Story by Emily Robertson
The Kiwanis Club of Bowling Green is changing the world one child at a time by investing in more than 30 non-profits that directly serve children and young adults. The organization chartered in 1923 is the oldest civic organization in Bowling Green, and currently has more than 110 members.
Kiwanis meetings take place each Wednesday at the First Christian Church in downtown Bowling Green and include entertaining and informative programs, fellowship and fun. Kiwanis of Bowling Green President Danette Idlett is proud of the community and youth-oriented projects that Kiwanis members support each year directly impacting children living in our city.
"It can be depressing to see media coverage of such terrible news all over the world and sometimes it feels like there is very little we can do to make an impact,” Idlett says. “We can, however, help the children in our community by supporting organizations such as CASA, the Boys and Girls Club and Junior Achievement.”
Danette, how did you personally become involved in Kiwanis?
I joined the club in 2010 simply because I wanted to find a civic organization that actually did work in the community and made a difference. It was referred to as the “hardest working civic club in town.”
What are your biggest events each year?
In Bowling Green, Kiwanis is responsible for two major community, family, and youth-oriented projects. Thunderfest is our annual Independence Day celebration, going strong since 1972 which will take place this year on July 1. The event includes concessions, live music, children’s activities, inflatables and a fireworks display.
In 1998, Kiwanis hosted the first BB&T All-American Soap Box Derby, which became an annual tradition and has led to several rally races each year in Bowling Green. This year’s Soap Box Derby will take place May 19 and 20.
These community events have helped to provide incredible financial assistance to children’s programs, thanks to the appreciated support of local businesses and community leaders.
Tell us about your volunteers.
Our club is made up of volunteers who serve with a purpose. We have volunteers that are physicians, lawyers, business owners, teachers and public servants. It is truly a microcosm of our community. All of our volunteers organize our events, plan our budget, help make us more visible in the community and are completely hands-on in every way.
What is something people might not know about Kiwanis Club of Bowling Green?
Each year, we give away around $70,000 to local children’s charities. Although our focus is our community, we do have a global project, our latest of which was called The ELIMINATE Project. Recently, Kiwanis International and UNICEF joined forces raising $110 million dollars to eliminate maternal and neonatal tetanus (MNT), a deadly disease that steals the lives of 34,000 innocent babies and a significant number of women each year. The Kiwanis Club of Bowling Green raised $166,374 for the project to help provide tetanus vaccines to mothers and their children. To date, 41 countries have eliminated MNT with the help of Kiwanis Clubs throughout the world.
How can people find out more about Kiwanis of Bowling Green?
More information about our club can be found at www.bgkiwanis.org or by following us on Facebook. We have a page for both of our signature events, Soapbox Derby and Thunderfest.
Personal Testimony from Jaqueline Peterson
In 2007, our daughter, Bailey won a drawing for a super stock soap box derby car. She had just turned 11 years old. Prior to registering for the drawing, I had no idea what soap box racing was, let alone thinking that one day I would be entrenched in it! That year, she raced in the BB&T Soap Box Derby. The next year, we were able to get a car for our son, Tyler, to race as well. In 2014, Bailey went to Akron to race, and came in second in the world in her division. This was the best anyone from Bowling Green had ever done! In 2015, Tyler went to Akron to race, and came in first in the world in his division! He was Bowling Green’s first World Champion! Now Bailey helps at the races, and is our first Kiwanian who joined after being a racer.
I joined Kiwanis because I heard of them through the races and wondered what they were about. This club has been present in our community helping children and families build memories as well as contributing to many organizations that help children. Soap Box Derby racing gave our family a chance to experience some opportunities in bonding and building relationships that we might not otherwise have had. My husband and our children have spent many hours in the shop tweaking this or adjusting that. Their time together has helped build the bond that they have and it can never be replaced! Our children have also learned, in a hands on way, some of the dynamics of physics and math. Kiwanis introduced us to Soap Box racing, and we have enjoyed it for 10 years now. We intend to continue being involved, even after our children are done.