Drum Corps International has chosen long-time contest coordinator John Baumgartner to be honored as a Volunteer of the Year.
DCI will present Baumgartner with a plaque during ceremonies at the Drum Corps International World Championship Semifinals on Friday, Aug. 9 in Indianapolis, Ind. Also being honored are Linda Vitale of The Cadets and Ken Adams of the Blue Knights.
Baumgartner handles the logistics and is the leader on show day for three of Phantom Regiment’s biggest events: Show of Shows at Boylan High School in Rockford, Ill.; Tour of Champions at Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, Ill; and Drum Across the Tri-State at Laidley Field in Charleston, W.Va.
“Without him, Phantom Regiment events would not be as successful,” Phantom Regiment executive director Rick Valenzuela said in his nomination letter. “He truly understands the importance of the people: volunteers, ticket buyers, and especially the performers. John’s goal is that every single person enjoys the event from start to end.”
He delegates to a small army of volunteers, pays attention to every detail and, quite simply, keeps things running smoothly.
His efforts haven’t been limited to the drum corps shows in the summer, either. He has been on the organization’s board of directors in multiple stints for more than 22 years, he was a tour director for many years in the 1980s and ’90s, and he served as corps director from fall of 1999 through the summer of 2001. Simply put, he is one of the volunteers who do a lot heavy lifting for the organization, which is a far better place because of his efforts.
Baumgartner marched his ageout season with Phantom Regiment in 1975 after many years in the Madison Scouts organization and never left. He relocated to Rockford from his hometown in Wisconsin, married a girl that was in Phantom Regiment (Cindi Baumgartner), and has been involved ever since. He is a member of the Phantom Regiment Hall of Fame, where he was joined last year by Cindi, who was elected for her outstanding contributions as color guard caption head in the 1980s and ’90s.
“The amount of work John has put in over the years goes unnoticed by most who attend or perform at these shows,” Valenzuela said. “He continues to be the guy behind the scenes whose name is never announced, never brought forward after the show, and he wouldn’t have it any other way. John has been doing this thankless job for more than 18 years.”
In DCI’s explanation of the award, it “highlights some of the most devoted and hardworking individuals in all of Marching Music’s Major League. Those whom without their dedication, the spectacle just wouldn’t shine the same.”
Phantom Regiment was founded in 1956. Its mission is to provide life-changing experiences through performing arts education. In addition to its world-class drum and bugle corps, the organization also has a youth drum line called Rockford Rhythm, presents numerous educational camps in Illinois, Ohio, Maryland and Arkansas, hosts drum corps shows in Rockford, Ill., and Charleston, W.Va., and co-hosts marching band and concert band festivals at Northern Illinois University.