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Sunflower's Sunrise Campaign meets special needs of people with disabilities
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Jim Johnson, left, Sunflower Diversified Services executive director, talks with Scott Donovan, one of the many participants at Thursdays Great Bend Chamber of Commerce Coffee. The event at Sunflower was part of the kick-off for the agencys Sunrise Campaign. - photo by COURTESY PHOTO

The kick-off events were a fun start to the Sunrise Campaign and now it is time for the serious business of meeting the needs of people with developmental disabilities and delays, Jim Johnson said.
Johnson is executive director of Sunflower Diversified Services, the non-profit agency that sponsors the Sunrise Campaign.
On Sept. 19, the annual fundraising campaign started with the Great Bend Chamber of Commerce coffee and the Chris Cakes pancake feed.
“Each year, these two popular events allow us to interact with central Kansans who have a long history of supporting the people we serve,” Johnson said. “We appreciate everyone who attended and listened to specific information about Sunflower’s needs. It also is gratifying to see the local commitment and say ‘thank you’ in person.”
One Sunrise Campaign goal is to add to the Special Needs Fund. It helps finance grants to individuals and families that need adaptive equipment, wheelchair modifications, ramps and other home accommodations that help with personal mobility.
The fund also provides cash assistance for out-of-town doctors’ appointments, as well as dental services and other medical needs not covered by private insurance or Medicaid.
“People tend to think that Medicaid funds cover these costs,” Johnson noted. “Unfortunately, it will not cover any of them. But these are the very things that make the difference between a person being mobile and independent as opposed to reliant on someone else.”
“This campaign is especially important now because the trend has been to reduce government’s involvement in meeting the needs of people who are unable to provide for themselves financially,” Johnson added. “Those needs, however, are no less critical today. Families still require assistance that local, state and federal resources will no longer support.”
The Sunrise Campaign is separate from the Invest in Kids Club. The kids club focuses on financial support for babies and toddlers from birth to age 3 at Sunflower’s Early Education Center, as well as children at the agency’s Incredible Years Preschool.
The preschool curriculum is for children ages 2-and-a-half to 5; it also offers specialized therapy for children who need additional developmental programs.
Every donation to Sunflower stays in its service area, which includes Barton, Pawnee, Rice, Rush and Stafford counties, Johnson emphasized. It is a licensed community-service organization that opened 47 years ago.
“We have been in the business of helping people for almost 50 years,” Johnson said. “Sunflower prides itself on its ability to combine resources and then provide specific support to a person, which leads to more independence.
“When you contribute to the Sunrise Campaign,” Johnson continued, “you become part of this commitment to people with disabilities who want and deserve to be an active part of the community.”
The 13th annual campaign officially runs through the end of the year but donations are accepted any time. For more information, contact Connie Oetken, Sunflower director of development, by calling 620-792-1325.