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Randy Traeger headlines annual Mayor's Prayer Breakfast

The 34th annual Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast, presented by the Woodburn Kiwanis Club, will be March 4 at Woodburn United Methodist Church, 700 Cascade Drive.by: SUBMITTED - Randy Traeger, Mount Angel football coach and former mayor, will speak at the 34th annual Mayor's Prayer Breakfast in Woodburn March 4.

The event, which begins at 7:30 a.m. and will end around 9 a.m., will feature guest speaker Randy Traeger, who is a Mount Angel football coach, former mayor, businessman and founder of the nonprofit Virtue First Foundation. He will speak on “creating a culture of virtue.”

“Kids are growing up in a toxic culture,” he explained. “That has a lot to do with their relationship with ministers, teachers, coaches. They need unconditional love. That doesn’t mean we don’t hold them to a standard.”

The idea for Virtue First came to Traeger while he was coaching football, a passion that he has embraced for 35 years in Mount Angel and Silverton.

“I started to focus on all the things other than the X’s and O’s of football,”?Traeger said. “After 25 years, you don’t come back to a coach and say, ‘Thank you for teaching me how to catch a pass.’ So if (virtue) is the most important thing, why not make it a priority?”

He said he started to share a virtue of the week with his team and would start his practices asking, “What’s my job?” The team would reply, “To love us!” “What’s you’re job?” “To love each other!”

“They bought into it the first day,”?Traeger said. “The impact it had, I?cannot begin to comprehend.”

Before long, the lessons he taught on the field were being spread by the students into the classrooms and community. It was at that point Traeger realized he should more thoroughly develop the curriculum for Virtue First, creating it in a way so that it’s not just applicable to teens on a football team, but also to employers, parents and religious organizations.

“It’s specially tailored for whatever need you have,”?Traeger said.

Traeger hasn’t just spent time on the football field. He has helped run two successful family businesses, including Traeger Grills and Mount Angel Brewing Company.

“All the skills I?learned from a $35 million company might have been so I can do this,” he said about Virtue First. “It’s become my mission to take this nationwide.”

Additionally, Traeger was mayor of Mount Angel for 11 years and was a volunteer firefighter for 18, serving as assistant fire chief. Traeger and his wife Lynnette — who was his high school sweetheart — have seven children and seven grandchildren.

Traeger found a renewed sense of purpose last year when a health issue turned so serious he was afraid he might lose his life.

“When you come to grips with your own mortality, when you see the end, you’re going to change,” he said. “Most people go through the motions, but what’s important is how passionate are you are about living and how much you emulate Christ.”

Traeger hasn’t copyrighted anything from?Virtue First because, he said, “Virtue isn’t mine; it belongs to humanity.”

In addition to Traeger, Woodburn Mayor Kathy Figley will also speak at the Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast.

Tickets, which include breakfast, are $15. They are available at Yes Graphics, Woodburn Area Chamber of Commerce, Piper’s Jewelry and Long Bros. Building Supply. They can also be purchased online for $15.50 at www.woodburnkiwanis.org.

Other sponsors include Al’s Garden Center, Woodburn Radiator and Glass, Pacific Northwest Transmission, Les Schwab and Curt’s Body Shop.

For more information, contact Ewart Brown at 503-309-8003.




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