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Mesa’s Rising Stars

The heart of our mission at VoyagePhoenix is to find the amazing souls that breathe life into our city. In the recent weeks, we’ve had the privilege to connect with some of the Greater Phoenix area’s finest artists, creatives, entrepreneurs and rabble rousers and we can’t begin to express how impressed we are with our city’s incredibly deep talent pool. Check out inspiring stories from Mesa and surrounding areas below.

Marcus Reardon

I grew up in a very musical family. The majority of my cousins, aunts, and uncles were in charge of the music at our church growing up. I always knew that at some point, I was going to make a move towards a legitimate music career, and my taste had grown so keen to hip-hop that that is exactly where I started. When I was about 17, I started recording music with a couple friends, and within a couple of years I had my own equipment and could record myself. In 2015 I had a family member introduced me to some friends that had opened up a much nicer studio me, and before long those people and I became close and started a band. Today I am still balancing both of my worlds as a solo hip-hop artist and the frontman of my band This Modern. I’ve been fortunate enough to travel the country as both entities as well as sign a record deal with This Modern. Read more>>

Joe Gamez

I’m a long-time workout enthusiast. I grew up playing sports (football, track, cross-country, and wrestling), spent a decent amount of time hiking in various areas, and loved climbing anything I could get my hands on. For the majority of my life, I was what most would consider fit, but as adulthood settled in, I fell into a big lull. I put on about 50 lbs over the years, didn’t work out regularly, and struggled with body my body image. I tried going back to the gym on my own, even hired a personal trainer, but I found that I lacked the knowledge and motivation to really get myself back on track. I decided to try CrossFit on a whim. I purchased a Groupon for a nearby gym, fell in love with the workouts, and got my life together. The full story is way more detailed, but to keep it short, I’ve been extra passionate about my fitness journey since and wanted to share my knowledge, experience, and drive for community with those around me. Read more>>

Emily Evans

It all started in 2010, well before the business started. My husband, Peter, and I were just dating at the time. It was a Friday night. He picked me up from work on his motorcycle and pulled up behind some other cars at a red light. He is quite the romantic and was leaning back, telling me why the moon was so big that night. All of a sudden… BAM! Our world went topsy turvy. We had just gotten hit by another vehicle from behind. In a split second, I found myself on the ground next to Peter. There were people running up from all around us. He was temporarily knocked out. As he started coming to he was yelling for me and there was a lady crouched over him, almost holding him down, telling him, “She’s right here. Stay still!” It took several attempts to get it through to him but finally, he laid back and stayed still until the paramedics got there. I will forever be grateful to those first responders and all who put their lives on the line for us on a daily basis. They prioritized him, getting him into an ambulance then zooming off to the emergency room. Read more>>

Ken Taylor

I’m 49 years old and live in a town outside of Phoenix, AZ called Santan Valley. I am a caregiver to my wife Barby (yes, we are Ken and Barby). Barby is diagnosed with an autoimmune condition called RSD/CRPS. But if you know how the autoimmune system works, you will understand that often there is more than one diagnosis. Barby has been diagnosed with other conditions like gastroparesis, intestinal ischemia, and others. I have been a caregiver now for over 15 years. Making difficult decisions and putting all our trust into Dr’s without a proper diagnosis took us down many unnecessary paths. Some of which cause the situation to be worse than it had to be, exacerbating the symptoms that we didn’t even know how to treat in the first place. Not having the answers lead us to where we are today. Because of our experiences, we felt it was necessary to do something about it, and we started the International Pain Foundation. We now provide education and awareness to people just like us looking for answers. Read more>>

Camillia Weakly

Since I can remember, I have a heighten sense of awareness of other people pain. I’ve been massaging since I was 8 years old. My dad would pay me all the change in his pocket to give him back and feet massages. I grew up in Detroit, but it wasn’t until I move to Arizona that I turn my love of helping to into a career. I was inspired by Arizona’s spiritual holistic culture, the mountains, and the peace of the desert. I was first introduced to reiki energy healing and I was fascinated by the chakra system, and eastern holistic healing methods. I found a school that combine both western practice with Eastern holistic massage techniques. This is where my journey began. Read more>>

Catrina Brewer

Years ago, I wanted to make healthy granola bars for my family but my attempts always ended in frustration because the bars would fall apart after I cut them up. I went on a search for the perfect granola bar pan with separate slots so the bars would stay together. I found pans on the market but they all failed! Taking what I had learned, I went to a product designer and he designed the Granola Bar Pan – a convenient and fun way to make homemade granola bars that are perfectly shaped every time! Plus, there’s not cutting the bar so they don’t crumble and fall apart! My husband and I used our money to pay for the production tooling to be made for manufacturing but we didn’t have enough money to order the first bulk batch of pans so I did a crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter. Read more>>

Rhonda Carlson

As with many people that live in Arizona, I am a transplant. I moved to the Phoenix area from Cleveland, Ohio, in June of 2018 for the position I currently hold as Executive Director for Arizona Disabled Sports. I had previously worked for over ten years in several different administrative roles within the healthcare industry – mainly business development, operations, and account management. From those experiences, I became aware of several nonprofit organizations in the greater Cleveland area that specifically focused on serving vulnerable populations and creating a healthier community and I decided to volunteer my time to support those causes. Specifically, I served on the advisory boards of the Carmella Rose Health Foundation (where I found an incredible mentor in their Executive Director, Ginny Pate, who I give a tremendous amount of credit to for getting me to where I am today) and the United Way of Greater Cleveland. Read more>>

Tremaine Robinson

At the age of 12 I decided that she wanted to do a surprise meal for my parents. I made an overdone steak, bland beets and some crunchy baby carrots. The next time was when I was 15 and my boyfriend was ill. I thought what better way to show my young love than to prepare him some homemade chicken noodle soup. This was no ordinary soup, the soup contained an array of vegetables, spices, homemade bone broth, and was made from scratch, no goop out of the can. Well, he broke up with me and declined the soup. I remember running up the stairs in this long dress and heels with the soup, tripped up the stairs, further embarrassing myself. When I finally made it to the top, I was met with warm embraces from her friends Angie and Myndi who was more than happy to eat the soup and complimented me on how well it tasted. Read more>>

Sue Schaffer

Being in the Emergency Medical profession for close to 40 years and operating multiple businesses, what I learned was to burn the candle at both ends, to push thru the anger, disappointment and grief of being a first responder, and to always keep moving forward. When I discovered Yoga about 15 years ago, my first thoughts were I wish I had known about this practice from the beginning. Learning how to manage anxiety and stress, memories and life changed my life. Reaching out to complementary and alternative medicine seemed a logical next step. Discovering that the Gold Canyon community would benefit from a place of refuge and mindfulness, a vision and a dream to provide that place was born. In May 2019, The Live it Well Place was established. Read more>>

Jennifer Vandegriff, LCSW

I graduated with my Bachelors in Social Work in 1998 and worked in the field for a couple of years before I took time off to raise my first child. Two kids later I decided to go back to school in 2008 to pursue my Masters in Social Work. I always knew I wanted to go back to work after my kids were in school and I thought a graduate degree would give me more flexibility. It took me five long years of (extremely) part time attendance but I graduated with my MSW in 2013. I thought I would work part time and continue to be there as much as I possibly could for my kids. But a move to a new home, painful divorce, and death of my mother changed everything. Just as I was starting out on my new career path, my husband and I separated after 17 years of marriage. Read more>>

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