Michael Ryan (1999)

Disclaimer: The following was transcribed from an article in the Capper Foundation Archives published by The Topeka Capital-Journal. The choice of words used at the time this was written may not reflect current Capper Foundation inclusive language and views.

A True Masterpiece (1999)

by Michael Ryan

There are hundreds of worthy causes around for you to support. There are dozens in Topeka alone.

But it doesn’t get much worthier than the Capper Foundation.

Consider that most everyone agrees our children are our most precious resource. That never gets an argument. Consider, too, that the Capper Foundation helps many of the children who need our help the most: those with disabilities. What you have, then, is an institution that is worthy of everyone’s wholehearted support. That’s apparently what we got.

The Capper Foundation set out on a fundraising campaign to raise $3.5 million to ensure the foundation’s future – and its future relevance. It sought the funds for a much-needed building renovation, for a terribly important technology component bringing the foundation and its clients into the next century as best as possible, and for an endowment for programs and services – one of the smartest things any not-for-profit can do.

Not only did the Capper Foundation meet the goal, it exceeded it, handsomely-amassing $4.39 million and still climbing.

The achievement and those who made it possible were feted at a celebratory gathering last week. Always when such a massive fundraising effort is concluded the laudatory adjectives abound. But in this case, they might not do justice to those involved.

Indeed, the campaign was led be a wide-ranging cast of area philanthropists and business and civic leaders. It was a virtual Who’s Who of worthy projects, led by campaign chairman Del Weidner, president and general counsel of Capital City Bank, and honorary chairman Stan Stauffer, chairman of the Stauffer Communications Foundation.

Jim Leiker, president and chief executive officer of the Capper Foundation, summed up the “Building Abilities… One Child At A Time” campaign by recalling having seen a piece of artwork with an inscription beneath it that said:

“When a collection of brilliant minds, hearts and talents come together, expect a masterpiece.”

“It occurred to me,” Leiker said, “that these words accurately and genuinely described the Capper Foundation.”

In almost 80 years of existence, the Capper Foundation has always been in the vanguard of caring for children with disabilities ‑- decades before the current disabilities rights movement that has raised so much awareness and so many hopes around the country.

It hasn’t been easy. Over the decades, as the approach to disabilities has evolved — now, to a point where emphasis is on community-based services — the Capper Foundation has had to reinvent itself many times.

This new incarnation will be the model for the first part of the next century — a masterpiece painted by some of the brightest hearts and minds this community has known.

Sen. Arthur Capper would be amazed and so very delighted to see the beautiful colors that have been painted on the canvas he started with nearly 80 years ago.

There are hundreds of worthy causes around for you to support. There are dozens in Topeka alone.

But it doesn’t get much worthier than the Capper Foundation.