The community stood up and showed its support for people with developmental disabilities and delays by raising $53,000 at the recent Sunflower Diversified Services Charity Gala.
“It is always gratifying to be reminded of the extent to which people will go to support their neighbors who need a helping hand,” Sunflower Executive Director Jim Johnson said. “Everyone who donated auction items, money, time or talent can be assured all proceeds will stay here at home to support local and area residents.”
Sunflower serves infants, toddlers and adults in Barton, Pawnee, Rice, Rush and Stafford counties. It is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year.
Johnson noted that the non-profit agency is especially pleased that out of the 175 people who attended the Gala, 60 were newcomers to this annual event.
“We are always pleased to have the opportunity to share Sunflower’s history and mission with new friends,” Johnson said. “And of course, our long-time supporters have our heartfelt appreciation.
“With the uncertainty of state finances, private donations become even more important,” he continued. “Proceeds from our Gala and other fundraisers throughout the year make it possible to follow through on our commitments. The money will be used for infant and toddler services, as well as programs that assist adults in achieving the most independent lifestyles possible.”
Connie Oetken, Sunflower director of development, noted that this 11th annual event fulfilled its promise of helping people with disabilities while offering a fun evening at the same time.
“Auctioneer Mike Niedens and Emcee Scott Donovan kept the crowd involved in all the action,” Oetken said. “Jane Isern and Gail Carpenter once again hosted our basketball arcade and Putt N Play to raise money and entertain our guests. These people and many, many others can take credit for our success.”
The Sunflower version of Deal or No Deal at the Gala raised $3,750 of the total and some Gala donations were earmarked for Sunflower’s Invest in Kids Club.
The city of Great Bend, which operates the Great Bend Events Center, and Classic Inn, which catered the meal, also played instrumental roles in the Gala’s success, Oetken said.