KC Congdonbegan ringing bells in junior high and conducting when she was a senior in high school. She attended Moody Bible Institute where she was the piano soloist for Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue with the concert band and received her degree in organ performance from Northern Illinois University. Mrs. C (as her students call her) lives a dual lifestyle; half of the week she’s a country girl from Lexington, IL, where she teaches piano; the other half of the week she’s a city girl from the western suburbs of Chicago where she has another piano studio and directs four church choirs. She has received private mentoring from David Weck on handbells while ringing with The Agape Ringers and Jane Holstein on choral. KC is married to her best friend David who hails from South Africa and currently works for a pigless farmer. In their spare time they rescue cats, rabbits, and bats.
Meet the Members
Derek Bonczkowski lives in Bloomington, IL where he is a technical analyst/data base administrator at State Farm. He has been ringing with church choirs and at handbell camps since 1992. When not working or ringing handbells, Derek is practicing his bagpipes as part of the Celtic Cross Pipes and Drums group in Eureka, IL, where he placed first in the senior novice solo competition of the Midwest Pipes and Drums Association in 2017.
Vickie Courtney is a retired teacher and finds she is busier now than when she was teaching! Free time is spent getting in visits with her grand kids and traveling whenever and wherever the mood strikes. She has been ringing since 1987, and with a background in percussion, Vickie finds handbells to be a great way to continue performing and making music.
Julia Cozad-Callighan lives in Bloomington, IL where she works for the Normal Public Library as a cataloger and digital services librarian. She began ringing bells in third grade and started playing bass bells as soon as the director would let her hold them. Her non-musical hobbies include costuming, weightlifting, and going on adventures with her spouse, Shaun. They share their home with a crested gecko named Gecko and a lot of Star Wars memorabilia.
Helen Ely is retired after teaching math at Riverton High School and Lincoln Land Community College. Helen is the organist, praise team pianist, choir accompanist, and handbell choir director at Third Presbyterian Church in Springfield. She thanks her family for their support of her music hobbies. Helen says that she sat in the audience and watched BIM concerts for seven years and thought “When I retire I’m going to join that group.” And she did!!
Kirsten Hendrickson has been playing handbells since 1997 in various church choirs. She has performed with Chicago Bronze and is currently a member of The Agape Ringers. In addition to handbells she plays the viola, violin and (if absolutely necessary) can play the cello. Her favorite bell is the D-flat 4 chime.
John Kouns lives in Glen Ellyn, Illinois. Recently retired from the engineering/construction field, he has been ringing bells since 1980 in various church choirs. John has always looked at playing bells as musical therapy. He loves playing the bass bells, especially the low chimes. His other interests include kite flying, building and flying model rockets, singing, collecting die cast cars and restoring his 1975 Datsun 280Z.
Kendall Ladd lives in Normal, IL where she is currently working on her Master’s Degree in Quantitative Psychology at ISU. She has been ringing handballs for 15 years in both school and community choirs. She loves attending National Seminar and hopes to attend the International Handbell Symposium one day. Her non-handbell hobbies include yoga, traveling, listening to music, reading and binge-watching Netflix.
Nancy Leigh lives in Fulton County on Bacon Hill Farm, which is operated by her husband and youngest son. She is a retired math and chemistry teacher, having worked at Western Illinois University and Spoon River College in Macomb. Nancy also directs a young ringers handchime and handbell choir for Macomb Wesley United Methodist Church.
Eric Potratz lives in Saint Charles, Missouri, and works as an embedded software engineer at Boeing, Saint Louis. Besides handbells, his musical interests include playing the clarinet and listening to instrumental music – both classical and motion picture soundtracks. Eric also enjoys bicycling and reading or watching an occasional science fiction novel, television show, or movie.
Debi Robey lives in Madison, WI, where she rings with the Madison Area Concert Handbells. She has been ringing for over 35 years in both church and community groups in PA, IL, and WI, including the Malmark Ringers and The Agape Ringers. She loves her monthly road trips to Central Illinois to ring with KC and BIM!! In the handbell world, she enjoys touring, attending festivals, and ringing with small groups. When (occasionally) not ringing bells, she enjoys gardening, hiking and biking, doing puzzles, operating the carousel and train at the children’s zoo, volunteering around Madison, and traveling with her husband and daughters.
Libby Sternhagen should send KC her bio or else the webmaster will be forced to make something up. She is probably also a hipster who likes co-ops, plaid and LPs (if only she knew what those were).