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YPO Pittsburgh: Crafting a Successful Chapter Event

What do two world-famous Sumo wrestlers, celebrity judges, YPO and the YMCA have in common?

A recipe for a successful chapter event, benefiting the local area while pushing members’ boundaries.

For Chapter Learning Officer Kevin Rabbitt (YPO Pittsburgh), all of these elements were key to creating a memorable family experience — a two-part program featuring a private session with Sumo wrestlers Byamba and Yama and a public event raising funds for local charities featuring the Greater Pittsburgh YMCA.

“In designing a final event on my education calendar, I really wanted to accomplish three things: stay true to YPO’s mission of lifelong learning, push our members and their families outside of their comfort zones, and give back to the community,” he said.

Kevin, along with Day Chair Dana Hanna (spouse, YPO Pittsburgh), excelled on all fronts. The private YPO family event provided opportunities for attendees to learn about the history, rituals and basics of Sumo wrestling in addition to one-on-one wrestling time with members’ children and Byamba and Yama.

For the public event in the evening, Kevin and three other YPO Pittsburgh members donned their own mawashis (Sumo wrestling belts) in front of a crowd of more than 1,000 to wrestle Sumo style against local celebrities, including former Pittsburgh Steeler Josh Miller, comedian Jim Krenn and local morning show DJ, BubbaThe voice of the Pittsburgh Steelers, Larry Richert, emceed the event. At the end of the night, the event raised nearly USD60,000 with USD40,000 going to the YMCA.

“This project brought our chapter together in a very focused and productive way,” said Dana. “Of course, there was the opportunity to socialize and learn, but more importantly, our decision that the event should benefit a local non-profit gave the work purpose and held us accountable. An additional benefit was the opportunity to forge a new friendship with one of the city’s oldest non-profits.”

Kevin added, “In addition to helping out the community, the event really helped boost the profile of YPO in the Pittsburgh area.”

Kevin and Dana advise other chapters to adapt and customize this program for their area.

“Many of our members support nonprofits in their personal and professional lives, and it was important to incorporate that sense of giving into a family event,” said Dana. “Showing our children that success comes with social responsibility is a valuable lesson. We chose a featured charity that reaches our entire region and gives back to youth for this event.”

View media coverage of the event:

Pittsburgh CBS

Pittsburgh City Paper

Pittsburgh City Paper

Angela Mers is the marketing and communications manager at YPO and has worked for the organization since 2007. She is a graduate of UNC-Chapel Hill with degrees in journalism and political science.