Boat Racing Community Turns to Facebook

DePue, IL., July 20, 2012 -- In an attempt to save their beloved summer pastime, residents from DePue and surrounding local communities turned to Facebook in hopes of organizing and energizing their efforts of raising the water level at Lake DePue.

For the past 27 years and with the support of the DePue Men's Club the village of DePue has played host to APBA Pro National Boat Races, an event scheduled for July 27, 28, and 29 of this month. Last week racing officials received notice that the lake was unfit to host the event.

"Our insurance company for the race is requiring five feet of water, and the lake was sitting at just 3 feet" says Village Mayor Eric Bryant. "Normally the lake is about as high as the river because the river backs up into the lake. With the recent drought, the water in the lake had been running out of the lake and into the river."

In turn race organizers worked with Illinois EPA, DNR, and the Army Corps of engineers to come up with a solution. A plan to build a dam and pump water from the river back into the lake was put into motion, and that's when the community really stepped up.

"News of the lake being too low and the possible cancelation of the races seemed to be what everyone was talking about on Facebook" says area resident and DePue Men's Club member Karl Ribas. "I turned to my friend Drew [Solorio] and said we have a real opportunity to help."

Facebook is the largest online social media website boasting more than 900 million active users. Traditionally used as a medium for interacting and socializing with family and friends online, Facebook is one of the most visited websites on the web.

In years previous, Ribas and Solorio built and branded a Facebook page dedicated to the DePue Boat Races. The page acts as a hub in which fans of the event are able to communicate and share happenings. It was this page that really began to rally the troops and build support for the tasks that lay ahead.

"Our goal was to establish a place for which fans of the races could share their stories and photos as well as receive timely news and event information" says Ribas. "When news broke about the lake we decided to turn our attention to it. We began updating the page with what was needed and where, and the community responded. It was great!"

This is not Ribas' first role as a community manager. Karl Ribas is a website marketing professional with Oglesby based company All Web Promotion. Ribas is heavily involved in social media marketing strategies and specializes in building and branding Facebook Pages.

"I work on this stuff daily" says Ribas. "Facebook is a great tool for communities such as this. Once established, it's easy to engage with like-minded individuals who have similar needs and goals. It makes getting organized and creating change so much easier.

Used as a modern day phone tree, the DePue Boat Race Facebook page helped to not only inform area residents and the racing community of the problems facing the event, but also served as a tool for organizing work efforts. Page organizers posted updates about what needed to be done, which equipment was needed, and where donations could be made to help offset the growing cost of the project. Within minutes of doing so, conversations had begun and volunteers were stepping forward.

"We had volunteers show up to bag sand, install pumps, and build the dam", says Race Director Paul Bosnich. "We even had people provide food and water to those of us working. The support has been absolutely amazing."

With much of the heavy lifting now complete, the racing community continues to use Facebook and the DePue Boat Race page as a way to share real-time updates.

"I don't think a day has gone by where we haven't posted a photo, video, or article tracking the progress of the work being done," says Ribas. "Support in the form of encouraging comments and monetary donation are coming in from those throughout the United States who all have ties to our small town."

"Whether the plan to dam the river works or not, it's inspiring to see whole communities come together and tackle such a big problem. We really are Little Giants" added Ribas referencing the town's school mascot.

For more information on the ongoing efforts to save this year's racing event in DePue, visit the DePue Boat Race Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/depueboatraces.

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ABOUT KARL RIBAS

Karl Ribas is a website design and marketing professional located within the Illinois Valley. Ribas has been designing, managing, and successfully marketing websites since 2003, and plays an influential role in the design and marketing community. He is the author of a website development blog, and has been publishing design and marketing related content since 2005. In addition to writing for his own blog, Ribas also writes for several top industry publications, including Search Engine Journal and the Yahoo! Store blog.

ABOUT DEPUE MEN'S CLUB

The DePue Men's Club is a non-profit organization focused on Community Leadership. The Men's Club is widely recognized for donating and sponsoring local events in their home town of DePue, Illinois as well as surrounding cities in the Illinois Valley area. We are proud sponsors of the American Power Boat Association's Pro National Boat Races which take place annually on beautiful Lake DePue.

FOR MORE INFORMATION

If you would like more information regarding this release or to schedule an interview with Karl Ribas or the DePue Men's Club, please call (815) 310-0427 or email Karl at karl@karlribas.com.