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Opinion: Driven to Succeed

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Some are named for their shape – Turtle – some are named for their color – Little Blue – and some are just for fun – The G-Town Express – but one thing is certain, nobody forgets their first car.

It’s a 16-year-old’s right of passage: Windows down, tunes up and the wind in your hair as you breath your first taste of sweet freedom.

Little Blue was a light cerulean blue looker – 1984 Chevy S-10 Blazer I drove through my freshman year of college. The air conditioning didn’t work, she didn’t have a CD player or even a tape deck, and the four-wheel drive sometimes got stuck on. But she was all mine and she was beautiful.

In honor of the 40 Under 40 awards’ 16th birthday this year, I asked the Class of 2014 about their first car, and as expected, the answers were as unique as the owners.

Parker McKenna named his 1988 Honda Accord White Lightning. Bryan Simpson and TaJuan Wilson both drove Mitsubishi Galants. A couple honorees lucked out with fast cars, such as Kristy Chastain’s ’86 Mustang and Jared Doty’s ’76 Stingray Corvette, and others weren’t as lucky, such as Zac Rantz’s Ford Tempo GLS. He assures me, however, it was the sports model. Jason Silvis claims the prize for most unique, a race car he turned around the local track.

By far the most popular on the list was near and dear to my heart – the Chevy Blazer. Jennifer Jester had one and so did Brittany Waugh. Matt Lemmon and I even had the same model year. Lemmon says his radiator hose blew the first day he drove it to school, but he loved that piece of junk. I second that notion, Matt.

Learning about the lives of each 40 Under 40 honoree is a favorite here at the Springfield Business Journal. So much so, everybody wants in on the writing action. From our editorial intern to our president and chairwoman, each took a turn crafting the profiles in this booklet.

It’s our chance to get to know each honoree. These are the up-and-coming business leaders of our community, the movers and shakers and the people we’re likely going to continue writing articles about in the future.

To honor the 16th class of 40 Under 40, SBJ has once again partnered with a local charity to raise community awareness during the event. This year it’s the Equi-Librium Therapy Center, which aims to provide accredited equine therapy services across a nine-county area in southwest Missouri.

Formerly Therapeutic Riding of the Ozarks, the center is funded through grant writing and donations. Helping individuals with ailments such as autism spectrum disorder, cerebral palsy, genetic syndromes and traumatic brain injuries, Executive Director Kent Crumpley says ETC is about more than just horseback riding.

“We work with a lot of kids to strengthen muscle control, coordination and awareness by feeling the movement of the horse as it walks,” he says about a treatment known as hippotherapy.

ETC also partners with Burrell Behavioral Health and the Wounded Warrior Project to help local teens and returning heroes.

“Horses are great listeners, and they don’t talk back,” Crumpley says. “Sometimes, it’s easier to engage with a horse than a human. Sometimes, that’s what a teen needs. Sometimes, that’s the first stepping stone for getting a veteran back into the world and social again.”

However you arrive, I invite everyone to join the Old West-themed party March 6 to support ETC and drink a toast to the memories that make us smile and the people who continue to shape the Ozarks.

Features Editor Emily Letterman can be reached at eletterman@sbj.net.[[In-content Ad]]

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