Current Interest: An Evening of Champagne & Chocolate in Wichita, Kansas

Wichita check presentation

Photo: Left to right: Ill. Jeffrey L. Sowder, 33°, Past Personal Representative, Ill. Robert D. Giesen, 33°, Chairman of the Champagne & Chocolate Committee, Laurie Hughey, Director, Speech-Language-Hearing Clinic, Lynette Murphy, Director of Development, College of Health Professions, and Dr. Peter Cohen, Dean of the College of Health Professions, Wichita State University

It’s the first Friday in October, the evening air is crisp and people are entering the Wichita Scottish Rite with smiles on their faces. The rich scent of chocolate wafts out of the historic building each time the door is opened to let people in. Inside, the chocolate fountains are flowing and champagne is tickling the noses of party-goers.

This is not just any party. This is a party with a purpose!

Each year since 2002 the Scottish Rite in Wichita has held a fantasy Evening of Champagne & Chocolate to raise money for RiteCare Clinics in Kansas. The first year they raised a little over $2400. Word about the fundraiser spread and momentum continues to build; the past three years the Wichita Scottish Rite has been able to raise an average of $30,000 to donate to the RiteCare Clinic at Wichita State University.

The therapy is expensive and not all families have insurance to cover the costs; sometimes even when families do have insurance it still doesn’t always cover all of the costs. The Scottish Rite RiteCare Clinics make it possible for these costs to be covered by helping to fund the clinic through its annual fundraiser.

The Wichita community, the Wichita Scottish Rite, and Wichita State University pull together to make this event happen. A celebrity host from a local news station hosts the event and the average attendance is over 250. There is abundance of live and silent auction items, and the bidding wars keep the evening interesting with good-hearted razzing between warring bidders. There is usually a pretty intense bidding war for the puppy that is donated each year. In years past the puppy auction fetched over $3000 or 10% of the total raised.

Ill. Bob Brill, 33°, a longtime trustee for the Wichita Scottish Rite, worked as committee chair, got the event off the ground, and ran it for five years, passing the buck to Ill. Jim Davenport, 33°, and Bob Giesen, 33°, in recent years.

Bob Brill didn’t mind putting the Evening of C&C into such capable hands because he knows Davenport and Giesen are doing a great job. Brill still attends the event and said recently, “Seeing the expressions of joy and accomplishment on the faces of the children as they improve their communication skills is only equaled by the satisfaction of knowing that you played a part in helping a child.”

—Submitted by Lisa Sparks, Executive Assistant, Wichita Scottish Rite