Kiwanis International Celebrates 100 Years of “Serving the Children of the World”
Writer / Kara Reibel
Past Kiwanis International President Donald Canaday, a Fishers resident, shares his involvement and what inspired his lifelong service to Kiwanis.
While stationed in Fairbanks, Alaska as a Lt. Col. with the U.S. Army in 1969, Don Canaday’s superior officer explained that the U.S. Army was very proud of its relationship with the City of Fairbanks. There were other officers representing the Army in all other civic service organizations except Kiwanis. He asked Canaday, “Do you have a problem representing us as a member of Kiwanis?” Canaday, having no idea what Kiwanis was, responded, “No, Sir!”
For the rest of Canaday’s military service – wherever he was stationed – he became a member of a local Kiwanis Club, or started one. Forty-six years later, retired Brig. Gen. Canaday is still committed to Kiwanis International. “Kiwanis International is a global organization of volunteers dedicated to improving the world one child and one community at a time,” he said.
2015 marks the 100th anniversary of Kiwanis International, headquartered in Indianapolis. The first Kiwanis Club was founded in Jan. 15, 1915 in Detroit. In the Kiwanis family there are over 600,000 members in over 80 nations around the world that provide 6-million hours of service each year. Collectively, Kiwanis International raises more than a $100 million every year to serve the needs of children.
A completely volunteer-based organization, Kiwanis clubs are almost everywhere. Locally, Kiwanis supports a high school community service organization known as Key Club in both Fishers and Hamilton Southeastern High Schools. Canaday works with Kiwanis clubs and elementary schools to provide a program known as “Bring Up Grades,” or BUG, and a character-building program known as “Terrific Kids.” In junior high, Kiwanis sponsors service clubs known as “Builders Clubs.”
In 2008, after serving five years on the Kiwanis International Board, Canaday was elected Kiwanis International President. Prior to taking office as president, Don lost his wife to a brain tumor. “It was a tough year with her diagnosis and then her loss,” he said.
As President of Kiwanis International, Canaday traveled the globe, visiting parts of the world where he was warmly received. “It was simply amazing to see the good work being done to benefit children by Kiwanians all over the world,” shared Canaday.
After traveling to many destinations, Canaday says his favorite places were New Zealand and Austria. Canaday remembers the scenery in New Zealand vivdly. “Seeing the snow-capped mountains, with flowers below and green fields, the landscape near Christchurch is breath-taking,” he said.
While in Austria, Canaday had the honor of being knighted in a castle, but that’s not what mattered most to him. “I have dined with presidents and royalty, but the most endearing and special memories are those of the positive impact that Kiwanis has had on the lives on children all over the world,” said Canaday.
Now, as a Past International President, Canaday continues to serve at both the local and international level. He is sent to help where needed, and has recently taken on a key role in membership growth and service within North America. Canaday is a member of both the Meridian Hills and the Geist Kiwanis clubs.
One Kiwanis project, the North Carolina Home for Boys & Girls, had a huge impact on Canaday. “Here is an organization helping kids catch up in school, both academically, socially and emotionally. These kids come from orphanages, foster care, or other means, to this place for help. Every child there is provided a full four-year college scholarship. I have met graduates of this school who are very high-ranking military and corporate executives. I will always donate to them.”
“Don is an amazing man and we are thrilled to have him in our Geist Kiwanis Club,” shares The National Bank of Indianapolis Geist Branch Assistant Manager and Geist Kiwanis Club Secretary Lorna Goodwin.
Canaday’s contribution and lasting legacy within Kiwanis International is growth. To date, he has organized 126 Kiwanis Clubs.
Denise Parker, who works with the Kiwanis International Board of Trustees, has worked closely with Canaday for more than 20 years. “Don is one of my favorite Past International Presidents, perhaps since he has lived near the headquarters and can pop in more frequently, but regardless, he has a strong commitment to helping children through Kiwanis,” she said. “He is always a joy to work with.”
Kiwanis International has developed strong relationships with many corporations and organizations. One of the Kiwanis Vision Partners is the U.S. Army. As a coincidence, Canaday was walking by the conference room one day while a meeting with representatives of the U.S. Army was under way. Canaday was called into the room, with the introduction, “I would like you to meet our general.” The entire room came to “attention.”
It was also through Kiwanis International that Canaday met his new wife, Sharon, the associate director of economic and community development for Ball State University’s Building Better Communities. Sharon worked for Kiwanis in Ghent, Belgium. After she returned stateside, Sharon met Don at a lunch date with a mutual friend of theirs. They married three years ago.
The celebrations have begun for the 100th anniversary of Kiwanis. And at 80 years old, Canaday is still going strong. He continues to help foster growth and service wherever needed. Canaday is at the ready for his call of duty, helping the children of the world through Kiwanis International.
Local Kiwanis Club Info
Fishers Station Kiwanis Club monthly business meeting is on the fourth Monday of each month at the Delaware Township Government Center in the upstairs conference room. Its monthly social meeting is on the second Monday of each month with the location varying among various popular Fishers dining locations. Please call Rick Fain at 317-490-0352 for more information. The Geist Kiwanis Club meets at 8 a.m. on the second and fourth Thursday of the month at Crosspoint Church on Olio Road. For additional information, call Lorna Goodwin at 317-428-1567.
For further information about Kiwanis International visit kiwanis.org.