Monthly Archives: February 2014

A Magical Journey to the Big Top

It was a special night at the circus for special needs kids. Gas South teamed up with local mayors, government officials and Feld Entertainment–producer of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circusto provide free admission and a unique, kid-centered pre-show.

The fun began with a Magical Journey, a private pre-show designed just for the kids, with hands-on activities and the lights and sounds of the circus, plus sign language interpreters and wheelchair accessibility.

The kids and their families got to spend one-on-one time with Ringling Bros. circus clowns, jugglers and other amazing performers. The wardrobe station gave the kids a real feel for what it’s like to don a clown costume, nose and all.

For the animal lovers in the crowd, the amazing performers didn’t disappoint. This show had it all: Beautiful horses in the ring, a fabulous tiger and some very playful elephants.

The elephant’s game of choice was kick ball; to the kids’ delight, the ball quickly soared into the the crowd! 

If they hadn’t already stolen the show, the elephants were determined to make a lasting impression with artistry. One elephant-turned-Picasso grabbed a brush and began painting a real picture! I can’t imagine that anyone in that audience–including me–will ever see elephants the same again. Amazing!

The AEP team and I want to extend a heartfelt thanks to Gas South for including us, and to their community partners–the Metropolitan Atlanta Mayors Association, the Georgia Municipal Association and Feld Entertainment–for creating such a magical experience for the kids.

Learning, Networking & Fraternal Festivities at TKE’s Regional Leadership Conference

AEP found plenty to shoot, from formal ceremony to enthusiastic male bonding, at the recent fraternity event we covered: Tau Kappa Epsilon’s Regional Leadership Conference, held at the Sheraton Atlanta hotel downtown. At the start of every Spring semester, TKE members (a.k.a. Tekes) gather across North America to attend educational sessions and network. Atlanta was selected for 2014, along with San Francisco, Oklahoma City, NYC and Chicago.

It was all business–most of the time–during the educational workshops. The sessions gave attendees the opportunity to gain skills and learn from other members’ successes.

The highlight of Saturday night was an awards banquet where multiple winners proudly took the stage.

Bob Barr, TKE’s Grand Prytanis, was the keynote speaker. Bob hails from the Beta-Sigma chapter at the University of South Carolina and has been a member of the Grand Council since 2008.

The banquet was catered by the Sheraton Atlanta hotel–a chocolate-lovers’ delight!

In addition to meeting Grand Council members, Board Members and other TKE VIPs, attendees enjoyed the chance to meet the winner of the 2013 TKE International Sweetheart Scholarship, Miss Maria Willett. Maria is a representative from the Upsilon-Xi chapter at Oakland University and a member of Gamma Phi Beta.

We were literally surrounded by TKE members reconnecting, as nearly 300 attendees filled the Sheraton. Amazingly, this regional group was just a fraction of the overall organization, which has initiated more than 257,000 men since its founding in 1899 at Illinois Wesleyan University. Today there are more than 291 chapters and colonies across North America.

The TKE gang was really a lot of fun. Thanks to Alex Baker and Donnie Aldrich for working with the AEP team on this event! We hope to join you again for the 2015 festivities.