"24" began in 2009 and is dedicated to the memory of our friend, Mike Wiggins ('83).
The Sad Part
In late Winter of 2009, four couples got together for dinner near Boston. The group all lived in or around Rhode Island and included Mike and Doreen Wiggins, Andrew ('86) and Lisa ('85 Turner) Davis, Jeff Frankel ('83), Chris ('85) and Julie ('85 Jones) Knisley, and Tom ('84) and Leslie Kellogg. Who would have thought that four friends from the smallest state in the country wouldn't get together more often? Different towns, different age kids, different careers... all of us are familiar with these reasons. Mike and I had been good friends at Vandy. We had gone to each others' weddings and to a few other events together, but we really had not seen each other much since. One time in the Providence airport on the way to a vacation, we Kelloggs bumped in to the Wiggins clan. Mike was on the floor of the waiting area playing some game with his kids. This stuck out in my mind. What a great Dad he had become.
Our night together in 2009 was special. Catching up on kids and careers, remembering stories from school. Mike and Doreen were both successful doctors. Mike was continually "looking for the good" and growing his sports medicine practice. He started Foundry Sports Medicine in Providence. His orthopedic practice was famous for its approach to medicine and it was growing rapidly. He was still as active as he had been in school - marathons, triathlons, and cycling. Mike and Doreen were accomplished athletes. Their kids were also world class snowboarders. Mike had just finished running a half marathon, and tragically less than a month from our dinner, Mike was gone. He had died of a heart attack while on vacation with his family in Colorado. It would not be too much of a stretch to say that the whole state of RI was in mourning for Doreen and the kids. At Mike's memorial, I will not forget his Mom, Christine, who had always been so friendly and full of life, in shock for her son. We were all so sad.
The Happy Part
After the funeral in RI, Leslie and I had friends back to our house. Greg Iglehart and I had kept up a little bit over the years. Greg and Mike were best friends. They were best man in each others' weddings, godparents to each others' children, and there was a great love and friendship between the families. We decided that night, in honor of Mike, we needed to be better friends. We also needed to spend more time together. Work, family and other commitments always seemed to get in the way.
Your world shrinks to your neighborhood. Weekend games and family events make an extended visit impossible. Why not a quick hit? Why can't we spare one day of a year in the middle of the week? "24" was born. A 2010 trip to Tampa (there is a Marriott in the airport!) with a bus trip to Gainesville to see Vandy Hoops play Florida. The bus ride back with Captain Morgan and dueling songs from the 80's. A golf trip to Orlando, and the group continued to grow. A trip to Nashville for another basketball game and another Commodore victory as the luck of "24" grows. Post-game visit to Spats (now Sportsman's Grille), and an appearance by Vandy players Jeffrey Taylor and John Jenkins. A ceremonial "Walk Thru" Wendy's late night.
The "24 record" is 20 hours, as Chris Knisley leaves his desk in Boston at 2pm, and is back again the next day before noon wondering, "what just happened?" One day a year is easy to pull off.
THE HAPPY PART (2):
"24 Hours in Nashville" was a group effort from the start. Chris and Julie Knisley had talked about a big band party for years. Mays and Patty too. Reunions came and went. In the mid-nineties Beth ('83 Williams) Bean and husband Jonathan came to the RI shore in the summer. Someone mentioned that a good friend had moved to town named Beth Williams. I said I had no idea who that was. I was assured she said we were friends. Leslie and I were asked to go to a party for them. I walked in, took one look, and said "Hello Grunch!" (Someone once said that a lot of her Vandy friends still do not know her real name). With Beth as a White Animals and Eldorado groupie, the idea gathered steam. Scott and Anne Riegle, Jim and Leslie Johnson, and Ferrin and Jeffrey's summer visits kept the idea going. Finally, Chris Knisley's texts with pictures at 2 am in the fall of 2009 during the great Class of '85 twenty-fifth reunion sealed the deal. Why couldn't all of our group be there? And so "24" was born.
24 FOR GOOD
Ironically, one of the charities that Mike was involved in before he passed was Friends Way. This charity provides support groups and programs for grieving children, teens, and families. The Michael Wiggins Enrichment Endowment has been established in memoriam to Mike. Anyone interested in supporting the foundation in his memory please go to http://www.friendsway.org or make a donation when you buy a ticket for our events.
A NOTE FROM 24'S PAST
What a great night last week. To all of the "24" veterans and Sigma Chi buddies. Thanks for the support and friendship. To the "Seven" from '86, your support for each other and the outing will not be forgotten (Martha, next time we need Preacher Greene!). Anne and Scott Riegle, official "boots on the ground" before the event, Thanks. Anne was receiving a teacher's award from Harpeth Hall and left the ceremony early to help with flower setup. We knew the event had a chance back in February when Jim J. forwarded an email trail from Pat M. rallying Phi's from '85-87. Great job. To those who were waving the flag from smaller groups spread the word! Klausner, Bubby, Jody, Randy, Eric, and Phil R. get more of your pals....Ginny, Mimi (and Bailey) thanks for making it and bring back DDD from '83-84! Robo...Go Sox. Chaz "window-pane" Westbrook from way back. LeeHi... 'Hmon Baby. Cross gets the "24" perfect attendance award along with Delmer. To Elizabeth, Carrington, Sarah, and the other members of the "Pi Delta Theta" sorority from Washington DC, you were MVP's of the evening and still going strong at 3 am (Traylor we have the video). Finally, to Andy, George, David and Bill….Who Knew? You were signed up to spur ticket sales, but we had no idea you would bring back the entire Theta chapter from the 80's. You still got it and can play. You are now the official "24" House Band. Maybe we can ask Taylor Swift to sit in with you at "24 Too".