PITTSBURG — The Children’s Advocacy Center hosted its third annual Blue Jean Ball, and also its 20th anniversary of advocating for children who have been abused.
Nearly 300 people showed up at the event on Friday at Carbon Creek Event & Venue.

Tickets, silent and live auctions, and donations cleared $41,000, which will go toward funding advocacy service, forensic interviews and facility bills at CAC.
“We’re so blessed to have this many people show up,” Executive Director Whitney Lovell said.  “This is the biggest fundraising event we’ve had in the history of the CAC.”

If people could not attend the event, they can make donations online at www.cacpittsburg.org.


During the event several honorees were awarded. Tina Wilde received the Bill Coleman Volunteer of the Year Award, Ascension Via Christi Hospital medical staff received the Bill Coleman Hero Award. Defender of the Year for Crawford County went to Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner Wendy Overstreet and the Defender of the Year for Cherokee County went to Baxter Spring Police Department Officer Rick Comer.

Bill Coleman supported the CAC for many years and when he passed away the organization hosted a golf tournament in his memory. Later on, the CAC stopped hosting the tournaments and began giving out Bill Coleman awards at Blue Jean Balls.

According to CAC’s pamphlet that evening, “the mission of Children’s Advocacy Center, Inc. is to reduce the traumatic effects of abuse; protect children from maltreatment; seek justice for child victims; investigate abuse as a team; and strengthen or community’s ability to nurture children while keeping the comfort and safety of the child as our first priority.”                                                                            

The CAC works with multi-disciplinary partners to give support to victims. These partners include: Department for Children and Families, Kansas Bureau of Investigation, Pittsburg Police Department, Crawford County Sheriff's Department, Cherokee County Sheriff's Department, Crawford County Attorney’s Office, Cherokee County Attorney’s Office, Community Mental Health Center of Crawford County, Spring River Mental Health & Wellness Center and Ascension Via Christi Hospital.

The history
A group of people — including Gail Triplett from Superior Industries, Bill Coleman from VinylPlex, and Roberta McNay — came together with Richard Pfeiffer, Mike Willis and Crawford County Mental Health which had a program that “the county was funding to help victims of sexual abuse,” CAC Board of Directors Life Member and Committee member Ron Marrone said when sharing about how CAC came to be. “Well that funding was going away, and they were going to need local community involvement.”
One of the first members of the steering committee — Friends of the CAC — was Susie Lundy, who said “yes, I’ll come to that meeting,” Marrone said.

With the help of what was then Mt. Carmel Regional Medical Center — now Ascension Via Christi Hospital — a fundraiser was hosted to help provide a house where the CAC “could have a facility in a child-friendly neighborhood so all victims and children wouldn’t be afraid to tell their story,” Marrone said.  

These are only a few of the many people who stood up to volunteer their time to begin — and to continue — the support of abuse victims, Marrone said.
“The reason for the success is all of these people who love so much, they give their gifts, their time, their talents and their treasure in order to help victims,” Marrone said. “You can’t ask for a better community in which to raise your family, knowing that there’s an organization like the Children’s Advocacy that is looking out for children.”
— Stephanie Potter is a staff writer at the Morning Sun. She can be emailed at spotter@morningsun.net or follow her on Twitter @PittStephP and Instagram @stephanie_morningsun.