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Leila Case: Americus activities continue to pop

Americus continues to “pop” with activities from dinners honoring President Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter to deb parties, globe trotters settling back in, and a marathon runner reaching her goal.
The Carters were guests of honor at an elegant seated dinner hosted by the Best Western Plus Historic Windsor Hotel to benefit the Friends of Jimmy Carter National Historic Site and Americus Main Street Program in the hotel’s main dining room last Sunday evening.
The hosts, Sharad and Ila Patel, and their sons and wives, Vic and Divya Patel and Rushabah and Jegi Patel, greeted the guests from the local area and cities throughout the southeast for an evening featuring authentic Indian fare and musical entertainment.
After dinner, entertainment featured the acclaimed musical artist Pandit Nayan Ghosh, known worldwide as one of India’s foremost classical guitarists, who performed a diverse repertoire on the sitar while accompanied by his son, Ishaan Ghosh, 15, on the tabla.
Carter enjoyed the evening and took time to pose for photos with guests snapped by Andy Shivers  assisted by his wife, Lori. And although Mrs. Carter wasn’t present, she didn’t miss the good food. Her husband took her a “to go” box sent by the hosts.
Sharad and Ila Patel have entertained the Carters previously at intimate dinners serving fine Indian cuisine that they are known to enjoy and entertaining afterwards with Indian songs, however, Patel longed to host a larger event featuring a professional musician from his native country and turn it into a charitable event. His desire became a reality as everything came together this year.
The evening was a huge success, raising more than $11,000 that will benefit both the Jimmy Carter National Historic site in Plains and historic downtown Americus. I say that we should all applaud and raise a glass to toast the Patel family for their desire to give back to Americus and Sumter County, their adopted home.
Meanwhile on Saturday evening, the annual Sheffield Leadership Award Gala took center stage at the Rylander Theatre, attracting more than 80 attendees from Rotary District 6900, including Americus Rotarians. The event was an overwhelming success from all aspects, according to Mary Ann Crowley, president.
The awards presentations, of course was the highlight of the evening and the silent auction items brought top dollars that will go back into the community to support the local club’s many worthwhile projects.
The Sheffield Leadership Award, established in 1994, is presented by the Rotary Club of Americus in honor of three past District Governors – all from the same family and the Americus Rotary Club. It honors John West Sheffield (District 39, 1926-27), his son, John W. Sheffield (District 690, 1961-62), and Langdon Sheffield (District 690, 1975-76), who has each served this Rotary District as District Governors.? ?
The award is presented annually to the District 6900 club presidents (from each of the club size categories) who best exemplify the extraordinary leadership traits represented by the Sheffield family and execute their responsibilities in an exceptional manner. Don Smith and Jaclyn Donavan, local Rotarians, are former award recipients.
Emily Sheffield Hollingsworth, Lang’s daughter, and her husband, Lee Hollingsworth, were among the guests.
Congratulations to former resident Cathy Chambliss Saylor of Columbus. A runner, she set a personal goal of running marathons in all 50 states in the U.S. and achieved that goal this week. She wept tears of relief when she crossed the finish line of her 79th marathon in New Hampshire with a time of 6 hours, 37 minutes and 4 seconds. Her husband Doug Saylor and son also ran, finishing in 3 hours and 43 minutes. Cathy is the daughter of Ross and Charlotte Chambliss who were there cheering her on.
Meanwhile, Rick and Genie Powell and sons Walker Powell, Cooper Powell, daughter Hanna Kroll and Blake Renner and Kyle Richards, all of Atlanta, had an exciting family European last week. They toured the cities of Prague and Berlin, where they enjoyed great food, lots of walking and biking the Berlin wall.
Hanna had quite a surprise. When she and Kyle were leisurely touring Prague Castle, Kyle popped “the question.” Of course, she said “yes” and he slipped a sparkling diamond engagement ring on the third finger of her left hand. Cheering and toasts followed. The couple hasn’t set a date for their big day – Hanna is busy moving out her condo into her new home located in the historic district of Roswell.
Elsewhere, Dr. Lou and Candy Riccardi were in Columbus last Saturday when he exchanged his starched professional dental coat for a formal white dinner jacket to present their granddaughter, Nancy Hatcher, at the 2016 Heritage Ball honoring the class of 23 Cotillion Club of Columbus debutantes.  Nancy’s aunt Dr. Alex Riccardi and her fiancé Brandon Horne of Americus were also present. Nancy is the daughter of Ashley Riccardi Hatcher and Neill Hatcher of Columbus and great-granddaughter of Nancy Kinnebrew Bell of Americus. A rising sophomore at Reinhardt University in Weleska and honor roll student, Nancy is studying for a dental degree. She is literally following in the footsteps of Alex and Lou, shadowing them in their Americus dental office yesterday.

Leila Sisson Case lives in Americus.