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Impressions from the 27th Randy

by Jim Obermeyer

Berkeley Hills Country Club The 27th RandyIt’s 4:00 a.m. on Tuesday and I can’t sleep. I’ve been rolling around in bed for a few hours already. I am still running on the adrenaline from spending the day with 130 of our industry’s finest—those who attended the 27th Randy Smith Memorial Golf Classic on Sept. 27 in Atlanta.

As a member of the board of directors for this event, I have been involved in weekly planning meetings for the last six months. I arrived at noon on Sunday to meet the rest of my esteemed colleagues to get everything set up and ready at Berkeley Hills Country Club, host for this year’s event.

While this team may have had everything prepared and all the details handled by the morning of the event, nothing ever really prepares us for what happens on this day. Sure, the group of 30 volunteers is here and ready to handle registration, manage the putting contest, run the beverage carts, man the tents throughout the course, officiate the longest drive and closest-to-the-pin drives, host the evening banquet and generally make sure the day comes off without a hitch. But what we are never ready for is the level of energy and passion—and compassion—that this event brings out.

Randy funny shot Lauren Wheeler + 3I think this year some of it has to do with the fact that our industry has been pretty much shut down for the last 18 months. An industry that thrives on hard work, long hours and being together in one place has been severely cut off from what makes us who we are. And I think all that pent-up energy showed up in Atlanta this week.

Almost everyone I spoke with had the same sense—that we all needed to be here to be with our people again. You could feel the energy and sense the strong need to be together. It was evident in the conversations between old friends. It was demonstrated in the big smiles and bear hugs. And it played out on the golf course—a round of golf that started at noon, that the course superintendent said should take three hours to play. On this day, it took almost twice that to complete.

27th RandyI saw it first hand. I grabbed one of the other volunteers and took a ride out on the course around 5:00 p.m., while most of the golfers were still out. What we saw was a lot of parked golf carts, people just hanging out and talking, telling stories, sharing memories and generally just catching up with folks they hadn’t seen in a very long time.

That energy continued into the clubhouse for the evening for cocktails and dinner. We just couldn’t get enough of it. When Robert Laarhoven stepped up to the mic to open the evening presentation it took a minute to get everyone’s attention.

27th RandyRobert thanked the volunteers who make this event happen, Dave Walens spoke on behalf of the EDPA Foundation, and then the awards were presented for longest drive, closest to the pin and top scores. And then Rich Johnson, one of the event’s founders, and by far one of its most passionate supporters, stepped up to introduce this year’s recipients.

As each of their stories were told by close friends and coworkers, it focused this audience on the real reason we were here today. Stories of battles with disease, of fatal car accidents. The tale of one young man taken by cancer, leaving his wife and two young sons. A story familiar to anyone who knows the history of Randy Smith, another young man whose life ended way too soon in a car crash, and who left a wife and two young sons. Those two young sons—Austin and Justin—are now young adults with families of their own, and along with their mother, Jenny, attend this event every year to thank this audience for their compassion for their fellow workers.

Sure, we’re all anxious to get back on the show floor and get back to what we all do best—taking care of our clients at their exhibitions and live events. But from what I saw that magical Monday in Atlanta, we’re all just as anxious to get back to being together and supporting our industry’s families in need.

This story originally appeared in the Nov./Dec. 2021 issue of Exhibit City News, p. 46. For original layout, visit https://issuu.com/exhibitcitynews/docs/ecn_nov-dec_2021

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