Who, exactly, are these volunteers? They're the unsung heroes of drum corps, putting in as many hours behind the scenes as members do on the field. They cook for hungry performers and staff, sew flags, drive trucks, and perform countless other tasks and activities at all hours of the day. Though volunteers receive no compensation for their hard work, their incredible efforts combined make an indelible impression on the drum corps activity–making each season possible.
After nominations were submitted by corps directors and staff members through the winter and spring, the following award recipients were evaluated and selected by a panel of Friends of DCI members. These 2010 Volunteers of the Year will be honored for their contributions during the 2010 World Championships in Indianapolis.
Steve Stueck, Blue Stars
According to Brad Furlano, executive director of the Blue Stars, Stueck has volunteered for more than 20 years with the corps in many positions. He was treasurer for six years on the corps' board of directors, and now he serves as volunteer business manager, spending hours each week organizing finances, paying bills and managing the office. Stueck's other multi-faceted roles, just to name a few, include carpenter, prop builder, vehicle driver, mechanic, equipment manager, and recruiter.
"Time and time again, during good years and bad, Steve has stepped to the plate to complete needed tasks regardless of glamour or recognition," said Furlano. "He cares about each and every individual of the corps ... in his role as a volunteer, he greets every corps with a smile and wave, and does everything in his power to ensure corps and members can concentrate on performing their very best."
Becky Nelson, Phantom Regiment
Since 1983, Becky Nelson has been food service coordinator for the Phantom Regiment. Executive director Rick Valenzuela says that Nelson has been on the road for most of those summers planning menus, ordering supplies, and helping to serve more than 800 meals a day. She has also managed the food budget, helping to keep costs at or below budget almost every year—a challenging feat with up to 150 ravenous corps members to feed!
"Becky can always be counted on to be that person available for you—whether volunteer, staff or member–[when you] just need someone to talk to, or even a hug, to make the day better," says Valenzuela. "I've only had the pleasure to work with a select few that can respond to all of the rigors of being on the road like Becky—always with a solution and smile to a problem."
Dr. Randall Chaffee and Thomas Chase, Racine Scouts
"Tom and Randy comprise the grease that keeps the cogs of the Racine Scouts machine moving," says Racine Scouts corps manager Andrea Birbilis.
Thomas Chase has volunteered with the Racine Scouts since his son was a member of the corps in the mid-1980s, serving as quartermaster and assistant transportation manager.
After a heart attack in December of 2006, Chase miraculously recovered from heart surgery in time to get back on the road by the start of the 2007 season. "He often jokes that at least he managed to get sick during the off season," said Birbilis, touting Chase's resilience and dedication to the corps.
Chase's love for the corps doesn't just stop with the Racine Scouts. He's often been seen in stadium parking lots helping to repair other corps' equipment, and last season, while grilling dinner during Open Class Quarterfinals in Michigan City, Ind., Birbilis says, "he proceeded to feed everyone in the parking lot, the stadium security people, and the police officers. Tom would have been happy to cook all night long!"
According to Birbilis, Randall Chaffee "understands the Boy Scout motto, 'Do a Good Turn Daily.'" The youngest of eight, Chaffee played French horn as a member of the Racine Scouts, as did all of his siblings. He now serves as treasurer of the corps and of their bingo fundraising operation, and is also primary medical officer. Birbilis refers to Chaffee as "keeper of all things official" because he not only manages the corps' paperwork for their affiliations with the Boy Scouts of America and DCI, but maintains insurance, schedules vehicle maintenance, and more.