This was my third bowl with IU since beginning my tenure at the IUAA, and each year the enthusiasm, fans, and the team itself just keep getting better. While in Jacksonville I ran into former IU Travels participants that would stop and say hello to me and that just doesn’t happen everywhere. I’m so honored to help plan of all the events and experiences for those few days–but it truly was a collaborative effort with an outstanding team.
One of the IUAA events was the welcome breakfast. Although it was a packed room, I heard from the hallway Mark Deal giving a rousing speech on the history and significance of IU bowl experiences as he stood by the Old Oaken Bucket (a good photo op for the Hoosier Family too). Mark, like IUHoosiers.com writer Pete DiPrimio, had positive things to say about the IU Hoosiers Football team whether they won or lost. Read Pete’s piece about it.
Game day afternoon was a fun time too: gorgeous weather and a Big Red Warm Up crowd that was three times larger than our opponent’s! Even the long line at the water taxis didn’t bring the Hoosiers down. There were smiles and laughing and the realization that we were all in it together.
This has also been a special travel year because of the loss of Richard Small, the patriarch of the AHI family business.
Travel industry pioneer and visionary Richard Small passed away on October 1, 2019, at the age of 90. He, along with Arlene, founded Alumni Holidays (AHI Travel) in 1962 and was the first company to specialize in designing and operating travel programs specifically developed for alumni associations and their constituents. It was with the Smalls and AHI that the IUAA entrusted our alumni travel experience for our 1968 Rose Bowl appearance. At the time, it was the largest civilian air movement in history and AHI remains our biggest travel partner.
Of course we would rather have a do-over for that last five minutes of the Gator Bowl – but all in all, the sense of togetherness and love that the IU football players have adopted (LEO = Love Each Other) is truly special. IU won that day and keeps on winning.