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Capper marking 100 years

Topeka Capital Journal - 1/25/2020

On Christmas Day 1920 in Topeka, Sen. Arthur Capper founded what is now known as the Capper Foundation to help children with disabilities.

A statue of Capper in downtown Topeka served as the site of a news conference Friday to announce and kick off a nearly yearlong celebration of the foundation’s 100th anniversary.

Capper’s creation of that organization left a living legacy to the community that has positively affected hundreds of thousands of lives, said Jim Leiker, the Capper Foundation’s president and CEO.

“We believe Arthur Capper would be really proud of how his compassion and generosity created such a longstanding and meaningful organization that continues to build abilities and empower people of all ages living with disabilities,” he said.

Leiker spoke at a news conference late Friday morning near Capper’s statue in front of 715 S. Kansas Ave. Those in attendance endured

Leiker spoke at a news conference late Friday morning near Capper’s statue in front of 715 S. Kansas Ave. Those in attendance endured weather conditions that the National Weather Service said included a temperature of 32 degrees and a wind chill index of 22 degrees.

Hanging nearby was a banner, created by Topeka-based jhP, bearing the logo for the Capper Foundation’s 100th anniversary.

That organization was founded by Arthur Capper — a Kansas governor, U.S. senator and publisher of the Topeka Daily Capital — who died at age 86 in 1951.

Emily McGee, chairwoman of the Capper Foundation’s Board of Trustees, told Friday’s audience that Capper’s generosity brought help and hope to many children afflicted with polio.

“Capper offered his own personal money to cover children’s medical needs and travel expenses for these families,” she said. “This was the start of the Capper Fund — a cash fund in his desk drawer at the newspaper office, the Daily Capital, which is now The Topeka Capital-Journal.”

Leiker said the Capper Foundation over the past century has expanded its services to the point where it now helps people of all ages who have physical, developmental and intellectual disabilities.

Matt Pivarnik, president and CEO of the Greater Topeka Partnership, told Friday’s audience the Capper Foundation has strengthened the community by employing 282 people while providing job training and readiness for adults with disabilities who want to work.

Pivarnik noted that Charity Navigator last year recognized the Capper Foundation with its highest available rating of four stars for the seventh consecutive time, placing it in the top 6% of charities nationwide.

This community has been fortunate to have such a respected and responsible organization serving families for 100 years, Pivarnik said.

Leiker said the Capper Foundation will “bring the past to life” this year through a special touring exhibit explaining its history and a “100 Years — 100 Stories” initiative it is carrying out.

He said the foundation’s anniversary will also be marked by various special events, including the Blarney Breakfast on March 14 at the Blind Tiger Brewery & Restaurant, 417 S.W. 37th; An Evening as a Child on April 25 at the Stormont Vail Events Center, 1 S.W. Expocentre Drive; Arthur Capper’s 155th Birthday Party on July 14 at The Vinewood, 2848 S.E. 29th; and a 100th anniversary gala on Nov. 7.

Tim Hrenchir, tim.hrenchir@cjonline.com

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