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Archive for Saturday, April 23, 2005

Chamber of Commerce award: Wally Galluzzi Volunteer of the Year

Helping others lifelong habit for banker

April 23, 2005

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Volunteering has been ingrained in Ryan Wedel's psyche since childhood.

He remembers his late grandfather, Ben Goertz, devoting more than 35 years as mayor of Durham in central Kansas.

"His top priority was always Durham," said Wedel, a vice president at Central National Bank, 2321 Harper St. "He would be hanging Christmas lights, cleaning streets and did whatever it took. He wanted to make Durham the best place to live. That definitely has been something that has carried over to me."

Advice from his mother, Cindy, an Abilene banker, also has carried over.

"She always told me, especially when I started, your first priority is to help build a community," he said. "I definitely took that to heart."

Indeed. Wedel has been named the Lawrence Chamber of Commerce's 2005 Wally Galluzzi Volunteer of the Year Award winner. He is involved in Big Brothers Big Sisters, Red Dog Days, Jayhawk Rotary Club, and fund-raising committees for Cottonwood Inc.'s golf tournament and Salute!

"I enjoy them all for different reasons," the 29-year-old Wedel, a Big Brother since 2003, said of his volunteer activities. "Big Brothers Big Sisters is an organization that I strongly believe in. There are so many young children that are great, great kids that just need a positive influence in their lives."

Wedel is a group leader at Red Dog Days, a summer conditioning program.

"Sports and athletics have always been a big part of my life," said Wedel, a member of Abilene High School's Class 4A state championship basketball team in 1992. "It's an easy transition for me to do Red Dog Days, and I enjoy it."

Wedel, a 1997 Emporia State graduate with a finance degree, has been at Central National Bank since 1997. He started out as summer teller and is now predominantly a commercial lender for the bank.

Bank president Brad Chindamo supports employees' volunteer efforts, Wedel said.

"I'm lucky to have Central National Bank let me leave for volunteer activities," Wedel said. "There are a lot of organizations that say, 'Hey, you're going to be behind your desk for 40 hours a week.' Brad Chindamo encourages us to get involved, and more importantly to get involved in stuff we truly believe in."

Chindamo, who has known Wedel since his childhood days in Abilene, has worked with him for seven years.

"Ryan has always showed tremendous leadership in his volunteer efforts here at Central National Bank," Chindamo said. "His selection for this award is much deserved. It is rare to find a young man with as much integrity, enthusiasm and passion for people."

Wedel is involved in several chamber events. He was chairman of the envoy committee in 2004, a member of the young professionals network committee in 2004-2005, a member of the Big Chill Golf Tournament committee in 2003 and chamber membership team captain in 2004.

"He's involved in a lot of different things," said Cathy Lewis, the chamber's vice president for membership. "He's always there to help when we need him. Anytime we need help, he can give us a hand or find people to help. He can really rally the troops. He's a great chamber supporter. He truly believes in the organization."

The volunteer award is named for Wally Galluzzi, president of Haskell Indian Junior College from 1970 to 1981. He was a former chamber board member and tireless volunteer.

"I didn't know him, but he's pretty much a legend for his volunteer efforts, whether it was through the chamber or in the community," said Wedel, who will receive the volunteer award Fridayat the Leadership Lawrence celebration.

Volunteering has become a lifelong habit for Wedel.

"When you love a community, it's pretty easy to get involved and want to see it progress," he said. "I'm very proud to say I'm from Lawrence and doing things for the chamber is very easy because I enjoy doing it."

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