Keeping violent intruders out

Azat Akhyarov  Flickr   

Azat Akhyarov Flickr


How a door-lock video got 20 million views on Facebook

A Grandview-based security firm distributes the intruder-blocking product that has stormed social media.


Contact Vaughn Baker, President, Strategos

A 47-second Facebook video about school and workplace safety has surged to 20 million views. What’s the fuss?

It’s about a simple tool that can keep violent intruders out of classrooms, hospital suites and other public spaces recently overrun by active shooters.

The product, known as the Barracuda Intruder Defense System, is distributed locally by Strategos International of Grandview, Mo. Strategos has offered the product to its clients for about 18 months.

Strategos provides intruder response training for schools, churches and businesses. It also evaluates workplaces for security threats and offers in-person protection for CEOs, public figures and others facing threats to their safety or reputation. The company has trained more than 75,000 employees in intruder response in industry, education, churches, government and law enforcement.
Vaughn Baker, president of Strategos International, shares about the power of the Barracuda Intruder Defense System after a Facebook video on the product received 20 million views. Used with other tactics, Barracuda can delay and thwart hostile intruders at schools, offices and workplaces.

Lee's Summit man makes good on promise for playground at Polish orphanage



Skeptical administrators surprised by tool-toting volunteers. 

LEE’S SUMMIT -- When Mark White told Polish orphanage officials that he wanted to build a new playground for them at no cost, they were skeptical.

But a few weeks ago, the Lee’s Summit man showed up in Poland with tools in hand, just as he had promised.

“The administrators loved it,” says White, a member of Lee’s Summit Community Church, which helped sponsor the trip. “They had to admit they didn’t think we’d show up again.”

White and a team of four volunteers returned from Poland in early September after building a playground and making new friendships in the small town of Goscieszyn, home of an orphanage of about 50 children.

White first became acquainted with the orphanage on a mission trip with Lee’s Summit Community Church in 2005. He found that the 130-year-old facility had rusted, dangerous playground equipment. The situation met its match in White, an environmental risk manager for the Lee’s Summit School District and a playground expert. 

On his flight home in 2005, he began making plans to return. White saw serving the orphanage as a practical demonstration of God’s love: A new playground could better help children achieve their full potential. He dubbed the cause Playgrounds for Poland.

“These (orphanage) kids are socially and intellectually left behind,” White says. “They don’t have the opportunity to play like kids in the United States. Kids need that for developmental purposes. Child development experts say that play is required for proper development to occur in the brain.”

The team from Lee’s Summit Community Church and one additional out-of-state volunteer raised their own funds for the project. White used his professional connections to get price breaks on the equipment from nearby European manufacturers (five pieces of equipment were donated by KOMPAN, a worldwide manufacturer and distributor of playground equipment).

He also served as cheerleader, organizer and all-around fund raiser for the cause.

Team members received some unexpected help from middle and high school students at the orphanage, who grabbed shovels and pitched in. At week’s end, they had built a playground and infused the children with an immeasurable amount of hope and joy. 

The work, however, didn’t stop there. Some funds for the project were also donated to a nearby Christian foster home in need of basic necessities.

White is already planning on returning next year to add more equipment to the playground. But his vision for the project is expanding. He’s already brainstorming how teams could help equip Polish students with skills to help them obtain better jobs. Transition from an orphanage to adult life is often abrupt, and any preparation students can get is valuable.

White would like to ease the transition, in part, by seeing more children move into the foster home, where they receive more personal care. The home is in the midst of an international capital campaign to expand its size.

“The playground is just a foot in the door,” White says. “The real ministry is to help these kids have a chance at a decent life. I still see the faces. I didn’t want to leave them. I don’t want them to become just another statistic.”

White is doing more than building playgrounds. He and his wife, Nancy, are also in the process of adopting an eight-year-old girl from the orphanage.

To learn more about Playgrounds for Poland, contact Mark White at 816.986.2447 or


Local doctor, posted in Zimbabwe, seeks help to keep medical staff fed in crisis



The economic crisis in Zimbabwe is so severe that a Lee’s Summit doctor at a charitable hospital there is battling to keep his staff fed.

Dr. Mark Byler has asked his sponsoring congregation, Lee’s Summit Community Church, to donate funds to buy grain for hospital employees.

The church recently responded by contributing more than $7,000, which Byler hopes will provide basic nourishment for his staff for six months so that they can continue in their work at the hospital.

Many employees have stayed home from work recently because hyper-inflation has destroyed their buying power to the point that they cannot afford food. The BBC recently reported that Zimbabwe’s inflation rate is 11,000,000 percent. Economic and political conditions have deteriorated rapidly in the past year.

Absent employees put a further strain on the hospital, which must also work through water shortages and continual power outages.

Mark Byler, his wife Angie and son Luke, are Lee’s Summit residents who moved to Zimbabwe in 2004. Mark, who previously served at Truman Medical Center Lakewood, is a physician at Sanyati Baptist Hospital in Zimbabwe. 

After a one-year furlough, the Bylers returned to Zimbabwe this summer, following a controversial and violent election campaign.

“The Bylers were not sure what they would find when they returned, but they were committed to alleviating the suffering of the people,” said Patty McWilliams, a member of the church and the Bylers’ board who has visited the family in Africa. “Our hope is that the funds we are raising can strengthen the ministry of the Bylers, who are on the front lines of compassionate work in this struggling country.”

Contributions to the relief effort can be given through Lee’s Summit Community Church, 1440 S.W. Jefferson, Lee’s Summit, MO 64081. Funds should be earmarked for “Zimbabwe food effort.”

“Often we look at the news and think, ‘What can I do?’” said Mike Bergen, the church’s director of Outreach Ministry. “We are excited to be able to be a small part of the solution and to put resources directly into the hands of people who can use them to help others.”

Background: Dr. Mark Byler
•    Mark is a Lee’s Summit resident.
•    He previously served as a physician at Truman Medical Center Lakewood.
•    He serves the people of Zimbabwe through the ministry of Lee’s Summit Community Church (, 1440 S.W. Jefferson, Lee’s Summit, MO 64081.
•    Mark lives in Zimbabwe with his wife Angie and son Luke.
•    Mark first served at Sanyati Baptist Hospital in 1989. He and his wife Angie have worked there intermittently since 1995. In 2004, the family made a full-time commitment and moved to the country.

Background: Zimbabwe
The BBC reports that:
•    2 million people in Zimbabwe need food aid.
•    Annual inflation is running at an official rate of 11,000,000 percent.
•    Only one-in-five adults has a regular job. 
•    Up to half the population will need food aid by the end of the year.
•    Controversial Prime Minister Robert Mugabe has recently agreed to sharing power with opposition groups. 

Roy Harryman, director of communications, 816.524.6786 x104,
•    The Bylers do not have international telephone access, but can respond to questions via e-mail. 
•    Board member Patty McWilliams, in Lee’s Summit, is available for interviews.
•    High resolution photos of the Bylers’ work are available upon request.

Army chaplain displays courage, compassion in Iraq mission


quigg media relations.jpg


Amid bombs, gunfire and nonstop work days, Steve Quigg carried hope to injured, depressed or homesick soldiers.

It’s different singing “Amazing Grace” when exploding bombs rattle the windows of your church.
That’s what U.S. Army Chaplain Steve Quigg, of Lee’s Summit Community Church, experienced as he ministered to soldiers across Iraq for most of last year. Quigg led worship services, counseled soldiers, visited the wounded and traveled the country to minister to troops in remote outposts. He also served on a committee that provided leadership to all chaplains in Iraq. During the last two months of his stay, Steve led the team of chaplains for Camp Anaconda, the largest American base in Iraq, with 30,000 personnel.
The most challenging duty in Quigg’s daily 12-hour shifts occurred in Iraq’s largest hospital. Nearly every wounded soldier received treatment there and Quigg was sporadically asked to maintain a silent, prayerful vigil in the operating rooms where life-threatening injuries were treated.
“That was a challenge, just seeing the degree of injury and the loss of limbs on so many people when they’re just kids to me, knowing their lives are going to be altered,” he says.
In his last six months in Iraq, Quigg visited remote locations to minister to both troops and chaplains, many of whom battled depression and homesickness. He was transported by helicopters and small planes that used evasive tactics and on-board gunners for defense. That didn’t prevent them from being attacked several times by machine gun fire.
“It never failed that somebody would always yell, ‘Chaplain, are you praying?’ I would always respond affirmatively but would say, ‘Yes, and you can pray, too.’”
Late last year, Quigg returned home and to his regular job with the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority, but says the experience in Iraq has changed him.
“I always felt I was a sensitive, aware and thankful person [before],” he says. “I think [this experience] heightened every one of those things. I’m more appreciative of my life and my family.
My wife [Ann] and my kids [Katie and Jon] are my heroes for stepping up to the plate and taking care of things back home.”
U.S. Army Chaplain Steve Quigg, of Lee’s Summit Community Church, helped shore up the spiritual courage of troops in Iraq.
Because of the character-refining environment of Iraq, situations that would have previously caused Quigg anxiety don’t seem to rattle him now. His service in Iraq also rekindled his passion for full-time ministry. In addition to serving as a chaplain in the Army Reserve for 18 years, Steve previously pastored for 20 years.
“I really believe God is preparing me for something in ministry,” he says.

Local family connects African boy with life-saving surgery


A Lee’s Summit family has been instrumental in saving the life of a two-year old African boy.
Greg and Wendy Nyhus, of Lee’s Summit, moved to Ghana in 2010 to help coordinate volunteer medical staffing and manage finances at Baptist Medical Center in the village of Nalerigu.
Their work at the hospital in Ghana brought them in contact with the Tiah family, whose two-year-old son Clement was battling an apparent heart condition.
Wendy Nyhus was able to connect the family with two American physicians who serve regularly in Ghana: doctors Francis-Flynn Thompson and Ravi Thiagarajan of Boston Children’s Hospital. Their diagnosis resulted in immediate concern: Clement had tetralogy of fallot  – a heart condition that likely would have led to death in childhood.
Not only did the family lack the resources to pay for surgery, the doctors said that no facility in Ghana was equipped to handle the procedure and post-operative care. Despite the diagnosis, the Nyhus’s faith gave them cause for hope.
“I couldn’t explain it, but in my gut I really believed God was going to unlock a door and allow Clement and his family the opportunity to experience something so much better on a grander scale,” Wendy said.
She began searching worldwide for hospitals that would be willing to take the case. At first, the efforts appeared fruitless.
“I sent e-mail after e-mail to hospitals, but I didn’t hear back from any of them,” Wendy said.
Finally, a friend at Abundant Life Baptist Church in Lee’s Summit connected her with Dr. Jose Ettedgui, a pediatric cardiologist in Jacksonville, Fla. He agreed, along with pediatric surgeon Eric Ceithaml, to perform the surgery with financial backing from Patrons of the Hearts Foundation.
After working through numerous challenges to secure a birth certificate, passport and travel visa, Clement, his father and Wendy flew to Florida for the surgery last month.
In addition to the stress of his son’s health, the experience was full of culture shock for the father from rural Ghana. Before the flight, he had never seen an airplane.
The surgery, performed last month at Wolfson Children's Hospital, was a success. Clement and his father returned home ahead of schedule in February.
In addition to the Patrons of the Heart Foundation, the First Hand Foundation of Kansas City provided funds for the effort.
The Nyhus’s ongoing work in Ghana is sponsored by Abundant Life Baptist Church in Lee’s Summit – the couple’s home church – and the George Faile Foundation.
Roy Harryman, director of communications, Abundant Life:
See coverage from First Coast News in Jacksonville:
High resolution image of the Nyhus family
High resolution image of the Tiah family

Atheists vs. Christians in volleyball fundraiser for foster kids




KANSAS CITY, MO – Atheists and Christians are coming together to raise funds for the Drumm Farm Center for Children, a Kansas City-based foster and adoptive care resource center. 
The Kansas City Atheist Coalition (KCAC) and members of Abundant Life, a church in Lee’s Summit, will compete in a friendly volleyball tournament. The games will involve six teams of six players each, ending with an all-star atheist vs. an all-star Christian playoff. 
The tournament will begin at 3 p.m. Saturday, June 22, at Abundant Life, 414 Persels Road in Lee’s Summit. Admission is $5. All proceeds will go to Drumm Farm.
“Ed Croteau of Abundant Life invited members of the Kansas City Atheist Coalition to a skeptics' Q&A at the church earlier this year,” said Sarah Hargreaves, president of KCAC. “Those who attended enjoyed fiery but respectful conversation. Since then, members of both our groups have remained in contact primarily via a Facebook group devoted to discussing issues of faith, Christianity and religion in general.”
“While members of the group remain deeply divided on many philosophical and theological issues, people genuinely seem to like each other," said Croteau. "The mood of the group goes from very heavy to very light in a matter of minutes sometimes.”
Hargreaves said the idea of a Christian vs. atheist volleyball tournament “was originally presented as a joke, I think. But it immediately gained traction in the group, so Ed and I started putting plans together and decided to include a fundraiser for a worthy cause. Someone in the group suggested Drumm Farm, and everyone agreed it was a great choice.” 
“I think this is a great opportunity for people to see atheists and Christians coming together to do good in our community," Croteau said. "I think the tournament will also be a lot of fun. We are all anxious to see who will have bragging rights in the Facebook group.”
The Drumm Farm Center for Children provides a stable, nurturing environment for children in foster care and helps keep siblings together in times of family transition. It also offers programs and services to help children and families overcome emotional, physical, financial, educational, housing and life challenges.
For more information about the volleyball tournament, contact Kansas City Atheist Coalition President Sarah Hargreaves at 816-726-2577 or, or Abundant Life member Ed Croteau at 816-394-8816 or  Visit the groups’ websites at and
The Kansas City Atheist Coalition is a 501(c)3 nonprofit charitable organization. Its mission is to advance atheism through activism, philanthropy, education and the cultivation of a positive secular community.
Abundant Life has been serving the Lee’s Summit area for more than 10 years. Its mission is to “bring living proof of a loving God to a watching world.” Activities include a food pantry, free annual kids carnival and support of feeding centers and missions in more than 70 countries. Learn more at
Ed Croteau also writes and speaks frequently about matters of faith and reason and maintains a Facebook site: “Faith: Substance and Evidence.” He can be reached with comments through the Facebook site.
Contact: Sarah Hargreaves
President, Kansas City Atheist Coalition
Contact: Ed Croteau
Member, Abundant Life

Black and white, urban and suburban churches unite to show that Hope Lives



Pastor Gregory Ealey, Paseo Baptist Church, 214.766.3098,

Sunday, June 7, 6 p.m., Liberty Memorial


Ferguson, New York, Baltimore … the names of these cities immediately invoke incidents of racial strife that seem to keep falling like dominoes.

Despite numerous panel discussions, investigations and press conferences, our society seems powerless to break the cycle of mistrust, animosity and violence.

But a diverse group of pastors and churches in Greater Kansas City believes there is hope.
Hope Lives is a racial reconciliation movement, with its next event at Liberty Memorial on Sunday, June 7, at 6 p.m. It will highlight the power of faith-based racial healing and unity. Churches from across the city will gather for prayer, worship and to forge stronger partnerships.

“We are gathering not as individual churches in specific neighborhoods, but as one church,” said Gregory Ealey, pastor of Paseo Baptist Church in Kansas City. “We will stand together to demonstrate that the church of God is here to bring healing. 

“I’m excited to see black churches and white churches, suburban and urban churches – diverse races and cultures – coming together to demonstrate the power of Jesus Christ to bring people together.”

This is the second Hope Lives event. In January, several hundred people from churches across Kansas City met at Liberty Memorial for prayer following outbreaks of violence in Ferguson and New York City.

“That was a historic event, bringing people from diverse neighborhoods and churches together to seek unity in Jesus’ name,” said Pastor Phil Hopper of Abundant Life Church in Lee’s Summit. “My hope is that we’re just getting started. Our elected officials are doing their best to address the symptoms of the conflict, but only God can change the heart.”

Hope Lives is part of the ministry of Elevate KC, a non-denominational Christian movement committed to the causes of racial healing, education, fatherlessness and human trafficking. Learn more at

•    Video interview with Pastor Gregory Ealey
•    Photo gallery of January Hope Lives event

Sparks will fly for a good cause at Red Heat Blue Steel competition


red heat.png


Third annual CONTEST to benefit Lee’s Summit Social Services

On Sept. 29, Lee’s Summit police and firefighters will gather for a friendly competition. But no matter who dominates on the field, the winner will be Lee’s Summit Social Services.
The Red Heat Blue Steel competition, in its third year, pits police and firefighters in games of strength and endurance. Last year’s activities included tug of war, a tractor tire toss, and a race with mannequins across the track and stadium at Lee’s Summit North High School. 
In addition to supporting Lee’s Summit Social Services (LSSS), the event highlights the contributions of Lee’s Summit’s police and firefighters to the community.
Several hundred spectators turned out for the event last year, and organizers are hoping to boost the size of the crowd. The only ticket required for admission is a non-perishable food item or monetary contribution for LSSS, which serves people in need in the Lee’s Summit area. 
The event takes place from 10 a.m.-noon on Saturday, Sept. 29, at the Lee’s Summit North High School stadium.
“We feel that it is a great way to build a relationship with the community that we serve and at the same time raise money for a great charity,” said Sgt. Chris Depue, police public information officer. “The proceeds go directly to Lee’s Summit Social Services to help people living right here in Lee’s Summit. We encourage everyone to come out and enjoy the event.”
Kristopher Presnell, secretary of the IAFF local firefighters union, said the Fire Department and union have made it a priority to give back to the community, including collecting donations for LSSS’s Needy Family Fund each year before Christmas.
“Seeing firsthand how the collections have affected our community has helped cement a strong partnership with Lee’s Summit Social Services,” he said. “We are passionate about helping them any way we can. It is our hope that the Red Heat Blue Steel competition continues to garner attention and benefit both the organization and families within our community.”
Geneva High, executive director of Lee’s Summit Social Services, said she was pleased with last year’s attendance and hopes to see even greater participation this year.
“Those attending had an enjoyable time watching the competition, but this event does more,” she said. “It brings community awareness of the men and women who are ready to put their lives on the line every day to help all of us. We depend on the police and firefighters to come when we call for help. They do so much more than most people realize. It is a joy to see the camaraderie between the two groups and to have them introduced to the community.” 
For additional information, visit [note: URL is no longer active]

Veteran musician, audiophile reveals secrets of successful sound mixing


“Mixed Up” is a hands-on guide for the weekend warrior.

Simon Casas is a third generation musician who is passionate about what he calls the “soul chemistry” of sound mixing. After spending a lifetime as a professional musician and sound mixer, he has penned this humorous yet insightful guide that provides not only technical guidance, but solutions to the personality conflicts that can hobble successful work behind the sound board.

Casas began playing music as a child, learning the piano, guitar and eventually the fretless bass -- his signature instrument. His musical chops led him to work with musicians including The Righteous Brothers, Sonny & Cher, Wolfman Jack and many others. In the recording studio, he worked with Freddie Cannon, Dick Marx, Vern Dant, Harvey Miller, among other heavy hitters. He has produced for both radio and television stations and directed sound for a megachurch in the Kansas City area.

Casas’ book stands out on the shelves in that, while it addresses technical issues, it is written for the layman. The author's real-world experience allows him to walk a sound mixer through a successful rehearsal and live performance while warning of potential hazards.

The book also contains chapters that detail solutions for dealing with the quirks of musicians and complaints from audiences. In addition, it contains a chapter focusing on the character qualities necessary to succeed behind the board.

This practical manual belongs in the hands on every serious non-professional who mixes sound.

PaveGuard Technologies: Local business melts ice with the power of the sun


PaveGuard achieved media coverage on KMBC 9 News and in The Examiner and Lee's Summit Tribune.  Our services included interviewing the client, collaborating on a press release and reaching key media contacts with the story. We also prepared the client with an informational brief and were on site to advise and monitor during interviews.