Modern Woodmen of America breaks Guinness record, supports mental health work

Modern Woodmen of America mixed business with pleasure as it hosted its 44th National Convention last week in Colorado and cheered on its members to a new Guinness World Record. 

Modern Woodmen of America
Modern Woodmen National Secretary Jerry Lyphout, from left, and Chief Fraternal Officer Jill Weaver present a $22,353 check to Ray Merenstein, NAMI Colorado’s executive director. CREDIT MODERN WOODMEN OF AMERICA

The Rock Island-based fraternal financial services organization hosted 191 member delegates at its three-day convention, Monday-Wednesday, June 20-22, in Aurora, Colorado. At the business meeting, delegates reviewed Modern Woodmen’s bylaws and its financial and fraternal progress from 2018 to 2022 and elected board directors and other officers.

Delegates elected these board members: 

  • Lori Newberg, Lenexa, Kansas
  • Joseph Sztapka, Sioux Falls, South Dakota
  • James Temperley, Bonita Springs, Florida
  • Lester Bohnert, East Moline
  • Brett Van, Coal Valley
  • Sam Kupresin, Bettendorf
  • David Nuernberger, Bettendorf

Modern Woodmen’s President and CEO W. Kenny Massey, of LeClaire, and National Secretary and Executive Vice President Jerald Lyphout, of East Moline, are appointed by the board of directors and automatically are board members.

Modern Woodmen of America
Participants at Modern Woodmen of America broke the Guinness World Records’ longest chain of carabiners record by stringing together a 3,188-foot chain of the hiking clips. CREDIT MODERN WOODMEN OF AMERICA

But the delegation also took time away from its official duties to make history and break a world record – all while raising awareness and money to support mental health. On Tuesday, the convention attendees broke the Guinness World Record for the longest chain of carabiners (hiking clips) by linking clips together to form a 3,188-foot continuous chain. 

Each carabiner color represented a different mental health focus and the activity supported Modern Woodmen’s brain health initiative, which seeks to raise awareness and support of mental health topics.

The activity also served as a fundraiser with participants purchasing packs of carabiners and branded T-shirts to hang on the wall. Their donations combined with donations collected from non-participants raised $12,353, which Modern Woodmen’s board matched with an additional $10,000. 

In all, $22,353 was donated to NAMI Colorado to assist in its mission of providing advocacy, education, support and public awareness so individuals and families affected by mental illness can build better lives. NAMI, short for the National Alliance on Mental Illness, is the nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization. 

In other business, Modern Woodmen delegates elected these officers for convention proceedings: Anthony High, Tompkinsville, Kentucky; Donald Wixom, Nampa, Idaho; Kristin Guthrie, Marion, Ohio; and Angela Hill, Starkville, Mississippi.

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