By David Adam and Rodney Hart
Sammy Fund Honorary Chairmen introduced
The pain never goes away and the healing is never complete, but June Otte says the annual Sammy fund event that was created in memory of her daughter has given her “a thousand little blessings I would have never expected.”
A news conference this morning at the Jackson-Lincoln Pool in Quincy introduced Harold and Ann Knapheide as the honorary chairmen for this year’s event, which will celebrate its ninth year during the third weekend in October. The gathering also gave organizers a chance to recognize local sponsors and talk about the money that has been raised since 2000.
Just as important, however, was a chance for those in attendance to remember Samantha Otte, who died at age 10 after a liver transplant necessitated by cystic fibrosis.
“This event has been so helpful to us, because we never stop thinking of her,” June Otte said. “What makes this so remarkable is that it was almost as if Samantha knew she had limited time with us here, so she got involved in so many things. She was such a ham. And now, it’s neat to think there are thousands of children every year to are getting to do things that she loved to do.”
“Samantha ignited the spark for all of this.”
This year’s event begins October 18th with a run and walk starting in Madison Park. A four-person scramble golf tournament will be held October 19th at Westview Golf Course, followed by a dinner and silent auction at the Knights of Columbus Hall.
More than 100 volunteers help each year with the weekend events. Last year’s event raised a record $41,096.85, and honorary chairmen Richard and Patti McNay raised $15,600 more through a letter-writing campaign. A fashion show earlier in the year organized by Ally & Co. raised $3,401, putting the year’s overall total to more than $60,000.
The Samantha Otte Youth Opportunity Fund handed out 19 grants totaling nearly $20,000 to local organizations in January through the Community Foundation of the Quincy Area. Since 2000, 86 grants totaling $116,035 have been distributed from the fund. The primary purposes of the fund include support of organizations that maintain and enhance community betterment through artistic, leadership and humanitarian opportunities for young people.
Chuck Otte, Samantha’s father, said that when he and his wife decided to start this event, he hoped that they would do it for “four or five years.”
“It’s been so humbling, and the community has been so supportive,” he said. “What this has allowed us to do is take a horrible situation and do something positive.”
Harold Knapheide, president of Knapheide Manufacturing, is well-known for his community involvement. He was honored in May with the Joe Bonansinga Community Service Award from the United Way of Adams County.
“It’s pretty hard not to say yes to something like this,” Knapheide said. “It really speaks well of Quincy and its dedication to kids.”
Major sponsors are First Bankers Trust Co., Refreshment Services Pepsi, the Quincy Herald-Whig, WGEM and County Market.