By Cass Rains, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle
ENID, Okla. —
With more than 300 members it should be no surprise that Enid is recognized as the AMBUCS capital of the world.
“It just so happens Enid has five AMBUCS clubs,” said Kent Clingenpeel, National AMBUCS president and Enid AM AMBUCS member. “Enid is known as the AMBUCS capital of the world because there’s more AMBUCS in Enid per capita than any other city in the country. Not only do we have more people but we have a strong presence at the national level, too.”
A little bit about what they do
There are thousands of AMBUCS members across more than 130 chapters in the United States. The first chapter was founded in Birmingham, Ala., in 1922 by William L. White.
The name AMBUCS originally was an acronym for American Business Clubs, but in 1961 the acronym AMBUCS was officially entered into use by the organization. Enid Noon Club, the oldest in Enid, started in 1926.
Members of the clubs support the scholars and AmTryke therapeutic programs, as well as conduct community service projects that help those with disabilities.
“All the different clubs have their own fundraisers they do to raise money,” Clingenpeel said. “They basically spend their money how they want to, donating to community organizations, buying AmTrykes or donating to the national organization for scholarships.”
Established in 1994, AmTryke LLC is a company owned and operated by National AMBUCS Inc, according to the group’s website.
To date, more than 15,000 AmTrykes have been distributed around the world. The majority of these trykes are purchased by volunteer members of the AMBUCS organization and donated free of charge to children in need.
The unique tricycles, which can be hand and/or foot operated, are designed to accommodate riders of all ages, sizes and varying degrees of physical limitations.
Since 1955, National AMBUCS Inc. has awarded scholarships to therapy students in their junior or senior years of a bachelor’s degree program or a graduate program leading to a master’s or doctoral degree.
To date, more than $7.7 million in scholarships have been awarded to more than 14,000 students pursuing degrees in physical or occupational therapy, speech pathology and audiology.
More than $150,000 is awarded annually with awards ranging from $500 to $1,500. There is one two-year award in the amount of $6,000. Award money is deposited each semester to the student’s credit account with the financial aid office of the educational institution.
‘I just wanted to get involved’
Clingenpeel said when he joined AMBUCS in the early 1980s he was just looking to get involved in something to give back to the community.
“I joined in 1982, not too long after I moved to Enid. I joined the Enid AM Club,” he said. “In the beginning, I really didn’t know much about AMBUCS, I just wanted to get involved in some kind of community service club.”
Clingenpeel had an older brother in the club, and he encouraged him to join.
“As the years went along and I got more involved in it. It just became a big passion of mine to get more involved because when we give away those trykes to those kids it’s absolutely incredible,” he said. “The feeling I get, it makes me want to go out and work harder to raise more money to buy more of those trykes.”
Clingenpeel said to join AMBUCS you have be asked.
“The only requirement is somebody has to ask you and that’s all there is to it,” he said.
“AMBUCS used to be an all-male organization,” Clingenpeel said. “We started branching out, and women started getting involved, and one of the cubs built the all-women’s club, the rest of them are all co-ed.”
With five clubs and hundreds of members, Clingenpeel said Enid is reknown for its AMBUCS presence and the clubs’ abilities to accomplish their goals.
“As I’ve been traveling around the country, everyone knows the AMBUCS in Enid has a very strong presence,” Clingenpeel said.
He said last summer at the national conference in Oklahoma City a decision was made to give away 103 AmTrykes at that convention.
“Somebody in Enid said we’ll put those trykes together in Enid,” Clingenpeel said, noting they had about three weeks to get them done. “We put 103 trykes together at the Chisholm Trail Expo in about four hours.
“It was pretty incredible because I thought it was going to take eight to 10, and it took four hours.”
He said that accomplishment by AMBUCS members in Enid made him proud to be a member.
“For the most part, we just work really hard, and sometimes we play really hard,” he said. “When it’s time to get down and to get busy, we all drop everything and get it done.
“It’s something I’m really proud of.”