Mrs. Oktoberfest contributes to the community in many ways throughout the year

Darryle Clott Mrs. Oktoberfest 2019

For 20 years, the Mrs. Oktoberfests have sponsored the Ladies Day Luncheon as the closing event of the Oktoberfest and invite women and men to eat and have fun.

This year’s luncheon was held on Monday 3rd October in the Waterfront’s Cargill Room. We were fortunate to have local legend Misty Lown as our keynote speaker.

I had the honor of interviewing her and concluded that everything she does is rooted in her strong belief in God and positive thinking and that is how she conducts her life and businesses.

Misty started her first company, Misty’s Dance Unlimited, at the age of 21. She has helped over 10,000 children in the Coulee area. Misty’s philosophy is, “We don’t teach kids to be great dancers; We teach dance to make great kids.” Since then she has founded several other dance companies. She has encouraged and inspired thousands of entrepreneurs and young women in the past and continues to share her positive and humorous perspectives on business through her writing, speaking and mentoring.

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She founded More Than Just Great Dancing to provide studio owners and leaders with the tools, education and connections they need to be successful. Their mission is to empower studio owners to build a healthier, more sustainable future for the dance industry. This organization serves 292 companies and has a positive impact on over 100,000 dance students worldwide every week.

A large part of Misty’s sky-high energy levels is rooted in grassroots charitable giving. Misty’s Dance Unlimited has collectively provided over $500,000 in cash and grants through its A Chance to Dance Foundation.

Misty is the author of Amazon’s #1 bestseller, One Small Yes. She has received numerous honors at both local and national levels. For all her success in running businesses, Misty is still a teacher through and through. She used to teach dance; Now she teaches economics.

A North Sider at heart, Misty is a proud third generation Logan Ranger. Her favorite things to do are spending the day with her husband Mitch and their wonderful children: Isabella, Mason, Sam, Max and Benjamin.

The Ladies Day Luncheon is just one of many activities Mrs. Oktoberfests participate in. They are a group of strong women and sit on numerous area boards, hold leadership positions in their organizations and have received multiple awards. Their commitment to our community is paramount in the work they do and invest their time in.

One of our women’s Oktoberfest organized the women’s Oktoberfest to ring bells for the Salvation Army in 2005 and we’re still going strong 17 years later. Many of us are involved in Rotary and Rotary Lights, as well as the Rotary Lights Board, Rotary Board, and Rotary Foundation Board. Forty-one years ago, Mrs. O. organized the Geranium Sale for St. Francis Hospital Auxiliary to raise funds for nursing scholarships at the Viterbo School of Nursing and Western Technical College’s nursing program, which continues to this day.

A Mrs. O. was instrumental in founding the Children’s Museum in 1999 and remains on the board. Another was one of the initiators of Steppin’ Out in Pink in 2006, which raised nearly $4.8 million to fund breast cancer research initiatives at the Gundersen Medical Foundation; Provide help to needy breast cancer patients; and support the services of the Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders and the Norma J. Vinger Center for Breast Care. Generous donations were made by Mrs. O.’s to the Causeway Caregivers fundraising Spring Fling event

A dog-loving Mrs. O. and her pet therapy dogs have touched over 3,000 lives through her pet therapy visits. Another was the founder of the Hunger Task Force and served as president for five years, founded Kane Street Garden and served on the board. One Ms. O. was a member of the Dubna Friendship Association which, working with colleagues von Gundersen and Mayo, was able to modernize Dubna’s healthcare system. They are now in talks with colleagues they previously worked with in Ukraine to get status reports from them.

UW-L has also benefited from having several Mrs. O’s represented on its UW-L Foundation Board, Alumni Association Board and Chancellor’s Community Council. Some were on the Oktoberfest board and on the women’s fund board. Others have been board members of the Aptiv Foundation, WAFER, YWCA and YMCA, Pettibone Boat Club, La Crosse Community Theatre, United Fund for the Arts and Humanities, Trust Point and State Bank. Several have served on the La Crosse Symphony Board and two have been winners of the Conductor Wannabe Contest.

Other organizations that have benefited from Ms. O.’s membership on their boards include the American Heart Association, Mississippi Conservancy, Chileda, Community Nursing, Eagle Crest Community, La Crosse Promise, the Coulee Region Humane Society, and the American Red Cross. A Ms. O. was a member of the Wisconsin Law Foundation and is a past President. Another was on the board of Great Rivers United Way and chaired fund distribution and was a former campaign chair. Yet another was on the Benefit Review Board for United Way.

Various Mrs. O. have been presented with the YWCA Tribute to Outstanding Women Award. A Mrs. O. is on the Boys and Girls Club Wall of Fame and is a Commissioner of the La Crosse Board of Parks and a member of the Riverside Park Task Force. Ms. O. is a recipient of the Pope John XXIII Award, the Iverson Freking Ecumenical Award, the UW-L Graff Distinguished Alumni Award, the Ellis Island Medal of Honor, and is a Fellow at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.

These women have contributed to dozens of organizations in our community to make the Coulee region a better place to live. Along with Mrs. Oktoberfests, known as the heart of Oktoberfest, they are ambassadors for the community who continue to strive to serve the La Crosse region.

Darryle Clott is Ms. Oktoberfest 2019.

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