History of KC Blind All-Stars Foundation
The KC Blind All-Stars Foundation (KCBAS) was incorporated on March 19, 1973, as the Endowment Fund for the Kansas State School for the Visually Handicapped. (The school’s name was changed to the Kansas State School for the Blind during the 1991-92 school year.)
The fund was intended to benefit the students at the school and later, students in the regional area who were blind or visually impaired. It is a 501 (c) (3) organization.
In 1998, the fund was formally renamed KC Blind All-Stars by its Board of Directors. And in 2008, the KCBAS Board invested monies with the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation. The board has traditionally consisted of faculty and community members, sometimes including a parent or a member of the blind community.
During the 1980s, the Board set a goal, along with the Overland Park Host Lions and Lionesses Clubs, of raising $120,000 to build a Track and Field Facility at the school.
With the leadership and fundraising drive of Nelson Lear, these monies were raised and were the incentive to acquire an appropriation from the State of Kansas of $75,000. Another $250,000 in donated excavation and construction services resulted in the completion of the track in 1993. It includes an oval track, a straight track with high tension cables between lanes (so students can use them as guide wires as they run) and an area for field events. Bleachers with seating for 200 plus wheelchair accessibility were added in 2001. The Board agreed to maintain a balance of at least $100,000 to be available for repair and upkeep of the track as needed in the future.
From its beginning as an organization to foster athletic opportunities for students with blindness or visual impairments, KCBAS has over the years expanded its mission to meet or assist with needs in education, technology, career assistance and experience, sports and music:
• Summer Oregon Trail reenactment travel experiences
• Assistive Technology Loan Library to train and equip students with electronic braille devices
• Low Vision Clinics located in regional cities statewide
• Scholarships to Kansas college students
• Entrepreneurial business camps
• Music studio with recording and sound engineering accessible software
• Paid Job experience with school support using community partners
• Sensory and Water Garden (plants and features appealing to all five senses)
• Braille Challenge regional and national competition and celebration
Contributions to the foundation come as outright gifts, bequests or memorials. Fundraisers have included such activities as fall festival or spring fling games and activities, golf tournaments (three years), and a solicitation of ophthalmologists and optometrists for a generous contribution toward a technology wish list in return for a large canvas painted by a nationally known local artist and KSSB student at that time.