Chamber dinner featuring Spielman a hot ticket in town

Ohio State football legend Chris Spielman will be the keynote speaker at the 99th annual Marietta Area Chamber of Commerce Dinner on March 10.

Charlotte Keim, president and CEO of the chamber, said the decision to pick a keynote speaker is always difficult but that Spielman is a good fit.

“Not only is he an amazing football player, he’s got an amazing story to share,” she said. “He works so hard raising money for breast cancer research. He’s an all-around great guy and he’s been delightful to work with.”

Keim said the decision to pick a speaker is usually made based on what’s going on in the community, whether someone has a compelling story or if spirits need to be lifted. Choosing Spielman as the speaker was an easy decision as a lead-in for the 100th annual event next year.

“Leading up to it, we wanted someone who will motivate the community through what he’s done, his hard work and perseverance,” she said. “It’s human interest combined with I think he’s an incredibly motivational person.”

Keim said as of Monday evening 562 tickets had been sold for the event, which is considerably more than this time last year.

“Certainly Chris Spielman as a speaker is a big draw,” she acknowledged.

Keim said Spielman’s wife Stefanie’s battle with breast cancer is something many in the area could relate to.

“Breast cancer impacts so many,” she said. “It’s a good story and it hits home. I bet everyone in this community knows someone who was diagnosed with cancer.”

Jane Vannoy, 63, of Coolville, is a two-time breast cancer survivor.

She has been cancer free for three years and said that having someone with Spielman’s prominence speaking in the area, especially after dealing with the same diagnosis in his wife, was a good thing.

“He knows first hand (about breast cancer),” she said. “Bringing him to this area is a good thing.”

Vannoy said she is thrilled to be cancer-free and that women shouldn’t rely solely on their doctors to keep their health in top shape.

“Women need to be aware and take their health into their own hands,” she said. “Women do need to be their own advocate.”

Keim said Spielman’s values are something many can relate to.

“Faith, family and community-those are his values and I think those are values many have,” she said.

Keim said the dinner is so much more than having an inspirational speaker; it’s about showcasing area businesses and rewarding those who have made a difference in the Marietta area.

Event goers can expect to have a social hour with wine, beer and appetizers before having a three-course dinner, which includes a salad, entree and dessert.

Many area businesses will have booths set up where attendees can meet a lot of different companies and their CEOs. In addition to that, several awards will be given out which include a Washington County agriculture, citizen of the year, woman of the year and business leader of the year awards.

“The best part is (award recipients) don’t know they’re getting an award,” Keim said. “In this community, everybody seems to know everything and we’re trying to keep it a secret.”

Keim said the $50 seat reservations may be acquired by calling the chamber, stopping in the office or by visiting the website. She said tickets are going fast and seats should be reserved by no later than Feb. 21.

Keim said she is looking forward to a good turnout and a great evening.

“We hope you come and have a good time with it,” she said. “For as much work as it is, we all have fun.”

Spielman is a two-time All American and 2009 inductee to the College Football Hall of Fame. He played 11 seasons in the NFL including eight seasons with the Detroit Lions, earning a Pro-Bowl selection four times and a trip to the NFC Championship Game. Spielman married his high school sweetheart, Stefanie, who lost a decade-long battle with breast cancer in November 2009. He is currently a college football analyst for ESPN.