When Artie Michaelis retired to the Valley of the Sun in October of 1980, about the only thing he really retired from was collecting a paycheck.
For the last 10 years, Artie has worked tirelessly for the benefit of a myriad of gay and lesbian groups, and has been one of the most active and vocal activists on the Arizona AIDS front.
His many contributions include serving on the board of directors and treasurer of the Alternative Relations Center (ARC), incorporating the Gay and Lesbian Community Switchboard, facilitating the Lesbian and Gay Youth Group.
"One of the major factors in my moving to Phoenix was the fact that there was a center for the gay community;' he said. "The gay community had always been good to me, and I thought it was time to reverse that:'
Indeed. In 1985, Artie went one step further becoming an original founding member of the Arizona Gay Rodeo Association (AGRA). Since AGRA's founding, he has served five consecutive terms as president and vice president. Dating from 1986, he has served as business manager for AGRA-sponsored rodeos. In 1987, he was the AGRA Membership Hooker of the Year. (Hooked most new members during a membership drive.)
While much of his time was spent with AGRA, Artie still found the time to serve on the Community Aids Council (CAC), which he chaired in 1990, and has served on the board of directors and as special events director for Candle Light Vigil Committee, and Walk for Life.
One year later, he was a founding member of Volunteers In Direct Aid (VIDA), a group dedicated to helping those living with AIDS and their families and loved ones. In 1992, after sitting with a friend dying from complications brought on by AIDS, he founded One Step Beyond, the VIDA distribution center for people living with AIDS.
"I realized sitting with my friend that there were other things other than money that people living with AIDS needed," Artie said. "When they come to One Step Beyond they can pick up cat food, toiletries, furniture, whatever we have in stock that they need:'
Like most of the groups he has worked with, One Step Beyond is all-volunteer, as are contributions. "Everyone has been incredibly generous to this effort;' Artie said. In what little spare time he has, Artie bowls in the People and Persons Bowling League.
Artie's work has not gone unnoticed. In 1987 he was the recipient of the Lesbian and Gay Community Switchboard Certificate of Recognition; in 1988 he was a winner of the Western Express Readers' Choice Award; in 1990 he was the recipient of the Arizona Department of Health Services Certificate of Recognition; in 1991 he was honored with the Arizona Department of Healtl?- Services Directors' AIDS Service Award; and also in 1991 he was the recipient of the Los Amigos Del Sol Humanitarian Award.
The members of AGRA can think of no better way to thank and honor Artie for his more than 10 years of service to the gay community than by dedicating the 1993 Road Runner Regional Rodeo to him.
Thank you Artie for all you have done.
Written by Jim Cummings/Terry Filloon - Ms. AGRA Contestants
We hear a lot these days about Volunteerism, and how important our Volunteers are in keeping the IGRA growing.
AGRA Members have this year selected one of our best ongoing Volunteers for the honor of being our Grand Marshal.
Dan Iversen is a man who has spent years helping AGRA and IGRA to grow, sometimes in a visible role, often times behind the scenes. He's an unassuming "regular guy: who has always been there, just to help, and is probably more than a little bewildered with the attention he'll be receiving this weekend.
Born in Murdo, South Dakota (a town of 800 people), Dan was raised on a 13,000 acre wheat and cattle ranch. The Midwestern Country lifestyle has been a part of him since the beginning, always around horses and cattle, and being entertained by the local hobby stock car races, where his Father won several National Titles.
Dan moved to the big City for College, the Black Hills College in Spearfish, South Dakota, with a population of 2,200. It was there that he started his volunteerism, as President of his Fraternity in his Senior year, and it was also there that Dan realized that he was Gay. Imagine his confusion in trying to reconcile those Midwestern Country ways with a Gay lifestyle, and imagine his pleasure when he discovered that there was a place for him when he moved to Phoenix and found similar Gay Country folk.
Dan's "real" job is in the Hospitality field where he's a member of the Valley Hospitality Executive Housekeeper's Association, but from the beginning, his passion has been for things Gay, and Country.
He's been a Member of the Desert Valley Squares, the Midnight Ramblers, and is now a member of the Sunburst Squares. He is a Founding Member of AGRA, showing up at our second meeting back in 1984. He's also a Founding Member of the Arizona Wrangler's Association, a second Valley-wide group of Gay people interested in the Country lifestyle.
With AGRA, Dan has served as our Public Relations and Fundraising Chairman, Vice President, and for the last two years, as our President. He's also served as IGRA's Rodeo Rules Chairperson for five years. Along the way, Dan has been presented with two IGRA Trustee Awards, an IGRA International Award, and was chosen as AGRA's Member of the Year in 1990. As a Rodeo Contestant, he has earned nearly twenty Event Buckles, including five International Champion Buckles.
Yet through all of this, Dan is still just that "regular guy" from Murdo, South Dakota. Dan's "out" to his parents now, and they were said to be excited about this Grand Marshal honor that he's gotten, but like so many of our earlier life friends and family, they're just not sure what all this "Gay" stuff is all about. As a result, they probably don't know just how special this son of theirs is. So while Mr. and Mrs. Iversen have never been to a Gay Event, and therefore probably won't be at this Rodeo either, just in case, if you happen to end up sitting next to them this weekend, be sure and let them know what all of AGRAers already know, that "their boy done good!".