Vernon Honored With Iowa Games Founder Award
Bill Vernon, chairman emeritus of the Iowa Games, was honored with the Iowa Games Founder Award in Jack Trice Stadium during the Opening Ceremonies of the 2011 Iowa Games, in Ames on July 15.
Vernon is a life long resident of Newton and the CEO of The Vernon Company, a national leader in promotional products.
The award was presented by Doug Reichardt, Chairman of the Iowa Sports Foundation, and Lt. Governor Kim Reynolds. Iowa's own Shawn Johnson, an Olympic gold metal winner at the 2008 Beijing Games, was the featured speaker.
Approximately 7,500 people attended the event which also featured a torch run around the stadium by Tim Dwight, skydivers and fireworks at the end of the ceremony.
Governor Branstad, who asked Bill to organize the games in 1985, could not attend because he was in Utah at the National Governor's Conference. Instead, he thanked Bill through a video that appeared on the big screen on the south end of the stadium.
2011 marks the 25th Anniversary of the Iowa Games. Vernon was appointed by Governor Branstad in 1985 to help create the Iowa Games. He served as chairman of the Iowa Games Board until 1994. "I'm very proud to see how well the Iowa Games have succeeded the past 25 years," Vernon said. "It has been one of my fondest and most fulfilling civic experiences and I'm happy to see that Iowans have embraced its outstanding athletic competition and encouraged the spirit of good sportsmanship."
The first Iowa Games began in the summer of 1987 as a weekend event, featuring 16 sports and 7,104 participants (nearly a record number at that time for a first-year state games). For the first time, weekend athletes, school children and senior citizens could experience the thrill of performing in a statewide Olympic-style competition. Since that initial year, the Games have grown to over 50 sports, and take place annually, with both summer and winter events.
Prior to the stadium event, Vernon was the featured speaker at a dinner for 250 sports commissioners and other volunteers who actually run the games. He thanked them for their service and emphasized that the games couldn't run without them. "It's especially noteworthy that the Iowa Games has never paid any officials or volunteers for their service," he said.
For more information, visit The Vernon Company's website.