Geraldine Buckley "Keeps It! Going" with Creativity and Collaboration

The story of Geraldine Buckley is captivating. On the surface, each chapter is a stand-alone narrative filled with colorful descriptions of people and places that come alive through the spoken word. But if we listen closely, we learn that the stories are all connected – woven together by common threads of creativity and kindness. Eventually, what we thought were random tales, evolve into a well-timed true story that was meant to be.

Geraldine Buckley is a minister, storyteller, writer, events director, and poetry slam champion. In 1999, Buckley traveled to South Africa to teach slam – a type of performance art in which poets recite original works. Through her workshops, her students learned to share their pain through an artistic voice. “The power of creativity should not be underestimated,” says Buckley. “When people speak creatively about their emotions, others connect to their story. Unbelievable bonds are formed.”


While in South Africa, Buckley also traveled to a school to share her art. In the midst of crowded conditions and limited resources, she was impressed by the shining spirit of the children. “After the poetry, the students sang for me,” she notes. “It was a profound experience that confirmed the power of creativity at work.” When Buckley left the country a short time later, she discovered that the creative forces she had encountered during her visit would help to shape her future goals and, ultimately, influence her decision to become a chaplain at the largest men’s prison in Maryland.

In 2011, more than ten years after her South African journey, Buckley found her voice reaching out to the people of South Africa once again. Through a collaborative effort with origins that tell their own unique story, Buckley would be sharing her creative talents at a storytelling benefit aimed at raising funds for Ivory Park.

Buckley had recently stepped down from her position as prison chaplain and had crafted a one-woman storytelling show based on her experiences. Through performance networks, she met Keep It! founder and fellow storyteller Bob Tryanski. Buckley and Tryanski found that their storytelling styles were complimentary and joined forces to present a house concert for friends, family, and storytelling enthusiasts.

A short time later, Tryanski joined John and Joyce Johnson and Carolyn and Jerry Ward in Ivory Park. The Johnsons and the Wards – members of the First Presbyterian Church in Greeneville, TN – had traveled to Ivory Park to view the impact of the church’s many fundraising efforts and to assess additional needs in the community. It was on the way home from this trip that the idea for the benefit concert took root.

John and Joyce Johnson hosted the house concert for “Keep It!” at their home in Greeneville, TN. Photo by O.J. Early. Copyright © 2011, The Greeneville Sun, All Rights Reserved. Used with Permission.

“What was amazing to me about the storytelling benefit was the way it all came together.  The stars really aligned to create this opportunity – along with a little nudge of divine intervention,” says Tryanski. “The idea was hatched in the back of the car by the Johnsons on our way back from their visit to Ivory Park. Geraldine and I had just come off a terrific experience performing together at a house concert in Philadelphia, so when she offered to do anything she could to help with the Ivory Park project, I thought we would be idiots to let her escape without taking her up on her extremely generous offer.”

Tryanski shared the idea for the benefit concert with Buckley who was eager to assist with a project that felt personal. “My prior experience in South Africa gave me a glimpse into what could be accomplished when children are given the right resources,” notes Buckley. “The Keep It! Campaign is opening a whole new world for these young people. And, it is empowering for students here in the United States. When they look beyond themselves and listen to someone else’s story, wonderful things can happen.”

Bob Tryanski entertains the crowd at a house concert that raised more than $3,000 for “The Keep It! Campaign”. Photo by O.J. Early. Copyright © 2011, The Greeneville Sun, All Rights Reserved. Used with Permission.

Storyteller Geraldine Buckley captivated the audience with her honest and humorous stories.Photo by O.J. Early. Copyright © 2011, The Greeneville Sun, All Rights Reserved. Used with Permission.

In October of 2011, Buckley and Tryanski’s benefit storytelling concert – hosted by the Johnsons – resulted in the largest single fundraising event to date for the Keep It! Campaign by bringing in more than $3,000. “Geraldine mesmerized the folks from Greeneville,” notes Tryanski. “It was a real joy to have the chance to work with her again. And they key to it all was collaboration.”

The Keep It! Campaign is proud to honor Geraldine Buckley, a campaign champion who Keeps It! Going through the power of creativity and collaboration.

The Johnsons and the Wards “Keep It Going” with a Mission

At First Presbyterian Church in Greeneville, TN, the defining mission is to nurture and provide care for people within and beyond the church’s own community of faith. The congregation is committed – not only to ministering to people’s hurts – but also to their hopes. So when church members learned of the “Keep It!” Campaign’s efforts to build a community of hope in Ivory Park, South Africa, they embraced the opportunity to act locally and reach globally. 

Members of the First Presbyterian Church in Greeneville, TN join "Keep It!" founder Bob Tryanski and residents of South Africa during a mission trip to Ivory Park.

Church member and former educator Carolyn Ward explains that the idea of helping to create self-sustaining improvements is what attracted her and husband Jerry to the project. “The philosophy of providing a hand up and not a hand out is an admirable concept,” she notes. “We were impressed by what had been accomplished in such a short time and that the people were eager to support themselves when they received the right kind of help.”

Joyce and John Johnson, also church members with a background in education, shared the Wards desire to support the project. When they learned that “Keep It” founder Bob Tryanski and his wife, Hannah Britton, were going to be visiting Ivory Park, they made plans to join them. Britton – whose mother, Sandra Britton, attends First Presbyterian Church – is a political science professor currently studying domestic violence in South Africa. 

While in Ivory Park, the Johnsons and the Wards toured the community center, day care, and the library located at the Drake Koka Primary School. The couples were pleased to see that many of their church’s previous fundraising efforts, including support of two new kitchens, had been transformed into tangible benefits for Ivory Park residents. They were also impressed with the dedication of the school’s principal, the librarian, and the day care workers. “We are all former educators, so education is a priority to us. You can’t teach hungry children and you can’t teach children who can’t see well, so it was gratifying to see all of the pieces – the feeding program, the day care, the eye center, the library – working together to improve education in the community,” notes Mrs. Ward.

Mrs. Johnson explains that, while in Ivory Park, the travelers participated in a brainstorming session to identify additional areas of need and potential solutions. The creative ideas generated from the session fueled the group’s excitement about the project – an excitement that they eagerly shared with the First Presbyterian congregation upon their return to Tennessee through photos and descriptions of the journey.

Since the couples’ return, church members have been busy with additional fundraisers aimed at bringing sustainable solutions to Ivory Park. They have raised more than $900 for tools that will allow adults to better maintain and expand on a community vegetable garden. They have also joined the campaign’s efforts to stock the library with new, quality reading materials and have raised $4,000 for books through community donations, member giving, and a storytelling event hosted by the Johnsons and featuring Tryanski and international storyteller Geraldine Buckley.    

For Mrs. Johnson, the best part of the experience has been meeting the people of Ivory Park. “They were warm, friendly, and enthusiastic,” she says. “And, they are really trying to take ownership and make the most of the opportunities presented to them.”

The “Keep It!” Campaign is proud to honor Joyce and John Johnson and Carolyn and Jerry Ward, two couples who “Keep It Going” by embracing their mission.

Lynn Clark “Keeps It Going” with Community Connections

When we launched the Keep It! Campaign, one of the core ideas was that our success or failure would be directly related to how well we were able to harness the “Power of Ten”. The key to this strategy was the idea of multiplication. Raising funds is certainly critical, but it’s even more important to “Keep It Going!” by connecting others to the cause. As we have moved forward, a number of key individuals have helped us to unlock the “Power of Ten”. Their stories are as diverse as they are inspiring. Each has connected a wide range of people to the project, raised significant funds to support the cause, and brought their own personal talents and interests to the project. Through a feature entitled “Keep It! Going”, we salute these champions by sharing their stories and recognizing their contribution with a simple keychain created by the children of Ivory Park.

Lynn Clark cares about communities. Whether it’s her hometown neighbors, a South African township in need, or PASC students and peers, she believes in nurturing relationships. It is this desire to build strong connections that has made Clark one of the Keep It! Campaign’s most loyal advocates.

Clark is the student council adviser and a health and physical education teacher at Norwin High School (North Huntingdon, PA). She values the lessons modeled through the PASC and encourages her students to practice these ideals. Through student council initiatives, Norwin’s student leaders are learning decision-making skills that allow them to be proactive in meeting needs in their own community and beyond. “Our group is very active in PASC state conferences and summer programs,” says Clark. “I send my students to these workshops to learn about leadership. We value our relationship with the PASC and believe it is important to support their initiatives as well as what is happening in our own neighborhood.”

It was through a former student’s experience at a 2009 PASC summer workshop that Clark first learned about the Campaign for Ivory Park. She recalls Forrest Mance’s excitement when he first shared the Keep It! story with his peers, and she enthusiastically backed his efforts to gain the council’s support for the campaign. As a result, students raised more than $700 through a dodgeball tournament held on behalf of Keep It! “Forrest is an awesome leader who took the initiative to organize, plan, and collect the funds,” notes Clark. And while Mance got the ball rolling in support of the campaign, it has been Clark’s job to help maintain the momentum through the years.

“I try to influence the students when I can,” says Clark. “I want them to know that it is important to support our own community but that, even if it’s not in our neck of the woods, we can make a difference. It’s important to be supportive of those who need our help whenever and wherever we can.” This philosophy was put into play in the spring of 2011, when the Norwin student council hosted another dodgeball tournament. Clark notes that the students were excited about the opportunity to provide additional support for Keep It! when an unforeseen and violent act of nature changed their plans. “Our community was hit by a destructive tornado in the spring,” explains Clark. “Some areas were devastated.” In this case, Clark and her students knew that they needed to provide support to neighbors who were dealing with the crisis, so tournament proceeds were donated to local relief efforts.

Still, Clark notes that Ivory Park is always in the hearts and minds of her students. “The kids have seen pictures of the difference they are making in South Africa,” she says. “They want to be a part of it. They want to know about the progress being made. It has become personal for them.” Because of this, Clark and her students donated their remaining funds for the 2010-2011 school year to Keep It! In addition, students have donated concession stand proceeds from a November 2011 power puff game and are planning a February 2012 Keep It! dodgeball tournament.

“One of our long term goals is to expand the scope of Keep It! beyond Ivory park as we continue to accomplish our goals in South Africa,” explains Keep It! founder Bob Tryanski. “Norwin’s experience is the perfect illustration of how the idea of ‘Act Locally, Reach Globally’ can impact communities at home as well as abroad. When student leaders and their advisers are proactive rather than reactive, they are ready to respond to a crisis as soon as the need arises. They become decision makers and change agents, not just fund raisers. This doesn’t happen by accident; it happens by design. It’s sustainable, scalable, and replicable. Those are the hallmarks of social entrepreneurship.”

Through community connections and her efforts to provide sustainability for the Keep It! Campaign, Clark is teaching her students about the importance of reaching out to those in their own community and abroad. In October of 2010, her outstanding efforts were acknowledged when she was named a PASC adviser of the year. The Keep It! Campaign is proud to honor Lynn Clark, a campaign champion who “Keeps It Going” through sustained support and community connections.

Live from Ivory Park

Thanks to supporters of the Keep It! Campaign, a new library is up and running in Ivory Park. Keep It! Founder Bob Tryanski and Hannah Britton recently visited the library located at the Drake Koka Primary School on the last day of the school year. There was much cause for celebration as all the students in the library program passed their examinations and were promoted to the next grade.

Bob Tryanski shares some stories with the students about the fans they have in the United States and announces that their poetry collection will be published to give people a chance to read their poems.

A portion of the proceeds from storyteller Andy Offutt Irwin’s new CD, "Risk Assessment", will support the library.

Students also celebrated the arrival of storytelling CDs thanks to the generosity of storyteller Bil Lepp. In 2012, the Keep It! Campaign will be working to stock the library shelves with quality books and educational materials.

While in Ivory Park, Tryanski also purchased and delivered a slew of new tools to support the Gardening Program at the Suppa du Momma Kitchen. Thanks to John and Joyce Johnson, Carolyn and Jerry Ward and the entire congregation at First Presbyterian Church for making this happen. The tools of self-sufficiency are a wonderful gift!

Storyteller Andy Offutt Irwin Keeps It! Going with Talent and Joy

Andy Offutt Irwin is joyful. As a storyteller, humorist, singer, songwriter, and musician, Irwin’s goal is to entertain and educate his audience. But the foundation of his vocation – the spark that ignites each performance – is the sharing of joy. And when he is on stage, Irwin finds that his joy is contagious. The pleasure he takes in bringing happiness to others has made Irwin a perfect partner for the Keep It! Campaign.

In February of 2011, Irwin attended a presentation at Emory University’s Oxford College in Oxford, GA by Keep It! founder and fellow storyteller, Bob Tryanski. Irwin was intrigued by the concept of social entrepreneurship. In addition, Irwin was captivated by the happiness he saw on the faces of Keep It! supporters as they worked to make a difference – and on the faces of Ivory Park residents whose lives were being transformed. “One of the things I love about Keep It! is the joyful countenance surrounding it,” Irwin says. “You can see it on the Web site, through the presentations, and in the volunteers working with the program. It is a spirited and fun way of giving back.” 

Irwin is a long-time supporter of literacy development and was especially interested in helping to fund the new library in Ivory Park. As a way of contributing to the Campaign’s drive to stock the library shelves with 6,000 new books, Irwin will be donating proceeds from downloaded copies of a cut from his newly released CD, Risk Assessment. The selection was recorded at the 2010 National Storytelling Festival in Jonesboro, TN and features Irwin along with storytellers Bil Lepp and Kevin Kling. Irwin explains that the cut is not a selection that storytelling aficionados have come to expect. Instead, it showcases the three humorists as they attempt a comedic improv performance. While Irwin notes that storytelling remains his area of expertise, he wanted to include the improv cut because it makes him laugh. “We are not doing what we do best. Yet, we are diving in. Taking the leap. Throwing ourselves into the fray,” he says. And as with all Keep It! supporters, Irwin’s efforts are filled with joy – a joy that he is now sharing with the people of Ivory Park.  

“Andy’s contribution to our project is like everything he does as an artist- it’s elegantly clever,” Tryanski says. “It’s the perfect illustration of how the simple principle of multiplication can have a significant, sustainable, scalable impact. Every time someone downloads the CD or the mp3 recording of the final track, it will help to put more books on the library’s shelves. Now that’s a great story!” 

Irwin’s generosity is an ideal example of the Keep It! Campaign’s challenge to reach globally by acting locally.  His ingenuity and willingness to share his talent coupled with the support of his fans will have a lasting impact on thousands of kids in Ivory Park. The Keep It! Campaign is also grateful to Bil Lepp and Kevin Kling for their enthusiastic support of Irwin’s idea. We can’t think of a better reason to add Risk Assessment to your CD collection!

To learn more about Andy Offutt Irwin – award-winning storyteller, humorist, musician, and educator – visit

To download Risk Assessment, Irwin’s most recent album featuring cut #7 to  benefit Keep It!: The Campaign for Ivory  Park, visit or

North Allegheny High School Keeps It Going! with a Project Model that Works


In Ivory Park, children are thankful for support provided by the students and staff at North Allegheny High School in PA.

   At North Allegheny High School in Wexford, PA, students are social entrepreneurs. Through recent dodgeball tournaments, organizers of You Throw it; I Dodge it; They Keep it! did more than just raise funds for the people of Ivory Park, South Africa. They also developed a scalable, replicable project model – a tangible template of success filled with clear-cut strategies that other schools can apply.

     In the summer of 2009, North Allegheny student Akshaya Arjunan was introduced to the concept of social entrepreneurship and the Keep It! Campaign while attending an Advanced Gold Workshop sponsored by the Pennsylvania Association of Student Councils (PASC). After learning about the hardships facing Ivory Park residents, Arjunan was inspired to take action. She encouraged a committee of classmates to act locally and reach globally by including Ivory Park as a beneficiary of the high school’s upcoming tournament. Tesin Gnalian, a 2010 graduate of North Allegheny, served as a cabinet head in charge of organizing the event. The group’s efforts paid off and more than $1,100 was collected for Ivory Park.

     During the 2010-2011 school year, the students hosted a second dodgeball tournament to benefit Keep It! This time, student council member Antony Gnalian was ready to take the leadership reigns from sister Tesin. “Tesin’s determination and drive is what influenced me to become a student leader,” he says. “She taught me that you do not need a fancy executive title in order to make a difference.”

     Along with winning leadership qualities, Antony also shared his sister’s commitment to making a difference in Ivory Park. He notes that students at North Allegheny have access to a quality education, and he believes in sharing this opportunity with others who are less fortunate. He states, “It is important that we give as much as we can to help improve educational facilities. This way other children may have opportunities to rise through the ranks and help contribute to the advancement of society.”

     Rather than starting from scratch, 2010-2011 tournament organizers were able to rely on documentation from their past experiences to make project planning easier. In addition, students and staff took their leadership responsibilities to the next level by contributing key materials for the creation of a dodgeball tournament manual.  “Basically, all of the information we needed was right there at our fingertips,” explains student council adviser Patti Dzambo. “Having the model as a guide helped to ease the overwhelming nature of the project.” As a result, students collected more than $1,900 for Keep It!

     With project blueprints provided by North Allegheny, the PASC’s Kathy Coll and Keep It! founder Bob Tryanski were able to publish a “how to” manual documenting the secrets to planning a successful dodgeball tournament. The manual is currently available to all schools in Pennsylvania and throughout the country. “The manual has become such a valuable tool for other schools to use in states as far away from Pennsylvania as Texas and New Mexico.  North Allegheny’s idea has had tremendous reach and this is only the beginning,” says Tryanski.  

     Dzambo is proud of the efforts of North Allegheny students and co-adviser Pam Kohlmann in supporting local community efforts as well as the Campaign for Ivory Park. She notes that photos and story updates regarding the progress in Ivory Park are motivating. “The students at North Allegheny are some of the most dedicated, loyal, and giving students any adviser could ask for,” says Dzambo. “It is fabulous that we have officers who are willing to devote many hours toward creating opportunities that allow our student body to have fun while supporting a worthwhile cause.”

Patti Dzambo and her team are making a difference in Ivory Park.

     Tryanski believes that the efforts of the NA team have impacted the success of the Keep It! Campaign and have created positive, long-term changes in Ivory Park. He notes, “There are so many inspiring dimensions to the North Allegheny Keep It! story.  Akshaya and Tesin’s friendship got things moving for us at the school. Antony’s relationship with his sister continued the momentum. But the one constant from one year to the next has been the guidance, direction, encouragement, and support provided by Patti Dzambo.  Patti has been a true champion for this project, and thousands of miles away, more children are being fed, more books are being read and a community grows stronger. This is the power of connection, caring and concern that Patti, Pam Kohlmann, and the students of NA have given to Ivory Park.  What a wonderful, meaningful, significant gift!”

     The Keep It! Campaign is proud to honor Patti Dzambo, Pam Kohlmann, and the amazing student leaders at North Allegheny High School. As a team, they Keep It Going! with dedication, enthusiasm, and the implementation of a project model that works. 

     To view the dodgeball tournament manual, go to

Nancy Brady “Keeps It! Going” with Leadership

When we launched the Keep It! Campaign, one of the core ideas was that our success or failure would be directly related to how well we were able to harness the “Power of Ten”. The key to this strategy was the idea of multiplication. Raising funds is certainly critical, but it’s even more important to “Keep It Going!” by connecting others to the cause. As we have moved forward, a number of key individuals have helped us to unlock the “Power of Ten”. Their stories are as diverse as they are inspiring. Each has connected a wide range of people to the project, raised significant funds to support the cause, and brought their own personal talents and interests to the project. Through a new feature entitled “Keep It! Going”, we will salute these champions by sharing their stories and recognizing their contribution with a simple keychain created by the children of Ivory Park.

“Give your students the opportunity to make a difference, and they will exceed your expectations.” This philosophy has been a motivating force for educator Nancy Brady for more than 30 years. First through her work with children with special needs and most recently as a student council adviser at Governor Mifflin Middle School (Shillington, PA), Brady has taught children that their actions can make a difference not only to peers in their own community but also to children half a world away in Ivory Park, South Africa.

Though Brady officially retired from her teaching position at Governor Mifflin in 2009, she has retained her role as student council adviser and remained the driving force behind Governor Mifflin’s energetic support of the Keep It! Campaign. She explains that her students were responsive to the needs of Ivory Park residents after they saw a picture presentation that allowed them to put a name and a face with the project. In addition to a holiday dance fundraiser, students have worked together to make quilts, photo frames, puzzles, and an illustrated ABC book for the new library. “The most important reason that our students responded to this campaign is because they learned about the children of Ivory Park,” she says. “They had an understanding of how they live and what the campaign is trying to accomplish.” 

For her leadership and dedication to the Keep It! Campaign, Nancy Brady has received a special key ring made by the children of Ivory Park. Brady’s students at Governor Mifflin Middle School wrote and illustrated an ABC book for the new Ivory Park library.

Brady believes that advisers can increase student interest in any service project by helping the students feel a personal connection to the people they are helping. “When kids have a real connection, they become more involved,” she notes. “When (Keep It! founder) Bob Tryanski brought Ivory Park to our kids with pictures and facts, they embraced the cause.”

Brady has applied this same guiding principle many times throughout her career. She relates an incident in which a simple meeting served to break down barriers and build connections. “Many years ago, I brought physically challenged preschoolers into our building four times a year to visit one-on-one with our student council members,” she explains. “The students would return to their homerooms telling positive stories about these children. Once a year, the entire homeroom would meet their new preschool friend and his or her parents. A new connection was made along with a new understanding of the challenges. The program continued for ten years. It was amazing to watch the enthusiasm.”

As experienced advisers know, the toughest part of keeping any campaign going is preserving interest in a project after the initial enthusiasm has waned. Brady notes that the adviser can serve an important role by sustaining project visibility. With the Keep It! Campaign, Brady maintains a display case showing photos of children from Ivory Park. Tryanski also returned to Governor Mifflin to show the students pictures of the positive changes that had occurred in Ivory Park as a result of their efforts. Brady notes that frequent reminders and updates regarding project progression and success can help motivate students to stay involved.

But perhaps the most important advice that Brady can offer other educators is to lead with a contagious enthusiasm. “Be passionate about whatever cause you choose. Our students learn best from our example,” she says. “Show them the way.” 

Tryanski notes that Brady’s enthusiasm is one quality that makes Brady a top notch educator and role model. “If you want to learn how to be a great teacher, coach, mentor, or advisor, spend a day with Nancy Brady and take copious notes,” he says. “Nancy embodies a passion for teaching, an ethic of service and the patience and commitment to showing young people how to go beyond making a difference.  She was one of President Bush’s original Points of Light and the example she has set is an eternal flame of generosity, opportunity, and hope for educators and the young people that they serve.”

The Keep It! Campaign is proud to honor Nancy Brady, a campaign champion who “Keeps It! Going” through strong leadership and dedication.

Troy Davis “Keeps It Going!” with Energetic Leadership

When we launched the Keep It! Campaign, one of the core ideas was that our success or failure would be directly related to how well we were able to harness the “Power of Ten”. The key to this strategy was the idea of multiplication. Raising funds is certainly critical, but it’s even more important to “Keep It Going!” by connecting others to the cause. As we have moved forward, a number of key individuals have helped us to unlock the “Power of Ten”. Their stories are as diverse as they are inspiring. Each has connected a wide range of people to the project, raised significant funds to support the cause, and brought their own personal talents and interests to the project. Through a new feature entitled “Keep It! Going”, we will salute these champions by sharing their stories and recognizing their contribution with a simple keychain created by the children of Ivory Park.

Troy Davis is enthusiastic about current pursuits, future goals, and new opportunities. In short, Troy Davis is enthusiastic about life. As a PASC executive board member and a student council representative at Ford City High School (Ford City, PA), Davis approaches his service-related responsibilities with a high energy attitude and the motivation to succeed. Recently, this contagious spirit took root at Ford City High School where Davis and his peers engaged in a dynamic dance-a-thon that raised over $1,200 for the Keep It! Campaign.

Davis first learned about Keep It! and the Campaign for Ivory Park at a PASC presentation. “I was personally affected by the before and after pictures of conditions in South Africa. Actually seeing what we as a team were able to build was inspirational,” he notes. “After the presentation, I talked to Kathy Coll to learn more about the project and to understand it better.”

Davis returned to Ford City excited to present the Ivory Park story to his peers. Because his high school already participates in a dodgeball tournament for another important cause (dodgeball is a current PASC initiative to support Ivory Park), the student council team brainstormed about other possible fundraising opportunities. Ultimately, they decided to host a dance-a-thon that would be planned by Davis and fellow student council member Tori Hendrickson.

At Ford City High School (Ford City, PA), more than 150 student dancers participated in a dance-a-thon to benefit Ivory Park.

Davis and Hendrickson, with the support of student council adviser Cathy Rudosky, documented the rules for the dance-a-thon and began recruiting dance teams as well as student and adult volunteers to oversee the event. They also enlisted the help of the community in collecting snack donations and prizes. Teams contributed a $30 sign-up fee and also solicited donations from sponsors. In the end, more than 150 student dancers took to the floor in a six hour dancing extravaganza that raised $1,250 for Ivory Park. 

Dance-a-thon Judges

Keep It! founder Bob Tryanski notes that Davis’ energy has been a force in promoting Keep It! dodgeball tournaments through PASC. He was pleased that Davis was able to build support for Ivory Park even though Ford City was promoting a dodgeball tournament for an alternative project. “One of the true marks of a leader is the ability to champion an idea,” says Tryanksi. “Troy’s energy and enthusiasm are perfect examples of what it takes to get people on board. At Ford City, students had already made significant commitments to another important cause through a dodgeball tournament. Troy said, ‘That’s fine. . .so what else can we do?’ Working with Tori and Cathy, he built a team to Keep It Going. You can’t do anything significant without this type of leadership.”

Davis explains that the leadership lessons gained through service work have been invaluable. “Student council has given me a completely different perspective and a new appreciation for what goes on behind the scenes,” he says. “Before, I used to enjoy just attending events. Now, I understand what goes into creating the finished product. It’s so important to say ‘thank you’ to volunteers, parents, teachers, and students who give their own time to help your event be a success. In this case, I especially want to thank Tori Hendrickson and Cathy Rudosky for helping the idea of the dance-a-thon to grow.”

Troy Davis (left) enjoys working with other student leaders.

Along with his student council responsibilities, Davis also enjoys volleyball, drama, and musical theater. He recently participated in his school’s production of Singing in the Rain. In the long run, Davis hopes to attend medical school and thinks that the lessons learned through his participation in student council will be transferrable to his future career.

The Keep It! Campaign is proud to honor Troy Davis, a campaign champion with the energy and enthusiasm to “Keep It Going!

Forrest Mance “Keeps It Going!” With a Dodgeball Tournament Tradition

When we launched the Keep It! Campaign, one of the core ideas was that our success or failure would be directly related to how well we were able to harness the “Power of Ten”. The key to this strategy was the idea of multiplication. Raising funds is certainly critical, but it’s even more important to “Keep It Going!” by connecting others to the cause. As we have moved forward, a number of key individuals have helped us to unlock the “Power of Ten”. Their stories are as diverse as they are inspiring. Each has connected a wide range of people to the project, raised significant funds to support the cause, and brought their own personal talents and interests to the project. Through a new feature entitled “Keep It! Going”, we will salute these champions by sharing their stories and recognizing their contribution with a simple keychain created by the children of Ivory Park.

When Forrest Mance was a sophomore at Norwin High School in North Huntingdon, PA, a world cultures course introduced him to the challenges facing impoverished communities in South Africa. The service-minded Mance was touched by what he saw, and he wanted to help. But though Mance had the motivation, he wasn’t sure how to transform his inspiration into a strategy that could impact people who live thousands of miles away. Enter the Keep It! Campaign.

Forrest Mance (second from right) and fellow student leaders at the June 2009 PASC Advanced Gold Workshop.

Mance had previously met Keep It! founder Bob Tryanski at a PASC summer workshop. When he learned about Tryanski’s work with the Campaign for Ivory Park, he knew that he’d found the perfect way to take action. Mance encouraged fellow student council members to embrace Keep It! and became the driving force behind a dodgeball tournament designed to benefit Ivory Park. He asked the high school news broadcasting group to make a promotional video advertising the tournament and posted flyers designed to spur interest. He expanded involvement by enlisting teams of teachers and students throughout the school district. As a result, Mance and the Norwin student council recruited 18 teams and raised $700 for the campaign.

“The great thing about Forrest’s willingness to take initiative at Norwin is that he was a catalyst for sustained support at his high school.  Forrest graduated from Norwin last year, but the dodgeball tournament is happening again this year.  Sustainable support is the key to our success in Ivory Park,” says Tryanski.

Mance’s involvement with the Keep It! Campaign helped to make him a global citizen, and he believes that all students need to be aware of issues affecting people in their own communities and abroad.  His efforts also allowed him to practice valuable leadership skills. “Students need to realize the potential they have to change lives, not only in their own communities, but around the globe,” he says. “Through the campaign, I learned that it was possible for a high school student to make a huge contribution, and I also learned about planning and goal setting. Watching the event come together and realizing that I was able to directly improve someone’s life situation was satisfying.”       

Forrest Mance (front) participates in an outdoor team building adventure at the PASC Advance Gold Workshop in 2009.

Mance graduated from high school in 2010 and is now a student at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, PA. In addition to his studies, he devotes his time to volunteer work and is also an active member of a chess club and a rock band. In the short term, he hopes to graduate from Duquesne’s professional pharmacy program. “I’m not sure what the future holds after that,” he notes. “But, the leadership skills I learned through my experiences with the PASC and the Keep It! Campaign will be critical to whatever path I travel.”  The Keep It! Campaign is proud to honor Forrest Mance, a campaign champion who “Keeps It Going!”

To learn how to host a dodgeball tournament at your school, visit

Riverstone Montessori Academy: Student Leadership in Action

A fundamental goal of the Keep It! Campaign has been to build a national network of student leaders with the skills and the desire to create sustainable solutions in their own communities and beyond.  At Riverstone Montessori Academy in Marietta, GA, the Keep It! initiative combined with Montessori ideals provided a perfect opportunity for students to practice social entrepreneurship.

Lead Middle School Teacher Sofia Tobon explains that, along with academics, Riverstone’s developmentally based curriculum encourages social and emotional growth.  “Children need opportunities to meaningfully interact and connect with people around the globe. These activities nurture their spirit of compassion and help them to understand that they have the ability to positively impact the lives of others,” says Tobon. “After watching the Ivory Park video presented by Bob Tryanski, the students realized that things they take for granted are not possibilities for the children in Ivory Park.”

For eighth grader Maggie Cummings, the story of Ivory Park motivated her to take action by initiating a carnival fundraiser completely organized by students. Assisted by student co-planners Connor Nickerson and Dallas Brady, Cummings and her team ran a successful project from start to finish. “Maggie is a natural leader,” notes Tobon. “She is extremely organized and detail oriented, and she loves to take on managerial roles. If she takes on a project, she will see it through to the end with no detail spared. It was impressive to see people calling to speak to her directly instead of asking for the teachers.”

In spite of uncooperative weather, the carnival was a big success and raised more than $700 for Ivory Park. Cummings is pleased with the results and hopes that the carnival can be used as a replicable fundraising strategy next year. ”After seeing the presentation on Ivory Park, I was inspired by the stories that were told and our ability to help children in South Africa,” says Cummings. “Since I like to do fundraising, this seemed like the perfect cause. I’ve been thinking about doing a carnival fundraiser and the Campaign for Ivory Park was the perfect fit. I’m pleased with the results and it would be great if Riverstone could expand on it next year.”

Tobon believes that meaningful activities such as the fundraiser for Ivory Park benefit her students academically, professionally and socially. “Academically, students learn factual information about different cultures and international issues that are impacting our planet. Professionally, they learn and practice research, organization, presentation, planning, and management skills. And socially and emotionally, they benefit from working together to help others who are not as fortunate. Knowing that their efforts, even at this age, can help someone like them on the other side of the world have a better life has a profound effect upon them as they continue to grow and find their place in society.”

The Keep It! Campaign salutes the students and staff at Riverstone Montessori Academy for their contribution to Ivory Park and for their efforts to build a community of social entrepreneurs.