The 101th Annual AMBUCS National Conference took place in Louisville, KY at the Galt House Hotel, August 2-5, 2023. Scroll down for the Conference Recap!
Conference kicked off in the afternoon of August 2nd with an exciting First Timers meeting followed by our opening night dinner. National President, Carmela Davis, welcomed over 300 AMBUCS members and prepared them for a “Magical Week” of AMBUCS impact celebration and reunion. In honor of the conference being held in Louisville, home of Churchill Downs and the Kentucky Derby, a special “Ambucky Derby” was announced. 7 “jockeys” each representing geographic regions, would compete for tickets all week, culminating in a race during Saturday’s business session. The evening finished in style with a riverboat cruise down the Ohio River. AMBUCS members put on their finest Kentucky Derby hats and enjoyed the soothing ride.
Thursday’s schedule started bright and early with the National Big Hat Club Business Meeting followed by a General Business Session. Greg Echols, from the Greater Birmingham Chapter, posted the American flag and Number 1 Superior District Governor, Bryan Jester, posted the AMBUCS flag. Diane and Lloyd Seitzer led the pledge of allegiance.
National President, Carmela Davis introduced the National Board of Directors and officially called to order the first General Session of Conference. CEO Jessica Walls introduced the ARC team, conference volunteers and began role call.
Our keynote speaker for the session was David DeSantis. David is an actor with Downs Syndrome who travels around the country sharing his inspiring message of perseverance. Set to music and incredible dance movies, David shared how he overcomes challenges and shares his gifts with the world. David left the audience with valuable lessons and demonstrated that change does really happen, even if just one person at a time.
After the session, Big Hatters rolled right into the National Big Hat Lunch and Auction. At the lunch, Luke Jackson became Big Hat President, Fina Nett, became Vice President and Terry Lanham came on board as Secretary/Treasurer. The event raised over $18,000!
The action continued Thursday afternoon with the Louisville Amtryke build. Conference attendees lined up to help prepare Amtrykes for the Great Amtryke Giveaway on Saturday. This year, 36 trykes were built for local Louisville residents.
Also on Thursday, attendees could join the annual Golf Outing, or spend the afternoon enjoying Louisville, reconnecting with old friends, and making new ones.
Friday began with Region Caucuses, where chapters received many awards, conducted region business and heard from candidates for national office.
Friday’s activities began with Region Caucuses, where chapters received awards, conducted region business and heard from candidates for national office.
At the Foundation program, National President Elect, Donna Hingtgen, recognized 29 William L White donors (gave at least $1,000) between last year’s conference and this year’s followed by recognition of Named Scholarship individuals and chapters. This award is given to those who reached the $10,000 milestone during the 2022-2023 and will now have Named scholarships in their honor or in honor or memory of a person of their choosing.
Also at the Foundation program, Kathleen Martin was named National Therapist of the Year. Kathleen holds a Doctorate degree in Physical Therapy and has gone above and beyond to educate others, support AMBUCS, and promote Amtrykes in her community.
The special guest for the Foundation program was Danielle Pruitt. Danielle has spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) and was one of Bluegrass Chapter’s first Amtryke recipients in 2017. Despite her physical challenges, Danielle has excelled academically and inspired countless people. During her speech, Danielle shared about how much her Amtryke means to her, provoking a standing ovation.
Following lunch, attendees gathered for our Education Sessions. Topics included digital chapter management and promotion, AEFT training, Amtryke updates, fundraising, growing strong chapters, and supercharging scholarships. (Visit the AMUBCS HUB to view presentations).
Immediately following the education sessions, everyone joined together for a high energy Awards Ceremony. The Achievement Awards given at this event included: Tyler Area, TX won for Newsletter, Ponca City Charity Angels won Visibility, Walker Chapter won Community Service, and Southwest Chapter, won the Charities Award with an average of $14,650 in giving per member!
On Saturday, the final day of the conference, started out with the 18th annual Trek 4 Trykes Walk-A-Thon to provide Amtrykes for riders on the AMBUCS National Wish List. Over 90 walkers enjoyed the riverside walk, sporting Christmas (AMBUCS magic) themed t-shirts! The event raised over $13,000.
At the Saturday General Business Session, Chief Executive Officer Jessica Wall presented the 2022-2023 annual report. The session culminated with the Ambucky Derby with Kelly Moore from the Conshohocken Chapter winning the race by a landslide.
Then, the afternoon so many had been waiting for arrived. The Great Amtryke Giveaway started at 1:00 p.m., and over the course of the next several hours, more than 30 Amtrykes were given away at the Galt House Hotel to riders of all ages. It was a great day, with dozens of volunteer therapists, mechanics, and runners working to fit the riders. The room was electric and emotional as AMBUCS donors, families, and community members cheered everyone on. Special thanks to the Bluegrass chapter for facilitating the giveaway with local therapists and patients.
After a short break, the evening got going with the President-Elect’s Reception, followed by the procession of national officers, and the President’s Dinner. Ambucs members were well dressed for the occasion.
The two highest AMBUCS awards were given out: Chuck Gibson (Greenbucs Chapter) won Project Manager of the Year, and Garry Tischler (Grapevine Chapter) won Ambuc of the Year.
Outgoing national, region, and district officers were thanked, and new officers were sworn in.
Then, Sergeant-at-Arms Danny Blubaugh of Enid AM Chapter gave his report to much fear and laughter. Outgoing National President Carmela Davis was recognized for her year of service and made her farewell remarks, becoming the Immediate Past National President. Donna Carlton-Vish of the Emerald Coast City Chapter, Danville Chapter and Greater Indy Chapter, was sworn in as National President- Elect. Donna Hingtgen of the Ponca City Charity Angels (Ponca City, OK) was sworn in as National President.
For her acceptance speech, National President Donna Hingtgen expressed gratitude and excitement for the year ahead before pledging to faithfully carry out her office.
Thank you to all who attended and to those who helped make this conference an success. Shoulders Together!