Deanna Frautschi & Alan Bedell
2022 History Makers
Two McLean County residents with working class roots continue to make history as major community and philanthropic leaders. Deanna Frautschi and Alan Bedell both impact many lives with their generous souls, nurtured by their love of nature.
Deanna and Alan both have deep McLean County roots. Deanna’s father was a rural letter carrier and her mother an accountant (Joe and Nadine Yurieci). Her family was heavily involved in sustaining Junior Legion Baseball. Alan grew up on an Ellsworth farm, his father later a trucker and his mother working for General Telephone. Deanna and Alan have been together for over 20 years, sharing their giving nature with their family, friends, and community through volunteerism. They have two children, J.T. Bedell (spouse Jen) and Ashley Bedell, and a new grandchild Harlee Rae Bedell.
Deanna has a legacy of involvement serving on over a dozen non-profit boards including United Way of McLean County, where she served as board chair, campaign chair and on various other committees. She most recently headed United Way’s Covid Relief Task Force (2020-21). This effort directed emergency community resource allocation and mobilized food distributions with other agencies. Through Women United, she has also helped seniors and those without computers in setting up Covid vaccine appointments.
Alan’s volunteer efforts began with youth baseball in Downs and blossomed with the Cornbelt chapter of National AMBUCS building wheelchair ramps throughout the community. He also helps provide Amtrykes, customized tricycles for those with special needs. His enthusiasm led Alan to greater leadership when he served as national AMBUCS president. He traveled the country towing a trailer promoting the organization and helped found 10 chapters in Missouri, Wisconsin, Illinois, and Iowa. Providing Amtrykes gives him a great smile and a lump in his throat every time a child receives a tricycle. Alan has also been an active Midwest Food Bank volunteer the last 10 years.
Alan worked at State Farm after graduating from Illinois State University with a business administration degree and completing his military service. Deanna graduated from Bloomington High School and then received a communications degree from the University of Illinois . She spent 33 years at COUNTRY Financial, leaving as Executive Vice President for Human Resources and Communications. She most appreciates that COUNTRY gave her the responsibility for helping direct corporate resources to meet community needs.
Besides United Way, Deanna is deeply involved in the Multicultural Leadership Institute and serves on its advisory board. She has also served on the Illinois Prairie Community Foundation Board and serves on the Parklands Foundation Board and the Miller Park Zoological Society Board, where she was a past president.
Deanna’s zoo connection brought the two a special task – feeding the baby snow leopards, Sabrina and Necee. Abandoned by their young mother, the small animals required after hours feeding, which Alan and Deanna volunteered to do. This required mixing their formula and vitamins carefully. Alan said that the leopards would “lay on their backs and hold the bottles up with their paws, just like a baby; they wanted to be cuddled.” That is, until they grew larger and wanted active play, which involved their claws and active tussling.
The pair have chaired numerous fundraisers, including Zoo Doo, Red Cross Evening of Stars, and Carle Cancer Center events. They also use their own five-acre property, which is certified as having good wildlife habitat by the National Wildlife Federation and Illinois Audubon Society, to host small group tours and fundraisers in a relaxing educational environment.
Deanna and Alan sponsor scholarships for AMBUCS physical therapists, Illinois State University, the University of Illinois, Heartland Community College, and the Multicultural Leadership Institute. “We value our commitment to the community and the long-lasting effects,” Alan said, He added that they enjoy using their resources to benefit fellow community members.
“One of the things we love about McLean County is the volunteer commitment that people have for the community,” said Deanna. “I haven’t heard about any other communities that have the kind of commitment that people have here for people in need.” From leadership of nonprofits to hands-on time building wheelchair ramps, to loading groceries at the Midwest Food Bank and feeding baby animals in need, Alan and Deanna exemplify a community spirit that continues to foster a legacy for the future.