To celebrate Kansas’ groundbreaking entry into the Union, we chose to feature groundbreaking Kansans. While Tourism’s job is to promote the places and attractions that are unique to Kansas, it is the people that make the state special.
Goalkeeper - KC Current
Adrianna Franch is a goalkeeper for the United States Women’s National Team and the NWSL’s Kansas City Current. Franch grew up in Salina where she attended Salina South High School. Prior to her professional career, Franch attended Oklahoma State University where she became the school’s all-time leader in shutouts.
Former K-State Football Coach
Bill Snyder roamed the sidelines of Kansas State University for 27 seasons. His 215 career wins are the most in school history (by a lot). During his time at K-State, Snyder’s program produced 34 AP All-Americans, 47 NFL draft picks, and 46 Academic All-Americans. Snyder was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2015. In 2005, K-State renamed its football stadium in honor of Snyder.
Special Olympics Athlete
Brooke Sumner is an athlete who is preparing to represent Kansas in powerlifting at the Special Olympics USA Games in June of 2022 in Orlando, Florida. In addition to powerlifting, Brooke is an accomplished runner and a prolific baker.
NFL / Collegiate Football Coach
Katie Sowers is the first woman to coach in the Super Bowl. She served as an offensive assistant for the 2017 San Francisco 49ers. Sowers also coached with the Atlanta Falcons and Kansas City Chiefs. Sowers is the Director of Strategic Athletic Initiatives at Ottawa University. She also serves as the Defensive Coordinator and Director of Operations for the Ottawa University Women’s Flag Football team. The team won the national championship in their inaugural season.
CWO-3 Curtis “Gunner” Kelley
Military Veteran - Marine Corps
Curtis Kelley enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1976. His service includes time in Okinawa, Morocco, and San Diego. Kelley has been awarded the Navy Marine Corps medal for heroism, the nation’s highest award for heroism in peace time. He is also a MLK, Jr. award recipient for volunteerism. Kelley served as a teacher for more than 20 years at Topeka High school where he was recognized as the State of Kansas Coach of the Year for swimming.
Logan Mize grew up in the family’s grocery store. As a child, he was drawn to the Elton John records he heard in his father’s Jeep. Later, he discovered John Mellencamp and Tom Petty. His love for music solidified. Mize spent several years in Nashville as a songwriter on Music Row while working on his own performing career. Mize’s fifth studio album, Welcome To Prairieville, is a concept album about a fictional town in Kansas.
Peterson Farm Bros
Greg Peterson is one-third of the YouTube phenomenon known as the Peterson Brothers. The Peterson Brothers use musical parody to introduce people to agricultural life in Kansas. In addition to their farm-parody music videos, the Peterson family hosts farm tours on their property and operate an on-site event venue.
Oscar-Winning Screenwriter & Director
Kevin Wilmott is an Academy Award winning director and screenwriter. Wilmott also serves as a professor of film at the University of Kansas. Wilmott received his BA in film from Marymount College in Salina. His film credits include Ninth Street, C.S.A.: The Confederate States of America, Bunker Hill, and The BlacKkKlansman.
Singer-Songwriter, Bartlett Arboretum
Robin Macy is a singer-songwriter, horticulturist, and community organizer. Macy is the owner and steward of the Bartlett Arboretum. The Bartlett Arboretum’s botanical collection includes groves of redbud, magnolia, and Japanese maple trees
The poem featured in the Tourism Kansas Day video is written by Kansas poet and historian, Ron Wilson. Wilson is the director of the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development at Kansas State University and owns Lazy T Ranch near Manhattan. Wilson’s work was also included in the Kansas Tourism’s Story Series video, A Cowboy State.
To The Stars
by Ron Wilson, Poet Lariat
“Ad Astra Per Aspera” is the Kansas motto:
“To the Stars through Difficulties” in the English we know.
For Kansans, the stars provide true inspiration
That led explorers west to build a growing nation.
When chuckwagons on cattle drives were traveling far,
Each night the wagon tongue faced the north star.
Those stars would give the traveler direction
And a pause to consider a heavenly reflection.
Now those stars have spawned astronauts, entrepreneurs,
Scholars, inventors, and leaders and doers.
Our nation has cities that reach coast to coast,
But there still is a place where the stars are seen most.
In the state of Kansas, where horizons reach far,
Family fun will abound, beneath a glowing night’s star.
From a Native American gathering to great athletes playing ball,
To our history of inclusion, there is opportunity for all.
There’s the best in history, attractions, food, recreation,
Just as stars represent our highest aspiration.
So enjoy our attractions and come be our guest,
In the state where star-gazing is found to be best.
You’ll enjoy the components of our state’s repertoires,
As you come explore Kansas and reach To The Stars.