ENID, Okla. — When Nancy Burgett made a bet with Jake Whinery as to which team could raise the most money for 4RKids, she probably was pretty sure she would be getting that pie in the face.
After all, Whinery brings in money from all over the local area and even the nation, said Tricia Mitchell, executive director of 4RKids in Enid.
But there was one surprise for Burgett, supporter, donor and volunteer for the organization.
“She didn’t know she was going to get it from all three,” Mitchell said.
Whinery and his two teammates, who raised the most money among the teams for the annual Walk 4RKids, each smashed a pie tin of whipped cream in the smiling face of Burgett during the virtual event Saturday at the organization’s headquarters, 2nd Story Gift Shop and Bookstore and miniature golf facility, 710 Overland Trail.
“We just didn’t want to take a chance this year,” Mitchell said, talking about how the COVID-19 pandemic affected things in 2020.
“We didn’t want to put anyone’s health and safety at risk. So we said, ‘Let’s go virtual. What does that mean? I don’t know …’” she said, as she trailed off, laughing.
But Mitchell and her group of clients/employees, board members and volunteers did a fairly good job of figuring out just how a virtual walking fundraiser looks during a pandemic.
There were nine teams this year, whereas a normal year looks to attract about 15 teams, Mitchell said, and all of them raised a combined $21,690, which is about $4,000 to $5,000 more than what the walkers usually bring in.
“We may not have had a lot of teams, but they were mighty,” Mitchell reported to followers of a life Facebook video during the mainly virtual event Saturday morning that saw less than 20 supporters on hand for a fundraiser that normally attracts hundreds. “And we’re not done yet!”
Combined with sponsor donations, 4RKids has raised more than $43,000 so far, she said, with more dollars from T-shirt sales, calendars and the silent auction still pending.
The annual walk is one of the biggest funding sources for 4RKids, Mitchell said, with a budgeted income of about $50,000.
“I really hope next year we’re back to normal and get to be back in the public,” she said, adding, however, that she was excited the event was so successful.
In addition to the Facebook Live and pie-in-the-face activities on Saturday, the top three fund-raising walking teams were honored, and other teams were lined up to carry on with their walking goals individually and post pictures to the group’s Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/4RKids/.
Supporters who still would like to help can participate in the silent auction, which features such items from photos by Mike Klemme to small gift baskets of food, Made In Oklahoma products and packages from local businesses. The auction runs through 10 a.m. Saturday.
Auction items can be found at https://event.gives/2020walk4rkids/. Participants also can text “2020walk4RKids” to (843) 606-5995 to join the auction.
The group’s T-shirts are popular and a fun way to get involved, as well, Mitchell said.
“We love to see our T-shirts out there.”
Also, the 4RKids calendar, featuring profiles of the employees, are for sale and this year feature a memorial for a client/employee who died recently of a non-COVID-related illness. Those can be purchased at the 2nd Story Gift Shop and Bookstore along with products made by the workers and other gift selections.
Of the 70 clients who work and frequent 4RKids, about half have returned, while the others have not been able to due to health reasons.
The organization provides support and opportunities to children and adults with special needs in Northwest Oklahoma, with a mission to promote community awareness of individuals with disabilities and to provide vocational, educational and social/recreational opportunities.
What that looks like in the coming months is evolving, as the employees continue their handmade creations with new selections such as masks and lanyards for them and hand sanitizers, while continuing cardboard shredding and other ways to earn money.
Our 1st place Walk 4RKIDS team raised more than $8,000 !! Congratulations Team Colton, Abbie, and Jake!! They won the...Posted by 4RKids on Saturday, September 12, 2020
Miniature golf still is open for the season and will remain so as long as weather permits, normally into November. Hours are 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday and noon to 7 p.m. on Sunday. Golfing also is open during the weekdays from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., as family time looks different with some virtual learning experiences this year.
“We’re doing whatever we can to keep the doors open,” Mitchell said.
Nearby, the group’s $2.2 million new facility is under construction after ground was broken in March. After more than five years of planning and fundraising, the facility will allow 4RKids to expand its services to those in need.
“We’re hoping to stay in people’s hearts and minds,” Mitchell said.