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'Tenacious' 6-year-old reaches milestones
loc slt sunflower connor robl
Cathy Soeken and Connor Robl share one of their many moments together. Soeken and the youngster have been recognized with Sunflower Diversified Services Focus on Abilities award. - photo by COURTESY PHOTO



Cathy Soeken and Connor Robl have developed such a good rapport and reached so many milestones that they are sharing the Focus on Abilities recognition at Sunflower Diversified Services.

Soeken, Sunflower children’s case manager, has been collaborating with the Robl family of Ellinwood for two years to help young Connor use his abilities to the fullest.

Sunflower is a non-profit agency that serves people with developmental disabilities in Barton, Pawnee, Rice, Rush and Stafford counties.

Connor relies on a wheelchair for mobility, and requires speech, physical and occupational therapies. In addition, he has a hearing impairment. He will be 6 years old April 22 and attends kindergarten at Eisenhower Elementary School.

"Connor is a trouper who is up for anything and wants to be part of everyday life," said Soeken, a licensed social worker. "He enjoys interacting with his peers at school and his four brothers at home. He may be small but he is tenacious."

Soeken is also tenacious, said Glennda Drescher, Sunflower director of service coordination and chief marketing officer. She has worked with many organizations and businesses to supply Connor with special equipment.

"Thanks to Cathy’s creativity and enormous help from Connor’s parents, the youngster now has a Youth Suspension Walker that gives him more freedom at school and home," Drescher said. "It allows him to be closer and more personal with others."

The Sunflower Diversified Foundation and the Southwest Developmental Services Inc. Foundation helped finance the walker.

"Cathy has also worked tirelessly with other organizations and businesses on Connor’s behalf," Drescher said. "And most important, his parents, Dana and Chris, along with their family and friends have been instrumental in obtaining a van lift to accommodate his wheelchair.

"Being able to transport Connor ensures he will remain active in the community," Drescher added. "This is so important for Connor and his entire family."

Soeken collaborated with Children’s Miracle Network, the Cerebral Palsy Foundation and the Kansas Society for Children with Challenges in her efforts to help Connor. In addition, she worked with Lowes Inc. and secured a grant, which paid for the materials to construct a ramp at the Robls’ home.

"Connor is lucky that his father and grandfather have the skills to build the ramp according to safety codes," Soeken noted. "This will allow better access to his home and his community.

"The entire Robl family is to be commended," Soeken added. "They have the necessary positive outlook, tons of energy and a willingness to work with Sunflower’s highly qualified staff."