2019 Louisville Centennial Celebration Convention
A Convention 100 Years in the Making
More than 1,300 Optimists attended the International Convention in Louisville, including Club Members, Officers, and Junior Optimist International delegates.
The Optimist Centennial featured heavily in the convention’s events, starting with the dedication of a historical marker at the site of the original Convention in 1919. The marker sits at Fourth and Market streets, in front of the Kentucky International Convention Center, where the Tyler Hotel once stood.
Watch a video of the dedication here.
Opening ceremonies on Sunday night started with an interactive timeline. Time-travelers inspired by Back to the Future, and played by President Rebecca Butler Mona's Family guided the audience through the decades of Optimism. Starting with the 1920s, participants appeared in period dress to highlight the successes of Optimism while placing them in the context of world events.
Monday’s business session began with inspiration from President Rebecca Butler Mona. During the 2018-2019 year, Optimist International added 60 new adult Clubs and 40 JOI Clubs, along with expansions in Nepal, Uruguay and several African countries, she said.
“What you do as Optimists absolutely makes a difference, whether it’s to one or to many,” she said. “Sometimes we get to see the beaming face of a proud child who caught their first fish, or who was recognized as student of the month.”
Monica Hardin, a Louisville news anchor and Oratorical Contest winner, provided the day’s keynote address. She described her similar philosophy to the Optimist Creed when confronting her own life’s challenges.
“We’re always going to have obstacles of some sort, but you all choose to face them with Optimism,” said Hardin, an anchor at the city’s WLKY.
Tuesday’s business session featured a multimedia presentation by Jeff Hanson, a Kansas City artist with a business model of “philanthropy first.” Jeff and his parents, Julie and Hal, discussed their family’s challenges, which included Jeff’s childhood cancer diagnosis and vision loss. However, Jeff persevered as a painter and found success.
“Fanatical optimism wins,” Jeff Hanson said. “Every act of kindness helps create kinder communities, more compassionate nations and a better world for all – even one painting at a time.”
In addition to meeting and having fun, Optimists and Junior Optimists also organized service projects. Optimists collected art supplies for the Cabbage Patch Settlement House, which provides programs and services for children in Louisville to help them build self-esteem and a sense of responsibility.
The Convention also reaffirmed the Optimist International Foundation’s commitment to childhood cancer research. The OI Foundation presented a $100,000 check to the Johns Hopkins Department of Pediatric Oncology for research in cancer. In addition, the Pony Scouts Junior Optimist Club of Bonita presented their own check to Johns Hopkins for $8,600.
During the closing business session, President Designate Adrian Elcock introduced his family, including his wife Ann, and daughter Sanaa, as well as discussing his family’s background in Barbados. Elcock’s priorities for his year as president include updating Optimist International’s communications and marketing efforts, and a new approach to Club Building.
“My simple theme for 2019–2020 is iMagine,” President Designate Adrian Elcock said. “We must re-imagine the financial, marketing and operational platforms of Optimist International to become the premier volunteer organization of the world.”
With the Louisville setting, horses and the Kentucky Derby were popular themes. President Butler Mona evoked the Derby theme during her closing remarks, as she thanked members for their hard work and encouraged them to keep it up during the final months of the Optimist year.
“l’ll ask each of you to promise yourself to bring your personal best to everything you do,” she said. “Let’s make the most of our final stretch and leave our mark on history.”