CANTON, OH (October 17, 2013)—The Canton Regional Chamber of Commerce and Pro Football Hall of Fame have named two long-time community volunteers to leadership positions for the 2014 Pro Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement Festival.
George Lemon, a retired business leader and long-time community activist, recognized for his ability to get things done and bring people together for positive change, will serve as general vice chairman of the Enshrinement Festival activities planned by the Enshrinement Festival department of the Canton Regional Chamber of Commerce. And for the fourth consecutive year, Guy Ruda, sales associate for R. Z. Marketing Group, will serve as general vice chairman of the Enshrinement Festival activities planned by the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Lemon’s strong leadership skills were honed during his 23-year career as a commissioned officer, helicopter pilot and intelligence officer in the U.S. Army and National Guard; he retired at the rank of Major. He was employed for 25 years at AMETEK, a Fortune 500 company, where he held a variety of positions including vice president of marketing and sales. In the early 1990s, he started his first business, the Dele Centre, and in 1997 founded Technical Products Group, Inc., which he served as president until his retirement in 2007. He has retained his active leadership and involvement with major community institutions and organizations including life membership in the Greater Stark County Urban League. The United Way of Stark County credits George as the force behind the successful merger of the Massillon and Canton Urban Leagues. He served on the United Way board of directors, chaired the Family Impact Council, the Economics Subcommittee and the Community Recreation Center Realignment Committee, which led to a merger of the YMCA and Catholic Youth Council Community Recreation Center. United Way recognized his achievements by awarding him the prestigious Gold Key Award in 2005.
As the chairman of the board of directors at Goodwill Industries, Lemon was instrumental in a successful $5-million capital campaign to fund the Community Campus at Goodwill. As a director of the Aultman Health Foundation and Goodwill he pushed for the development of the Aultman free clinic at the Goodwill Campus. His involvement with Aultman includes being a board member of the Aultman Health Foundation, president of the Aultman Foundation Board and a member of the Aultman Dunlap Hospital board of directors. He has also served as chairman of the board of the Canton Regional Chamber of Commerce and currently serves as chairman of the board of directors of the Stark State College Foundation. In 2003, Stark State named him Alumnus of the Year, and in 2010 he was presented with the Ohio Association of Community Colleges’ Distinguished Alumnus Award. He practices the philosophy that “giving back is not an option, but a requirement.” He and his wife Kaleen currently live in Jackson Township, and the family shares his passion for giving back to the community, as evidenced by their volunteer service and leadership in numerous not-for-profit organizations, initiatives and activities.
During the 2013 Enshrinement Festival, while serving in the leadership role as general vice chairman, Ruda also completed his 13th year as chairman of the Enshrinement Committee. He will continue to lend his expertise and extraordinary work ethic by serving in that dual capacity again in 2014.
He previously served 18 years as a member of the Enshrinement Committee, as well as three years as chairman of the former NFL Experience Committee. A very effective mentor, he provides leadership to his volunteer team by adhering to a favorite motto, “People never improve unless they look to some standard or example higher and better than themselves.” Ruda and his wife Gail are the proud parents of David and Danielle.
ABOUT THE ENSHRINEMENT FESTIVAL
While nearly 22,000 men have played in at least one National Football League game, there are only 280 members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame; this number will be increased by not more than seven and not fewer than four when the Class of 2014 is announced Feb. 1 during Super Bowl weekend. The central focus and highlight of the festivities will be the induction ceremony for the Class of 2014 Enshrinees, tentatively scheduled for Saturday, Aug. 2, at Hall of Fame Field at Fawcett Stadium.
More than nine million fans have visited the Pro Football Hall of Fame since it first opened its doors on September 7, 1963, and the first Enshrinement Festival events were held that year. In the last 50 years, the Hall has expanded from its original 19,000 square feet to 118,000 square feet following the recent conclusion of its $27 million “Future 50” Expansion and Renovation Project.
Likewise, the annual Enshrinement Festival has expanded from its original four small events to 19 diverse events over a two and a half week period, enjoyed by nearly 700,000 people and producing an economic impact of over $32 million for the Canton/Stark County area and nearly $56 million for the State of Ohio. In addition, millions of people experience aspects of the Enshrinement Festival as events are televised and covered by other media. With a record of success for the past 50 years, the Enshrinement Festival has earned its reputation as “A One of a Kind Celebration!”