Since its beginning in 1950 as simply a small group of families who wanted to provide opportunities for their children, St. Louis Arc has grown to serve 3,000 people each year. Far from losing sight of its roots, the organization has retained its family-focused approach while providing comprehensive services for people with all kinds of developmental disabilities, including Down syndrome and autism, says president and CEO Kathy Meath.
“We are keenly focused on the challenges faced by parents of young children being diagnosed with disabilities,” Meath says. “One of our hallmark services, Capable Kids and Families, is a parent-support and equipment-lending program. It currently has a waiting list of 70 families—the only thing standing in the way of serving them is more funding, making this year’s golf tournament all the more important.”
Now in its 22nd year, St. Louis Arc’s signature fundraiser will take place on Monday, May 21, at The Country Club of St. Albans. The highlight of the day is a drawing for a golfer’s getaway for two to Scotland. Also following the day on the links is a silent auction, along with an awards reception. As the Arc’s largest annual fundraiser, it raises about $250,000 per year to benefit the nonprofit’s many programs.
The continued success of the event would not be possible without the help of longtime co-chairs Irl Engelhardt, Ron Kruszewski, Michael Neidorff, Joe Imbs and Kevin Demoff, Meath adds. “Their leadership has coincided with a time of tremendous growth in the Arc’s services, due in large part to the additional funding generated through the event.”
That funding has led to more comprehensive services for families dealing with the challenges presented by a developmental disability, Meath says. Through Capable Kids, children get access to items that range from therapeutic toys to equipment that can help them stand and walk. While the equipment creates tangible benefits in itself, the lending program also can be the first point of contact for a relationship that lasts a lifetime. “What distinguishes us from other organizations is that we really address the whole lifespan of people and deal with prevention, as well,” she notes.
St. Louis Arc can be particularly beneficial during key transitional times, such as early childhood and following high school graduation. “It’s evidence-based that the earlier we get to children who are diagnosed, the better outcomes will be,” Meath says. “And when young adults leave high school, it’s critical to get them out and active for their health and wellbeing.”
Meath adds that a major expansion of the Arc’s early childhood services will be announced later this spring, and that wouldn’t be possible without the support achieved through the tournament. “The funds are critical to helping us sustain our programs and provide scholarships for those who need assistance.”