SIKESTON -- The Kenny Rogers Children's Center has made long strides over the years, thanks to help from fund-raisers like the annual charity walk scheduled for Saturday.
Lorraine Grimes, Sikeston Eagles auxiliary secretary of 18 years, knows all too well the importance of the walk, which is in its 30th year. And she should, especially since the Sikeston Eagles co-sponsored the event for 20 years.
"When we started, there were about four children going to the Center," Grimes recalled about the Center's origin.
In the beginning, the Center was located in a rental building on Center Street, Grimes recalled. The auxiliary went in, painted it and fixed it up, she said.
"We were taught the Eagles was a charitable organization and we felt the CP (then called Cerebral Palsy) Center was the right way to go," Grimes said.
Although the Eagles are no longer sponsors of the walk, Grimes said they continue to donate to the Center.
"It was great," Grimes said about the walk. "I loved it. Everybody's spirits were so good. It's a great cause, and I hope they raise a lot money this year."
Today, the Center provides therapy for more than 300 children in a nine-county area.
Walkers will meet at 9 a.m. Saturday at Lowe's Home Improvement for registration. The walk will start at 10 a.m. and end at VFW Post 3174 on Smith Street, where lunch will be provided by the VFW.
Next to the annual KRCC telethon, which is held in March, the charity walk is the biggest fund-raiser for the Center, said KRCC Director Michelle Fayette. For the past couple weeks, participants have been obtaining walk forms and raising money, she added.
"We'll award prizes based on top moneymakers in each county," Fayette said. "The person who raises the most money in each county will be awarded $100."
Scott, Mississippi and New Madrid counties will be awarded separately while the remaining counties in the area will be lumped together for the prize.
"We've added a new incentive this year called the Perfect 10 Challenge. Fund-raisers who get at least 10 people to donate at least $10 each," Fayette explained.
Participants who qualify will receive special recognition, a chance to win a Play Station 2 and the person who raises the most money will receive a $300 grand prize. All walkers will receive a T-shirt and water bottle jacket.
Raffle tickets are also being sold at $1 each for a Sony 27-inch flat screen television and DVD/VCR combination set, which will be raffled off at the conclusion of the day's events.
To be eligible to participate, walkers' money must be raised prior to Saturday, Fayette said. However, raffle tickets may be purchased up until time for the drawing.
Approximately 100 people throughout the region will gather for the walk on Saturday. One school is even bringing over 40 kids to walk, Fayette noted.
One thing area residents may not realize is that the Center doesn't serve only children with cerebral palsy and spina bifida.
"The majority of kids who come here -- you wouldn't be able to tell they have any needs," Fayette said.
Kenny Rogers Children's Center serves children with all types of special needs, including, but not limited to Down syndrome, shaken-baby syndrome, autism, muscular dystrophy, seizure disorder, ADHD, as well as numerous other syndromes and undiagnosed developmental delays.
"The big thing I like about the Center is that we're a local charity," Fayette said. "Many of the people in the area support the Center and help provide therapy for their family members, their neighbor's family or a co-worker's family. With the Center being local, it's guaranteed everybody knows someone who is here at the Center."
For a Charity Walk form or to purchase raffle tickets, call Fayette at the center, 472-0397.