The Kearney School District Education Foundation volunteers had all the wheels in motion for what they hoped would be another wonderful year for their biggest fundraiser, Rise and Shine for Kids. With the event originally scheduled for April, when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, it swept away so many of those plans. (There would be) no community gathering, no celebrating the talents of students, no public recognition of teacher’s efforts and no official goodbye to the two individuals that built this event from the ground up.
The virus may have stopped the event, but it won’t stop us from honoring the amazing community members who give in so many ways.
First, we must thank our sponsors who donated more $15,000 despite the event being canceled. We emailed each sponsor a form to start the process of returning their donations, but they answered with a resounding, “Please keep the funds.”
As those email responses flew back in, I must be honest, my eyes filled with tears. The trust this community places in KSDEF to use those funds to assist our school district is both an honor and humbling.
The funds from Rise and Shine with our invested funds allowed for the largest grant to date to Kearney School District for technology needs to assist with our new world of long-distance learning.
At Rise and Shine this year, we hoped to share a special moment with the community where we could all honor two of the founding members of the foundation. Thank you, Dr. William Nicely for your passion for the Kearney School District and your vision for KSDEF. After viewing the growing community support through the annual Thanksgiving Day Turkey Trot, he knew another event was possible. He contacted the former chair of KSDEF, Susan Woehrman, with an idea of a community breakfast. With the help of Dogwood Elementary School Principal Janelle Nelson, who has served as the board secretary of KSDEF, they started groundwork for the breakfast six years ago. In 2019, Rise and Shine for Kids was a sold-out event that garnered over $25,000 in funds.
Nicely and Nelson are retiring at the end of this school year. They each leave behind an enduring legacy to our community with the strong foundation they have created at KSDEF. We thank them for their talents, drive and endless outside hours volunteered to KSDEF.
How did we get those invested funds for grant requests from the school district? It started with a $50 deposit 10 years ago with the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation that supports small community nonprofits with investment opportunities. Through your support of Rise and Shine for Kids, the Turkey Trot, KSD’s staff generated Pay it Forward program, the Bulldog Debit Card from Citizens Bank and Trust and other generous donations, we built up a rainy day fund to ensure that when an emergency need was there for our students and teachers, funds would be available.
KSDEF is proud to be the booster club for academics for the school district, and we remain committed to full-steam ahead for years to come. Our website, www.ksdef.com, Facebook and Instagram sites will keep you up-to-date on future events. We hope to see everyone at Kearney’s 9th annual Thanksgiving Day Turkey Trot this fall.