Proud moms

Wichita moms share their children’s success stories

Written by Sara Garrison

Lisa Barmor

Lisa Barmor and her three children, Ze’ev, Ari and Hadasa, moved to Wichita in 2009 to be closer to family. A flight attendant for 28 years with Alaska Airlines, Lisa loves being a mom and considers the role her top priority.

“Being a mom is special to me. It is what I do and it is who I am. My kids are my first priority,” explains Lisa.

Ze’ev (18), Ari (16) and Hadasa (14) study dance at the Kansas Dance Academy with Diane Gans and with vocal coach Amy Menas. The siblings have appeared with Music Theatre Wichita and other musical productions across the Wichita area, in addition to performing with the Music Theatre Wichita Teen Choir.

Five years ago Ze’ev auditioned for a role on Broadway. “When we were in New York, Ze’ev told me that he felt like he belongs in New York and that he wanted to pursue a career in musical theatre,” says Lisa.

To pursue his dream, Ze’ev continued training, excelling in academics and performing in various musicals in Wichita. In August 2018, Ze’ev applied for the University of Michigan’s Bachelor of Fine Arts in Musical Theatre program. More than 8,400 high school seniors applied, and of these applicants, Ze’ev was one of 5,500 students invited to submit audition material.

On February 15, Ze’ev auditioned on campus, and on February 28, he was notified that he was one of 20 students selected for the Musical Theatre program.

“The fact that his dream has come true, that he got what he worked so hard for, is beyond words,” says Lisa. “He is pursuing his dream and we could not be more proud.”

“I am so proud of all my children. If each one of my kids sets their mind to do something, they can accomplish it,” Lisa explains. “As a mom, every experience leads you to where you are going to be. All the love, all the pain...believe in your children, give yourself grace, and enjoy every moment.”

Denell Smith

Mother of four and nurse case manager at Ascension Via Christi, Denell Smith enjoys caring for others.

Denell and her husband, Scott, are parents to Amanda, Noah, Emma Grace and Ella, who range in age from 13 to 22 years old. “Having four kids is a lot of work, but it is so rewarding to see these amazing kids God has given us to raise,” says Denell.

When Emma Grace was 6 years old, they noticed she had an extraordinary gift: “She constantly wanted to sing for anyone she could,” explains Denell. “We wanted to support her passion, so I reached out to places where she could get experience and exposure singing.”

At 6 years old, Emma Grace sang the national anthem at a Wichita Wranglers baseball game. At 7, she won a singing contest on the B98 FM Brett and Tracy Show, where she competed against individuals of all ages for two Taylor Swift tickets.

Then, at 8 years old, Emma Grace was diagnosed with psoriatic juvenile arthritis. This condition requires her to take medicine each day, receive infusions monthly, and travel to Children’s Mercy in Kansas City every three months to visit her pediatric rheumatologist.

Last fall, Emma Grace participated in KAKE-TV’s KAKE Idol. She won the American Idol Silver Ticket from KAKE, guaranteeing a special audition with an American Idol producer in Los Angeles. Producers moved Emma Grace forward to sing live for Katy Perry, Luke Bryan and Lionel Richie.

“American Idol was such an amazing experience,” says Denell. “Katy Perry loved her style and said that she had something special to share. Katy Perry gave Emma Grace her one override ticket for the season, giving her a free pass to Hollywood.”

Denell and Emma Grace traveled to Hollywood to participate in American Idol in December of 2018. “We are so proud of her. Although, she did not move forward, it was a great experience,” explains Denell. “It filled my heart with joy seeing this child that has blossomed and not let her arthritis get her down.”

Kerry Sabala

A real estate broker with New Home Specialists, Kerry Sabala has two children, Megan and Collin. As a child, Collin Allen struggled with school.

“My son had dyslexia and ADHD growing up,” says Kerry. “which made school really hard for him. He is brilliant with a very high IQ, but school was always difficult for him because he learned differently.”

Collin chose to not go to college after high school graduation. He married his wife Brooke and they had three children: Bodie, Case and Deacan. Collin enjoyed being a stay-at-home parent.

“Both of my children — Megan, Collin and their spouses — are extraordinary parents and I am so proud of each of them,” Kerry says.

When Collin’s kids were all in school full-time, he enrolled at Wichita State University. At age 43 Collin will graduate with his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from WSU in December.

“Collin has always had a passion for art. As a youth, he started making art with recycled materials,” explains Kerry. “His art is very unique and he has done such a great job at WSU refining his work. He is on the Dean’s List and I am so proud of his work and pursuing his dreams.”

Collin’s art includes photography, sculptures, paintings, chandeliers, lamps, furniture and more. His book of photography was included in an art show in London, and his pieces have been sold to designers and individuals locally and nationwide. His work is currently on display at

“Collin has always been so resilient. He hopes to pursue a Master’s degree in art and potentially teach one day,” says Kerry. “I am just so proud of him. He has a wonderful creative voice.”

Sherry Bell

Sherry Bell and her husband, Mark, work together in their four-generation, family-owned business, Bell Carpet and Floors. The couple have two grown boys, Brock and Blake.

After attending Bishop Carroll High School, Brock attended and graduated from the University of Oklahoma. He currently works and lives in Oklahoma City with his wife, Lauren.

From an early age, youngest son Blake loved sports, especially baseball, basketball and football. “Blake has always had a gift in playing sports. He was bigger than a lot of kids his age,” says Sherry. “I had to carry his birth certificate with me to games, because people thought he was so big and too old to play.”

In high school, Blake played quarterback for Bishop Carroll. After high school, he continued to play quarterback for the University of Oklahoma. As a senior, Blake transferred positions to play tight end for the Sooners.

“There is nothing like watching Blake play at Oklahoma and play professionally,” says Sherry. “Hearing his name and seeing his picture on the big screen is an incredible experience.”

After college, Blake was drafted in the fourth round, 18th pick of the 2015 NFL draft, to play tight end for the San Francisco 49ers. He has since played professional football for the Minnesota Vikings and Jacksonville Jaguars. In April 2019, Blake signed to play tight end with the Kansas City Chiefs.

“We could not be more excited that Blake has signed to play for the Chiefs,” says Sherry. “My boys grew up attending Chiefs games. To have our son play, wearing a Chiefs jersey, is an absolute thrill.”

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