Rotary members from around the world arrived in Nakusp for the Rotary District Conference over the May 12 weekend. The Nakusp Rotary Club is part of District 5080, which includes clubs from Nelson, Golden, Grand Forks, Orofino, and more. (Jillian Trainor/Arrow Lakes News)

Rotary members from around the world arrived in Nakusp for the Rotary District Conference over the May 12 weekend. The Nakusp Rotary Club is part of District 5080, which includes clubs from Nelson, Golden, Grand Forks, Orofino, and more. (Jillian Trainor/Arrow Lakes News)

Gord Turner: Hanging loose at Rotary in Nakusp

Oh, to be young again.

I would have danced all night at the recent District Rotary International Conference in far-off Nakusp. It wasn’t really a dance event, but the performer sang such lovely songs that the dancers couldn’t sit.

After the conference dinner, the evening’s entertainment was billed as an Elvis tribute show. When the singer, one Vito Neverol, appeared, he had little to demonstrate he was a latter-day Elvis — no black-haired wig and no flowing white pantsuit costume.

He had a few Elvis mannerisms and several Elvis-type gyrations geared to the music, but mainly he had a remarkable voice that took over an Elvis song and reminded us of the past.

I guess because he didn’t look like Elvis and the sound system had its quirks, many of the Rotarians simply left the Nakusp Community Centre and headed to hotels for some early shuteye. They obviously didn’t want to be this singer’s “teddy-bear.”

That left room at the back of the hall, which began to be filled with dancing couples. This activity was clearly impromptu — not on the program — and was begun by two couples from the attending Castlegar Rotary clubs. Their dancing quickly drew several other Castlegarian couples to the floor.

All the time, we kept applauding our make-shift Elvis’s singing, and he encouraged our dancing. By the end of the evening with only a few people left in the hall from the 196 registered Rotarians, this would-be Elvis switched to impersonating other artists. And we dancers moved to the front of the hall and danced around him.

It certainly was an example of the conference theme as we were encouraged to “see how BIG small can be.” So we few dancers from Castlegar took the theme to heart and expanded the event beyond what was intended.

The conference itself had an interesting array of events and international speakers. The Rotary International representative, Aziz Memon, and his wife were from Karachi, Pakistan. As a past District Governor of District 3270 in Pakistan and Afghanistan, he probably has never attended Rotary in as small a town as Nakusp. Nevertheless, he gloried in the informal atmosphere as he spoke about the need for International co-operation.

As a Rotary hanger-on (my wife is a Rotarian), I managed to sit in on his presentation and a few others. I was most impressed with Rotarian Greg Ehman from Golden. He grew up in Castlegar, went on Rotary Youth Exchange to Thailand at age 16, and now works for an International Company based mainly in Spain.

Greg is listed as a Strategic Business Consultant and Leadership Coach. He has done well and his speaking ideas on the topic of “potential” caught the audience’s attention. I’m always amazed to come upon a speaker who presents without notes and who never uses “uhs” and “ums”, and Greg was one of these remarkable people.

Speaking from the heart, he focused on himself as one whose potential had been recognized and given impetus — in his case, by his Rotary Youth Exchange experience. He mentioned two Castlegar Rotarians who changed his life — the late Ron Ross and current Rotarian Bill Furey, who was at the presentation. Ehman told us that those two gentlemen saw something in him as a frightened 15-year-old interviewee and promptly chose him to go to Thailand on Youth Exchange.

And that year abroad made him what he is today.

The Nakusp Rotary Conference demonstrated the theme of “seeing how BIG small can be” when current District Governor and Conference host, Kees van der Pol from Nakusp, announced that his goal of raising $100,000 for Polio Plus had been reached during this amazing conference.