SPLURGE’S Nice List for 2018

Written by Amy Palser

Santa is smiling in the North Pole, as there are countless companies, nonprofit organizations and individuals in Wichita who have been extra nice this year — making a positive impact in our community. We have created our nice list for 2018 to share just a small sample of our favorites.

March madness

Wichita was bursting with basketball fever as March Madness came to Wichita, March 15-17, 2018 when the first and second rounds of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament took place at Intrust Bank Arena. More than 14,000 individuals attended open practice on Wednesday with tournament games taking place on Thursday through Saturday. Each tournament game hit capacity with 15,000 attendees. Hosting the NCAA Tournament had a positive economic impact on the city and gave Wichita an opportunity to shine on the national stage. Wichita’s already lined up for the 2021 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament and the Women’s NCAA Regional Basketball Tournament in 2022.

Wichita Public Library

The Wichita Public Library gifted the community with a beautiful location for literacy and learning as the Advanced Learning Library opened its doors in downtown Wichita on June 16, 2018. The Wichita Public Library provides invaluable resources to our community by ensuring that everyone has access to information. From opening day through October 31, the Advanced Learning Library was visited 190,000 times. 6,000 individuals have established new library accounts and more than 275,000 items were checked out providing invaluable resources to individuals of all ages.

Giving the gift of cheer

ICT Cheer Legacy makes dreams come true as it is home of the Dreamliners cheer team for children ages two and up with special needs. Each of the nine members on the Dreamliners team has a volunteer buddy to help them build their cheer skills. “Our goal is to give everyone the opportunity to participate regardless of their abilities,” says Kristin Mountain, co-owner of ICT Cheer Legacy. “We want to teach all of our cheer students the importance of helping others and loving all kids for who they are.”

A crown with a cause

Nine-year-old Little Miss Princess of America, Averie Mountain, brought a smile to Santa’s face through her travels across Kansas to educate elementary schools about children with special needs using her platform, Just a Kid Like Me. Since August, Averie has made five presentations at Kansas elementary schools and she will do more throughout the school year. Averie’s huge heart and a passion for educating others at such a young age is an inspiration as she volunteers for the ICT Cheer Legacy Dreamliners cheer team, Heartspring Pedal Fest, Down Syndrome Society of Wichita Buddy Walk, the Miss Unstoppable Pageant and announcing baseball games for the Miracle League of Wichita.

Two Lives at a Time

Junior League of Wichita kicked off a three-year partnership with the Wichita Children’s Home for a project, called Two Lives at a Time, helping teen moms develop crucial life skills, build healthy relationships and learn effective parenting practices. Junior League purchased a van called the Baby Mobile that distributes critical baby items and self-care items to young parents transitioning to independent living in the community.

A Night in the Light

Independent High School junior, Madison Martin, brought joy to teens with special needs when she organized A Night in the Light prom on May 5, 2018 at Heartspring. More than 25 teens with special needs attended A Night in the Light. David Stupay, President and CEO, Heartspring explains, “Unfortunately, people with special needs often feel excluded from everyday activities. Prom was a perfect chance for our kids to be themselves and celebrate in a sensory-friendly environment that catered to their unique needs and preferences. To have that experience and opportunity brought incredible joy to these young people and their families.” Madison’s drive to make a difference continues as she is working to organize A Night in the Light 2019.

Shepherd’s Way

In the spirit of helping others, Shepherd's Way president and founder, Ben French, moved into a two-bedroom apartment in 2015 to mentor a 17-year-old young man with autism spectrum disorder who was facing homelessness. He then created the nonprofit organization, Shepherd’s Way, with the belief that all individuals were created to thrive. Three years later, that young man is now 20 years old, leading a very independent and enriched life, managing his own budget, shopping, cooking and taking care of his personal health and wellness. Shepherd’s Way has grown to have three live-in mentors and four clients in two homes in the organization’s independent living program, as well as 15 individuals with special needs who attend Shepherd’s Way’s social group.

Warm Hearts

Giving the gift of warmth, the 2018 Warm Hearts campaign celebrated its 10th year donating coats, blankets, sweaters, gloves and hats to individuals in need. Over the past 10 years the Warm Hearts Campaign — a collaboration between In The Bag Cleaners, The Salvation Army and KAKE-TV — has collected between 8,000 and 10,000 coats annually over the past 10 years, to keep individuals warm.

Intrust Bank Arena

Last, but definitely not least on our Nice List, is Intrust Bank Arena. In 2018, Intrust Bank Arena hosted numerous high profile concerts, activities and events that set Wichita atop the national stage and gave Kansans the opportunity to enjoy their favorite events and artists. Just a few of the events included the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, Pink, Imagine Dragons, Monster Jam, Cirque Du Soleil and more. We are looking forward to an exciting 2019 with more entertainment to come, including fan favorites Kelly Clarkson, Metallica and Carrie Underwood.

Making a difference, impacting lives, giving to and caring for others and helping our community thrive are all elements that embody what the spirit of the holiday season is all about. Thank you, Wichita for giving us so many reasons to be thankful.

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