July 9, 2002
Don Gnuse has been named event chairman, and Refreshment Services Pepsi
and Cedarbrook Health Group added as sponsors, for the third annual
Sammy Event in October.
When 10-year-old Samantha Otte died in March 2000 following a liver transplant made necessary by cystic fibrosis, family and friends decided to create the Sammy Fund Group. The first Sammy Event in the fall of 2000 raised money and established the Samantha Otte Youth Opportunity Fund with the Quincy Area Community Foundation.
Gnuse is president of First Bankers Trust Co., a sponsor of the event since its inception. He remembers being on vacation in North Carolina and getting a call from the bank’s marketing director, Jane Fischer, asking him to sponsor the Sammy Event.
“She told me it wasn’t in her budget but that we really needed to do this, and I’ve never regretted it,” Gnuse said. “I’m delighted at what I’m seeing and how this is helping young people.”
Chuck and June Otte, Samantha’s parents, said the fund provides access to worthwhile community activities for children whose opportunities might be limited. The fund ensures accessibility of programs that provide artistic, leadership and humanitarian opportunities for children.
Since the Samantha Otte Youth Opportunity Fund was established, $19,800 has been awarded from the fund. Groups benefiting include Quincy Art Center, Quincy Community Theatre, Quincy Family YMCA, Two Rivers Council of Girl Scouts, the Quincy Area Community Foundation, Camp Callahan, Jackson-Lincoln Pool, Great River First Tee, Quincy Society of Fine Arts and Walter Hammond Day Care.
This year’s event takes place Oct. 20 with a golf tournament at Westview Golf Course and dinner and silent auction at Knights of Columbus.
Gnuse says he didn’t hesitate to take on the challenge of being the event chairman. Mayor Chuck Scholz and Mary Winters, assistant general manager of The Herald-Whig, were the first two chairmen.
“It’s not just the money you put on the line, it’s also donating the time to make this happen,” he said.
Jim Callahan, whose father, Ray, started Camp Callahan 50 years ago, expressed appreciation for the Samantha Otte Youth Opportunity Fund. Camp Callahan provides facilities for handicapped children.
“I know we are looking for support all the time,” Callahan said. “It’s great for the community and we need things like this.”
The first two events raised nearly $60,000, with $40,000 put in an endowment fund.
By Rodney Hart
Herald-Whig Staff Writer