Local Chapters shine:
In Kansas City, college graduates have a ball every spring. In fact, they have two big shindigs. One is by and for Tigers (Tiger Ball), and one is by and for Jayhawks (Rock Chalk Ball). Kansas City Tigers, though outnumbered, are undaunted. “We live in Kansas City and put up with the KU talk,” says chapter president Pat Shelley, BS ME ’70 (pictured). “We’re always striving to outdo them, and we love to be in competition.”
The classic MU-KU rivalry spurs on the Kansas City Chapter of the Mizzou Alumni Association to go for broke every year. Luckily, the chapter winds up anything but broke. The Tiger Ball raises about $55,000 a year for MU student scholarships. The chapter also stages an annual picnic that raises about $35,000 a year. Between these two events, the group is always well on its way to raising about $100,000 annually for Mizzou students.
Shelley says that volunteers organize much more than fundraisers. There are social events, such as watch parties and bus trips to football games, and there are service projects, such as food drives and blood drives. “I’d like to see us do even more,” Shelley says. “I think we’ve barely scratched the surface.”
Take that, Ike
When Hurricane Ike swept through Houston on Sept. 13, local chapter President Natalie Birdwell, BS IE ’04, had to evacuate her apartment, but she kept her plans for the association’s Leaders Weekend in Columbia Sept. 18.
That can-do attitude comes in handy as she helps build a chapter in the nation’s fourth-largest city. For instance, planning a sports watch party in a small town typically involves just one venue. “Most of the time now, we hold three watch parties for the same game,” Birdwell says. “Our goal was that nobody would have to drive more than 30 minutes to get there.”
During the past year, the Houston chapter has set its sights on increasing the number of young alumni members. “The way we teed it up was, ‘Hey, kickball sounds like a lot of fun. We can reach a wider group than softball.’ In the e-mail blast to get it going, we told everyone that athletic ability is optional.
“People started calling their friends, and now we have nonalumni on the team, too. Houston is huge, but there’s just six degrees of separation from Mizzou.”
The best of Bates
Ritchie Davis, BS Ag ’78, lives about 60 miles south of Kansas City in Adrian, Mo., a small town that sits in Bates County (population 17,000). Though near Kansas City, Bates is a rural county with many farms. And it’s a Mizzou stronghold — the chapter boasts the highest percentage of association members per capita. Some of them are not even graduates of MU.
Davis and others founded the chapter in 1995, and it’s a close-knit group. “We work hard and we play hard in support of the University,” he says. The chapter not only runs raffles, golf tournaments and auctions to give a $1,000 scholarship each year, but it also donates to a local food bank and recruits local high school students to Mizzou.
The work pays off for Mizzou and for the county. At a recent event, Davis noticed three generations of Mizzou graduates in attendance. “I grew up in Adrian, went to school at Mizzou and moved back home,” he says. “Several other of our members have done just that. We have a really good mix.”
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