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Exchange Club holds convention

Troy’s Exchange Club played host to nearly 100 visitors this weekend at the State Exchange Club Convention.

It wasn’t since 2005, Troy has been able to hold this event at home.

And, Convention Co-Chair Bob Lambert said the weekend went off without a hitch.

The event opened Friday night for its 88th year, with welcomes from the host club, Charlie’s Angels, Troy Mayor Jimmy Lunsford and District President Wayne Swindall.

For the second year in a row, Troy’s club was awarded the Exchange Club of the Year, a testament to its members service to the community.

“It’s based on several categories, and we won in three out of four of those categories,” Lambert said.

In addition, Charlie’s Angels, who presented the colors, was honored with a patriotic service award from the state.

And, one of Troy’s own, Otis Stone, got to make a special presentation to the Exchangite of the Year. Stone was the 2008 recipient of this honor.

Saturday, the club saw 105 people gathered at its Youth of the Year luncheon at the conference, which is held at the Holiday Inn in Troy.

Lambert said the winner was not a Pike County resident, but his story was inspiring nonetheless.

“He had come from an abusive family, had been homeless for a while and now just graduated from high school and will go to college,” Lambert said.

The event peaked Saturday evening, with a Court of Honor Banquet. There, 18 of the 23 Exchange Clubs in the state named John Croyle Court of Honor Recipient. He is the founder of the Big Oak Boy’s Ranch in Gadsen, a girls’ ranch in Springville and Westbrook Christian School in Rainbow City.

The programs provide a Chrisitian environment for children just looking for “a chance.”

Typically, Lambert said the State Covention would end on Saturday night, but that wasn’t the case this year.

Convention guests, as well as several from all across the city, will come together for the “One Nation Under God” Breakfast, an event the local Exchange Club holds each year.

“We usually hold it at the Rec Center, but it just worked out to have it this weekend, so we asked them to stay an extra day and join us for the breakfast,” Lambert said.

The event begins at 6:45 a.m. at the Holiday Inn, and motivational speaker and humorist John Riley will be the keynote speaker.

For some of the conference attendants, Troy was not a first-time visit.

Sandra Sudduth, of Jacksonville, Ala., used to come to Troy to watch Jacksonville State University compete in sporting events.

But even though she had come before, this visit was unique for her.

“I’m getting to see a lot I have not seen before,” Sudduth said, while touring the city’s Homel and Ethel Johnson Center for the Arts during a break Saturday afternoon.

Sudduth, who has been an Exchange Club member for 15 years, is also a member of her city’s council. She said she was excited to see what the city of Troy had to offer its community.