Word came from the Arizona Trail Association (ATA) that they were going to be recognizing Elisabeth Wheeler for her many hours (100+) of volunteer service. Immediately, Seana Kobak and Ray Peale, along with others, began to plan a surprise celebration in her honor. Elisabeth has dedicated many hours on the Arizona National Scenic Trail, as well as to the hiking club, her church, and other organizations.
A message with a subject line of “SHHHHHHH!” was emailed to all who have volunteered for the Arizona Trail work parties over the years. Katie Atkinson suggested having the party in the Kannally Ranch House. Kobak contacted OSP headquarters and Vince Micallef, manager of OSP, quickly responded with approval to use the beautiful and historic great room.
Gary Faulkenberry insisted that Elisabeth ride with him down the Jeep road for the work session and back with him so that Elisabeth would be the last vehicle going back up to the venue.
So, was she surprised? Oh my, yes! After everyone yelled “surprise,” she quickly understood that the surprise was for her, but then she asked, “What’s the occasion?”
Zach MacDonald, director of the ATA, presented Elisabeth with a personalized orange hard hat. He thanked her for her many hours of hard work and dedication for the ATA. Ray Peale then gave a short speech, announcing Elisabeth will be stepping down as AZT co-steward in April and that he would be the steward. He expressed his nervousness of following in her footsteps, replacing sweet, kind Elisabeth with a “grumpy man.” Seana Kobak will be helping Ray by taking care of the administrative work (email, correspondence, etc.). Apparently, it will take two people to do the work of Elisabeth!
Contact Seana Kobak ([email protected]) if you would like to attend an upcoming work party.