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Walk, Ride or Drive for Love
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The Walk, Ride or Drive for LOVE will host area Shriners Hospitals for Children patients, families, community members and Shriners from all over the world to raise support and awareness for Shriners Hospitals for Children. Participants have the choice to walk through the Sprint Fan Zone, Garage Area and the famous Victory Lane, ride their motorcycle or get behind the wheel of their car and drive a lap around the most famous track in racing.

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1DAYTONA BEACH -- A sea of red fez hats swarmed Victory Lane at Daytona International Speedway as local leaders announced a tourism triumph for the area.

Shriners International will bring its national convention -- along with 15,000 to 20,000 people and about $8 million in economic impact -- to Daytona Beach in July 2017, Shriners officials and community leaders announced Monday afternoon. Daytona Beach will become the smallest city to host the event.

"It's a victory for our community, it's a victory for our county, it's a victory for the Shriners," Daytona Beach Mayor Glenn Ritchey said to a crowd of about 200 locals, including 60 Shriners.

The celebration was in true Victory Lane style, with champagne spray, a cake with the Shriners logo and an airplane overhead welcoming the Shriners with a banner. Although speeches were sometimes interrupted by the roar of NASCAR cars testing on the track, the Shriners attending the press conference seemed happy to be at the Speedway, where they might be able to hold their mini-car and motorcycle races during the convention -- the potential for which was part of Daytona's draw.

Gary Bergenske, an Orlando businessman who is set to become head of the Shriners organization in 2017, told the crowd about his reasons for selecting Daytona Beach.

"The torch has passed to a new generation to host the Shriners Imperial Session, to a place where the sun rises over the Atlantic and sets over the Intracoastal Waterway," Bergenske said.

He also described the area as "a place where bikini-clad girls roam the beaches" to cheers and applause from his fellow Shriners.

After the presentation, Bergenske said Daytona Beach had met every requirement his organization set forth, but he added that the site selection committee's decision was based on more than mere technical details.


"What put it over the top was the passion of the people," he said.

Bergenske began discussions with Daytona Beach Area Convention & Visitors Bureau officials more than a year ago about the possibility of holding the convention here. He got to know the area when he bought an oceanfront condominium in Daytona Beach Shores as a vacation getaway several years ago. Even though he no longer owns that condo, he said it was his dream to bring the Shriners to a place he'd grown to love.

Orlando and Tampa were also in the running to host the Shriners' 2017 convention.

Volusia County Chair Frank Bruno introduced Bergenske on Victory Lane's stage on Monday and was quick to plug the county's $82 million expansion of the Ocean Center convention center in 2009.

"If it wasn't for the fact that we expanded the Ocean Center, we would not be getting this convention into Volusia County, and I'm very proud of that fact," Bruno said.

The 2017 convention will take place over eight days, from July 7 to 14. On peak nights, about 5,000 local hotel rooms could be filled with Shriners and their families and friends.

Bagging the convention is a major victory for the Daytona Beach Area Convention & Visitors Bureau, which has faced public criticism in the past over whether it is doing enough to promote the county-run Ocean Center.

Linda McMahon, interim sales director for the visitors bureau and a major force behind bringing the Shriners convention to the area, said she's glad to see it official.

"I did not have doubts, but you always have to be realistic," she said.

McMahon is already looking toward 2017 and said the next step for the visitors bureau will be meeting with subcommittees and outlining a five-year plan to prepare for the convention.

McMahon and other local tourism officials will also make a presentation at the Shriners national convention this July in Charlotte, N.C., where the organization's members will formally vote to hold the 2017 Imperial Session in Daytona Beach.

Daytona Beach attorney Ted Doran, who chairs the Halifax Area Advertising Authority Board that oversees the Daytona Beach Area Convention & Visitors Bureau, led the gathering in giving a toast to the Shriners on their decision to hold the convention here in five years.

"To the 2017 Daytona Beach Shriners convention, the best convention the Shriners will ever know," Doran said.

Shriner Events

  • Event Schedule
  • Fun Night
  • Ladies Luncheon

The Imperial Sirs Shriners Fun Night will take place in the Daytona Beach, Florida Bandshell located directly on the ocean. Shriners bands will be invited to entertain the representatives and guests in this open air historic auditorium.

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Bergenske Anne 143x200The Representatives ladies luncheon honoring Imperial lady Anne Bergenske will be held at the Hilton Ocean Front Hotel. The guest speaker and singer will be Kechi, our burn patient that made the finals of America’s Got Talent who will also sing. Check out her performance HERE!

Lady Anne invites you to join her in supporting the innovative research underway at Shriners Hospitals for Children. GIVE NOW: Donors to the Love Grows Miracles program receive a special gift for every $35/$40 donation! 

Learn more about the First Lady's fundraising program.

View the Love Grows Miracles video to learn more about how your support can help generations to come.

Date: July 17th Tuesday
Time 11am – 2pm
Cost $65.00 + tax for luncheon (Non-Elected Rep. Ladies only)
The elected reps will be given a voucher at registration to be able to get their tickets at the Ticket Exchange.
Dress attire: Ladies Luncheon attire or Divan Uniform,  Ladies Hats welcomed
Location: Hilton Daytona Beach Oceanfront Resort, Coquina Ballroom North Tower
Cocktails available (cash Bar), Coquina Ballroom pre-function area
Special Transportation provided

Click HERE to Register

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Daytona Beach Area

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