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ROTARY CLUB NEWS: Bob Hanna’s 30-year Rotary journey

November 23, 2017
By BOB HANNA - Lake Placid Rotary Club , Lake Placid News

My Rotary journey started in 1987 when I joined the Schenectady-East Rotary club.

Over the past 30 years, I've visited over 100 different clubs on four continents. Some visits were organized to engage other clubs in a project my club was spearheading while other visits were associated with my various roles as Membership Chair and Area Governor. Or, they were just a simple visit when my wife, Suzanne, and I were on vacation.

I learned that each club has its own personality, and develops unique projects to serve their community.

Article Photos

The Lake Placid Rotary club recently honored Bob Hanna with a distinguished award for his relentless, ongoing volunteer work for the club.
(Photo provided)

One of the more inspiring visits was to a club in Colorado Springs. This extremely active 65-member club, together with the local Lions club had just completed delivering 220 wheelchairs to help kids at risk in Peru. Through various fundraisers, they had raised approximately $35,000, and 11 members actually went to Peru to deliver them.

On my second visit to the same club, I learned about their annual hike up Pikes Peak (approximately 14,000 feet) to carry the New Year's fireworks. This traditional hike has a long waiting list of eager participants who want to help the community enjoy a spectacular fireworks display.

In 1998, a Rotary group from South Africa came to visit our club on a "Friendship Tour" of New England. This tour sparked an interest for Suzanne and I to join up with Rotarians from around the world to participate in other Friendship tours. Over the years we have had the good fortune to join four separate trips, visiting Croatia, Peru, South Africa and China.

During a two-week tour of South Africa, we visited four different Rotary clubs, but the Cape Town club particularly impressed me. Our visit on Dec. 7 coincided with the anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor. They lit a peace candle and a senior member spoke about the South African reaction to this significant event. Their club's biggest fundraiser also touched me - a bike race that raised over $50,000 to help various local community projects.

When we visited China in 2006, there were only two established Rotary clubs. The president of the Beijing club shared with me that the Chinese government didn't know how to deal with not-for-profit organizations, plus, they didn't like the fact that that each club has the freedom to work independently. (Rotary has over 35,000 clubs worldwide.) At the time, membership comprised citizens with dual nationality, rather than local citizens. Now there are eleven chartered clubs in China.

Here are a few traditions that fascinate me about our local clubs. The Saranac Lake Rotary club, starts each meeting by singing both the Canadian and U.S. national anthems.

The small but extremely productive hands-on AuSable Forks Rotary club, end their meeting with the Pledge of Allegiance. This past Columbus Day weekend, they installed a new roof on the kiosk in the center of town.

Finally, my own Lake Placid Rotary club was chartered in 1995. Over the years, the club has funded multiple local projects, including helping to build the Shipman Youth Center, upgrading several local parks, and supporting the local educational literacy programs.

Our main annual fundraisers, the Dam Duck Race in June and two annual Trivia nights in the spring and fall, provide over $20,000 a year which we distribute to local agencies.

Service above self is the core Rotary motto, and this is something I saw throughout my travels around the world.



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