In nice weather, what’s more fun than driving around with the top down and feeling the sun on your face and the wind in your hair? This is why many people love Jeep Wranglers. Owners can put down the soft top and enjoy the great outdoors, but when it gets cold, they also have a hard top that will keep them warm and dry.
But, swapping the tops and figuring out where to store the one that’s not in use is not fun at all. Friends and partners Lenny Blue, Scott Piper, and Michael Schwartz developed a solution to these problems and opened Swap Your Top in Livingston, which just celebrated its one year anniversary.
“I actually own a Jeep Wrangler and Lenny and Scott would help me change out the top,” says Michael. “It’s a hassle. It requires a helper and you have to be somewhat mechanically inclined. You also need a place to store it. Even if you have a garage, it takes up a lot of space and can get damaged.”
When Jeep owners make an appointment with Swap Your Top, they get their tops changed in a timely manner, and also know that the top they’re leaving behind will be placed on custom made racks in a climate controlled facility. “You leave with no headaches and no stress,” he says.
If someone is in need of a soft top, it’s also an authorized distributor for BESTOP, which Michael says is the number one aftermarket manufacturer of soft tops for Jeep Wranglers.
Women experiencing domestic violence often have to flee with very little money and few belongings. They often do so after years of abuse and risk everything for a chance for a better and safer life.
Julie (a pseudonym) knows this well. Her husband beat her and belittled her for several years, and coming from an abusive childhood, she felt like she didn’t deserve any better. “I didn’t know how precious I was,” she says. “It was ingrained in me that people can do whatever they want to you.”
After a particularly vicious beating last year, Julie knew she had to leave – this time for good. She left multiple times before, but her husband always managed to find her. “I just packed a bag. I left my cell phone, my credit cards. I had less than $300,” she says.
Julie had a long journey ahead of her, and although he found her once, she managed to get away again. “I drove for hours; I didn’t know what to do or where to go.”
It was during this drive that she heard a woman call into a radio show about her abusive husband. The show’s host, who is from Tennessee, told the woman she needed to get away from him and that she mattered.
“That’s how I chose Tennessee,” says Julie. “I slept in my car for about two weeks and then I walked into the local police department. They got me into a shelter.”
It was this shelter that introduced her to a path to success through Resera, a jewelry company based in Nashville. “I founded Resera, along with Alexis Cook, in 2017,” says Corbin Hooker. “I had this growing sensation that I needed to try to do something to help the homeless, and from day one, our heart has always been about this mission. The jewelry has been a means to work with women experiencing homelessness and survivors of domestic violence.”
By partnering with other organizations such as Community Care Fellowship, the YWCA and Renewal House, not only are these women given jobs, but they also learn many skills, such as wax injecting, molding, chaining and distribution. Resera also partners with financial literacy coaches and career counselors who come onsite to help the women navigate these issues.
“Some women come in with a really clear idea of what their dream career is, and they can use this job as a stepping stone to stabilize, earn some money, develop some skills, and then go get that dream job,” says Corbin. “For others, they may come here and decide that this is their dream.”
“My case manager at my first shelter told me she thought I would be a really good fit for Resera,” says Julie. “I had no jewelry-making skills whatsoever, and when you interview with Corbin, he totally understands that.”
She was also able to get into another shelter, which offered her a lot more support than the first, including therapy. On January 1st, she went from being a maker (which is what they call the women at Resera) to the director of events. “I handle all of our events and do all of our outside sales because that’s my passion.” And thanks to her job at Resera, she moved into her own apartment on January 7th.
“I wake up and I fall asleep in my blessing every day,” says Julie. “It’s where I feel safe.”
She wants other women in her situation to know there is hope. “It’s not going to be easy to leave and you’re going to be so scared,” she says. “But I believe you can do it – you’re worth it! You’re going to start healing and you’re going to start dreaming. And those dreams are going to come true – like mine.”
Julie is a rockstar, says Corbin, and his dream is to grow Resera in order to support more women like her (he has helped over 20 women so far). He also wants to partner with other organizations to incorporate similar models. “It’s important to separate the trauma the women have been through and the person themselves,” he says. “You also have to recognize the legitimate barriers they face and come alongside them.”
Each piece of Resera’s high-quality and beautiful jewelry comes with a story of the person who made it. Just wearing it is impactful.
What started out as a fun day at the community pool on May 21, 2019, ended in tragedy for Brentwood resident Lizz Krummel and her family. “We were at the pool with friends one evening and my husband Kurt went home to feed the dogs,” she says. “He was on a golf cart in swim attire and had on flip-flops. The best the police could put together was that he hit a manhole, his foot came off the side of the golf cart and then got stuck in the back tire and he was ejected from the cart.”
At the age of 42, Kurt Krummel, a bigger than life husband, dad and coach, died from massive head trauma. “We were just a regular Brentwood family – two working parents, two third-grade boys, and three dogs,” says Lizz. “We did yard work, we grocery shopped. You hear about tragedies on TV all the time, and I think everyone’s natural reaction is, ‘Oh, that doesn’t happen to people like us.’”
Sadly, it did happen to them, but fortunately for Lizz, she had incredible family and community support. They surrounded her and her twin boys, Roger and Cortland, who were only 8 years old at the time, those first few months to help in any way they could, even if it was just quietly sitting by her side.
“At first, accepting help was a tough one for me because I’m a pretty independent person,” she says. “But, there are some days where you just need someone to be there with you. I had a lot of friends that just sat with me and patiently waited until I was ready to talk or go to dinner or do whatever. They were just relentless in their care of me and my boys.”
Right after the accident, her parents and brothers traveled from Colorado, where Lizz grew up. Her mother, Lynn Lown, stayed on for the entire summer, becoming a pillar of strength for the family. Having been diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer in 2017 and enduring two years of chemotherapy, radiation, and a double mastectomy, she understood the challenges life can throw at you. Lynn finished treatment in March of 2019, and her son-in-law died that May.
“My husband absolutely adored her,” says Lizz. “He used to love when my mom stayed with us. For three months straight after the accident, she never left our sides. She’s just an incredible individual with everything she’s been through and survived. She’s on a plane at the drop of a hat, anytime I need something or have to travel for work.”
Lizz says she and her mom have always been incredibly close – she was actually born on her mom’s birthday. Even before the accident, Lynn always made sure to visit regularly. She was a high school teacher and would come for long weekends, and now that she’s retired, she often spends a month or more with her daughter and grandsons to help out in any way she can.
Her father, Gary, has also been there for them. “My dad’s been a real trouper,” she says. “He was there through my mom’s illness, and he’s all in on whatever the boys and I need.”
In addition to being an unexpectedly single mom, Lizz is also a full-time healthcare executive. “I’m the vice president of human resources for a company based here in Franklin,” she says. “Our CEO and the group that I’m with not only respect me as a professional, but they also respect me as a parent.”
Adds Lizz, “I’m incredibly lucky in a lot of ways. I’ve got these two boys who are just amazing. Kurt died a week before their 9th birthdays, and their dad was all things to them. He was their little league baseball coach; he was their basketball coach. He was the head tennis pro at Old Natchez Country Club. He also coached all the kids in our neighborhood. So, it was a huge loss to them and the entire community in terms of the people he impacted.”
Her boys play with Showcase Baseball. “A friend of my husband’s, Drew Muirhead, took over coaching the team. [His son plays on the team and is her boy’s best friend.] I also volunteer coach on the team, and coached flag football for the first time ever this year. I will never shy away from the opportunity to be involved in my kids’ lives. Although it may not be the typical for mom to be out on the football field, the boys seem to be fine with it. We had a ton of fun and I think it is, quite frankly, one of the things that brings us so much joy as a family.”
Although there’s been a lot of grief during the last three years, Lizz feels grateful. “I have this incredible supportive community, friends who are just incredible people, and a wonderful family. I also have a really great career.”
Her advice to others who have also suffered a major loss: “I think if you can refocus and look at all of the things that are left in front of you instead of dwelling on how big your loss is, it helps you to keep going. You might not be okay today, you might not be okay tomorrow, but you will be okay. It’s been three years now – the boys are off to middle school and love it. Professionally, I’m the happiest I’ve ever been.”
Of course, says Lizz, the loss will always be there, and this time of year, around the anniversary of her husband’s death, is always difficult. “My mom, my grandma, the women in my life helped mold me. You have two choices – you can fold up your tent and quit or you can keep going. Moving forward is what I’ve tried to do and what I’m going to continue to do. I try to give my very best to my boys, to my family.
“I never want them to forget all of the great things their father did and who he was. And if they can live a really normal, happy childhood and life and be successful in all the ways I think they’re going to be, then that’s what makes it all worth it.”
Written for Brentwood Lifestyle magazine in Tennessee (unabridged version).
A Guinness World Record holder is upping his own ante
By Sue Baldani
Flying through the sky with a board strapped to his feet is Keith (KĒBĒ) Snyder’s idea of a good time. What began as a hobby back in 1995 took him to the X Games and eventually on to win the Guinness World Record for the most helicopter spins in the air during a jump.
“In 1994, I saw this guy spinning and saw the smile on his face and I wanted to know what was going on there,” he says. “To stand on something in the sky – I just wanted to experience that. You are literally getting to stand on top of the world. It’s a very empowering feeling when you’re flying through the air and I actually go into this meditative state when spinning.” At this point, he has completed over 6,500 jumps all over the world.
Sky surfing, says Snyder, began in 1988, and it progressed when people started adding in little tricks like flips and spins. “It grew and grew until you had an international community of sky surfers. The X Games were born in 1995, and sky surfing went to an explosive level of participation because you had ESPN pumping money into the sport. That core group got so good so fast it became hard to chase. That became my fuel for a while.”
Making it to the X Games in 2000 was a huge accomplishment. “The next year, they ended up dropping Sky Sports, but I started winning Nationals in 2001, 2002 and 2003 and came in third in the World Cup,” he says.
Snyder became so good that he began teaching others how to do it, and eventually opened a school in Arizona, where he was living at the time. “There’s probably 250 people I’ve guided on how to do it safely.”
Little did he know, his time in Arizona was coming to an end. In 2020, his father, Chris, was diagnosed with glioblastoma, an aggressive form of cancer that can occur in the brain and/or spinal cord. “I was in the middle of a text conversation with my mother [Catherine] when my father passed out,” says Snyder. “The next day, they found tumors and were going to operate. I flew back to be with them as soon as he came out of surgery. About 24 hours later, I was in their house in Gainesville looking out the window and knew I had to move back here to be with them.”
Chris died in September of 2020 at the age of 71. “After my father passed away, my mom started pulling things out of his end table and I could tell that it was stuff that meant something to him. My parents have been together almost their entire lives, and she found letters she wrote to him when they dated. There was also a little envelope with some of the stuff written about me for sky surfing.”
Later in 2020, Snyder was invited to a Jump Like A Pharaoh event by organizer Mahmoud Sharaf of Egypt. He was introduced to Sharaf by Omar Alhegelan of Saudi Arabia, one of the camera flyers who films him. Sky surfing over the pyramids was something he dreamed of doing for years.
Of course, winning the Guinness World Record in November 2021 in Giza, Egypt with 160 helicopter spins was another unforgettable experience for him. And he’s not done yet. “The idea is to break this record one more time. Right now, that’s planned for the beginning of November and my goal is to do 180 spins.”
He’s also recently joined forces with a group called StacheStrong. “They’ve raised around $1.2 million for brain cancer and 99% of this money goes directly towards research,” he says. Snyder is going to help them add to this amount by taking pledges per rotation.
“Skydive Orange of [ Orange, VA] is supporting this Guinness World Record & Brain Cancer Research fundraising effort by giving me sky surfing flight time. We have an arrangement for the practice flights I need in order to attain the level of performance necessary to set these new record levels.” Onelife Fitness in Gainesville is also helping out with a free gym membership.
In addition to all of this, Snyder is busy writing a couple of books on sky surfing, which are due out in the near future. One is a guidebook on sky surfing and the other will focus on sky surfing from an engineering point of view. “I’m an engineer by trade and worked with the Merchant Marine Academy, so I want to help people understand the dynamics.”
Today, he believes he’s where he’s meant to be. “I get to be with my mother and my family here in Virginia and continue to pursue sky surfing.”