Des Moines’ Sexiest People 201511/18/2015
Cityview readers nominated them, now you get to decide who Des Moines’ Sexiest man and woman are on Friday, Dec. 4.
In the six years of Des Moines’ Sexiest People voting, our readers have introduced us to some inspiring, motivated and community-centered people residing in the Des Moines area. We’ve learned that “sexy” is about more than just looks, and our 2015 candidates prove that.
A total of 126 people were nominated this year, from TV and radio personalities to athletes and local celebrities. The men and women chosen by Cityview readers to represent what sexy really means show a diverse range of attributes, but they all have a passion, drive and commitment to helping others.
Last year was the first time two winners were selected, and the tradition will continue this year. Voters will select Des Moines’ Sexiest Man and Des Moines’ Sexiest Woman, and each will receive a $750 donation in their name to the charity of his or her choice, courtesy of our sponsor, Svedka Vodka.
Nominees for the 2015 Des Moines’ Sexiest People were ranked on a “sexy” scale of 1 to 10, and after several weeks of online voting, the Top 10 men and women with the highest ratings were chosen as finalists and invited to attend the final voting round on Friday, Dec. 4.
The celebration will be held at the Keg Stand in West Des Moines, located at 3530 Westown Parkway, beginning at 7 p.m. The party is open to everyone, and the two winners will be announced at 10 p.m., so don’t miss the opportunity to see them all live and in person and put your vote in to support Des Moines’ Sexiest People!
As a fairly new addition to the Des Moines population, Tara McClure is already doing all she can to make an impact on the city. By day — or, rather, from about 3:30 a.m. to noon — Tara is a co-host for the Morning Moose show on Lazer 103.3. By night, she’s an active member of No Coast Brazilian Jiu Jitsu gym in Waukee where she practices martial arts, and Power Life Yoga.
Tara moved to Des Moines in June from her hometown of Tulsa, Oklahoma. She found her passion for radio during an internship when she was 16 years old and has been doing it ever since.
“I love just getting to open up and be my genuine self every morning, and just being real,” she said. “But making people laugh, honestly, is my favorite. Like when somebody sends me a message or a comment… that just totally makes my day.”
“It’s crazy — I actually had no idea I could sing until my senior year in high school,” said Tara, adding that she might be starting a new local project singing jazz in the near future.
But her biggest passion stems from using her love of mixed martial arts and self-defense to empower others.
“When I started getting into (jiu jitsu), my favorite part was passing on the knowledge that I had. I want to help people feel good about themselves and empowered. It gives you a really nice sense of self and confidence when you know how to defend yourself.”
Confidence, she said, is “sexy.”
“I think what makes a person sexy is just being 100 percent comfortable and unashamed of who you are,” she said. “Somebody who can embrace every bit of themself — the good, the bad, the ugly, the beautiful, the excellent, the success, the failures.
“I think it really has a lot to do with just being comfortable in your own skin.”
TARA’S CHARITY: Children’s Cancer Connection. The Children’s Cancer Connection serves all families affected by childhood cancer in the state of Iowa, with programs offered at little or no cost.
A native of Des Moines, Zac Bales-Henry will be the first to admit that success doesn’t come easy. It takes hard work and encouragement, but when it happens, it’s well worth it.
Zac has been in real estate for eight years and is currently a real estate broker at Re/Max Precision, which he also co-founded. He loves the flexible schedule and freedom that comes with the job, and it gives him the opportunity to invest his time in some of his other hobbies.
“I have a lot philanthropic interests,” he said, describing his involvement as a co-founder of the Bow Tie Ball, which put on its third annual event earlier this year, raising about $18,000 for Young Variety Iowa. He has also created his own foundation that will provide scholarships to students with learning disabilities.
Zac, who has dyslexia, grew up attending various programs for students with learning disabilities throughout his education and during college at Drake University. Because of his experiences, he wants to help others like him.
“I thought it would be a unique opportunity to give back to kids who work in similar situations as myself,” he said. “I got that set up with Lincoln High School, which is the high school that I went to. So in 2016, kids can start applying for scholarships.”
As someone who is constantly searching for ways to help and serve people in his community, Zac said he is motivated by the desire to be something more.
“You know, we have limited time on this earth. And I’ve realized within the last couple years, that the one resource you have that you’ll never get back is time. And I’m always motivated by the fact that I know I have a small time on this earth to leave an impact, and I want to be able to leave the greatest impact possible.”
To Zac, the key to being sexy lies in a person’s own self-view.
“It’s confidence and being comfortable with oneself,” he said. “That’s really what makes somebody sexy in my opinion.”
ZAC’S CHARITY: Variety Iowa. Beginning back in 1928, Variety Iowa is a branch of Variety – The Children’s Charity, a national nonprofit with 41 chapters in 11 countries. The charity helps millions of children with disabilities to live more comfortably and grow up to be productive, self-sufficient adults.
Growing up in West Des Moines, Sabrina Ahmed couldn’t stay away from her hometown and family for too long. After attending college in Kansas and landing her first job in Nebraska, she was transferred to her current station at Local 5 News in Des Moines.
Sabrina, determined to make a difference in the world, wanted to be an attorney but switched tracks when her uncle told her she’d have more power to do so in journalism. Though she has to wake up at 3:30 a.m., she’s already learned just how much her role in TV news can help people.
“I did a story on bullying in this school — this was when I lived in Lincoln, Nebraska,” Sabrina explained. “After a kid committed suicide, the school started a program where kids helped other kids who felt left out. And then they allowed open enrollment to that school if the kids thought they were being bullied, and a mom called me in tears after the story and said, ‘Thank you so much… my daughter was being bullied, and she was in a very deep depression, and we just signed up for open enrollment in this other school today because of what you did.’
“So that was probably one of the first times I was like, ‘This is cool. I can make a difference.’ ”
Much of Sabrina’s life revolves around kids, whether it’s her siblings, her 5-month-old niece, Sophie, or those involved with the Boys and Girls Club, where she serves on the marketing committee and volunteers.
“The program offers a lot of opportunities for kids that they wouldn’t have otherwise, and I just kind of became passionate about it through my aunt, (who) is very heavily involved,” she said.
As a morning news anchor, Sabrina said she enjoys her schedule of getting home at noon each day, which leaves her plenty of time to spend with her family. But her real motivation, first and foremost, has always been helping others.
And as for her thoughts on the term sexy: “I hate that word,” she laughed. “But I would say someone who’s a good person inside and out. A good person, and a genuine person.”
SABRINA’S CHARITY: Boys and Girls Club of Central Iowa. For the last 50 years, the Boys and Girls Club has been providing children and teens with programs focused on education, healthy lifestyles and character and leadership development. It serves more than 2,000 kids ages 5-18 in central Iowa.
Tommy Bomstad loves his work, but his passion doesn’t stop there. Family, hunting, and a certain nightlife destination hold this guy’s heart.
Tommy is the managing partner of Alpha Ventures, which manages Beer Can Alley and The Exchange, both staples for the downtown Des Moines bar scene, especially since Beer Can Alley recently moved into its new, larger space next to The Exchange on Court Avenue.
He is originally from Irwin, a small town in western Iowa where he learned the values of hard work, family and a good hunting trip.
Working hard to make Beer Can Alley the success that it is, Tommy said he’s passionate about his work and “motivated by trying to be a better person.”
And what makes a person “sexy?”
“A lot of things,” he said. “It’s not just looks-deep. I think personality and values go a lot into it.”
TOMMY’S CHARITY: Warren County Pheasants Forever. Warren County Pheasants Forever is dedicated to the conservation of pheasants, quail and other wildlife. It serves its mission through habitat improvements, public awareness, education and land management policies and programs.
Residing in the Valley Junction area of West Des Moines — which she loves for “all the character and charm it has,” — Lauren Baccam describes herself as “an adventurer mixed with an old soul.”
“I absolutely love listening to live music, getting my yoga on, thrift-shopping, arts and crafts, traveling and eating pizza on my couch while watching Lifetime movies,” she said.
Lauren is a hairstylist at Serenity Couture Valley West, and, although she’s been in the stylist business for seven years now (“Time flies when you’re having fun!”), she still loves the work.
“I love the fact I get to meet new people every day, use my creative juices and turn that into something beautiful,” said Lauren. “There is nothing better than knowing you have made someone’s day and have made them feel and look their best.”
“They are the ones who shaped and molded me to who I am,” she said. “And now my husband and I get to use that love and passion our families gave us and put it all towards our little human.”
Lauren said her son is her biggest motivation, adding that she never knew a “little guy” could have such a huge impact on her life.
“He honestly is what keeps my heart beating every day.”
Even though she works in a cosmetic industry, for Lauren, being sexy is more about personality than looks.
“(Sexy is) being comfortable in your own skin and not taking life too seriously — someone who just embraces who they are,” she said.
“The world would be so boring if we were all the same.”
LAUREN’S CHARITY: National Audubon Society. The mission of the National Audubon Society is to conserve and restore natural ecosystems, focusing on wildlife and its habitats for the benefit of humanity and the biological diversity of the planet.
Eric Carter is an Iowa native who is constantly striving for more, whether it’s in his career, passions or social life. He doesn’t take all the credit for this hunger, though.
“My siblings and my family, we all have a strong and hard work ethic. I got my passion for business from them,” said Eric.
As a Leasing Consultant at BH Management Services, Eric has devoted his career to selling homes. He has been working in his current position for six months now, but he has worked in the housing industry for a number of years.
He has always been passionate about the business aspect of his life, but the main reason he loves his job is because of what he can do for others.
“I like working with people,” he said. “Everybody is different, and everybody has unique tastes. I like helping people find a home that fits them.”
He spends his free time as a male performer in downtown Des Moines bars such as The Blazing Saddle. He also loves being able to explore the city, which he said is always offering new bars, restaurants and entertainment.
Eric’s work is an obvious indicator of what he finds sexy — certain physical features of people — but it doesn’t end there. As a competitive person, he finds the same trait attractive in others as well. He also explained that he cares and is passionate about his job. A “sexy” person is someone who is hardworking, motivated and passionate about something, he said.
ERIC’S CHARITY: Project HIM. Project HIM (Healthy Iowa Men) offers sexual health resources for free and confidential HIV and STD testing, education on prevention and more. It supports all men in central Iowa seeking support for healthy sexual behavior.
Another Des Moines native, Leah McIlrath, said her journey to her passion wasn’t a direct route. She began working in the cosmetics industry, where she stayed for 10 years. She changed career paths last October, however, and began her education at Des Moines Area Community College in January.
Now a full-time student, Leah’s time is dedicated to school, where she is studying to be a social worker. After feeling unfulfilled in her first profession, she said her passion has only grown for her future in human services.
“Helping people is something I’ve always strived to do, and that’s what helped me in the decision to become a social worker,” said Leah. “The most motivating thing to me personally is helping others when they need it most.”
Leah said she enjoys the knowledge of her professors and how relatable they are to students.
Leah hopes to do the same with her career, too.
“Having the ability to change someone’s life for the better is a powerful thing. I want to inspire people. Hopefully one day someone will say to me, ‘Because of you, I didn’t give up. Thank you.’ ”
Though college keeps her busy — she hopes to eventually pursue her master’s degree in social work as well — Leah tries to make time to spend with her friends, playing trivia games and reading when she has a chance to relax.
Leah is most fervent about her career, and that’s also a quality she finds attractive in other people.
“To me, people who are amazing at what they do is very sexy,” she said. “When I see someone with confidence, passion and a drive for what they do, that’s sexy.”
LEAH’S CHARITY: Children and Families of Iowa. Through various programs and services, Children and Families of Iowa helps children needing safe homes to adults learning how to cope with trauma and everyone in between. The organization has been serving families for more than 125 years and helped more than 25,000 people last year.
Known in the Des Moines area as “Danger” for 97.3 The NASH, this radio host answers to a few different names.
“I’ve gone by so many different names — versions of Andrew, Andy, Drew, Danger — so depending on who’s talking to me when, you never know what name you’re gonna get,” he said.
No matter what you call him, Danger has been living it up in radio since he was a senior at East High School in Des Moines. He loves the newness each day has to offer in the industry, saying it’s really hard to get bored.
“It keeps things interesting because you really don’t know what’s going to happen next,” said Danger. “And there’s a lot of things that we do as a job that so many others are out doing for fun, so it lets you know just how nice you have it.”
“What motivates me professionally would be just doing the best job I possibly can and know that, succeed or fail, I put everything I had into it,” he said. “I understand that it’s not always going to work out the way I want it to work out, but I celebrate the wins and learn from the losses and keep going.”
When he’s not working, Danger said he likes to watch sports — specifically hockey and football — both on TV and live to support Des Moines’ local teams. He tends to make it a family affair with his wife and two kids, but he also enjoys fishing and grilling in the summer.
A positive, upbeat person, Danger said a good personality is the top quality of sexy people.
“As you get to know somebody and talk to them, there’s got to be something more to them than (being attractive). Otherwise it won’t be long before it gets old,” he said.
DANGER’S CHARITY: Children’s Miracle Network. Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals are dedicated to raising awareness and funds to benefit the University of Iowa Children’s Hospital patients and families. Funds are invested in research and treatment, equipment, enhancements and educational materials for patient families.
With three jobs to fill her time, Kati Harper says she loves to be busy. She works part-time as a nurse at Dermatology PC in addition to a job as the “Hits Girl” for 99.9 and bar tending at Dos Rios. How does she do it all?
“It’s pretty crazy-busy,” she said. “(But) the radio jobs are really flexible, as well as the restaurant job.”
If she does happen to find a spare moment, Kati loves to run. She ran for her college at Indian Hills and has even completed two marathons, her first being the Des Moines Marathon last year.
She says that was her most memorable race, adding, “It’s like a part-time job in itself just to train for a marathon.”
Kati is most passionate about health and fitness, which goes back to a time when she was overweight.
“I used to be…over 300 pounds,” she explained. “I lost a whole bunch of weight. That’s another reason why I like running so much: It kind of got me into the health side of things, so it kind of drew me into nursing.”
Losing roughly 150 pounds between her junior year of high school and her freshman year of college, Kati has always been one to work hard. She’s made health a top priority in her lifestyle, even giving advice to her friends for grocery shopping.
But even though she’s made a major transformation in her own appearance, Kati says fitness is much more about health than it is about looks.
“Even though I am into health and fitness, it’s not about looking like a twig model,” she said. “It’s about who you are as a person.”
To her, what makes a person sexy is “confidence and just being true to yourself.”
KATI’S CHARITY: Animal Rescue League of Iowa. The ARL is the largest nonprofit animal shelter in Iowa and cares for thousands of pets each year. Its services include pet adoption, humane education, pet behavior training and animal cruelty intervention.
With a drive and ambition to always do his best, it’s no wonder Kurtis Gabriel chose to make his living as a professional athlete. He thrives on competition, helping his team and achieving more than people expect.
Hailing from Ontario, Canada, Kurtis is currently in his second year with the Iowa Wild hockey team. He’s been playing since he was about 5 years old — though he started skating even earlier.
“My mom put me in figure skating to teach me to skate, and I think that’s kind of funny now that I’m a big, tough hockey player,” he said. “I’m the type of player who looks out for my teammates, and I do a little bit of fighting. I’m a very physical type of player.”
The grueling schedule and injuries can take a toll, but Kurtis said he is motivated to keep playing and working hard.
“I want to play in the top league in the world for my favorite sport in the world,” he said. “I want to set up my family for the future with a good living and let them be able to do anything they want, just like my mom was able to allow me to do anything I wanted. And then (I’m motivated) just to prove everybody wrong.”
As a “late bloomer in hockey,” Kurtis said he didn’t necessarily grow as early as some of the other players, but he’s worked hard at honing his skills and has learned to shut out the negativity. And since he has gained more confidence over the years, he knows that’s exactly the trait that makes people sexy.
“I think confidence is the biggest thing, and being sure of yourself and loving yourself first,” said Kurtis. “If you can’t do that, you can’t do many things.”
KURTIS’ CHARITY: Defending the Blue Line. The mission of Defending the Blue Line is to ensure the children of military members are given an opportunity to participate in hockey. The charity provides free equipment, access to summer camps and grants to help with local association fees to children in military families. CV