Call it serendipity, kismet, chance or just a happy coincidence – but at Variety Tent 8, it felt like something magical was taking place. The phone rang late one afternoon at Variety KC. On the line was Nancy Truitt, mother of a growing Variety Child named Mattox. Mattox has autism, Duchene’s, cerebral palsy, and muscular dystrophy. And what Mattox likes best is people. He likes to be included, be involved and to help. In fact, when Mattox outgrew his adaptive tricycle, it became very important to find smaller buddy who could use and enjoy it.
So, when Nancy called Variety, Executive Director, Deborah Wiebrecht, answered the phone and was greeted by a very excited mother. Had Deb ever heard of Carolina’s Carts? A grocery cart that would allow for caregivers to transport larger children and small adults throughout a store? Deb searched the web while Nancy continued to talk about how a cart like that would enhance Maddox’s life and the lives of other families as well. He could be safely included on trips to the store, make shopping decisions, and “help” his family with the shopping. He would no longer be left behind, yet again.
With a promise to look into it, Deb said goodbye to Nancy Truitt and immediately contacted Carolina’s carts. Gathering the basic information, she next dialed Nancy Pagel, a longtime Variety Board Member and Marketing Director of the Kansas City area HyVee food stores. Nancy Pagel immediately understood the potential and promised that she would call back. Less than an hour passed and Hy-Vee had committed to granting a Carolina’s cart (in Variety’s name)for each of their area stores.
Today you can walk into HyVee and hear an announcement encouraging the use of the Carolina Cart, and quite often you will catch a glimpse of the cart in use. Families say the carts are freeing, making a difficult trip much easier. And Mattox? His mother claims he is now a bit of a shopaholic.
Variety helps so many children and families with what seems to be an endless list of needs. We all know that not every need is granted this swiftly or smoothly. But on that day, the stars aligned, the right hearts were in the right places at the right time, and lives all over the city changed for the better.
And doesn’t that sound a bit like magic to you?
Kansas City- Tent 8
Variety, the Children’s Charity – Tent 8 from Kansas City, is honored to nominate the Kansas City Royals’ Charities for the Corporate Sponsor Award.
In a city with thousands of Not-For-Profits, the Royals are the only Major League Baseball team. The number of requests they receive each year is staggering, yet they consider each charity on its own merit.
The children and families of Kansas City have received tremendous benefits through the Royal’s support of Variety KC.
Variety has been the Charity of Choice for the 2013 and 2014 Royal’s Charities 5K. (Raising over $120.000 for Variety KC)
The Royals partnered with Variety for two adaptive ball fields and playgrounds, one on the Missouri side and one on the Kansas side. Through mutual connections, further support was gained. Variety (Deborah Wiebrecht) connected the Cal Ripkin Sr. Foundation with the Royals, and the Royals brought the Major League Baseball Foundation to the table. These partnerships received a great deal of media exposure supporting our efforts.
Through this continued relationship, past employees have come on board to assist Variety, the owners of the KC Royals, Dan and Penny Glass, have contributed exclusive of the foundation, and players have participated in Variety events and fundraising. A simple phone call has resulted in generous auction donations raising thousands of dollars, and tickets providing inclusion driven outings for hundreds of Variety Children and families.
You might think that in a year that the Royals won the division championship, and played in the World Series, perhaps the organization would be too preoccupied to focus on giving. The opposite was true. Instead, the Royals and Royals Charities used the excitement and large crowds for additional fundraising that will support numerous organizations in our area.
Tent 8 is looking forward to continuing our relationship with this generous corporate sponsor and has several proposals in front of them, including:
1. Cuddle Bear (hospital gift for current and potential Variety children).
2. All inclusive playground equipment in the Royals pre-game stadium experience area for children.
3. Further support as the inclusive playgrounds as the adaptive ball fields are expanded.
Whether supporting Variety, or any of the great charities they back, the Kansas City Royals and Royals Charities have proven they are champions both on and off the field…..and we are their biggest fans!
Royals Charities had donated thousands of dollars to Variety’s mission and touched the lives of thousands of Variety kids too!
Let’s Go Royals!
How do dead chickens put a child with special needs in an adaptive bike? How does playing Beer Pong allow a non-verbal child a chance to communicate through an Ipad?
These are just a couple of the ways in which Young Variety KC has supported Variety Kids of KC this year. We like to say that Young Variety is not afraid to color outside of the lines, which is perfect for serving a population of children that don’t always fall in between the lines.
Five years ago Tent 8’s Young Variety, under the leadership of president, Tim McCoy, was formed to bring a fresh youthful passion and perspective to fundraising. In 2014, they once again upped their game!
Beer Pong for Babies raised $5,000.
Dead Poultry Society, a BBQ competition, raised $3,000
This year, in addition to a $15,000 gift, Young Variety worked with Sporting KC (championship soccer club), to secure Variety families tickets in the Victory Suite, a shared partnership with the Victory Project, and field time with the players. The resulting partnership has opened doors for a much larger project currently in the works.
Using social media to engage others and spread the word, past and present Young Variety events like the Snuggie Party, Beer for Bikes and Club Events/Wine Tastings; have become legendary. These highly creative events make them darlings of the media, further spreading Variety’s mission.
With very little turn-over, the core of Young Variety is a dedicated group willing to share their time, resources and talents. This year Tent 8 Young Variety was honored to submit the winning logo for Young Variety (nationwide).
Pablo Picasso once said it “takes a long time to become young.” With Variety celebrating its 80th year this past year, they have proved Picasso right. Variety’s long success has inspired the young – and in turn – Young Variety ensures Variety’s continued ability to help. As children once helped by Variety begin the join Young Variety, and older Young Variety members “age up” into traditional Variety activities – it is easy to see how the enthusiasm and generosity of the today’s young paves the way for a stronger Tent 8 in the future.
By: Terri Mauro
It’s normal for a child to hate doing homework, but for children with special learning, motor or developmental needs, that hatred can blow up into tantrums, meltdowns, and endless nag-a-thons. It doesn’t have to be that way. There are ways to make the homework experience less painful for all involved. You may have to insert some of these things into your child’s IEP to get full cooperation from teachers, but it’s worth it. Done right, homework can provide good reinforcement both for facts learned in school and for parent-child relationships.
Find the right place. It’s good for your child to have a regular spot to do his or her homework — anything that adds a layer of routine to a disruptive task will be helpful. However, it doesn’t have to be a desk. Maybe the kitchen table works better, because it’s easy for Mom and Dad to keep the motivation up while they prepare dinner. Maybe lying down on the floor to do homework works best for kids who have a hard time sitting. Even a place in front of the TV can be a decent homework spot if it keeps the distractible part of your child’s brain occupied so the rest can concentrate on schoolwork. Adopt a “whatever works”approach to your child’s homework workspace. And be prepared to change when it stops working.
Organize your technology. There’s a host of items that can assist your child in completing homework with less stress, ranging from low-tech — a piece of paper with a hole cut out so your child sees only one math problem at a time — to high — calculators, computerized flashcards, apps that solve problems and facilitate communication. Check our list of cool school tools for special-needs kids, and visit these online stores for more good ideas. And don’t shut out those other technological marvels your kids are addicted to. Listening to music on an iPod while working can help tune out distractions, and a video game after working can be a motivating reward.
Stay involved. You want to avoid actually doing the work for your child, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be his or her biggest cheerleader. Some kids benefit from small rewards after very small amounts of work done — a cracker as a reward for finishing a row of problems, for example. Others may need constant prompting and refocusing to get through their work. Reading or rephrasing questions for your child can sometimes help the right answer to pop out. There may be times when you will have to walk away to avoid becoming a distraction yourself, but for the most part, it will be beneficial for your child to see that homework is something you value enough to invest your time in it as well.
Make adjustments. Being involved with your child’s homework has another benefit: You can see what’s easy and what’s hard, what’s quick and what’s too time-consuming. Then, work with your child’s teacher to better tailor nightly assignments to his or her particular abilities. Teachers may feel strongly about the benefits of homework, but they usually don’t want it to be a nightly family battleground. Ask your child’s teacher if you can cut assignments short if they’re causing a problem, or skip them on nights when your child is upset or unable to focus. You may also want to have the option of writing down answers for a fine-motor-impaired child if writing becomes too frustrating. Send a note with the homework detailing your input.
Get the straight story. If your child isn’t bringing home an accurate list of the homework he or she needs to do, work with the teacher to improve the situation. Perhaps your child can carry a homework pad and the teacher or aide can check it at the end of the class or the day. The teacher may have a website that lists homework, or be willing to give you an e-mail address so you can make contact after hours if necessary. If your child has a friend in class, get a phone number and introduce yourself to his or her parents so you’ll have someone to call to double-check assignment details. You may also be able to get a set of textbooks to keep at home so your child will always have the materials needed.
Ensure delivery. The best homework in the world doesn’t do your child any good if it doesn’t get into the teacher’s hands. Kids with special needs often seem to have a special talent for losing, misplacing or forgetting their assignments, and that can send a grade rolling downhill fast. Check for yourself that the homework is in the backpack each day before sending your child off to school. Then check with the teacher on a regular basis to make sure it’s reaching its destination. A chart on which the teacher can check off whether homework was done or not might be a useful option. Use the chart as part of your home behavior plan, giving points or a reward if it’s checked, withholding points or privileges if it’s not.
Tent 8 is proud to nominate longtime Variety supporter, Nancy Pagel, for the Presidential Citation. Her dedication to Variety the Children’s Charity is not restricted to just Tent 8, she is a true ambassador of our mission. For going on two decades Nancy has supported Tent 8, and has been a board member for more than ten years.
In Kansas City, Nancy is the hub of a very major wheel. As Marketing Director of HyVee (grocery) she has a close working relationship with most major entities in Kansas City (primary sponsor of the KC Chiefs, and the Royals, and partnerships with national food/ beverage brands). As a result, Nancy Pagel is a master connector, engaging and combining her corporate relationships and Variety. Just one small example of her enthusiasm for Variety is how she influenced HyVee’s Pepsi Representative, Jill Debok. Starting out with donations and attending events with Nancy, Jill’s involvement grew over the years to include the board’s presidency. HyVee is an important Midwest supporter of Variety, but they have other charities of choice as well, including Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. They sponsor and contribute to dozens of events and organizations – Nancy works in this environment daily.
That is why we are so appreciative for her loyal investment in Variety Tent 8….it has contributed to our success in so many ways.
1. Recruitment of quality volunteers and leadership personnel
2. Connection to large corporate partners, i.e. the KC Royals
3. Tireless volunteer, the first to sign up, the most frequent to show up
4. Coordination of a golf tournament that continues to be a major source of funds
Nancy has the most heritage on our board. She never gave up in the years when Tent 8 was challenged (in fact, took over the board presidency) and was a big part of recruiting a new Executive Director and supported the successful new direction we She is a problem solver, a generous team player, and doesn’t hesitate to use her influence to assist Variety – but is at her shining best when engaging with Variety kids. Her greatest joy is helping to facilitate the presentation of equipment to children and families. You’ll often see her in the background of photos, smiling and watching the families.
It seems like such a small pleasure as reward for such a great amount of time and work….but if you were to ask Nancy, she would tell you that what she receives from Variety is more than she gives.
The origin of the name “Nancy” means grace. That is the exact quality she exhibits, how she lives life, and how she represents Variety. It is for all this and more that we feel she is deserving the honor of being “graced” with the Presidential Citation.
The local CBS television affiliate, KCTV5, has a long history of being a media leader in the Kansas City community and surrounding region. Like other major media outlets, KCTV5 is constantly asked for their coverage and partnership in events and fundraisers. Serving a population of over 2,000,000 viewers, it is easy to understand how the on-air personalities become highly recognizable and have a large circle of influence.
As a result, the station is very careful about the partnerships and events they lend their name to. Variety Tent 8 is honored to continually be one of the selected partners.
KCTV5 has supported Tent 8 in a number of ways, and the support is continually increasing:
1. Popular news anchors, Dave and Alexis, will once again emcee the annual Variety Show (our largest source of funding, netting $300,000 – a one hundred percent increase over the previous year, in which they were not involved). Ticket sales more than doubled as a result of their exposure.
2. Their on air personalities star in and produce a set of commercials promoting ticket sales and general awareness of Variety Tent 8.
3. Advertisers on KCTV5 have partnered to support Variety through their own events and in their own advertising. For example, Gary Crossley Ford hosted a breakfast with Santa and gift wrapping fundraiser at their own showroom – a month long campaign.
4. This year KCTV5 has made a larger commitment to local charities, including Variety, through a campaign called “Take 5 To Care.” These are not public service announcements (we receive those as well) but a series of sponsored commercials – in Prime TV shows and times, at no cost to the charity. (Value this year to Variety is over $100,000.)
5. KCTV5 is the most frequent and consistent news outlet covering Tent 8’s ground-breakings, events, presentations and news stories.
The role of the media, especially big media, plays a key part in both the awareness of Variety’s mission – and the top of mind exposure that helps in securing sponsorships, donors and volunteers.
KCTV5 is the “THE” news station in Kansas City. To us, they have proven that action is not just something they talk about – it is how they operate and serve.