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Central California Life Magazine

Spotlight Nov/Dec

Nov 19, 2014 05:18PM ● By Cen Cali Life Magazine

Spotlight Nov/Dec

By Rachel Taylor


Fresno Native places 11th in Berlin Marathon

Photos courtesy of Fernando Cabada

Fresno native Fernando Cabada, 32, recently placed 11th in this year’s Berlin Marathon, setting a personal record of 2:11:36 and becoming the top U.S. finisher in his first European marathon.

“Berlin was a good experience,” Cabada said. “It’s a world-class marathon. Just getting an invitation there was a pretty big honor.”

Cabada faced 40,004 runners from 130 nations during the citywide road race, which has an official marathon distance of 42.195 kilometers (26 miles 385 yards).

Cabada broke his previous marathon record of 2:11:53 that he set during the 2012 U.S. Olympic Team Trials in Houston.

“Going in, I wasn’t necessarily the most confident person,” he said. “On the day of the race, I’m pretty good at rising to the occasion when there’s a lot on the line.

“I wanted to go and make some noise, and I did. I ran the fastest I’ve ever run in my life.”

Cabada’s next goal is scoring in the top three at the 2016 U.S. Olympic Team Trials on Feb. 13 in Los Angeles. He knows it will take a lot of work, but that’s never stopped him before.

“It’s kind of crazy to even say ‘Oh yeah, I want to make the Olympics,’” Cabada said. “But the thing is, I actually have a legitimate shot. I don’t really have to hope and pray. All I have to do is what I’m capable of doing.”

Cabada was raised by a single mother in a poor area of Fresno. His father was often in and out of prison for drug and gang-related offenses.

At the age of 9, Cabada and his mother moved to Clovis with the help of the federal Housing Choice Voucher Program, also known as Section 8.                                 

Cabada began his running career at Buchanan High School doing cross country as a 5-foot-3, 95-pound freshman. By the time he graduated in 2000, Cabada was a 6-foot-tall, six-time Valley champion with a scholarship to the University of Arkansas.

In addition to his success in Berlin, Cabada is a former 25K American record holder, an eight-time Team USA member, a three-time U.S. champion and a seven-time NAIA national champion. He is currently the fifth-ranked marathon runner in the U.S. and a member of Newton Running Elite, a Colorado-based running group supported by Newton Running.

But for Cabada, running isn’t about sponsorships, money or rankings.

“At this point, I just want to be remembered for something positive,” he said.  


Fresno State alumna, Bee columnist publishes second book

Photo by Gina Taro/Cover design by Derian Design

Local writer Armen Bacon’s second book, “My Name is Armen – A Life in Column Inches,” is being published by The Press at Fresno State in early November. 

“I’m especially honored to have been invited to publish this book under Fresno State’s imprint: The Press at California State University, Fresno,” Bacon said.

The book is based on a collection of Bacon’s personal essays, many of which were originally written as columns for The Fresno Bee. It touches on an array of topics (culture and heritage, family, friends, love and loss, life travels and advice) and is divided into five sections, each of which is anchored by a quote from one of Bacon’s favorite authors, William Saroyan.

“In almost all instances, each story circles back to this place called ‘home,’ a place where my ancestors found refuge and a new life, planted roots, worked the land and raised families,” she said.

In the book’s foreword, Bacon describes her relationship with writing: “I write to survive, to remember, to make sense from chaos and to discover the voice residing deep within.”

Bacon began writing after the loss of her son, Alex, in 2004. Since then, she’s chronicled her life story with words.

“Words as oxygen – this most accurately answers the ‘why’ question about my storytelling,” she said. “I also write because I believe it is crucial to pass down our stories to our children and grandchildren.”

Bacon holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Fresno State and studied memoir, poetic prose, narrative non-fiction and flash fiction as part of the CSU Summer Arts Program.

“I credit Fresno State’s College of Arts and Humanities (where the Summer Arts program was housed for 13 years) for igniting and nurturing my writing passion,” she said.

Bacon’s first book, “Griefland: An Intimate Portrait of Love, Loss, and Unlikely Friendship” (Globe Pequot Press) debuted in 2012.

To purchase “My Name is Armen,” visit

 “My Name is Armen – A Life in Column Inches” Book Signings

--Saturday, Nov. 22, at Barnes & Noble (7849 N Blackstone Ave.)

--For more information about the Barnes & Noble book signing, call (559) 437-0484.


Fresno Deputy Sheriff’s Association holds golf tournament to benefit Peace Officers’ Memorial Foundation

Photos by Dan Minkler

The Fresno Deputy Sheriff’s Association (FDSA) raised about $40,000 during its 8th Annual Memorial Fund Golf Tournament in late October.

All funds raised by the tournament, which had more than 150 participants, will benefit the families of fallen deputy sheriffs and peace officers in Fresno County and throughout California.

Participants golfed an 18-hole course at the Eagle Springs Golf & Country Club and were treated to breakfast, lunch and drinks. Lithia Ford Lincoln of Fresno promised a brand new Lincoln MKZ to any lucky golfer who could hit a hole-in-one on a select par-three hole. One golfer almost drove away with the car, but his ball stopped short by about a foot.

Several other local businesses – Ara Karkazian Watch & Jewelry Co., Fresno Coin Gallery, The Elbow Room, 5.11 Tactical, The Range Pistol Club, Verizon Wireless and more – donated prizes for the event’s raffle.

The FDSA began raising funds for the Peace Officers’ Memorial Foundation in 2009. The FDSA is set to surpass its original donation goal of $100,000 by 2016.


Break the Barriers hosts 30th anniversary celebration

Photos by Dan Minkler

Break the Barriers founders Steve and Deby Hergenrader received special honors during the organization’s 30th anniversary event, a black-tie gala held at Audi Fresno and the Porsche of Fresno showroom.

“We are proud to celebrate 30 years of vision and leadership for two people who have left an incredible mark on our community and around the world,” said Rob Bausman, Break the Barriers board president, and Linda Hergenrader, event chair.

The gala featured silent and live auctions, dinner and speeches by Break the Barriers staff, family and friends.

After a cocktail reception, dinner was accompanied by live music from guitarist Jon Stephen and pianist Gina Perkins, a Break the Barriers board member.

Guests later had the opportunity to bid on various auction items donated by Fresno County Sheriff Margaret Mims, the City of Fresno’s police and fire departments, Pepsi, The Brownie Baker, Northstar Home Security Systems, Pete Hefen, The Palms restaurant and the Perkins family.

A group of military veterans also unveiled to guests the new Break the Barriers International flag, which celebrates the organization’s presence in six continents.

For more information about Break the Barriers, visit


Nonprofit connects Central Valley to students in the Congo

Photos by Dan Minkler

Kulungu For Congo, a startup nonprofit that seeks to better the lives of Congolese youth through education, recently held its inaugural fundraising banquet alongside supporters Lisa Sondergaard Smittcamp, Fresno County’s district attorney-elect, and Mike Seashols, first vice president of marketing for Oracle.

The aim of the event was to encourage community support for the organization through involvement and donations. For every $1,000 raised, the nonprofit promises that one student’s education will be funded for a year.

Organization founder Doug Kulungu shared with banquet attendees the details of his journey to the U.S. from the Congo in pursuit of a higher education. He also talked about his goals for the nonprofit.

Kulungu is a native of Kinshasa, capital of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. He received his B.A. in business administration from Fresno Pacific University in 2010. He began Kulungu for Congo, which ultimately seeks to create future leaders who can make positive changes in the region, in 2014. 

The banquet was emceed by Brad Bell, founding pastor of The Well Community Church.

For more information about Kulungu For Congo, visit