In truth, this story dates back to 1983 when Lisa and Abel Hernandez were serving in the U.S. Air Force overseas. For a little R & R, the couple traveled to Madrid, Spain, to see a Supertramp Concert featuring Roger Hodgson in an unforgettable performance live on stage. Abel said he’s been following Hodgson’s career ever since.
Now retired from the Air Force and living in Beaver Creek, Ohio, near Dayton, Abel is a career and leadership coach and Lisa is employed at Wright Patterson Air Force Base.
Earlier this year Abel noticed online that the singer/musician who entertains internationally would be performing at Ribfest in Naperville, Ill.
“Where’s Naperville?” he remembered thinking while PN talked with him on Saturday after he’d finished volunteering for a 6-hour shift in the Beer Tent in the Sponsors’ Area.
“If Hodgson is performing, Ribfest must be a something huge,” he said.
The couple found Naperville on a map and determined it was about a five-hour drive from Dayton. They also looked further into the festival hosted by the Exchange Club of Naperville and were touched by the service club’s mission to help prevent child abuse and domestic violence.
After making unsuccessful attempts to purchase tickets online, they finally connected with Annmarie Siwik who assisted in the process and sent them tickets.
They also inquired about volunteering, creating some reasons to ponder.
Why would a couple from Ohio want to volunteer at Ribfest?
“We volunteer a lot and this seemed like a real good cause to support,” said Lisa, noting she also enjoys traveling and discovering new places.
Earlier this spring, they booked accommodations at Best Western and signed up to work two 6-hour shifts in the sponsor tent.
“We arrived Friday afternoon and took the shuttle bus system to Knoch Park,” explained Lisa. “It was a fantastic service, by the way.”
Then the couple “checked in at the Barn” and headed to help serve barbecue rib dinners with volunteers representing Loaves and Fishes that evening.
First thing Saturday morning, the couple returned to The Barn to take the Basset training course required by the Naperville Police Department in order to serve alcoholic beverages, as their volunteer assignment that afternoon was to serve beer in the sponsor area.
One thing led to the other and by the end of the shift, Exchangite Kathy MacKowiak had arranged for Positively Naperville to interview the couple from Ohio.
We quickly discovered that Lisa and Abel were as curious about this city of 145,000 and the Exchange Club of Naperville as we were about them.
By the end of the interview, Past President Emy Trotz who also led this year’s team in charge of entertainment had secured a spot in line for the Hernandez’ to meet Hodgson after his headline performance on the Navistar Main Stage Saturday night.
After a brief conversation and photos with Roger Hodgson, the couple stopped to meet Mayor George Pradel. While several photos were snapped, Lisa already was planning a trip next July to volunteer again at Ribfest.
“We hope the Exchange Club will welcome us back,” Lisa said.
An appreciative Mayor Pradel assured her they would.
Hodgson’s signature song, “Give a Little Bit,” that he performed on stage at Ribfest Saturday night with his band of incredible musicians, certainly wraps up this story of generous American spirit, don’t you think?