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Capper Foundation prepares for virtual “Evening for a Child” following year of pandemic adjustments



TOPEKA, Kan. – This past pandemic year has changed many people’s lives, but probably not in the way it has three and a half year old Nolan Anderson.

His mom, Amanda, says she’s watched his independence blossom, thanks, in part, to the help he receives from Capper Foundation.

“You would think with COVID and everything it may have slowed him down. It didn’t. He just kept moving forward,” Amanda said. “I am so thankful that Capper did not close down and we were open and he was still able to come here and get services.”

Nolan has Down Syndrome, and was born with a heart defect. When COVID set in, Capper made adjustments to ensure kids like Nolan could continue physical, occupational and speech therapy. CEO Jim Leiker said it involved creativity, innovation, and commitment from their entire staff.

“We went to teletherapy, using online conferencing, using lots of safety precautions and protective equipment,” he said. “We’ve faced a tough time, but we’ve adapted and changed and made adjustments and prevailed, thankfully. Part of the reason we did that is because we kept the main thing, which is our mission to help people be the best they can be.”

But that can only happen with the community’s support. The 20th annual Event for a Child fundraiser is one way people can pitch in. It’s coming up Saturday, April 24. The virtual event features a variety show, auction, and stories from families served by Capper.

Proceeds benefit Capper’s Scholarship Assistance Fund, helping families who are uninsured or under-insured. Capper provided more than $3 milllion in unreimbursed care last year.

Speech therapist Julie Watson, occupational therapist Amy Douglas, and physical therapist Cris Teter has the same response when asked what people really are giving when they donate to Capper: opportunity.

“An opportunity to grow; an opportunity to gain skills they are struggling with; and giving them an opportunity to improve their quality of life,” Watson said.

“They’re giving an opportunity for freedom, for independence, for confidence,” Teter said.

Douglas also pointed out it helps Capper have more therapists to get children off waiting lists for services.

“If we can get to those children, it’s huge,” she said.

Nolan’s family is grateful for the opportunity to take steps toward a brighter future.

“He has completely changed our lives,” Amanda said.