ORIGINALLY WRITTEN TOM STOPPEL
Central Kansas residents will have the opportunity to demonstrate their generosity when the third annual KVC Motorcycle Ride for Kids comes to Marion’s Central Park on Saturday.
“This is a fund-raiser and a recruitment effort that KVC does,” said Rose Vinduska, director of KVC Behavioral HealthCare’s Child Placing Agency-Salina. “We’re raising funds for foster parents and foster kids.”
Sponsored by Custom Truck & Equipment Co. Inc. of Salina, the event will feature a poker run, a barbecue lunch and a prize drawing.
KVC, formerly known as the Kaw Valley Center, began in Wyandotte County in 1970 when the court system needed places to assign kids who were brought into custody.
“They purchased a small house and made it into a holding center, and that grew into a group home,” Vinduska said. “In 1997 when SRS privatized, KVC received the foster care contract for Region I, bringing KVC to Marion and surrounding counties.”
Vinduska said the Child Placing Agency was established in 2000 to recruit, train, license and support foster parents.
Those modest beginnings have blossomed into a system begging for more foster parents to satisfy the ever-increasing need.
“Effective July 1, KVC is now responsible for 2,000 of the 5,000 children who are placed out of the home in the state of Kansas,” Vinduska said. “That’s a lot of kids.”
Vinduska, whose territory includes Marion County, Salina, Junction City, Manhattan and counties east, said the need is just as great locally as it is statewide.
“In Marion County in our KVC foster homes, we have 32 children in 15 foster homes,” she said. “That’s not even counting Catholic Social Services, The Farm or any other sponsoring agencies in the county.”
With the needs of the organization increasing, so does the need for funding. Saturday’s event in Marion gives community members the opportunity to step up to the plate.
“To help us, people can do a number of different things,” Vinduska said. “They can come to the motorcycle ride, which is the poker run, they can eat lunch with us or they can purchase raffle tickets.”
Registration for the cycle ride begins at 9 a.m. with the last cycle out of the park at 11 a.m.
For $25, participants may participate in the poker run, which includes one poker hand, a meal and an embroidered patch.
Each additional hand costs $5, an extra meal is $5 and kids under 12 can eat for just $2.50. Lunch will be served starting at 11 a.m.
“We hope we have a bunch of motorcyclers who want to do the poker run and lots of people who come out and enjoy a meal together and listen to music,” Vinduska said. “It’s a delicious meal to be held at the Marion city park and all the food was generously donated.”
A $100 prize awaits the poker run winner, second prize will be a handmade KC quilt by Custom Threads in Marion and third prize a Harley Davidson Cooler bag with AM/FM radio donated by Del’s Electronics in Salina.
Vinduska said loyal supporters of the event may notice some changes this year.
“My workers are so busy that we’ve forgone the usual auction in place of a raffle,” Vinduska said. “Tickets are just $10 each.”
Those tickets may be purchased from Margo Yates at the Marion Chamber of Commerce, 203 N. Third, Mary Johnson in Peabody (620-983-2693), Tammy Whiteside in Peabody (620-983-2079) and at the Klose and Kozy Restaurant, 117 S. Main in Hillsboro, as well as at the park on Saturday morning.
Drawing prizes include a top prize of $500 cash, a copper Seal of Kansas created by Tracy Hett at Trace of Copper in Marion ($400), a Kansas Speedway gift package, Worlds of Fun/Oceans of Fun tickets, a Kansas City Royals weekend getaway ($250), a 20-hour motorcycle class ($180), a Motorola 4-pack of 2-way pagers ($70), a 19-inch color television plus Pansaonic DVD/VCR Deck ($500), a 10 million candle power rechargeable spotlight ($30), a leather fringe jacket ($295), a leather jacket ($185), a leather vest ($75), a dinner for two from Grand Central Hotel ($50) and a Sentry Fire Safe/Document chest.
“You don’t have to be present to win,” Vinduska said. “We’ll contact all the winners and make sure their prize is delivered to them.”
Proceeds will go toward items needed for child care that are not covered by the welfare system.
“There are times when foster parents come to us and say, ‘This child really needs dental work done and it keeps getting denied-can you help?’ So we have a kind of activity fund,” she said.
“We have other times when a foster parent needs some help with things like graduation announcements for their foster children, so we help with things like that as well.
“In the past, we’ve taken about half the proceeds and donated it toward the KVC foster parent conference, which is the first weekend in December,” she said.
“KVC brings in all the foster parents, their biological children and their foster and adopted children and puts them up in a hotel overnight.
“The next day, the foster parents receive a full day of training provided by KVC while the KVC staff provides child care.”
KVC Behavioral HealthCare is a private not-for-profit agency that provides medical and behavioral health care, social services, and education to abused, neglected and abandoned children from birth to age 21, plus their families.
“We’ve had to place children from Kansas City as far away as Wichita because there wasn’t any place closer,” Vinduska said. “If there’s that much need, that’s not good because children need to be placed close to their families.”
Vinduska said the weekend means so much to those involved, both administrators and those who seek the KVC services.
“This is more than a fund-raiser,” she said. “It gets the KVC name out there and advertises that foster parents are desperately needed and emphasizes the wonderful work those families do.”
For more information about the KVC Motorcycle Ride for Kids, call 785-827-KIDS, ext. 5437.