Lee's Summit Journal

Day of family fun fosters warmth in community

Amy, Hank, Brian and Gus Beaird will the the chairman of the Carnival for CASA.
Amy, Hank, Brian and Gus Beaird will the the chairman of the Carnival for CASA. Photo provided

A Lee’s Summit couple with leadership skills and a passion for helping children in need will lead an event that spreads awareness and educates the public about child abuse and neglect across the metro.

Amy and Brian Beaird will serve as honorary chairmen for the 12th Annual Carnival for CASA Sept. 9 at Paradise Park, at 1021 N.E. Colbern Road, in Lee’s Summit.

Jackson County CASA — the local chapter of a national nonprofit organization that represents abused and neglected children who are foster care and the court system — will sponsor the event.

“By serving as a CASA volunteer, with the unwavering support of my husband and children, I am able to directly impact abused and neglected children’s lives,” says Amy Beaird, a Jackson County CASA volunteer for the past three years. “Being the honorary chairs of Carnival makes it possible for us to serve all the CASA children in Jackson County and not just the children on my cases.”

Jackson County CASA President and CEO Angie Blumel say the Beairds embody what it means to be a CASA volunteer.

“I call them the CASA couple,” Blumel says.

Amy Beaird, who has worked with eight children as a CASA volunteer, says the experience has opened her eyes to a world she didn’t know existed in her own backyard.

“I didn’t really grasp how many children are foster children just miles from my house,” she says. The realization of how many children are in the situation is Amy Beaird’s motivation to volunteer.

The carnival, which is expected to attract up to 800 people, will feature a variety of children’s activities, like pony rides, bumper cars and miniature golf. Kids will also have the chance to climb a rock wall, take a hayride and have their faces painted.

“It’s a day for families to bring their children and support the organization, as well as for us to invite the children that we serve for a day of fun,” Blumel says. “They truly get to be kids for a day.”

The organization, founded in 1983, is expected to serve around 1,250 neglected and abused children in Kansas City this year.

Jackson County CASA volunteers support court-supervised children by acting as their advocate for medical, health and educational needs. CASA recruits, trains and supports around 400 local volunteers.

“Volunteers are the reason we exist,” Blumel says. “Without our volunteers, we literally could not do what we do.”

According to the organization’s website, 95 percent of children assigned a CASA volunteer in the past five years have not re-entered the Jackson County Court.

Funds raised from the carnival will be used to support and train current volunteers and recruit news ones.

The carnival will run from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tickets are $25 for both adults and children and can be purchased at the door or on the organization’s website. The public can also sponsor a CASA child by purchasing a ticket in advance.