Evel Knievel was a daredevil whose energy overflowed into multiple personas. As a young man, he found that the high school experience just didn’t stack up to the thrill of motorcycle wheelies. He also found himself in jail. There, on a charge for reckless driving, he formed an identity based on his cell mate’s nickname, Awful Knofel. Upon release and the birth of his first child, Evel concocted his boxes-of-rattlesnakes-jumping career to support his wife and son. Evel Knievel was a lover of family and a wrangler of fellow daredevils. And Cindy Knebel, project manager, is no different.
Just to clear the air: Cindy has not been to jail. But as a child, she lived as several different characters. O’Fallon, Missouri and her 14 female cousins had the pleasure of knowing Cindy, Bobby and T-Bone. With some hair extensions expertly placed under the bill of a ball cap, Bobby strutted around his aunts’ homes, hitting on the cousins. T-Bone is best described as the Looney Tunes’ tasmanian devil who would yell his own name and holler out of car windows.
Even when Cindy was just Cindy, she had another role to play: her sister’s voice. 5 years her senior, Aimée was thrilled when she got a gregarious younger sibling. She loved to see what she could get Cindy to say to strangers while she got to remain safe and shy.
Favorite dare phrases were, “Hi, how’s your family” and “Oh, you’re a handsome man.”
Cindy’s 14 all girl cousins grew up together in the St. Louis area like a flock of exotic birds: each one different with Cindy smack dab in the middle. They’d visit each other’s houses frequently; especially their beloved Grandpa’s. While they all bore witness to Cindy’s personas in smaller doses, her tight-knit family got to meet them every day. And they loved every bit of it. See, Cindy’s immediate family of four was so close, they had a clap your hands until Dad comes home song. And Cindy still visits her parents every week.
Through most of Cindy’s childhood, her mother split her time selling perfume for Ralph Lauren and staying home with Cindy. Cindy visited the hospital every year of her life until she was a junior in high school. Because when Cindy got sick, it took an army to get her better. Prescribed oral medicine was mystifyingly ignored by her body. So a cold that would take her sister days to kick took Cindy weeks, then a trip to the ER, then several IV drips. Needless to say, her mother’s flexible work schedule came in handy.
Her father was busy as a union glazer. He worked with glass and mirrors, which has led him to create what Cindy thinks is the coolest garage ever. “I hate the word man cave, but that’s what it is. There’s finished walls, cable, a heater. That’s also where his at-home work station is.” Cindy remembers visiting one of his installations at what was the new Mid Rivers Mall in St. Peters. Her father had invited her and her mother to find his latest work in the food court. Upon finding it, they looked up and he was waving at them from atop the glass ceiling he’d installed.
And that was life for young Cindy. Using her child-sized hammer to imitate her father working, embodying the spirit of many human beings, and punctuating every day with dance. Dance kept Cindy in line. Ballet specifically is a dance of discipline, and Cindy had one teacher who made her take tests to memorize French phrases for all the movements. In between dance competitions and classes, Cindy gained flexibility by doing the splits during commercial breaks. She got so flexible that she once kicked herself in the back of her head. This forced her ribs forward into a wall mirror, and the impact fractured two of them. Whoops.
Then came senior year of high school. Cindy took stock of her life and chose to find her footing at a community college upon graduation. She hated it at first, as is the case with so many of us. But after 3 successful years, she transferred to Southeast Missouri State University. Why? She didn’t know anyone there… but that had never stopped Cindy, who’d spent a lifetime talking to strangers at the urging of her sister. Who, speaking of, inspired Cindy to major in Public Relations.
All the pieces of her future career fell into place when she ended up doing her senior project for a digital advertising agency, Element 74. She had an account team internship lined up at Paradowski, but Element 74 was so taken with her college presentation, they offered her a full-time position as a digital project manager. The catch? The company was in Cape Girardeau, which Cindy knew nothing about. Clearly, that wasn’t a factor for Miss Fearless. She took the position.
There, she learned about web design, site building and project management. She put on her game face and faked it until she made it, which was quite quickly. Bobby and T-Bone had prepared her for wearing many hats within a single day. After almost two years, Paradowski saw Cindy on their radar again—this time, for a role that fit her like a glove. And today, we’re happy to say she’s part of our crazy team.
In the last minutes of her interview, Cindy announces that her sister has just asked her to be her Maid of Honor. Cindy gushes that it’s going to be the coolest wedding ever, and it will end with her gaining another sister and twin nephews.
She pauses, asks if she’s given enough information on her life, and ends by saying, “You can always just mention that my mom’s #1.”