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Sunflower Diversified sets two records at 15th annual Charity Gala
gala pro green
Brian Mitchell, left, Pro-Green owner, donated a new riding lawnmower and trailer to the Sunflower Diversified Services Charity Gala auction. Kenny Vink, center, Office Products Inc. co-owner, placed the highest bid for the item. Dillon Mitchell, right, works at Pro-Green with his dad.

          The amount of money raised for children and adults with disabilities and delays, as well as the number of reservations, set records at the 15th annual Sunflower Diversified Services Charity Gala.

            The Feb. 29 event raised more than $72,000 and the total number of reservations was 235.

            “As always, our guests and sponsors were extremely generous and supportive,” said Connie Oetken, director of development. “Thanks to our donors, we had many attractive items at both the silent and live auctions.”

            Oetken made special note of one big-ticket item in the live auction to illustrate “the amazing spirit of this central Kansas community.”

One local business owner donated the item, while another was the successful bidder.

            Brian Mitchell, owner of Pro-Green, donated a brand-new Hustler Raptor SD riding lawnmower and Aluma trailer, while Kenny Vink, co-owner of Office Products Inc., placed the highest bid.

            “When I approached Brian about a possible donation, he went far beyond our expectations,” Oekten commented. “And then when Kenny bought the mower and trailer, we were thrilled.

            “These two local business owners should be commended for their generosity and support of people with special needs. They set an example for all of us.”

            All proceeds from this major fundraiser go directly to the support of children and adults in Sunflower’s five-county service area. Every penny remains in local communities, Oetken said.

            For example, proceeds benefit the non-profit agency’s Invest in Kids Club and Beautiful Minds Art Studio. In addition, a new playground equipment project is in the works at Incredible Years Preschool.

            “In short, every dollar we raise at all our fundraisers benefit local and area children and adults,” Oetken summarized. “The needs are many and continue to grow.

“Thanks to our supporters, we can fill some financial gaps in services including independent living, employment opportunities, and medical and dental care.”

            The director of development also is gratified by support from volunteers, the city of Great Bend, Sunflower’s board of directors and foundation trustees, Emcee Scott Donovan and Auctioneer Mike Niedens.

            “And, of course, we couldn’t do any of this without our Gala guests and sponsors,” she added. “We already are looking forward to our 16th annual event next year.”

            Sunflower, a non-profit agency, serves infants, toddlers and adults in Barton, Pawnee, Rice, Rush and Stafford counties. It is in its 54th year.