Ann Austin and Steve DePron named 2020 Mardi Gras Charity Ball queen and king
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Ann Austin and Steve DePron named 2020 Mardi Gras Charity Ball queen and king

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Steve DePron and Ann Austin were crowned king and queen of the 81st annual Mardi Gras Charity Ball Saturday night at the Quad-Cities Waterfront Convention Center in Bettendorf. 

The black-tie gala is sponsored by the Junior Board of Rock Island to raise funds to benefit programs for children.

Ann Austin

Austin graduated from Rock Island High School in 1970. She has a bachelor's degree in German education from Augustana College and a master's degree in education for reading from Western Illinois University. 

From 1993 to 2014, Austin worked in disability services at St. Ambrose University, taught reading and study skills, and worked with tutors in the Student Success Center. She is a fitness instructor at the Rock Island Fitness and Activity Center.

Austin is involved in numerous activities and community groups, including the National Exercise Trainers Association, and she volunteers with River Bend Foodbank, Friendship Manor, Birdies for Charity and at the Rock Island Center for Math and Science.  She is on the board of directors at Friendship Manor, where she also teaches exercise classes. She is involved in Independent Rock Island, an initiative to encourage residents to bike, walk and ride the bus. Together with her daughter and late husband, Charles (Chuck), she organized a fundraiser for Marriage and Family Counseling Services in 2017.

Austin helped establish the Rock Island Parks and Recreation Foundation, and she served on its first board of directors. She was a member of the Rock Island Park and Recreation Board from 1978 to 2016, and is a past member of the Illinois Association of Park Districts, serving as trustee from 2003 to 2007.

Austin is a past member and co-chair of the joint editorial committee for the Illinois Parks and Recreation magazine. She was a member of the College Reading and Learning Association (CRLA), where she was an evaluator and held a CRLA International Tutor Training Program Certification. She also was a member of the International Reading Association, attending and presenting at regional conferences, and a member of the Association on Higher Education and Disability (AHEAD).

She is a longtime member of the Junior Women’s Club of Rock Island, serving as president from 1982 to 1983. She has volunteered with Quad-City Music Guild and delivered meals for the Visiting Nurses and Homemakers Association.

She attends Unitarian Universalist Congregation of the Quad Cities.

Austin loves exercising, including Pilates, ballet barre, exercise for older adults and walking. She also loves cooking, entertaining, music and theater.

Austin and her late husband, Charles (Chuck), have two children, Julie Hansen (husband Paul) and John (wife Judith), and four grandchildren, Ella, Zachary, Xavier and Benjamin.

“My husband, Chuck, inspired me with his spirit of volunteerism," Austin said. "I feel, as he did, that I have been very fortunate and am grateful I have the time, and resources to share with others. I love living in the Q-C area, and am grateful that my experiences here have shaped who I am. I want to give back to the community I love because I have benefited so much from living my life here.” 

Steve DePron

DePron graduated from Rock Island High School in 1972, and attended Northern Illinois University.

He is a founding supporter of Ride the River and has been involved with numerous organizations and activities, including American Cancer Society bike rides, Taming of the Slough, Bike to Work Week, RAGBRAI, TOMROV, John Deere Grand Detour Bike Ride, Night of a Thousand Dreams, Alleman Heritage Ball, Lids for Kids, Q-C Tweed Ride, Project Pedal at Augustana College and tandem bike rides for the visually impaired.

In 2004, DePron was chosen as the Official Chicago Bears Bicycle Provider. Over the last 15 years, DePron has provided over 400 bikes to the Chicago Bears training camps, which donates bicycles to local youths. He also partnered with Charles (Peanut) Tillman of the Chicago Bears and raised over $14,000 for the American Diabetes Association. 

DePron worked for Bikes for Brains and helped donate 2,000 bikes to children. He partners with the Quad Cities Marathon to provide adaptive strollers for children with disabilities. He works with the Bikes for Books Program; participates in iCan Bike, which teaches children with disabilities to ride adaptive bikes, and designs and builds adaptive bicycles for children with special needs. DePron has supplied and maintains bicycles for Rock Island, Milan and East Moline police departments. DePron was instrumental in bringing BMX to the Quad-Cities, with up to 400 kids participating in weekend events.

DePron is an Eagle Scout mentor, a baseball and Little League coach, and a past board member for Rock Island Girls Softball, where he coached for 17 years. He was a South Park Presbyterian Youth Group Leader for 15 years, a Junior Achievement Business Mentor, and a past board member of Easter Seals and College Hill Revitalization Plans.

DePron received the Community Caring Conference Hero Award in 2009 and was named the 2004 Business Citizen of the Year. He also received River Action's Eddy Award in 2015. He was the recipient of the Star-a-Thon United Cerebral Palsy Award in 1992 and the Rock Island Beautification Business Award in 2010.

Along with DePron's many civic awards, he has numerous business achievements. DePron has owned Bike and Hike Bicycle Shop since 1975.

He was the past owner of DePron Distributing, Midwest National BMX, and Bike Shops in Bettendorf, Davenport, East Moline and Clinton. He is in the Bicycle Dealer Association Top 100, is a Top 10 Miyata Platinum Dealer, a Top 10 Bridgestone Dealer in the US, a Giant Bicycles Platinum Dealer and was a recipient of the Raleigh Dealer Presidential Award.

In DePron's free time, he enjoys American history, carpentry, antiques, vintage bicycles, music and movies, and traveling.

He and his wife, Carol, of 43 years, and they have two children, Lucas and Nicole. Lucas was a crown bearer in 1994, and currently lives in San Diego. He is engaged to Veronica Cooley, of Joliet. Nicole was an attendant in 2000, and currently lives with her husband, Brad, and two children, Natalie and Noah, in Wildwood, Mo.

DePron would like to thank Stan Goodyear, Jim Teros and Elizabeth Eagle for all their help and support over the years.

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