By Joe Kreitz, Immediate Past President
The work the Ridgefield Rotary Club has done in the past few months on behalf of the deserving service organizations in our town is indeed something of which we can all be very proud. In January we held the 15th annual Taste of Ridgefield. Just when we thought it might be running out of gas after 15 years, we made more money than we had for the previous 5 years, about $30k. This was followed by the Ridgefield Gone Country BBQ Festival in early May . We’ve never done anything like this before and nothing of this magnitude has ever been undertaken in our town before. We ended up making about $40K, which we shared with the Community Center.
All the money we make on these events goes back 100% into the community in the form of grants to local worthy organizations. We touched over 30 organizations, did Amber Alerts and gave scholarships and youth awards. The project we have underway right now, Fly The Colors, in partnership with the Marine Corps League, is really catching on. All profits from this project will go to help meet the needs of returning veterans. The wonderful Gift of Life campaign raised enough money to save at least two lives of children with congenital heart defects, who otherwise would have died, while memorializing two young lives so tragically lost at Sandy Hook.
Given all this local activity, one might think we’ve overlooked support of our wonderful worldwide Rotary Foundation. Such is not the case .
Please see Bev’s note at the end of the second page.
Retro Jeopardy! Panel
from Show’s Website
7/23/2014 SIMON COOPER
8/6/2014 SIMON COOPER
8/13/2014 CLIFF HEIDINGER
8/27/2014 BILL I.
9/3/2014 EILEEN IMPARATO
9/17/2014 CHRIS NOLAN
9/24/2014 ANGELO TARTARO
10/1/2014 TAMARA EVANS
10/8/2014 MARK ZECK
10/15/2015 JOE ELLIS
10/22/2014 SIMON COOPER
10/29/2014 JIM FINKLEA
Rotarians like to have fun. More specifically, they like to eat. For confirmation see these items about the BBQ Festival and Taste of Ridgefield and annual picnic and Progressive Dinner.
Thus, it is with both hungry anticipation and more than a little bittersweet regret that the Ridgefield Rotary Club is planning to move its weekly dinner meeting effective the first week in August 2014 to Bartolo’s Restaurant.
For several years the Club has been meeting at The Bar & Grille On 7. Club members have had nothing but gratitude and praise for the excellence of the food and the efficient and accommodating service at B&G. However, we have outgrown the meeting space that the restaurant is able to provide.
Many of the Club’s members have, of course, dined at Bartolo’s [link]and the restaurant has participated in our Taste of Ridgefield event in the past. So, Rotary members fully expect to continue to enjoy excellent meals at our weekly meetings.”
Raising Funds – To Help Others
Building on the success of the 2014 Ridgefield Gone Country BBQ Festival, Ridgefield Rotary President Rich Vazzana and the event’s Co-Chair Cliff Heidinger announced plans for 2015 to expand the event’s central feature, the Kansas City Barbecue Society (“KCBS”) sanctioned Barbecue Contest, to admit up to 30 teams to the competition. The 2014 event had 17 competing teams. The 2015 BBQ Festival will continue as a joint venture of the Ridgefield Rotary and Ridgefield Community Center. Rich currently serves as President of both. Under KCBS rules, admitting at least 25 contestants will enhance the event’s attraction and interest by making the contest a state championship event. Points earned by the winners will count towards eligibility for the Jack Daniels Invitational. The Jack Daniels event is the “World Cup,” “World Series” and “Super Bowl” of the competitive but taste-full universe of serious barbecue competition.
The Ridgefield BBQ Festival is operated entirely by unpaid volunteers. The Festival wraps loads of family-friendly fun around the contest including rides, games, live country music bands and food, lots and lots of food. Funds raised by the event benefit the Community Center and Rotary’s support of community organizations, its scholarship program and humanitarian projects.
Gift of Life International, a Rotarian sponsored organization, provides children all over the world, with congenital heart disease, a chance to receive a lifesaving procedure that is performed at the discounted rate of about $6000. This implausible price is because of the generosity of many hospitals and pediatric surgeons. Recently, Rotary clubs across Connecticut were challenged to raise enough money to pay for the cost of 20 pediatric heart surgeries in honor of the 20 children from Newtown whose hearts sadly stopped beating on December 14, 2012.
The Rotary Club of Ridgefield has made the commitment to raise the funds to pay for one of those $6,000 heart surgeries.
One of our members, Kathy Graham, found the symbolism behind this project to be extremely moving. She asked Fairfield County Bank, her employer, if they would like to be involved with the project. They agreed that if we can raise $3,000 in one week, that they would match it. June 9th is the beginning of that week. Collection boxes will be in all of our 18 Fairfield County Bank branches as well as our Operations Center and Fairfield County Bank Insurance locations. On Friday, June 13th we are having our first ever Dress Down Day where employees will pay $5.00 for the privilege of wearing jeans to work!!
If you would like to contribute to this project we hope you will stop by. Checks should be payable to the Rotary Club of Ridgefield. If you can’t make it in this week, and would still like to participate, you can mail a check to her attention at Kathy Graham, Fairfield County Bank 374 Main Street Ridgefield, CT 06877.
What we are really excited about is that this campaign will last for just one week. But when the week is done, we get to go home knowing we have saved a child’s life. What could be better than that!!