Longtime Fort Wayne resident Doug Rodenbeck was one of 11 Lions Clubs International members honored as Champions of Change on Oct. 2 at the White House.
The 11 Champions also included Greg Jeffrey, a North Webster resident who is a member of the Central Lions Club in Fort Wayne. Lions Clubs International President Wayne Madden, an Auburn resident, also attended.
Rodenbeck, who moved with his wife, Martha, to Knoxville, Tenn., in late September, has been a member of the Anthony Wayne Lions Club and he has served as Indiana's Leo Club state chairman for about 15 years. Leo clubs are a youth version of Lions Clubs.
He was named a Champion of Change for his work with young people through Leo Clubs. In particular, Rodenbeck was recognized for working with local Leo Club members on the largest Leo fundraising project ever — raising $170,000 to build suites to accommodate families of burn patients being treated at St. Joseph Hospital in Fort Wayne.
Jeffrey was selected as a Champion of Change for his longtime work organizing and leading trips to Central America to provide people with medical care, a Lions Clubs news release said.
As part of busy few days in Washington, Lions Clubs members named Champions of Change served as speakers in panel discussions held in the Executive Office Building auditorium, Rodenbeck said. They were asked to speak and answer questions about the Lions work that led to them being named a Champion of Change.
“It was a nice event,” Rodenbeck said by phone this week from Knoxville.
Activities also included a large reception Oct. 1 and a visit to the White House, he said.
“I actually got a backstage tour of the White House,” he said.
He and his wife were able to see the White House kitchen, the dining room where the Obamas have their meals and the staircase to the family's living quarters, he said.
The Rodenbecks also had something else to celebrate the day they toured the White House: They became grandparents, as their son and daughter-in-law officially adopted two foster children.