing, exploring the bike trails. I just really started to become part of the community, and I was loving it.
Loving it to the point now where, even though I’m off on some of these longer adventures, I’m one of the biggest advocates for what Dayton has to offer. I’m really proud to say when I’m on my adventures, that I’m from Dayton, Ohio.”
Do you think some people hesitate before setting off on an adventure?
“I actually hear that a lot and it makes me sad when I hear somebody that isn’t pursuing something that they always wanted to do ... ‘Oh I wish I could do x, y and z,’ — that’s troubling to me and when I hear those things I start to ask a lot of questions of, Well, why not?’ And you’ll hear excuse after excuse of why they haven't pursued something that would make their life that much better. I ask a lot of questions that hopefully stimulate some thought and even offer some suggestions as to how they can do it. Then, if I’m able to stay in touch with those people, I’m going to be their biggest cheerleader. I’m going to hold them accountable and try and get them to do those things they’ve always wanted to do.”
“Live Active, Laugh More, Inspire All.” Why is that Tomfoolery Outdoor’s mission statement?
“In my mid-30s, so right before I started Tomfoolery Outdoor’s, I was feeling really out of balance with my work and life. Just spending too many hours at work behind a desk, and I just felt a need for something different and better. So I thought, OK, how am I going to live the rest of my life. I boiled it down to those three principles, how I wanted to guide the rest of my life ... Over about a six-month process, that led me to founding Tom Foolery Outdoors. So that is not a marketing slogan. It’s how I live my life and I want the company to behave in our community.
What are some of your favorite Dayton spots for day-trip outdoor adventures?
“For favorite spots in the Dayton-area for a hike, you can’t beat the Twin Valley Trail over in Germantown. I love to fly fish on the Great Miami River, mountain biking at MoMBA or John Bryan State Park and paddling on any of the local rivers.”
What is your favorite place to eat in Dayton?
“I love going to the 2nd Street Market, Fusian, Arepas, Mudlick Tap House, Taqueria Mixteca and Trolley Stop. I am excited to be back in Dayton, I’ve been gone for three months now, and I’m looking forward to seeing friends and when I get back, I’ll be in the heart of my Tomfoolery Outdoors events season. And one of the things I’m going to focus on when I return from this journey is, I want to make sure that my lifestyle and brand is more than just long adventures. Those adventures are getting people’s attention, which is awesome and I’m very grateful for that. But within that, I want people to get the message that you can get adventure in your daily life by appreciating those things we have right here locally.”
For all the details on this season’s Tomfoolery Outdoors adventures and the charities involved with each event, visit tomfooleryoutdoors.com.