Now that winter has set upon early in most parts of the country, Heartland Owners have been busy either winterizing their coaches and campers or taking their ball (Heartlands) and going home…or somewhere much warmer. I think its a good time to rewind to look back and share the happenings at our wonderful National Rally that was held in the lively Las Vegas in early October.
First, we all owe so much to Jim Beletti, Heartland RV’s Director of Owner Interests and Julie Hancock, Heartland Owners Club Manager who, as a team, tirelessly organized the whole shebang. With each North American Rally, it seems that they get better than the year before. Planning began for this rally in 2011 and continued through 2015. Jim flew out to Las Vegas in 2013 and 2015 as he worked on finding an appropriate venue where we could fit 150 Heartlands, rally rooms to host the Vendor Hall, Rally Hall, meet with caterers, entertainment, tours, obtaining contracts etc. Once he scored the venue, he released the dates and location so we, HOC members could make plans to attend. Then Julie went to work programming and testing the rally registration site.
Our pre-rally days (October 2-5, 2016) started with the arrival of our rally attendees at the Oasis Las Vegas RV Resort. Prior to the pre-rally, Jim’s rally core team arrived. They hit the ground running, picking up and organizing rally documentation and door prizes, getting the rooms setup and stuffing the rally bags. Johnnie Walker RV delivered several new model Heartland ‘display coaches’ for members to take a look-see. On Tuesday, a few Heartland Owners opened up their coaches for tours showcasing their mods and decorating ideas.
And then it happened. Heartland RV’s proudly made their presence known parading one by one as they entered the gates of Oasis Las Vegas RV Resort. These couple days were a bit hectic; getting pre-rally attendees parked and set up and presented their own swag bags, credentials and schedules. Members who signed up prior, got their rigs weighed and professional washes all three pre-rally days. There were three Pre-Rally tours:
– Hoover Dam
– Rick’s Restorations/Mob Museum/Fremont Street/Downtown tour
– Vegas “Points of Interest” tour
During the Pre-Rally, members did what they wanted on their own schedule. Many went down to the Vegas Strip, others went to Valley of Fire and Hoover Dam. On Wednesday, Len Trujillo led a caravan of golfers to the Legacy Golf Club for a 9:00 am Tee Time. Dometic and Atwood provided representatives to address minor issues and answer questions about their products. In the early evening, we all gathered at the Casablanca Commons in the RV Resort for the Chili Dog Meet and Greet; a great time had by all to meet new folks and see old Heartland friends.
The first day of the Rally (Thursday, October 6th) had a full schedule. We started our day early at 7am for coffee, tea and donuts in the rally room. Vendor tables opened up at the Heartland Marketplace with Dometic, Atwood, Dexter Axle, RV LED Lights, Theresa Stewart Jewelry, Valor TPMS, MORyde, Nancy Beletti’s Mary Kay Cosmetics, Lisa Brown’s Young Living Essential Oils and Jewelry Designs, Crocheted Creations by Cathy Daniels, and Teri Wescott Jewelry.
Ann Mayer led the morning Wake Up Workout zero impact exercises, seminars and presentations throughout the day. We all caravanned over to the M Resort Spa Casino for a 5pm belly-stuffing buffet dinner and then danced it all off at the Ravello Lounge for music entertainment (think ‘Beach Boys’ and the ‘Eagles’).
Day two (Friday, October 7th) was a repeat of the day prior. Our evening was a planned patio party with with music entertainment provided by Heartlanders, Len Trujillo (a fabulous one man band).
Saturday, we all rose early again for morning hot beverages and sugary vittles with presentations and seminars until noon. We all met at the big rally room at 5pm for a wonderfully tasty catered dinner and fellowship. After dinner, we sat through the Heartland Gives Back presentation ‘Soldier’s Best Friend’ (very few dry eyes).
This year’s Heartland Gives Back initiative (HGBi) will beneficiary will be Soldier’s Best Friend (SBF). SBF provides U.S. military veterans living with combat-related Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) or Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) with Service or Therapeutic Companion Dogs, most of which are rescued from local shelters. The veteran and dog train together to build a trusting relationship that saves two lives at once and inspires countless others.
We proudly opened our hearts and wallets raising over $4000 that evening; the amount needed to train one animal to be put into the service of a military veteran.
After the presentation and eyes were dried from the emotional presentation, the door prize drawings began with Jim Beletti emceeing the event. My, there were A LOT of door prizes! The prize runners surely got their workout that evening delivering to the winners at their tables. After all the door prizes were awarded, we put on our dancing shoes to a DJ music venue.
After door prizes, Jim Beletti asked the Soldier’s Best Friend representative to return to the stage. At that point, Jim pulled out a poster-sized check from Heartland RVs for ANOTHER $4000! Can you believe it? Chris Hermon, President of Heartland RVs authorized Jim to make a matching donation for up to $4000. Wow – $8000 was raised in total for Soldier’s Best Friend, fully funding the training of “TWO” animals to be put into the service of two military veterans. Thank you Chris Hermon and Heartland RVs!
Sunday morning, we woke with our alarm clocks onc last time for an early morning all-hands catered breakfast in the Rally Room. Rally attendees said their goodbyes with hugs and handshakes checking out by noon with a few core team volunteers staying behind to clean up the venue.
So, if you didn’t attend yet are reading this, let’s just say you missed a GREAT ONE! We hope to see you in 2017!
Save the date!!
2017 North American Heartland Owners Rally!
Elkhart County 4H Fairgrounds
Goshen, Indiana USA
June 13-18, 2017
(a 7-day pre-rally is also being planned for June 6-12)
See you in the Heartland!