By Rodney Hart
Seven hundred children are able to take swimming lessons. A young mother and child take the trip of a lifetime.
The reach of this weekend’s annual Sammy Fund event goes far beyond just numbers of dollars raised.
Sure, there’s the 73 youth-oriented grants of nearly $97,000 since 2000, and the weekend event is a reminder of how Chuck and June Otte turned the death of their young daughter into a positive experience.
The run, walk, golf tournament, dinner and silent auction benefit the Samantha Otte Youth Opportunity Fund. The event was started to honor Samantha Otte, who died at age 10 seven years ago after a liver transplant made necessary by cystic fibrosis.
Last year’s event raised more than $38,000. The Samantha Otte Youth Opportunity Fund was established in late 2000 through the Community Foundation of the Quincy Area. The Early Childhood Education Center has received funding to provide Head Start swim lessons at the Quincy Family YMCA for 700 children.
Julie Schuckman of the ECEC says the swimming lessons often mark the first time in the water for many youngsters, and the lessons provide valuable social skills.
“It teaches our young people something we normally might not be able to do without the Sammy Fund,” Schuckman said. “It’s such a crucial skill to have in life. Water skills and learning to swim make our kids safe from the get-go.”
The Early Childhood Education Center relies on donations and grants to help fund services.
“It seems like every year it gets harder and harder to effectively budget,” Schuckman said. “Grants like this one from the Sammy Fund give us opportunities other grants just don’t cover.”
June Otte said about 90 percent of Sammy Fund money allotted goes through the Community Foundation of the Quincy Area. There are other projects, however.
YoungLives of Quincy, a mentoring ministry for teen moms, received $1,200 to send a young mother and daughter to Wildhorse Canyon Camp in Oregon.
“It means a whole lot to us,” said Leslie Henry of Young Lives. “This was the first time we’ve received funds, and not only have we gotten financial support, we also built a relationship with them (Sammy Fund organizers). Chuck and June are such nice people.”