For 24 years, the Lincoln Sertoma Clubs have put on the Okto Beerfest event in Lincoln as a benefit for the Nebraska State Stroke Association (NSSA).
In 1993, Charlie Huff, then-president of the NSSA board and manager of the Villager Motel, presented the idea to Gateway Sertoma Club, where he was a member. Since then, this philanthropic event, run entirely by volunteers, has raised more than $275,000 for education and awareness on stroke prevention and for assisting stroke survivors and their families.
In 2017, the Okto Beerfest planning committee included 18 people who put in more than 2,000 volunteer hours. Most of the Sertoma volunteer leaders have worked on the event for at least 10 years – and some, including James Plucknett, Jim Krysl, Harold Klein and Al Borchardt, have helped more than 20 years.
The mission of all Sertoma service groups is to improve the quality of life today for those at risk or impacted by hearing loss through education and support. Most stroke survivors suffer a loss in some or all of their hearing or speech, so by supporting the Nebraska State Stroke Association, the Lincoln Sertoma Clubs directly accomplish their mission by providing both education and support.
The newest member, Colten Zamrzla, who joined Gateway Sertoma and the Okto Beerfest Committee in 2016, runs the event Facebook page and website. He said, “It aligned two of my favorite hobbies: helping people and craft brewing.”
Event coordinator Darlene Berks, who has led the Okto Beerfest silent auction for 13 years, loves serving the community. “My brother, Stevie Berks, had a stroke a couple of years ago while he was on the dance floor,” she said. “He got straight over to the hospital. He works construction and is now back at work again.”
“I have seen strokes affect several family members, so I’m glad to be able to help,” said LaRita Lang from the University Sertoma Club, who has been involved for at least 10 years.
The 24th annual Okto Beerfest, held Oct. 19 at the Lancaster Event Center, included 30 craft breweries, 14 food vendors, more than 20 vendor booths and more than 80 silent and live auction items.
The Nebraska State Stroke Association, a 501(c)(3) based in Lincoln at 6900 L St., was founded in 1985. Learn more at NebraskaStroke.org.