Written by: Steve Richter
While this is the first sentence you’ll read in this blog post, it’s the last one I write while finishing it up.
I had to do that to emotionally get through one of the top 5 life events I’ve ever experienced and to give you proper perspective on great acts of charity I witnessed recently.
It’s taken me this long to recount and embrace everything that happened on Saturday, April 6th and to put into words, as the headline indicates, amazing displays of Love, Compassion, Generosity and Hope.
Rainbow Kids of Sheboygan is a peer support group that helps families who have experienced a significant loss. They offer classes TOTALLY FREE to people who sign up to use their program to cope with whatever they are personally dealing with.
While “significant loss” means many things to many people, I thought death and divorce were the two most obvious.
However, they also have kids programs for dealing with abandonment and for helping kids where parents are deployed in our military protecting our freedoms.
I learned of Rainbow Kids while I went through my divorce five years ago. And while I didn’t take action right away to seek out their help, they were always on my mind.
I never wanted my son to feel as though he caused our failure as parents to find a way to stay together. So when he was struggling with some things at school a few years ago, I called and enrolled him in the program.
While on the phone, I was asked “why don’t you come and join the adult class?” As is typical for my personality, I tried gutting it out alone and politely declined.
But she persisted…
“How about you come out for the first session and if it doesn’t fit, feel free to not come back?” I thought, I can live with that.
What happened over the next 14 weeks not only helped me deal with my unresolved issues (that I didn’t even know I had), but clearly helped my son cope with his inner-struggles. He was able to express to them what he couldn’t express to us.
In my eyes, the transformation in him was huge!!
So I always knew, though I didn’t know how, that someday I wanted to do something special for them for all the special work they did for me.
Like many other publicly funded help agencies, they are getting squeezed tremendously by shrinking budgets from some of their largest supporters such as the United Way and Johnsonville Sausage. The time was NOW to help….
So when I pitched my idea and asked him if it was a good idea, my 8 year old, Crosby, said…
“I want to get it started with money from my Give bank” And gave me $25 to give to the kids.
I knew then at that point I had to begin now to pull together, in his honor, what had been in my mind for so long.
On Saturday, April 6th, 2013 the ELITE Bowling Pro Shop held a fun-format tournament with this charity wrapped inside its “blanket”.
But it wasn’t just a tournament….it was an event. An experience. A must-attend function.
Storm's Chris Sand and Jeff Carter were on hand to provide expert bowling instruction.
With every entry came a $5 donation to Rainbow Kids, a pizza buffet, two free drinks and some crazy tournament action. So while we had some seriousness built into it, the main objective that night was to have FUN!
So by my budgeted projections, I had hoped we would make around $800 for Rainbow Kids.
We overachieved…..BIG TIME.
Ben Cleveland says “bowlers take care of people” … and he couldn’t be more right.
In an incredible show of love, that night we raised $2,478 for Rainbow Kids!!! See the Charity Thermometer at the left for what our current balance is with additional private donations after the event.
The absolute care and unselfishness that was on display was nothing like I’d ever seen or experienced.
I quite literally lost count of how many times I was handed donations, asked to give it to the kids, hugged that someone special and told them I loved them.
And as posts went to Facebook about the event, many more people have pledged additional donations who 1) have been through Rainbow Kids, 2) wish something like Rainbow Kids existed when they had something to deal with, or 3) know of someone who was positively impacted by Rainbow Kids.
As I said on my Facebook post the following day:
1 passionate idea
9 months in the making
64 people attending
$2,458 acts of love
From Michele Hemb, Rainbow Kids Executive Director:
The feeling in my heart right now is beyond words…..How can I possibly express enough thanks to someone who took an idea, his time, and his dedication to put together an event to give back to an organization he truly believes in? Steve Richter, you are an amazing man with a heart of gold!
Together, with the beautiful Jenni Stein at his side, and the most talented bowlers I've ever seen, Steve put together the VIP Bowling Fundraiser Tournament held last night at Odyssey Fun Center and raised $2,458 for Rainbow Kids, Inc. of Sheboygan County, WI!!!!! Thank you everyone for your support!
I personally want to thank every person who made a donation to this event and who will make huge differences in the lives of the kids in Sheboygan County.
(courtesy: Steve Richter)