By Marty Denzer
Catholic Key Reporter
KANSAS CITY — Early morning sunshine and warm breezes patted men, women and kids on the head as they walked toward registration tables on the south side of the Charles B. Wheeler Downtown Airport June 22.
It was the check-in to walk in the first Catholic Charities Walk for Change.
More than 300 participants signed on to raise funds for Catholic Charities programs. The walk’s mission was to raise funds to directly support Catholic Charities’ programs that fight poverty one step at a time.
In the past year, Catholic Charities provided help and hope to more than 150,000 adults and children in the Kansas City community through a variety of programs and services including those geared to reducing poverty. Those programs:
• Protect and nurture children and youth;
• Feed the hungry and shelter the homeless;
• Strengthen families and rebuild lives;
• Support the physically and emotionally vulnerable;
• Build stronger communities and,
• Honor older adults with care and dignity
Balloons bounced and waved in the music-filled breeze, almost as if they were dancing. Ice-filled tubs of bottled water dotted the registration area and stops along the course. Children followed closely in their parents’ footsteps or rode in strollers or wagons, excitedly pointing at Kansas City Royals mascot “Sluggerrr,” and Kansas City T-Bones mascot, “Sizzle.” Both mascots high-fived kids and adults as they passed, and waved at those not in high-fiving proximity.
Walk for Change co-chairs Mike and Allison Haggerty and Steve and Nicole Pierce spoke briefly about Catholic Charities. Haggerty, a member of the Catholic Charities Foundation Board of Directors, said there was no social service organization in Kansas City that touched more lives and Pierce agreed. “More than 150,000 people, of all or no faith backgrounds, are served annually by Catholic Charities,” he said. “That’s more than any other local social service agency,” among those providing direct social services.
As the 8 a.m. start time neared, fitness trainer Maggie Herbster led the walkers-to-be, most of them wearing lime green or white Walk for Change t-shirts, in calisthenics to get them stretched.
After a brief prayer and blessing offered by Deacon Dan Powers, Catholic Charities CEO, thanking God “for the gift of this day,” the walkers, stroller pushers and wagon pullers set off to complete the 1 mile, 2 or 3.1 mile course around the airport’s perimeter.
Walking briskly at a rate of about 15-20 minutes per mile, the 3.1 mile course would take about 45 minutes to an hour to complete. Several young women waited at the finish line with checkered flags to cheer the walkers in.
Forty-four teams, representing Catholic families, parishes and schools, signed up to walk and raise money. The top fundraisers were Kathleen Brosnahan of Team St. Thomas More and Carla Mills of Team Walk by Faith. The top three teams were Team Walk by Faith, Team Haggerty and Team St. Thomas More.
No registered family or individual has claimed to be the first through the checkered flags. Jarrod Sanderson, Catholic Charities director of Family Support Services, wanted to get some exercise, so he ran the 3.1 mile course. “This is fantastic,” he said after catching his breath. “This is the first Walk for Change, and it received a lot of community support, with around 300 walkers. And we got a beautiful morning for it! The families and individual team members who signed up to walk today are the most important, however.”
The first Walk for Change raised $150,000 to date to support the direct services that fight and reduce poverty.