By Diana Wigginton, TC2, Area 75 Director
I didn’t want to do it. I had A LOT on my plate. The last thing I needed was another commitment. Attend the D25 Awards Banquet? And write an op-ed piece as a first-time attendee? One particular persuasive banquet co-chair who shall remain unnamed flattered and cajoled, and before I knew it, I had been wheedled into helping.
I’m so glad she did. The banquet was a blast!
Upon arrival, familiar faces greeted me. Some masked, some not, but all were happy to be there. The entrance hall buzzed with conversation as many old friends caught up with one another. Celebrating at the Finish Line, the theme of the banquet, seemed particularly fitting after a year of handling challenges presented by the current pandemic. We had run our race for the 2020-2021 year, and it was time to recognize our accomplishments.
The first half of the evening was full of fervor and celebration. The program began as we indulged in a delicious dinner provided by the venue. Our Toastmaster was proud, loud, and ready to laud everyone for their hard work. Audience members stood when their clubs were acknowledged for their achievements. There was a lot of standing being done!
The second half of the program was more subdued, not because everyone was now allowing their food to digest, but rather because it was focused on giving thanks. Heartfelt appreciation was lavished on past district leaders and their families for their efforts and for the sacrifices they had made. A lighthearted roast and a slideshow with lively music did not diminish the emotion, the love, and the gratitude shown by the presenters on stage — and via Zoom from China. That’s what stuck with me. The honored individuals had given up so much for our division to be where it is today.
If you’re anything like me — hesitant to commit an evening amongst excellent company — I challenge you to attend a Toastmaster banquet at least once. While the path to becoming better speakers, leaders, and members of society is of paramount importance as a Toastmaster, it is refreshing to kick back every once in a while and acknowledge the successes along the journey.
Diana Wigginton, TC2, Area 75 Director