A joyfully chaotic cacophony of cheers and laughter erupted from the spectators overflowing the backyard at Camp Life, as six valiant competitors dove face-first into their awaiting Culver’s banana splits.
No onlooker was safe from the whipped cream flying from the table in all directions. Encouraged by the fans' excitement, those at the table raced neck-and-neck to the bottom of their dishes.
After only a few short minutes, the judges declared a winner, though the custard-covered grins looking up at the celebratory crowd seemed to suggest more of a six-way tie.
So finished the cornerstone spectacle of GreatNews.Life’s 6th annual end-of-summer gathering, this year dubbed the Summer Bash, held Thursday evening at the media company’s log cabin headquarters.
"My favorite part is always the Culver's custard-eating contest because it's so much fun to watch," said GreatNews.Life Executive Team Leader Jenny Craig-Brown.
GreatNews.Life organizes the annual event full of food, lawn sports, and socializing as a thank you to their extended community of partners, staff, and collaborators.
"We are allowed to do such a great job every single year because of partners that support us," Craig-Brown said.
GreatNews.Life Founder Chris Mahlmann circled around the yard, catching up with current and former coworkers, and chatting with business partners new and old.
"It's fun,” Mahlmann said. “We want to say thanks. We want people to get to know each other a little bit more."
“I love my team. I love what we do. And I love the people that support us in doing it,” he continued. "These people are our family."
Mark Chamberlain, CEO of Lakeside Wealth Management Group, echoed Mahlmann’s sentiment when discussing the long-term partnership between his company and GreatNews.Life.
"It's about the social energy around family,” Chamberlain said. “It really makes you feel at home and comfortable. It makes you comfortable doing business with each other because you have the same values."
Among those attending, and dodging custard fallout, was Indiana State Senator Ed Charbonneau.
“This is such a great event,” Charbonneau said. “I had a great time.”
Local professionals from around the Region networked under tents on the lawn, enjoying the beautiful late-summer breeze and relaxed atmosphere.
"It feels great,” said Rich Shields, Director of Marketing and Business Development for Chester, Inc. “The weather is perfect and there are a lot of good people here."
Chester, Inc. was one of GreatNews.Life’s earliest partners, and Shield said they are very thankful for that relationship.
“It's nice to know that when we have a special event coming up where we're hosting or representing, GreatNews.Life will be there and be readily available to cover. It helps out a lot," he said.
Representatives from GreatNews.Life’s newest partners, Latitude Commercial, said they were very impressed by the event and the company.
"It just seems like a place where you would get inspired all day to come up with new ideas," said Latitude Commercial’s Marketing Liaison Cade Weiler. "We had a lot of good first impressions.”
Sarah Fink, Director of Porter County CASA, and her colleague Development Assistant Emily Hoak said they very much appreciated the effort GreatNews.Life puts into building up the Regional community.
"The Social Media Bootcamp has been super helpful in terms of getting the word out using our Facebook page," Hoak said.
"And also allowed us to get to know the other nonprofits that were at the bootcamp with us, to find out what they do,” Fink added. “It was really encouraging."
The two Porter County CASA coworkers felt that GreatNews.Life’s Summer Bash was another extension of the kind of community-building that happened at their bootcamp session.
“The staff at GreatNews.Life is always interesting to talk with because they have a bead on things," Fink said. "It's an opportunity to get to know other people in the area who are also doing great things, and we all want to promote one another.
GreatNews.Life extends special thanks to all who attended and those who helped make the day possible:
Culver's; Porter-Starke Services, Inc.; Indiana Beverage; General Insurance Services; Lakeside Financial Planning; United Way of Porter County; Valpo Parks; Girls on the Run of Northwest Indiana; Tudor Floors & More Carpet One; Latitude Commercial; American Licorice Company; Art Barn School of Art; Porter County Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) Program ; Center of Workforce Innovations, Inc.; CertaPro Painters of Northwest Indiana; Chester, Inc.; Ivy Tech Community College; La Porte Economic Advancement Partnership; Life Care Center of the Willows; Marram Health Center; Memorial Opera House; Steindler Signs; Vale Park Animal Hospital