By Marty Denzer
Catholic Key Reporter
KANSAS CITY — More than 300 football fans gathered for the third annual Chiefs Watch Party at the Roasterie’s Bean Hanger Sept. 19 to raise funds for the Bright Futures Fund and cheer on the Kansas City Chiefs.
Begun by former Chief’s Defensive Tackle Ken (Fuzzy) Kremer and his wife, Lisa, with Joanne Carr, in 2010, the watch parties raise funds for scholarships for the Strong City Schools and Honoring Family Scholarships. Families in need in the central city who send their children to Our Lady of Guadalupe, Our Lady of Angels, or Holy Cross schools, and recently families in need with children at Archbishop O’Hara or St. Pius X high schools, are eligible to receive scholarships to help with tuition costs.
Jeremy Lillig, diocesan director of the Bright Futures Fund, said the third Watch Party was successful, grossing about $30,000, tripling the amount raised in 2012. “The venue was great, and I think everybody had a good time,” he said.
He was very pleased with the response to the live auction, held at intervals during the game. Some of the items sold at the auction included a trip to San Diego for the Chiefs-Chargers game, with air fare and hotel; a golf trip to the Biltmore in Phoenix, Ariz., in gratitude to the estate of Richard and Olivia Mock for the gift of $1.2 million to the Bright Futures Fund; a painting of an arrowhead; concert tickets; a football autographed by linebacker Justin Houston; two Chiefs jerseys autographed by quarterback Alex Smith; jewelry and a 12 pack of custom crafted beer.
Before the start of the game, several former Chiefs joined KMBC-9’s sports director Johnny Kane in a live broadcast to give insider opinions on how the game would turn out. Food and refreshments were donated by local sponsors, including Summit Hickory Pit BBQ, Rudy’s Tenampa Taqueria, Topsy’s, Rusty Horse Tavern, Popeye’s Louisiana Kitchen, Cosentino’s Brookside Market, Blue Bunny Ice Cream, Coffee Girls, Central States Beverages and Ingram’s Magazine.
This has been a good year for the Strong City Schools, Lillig said. Enrollment at the grade schools has increased, and as a result, for the first time, the Bright Futures Fund has increased their funding by 20 percent. The Fund helped remodel the first floor of Holy Cross School, giving students a brighter, lighter learning atmosphere.
“That’s a great physical representation of what Bright Futures is trying to do,” he said.
Lillig said the Mock gift enabled the Fund to assist 10 high school students (eight at St. Pius X and two at Archbishop O’Hara) with tuition assistance scholarships.
The School Bell Breakfast held April 18, grossed about $140,000, he added. “The passion and desire of people to move forward” with the Fund and its programs “is evidence of how needed we are in this diocese. The kids are all our children.”
The Bright Futures Fund Board of Directors has increased its membership; there are now 24 directors with that “passion and desire,” Lillig said.
He also spoke of the partnership the Strong City Schools formed with Rockhurst High School to participate in the Hurtado Scholars program. The program educationally and financially assists boys in sixth through eighth grades with great potential but for whom a Catholic college prep high school education may be out of reach. By attending summer and school year weekly programs at Rockhurst, the boys receive the training and experiences that enable them to be well prepared for a college preparatory high school, and to be eligible to receive need- and merit-based scholarships.
The Bright Futures Fund/Strong City Schools helps families in need by focusing on the good educations and spiritual care they can give their children. It’s a win-win situation.
The Chiefs were also winners — the final score 26 – 16.