News & Stories

The 2014 Annual Meeting: a Celebration of an Exciting Year

20141013_120735 (Medium)“This was the best annual meeting yet!” exclaimed Executive Director John Munger after this year’s meeting on Tuesday, October 14. Mother Nature helped again with a beautiful fall evening. More than 65 Loppet members made their way to Theodore Wirth Park to enjoy the at-peak fall foliage to catch up with friends and fellow members to learn more about what the Loppet Foundation accomplished in 2014 and has planned for 2015 and beyond.

The evening started with an energetic pole hike within the park allowing both new and long-time Loppet supporters to collectively appreciate one of the city’s most valuable assets and learn more about plans for the adventure and welcome center in Theodore Wirth Park. After attendees grabbed a quick bite to eat the evening’s official meeting commenced.

20141014_182111 (Medium)“Exceeding expectations” was a theme that resonated through all of the presentations. Head Coach and Loppet Nordic Racing Director Piotr Bednarski noted several times in his remarks that he and his team did not set out to build a program that had nearly 200 junior-level athletes or to become national champions as they did in 2014; they just focused on working hard and doing their best, exceeding expectations through excellence. And we did not intend the City of Lakes Loppet Ski Festival to grow to 11,000 people as it did this past year; it just happened over the years because so many people came together to make it happen.

Hall of Fame Inductees

Hall of Fame Inductees
Hall of Fame Inductees
The Loppet Foundation honored six of those individuals as inductees to its “Hall of Fame.” The recognition includes having one’s name etched for all eternity on a silver plate mounted on a wooden ski. Recognized for their depth of involvement, impact, longevity and “Loppet Spirit,” these individuals are visionaries, role-models and leaders who through their hard work and dedication have allowed the Loppet to become what is is today. A special thank you goes out again to this year’s Hall of Fame inductees: Bruce Adelsman, Tom Anderson, Connie Baillie, Mary Luoma, Jeff Richards and RT Rybak.

Program Committee and Organizational Reports

20141014_191336 (Medium)Introduced by Board Member Mindy Benton, M.D., the Loppet Foundation program directors and Executive Director John Munger updated the attendees on each of the organization’s four areas: Adventures, Events, Stewardship and Loppet Nordic Racing. Adventures Director Anthony Taylor highlighted the addition of several Minne-Loppet schools for a total of eight schools, the inaugural season of the Northeast Middle School Ski & Bike Team and the formation of a network of middle school teams and efforts to better engage the families of the youth we are serving in our programs.

Events Director Mike Erickson shared the success of the first Salomon CITYTRAIL Loppet and noted that this event made it official that the Loppet Foundation now has an event in every season. Mike also emphasized that the City of Lakes Loppet Ski Festival had had four locations in four years and happily announced that the weekend-long event found its home on the shores of Lake Calhoun. He also brought up Luminary Loppet Lead David Bryant and shared the news that a picture of the Luminary Loppet was included in Time Magazine’s “Healthiest Places to Live issue” for healthy places to age and won a local award for the area’s greatest spaces.

Munger then discussed the partnership efforts with the Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board (MPRB) over the years and shared the exciting developments with the adventure and welcome center planned for Theodore Wirth Park. Finally, Bednarski discussed our efforts to become an official USSA Certified Club and our efforts to certify our coaches. He noted that we have more certified coaches than any other club in the nation. He also shared the exciting news that the 2014 Men’s, Women’s and Overall club were the National Club Champions at the Junior Nationals.

After the program reports Treasurer Scott Gislason shared the financials and highlighted all of the work that the organization has done to organize and improve its reporting, recognizing the efforts the bookkeeper, Sherri Clysdale. He noted that few people pause to recognize but in this case it was warranted! When the room applauded the treasurer’s report Board President Bill Blazar noted that he has rarely seen a meeting where anyone clapped after the financial report!

20141014_204427 (Medium)Finally, Munger shared all of the improvements with the internal capacity, noting that when he started out with the organization he would not have had any idea what that even would have meant! Today it means that the Loppet Foundation has a strong contact management database, financial controls, a warehouse space, a development department and administrative support in addition to the program directors who are leading the various areas of the organization. He also highlighted that all of the work in this area led to the Charities Review Council’s certification that the Loppet Foundation meets its high standards as a nonprofit organization. The process took two+ years to complete but is an important step in our development as an organization.

Board Elections and Poster Unveiling

One of the final orders of business was to confirm the slate of candidates for the board of directors. The Loppet members in attendance confirmed Leroy Leftwich for a second three-year term as well as new board members JJ Haywood and Benton. All expressed excitement for their work with the organization in their role as leaders of the organization.

Joseph Duffy of Duffy & Partners revealed the 2015 City of Lakes Loppet Ski Festival poster to great awe and applause from the audience. Duffy noted that the designer who created this year’s poster was Cody Petts, an intern at the firm, and is “one of the quickest designers” that Duffy has ever seen. Needless to say, he is now a full-time designer on the team! Duffy also shared pictures of the hats that people will be wearing for special designations from “Founders” to 10+ Loppet participants.

We are looking forward to another successful year as the organization continues to grow and expand and exceed expectations through excellence, hard work – and our amazing group of supporters, volunteers and members!

Onward to winter!