The Emergency Preparedness and Response Division (EPRD) of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) confirmed nine finalists to compete in the What If? Colorado reality competition at The Gregory Inn Sept. 20 – 23, 2007 to face a variety of challenges designed to engage and inform them – and the general public – on emergency preparedness and influenza issues.


Learn more about the finalists below:

Bob - Walsh, CO

Born and raised in Colorado, Bob and his wife Dolly have called southeastern Colorado "home" since 1980. A dentist practicing both general and forensic dentistry, Dr. Bob has served as the county coroner, a firefighter and an emergency medical technician for over 20 years. His family of four dogs, four cats, two birds, one Boa constrictor, and many Koi and gold fish make for a fun home when their three grandchildren come to visit! Volunteer work is Bob's passion – during Walsh's last big blizzard, for instance, Bob managed the local shelter at his church and shored up alternative shelters when the roof started to collapse. Having worked and trained in disaster preparedness at both the state and local level, Bob certainly knows a thing or two about surviving an emergency.

Cameron - Durango, CO

A native of Fort Collins, Cameron is currently a marketing major at Fort Lewis College in Durango. Known around town as a "walking sports encyclopedia", it's no surprise that Cameron spends his spare time watching sports – football, in particular. At home, it's a veritable United Nations – his mother is Mexican, his father is from the Middle East, his stepmother is Egyptian and his stepfather is German. Cameron has "an uncanny ability" to adapt to whatever situation he's thrown into and his "ultra competitive" spirit may just make him the contestant to beat!

James - Pueblo, CO

Originally from Denver, James is an editor at the Pueblo Chieftain and the father of two "brilliant and beautiful" sons. When he's not reading journalists' copy or spending time with his sons, James is working on his acting skills – in fact, he was hired to star in a video about pandemic influenza preparedness! He also loves spending time with his girlfriend – although he's less enthusiastic about her two cats. Some might say that James "possesses more raw enthusiasm than is apparently normal for a grown man" – but we think that's what will make him such a great competitor!

Julia - Woodland Park, CO

As a native of Colorado, Julia has seen all the extreme weather that can hit our state – tornadoes, flash floods, snow storms and wildfires. Her entire family – her two older sisters, an older brother and her parents – works together to pitch in and weather any disaster that comes their way. Not to mention her black lab, Marley, her Arabian horse, Addie, a pet goose named Cous-Cous, three turtles and a goldfish! When Julia's not working at one of her three jobs or helping her mother with her housecleaning business, she can be found rock climbing or horseback riding – or just hanging out with her friends at a local park.

Kary - Boulder, CO

Kary lives outside of Boulder with her husband and three step-children and enjoys watching live sporting events and movies with her family. When she's not on her skateboard or snowboard, she's in front of her computer, managing a series of Web sites for women – or "livecasting" for fun. Kary also enjoys making videos – which is why auditioning for this competition was all the more enticing. Kary believes that her "faith, strength and heart" will serve her well in the event of an emergency – but as she attests, "You never know until an emergency really happens."

Ken - Greeley, CO

Originally from Cleveland, Ohio, Ken has spent the last 22 years living in Colorado with his wife and two daughters. A former military man, Ken shares the survival skills he learned during his service in lectures and seminars nationwide and as part of the MIICOE (My Information In Case of Emergency) team. No wonder Ken's friends describe him "the person to be with if an emergency were to arise"! Ken enjoys making walking staffs and custom key chains in his spare time, as well as taking care of his family's two dogs and three cats.

Matthew - Granby, CO

"I'm not a Navy Seal, nor have I done an Outward Bound course, but I'm looking forward to trying not to lose my head!" Given Matt's background as a building contractor and his "outgoing, adventurous" spirit, we trust he'll be a strong competitor. A California native, Matt has spend almost 10 years living in the Colorado Rockies, and enjoys dirt biking, square dancing and hanging out at home with his girlfriend Tawnya, their two Huskies and their cat, Sugar, and visiting with his step-daughter and two grandsons.

Michael - Pueblo, CO

As a child, Michael visited Colorado nearly every year – and now he is proud to call our beautiful state "home". Michael, his wife Abby and their Boston Terrier puppy, Parker, love to get outside and "explore all Colorado has to offer." As a Youth/Teen Librarian at the local public library, Michaels spends his days leading story times for pre-school children, helping students find answers to homework questions and creating programming that encourages teens to use the library. An open, easy-going guy who will try just about anything, Michael is eager to put his Boy Scout days and camping experiences to the test!

Sophie - Durango, CO

Sophie received her British accent from her "mum" but her U.S. citizenship from her dad, and today lives in southern Colorado with her husband Preston and their "lucky" black cat, Midnight. As the head of feature films for the Durango Independent Film Festival, a personal acting coach, a casting director, producer, teacher and writer, it is amazing Sophie manages to find free time to spend time outdoors, hiking or fishing, or to socialize with friends. After surviving a near-death experience in the Zambezi River in Zimbabwe – complete with hungry crocodiles – Sophie says she is ready to face any challenge we throw her way!

 

Video auditions of Colorado residents over the age of 18 were submitted during the month of August for consideration in the What If? Colorado reality competition, then a group of judges from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment selected 31 semi-finalists in early September. The semi-finalists' video submissions were then featured on the What If? Colorado Web site and from Sept. 7 – 12, Coloradans were encouraged to vote online and by e-mail for their favorite contestants. Eight regions of the state were represented by the semi-finalists. The contestant with the highest number of votes in each region was chosen as a finalist, in addition to the contestant with the highest overall votes, regardless of the region where they live.


Through a generous donation from HealthONE, each of the nine finalists received an Apple 30 gigabyte iPod and the overall winner of the competition received a cash grand prize of $2,500. To watch the competition, visit the episodes page.