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A group of 25 residents got together on May 28, 1978, at Harold’s Club and decided to form a Sertoma Club. The group immediately began to do what Sertomans in Brainerd have been known to do ever since. They got involved in speech and hearing activities right away doing hearing testing at the Minnesota State Fair. The first speaker was Pete Humphreys who gave out information on the Brainerd Indian heritage. Famous locals, Babe Winkelman and John Hassler, have been members of our club.


The group continued along until the mid-80s when the decision not to limit growth opened the club up to the first women members, Karen Owen and Lori Volkmuth.

Then along came Jon “Hopper” Haapajoki and things really started to rock and roll. As one of the charter members put it, “Jon knew everyone and he used his contacts to help the club grow and prosper”. They moved from Harold’s Club to the Holiday Inn because they needed more room. Jon was elected to several different offices which culminated in his international presidency.


The musical/comedy group, The Swinging Sertomans was born when Brainerd hosted its first-ever Regional Convention. We moved to Bonanza until 2016 because of the increase in size and at one point after the move, our Club earned the achievement of being the world’s largest Sertoma Club.


In the last few years, the highlights of the Club have included, among other things; creating memorials to Jon Haapajoki, who died in 1999, in the form of Camp Sertoma for deaf and hard of hearing children. A memorial for Bonnie Cumberland was created at Camp Confidence and an endowment fund with the Brainerd Public Schools Foundation. hosting the Mariucci Fest (also at Camp Confidence); and bringing Winter Wonderland, the spectacular, annual Christmas light display at the Arboretum to our community.

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