Randy DeLay couldn’t turn down a free lunch when his neighbor in Corpus Christi, Texas, invited him to a free meal at the Del Mar Kiwanis Club meeting. Two weeks later, Randy took part in another club event—as a “lane hugger” for a Special Olympics relay, embracing runners as they completed the race. That’s where Randy experienced his first “Kiwanis moment.” One of the competitors in Randy’s lane fell and finished last. Then, what could have been a heartbreaking experience turned into a beautiful example of grace: during the awards ceremony, the first-place contestant took off his medal and put it around the neck of the contestant who had fallen. “That’s still the most powerful moment I’ve experienced through Kiwanis,” Randy says.
In fact, Kiwanis helped Randy find a new approach to life at a time when he needed one. The focus on service that he gained through Kiwanis was a big part of his transformation. According to Randy, “A Kiwanian is someone who tries to be a little less about self and a little more about others.” Drue DeLay, Randy's wife, noticed the impact of Kiwanis on Randy as well. "He grew in compassion, and started to take pride in serving others." Soon the whole family was joining in, attending district conventions and supporting Randy as he continued to advance through Kiwanis leadership roles. Thirty years after that free lunch at Del Mar, Randy was appointed as campaign chairman for The Eliminate Project after he served as Chair of the World Service Project Selection Committee.
With her husband’s work as a Kiwanian increasingly focused on his duties to The Eliminate Project, Drue watched the global campaign develop. “I thought this campaign would be good for the growth of the organization – that it would be a great club-building opportunity.”
Her perspective expanded at the 2011 Kiwanis International convention. “I finally realized how big this really is when I saw Dr. François Gasse speak in Geneva and heard how dedicated he was,” Drue says. “To see a doctor who had committed his life to eliminating tetanus—that was when the true nature of The Eliminate Project touched my heart. It gave me a reason to put our lives into eliminating this disease.”
Thinking about the 55,000 mothers and their newborns whose lives will be protected by the DeLays’ gift, Drue is touched to know she and Randy are helping the next generation enter the world healthy and happy. “It is such a precious moment to give birth,” says Drue, a mother of two and grandmother of five. “It is a precious jewel to give life to another human being.”
As the chairman of The Eliminate Project, Randy felt inspired to lead by example. “This gift is a stretch, but for us, it is something my faith and trust in God tell me I have to do,” he says. “I can’t ask others to stretch if I don’t.”
For each Kiwanis-family member, The Eliminate Project is a chance to fulfill the motivations that inspire them to make a difference. For Randy and Drue, it's an opportunity to participate in a global campaign that also fulfills the higher purpose they strive to reach in their lives. “It’s not often you’re given that vivid reality where your desires come in line with your purpose, and you have the opportunity to fulfill that purpose by helping others,” Randy says. “That’s what The Eliminate Project is about. All the experiences in my life that brought me to The Eliminate Project remind me on a daily basis not to take myself too seriously.”
Drue adds, “When things just don’t look like they’re possible, the truth comes through. The truth is loving and helping your fellow man. You can only do that if you have love in your heart.”