Nose for News: Event to draw on impact of community leader

Published 10:00 pm Monday, July 23, 2018

Sarah Stultz is the managing editor of the Tribune. Her column appears every Tuesday.

I was pleasantly surprised a few months ago to receive a phone call one afternoon from Ellen Kehr, Albert Lea resident and organization lead for the Blue Zones Project in Albert Lea.

For those who may not know Ellen, she is the wife of the late Randy Kehr, who worked for many years as the former executive director of the Albert Lea-Freeborn County Chamber of Commerce. Ellen said she had been approached by organizers of The Story Show, who wanted to put on their event in her husband’s memory.

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Being that Randy was one of the people to lead fundraising efforts for holiday lights 20-plus years ago, Ellen said she thought it would be fitting that the funds go to support the new downtown lights fundraiser underway.

I am a member of the committee raising money for the new downtown lights, and I was excited to hear about the opportunity. 

Randy impacted many people’s lives — including mine. He had a contagious smile, and time and time again, he would take time from his busy schedule to reach out to people and lift them up when he saw the opportunity to do so. I know he did that for me on more than one occasion, and knowing the type of person he was, it becomes awe-inspiring to think of how many other people he impacted through his daily actions.

On top of being a person who cared about people on an individual level, Randy cared about the community and was by far one of the best community advocates I have seen since I have lived in Albert Lea.

Fast-forward a few months since I first talked to Ellen about The Story Show, and now the time has come for the event to take place.

It will be at 7 p.m. Thursday at the Marion Ross Performing Arts Center.

It seemed fitting that Ellen and The Story Show organizers titled this year’s event, “Let Your Light Shine” because if there is one thing Randy taught me — and I’m sure many others — is that we can and need to be those lights that shine bright in our community.

We all have capabilities to do great things, and we cannot let fears or other things get in our way.

If we do find ourselves in a moment where our lights may be dim, we can reach out to others whose lights are shining brightly.

That is one thing I love about this community is that we take care of each other. In times of tragedy and in times of happiness, this community supports each other.

I am proud to be a part of an effort that Randy championed some 20-plus years ago, and I hope to see a full-house crowd at the event on Thursday.