To say our 99th year was a busy one would be an understatement. It very well may have been our busiest year to date. So, as we prepare to celebrate our 99th Birthday in January 2024 and kick-off Celebrating our 100th Year as an American Business Club Chapter, let’s reflect on what this past year looked like.
We kicked off 2023 with our Annual Meeting with special guest, National AMBUCS President, Carmela Davis. Her comments included swearing in our New Chapter President, Geno Koehler. January didn’t slow down there. We also had a 12-tryke AmTryke Giveaway with Brandt Agriculture providing sponsorship. The AmTrykes were decked out with AmTryke decals and logos, resembling the Brandt Sponsored NASCAR! Add in our Annual Holiday Party, a Happy Hour, and the 100-Year Celebration Committee Kick-Off Meeting, and we had a pretty full month of activities – and the year had just begun.
February through July promised to keep us busy as well. Annual events to include our Super Bowl Party; our Big Hatters supporting the “Caddy Shack Frozen Open” Putt-Putt fund raiser; participating in the Annual Springfield St Patrick’s Day Parade (and this year, ABC of Springfield was the chosen charity to receive donations); Grants Committee Giveaway in April provided 18 local charities with $72,300; our Annual Crawfish Boil; our Annual Kentucky Derby Party; and our Annual Smoke-Off. In addition, in April, ABC of Springfield hosted the Central Region Conference, which turned out to be a great success that was well attended. During the conference, the attendees were treated to an AmTryke giveaway, bringing smiles and excitement to the faces of several young kids and as well as to 2 Veteran recipients.
While our Annual events bring our members and their families together for tons of fun, our business focus continued with our bi-weekly Board of Directors meetings and our bi-weekly business lunches. And committees such as our Illinois State Fair Admissions & Parking Committee and Grand Stand Committee were busy with planning for their respective 2023 Illinois State Fair missions. Our AmTryke Committee kept busy helping school therapists maintain their AmTrykes and answering individual calls from various recipients with minor adjustments and repairs to their trykes. And our Scholarship Committee accepted, reviewed, and awarded physical/occupational therapy students with a total of $5,000 in scholarships. Throw in a handful of Happy Hours, a couple Rookie-focused gatherings, to include Rookie Orientation to the Illinois State Fair, and a few Big Hat events, and well, not a week went by that didn’t have something ABC of Springfield-related happening.
Aside from our “normal” activities, we had a few efforts that we don’t often engage in. We had one of our AmTryke recipients looking for help with a wheelchair, which membership jumped in and funded completely and a member that needed assistance with an access ramp, with more than a dozen members jumping in and making it happen. And when our community needed our assistance, we answered the call. Following a late June severe weather event (Derecho) that caused a long-term power outage, we supported through assisting residence clear out and dispose of spoiled food. And then in late July, we helped the local YMCA and the City of Springfield by handing out 4 pick-up truck-loads of fresh sweet corn to those in need.
With State Fair planning wrapping up, a small contingent headed to Louisville and represented ABC of Springfield at the 2023 National AMBUCS Conference. A couple notables from this years’ conference includes Luke Jackson being sworn in as the National Big Hat President and Trenton Thompson becoming a member of the National AmTryke Advisory Board.
August 9-21 brought us our “Busy” time with the Illinois State Fair. The Admissions & Parking Committee managed 15,500 volunteer hours, ensuring that the visitors to the state fair experience began with the First Face of Fun. The Grandstand Committee managed 7,500 volunteer hours, ensuring Grandstand Event attendees kept cool with bottled water and adult beverages. In addition, we held an AmTryke Giveaway, providing 11 AmTrykes; hosted an ABC of Springfield Past-Presidents Day; and a Big Hat’s Day for our Big Hatters all at the Illinois State Fair.
Following an exhausting 11 days of the State Fair, the day came for our Charity Group volunteers to reap the rewards for their efforts. Charities Day seen us award 63 charities with $107,775!
Recovery time always seems to pass by quickly for ABC of Springfield, as we get back to our bi-weekly Board Meetings and Business Lunches; Happy Hours; a Blood Drive; and a few more of our Annual Events to close out the year. In October we held our Annual Chili Cook-Off, including the drawing for our 3rd Annual Bourbon Barrel Raffle. This years’ drawing included not only the chance to win a barrel with 42 bottles of bourbon but also a chance for an African Safari Hunt. Later in the month, we held our Annual Halloween Party, with the theme bringing out, “Arrggh”, a Bounty of Pirates and Dames!
Scattered through-out the year, another past-time favorite of club members is the game of golf. This year we placed foursomes in several golf outings to include: Our Regional Conference Golf Outing; Heart of Wes Barr Charity Golf Outing; Boys & Girls Club of Central Illinois Golf Outing; the National AMBUCS Conference Golf Outing; and the Champaign AMBUCS Chapter Golf Outing.
Shew, what a year we have had! And 2024 doesn’t look like it will slow down. The 100-year Anniversary Committee has developed an incredible agenda with a 100-Year Focused Event each month of the year. And January 2025 will bring the celebration of celebrations as we hold our 100-Year Anniversary Party!
Every Day is a Great Day to be an AMBUC!
Trenton Thompson, Secretary