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Posted March 27, 2002
Gov. Don Sundquist has appointed Ron Thomas, CEO of the Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration, to serve on the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame board as a representative of Middle Tennessee. Thomas’ term begins immediately and runs through Feb. 28, 2004.

Thomas has been CEO of the Celebration, Tennessee’s longest-running event, since 1984. He was formerly an executive in the insurance industry. During his tenure at the Celebration, the event has experienced growth in many areas.

The Celebration grounds recently experienced a $4 million renovation. Included in the renovation are an elegant Celebration Plaza, a covered practice ring, 30 new state-of-the art barns, and a drainage system.

Thomas was the driving force behind the S.H.O.W. campaign that was introduced in 1998. The campaign, sound horses, honest judging, objective inspections and winning fairly focused on the values that guide the sport. It has been endorsed by all of the industry’s major groups. The growth in both paid attendance and horse entries has been phenomenal during the years since Thomas came on board.

But, his most illustrious accomplishment to date may be the success of the corporate sponsor program that he developed during his first year at the Celebration. The program enjoys more than 65 corporate sponsors, and to date has raised more than $10 million dollars in revenue for the event.

Celebration Board Chairman Virgil Johnson said, “It is gratifying to me, as a fan of this great horse, to see such a display of confidence from Gov. Sundquist in appointing Ron to the Sports Hall of Fame board. Ron’s dedication to the Celebration as well as to the walking horse industry is admirable. His vision and his drive join in making him a top CEO”

The Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame, located in Nashville, is a nonprofit organization that was started to recognize the outstanding achievements of Tennesseans in the realm of sports and to perpetuate the memory of their careers.

Ryland Hoskins, executive director of the Sports Hall of Fame, said, “We’re extremely pleased to have someone with Ron Thomas’ expertise join our board. Ron is the first individual representing the walking horse industry to be appointed to this position. We are looking forward to what he can bring to the table.”

The members of the board are chosen in the following manner: Eight are chosen by the Governor, eight by the Lt. Governor, eight by the Speaker of the House, and the 25th members is always the State Treasurer of Tennessee.

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