By Brenda L. Holmes
Members of Indy Racers are on the look out for more associates. The group is the local chapter of the Retired United Airlines Employees Association (RUAEA).
The organization has 30,000 members nationwide. The local chapter got started with the help of Joseph and Hannelore Brabo.
“We had our first meeting in 2004,” Joseph Brabo said. “I was uncomfortable speaking during that first meeting so Chris Johnston helped us out.”
Johnston and the Brabos helped gather area retirees who had decided to stay in the area after the airline closed its Indianapolis operation in 2003.
“The group is open to all airline personnel,” Brabo said. “And since United has acquired Continental Airlines, their associates also qualify for membership. And you don’t have to be retired. You just had to have worked for United.”
The group gets together monthly and talks about a variety of topics from retiree benefits to what happened at a recent convention.
“We also do a lot for charity,” Brabo said.
At their most recent meeting, club members brought in unwrapped toys which will be given to the Toys for Tots program benefiting needy children in Central Indiana.
Customers of Emmy’s Pancake House in Avon also donated to the toy drive. The club meets at 1 p.m. on the second Tuesday of each month at Emmy’s. The owner allowed the club to put a box for Toys for Tots in the restaurant.
“The Marines will come pick up the toys, wrap them, and give them to children identified by local churches and other organizations,” Brabo said.
Each year, members of the club are invited to a national convention to discuss benefits and learn what’s new with United Airlines. Club members Wanda Bryce, Ellie and Ralph Barnett, Mary Chandler, and Linda Harris attended the most recent convention in Washington, D.C.
“There were several tours offered at the convention,” Bryce said. “We talked about benefits and the credit union. It was wonderful to tour the city. I got to see the Air and Space Museum.”
In her travels, Bryce has twice visited Shanksville, Pa., to see the site where United Airlines Flight 93 crashed on 9-11.
“A priest bought an old grain storage building and made it into a chapel,” she said. “It honors the heroes of Flight 93.”
Mike Matlak is currently serving as president of RUAEA and Mario Bregante is the vice president. Member Charles Theiss worked for United Airlines for 44 years before retiring in 2001.
The organization is now preparing for its Christmas banquet, held annually at Charbono’s restaurant in Avon.
“We bring guests and have a great time,” Brabo said. “In the summer, we also have an Indy Racers picnic.”
For more information about Indy Racers, call 487-1997.