Still grieving the death of their 10-year-old daughter, Chuck and June Otte made a decision six years ago to turn tragedy into triumph.
Samantha Otte died in March 2000 after a liver transplant made necessary by cystic fibrosis. The Ottes, along with many friends and family, formed the Sammy Fund and the Samantha Otte Youth Opportunity Fund to make worthwhile activities available to more area children.
During a Wednesday morning gathering at the Jackson Lincoln Pool in Quincy, Chuck Otte remembered the summer day six years ago when the idea was first announced at a press conference.
“It’s amazing that we are kicking off our seventh event,” Otte said. “It’s been successful beyond our most hopeful thoughts.”
This year’s event features Honorary Chairmen Rich and Connie Niemann of Niemann Foods and County Market. A run and walk will take place in Madison Park on Oct. 14, and a Westview Golf Course scramble tournament, followed by dinner and a silent auction at the Knights of Columbus, is set for the following day.
The Samantha Otte Youth Opportunity Fund was established in late 2000 after the first fundraiser, and the Community Foundation of the Quincy Area has distributed 61 grants totaling $81,770. The fund has a balance of $135,000, and Sammy Fund spokesman Mike Hancox said the goal is to make the fund self-perpetuating.
“Sam was an inspiration. It’s a testament to her spirit that we are all here this morning,” Hancox said.
Last year was the first time a run and walk took place, and about 180 people participated. Last year’s Sammy Fund event netted $36,100, the highest total yet.
Rich Niemann told Chuck and June Otte, who were joined by Samantha’s brother Chris, that the event “is an honorable way to remember your daughter” and the event is synonymous with the Niemann Foods family philosophy.
“Anytime you can do anything for the children of our community, that’s what it is all about,” Niemann said.
Chuck Otte said he was proud to be from Quincy. He thanked the volunteers and community for supporting the Sammy Fund.
“The support has been overwhelming,” Otte said. We are able to help so many children in so many ways.”
Major sponsors this year are First Bankers Trust, County Market, Refreshment Services Pepsi, WGEM and the Quincy Herald-Whig.
Contact Staff Writer Rodney Hart at email@example.com or (217) 221-3370.