HOISINGTION — The Hoisington Chamber of Commerce celebrated it’s annual banquet on Saturday, announcing the Citizens of the Year, Duane and Debbie Reif, and recognizing them for their work with Kans for Kids.
"Thank God for allowing us to be a part of 25 lives," said Debbie Reif, of the children with cancer. "This honor belongs to those kids. They will forever be our heroes.
"We inherited Kans for Kids from our children who have moved on to make their own lives," she said. "Thank both of you for your gift of Kans for Kids." She also thanked the community.
"Please continue to pray for these kids and their families, and to pray for a cure," she added.
The organization began in the early 1990s when Sarah Reif Bricker and Shane Reif, the children of Debbie and Duane Reif had a cousin, Katie Schwartz, who developed cancer. Wanting to help Schwartz, who was 9-months-old, Shane and Sarah asked if they could collect cans to raise money. Over time, they were asked to support other children with cancer, and the Kans for Kids organization has grown since then.
Duane was also past-president of the chamber and was recognized for his work. During his speech, he listed chamber accomplishments during the last year. Some of the accomplishments include groundbreaking for the new hotel, the Mud Run, Labor Day celebration, Byway marketing, various retail promotions, and adding various other new chamber members.
He thanked committees, organizations, businesses and other volunteers for their work, as well as individuals.
Nancy Farmer, COC Ambassadors Club, also thanked many businesses and volunteers throughout the community. Those receiving community awards were: Education Award, Roosevelt Elementary; Business Award, Cardinal Pharmacy; Business Award, First Class Auto Design; Community Service Award, Meals on Wheels; Health Award, David McMillon, DVM; Special Award, Jenny Landers; Community Service Award, Hoisington Trolley Drivers; and Youth Activities Award, USD 431.
The new chamber president is Pat Horton.
"I have very large shoes to fill," said Horton of her new position. "I only hope I can do half as good a job as he (Duane) does."
Horton grew up in Hoisington and while she had the opportunity to move, she chose to raise her family in Hoisington. She encouraged the group to "shop local first and work together to bring in new businesses."
The 2011 board of directors in addition to Horton are: Gene Mooney, first vice-president; Brian Wilborn, second vice-president; Jim Carney, secretary-treasurer; Duane Reif, past president; and Merri Breit, Tina Rose, Karen Van Brimmer, Randy Miller, Leon Steiner, Tony Szot and Brenda Wetzel.
The M & M Sisters from Smith Center provided entertainment.