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‘Blooming marvelous’ – Industry volunteers work their green fingers for IMEX Challenge at the Shade Tree, Las Vegas

A total of 46 meetings and events industry volunteers gathered at the Shade Tree center for abused women and children in Las Vegas over the weekend (Oct 11 and 12) to create a brand new healing garden as part of the IMEX Challenge 2014.
The volunteers worked tirelessly in shifts on Saturday and Sunday to complete the work on the gardens, which was generously sponsored by host sponsors, Sands Cares and GES. Sands Cares covered the cost of creating the new healing gardens, while the entire project was designed and managed by The Venetian® l The Palazzo’s® Horticultural Department who have committed to maintaining the gardens in the future.

GES (Global Experience Specialists) donated and built new storage sheds for all the garden equipment and tools, and for the Shade Tree’s animal shelter – Noah’s Animal House. The Shade Tree is unique in allowing women and children to bring their family pets with them to the shelter. Abandoned, mistreated or rehomed pets are often an unfortunate side effect of family breakups and domestic abuse.

While the volunteers were busy digging and planting, Mike Szuter, Music Director of Song Division, whose motto is “Bringing Meetings to Life with Music”, worked with the women and children to compose and record a song about their experiences and life at the Shade Tree. The song was played to the IMEX America MPI Keynote audience this morning prior to Steve Gross taking the stage to talk about using joy and optimism at work. Gross works with the Life is Good Kids Foundation, a nonprofit that uses play to help children overcome life-threatening challenges, which made the first public performance of the song especially fitting.

IMEX America has supported two local not-for-profits since its launch in Las Vegas – Opportunity Village and the Shade Tree shelter. The chance to create a new garden at the Shade Tree was a perfect fit for the 2014 IMEX Challenge. A call for individual volunteers and other sponsors resulted in many offers of support from the local Las Vegas community, IMEX partners and beyond.

Speaking about this year’s Challenge, Dale Hudson, Knowledge and Events Director for the IMEX Group, said: “First I’d like to thanks the Sands for their tremendous support without which this year’s challenge would not have come to life. Our thanks also go to GES and all the other sponsors who were so generous.  We have been so lucky to have wonderful industry volunteers come forward to help, and the support of the wider meetings and events industry has been heartwarming. Giving back to the community is so important but the truth is the volunteers and supporters always get so much back from the experience themselves - it’s always a win-win.  I sincerely thank all of those who made the new gardens possible this weekend…..which have already had their first visit from a hummingbird, bumble bees and butterflies.”

Host sponsors: Sands Cares and GES. Silver Sponsors: Hosts Global Alliance; Allied PRA; Las Vegas Hospitality Association; Treasure Island – Las Vegas. Bronze Sponsor: Northstar Meetings Group. Participating in the event as volunteer sponsors were: Katrin Naumann, Another Koncept; Cheryl Brazier, Carlson Rezidor Group; Kay Johnson-Frutiger, Covance; Mandy Rinder, Koncept Events;  Hilary Smith, Koncept Events; Betsy Bair, MeetingsNet; Varena Jandak, Vienna CVB; Christian Mutschlechner, Vienna CVB; Judith Settele, Vienna CVB; Karen Kinoshita-Banas, Wyndham Hotel Group; Michael McAllen, (also the official podcast sponsor); Thomas Kostoff, Sofisticado, Las Vegas; Jason Glascock, Associate Director of Sales, Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino; Kara Yesilcimen, Destination Fabulous; Chris Meyer, Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority and Terri Meyer, CMA Planners.

Individual sponsors included: Elizabeth Baranik, Hard Rock Café; Kim L. Van Delft, AAPG; Linda Davis, Baskow & Associates; Stephanie Arone, Activity Planners, Inc.; Diane Herrmann, JNR Incorporated; Han R. Geskes and Aero Jet Services.

Two special sponsors also made vital donations – The South Africa National Convention Bureau and DMAI (Destination Marketing Association International).

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