By: Ashley Sorce
When Owensboro Parent decided to celebrate our first anniversary last month with a Birthday Bash, we felt it was important to recognize a Family of the Year. As a magazine, we strive to provide you with smart parenting advice, but for this award we wanted to find a family that lives it. A family that could serve as a role model for all the values we stand for at OPM.
Having said that, meet the Chaneys, the Owensboro Parent Magazine Family of the Year. In their own words, the Chaneys share a little bit about their Converse-loving, busy yet fun, close-knit family of four (five at heart).
Travis grew up the first eleven years in Owensboro moving to Utah and then New Jersey before returning to Owensboro to attend and graduate from Kentucky Wesleyan College. He came back to Owensboro for college to be closer to his extended family.
“We love Owensboro!” Travis said. “We think our community is a great place to raise our family with the outstanding school systems, low crime rate, the rise in the arts scene, being the number one sports town and the fact it is so close to several metropolitan cities.”
Travis is an executive coach and financial services consultant as a partner in Dynamic Directions for the last 10 years. When in town, he spends his day on conference calls, webinars and video conferencing with clients from 27 different states while walking 3 to 4 miles per day on his Trek Desk (He has a treadmill in his office with a customized desk that allows him to walk, talk on the phone, and type at the same time). Travis is also a partner in Watson, Chaney and Associates a financial advisory firm with Ameriprise Financial Services, Inc. and a partner in Silver and Black Group, a company focused on commercial real estate. Travis and Christy also own Studio Slant – an art gallery and handmade gift store at 412 East Second Street in downtown Owensboro.
Christy was born and raised in Owensboro. She went to Sutton School, Owensboro High School and graduated from Kentucky Wesleyan College. Christy actually left Owensboro for one year and came running back.
“Big cities are great to visit but home is a better place to be,” Christy said.
Christy has been working at Glenn Funeral Home for 13 years. She followed in the footsteps of her great-grandmother, grandmother and mother becoming not only a fifth generation funeral director but a fourth generation female funeral director. Serving as Vice President of the firm, Christy strives everyday to create that special moment that turns the passing of someone’s life into a memory to be cherished by the next generation. She believes that funerals should tell a story not end the book.
Christy is past president of the Junior League of Owensboro and loves to throw a good party…two time Charity Ball Chair, some CASA art auctions, and events for Dynamic Directions, and on and on. Christy takes time to do a little bit of her own art on the side, while doing the marathon of taking care of two kids, two dogs (Bayla and Elizabeth Sandy FiFi Polkdot Paisley), EastBridge Art and Music Festival, Kidcentric Sports, wrangling a very active husband, house hold management, Studio Slant, and on and on and on.
Ryland, 8, is a big hearted, easy going athlete. Ryland loves all sports especially football, baseball, and basketball. Lucy Jagoe, 3, is an expressive and artistic child. She enjoys painting, singing and dancing. The Chaneys are blessed that both of them get along well and show an authentic affection toward each other, which they constantly promote.
“Don’t get us wrong the boy can get mouthy and the bad queen can show her true colors, but all in all they are great kids, now the trick is keeping them that way,” says Christy with a laugh.
What They Stand For
We believe in giving. Norman Vincent Peale said, “give without remembering and receive without forgetting.” We try to focus on just giving, not worrying about what we will receive in return. The universe has a way of rewarding us based on the gifts we give. We find causes that are important to us and just give – time, talent and resources. We believe that a part of living in a community is helping shape it in the form you would like to see through volunteering.
Art has always been important to both of us. Christy has a degree in Studio Arts and Travis has a degree in Speech and Theater (both from Kentucky Wesleyan College). When Christy’s sister graduated from college with a degree in art, they both came to Travis with a business plan to open an art gallery and handmade gift store. After looking into the eyes of two of the most important women in his life aside from his mother, there was no way Travis could say no to this proposition. Studio Slant opened on October 23, 2010 – one day after Piper was born (see next page). When the opportunity arose to create an art and music festival in downtown Owensboro we jumped on it, launching Eastbridge Arts and Music Festival from our dining room table. We wanted to bring a big city arts feel to Owensboro while aiding our mission to fight the “oatmealization” of America.
After a couple of years of being frustrated as a youth coach to his son Ryland, Travis and Christy decided to start a non-profit organization, Kidcentric Sports, to transform youth sports in order to transform the lives of student athletes.
Travis vented one too many times to Christy about the negativity he was seeing in local youth sports. She finally just turned to him and asked, “Well, are you going to do anything about it?” They co-founded the organization in late 2011.
“Through my family’s involvement in youth sports, I have noticed that some adults think it is all about winning – when it should really be all about creating fun for the kids and teaching them the fundamentals of their sport,” Travis said. “Adults can ruin the fun of the game in their personal pursuit of the win.”
Kidcentric Sports is a non-profit organization partnering with local youth sports organizations to create an extraordinary, positive, bonding and memorable youth sports experience for athletes, parents, coaches and league representatives.
Learning from the Difficult Times
We tried to conceive on our own for five years with no success. With one trip to an infertility specialist, we quickly diagnosed the problem and were on a fast track to conceiving Ryland. Christy was diagnosed with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), which prevented her ovaries from releasing her eggs. Within 30 days of the first visit to the infertility specialist a solution was implemented and Ryland was conceived through artificial insemination. With Lucy Jagoe it wasn’t that easy. When Ryland was three, we went back for three unsuccessful artificial inseminations. After a six-month break, we opted for invitro to conceive Lucy Jagoe. It was touch and go every day during our first round of invitro but Lucy Jagoe was conceived.
“Christy was the brave one as the female endures more pain (physically and emotionally) through the infertility process,” Travis said. “The infertility process causes an immense amount of stress due to the high level of hormones and the day-to-day watch that goes on once conception takes place. With each failed artificial insemination comes a big wave of disappointment and questions – should we continue to do this? Each time we said yes. We are grateful for the outcomes from all of the procedures we went through.”
The biggest hurdle for Travis was deciding to adopt our third child. Travis experienced a lot of doubt and mixed emotions around being able to love another child that wasn’t conceived by he and Christy. A client and good friend showed the way for Travis. His friend Dave Mazzetti adopted 4 children – two bi-racial babies and a set of brothers from Ethiopia. Dave spent two weeks in Ethiopia bringing his two sons over to the United States.
“Dave helped me realize that love is love when it comes to children,” Travis said. “The conversations we had about Dave’s stories of adoption proved to be the inspiration I needed to move forward with the process. I would encourage anyone who has doubt about whether or not to adopt to reach out to those of us who have done it – we can help you make a very important decision based on our experiences. There are too many children who need the guidance and love of parents. When I first held Piper, I knew she was my daughter and that I was her father – no doubt whatsoever.”
“The adoption process only requires one thing . . . the ability to love. If you have that then everything else just seems to fall into place,” Christy said.
At just three months old, Piper, the Chaney’s adopted daughter, died of SIDS.
Travis was away on a business trip when it happened. He felt helpless being in Delaware when he got the news.
“No one wants to receive the call I received,” Travis said. “You are not ready to receive this type of news and how to deal with the sudden impact of losing a child with no notice whatsoever.”
“In three short months Piper changed our lives forever, and although at the time I could only see sadness, I know now that walking that path created a great strength in our family, one that we were taking for granted,” Christy said. “She taught us that if you open the door to all possibilities that you will receive the most wonderful gifts.”
Every day we reflect on and give thanks for what Piper brought to each of us and our family – the joy, happiness and how to love unconditionally. Piper makes us better people and we honor Piper by trying to live every day to the fullest. We decided as parents we were not going to let Piper’s passing define us in a negative way.
Every night at bedtime we hold prayers and Piper is always mentioned. On what would have been her first birthday we released balloons in the air to celebrate. Lucy Jagoe said at the ceremony that God had made her a cake. Everyone in our family wore converse shoes at Piper’s funeral. Every time we wear converse sneakers we think about Piper. We also have Piper’s only pair of converse displayed in our dining area along with several pictures.
None of us ever leave the house without a kiss and an “I Love You.” We do not travel without saying it, we do not fly without saying it, we do not head to sports, school, the park, community events, date nights or any other thing in our life without telling each other “I Love You.” Period, end of discussion. Reminding each other every day that no matter what happens we love each other is what is most important.
“I think of us as a family putting one foot in front of the other and trying to live each day to its full potential,” Christy said. “We want to teach our kids a great work ethic, the power of positive thinking, community outreach, and the abundance mentality. If that means we are an inspiring family, then great. If that only means we are loving each other while raising an awesome set of kids then ultimately that works for us.”
“We both bring a lot of passion to what we do and others have shared with us how contagious that is,” Travis said. “We go after life with a great amount of zeal, too – always moving forward, which is something we try to instill our children. We include our children in a lot of our activities (work and volunteer wise) to expose them to who we are and to give them the opportunity to be involved. We do this because we believe in living out the values we teach as opposed to just talking about the values we want to teach. We don’t always succeed at this approach, but we are committed every day to living the values we want Ryland and Lucy to have.”