by Carol Cowdrey
Special to The Leaven
LEAWOOD — One of Mark Teahan’s earliest memories of Snow Ball was babysitting his sister while his parents, JoAnn and Rich, attended a potluck benefiting Catholic Charities Foundation of Northeast Kansas.
Now, nearly 45 years later, he and his wife Donna are following in his parents’ footsteps and serving as presidents for the 48th annual Snow Ball, which will be held both in-person at the Overland Park Convention Center and virtually on Jan. 15, 2022. They will be joined by honorary presidents Tom and Patti Schugel.
“It has been such an honor to be asked to serve as presidents,” said Donna, although she admits they knew this day might eventually come. She and Mark, who are members of Curé of Ars Parish in Leawood, began attending Snow Ball with Mark’s parents many years ago — and never stopped.
“As a young, married couple, we had never been to a formal event,” said Mark. “[Snow Ball] was an opportunity for us to get dressed up and celebrate the work of Catholic Charities with friends from our parish. It’s been amazing to see how much Snow Ball has grown over the years since the early potluck days.”
JoAnn and Rich, who served as Snow Ball presidents in 1992 and 1993, were instrumental in that growth. It was their encouragement that led Mark and Donna to not only attend the event, but to become more involved. Since then, Mark and Donna have served on Snow Ball’s entertainment, table and patron committees.
Like Mark’s parents, they have passed down the tradition of Snow Ball to their children. Their son Kyle, along with Scott Campbell, founded Snowflake, a group for young professionals which hosts a happy hour event each December in support of Catholic Charities.
“It is so beautiful to witness these legacy families, like the Teahans, who for generations have been committed to the mission of Catholic Charities, and have faithfully supported Snow Ball year after year,” said Lauren Solidum, president and CEO of Catholic Charities of Northeast Kansas. “We are truly humbled by their generous hearts.”
Last year, Snow Ball was entirely virtual due to the pandemic. More than 1,700 people participated online, representing 13 counties throughout the archdiocese and 12 states. The event not only raised over $3.3 million, but it also expanded its reach and increased awareness about Catholic Charities’ 20-plus programs.
“Many supporters, especially those in our rural areas, joined us for the first time,” said Solidum. “Our supporters who travel south for the winter or who have moved away also were able to celebrate with us. It was especially meaningful to see that outpouring of support.”
This 48th annual Snow Ball will have something for everyone. The black-tie event will follow safety protocols and be back in-person with its cocktail reception, formal sit-down dinner and dancing to live music. In addition, there are virtual packages for guests who live too far away or who may not be comfortable attending. The evening’s program and remarks will be livestreamed and will include heartfelt stories of hope and live interviews with Catholic Charities’ staff.
“We are so excited to be back in-person. There is such a sense of community,” said Donna. “But it is also important to offer a hybrid so that everyone, near or far, can join in the celebration.”
“When you attend Snow Ball,” added Mark, “you see that you are not just one person on your own. You are part of something bigger. You see the enormity of the event and all these people who are coming together to celebrate and support the work that Catholic Charities is doing 365 days a year — providing help, hope and hospitality to the most vulnerable in our communities.”
Due to his financial background, Mark is particularly interested in the asset development programs offered by Catholic Charities. The Family Financial Transformations program, which started in 2015, recently celebrated helping 316 families reduce a cumulative $1 million in debt.
“Catholic Charities isn’t just providing emergency assistance,” he said. “Through their financial classes, for example, they are not only giving people fish, they are teaching them how to fish. They are changing their lives — not just for today, but transforming their future and the future of their families.”
The success of Snow Ball is critical to Catholic Charities’ mission of moving people forward from help to hope.
“What I love most is you don’t have to be Catholic to receive assistance,” said Donna. “All are embraced. It’s that unity, that love of neighbor — it’s what Catholic Charities is all about.”
Snow Ball ticket and table reservations are due by Dec. 23. Patron gifts may also be made in support of Catholic Charities.
For more information or to register, visit the website at: snowballgala.org.