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Chamber presents awards to Klumper, Nickel and the Comfort Suites

WORTHINGTON -- The 87th annual Worthington Area Chamber of Commerce meeting brought community members together Friday evening to celebrate with great food and live music, residents and business leaders.

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Wayne Klumper accepts the Chamber of Commerce Friend of Education award with his family. (Karl Evers-Hillstrom/Daily Globe)

WORTHINGTON - The 87th annual Worthington Area Chamber of Commerce meeting brought community members together Friday evening to celebrate with great food and live music, residents and business leaders.

Each year, the Chamber presents three awards, recognizing individuals with a Community Service Award, Friend of Education Award and Hospitality Award.

The night began with the recognition of longtime volunteer Wayne Klumper, who received the Friend of Education Award. Klumper has dedicated most of his life to helping youth, either giving them a hand to achieve their goals or sharing his lifetime story with them.

After spending five years away from Worthington, Klumper and his wife, Dea, moved back to town and taught Sunday school at American Lutheran Church and helped established organizations such as Big Brother/Big Sister. After an unfortunate motorcycle crash, Klumper kept making a positive impact in the community, sharing his story with sixth-graders, teaching them tolerance and kindness inside the classroom.

“Well it’s pretty exciting because so many people in Worthington and, actually a lot of them are in this room tonight, are so nice to me and my family, helping us get through those tough times,” Klumper said. “To be here tonight and have the chance to thank all the people who supported me is an honor because they made our family’s life so much better.”

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A Family and Consumer Science teacher who has worked closely with Klumper wrote a note about his work that was read to the audience.  The note highlighted the huge impact Klumper has made on her students since he volunteers as a speaker for her sixth-grade class during her Disability Awareness unit. For a number of years, Klumper has taught students the importance of empathy and kindness through his story.  

“This is where Wayne has helped me out by teaching compassion to all my students,” the note highlighted. “Wayne and Dea come to my class … they share about the struggles Wayne had in relearning to write and read. He reminds my students that we should all treat everyone with kindness because we don’t know what they have been through.”

The Comfort Suites and Worthington Event Center was the recipient of the WACC Hospitality Award after receiving excellent reviews for its services. WACC was sent a letter describing its exceptional customer service.

“The whole experience was very pleasant for our family. The location of our stay and event was very nice, very clean, with friendly staff and a great breakfast area with good quality food,” the note highlighted.

“Three years ago I walked in here and started managing the hotel and the event center and I have enjoyed every single day, we definitely have great staff here,” said Tyler Knutson Comfort Suites and Worthington Event Center general manager. “We truly appreciate having you all here tonight.”

Last but not least, the WACC Community Service Award was presented to WACC board member and former Worthington Regional Economic Development Corp. chairman Jim Nickel. He has contributed time and effort in many business, church, social and civic organizations. Nickel has not only been an active volunteer at his church, giving his time to help organizing events and driving the church’s bus, but he contributed to the construction of the hockey arena as a board member of the Worthington Hockey Association.

“I would like to say that I grew up in town and I have lived in Worthington almost all my life and there is no other place I would rather live … and I am never going to leave this community,” Nickel said. “Worthington is a great community and I always felt that was important that a person give back to the community in whatever way they can.”


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