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People

The Story of a... Dance Instructor

Lukasz Rogowski, 30, teaches all the right moves, which he says lead to better lives and relationships.

The Story of a... Holiday Turkey

A gobbler talks turkey about canceling Thanksgiving, the presidential pardon, PETA and Sarah Palin.

The Story of a... Beekeeper

With dozens of hives to watch over, JEAN VASICEK, 50, owner of Winter Park Honey, stays as busy as a…well, you know.

The Story of a... Storm Chaser

For Lee Nicholas, 45, of Longwood, getting in the path of lightning means he’s that much closer to capturing the perfect storm on camera.

The Story of a... Civil War Re-enactor

The battle lines are blurred for Robert Niepert, 54, of Winter Garden, who fights for both North and South as a cavalry commander.

Dog Walker

For Bryce Olds, 28, a passion for pooches has created a career in pet care in College Park.

The Story of a... Pro Wrestler

‘The Phenomenal’ AJ STYLES, 32, has won every title in Total Nonstop Action Wrestling, which is broadcast from Universal Studios. A longtime crowd favorite as a hero, he is now loathed as a villain.

The Story of a...Blues Singer

For Orlando singer-songwriter Ruth King, 50, hitting the big time means connecting with her audience through songs from the soul.

The Story of a... Public School Nutritionist

Lora Gilbert, 54, Orange County Public Schools’ director of food and nutrition services, caters to a lot of customers with demanding tastes.

The Story of... Earthquake Survivors

Robert and Bernadette Cawley, both 76, fled their home in Haiti for Central Florida.

The Story of...An Intimacy Educator

With Valentine’s Day coming up, we asked STACEY MURPHY, 42, co-owner of a ‘romance boutique’ in Orlando, for advice about the often-elusive ways of love.

The Story of... World Champion Body Painters

Identical twins Brian and Nick Wolfe, 41, of Orlando, say they have the best job on the planet, painting faces and bodies.

The Story of a... Bad Santa

GREG THOMPSON, 46, is busy this time of year as a for-hire Santa Claus. But at office parties, his rendition of St. Nick is for mature audiences only.

The Story of a... Road Ranger

If you have a breakdown along I-4, Mike Cocomazze, 57, has the tools and the know-how to bring you up to speed.

'Chain-Saw Murderer'

By day, Carl Roberts, 50, is an attorney. By night, from September 25 to October 31, he’s a character in Universal Orlando’s Halloween Horror Nights.

Linda Chapin's Hopscotch Journey

 Linda Chapin, 67, didn’t start out as an Orlando power player. Her foray into the city’s business world was visiting her grand-father at his downtown car dealership in the 1950s. It would take a series of volunteer projects to craft her social conscience and develop the political skills that led to roles as Orange County commissioner and the county’s first chairman (now called mayor). In 2001 Chapin became director of the Metropolitan Center for Regional Studies at the University of Central Florida, focusing on growth, the environment and social policies. She retired from UCF last year.

Winifred Sharp's Brand of Justice

Her parents were dynamic civic leaders, but Winifred Sharp still had to chart her own, sometimes difficult course as a woman entering the legal profession in the early 1960s. She earned her law degree at Stanford and went to work in her father’s Orlando law firm, practicing property and family law among other specialties. In 1979, then-Governor Bob Graham appointed Sharp to the newly created Florida Fifth District Court of Appeal. Sharp, 72, retired in 2006 and today is a trustee of the Winifred Johnson Clive Foundation, which awards grants to various nonprofit groups that focus on children, arts, education and wildlife conservation. She and her husband, Joel Sharp, have four daughters.

Courtney Lee's Lifetime Tribute

 Coming out of a lesser-known college basketball program, Courtney Lee felt that he had to disprove notions that he wasn’t NBA caliber. Since joining the Orlando Magic as the 22nd overall pick in the 2008 draft, Lee, 23, has done just that, working his way into the starting lineup as a point-producing guard. Lee recalls the impact an unfortunate event had on his life, inspiring him to play at his highest level.  

Henry Maldonado's American Journey

 The son of a Venezuelan military officer, Henry Maldonado adapted to change early on in his life. Living in different places around the world and making new friends were part of the education of Maldonado. After studying film at Boston University, Maldonado found his calling in local TV news production. In 2001, he came to Orlando as the vice president and then general manager at Orlando’s WKMG-Channel 6. His periodic editorials on Local 6 made him one of the most recognized faces in Central Florida. Recently, Maldonado, 60, announced he would retire this summer and pursue filmmaking.

For Mickey, 80, a Storybook Life

 No Central Floridian of any species is more beloved than MICKEY MOUSE. He’s an icon of fun, a symbol of all-American moxie and a goodwill ambassador for the Orlando area. Mickey came up the hard way, in the early days of the movie business, eventually conquering television, theme parks and other fields. Through it all, he’s never lost the spunk or humility that help to make him a star. For “In Their Own Words,” we’ve interviewed many movers and shakers but never Mickey Mouse (perhaps due to the stigma that being “fictional” once carried). So on the occasion of his 80th birthday—which the Disney company calculates from the premiere of his first short, Steamboat Willie, on November 18, 1928—we’ve asked our favorite mouse to reflect on his storied career.  

For a Prodigy, Life Is a Stage

 The son of concert musicians, Hungarian-born TAMAS KOCSIS was destined to follow in his parents’ footsteps. His ascension as a classical violinist took him away from the Soviet-era Eastern Bloc and to the United States, where he furthered his music studies under the direction of prestigious instructors. Kocsis went on to land the concertmaster post at the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra and, in 2004, joined the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra in the same capacity. Kocsis, 37, is a frequent soloist in the OPO’s concert series. He also is a knight, a title bestowed upon him during a visit to his homeland in 2006. His recordings of the complete violin sonatas and piano quartets of Brahms are released under the EPR label. 

Daisy Lynum, Born to Read

Considering Daisy Lynum's love of reading, it seems fitting that her life story would make a great book. Her thirst for knowledge (plus a well-timed letter to President Lyndon Johnson) helped elevate her past poverty in rural Leesburg and into the upper class of education. After completing studies at Bethune-Cookman College, she attended Bryn Mawr, the prestigious women’s college near Philadelphia, and Florida State University, where she earned a master’s degree in sociology. A former state social worker, Lynum, 62, entered public life as an Orlando city commissioner in 1998. As the District 5 (Parramore neighborhood) Orlando City Council commissioner, Lynum has been a controversial figure.

The Life Aquatic of a West Texan

A product of land-locked West Texas, Mark McHugh, 49, grew up as an unlikely prospect to one day get a master’s degree in marine biology and go on to work at SeaWorld Orlando as a whale trainer. At SeaWorld McHugh met and married Diane Godwin, whose grandparents started Gatorland in 1948. McHugh took over the reins at Gatorland in 1996, and he has been a presence in the Orlando-area tourism industry ever since. He is the former chairman of the Orlando/Orange County Convention & Visitors Bureau’s board of directors. He and Diane have two daughters, Chelsea and Taylor, and live in Orlando.

Alan Grayson, Super-Achiever

Alan Grayson grew up in a high-rise apartment in the Bronx with views of Yankee Stadium and the Manhattan skyline. His parents, both public-school teachers, strongly supported his academic achievements. He graduated from Harvard in three years and went on to get a law degree from the prestigious university. As an attorney, Grayson, 50, gained wealth and recognition from his lawsuits against Iraq war contractors, claiming they had defrauded taxpayers. He and his wife, Lolita, moved to Orlando 12 years ago because they wanted to raise a family here. In November, Grayson, a Democrat, unseated Republican Ric Keller in the 8th Congressional District race. He will split time between Orlando, where he and Lolita live with their five children, and Washington.
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Guides & Resources

2018 Premier Veterinarians

The 2018 Pet Guide: Pet Resource Guide

Here are some of the places you can go in Central Florida when you need supplies, products and services for your best friends.

Premier Realtors 2018

Let Orlando's best realtors help you find your dream home!

Orlando's Best Lawyers 2018

Our annual list includes hundreds of Orlando-area attorneys in dozens of areas of practice.

Orlando's Top Dentists of 2018

Our annual list featuring 224 of the area's finest dental professionals.

Guide to Private Schools 2018

Our searchable annual database will help you chart an educational course for your family.

2017 Premier Doctors

Our annual list of over 500 doctors.
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