MARIETTA - A man who helped train Navy SEAL Team Six, the team responsible for assassinating Osama bin Laden, will be the featured speaker at the Marietta Area Chamber of Commerce's 98th annual dinner meeting, to be held March 11.
Former Navy SEAL Team Leader Don Mann's life story will inspire attendees, predicted chamber president Charlotte Keim.
"One of the things he likes to talk about is reaching beyond boundaries. That's really what his life has been about - doing more than people ever expected. He's achieved so much simply by being very focused on what he wants," said Keim.
In addition to training SEAL Team Six, Mann has twice survived capture by enemy forces, written a New York Times bestselling book and participated in numerous endurance races.
In fact, Mann took time during a 110-mile river race to call the chamber and talk to Keim about the possibility of speaking at the dinner.
"His resume is incredible and yet he seems like such a humble and unassuming person," she said.
Another highlight of the annual business meeting is finding out the winners of the awards, said Keim.
This year four awards will be presented to recognize some outstanding business and community members: the Washington County Council of Cooperatives Agriculture award, the Zonta Elizabeth L. Hadler Woman of the Year award, the Gabe Zide Citizen of the Year award and the Marietta Area Chamber of Commerce Business Leader of the Year award.
Winning last year's Citizen of the Year award along with his father, Charlie, was a shock for Marietta resident Keelan McLeish, he said.
"Receiving that award was probably one of the greatest things that ever happened to dad and myself, especially us receiving that award together. It was one of the highlights of our life," said Keelan.
The McLeishes, who have owned and operated McLeish Auction Services together for nearly 30 years, were honored for donating their auctioneering services to more than two dozen nonprofits each year.
Both men are looking forward to this year's event, especially the speaker, they said.
"That's the kind of stuff we both like. Dad is retired out of law enforcement and I'm still in it," said Keelan, who is a Washington County sheriff's deputy.
Cheryl Lang, owner of A Unique Flower and Gift Shop and winner of last year's Marietta Area Chamber of Commerce New Member of the Year award, said the annual dinner is a great way to support an organization that does so much to help its members.
"The chamber staff really go above and beyond to help any of the chamber members, but especially being a new business, I really felt like they were there for me," said Lang, who opened her Front Street business in June 2010.
The event is also a great chance to meet and talk to other area business owners, said Lang, who set up a business booth during last year's event.
This year more businesses than ever are signed up to set up a business exposition booth, which attendees can browse before dinner is served, said Keim.
The dinner meeting will be held at Marietta College's Dyson Baudo Recreation Center. Doors will open at 5 p.m., with dinner seating beginning at 6:15 p.m. The cost is $50 per person and the event is open to everyone, said Keim.
The dinner is the chamber's biggest event of the year and one of the largest events of its kind in the state, said Keim. Around 650 people attended last year's dinner, she said.
Reservations to this year's dinner must be made by Feb 28.
They can be made online at www.mariettachamber.com or by calling (740) 373-5176.