SPLURGE! Nice List 2019

Written by Sara Garrison

2019 has been a fantastic year in Wichita. There are countless companies, nonprofit organizations and individuals who have made a positive impact in our community. SPLURGE! has created our nice list for 2019 to share just a small sample of our favorites.

2019 Kansas Teacher of the Year, Region 4

Inspirational third-grade teacher at Christa McAuliffe Academy, Lan T. Huynh, was named 2019 Kansas Teacher of the Year for Region 4. As a five-year-old child, Lan immigrated with her family to the United States from Vietnam. She did not speak English and she struggled to learn a new language, culture and school environment. For this reason, Lan chose to pursue a career in teaching to give back to the community and help other struggling learners thrive. “I use my experience to relate to struggling learners and inspire my students to reach for their dreams,” says Lan, who has taught in the USD 259 school district for 19 years. “I believe there is no cap to what you can achieve in life. As a teacher, I hope to spark a dream in my students while encouraging them to achieve their dreams and believe in themselves.”

Susan’s Kids

In 2000, during her tenure at KAKE-TV, Susan Peters created Susan’s Kids to increase awareness of children in foster care who are currently awaiting adoption in Kansas. Over the years Susan’s Kids television segments profiled local kids who were awaiting adoption monthly. After her retirement from KAKE, Susan formed the nonprofit organization, Susan’s Kids in 2017. Today, Susan’s Kids TV segments air on KWCH, KAKE and KSN as well as on social media. “According to the Kansas Children's Service League, since 2017 65 children have been profiled on Susan's Kids. Forty-two of these children have been permanently placed or are pending a permanent placement in a forever home,” says Peters. “That is over 60 percent.”

Intrust Bank Arena

In 2019, Intrust Bank Arena hosted numerous high profile concerts, activities and events for individuals of varying interests and ages. Events included the family-friendly favorite, Monster Jam, as well as famous musical artists Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood, The Chainsmokers, Chris Stapleton and more. We are looking forward to an exciting 2020 with more outstanding entertainment to come including George Strait, Blake Shelton and Cher.

Kids create adaptive costumes

Andover Central Middle School students made Halloween even more magical this year by creating adaptive costumes for two children in wheelchairs who are served through the nonprofit Wichita’s Littlest Heroes. The seventh- and eighth-grade students who created the costumes are in Mrs. Cindy Ehrstein’s design and modeling class. The teacher explains: “This project teaches community service and is an opportunity to serve others. The students get to make a new friend, learn about other disabilities and share in an activity that brings them all together. Students learn the value of working together to produce a product that benefits someone besides themselves.”

FaithBuilders

In November, Brad Pistotnik Law hosted a community drive while matching donations up to $25,000 to FaithBuilders — a faith-based local nonprofit organization that offers mentoring, education support, respite care, parental support and supplies to families who are struggling. The community drive gathered donations of gift cards, cleaning supplies, clothing, diapers and wipes for FaithBuilders families. “We always tell our families it takes a village to parent,” says FaithBuilders’ founder Andrea Dixon. “Having community partners like Brad Pistotnik Law confirms this for our families.”

National sports exposure

In 2019, Visit Wichita hosted a variety of exciting sporting events positioning Wichita on the national stage. These events included the U.S. Bowling Congress Women's Championships, The Basketball Tournament (TBT) and more. Save the date for June 2020 when the U.S. Women’s Olympic Volleyball team competes in the U.S. Women’s Volleyball Nations League matches at Charles Koch Arena. We are also looking forward to the 2021 NCAA Division I Men's Basketball first and second rounds and the 2022 NCAA Division I Women's Basketball Championship Regional Rounds.

Raising awareness of domestic violence

Wichita Family Crisis Center executive director Amanda Meyers has made our nice list this year, for her advocacy efforts to raise awareness of domestic violence. “One in three women and one in four men will be a victim of domestic violence in their lifetime. That is more than breast cancer, ovarian cancer and lung cancer combined. The only way we are going to affect the pervasiveness of domestic violence is by working with and talking to young people about it,” says Meyers. “This means challenging the beliefs, values and behaviors that underlie and predicate intimate partner violence. I can’t underscore enough the importance of talking to young people about teen dating violence, which is why we need to engage our young people.”

Heartspring heroes

Last, but definitely not least on our Nice List is Hutton Construction. In addition to serving as the general contractor facilitating the Heartspring campus expansion project, Hutton Construction has donated financially and provided incredible in-kind support to Heartspring, therefore positively impacting the lives of numerous children with special needs and their families. “The work Hutton Construction does for Heartspring is more than just another project,” says Stacie Williamson, Heartspring director of development. “They are fully invested in our mission and caring for the children and families we serve.”

Raising awareness, making a difference, giving to and caring for others, enriching our community and helping Wichita thrive are all elements that perfectly demonstrate the spirit of the holiday season. Thank you, Wichita, for giving us so much to celebrate.

 
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