WAUSAU – The Wausau/Central Wisconsin Convention & Visitors Bureau recently recognized several community partners with Impact Awards at the 2019 Annual Tourism Dinner.

The Impact Awards recognize a person, organization or business who have made a positive impact through tourism for our community.

The Business Impact Award was given to Nick Patel of Sunshine Hospitality. Despite suffering fire damage at one hotel property (which closed the property for about one year), followed by a roof collapse because of ice, snow and rain, Nick keeps coming back stronger and better.

Photo courtesy Wausau/Central Wisconsin Convention & Visitors Bureau. Wausau Events Executive Director Madison Nowak accepts the 2019 Organization Impact Award.

The Organization Impact Award was presented to Wausau Area Events for its work in creating numerous family-friendly events in the area. With events such as Concerts on the Square, Rib Fest & Balloon Glow, Big Bull Falls Blues Fest, Holiday Parade, and more, Wausau Events has played a key role in entertaining the community and drawing thousands of visitors to the greater Wausau area each year.

The Hometown Hero Impact Award was presented to 45×90 Geographical Marker landowners, Francis and Sherry Schuller, with additional recognition to the 45×90 Committee members. Members include Marathon County employees Dave Mack, Becky Frish, Lance Leonhard, Dave Decker, Bill Duncanson, Jamie Polly, James Griesbach and Christopher Fieri, along with Richard Barrett with Wausau CVB. As the only marker of four 45×90 locations on earth that is easily accessible, this newly renovated park welcomes an average of 500 visitors per month, previously 500 per year.

The Individual Recognition Impact Award was presented to Marathon County Youth Hockey. MCYH has partnered with the Badger State Games to host five tournaments in the past four years, attracting 16 teams per event and generating over $4 million of economic impact. During their 45 years of existence, they have produced multiple junior and college players, become one of the premier associations in Wisconsin, and hosted multiple events attracting players, parents and fans from every corner of the state.

The Community Recognition Impact Award went to Wausau/Central Wisconsin Sports Authority Committee members. Formed in late 2010, the Sports Authority began by hosting one hockey tournament, and now manages about 72 events per year. In 2011, they purchased a failing Badger State Games, saving it from bankruptcy, and has grown it into one of the top four state games in the United States. In the eight years since the start of the Sports Authority, the group has created an economic impact in excess of $120 million.

A special new award for 2019, the Ambassador Impact Award was presented to singer Tony Butala of The Lettermen. Butala has toured and performed around the world for over 58 years, entertaining audiences with over 200 performances per year. As a longtime resident of Manitowoc, Wisconsin, Butala enjoys returning to his current home state, and spoke highly of the friendly residents of Wisconsin.

Photos courtesy Wausau/Central Wisconsin Convention & Visitors Bureau. Feature photo: Tony Butala, second from left, receives the Ambassador Impact Award from WSAW News Anchor Jeff Thelen, left, Duputy Secretary of Tourism Ann Sayers, and Wausau CVB Executive Director Richard Barrett, right.