Sign In | Create an Account | Welcome, . My Account | Logout | Subscribe | Submit News | Contact Us | Home RSS

On Grandparents Day, some honored, others tell stories

September 7, 2008
By SANDY MICKELSON, Messenger staff writer

This doesn't happen every day.

Two Fort Dodge couples, Arlene and Don Mathey and Velva and Bob Skophammer, have been named Iowa State Grandparents of the Year, nominated by their 16-year-old grandson, Scott Skophammer.

In his nomination, Scott wrote that his grandparents always urged him to "follow his dreams."

The National Grandparents Council held the contest and named the winners to mark the 30th anniversary of the start of Grandparents Day, founded by Marian McQuade, a West Virginia housewife and mother of 15 children. Now 91, McQuade wanted to champion the rights of the elderly back then. Grandparents Day was proclaimed a national holiday in 1978 by President Jimmy Carter.

One grandmother living near Badger also urges her grandchildren to follow their dreams, and she's not shy about telling the world how high their dreams have bounced.

Betty Larson called a few weeks back to talk about her 14-year-old grandson, Joe Bruen, a freshman at Fort Dodge Senior High, who participated in the Junior Olympics in Michigan in late July and won two gold medals.

His sister, Anna, 9, earned a bronze medal at the national competition, and sister Emma, 11, competed, too.

The kids are children of Kristi and Mike Bruen, who moved to the Badger area from Yuma, Ariz., where he was a helicopter pilot and executive officer in the weapons and tactical school of the Marine Corps. They moved to Badger in July of 2007 to be near her family.

Anna will be in fourth grade at Hillcrest Elementary School in Fort Dodge, and Emma will be in seventh grade at Phillips Middle School.

All three of the kids started tumbling and trampoline gymnastic training at the same time in 2004 in Yuma, and Joe started competing right away.

You'll get a kick out of this - Joe started training because he thought it was a good way to meet girls. Emma said, "I wanted to be able to do some cool tricks and get good exercise," and Anna said, "I wanted to learn how to tumble."

Both girls say they want to learn to be as good at the sport as he is, while his goal is to make the U.S. Gymnastics Trampoline and Tumbling Team to compete in the 2009 World Age Group competition in Russia next November.

That will really give Larson something to talk about.

At the Junior Olympics in Novi, Mich., near Detroit, Joe won a gold medal in trampoline and gold in synchronized trampoline with a friend from Waterloo. He trains at Superior Tumbling and Trampoline in Webster City and also travels to Waterloo for training. He participated in the advanced category at the Junior Olympics, not because of his age, but because of his ability, his mother said.

"He's kind of a natural at it," she said. "At AAU, he received the All-American award because he received the highest trampoline score of the advanced boys."

Right after the Junior Olympics, Joe attended scholarship gymnastics camp in Three Rivers, Mich., which, his mother said, "is a great opportunity because they get to work with world coaches who will coach the United States World Age Team."

And it never hurts to know the big boys when you want to play.

It doesn't matter what kids do, grandparents love them for it, whether it's National Grandparents Day or not. They'd love the kids if the kids did nothing more but lie on the couch and nap, but they're especially proud when the kids do something special.

Heck, I'm proud of the kids, and I don't know anybody involved.

So long friends, until the next time when we're together.

Contact Sandy Mickelson at (515) 573-2141 or



I am looking for: