by Joe Bollig
LEAWOOD — Angelic assistance comes in many forms, and the angelic help for the Olathe Pregnancy Clinic came in tens of thousands.
Make that $135,950 to be exact.
This significant donation for the clinic was raised during the 15th annual Defenders’ Ball held on Feb. 10 at St. Michael the Archangel Parish in Leawood.
The parish holds this annual fundraising event on the last Saturday before Ash Wednesday. This event fuels the parish’s “Fund-A-Need” charity program, which benefits organizations outside of the parish.
This year, more than 500 attended the fundraiser, themed “Once Upon a Vine.” The parish raised $337,000, with the largest gift going to the Olathe Pregnancy Clinic.
“As we talked about the Fund-A-Need, it occurred to me that we’d never done [something] for a pro-life cause,” said Chris Arth, parish administrator. “I thought it would be very well received. So I mentioned it to [pastor] Father Brian Schieber and he said, ‘That sounds like a really great idea.’”
Arth contacted archdiocesan pro-life consultant Alli Donohue, who suggested he talk to Ron Kelsey of the soon-to-be-opened Olathe Pregnancy Clinic.
Kelsey, the clinic’s steering committee chairman, told Arth about the clinic’s capital campaign. Arth passed the information to the parish Fund-A-Need committee, which approved the gift.
The financial gift through St. Michael the Archangel Parish will have a significant impact both now and for years to come.
“The simple fact that you had declared Olathe Pregnancy Clinic for your Fund-A-Need charity gave us assurance that we could execute a lease for our future location,” said Kelsey, in a letter to Arth and Father Schieber. “And now with the amazing results from the Defenders’ Ball, we are planning on opening [the clinic] around August on a full-time basis.
“This means that we will be offering services 40 hours per week to provide life-affirming services to women and families at risk of choosing abortion. We plan on becoming a high-client- volume clinic, as is Wyandotte Pregnancy Clinic [in Kansas City, Kansas]. Many lives will be saved, and many lives positively changed because of the support of the St. Michael Church community.”
The clinic wasn’t the only entity to benefit.
Every year, 25 percent of the annual fundraising event’s net proceeds go to the parish’s “Companions in Faith” partner — Our Lady of Unity Parish in Kansas City, Kansas. This year Our Lady of Unity received $31,000.
The parish finance council approved the balance of all other funds raised this year be used for improvements at the parish and school. The estimated cost of the improvements is more than $160,000.
Over the years, Fund-A-Need gifts raised during the Defenders’ Ball have assisted a number of worthy causes.
In 2014, a gift of $275,000 was used by Catholic Charities to purchase the Hope Distribution and Food Pantry. In 2016, about $15,000 was used to build churches in Uganda.
In 2017, the fundraising was “a tale of two kitchens.” Both St. Michael the Archangel School and Our Lady of Unity needed to update their respective kitchens, so funds raised were used to finance both projects.
Arth, in addition to thanking all the Defenders’ Ball committee members, gave special thanks to committee co-chairpersons Chris and Maria Proctor, and the evening’s master of ceremonies Christa Dubill, an anchor at KSHB-41 News.