▶️ VIDEO: Pride flag repeatedly taken from downtown Bend coffee shop

The owners of a LGBTQ-friendly business in downtown Bend say they are being targeted after having their Pride flag stolen at least seven times since last summer.

Surveillance footage from Turtle Island Coffee Shop Feb. 4 and Feb. 18 shows someone taking the flag that was hanging outside.

“I think the majority of folks definitely like alcohol substances are involved. I also don’t think that that is like a free ticket to hate,” co-owner Beth Brady told KOIN-TV.

Bend Police say it is investigating.

“We’re currently working on developing a suspect in this particular case. The theft would be a third degree theft,” said Bend Police Communications Manager Sheila Miller.

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The shop opened last June.

“More or less seven times in about six and a half months,” Brady said.

Police say it has taken at least three reports from the shop. It’s also looking at whether this is considered a hate crime under Oregon law.

“Oregon has specific statutes regarding bias crime, which is basically Oregon’s version of hate crimes,” Miller said. “And so in this particular case, a second degree bias crime would be a crime in which someone damages or steals property because of the perception of the owner’s race, sexual orientation, gender identity, color, religion, that sort of thing.”

“I don’t think anybody tears down a flag without some feeling behind it,” Brady said.

▶️ Police: GPS shows stolen Bend backhoe traveled public roads at 25 mph to WA

A stolen backhoe from Bend was located 258 miles away in a small town in the middle of Washington state. But it’s not the distance that’s raising eyebrows. It’s the way the backhoe got there that law enforcement is saying is rather unique.

The Grant County Sheriff’s Office believes it was likely driven all the way there — a trip that’s roughly about five hours by car.

“That would have been about a 10-hour ride for someone in that backhoe to bring it all the way back from Bend, Oregon, to Mattawa, Washington,” said Deputy Kyle Foreman, public information officer for the Grant County Sheriff’s Office.

The stolen backhoe belongs to Bend-based Taylor NW. When deputies spotted it, they realized there was something out of place.

“Deputy sheriffs who were patrolling the south end of Grant County, Washington, noticed an out-of-place John Deere backhoe parked on property that is familiar to law enforcement,” Foreman said.

GPS tracking allowed deputies to see that the tractor had made its way to their county from Bend using public roads, highways and surface streets. The whole trip, the backhoe never reached a speed greater than 25 mph.

“We’ve had stolen vehicles that have been trucked in or towed in by another vehicle, but certainly not a backhoe that traveled what appears to be over public roadways at 25 miles an hour, Foreman said. “So this is the first time we’ve ever experienced that kind of theft.”

Foreman said arrests are pending and charges are likely.

“We can only assume that the person who stole the vehicle and drove it all the way back here had no idea that it was being tracked by GPS and that we could use that to press charges against them,” Foreman said.

Taylor NW has since retrieved its backhoe and returned it to Bend.

▶️ Sue Boettner, a rock at Bend Park and Rec, retiring after 23 years

After a 50-year career in recreation, with the final 23 years being spent at Bend Park and Recreation District, Sue Boettner is retiring as BPRD Recreation Services Manager. 

“My motto is ask for forgiveness instead of permission,” Boettner said when we talked to her last week.

“Took me forever to decide to retire because I really love what I do. And, you know, it’s hard to leave something that you love, but I think it’s time to go have more fun. And I figure I’ll come back around to do some volunteerism again,” Boettner said.

Boettner worked in a variety of different roles and positions throughout her time at the district and was instrumental in spearheading numerous programs.

“I’ve worked everywhere from the pool to the senior center to the office and all the programs. So I’ve had a pretty full career that’s been super fun,” Boettner said.

But after a legendary career, it’s the people and relationships that stand out.

“To my bosses, my big bosses, thanks for letting me be me because I know I’m a lot. To my staff, keep doing what you do. You’re amazing. And the community, thank you for believing in Bend Park and Rec and trusting your kids with us,” Boettner said.

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The people she worked for and with feel the same way about her.

“Sue Boettner is one of the best representatives of the Park and Recreation District. She’s got a big personality. She knows everyone in the community and she also was just a really hard worker behind the scenes,” said BPRD Community Relations Manager Julie Brown.

“We really think the Park and Recreation ought to be for everybody and Sue really lives that. And because of her, we’ve been able to bring a lot of people into the program here at Bend Park and Recreation that probably wouldn’t have been active otherwise,” said BPRD Executive Director Don Horton.

Boettner’s first job was at a local YMCA in her hometown of Boston. She left Boston in 1978, but Boston never left her. Multiple pieces of sports memorabilia from that region adorn her office window. She notes that she was born on the very same day as Boston Celtics legend Larry Bird.

“You can take a girl out of Boston, but you can’t take the Boston out of the girl, is what they say. And I guess I left after the blizzard of ’78. So apparently it’s true,” Boettner said.

She headed west, spending 14 years in California before moving to Bend in 1992.

“And we’ve changed a lot and our communities embrace that and I’m just thankful that I got to be part of it,” Boettner said.

She worked for Sunriver Resort before starting at Bend Park and Rec in 2001. The rest, as they say, is history.

“People say that they hate going to work, but I can’t say that. I might have had some days in ther but, all in all, I love coming to work and it will be it’ll be a definitely an adjustment for me,” Boettner said.

“She is someone that we’ve always been able to rely on to be that go-to person and we appreciate all of her time here at the district,” Horton said.

“She’s everything that we want in an advocate for the importance of recreation from early childhood through older adults. She’s passionate. She leads with her heart and she cares deeply about wanting to help people,” Brown said.

BPRD is looking for Boettner’s successor. 

▶️ Landscape artist finds new home, rejuvenation in Bend after 58-year career

David Kreitzer has been a professional artist for almost 60 years and he’s still going strong with no end in sight. After pursuing is passion, he came to Bend not to retire — but to find new inspiration.

“Painting can be soothing. It can be exciting. It can be irritating. It can be a lot of these things. Whatever it is, you’re responsible for it,” David said. “Art follows money. I don’t care how that sounds. It’s the truth. There is no formula for success. Nobody knows what sells, what the rules of painting is. One of the rules in painting is you paint fat over lean. 

“You’ve got to love the process. Too many many artists want to get to the point where they’re finishing the painting. That’s the fun part. They want to get it on there and get it so you got this good looking thing to show for all your work. But I love the preparation, too.”

What started as a boyhood obsession has turned into a lifelong obsession and a career as a professional artist for 58 years.

“When I told anybody I wanted to be an artist, they’d say, ‘But what are you going to do for a living?” David said. “I don’t care how positive you think. Most of the time you’re going to get rejected. That’s true of all the arts.

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“So one things I like about painting is that it’s practically impossible to master. You can get good at it. Instead of letting that frustrate you, hat’s what the philosophers called divine discontent that. You’ve got to use it to your advantage. It keeps you going, keeps you interested in divine discontent.”

It’s just one of the many things that keeps David painting.

“As long as the thing is difficult, you’re into it, you’re interested, you’re working at it, you’re discovering things,” David said.

“My desire has always been to do harmless and beautiful images,” David said. “The highest compliment I get on a painting was somebody says, ‘That makes me feel good.’ or ‘I like it.’ Because when you’re saying I like it, they’re saying it healing. To me, that’s the higher aspect of of painting.”

David grew up in Nebraska and went to graduate school at San Jose State. He cut his teeth in the San Francisco Art scene and made a living as a painter for decades in San Luis Obispo.

He moved to Bend four years ago — not to retire, but to be inspired.

“We came up here and it’s very rejuvenating doing mountains now,” David said. “I love it.”

His wife, Jacalyn, is a Bend native — born and raised here before moving away and pursuing her own career in the arts as a professional opera singer.

“I met him at Seattle Opera backstage,” Jaclyn said.

Their life revolves around art. David’s paintings line the walls of the house and his studio.

“He’s obviously very prolific,” Jacalyn said. “He’s painted around 1,600 paintings in his lifetime, sold around 1,300-1,400, and has around 200 paintings at any one time.”

There’s been highs and lows along the way.

“It got to the point where my phone was cut off. Had no heat in the apartment, so I was painting in the kitchen with the stove on,” David said.

But the one constant has been painting, and David’s unrelenting pursuit of his passion.

“And the one thing I didn’t want to do was go the rest of my life telling people ‘I could have done it’ or ‘I should have done it. I could have done that.’ Nothing sounds more lame,” David said.

A career spanning seven different decades has provided David with the kind of perspective that only comes with time.

“You have to understand why you’re painting. If it’s really important to you, you’ll do whatever you need to do to keep going,” David said.

David continues to sketch and paint almost daily, finding inspiration across the Central Oregon landscapes. If you’re interested in visiting his gallery or finding out more about David’s art, you can call or text 805-234-2048 or email jkreitze@icloud.com.

▶️ Bend family takes on ‘1,000 Hours Outside,’ trading screens for outdoors

Reclaim childhood, reconnect families and live a fuller life. It’s the slogan for a movement called “1,000 Hours Outside,” which aims to get kids off their screens, get them outside as much as possible and challenges families to see if they can hit 1,000 hours outside in a calendar year.

There’s an eye-popping statistic on the 1,000 Hours Outside website: The average child spends four to seven hours a day on screens, but only four to seven minutes of unstructured free play outside each day.

The Sanders, a family of five in Bend, heard about the challenge from friends and decided to give it a go in 2023.

“The main thing I love about it is if you want your kids to get off their screens — instead of saying ‘We’re limiting screen time,’ you can say, ‘Let’s get outside more’ and the screen time’s naturally limited,” Kate Sanders said.

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1000 hours sanders kids


They quickly realized it provided that little bit of extra motivation and accountability. They needed to stay more consistent with their outdoor time.

“Just like we have breakfast, just like we have quiet times or nap times and just like we have dinner, it was just kind of set into our schedule,” Zeke Sanders said.

Throughout the year. Kate and Zeke, along with their three kids — Eliza Wyatt and Colt — biked, hiked, played in the snow, ran through sprinklers and made a point to do it all, more and more.

“I didn’t know about all the benefits until after we were doing it, actually,” Kate said. “Emotional development. Their mental health. Their social skills. Their circadian rhythms and sleep. Curiosity and learning. All of that was like endless benefits.”

The whole family was on board.

“I think 1,000 Hours is great because I love playing outside,” Eliza said.

“Playing in the snow,” Wyatt said when asked what he liked to do outside. “Playing in the dirt.”

Mom and dad saw nothing but positive results.

“We saw better sleep, better attitudes, less bickering,” Kate said.

“And the days we spent a lot of time outside. I mean, the amount of just arguing and just disputes in general I would say significantly dropped,” Zeke said.

At the end of each day, the Sanders would do a quick tally of their time spent outside, and one of the kids would get to color and mark their numbers on the tracking chart.

When it was all said and done, the Sanders fell just short of 1,000 hours in 2023, finishing with 958. But they finished with motivation to do it again in 2024.

“Forty-two hours short. We just needed one more camping trip, but we’re trying to beat it this year,” Kate said. “So on the app we had our we have our monthly totals from last year. So, we’re trying to challenge each other monthly to beat each month now to try to make it to 1,000 this year.

1000 Hours Outside Tracker 2


“We are for sure going to do it again. It’s definitely, it’s a lot of work. It’s a commitment, but I think, like we said, that’s what we value as a family and it’s a commitment that was well worth it,” Zeke said.

“We’re fighting harder to do it this year,” Eliza said.

And like the founder of 1,000 Hours Outside likes to say — even when you fail, you win. The Sanders agree.

“I just would challenge any family in Bend to be able to make it happen and I think that you’ll quickly see the benefits,” Zeke said.

The Sanders had one tip and piece of encouragement for new families taking on the challenge. They said not to get discouraged when you fall behind on hours in the winter because summer offers all kinds of opportunities to catch up and get back on track for the year. 

▶️Central Oregon CASA, former foster child form bond that lasts into retirement

It’s an unlikely bond forged through the toughest of circumstances.

Lizzy Myers, 14, and Denise Wright, 69, met when Lizzy was just three months old and entering the foster care system. Denise was Lizzy’s newly appointed Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA). 

“A CASA’s job is to get to know a child in foster care and advocate for that child wherever they need to advocacy. So in the courtroom or in the community,” said Heather Dion, Executive Director of CASA of Central Oregon.

For the next eight years Denise would be the one constant in Lizzy’s life as she moved in and out of foster care. 

“Being a CASA is such a privilege. It’s second only to being a mom and a grandma because you get to really impact families,” Denise said.

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“She’s like an advocate for me in a way. That’s what her job is, but she’s also more than that,” Lizzy said.

“I know that when Denise is in somebody’s life, she makes her life better. And so knowing that she has made life better for all of these children,  it’s one of the greatest gifts I can imagine that she has given to these children in our community,” Heather said.

There were lots of cases and children along the way, but Lizzy was one in particular who stole Denise’s heart.

“She’s known me longer than anybody else in the world has,” Lizzy said. “She always made sure that I knew that there was somebody there for me, that somebody that really did get me. You know, even though I felt really alone during that time.”

Lizzy Myers
Lizzy Myers


Lizzy had been born with drugs in her system. Her biological parents suffering from addiction and mental health issues. The Oregon Department of Human Services stepped in and Lizzy was put into the foster care system for the next eight years. Denise would be Lizzy’s CASA and the one constant in her life.

“She was my first case,” Denis said. “I was in her life for eight years and I think in that time she definitely lived in six, seven, eight different foster homes. So I was the only person that she constantly saw.”

“It was one of the most special connections I ever had in my life. And it was one of those things that always stayed with me. She’s a part of me. She’s a part of my heart. She’s part of my brain. She’s just so special to me,” Lizzy said.

After a lengthy process lasting multiple years, Lizzy was adopted when she was eight years old.

“Lizzy has become a part of her family and Denise has become a part of ours. And it’s just kind of seamless,” said Heidi Myers, Lizzy’s adopted mom.

“Her parents chose to let me stay in her life,” Denise said.

“The job didn’t end when she got adopted. It was like the relationship just, I think is a forever relationship, which I think is amazing,” Heidi said.

The Myers and Lizzy moved from Bend to Virginia four years ago, but Denise and Lizzy remain close to this day. Just this past summer, Lizzy flew out to Bend to spend a week with Denise.

“She texts me now and it’s amazing. She’s one of my kids. And that’s not the goal of CASA, but if the adoptive parents ever want it, it’s definitely a nice option,” Denise said.

“She really did save my life, honestly, because I don’t know what I would have done without her or like the pain I would have if I didn’t have her to count on,” Lizzy said.

“She has taught me just how to be in the world because she was so broken and she still didn’t give up,” Denise said.

“With every home that I went to, she always made sure to visit me and that foster home so I could always know that I had somebody who knew where I was,” Lizzy said.

Denise Wright and Lizzy Myers

Now, after 14 years, Denise is retiring from CASA of Central Oregon, moving to the valley to be closer to her grandkids. 

“It’s serious, but it’s also such an amazing privilege. I have zero regrets. I’d do it forever if I could,” Denise said.

She’s got a message for everyone watching.

“You save one child, one child is going to be OK. I mean, how can you say one person isn’t worth the world?” Denise said.

And Lizzy has a message for Denise.

“What she’s done for my heart. You know, it’s just amazing. And I’m so glad that there are other causes out there that can do the same for other kids. And I think that’s so important,” Lizzy said.

If you’re interested in finding out more about CASA or even becoming a CASA volunteer yourself at casaofcentraloregon.org. The next training for CASA volunteers begins the week of January 22nd. 

▶️ Mountain View coach/dad and QB/son navigate special bond to special season

The Mountain View High School football team fell one game short of completing the perfect season. Their only loss came in a nail-biting Oregon 5A championship game.

The Cougars magical season will leave lasting memories for all. For head coach Brian Crum and his son, starting senior quarterback Connor Crum, the memories will be even sweeter. 

The player-coach, father-son dynamic is nothing new for the Crums. Brian started coaching Connor when he was a little kid. Baseball, basketball, football. You name it, Brian was on the sidelines.

“He’s never known any different. He never has. I’ve coached him since he was four years old,” Brian said. “I’m super lucky that he’s let me coach because some kids don’t.”

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Brian Connor 2


For the past 16 years, Brian has coached football at Mountain View High School — 12 of those as the head coach. During all of those years, Connor was at his side.

“Riding the bus and, you know, being the ball boy or the waterboy or running around the locker room like a little rug rat,” Brian said.

As a wide-eyed kid. Connor dreamed that one day he’d be the one putting on the shoulder pads and playing ball for his dad.

“I grew up coming to everything and watching him coach and trying to be a part of everything,” Connor said.

But before he had the chance to become a high school football player, adversity would strike Connor and the Crum family. In seventh grade, Connor was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes.

“He got out of the hospital on day three at about 2:00, and he was at basketball practice that night at 7:00,” Brian said.

The pandemic turned his freshman year at Mountain View upside down. And then in 2022, the Crums lost their mother and wife to an autoimmune disease.

“She’d definitely be super proud of us right now. We know she’ll be watching from above and just, you know, play for her and just know she’s super proud,” Connor said.

“She’s watching. She’s been watching us all year,” Brian said.

Connor Mom


But through adversity, heartache and challenges, the Crums stuck together and their bond forged tighter.

“Certainly grieved and felt it powerfully. At the same time, you know, made our family tighter and closer,” Brian said.

That bond carried over to the field. And in 2023, Brian got to live out every dad’s dream. Connor, along with his best buddies and teammates that had grown up hanging around the Crum household, were now a talented bunch of senior football players and were ready to lead the Cougars.

“I’ve coached a lot of these kids since they were in fourth and fifth grade in multiple sports, basketball and baseball and football as well,” Brian said.

Brian Connor 3


Connor and the boys did something special. They began reeling off wins, one after another. And Connor was living out his boyhood dreams with his best friends by his side.

“I love this group of guys we got. I’ve had just so much fun with them every day. Practice. Different games. It’s been awesome,” Connor said.

Mountain View entered the 5A playoffs undefeated and the magical season continued.

“This was a team that was special and we knew that. But I don’t think anybody knew, including even our coaches, that we were going to be as good as we were,” Brian said.

The Cougars hosted and won their first two playoff games by a combined score of 87-29 before dominating the state semifinal on a neutral field, beating Silverton 42-19.

“That was when I think it kind of dawned on a lot of us. ‘We’re good. We’re really good,'” Brian said.

But the fairytale Hollywood ending wasn’t to be. The Cougars lost their final game of the season in the state championship, falling to Wilsonville 29-23.

“We were ourselves. And on that night, it just wasn’t quite enough,” Brian said.

“It was crushing,” Connor said.

The heartache of defeat and the finality of their time together as coach and son, father and quarterback.

“Of course there were tears because that’s the last time we’re going to do that situation together,” Brian said.

Brian Connor 4


But now, three weeks later, that sting and that heartache are already being replaced with the realization that they truly accomplished something special together.

“Super proud,” Brian said. “I don’t even know if I can express it the right way. Just you feel it, right? It’s one of those things you feel and it’s something I’ll never forget, that’s for sure,” Brian said.

“It’s awesome being able to do it with my dad, with all my brothers and teammates. It’s amazing,” Connor said.

The memories will last a lifetime. The disappointment and the pain will fade.

“You know, if you would have asked me ten years ago, what would I have hoped for? Yeah,” Brian said.

Long lost ‘Strawberry Shortcake’ record found in local home, returned to owner

A Central Oregon Daily News employee moving into a new house recently found an old children’s vinyl record with coloring book attached. Inside the front cover was a name, a number and a personalized note, so we decided to track down the original owner.

Enter Keri Podell and her long-lost copy “Strawberry Shortcake & Her Friends.”

“I’m surprised it’s not colored,” Keri said, thumbing through the coloring book.

After being discovered in a dusty nook above an old refrigerator, it’s being returned to its original owner.

“I had a little record player, an old one, and I didn’t have very many records, but I had this as well as “Grease” and a few others that I listened to over and over and over again,” Keri said.

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A little trip down memory lane and a little wave of nostalgia sweeps over Keri as he remembers her love of all things Strawberry Shortcake.

“So I had a doll. A Strawberry Shortcake doll. And you push the belly and it smells like strawberries. And then I had a stroller that was in the shape of a strawberry,” Keri said.

The record was given to her by her younger sister, Summer.

“And she’s just very thoughtful like that,” Keri said.

Now, it’s given Keri a reason to smile.

“This is a fun memory because I wouldn’t have much from that part of my life,” Keri said. “Really sweet and really kind and I appreciate it.”

▶️ After 4 kids and surgery on both hips, Bend boxer punching for Olympics at 36

It’s the type of comeback story movies are made about — an aging boxer gets knocked down, literally and figuratively, but refuses to stay down.

This “Hollywood” story is true, playing out in Central Oregon. It’s the comeback story of boxer Whitney “Hollywood” Gomez and her unlikely return to the ring.

“Her life is a bit different than the normal boxer. I mean, she has three children. She’s married. She works out during the day. She teaches classes, fitness classes and then she comes to practice at night again,” said boxing coach Richard Miller.

>>> Have you checked out Central Oregon Daily News on YouTube? Click here to subscribe and share our videos.

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Whitney is the first female from Oregon to go to the Olympic Trials. This is a big deal. You know, it’s not like it’s not the district championship or the state championship. This is the to make the Olympic team.”

“Just to imagine being there and walking in the opening ceremonies and just that feeling and the energy. It sometimes is a super overwhelming feeling, but in a good way,” Gomez said.

It’s been four years since Gomez was boxing at the Olympic Trials in Louisiana, fighting to make the U.S. Olympic team before falling just short and having her lifelong dream shattered.

“Heartbreaking. Almost made me feel lost for a while,” Gomez said.

These days, life looks a little different for the now 36-year-old. There was an eight-year gap, but in 2021, she had her fourth child. At the end of 2022, she had surgeries on both her hips.

“Had to learn how to walk on the leg again and my glute muscles were shut off,” Gomez said. “A lot of tears. A lot of pain.”


Gomez went from boxer to teacher, sticking at home and homeschooling post-pandemic.

With the writing on the wall, she let her Olympic dreams die. Her hips and health forced her to hang up the gloves and transition into coach.

I asked her in April if it was over for good. She left the door cracked, but only barely.

“I don’t think I’m done, but I also am OK if that is what comes to be,” Gomez said then.

‘This is stupid. I’m boxing again’

But then, in June, driving home after a coaching session, Gomez had a change of heart.

“I just felt like, you know what? This is stupid. I’m boxing again. I can’t not have that be part of my life,” she said now.

She didn’t care that she was 36. She didn’t care that her hips weren’t cooperating or that everyone was going to tell her she couldn’t or was crazy. She decided that she didn’t want to be a former boxer. She wanted to be a current boxer,” Gomez said.

“I told Richard, if you’re on board and you’ll help me get ready, that’s what I want to do,” she said.

“I didn’t see it coming, but I’m not surprised by it either,” Miller said.

Cue the training montage

It’s one thing to say it, but it’s an entirely different thing to do it. Gomez was just two years removed from having her fourth baby, only seven months removed from those hip surgeries. She couldn’t squat. She couldn’t pivot. She’d gained weight and she wasn’t in boxing shape.

“At the beginning of June, I weighed 170 pounds. July, I was 160 pounds. So I still had like 15 pounds to lose,” Gomez said.

To make matters more difficult, she had only six weeks to train for a last-chance qualifier. It’s an event like the name suggests — the last chance to qualify for the Olympic Trials.

“I had to do cardio every day on top of boxing. You know, 4 to 5 days a week and strength training 4 to 5 days a week,” Gomez said.

“You only get so many chances in life. And if you don’t do it, if she didn’t do it, then three years from now, she’ll be regretting it,” Miller said.

“Hollywood” was back, and she wrote her Hollywood ending, punching her ticket to the Olympic Trials.

“If you had asked me four or five months ago, would I get to this point, I would have laughed in your face,” Gomez said.
She was already the first woman in Oregon to make it to the trials. Now, she’s the first to make it twice.

“It’s a feat in life that most boxers you don’t see, either male or female. I mean, there’s very few that do that,” Miller said. “What she overcame in the last four years. You know, she had two hip injuries, a neck injury. She had another child. And to come back from that, it’s quite the story.”

Win or lose, she’s already beat the odds and written a comeback story for the ages.

“I honestly thought I would never be able to get back to this point. My body would never let me,” Gomez said. “But it’s all about your mindset, right? You can have these huge stumbling blocks and these huge roadblocks in your way. But if you can change your mind, I swear you can just bulldoze them right out of the way.”


UPDATE: Whitney was defeated at the Olympic Trials Thursday night.

▶️ Bend Christmas Parade: Annual tradition is a ‘big friendly get-together’

The Bend Christmas Parade is Saturday, kicking off at noon sharp. The annual tradition has grown thanks to organizers and volunteers, past and present.

“In 1992, we became involved in the parade,” said longtime former organizer Gaye Gilpin. “We had not as many entries of course, in that time period. But now we have 100.”

“Ironically, until I got involved, I had actually never been to the parade, which is a little crazy,” said Michael Sipe, Chairman of the Bend Christmas Parade Volunteer Committee. “My wife had been to the parade. Our kids have been to the parade. Our grandkids have been to the parade. I’d never been to the parade. It’s just like this huge festive street party. People are in such great spirits.

“It brings everybody together in a really just wonderful community,” said parade publicist Dina Barker.

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“People said they’ve they’ve been going to the parade since they were little and now they’re bringing their own kids,” Gilpin said.

“I think that the the parade is really one of the hallmark events of Central Oregon and certainly of Bend. It’s an event that people look forward to every year,” Sipe said.

“And it makes everybody feel part of Bend and part of Central Oregon because they come from all over,” Barker said.

Sipe says there’s about 10,000 to 20,000 people who watch the parade every year.

“I think that it’s important to know that there’s about 150, 160 volunteers that it takes to put on the parade. So the parade committee of people who love this event is huge. It’s extraordinary,” Sipe said.

“It just feels really good and really rewarding. Personally to be part of that,” Barker said.

“There’s no agenda other than to have a great time, celebrate the Christmas season, celebrate the reason for the season. And so it’s just a big friendly get-together of our city that happens once a year in a very, very special way,” Sipe said.

“All your worries go out the door, you know, for the time you’re at the parade. I hope it continues forever. I mean, there’s no reason why it shouldn’t, you know?” Gilpin said.