Above / During the 2012 Allocations Committee Luncheon in the Pavilion at Meson Sabika, Diane Simmons and Barry Greenberg, Co-Chairmen of the Exchange Club Allocations Committee, introduced 58 recipients of grants made possible by the success of Ribfest 2011. In 2017, Simmons serves as Chair of the annual four-day family Ribfest focused on the cause to prevent child abuse. (PN File Photo 2012)

Simply put, the Exchange Club of Naperville was chartered in 1987. Within a year, Ribfest, now one of the most successful fundraising events in the Midwest, was established.

Above / Members of the Exchange Club of Naperville are set for 2017 Ribfest to begin its four-day run, June 30 to July 3. “The fireworks are July 3,” said Ribfest Chair Diane Simmons, center, next to HAMilton.

Thanks to all past and present members of Exchange Club of Naperville. Thanks to all sponsors, volunteers and the entire community for your support, too! Celebrate safely, June 30 though July 3 in Knoch Park.

Just like Ribfest, Exchange Club Memories Fountain in Fredenhagen Park also is about kids!

Did you know?

  1. The Exchange Club of Naperville was chartered in September 1987.
  2. The Mission of the Exchange Club is the prevention of child abuse and domestic violence.
  3. The first Ribfest was held on Father’s Day Weekend in 1988 on Rotary Hill.
  4. Glen Ekey, former Executive Director of the Naperville Park District, brought the idea of having a Ribfest to the Exchange Club.
  5. Before the success of Ribfest in conjunction with Independence Day, the Grand Prix Go Cart Race Against Child Abuse and a 3-on -3 Basketball Tournament also were fundraising events for the Exchange Club.
  6. The Exchange Club in partnership with the City of Naperville and the Naperville Park District fund the 4th of July Fire Works.
  7. In 2012, the Exchange Club of Naperville reported it had raised more than $12 million dollars for 50-plus local charities since 1987.
  8. The Exchange Club sold commemorative bricks and granite stones for the plaza around Memories Fountain in Fredenhagen Park, raising $250,000 in a partnership with the Riverwalk Foundation.
  9. Freedom Shrines have been donated by the Exchange Club to area schools, Judd Kendall VFW Post 3873, Naperville Township and City of Naperville.
  10. The Exchange Club sponsored the Veterans Plaza on the Riverwalk.
  11. Members of he Exchange Club work together with volunteers and other service clubs to make our communities better places to live through programs in Community Service, Youth Activities, Americanism and the Prevention of Child Abuse.
  12. Junior Exchange is a program for high school students.
  13. “Give a Kid a Flag to Wave” is an annual program where Exchangites give out 10,000 American flags at the Memorial Day Parade and the Last Fling Parade.
  14. In 2017, Julia Hannon was the prize-winning name for the porky piggy that will get kids squealing and hamming it up at Ribfest, June 30 through July 3 at Knoch Park. “I chose the name HAMilton because of pigs and ‘ham,’” Julia Hannon explained, who submitted the chosen name. “And because Hamilton is a really unique play.”
  15. The Healing Field exhibited 2009 American flags on Rotary Hill to honor all military personnel and American spirit during the week of Veterans Day in November 2009.
  16. The Exchange Club of Naperville awards a student from each high school with a “Youth of the Month” scholarship and then selects one of the students as “Youth of the Year.”
  17. The Club gives an ACE Award to a high school student who has overcome diversity.
  18. The Exchange Club has sponsored Cub Scout Troop 988 for several years.
  19. The Exchange Club through the Americanism Committee recognizes at a luncheon officers that go above and beyond the duty with a Police Officer of the Year and Fire Fighter of the Year as well as honors  local citizens who display patriotism at their “One Nation Under God” Breakfast.
  20. The 2010 Ribfest was featured in a documentary of “Behind the Scenes” events.
  21. The Exchange Club via the Americanism Committee now coordinates the annual September 11th Observance held at the Memorial along the Riverwalk behind the Municipal Center, just steps from the Freedom Shrine.
  22. More than 100 people benefit each year at Christmastime through the Adopt-a-Family Program sponsored by the Community Service Committee.
  23. Ribfest 2012 featured 16 rib vendors from June 29 to July 3 at Knoch Park.
  24. George Brewer served as the first chairman in 1988 and for two Ribfests in a row. He was followed by Mike Maher (1990), Bruce Erickson (1991), Pat Burley (1992), Bill West (1993), John Krajnovich (1994), Janette Erickson (1995), Cheryle Mitchell (1996), Paul Lankenau (1997), Christine Tomczak (1998), Annmarie Siwik (1999), Fred Korb (2000), Denise Anerson (2001), Michael Maher (2002), Paul Lankenau (2003), Pat Berthold (2004), Kay Miller (2005), Anna Zimmerman (2006), Rick Grimes (2007), Don Emery (2008), Dave Harrington (2009),  Julie Lichter (2010) and Jerry Kochurka (2011).
  25. In 2012, the 25th anniversary year, 150 members actively served the Exchange Club of Naperville, and along with 4,000 Ribfest volunteers, hoped to build a better tomorrow. Mark Wright served as Ribfest Chairman.
  26. In order of leadership, Marty Walker was chairman in 2013, followed by Don DeBoo in 2014, Bob Pschirier in 2015 (And 2017 President of Exchange Club of Naperville), Jen Cavalier in 2016 and Diane Simmons in 2017. Joel Carlsen, co-sponsorship chairman for 2017, will lead 2018 Ribfest.
  27. In 1992, the Exchange Club of Naperville established Project HELP as a Center for the Prevention of Child Abuse. Focused on stopping child abuse before it happens, Project HELP supports parent education through the Parent Mentor Program. This program is supported by the Exchange Club of Naperville providing parent support and education.
  28. Joel Carlsen recently introduced Curly HAMilton, Ribfest’s first mascot, to the community along with Family Fun Area sponsor Naperville Bank and Trust.
  29. Since it was chartered in 1987, the first 29 Ribfests have raised more than $15.5 million to help eliminate child abuse and domestic violence.
  30. Toby Keith will perform on the Navistar Main Stage on June 30 to kick off the entertainment for the 30th year of Ribfest. For more info about the four-day festival, visit www.ribfest.net. Celebrate safely.

For more information, visit www.exchangeclub.org. Begin sun dances now.

—Written by Past President Emy Trotz and Past Ribfest Chairman Julie Lichter on behalf of the Exchange Club of Naperville with updates by Positively Naperville

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