Cindy Shafe thought she was living in a safe community in Thousand Oaks, Calif., until a drive-by shooting prompted her and longtime boyfriend, Les Brown, get out of Dodge.
"The day after the first drive-by shooting, we decided it was time to move," Shafe said. "We put our house up for sale."
The first person who walked in the house made an offer and wanted a three-day escrow.
"We had no idea at that point where we wanted to move." Shafe said. "All we knew was that we wanted to live in the mountains in Arizona or Colorado.
Les turned to the Internet and the first town that popped up was Payson.
"He went to visit and called me and said, ‘Oh, you're going to love this place,'"
After returning home, he and Shafe got in the car and headed back to Payson -- the place they now consider home.
Nearly five years later, Shafe is the Office Manager of the Gila County Health Department, which operates five different programs from their small offices off the Beeline Highway.
"We have the Women, Infants and Children's Program, nursing, rabies control, environmental health and bioterrorism," Shafe said.
Right now, Shafe is busy working on a cause that is very dear to her -- finding a cure for breast cancer.
"I have had breast cancer run in my family and the Susan G. Komen Foundation is a great cause," Shafe said. "It's a way for me to give back to the community."
Shafe, along with Jo Johnson, District Services Coordinator for County Supervisor Ron Christensen, are promoting the Shoot for the Cure event that benefits the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation.
The Shoot for the Cure is from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Friday, Oct. 24 in the parking lot of the Gila County offices complex on Frontier Street and the Beeline Highway.
"It is open to the public all day," Shafe said. "We are raffling off prizes and there will be a basket shoot contest, a rock climbing wall, a book sale, yard sale and bake sale." Shafe said. "Bring your friends, your children -- there's something for every age!"
The event, sponsored by Gila County, will also have a mobile mammography unit and several tables of information about breast cancer and other health-related issues.
"The Payson community is really generous for any fund-raiser and we want to thank them for supporting us and the foundation," Shafe said. "We just want everyone to come down Friday -- it's going to be a fun day."
When she's not manning the health department or campaigning for a worthwhile charity, Shafe is dancing.
"She's the dancing Queen!" says Johnson.
Shafe and Brown teach country-western and swing dancing.
"We've been teaching for years, we taught at the college, but we had like 80 people of two different levels in our classes and it wasn't fair to anybody -- we decided to go out on our own and now we have a beginning and intermediate line dance class we do seven week sessions -- its $25 single, $35 couple for all seven weeks.
"Our next seven-week session starts in February," Shafe said. "If anyone is interested, they can call us at 472-4646."
Looking at the petite, doll-like Shafe, one would never suspect that her life-long dream is to be a NASCAR race driver.
"I am going to be reincarnated as a NASCAR driver," Shafe said. "I love NASCAR racing. Les and I are giving each other a trip to Daytona as a Christmas gift -- it'll be a blast."
For more information about the Shoot for the Cure, call Shafe at 474-1210 or Jo Johnson at 474-2029.
Name: Cindy Shafe
Occupation: Office Manager, Dance instructor
Employer: Gila County Division of Health and Community Services
Birthplace: Lake Arrowhead, Calif.
Family: Significant other of 8 years, retired engineer, Les Brown. Daughters, Cara, who lives in San Francisco, and Lauren, who lives in Payson and stepdaughter, Lori, is assistant manager of the Sawmill Theatres.
Personal motto: Try to respect others and their feelings.
Inspiration: Harry Chamberlain, my great-grandfather. He was a Brigadier General in the Army, and won a gold medal in the 1932 Olympics in the equestrian event. His books are still considered the authority for training horses today and he has a library named after him in Fort Oro, Calif.
Greatest feat: Raising my two wonderful, very special daughters, Cara and Lauren.
My favorite hobby or leisure activity is ... Country Western and Swing dancing.
The three words that describe me best are ... Hardworking, trustworthy and reliable.
I don't want to brag, but ... I really enjoy the Susan G. Komen fund-raiser event that Gila County supports each year.
The person in history I'd most like to meet is ... Jeff Bordon or Dale Earnhardt, Jr.
Luxury defined: Surrounded by my loving family and everyone being happy with their lives.
Dream vacation spot: The Caribbean
Why Payson? Less crime and beautiful place.