They Sent Me to Finish

 “The Olympic Games, Mexico, 1968. The marathon is the final event on the program. The Olympic stadium is packed and there is excitement as the first athlete, an Ethiopian runner, enters the stadium. The crowd erupts as he crosses the finish line.

Way back in the field is another runner, John Stephen Akwhari of Tanzania. He has been eclipsed by the other runners. After 30 kilometers his head is throbbing, his muscles are aching and he falls to the ground. He has serious leg injuries and officials want him to retire, but he refuses. With his knee bandaged Akwhari picks himself up and hobbles the remaining 12 kilometers to the finish line. An hour after the winner has finished Akwhari enters the stadium. All but a few thousand of the crowd have gone home. Akwhari moves around the track at a painstakingly slow pace, until finally he collapses over the finish line.

It is one of the most heroic efforts of Olympic history. Afterward, a reporter asked Akwhari why he had not dropped out. He replied, “My country did not send me to start the race. They sent me to finish.”

  • Source: reported on Sydney 2000 Olympics website


I tell you this story, not only because it is one of struggle and perseverance, but it is one of true grit and commitment. More importantly, it is a story about making a decision to win, despite the odds, challenges, and struggles.

It is no secret that District 54 has had struggles and challenges to overcome this year. However, it is during these times when we must keep our focus on the finish line.

It is March. We have just under 4 months left, and there is still time to make a decision to win. Someone thought enough of us during an election to cast a vote in our favor. Someone thought enough of us to appoint us into a position, because they knew we would offer exceptional support to others.

District 54 members sent us to finish. So, let’s finish strong.

To be a Distinguished district, we need 9 more paid clubs, 1,398 more paid memberships, and 32 distinguished clubs. To date, 15 clubs have earned 5 or more DCP goals and have met their membership requirements. (This is up from 4 clubs last month.) Twenty-six clubs have earned 5 or more DCP goals and are working toward meeting the membership requirements. (This is up from 11 clubs last month.)

What do we need to do to continue to do Toastmasters well, and keep our focus on the finish line?  

  • Complete club visits and provide good, comprehensive, valuable feedback to the club officers and the district
  • Keep an eye on club dues renewals and follow up with clubs that are showing low membership
  • Provide the best quality area, division and district speech contests
  • Talk up the benefits of the spring conference and encourage members to attend
  • Talk up the benefits of Pathways to prospective members
  • Talk up the benefits of Toastmasters to everyone
  • Remember opportunities in the form of TI and district incentives for membership and club growth
  • Talk Up Toastmasters D54 Incentive (February 10, 2018 – March 31, 2018)

Win the Talk Up Toastmasters Contest by adding at least 5 new/dual/reinstated members to your club between February 10 and March 31 and win a $25 gift card to Walmart, Target or Subway for use at their next Club Contest /Holiday Party/Open House.


  • The “Spring Madness - Dues Renewal” Incentive (Round 2) – (Due March 31, 2018)

Submit 20 (or more) membership dues renewals by March 31st and win a $10 gift card to Dunkin Donuts to share with your club at your next meeting.


  • Beat the Clock D54 Incentive (May 1, 2018 – June 30, 2018)

Win Beat the Clock Contest by adding at least 5 new/dual/reinstated members to your club between May 1st and June 30th and win a $25 gift card to Walmart, Target or Subway for use at their next Club Contest/ Holiday Party/Open House.


  • New Club Lead /Charter Incentive (Year Round)

Toastmasters who source a new lead, participate in a Demo meeting and help the club charter within 90 days will receive a $50 gift certificate good at the D54 District store OR towards their registration and meals for the Fall or Spring Conference.



REMEMBER: It is March. We have just under 4 months left, and we CAN still make a decision to win. District 54 members sent us to finish. So, let’s finish strong.


My Friends in Toastmasters,

The other day, I was reading an article from The Pacific Institute. I thought I would share it with you today. It is titled, "Packing for the Journey." It is written as follows:

"If you don't know where you are going, how will you know when you get there?

There are two very important things you need to know if you want to plan a journey. You need to know where you are, and you need to know exactly where you want to go. Once you know these two things, the rest becomes fairly easy. You make a plan, which might be a map or a strategy, and you follow the plan to your destination.

Going through life without setting clear goals is a little like starting out on a trip with no idea where you intend to go. Now you might wind up having a very pleasant time, but the odds are against it. Somewhere along the way, you will be faced with having to make some choices. Now, would you rather decide where to go based on the things you happen to have with you, or would you rather pack things that are appropriate for the destination? (While a mask might be of help, you aren't going to bring a snorkel and flippers on your way across the Sahara Desert.)

Having clear goals helps you to avoid time-consuming side trips down roads that lead nowhere. Clear goals act like the rudder on a ship. They steer you in the direction you have chosen, and help you avoid the dangerous currents and rocks that might otherwise run you aground or take you to the last place on Earth you want to go.

Finally, goals give you a sense of accomplishment and reason to celebrate, because you know when you have arrived. Do you know where you want to go in your life? If not, it will be worth your time to find out. Start goal-setting today. Wherever it is, you can get there! It is just like loading your destination into a GPS. You just need to know where you want to go."

So, how does this article apply to Toastmasters and our district? This month, district trios will be asked to re-valuate our success plans and re-define our goals, so that we can reach success by the end of the Toastmasters year. As you know, we will be replicating this practice with the Division Directors in a meeting on January 25. I would encourage every leader at every level in the district to do the same thing, even down to the club success plan.

As you prepare for the meeting on the 25th, and for success by the end of the year, take some time to review the dashboard, brainstorm, and seek out fresh ideas. What plans are we going to put in place to increase club growth, membership and improve club quality? What kinds of things do we need to pack to finish the journey?

In my mind, District 54 will keep moving forward, some way, somehow, until we cross the finish line, together and successfully as a team. It is time to believe in ourselves, put our plans into action, and just make things happen.

I am so honored and proud to be a part of this team, and I am looking forward to crossing the finish line with all of you in the new year!

Yours in Toastmasters,
Angie Mullin
District 54 Director


Hello District 54!

I am so excited and honored to be serving as District Director, and I am really looking forward to meeting and working with you this year!

I’d like to start the year off by encouraging a little bit of introspection and pose the following questions:

  • Why did you join Toastmasters?
  • Since you joined, what has Toastmasters done for you?
  • Where do you see yourself going in Toastmasters this year?
  • If you do not want to advance in Toastmasters, have you thought about what you can do to help others succeed?

If you are like me, I joined Toastmasters because I wanted to learn how speak in public. I just completed my degree in Corporate Communications, yet I was TERRIFIED of speaking in front of people. Today, I remain in Toastmasters for so many more reasons.

Toastmasters has helped me become more confident, and it has provided me with real world experiences to learn and grow. By seeking out new opportunities and taking on new leadership roles, I have developed skills that I am now able to apply in my career. As a part of this personal journey, I have also been blessed with making many, many new friends, who I actually consider “family.” Looking at the person I have become, I can honestly say that I have gained so much from my active participation in Toastmasters.

As much as I have benefited from what the organization has to offer, I find that I get even more satisfaction out of Toastmasters when I am able to help others grow and succeed.

Along the way, I have discovered that others succeed when we do Toastmasters well. So, when we talk about reaching Distinguished Club Program (DCP) goals and becoming distinguished clubs, areas, and divisions, we are really talking about doing what it takes to meet the goals Toastmasters International has in place to ensure that every member receives an experience in Toastmasters, similar to the one I received.

So, it inspires me to see people working in service of others, just because they want to see others succeed. My friends, these are the kinds of leaders that we have in District 54. I firmly believe we have the right team in place to continue to support our clubs and our members in doing Toastmasters well!

District Staff Members are working diligently to make sure members in our district have access to quality educational programs, like TLIs and conferences. Area and Division Directors are already working diligently to ensure that members in our district have make-up officer training sessions, speech contests, and quality club visits. Other staff members are working to help struggling clubs and to start new clubs, so that other people in Central Illinois may benefit by participating in this wonderful organization! Our team is planning and working, in service of others, to help our clubs support our members, so that everyone receives a wonderful experience, in which they thrive, learn, and grow.

I feel that we are off to an amazing, exciting, and inspirational start! Join us in achieving successes this year! Let’s set some new goals and overcome new challenges. Most importantly, let’s succeed together, by doing Toastmasters well!

Yours in Toastmasters,

Angie Mullin
District Director – District 54

Your Club CAN be Distinguished by this Time Next Year!

Consider implementing this checklist of ideas to get your club off to a great start! If you have questions, your Area Directors and your Division Director are there to help.

  • If you have less than 12 members, seek out help from your Area Director to obtain a club coach.
  • Make sure all club web pages, social networking sites and marketing materials are updated with current meeting and officer information.
  • Verify that your club has a way to track educational goals. EasySpeak is a great club management tool. If you are not using it, what are you using?
  • Ensure your club has a working mentoring program. If not, implement one.
  • Encourage all club officers to get trained. A minimum of 4 officers need to attend a TLI or Officer Make Up Training session this summer to be eligible to meet one of the 10 Club DCP Goals.
  • Complete a Club Success Plan and share it with your Area Director and your club members.
  • Complete an event calendar. Include at least 1 Membership Growth Campaign per Quarter. Ask Club VPPRs and VPMs to share their ideas and add their planned events.
  • Ask the Club VPE to send out a club Program Quality Survey or conduct personal interviews. Ask club members to share their educational goals for the year. Use these results to help shape your club goals and your Club Success Plan.
  • Present "Moments of Truth" to the club. Use these results to help shape club goals and your Club Success Plan.
  • Prepare members to participate in club, area, division and district speech contests! Encourage members to step out of their comfort zone, because this is the only way to grow.
  • Start promoting attendance at the District 54 Fall Conference. Which club will have the most members at the Fall Conference?
Do you have additional ideas?