MCPHERSON – On Thursday evening the McPherson Community Foundation held their Annual Philanthropist of the Year Award at the McPherson Opera House and named Gloria Schroeder as the Philanthropist of the Year for 2019!

    Since 2008 when it was referred to as the Volunteer of the Year, the Foundation has named over 30 individuals as a recipient with the purpose of the award being two-fold. 

    One is to recognize the tremendous amount of time and financial support local individuals have given to the community through their service, and the second is to provide the organizations supported by the awarded philanthropist a grant for their programs or projects. Several of the organizations previously receiving a grant are McPherson Hospital, McPherson Family YMCA, Circles of McPherson County, Outreach McPherson and Angels’ Attic of Moundridge. 

    Thursday evening, the Foundation honored the top three nominees for the award, with those nominees being three ladies from the Canton/Galva communities, Naomi Ford, Linda Anderson and Emma Perera; plus, Gloria Schroeder and Denise O’Connor-Munsey, while the audience was entertained by the McPherson High School Jazz Ensemble.

    For 2019, Gloria Schroeder was named the McPherson Community Foundation’s Philanthropist of the Year for her work in many areas and in particular with starting the Childhood Cancer Awareness Walk.

    In winning the award Schroeder was also awarded $1,000 to go toward the programs she works with.

    The ladies from Canton/Galva were second runner-up and awarded $500 while O’Connor-Munsey was first runner-up and was awarded $750.  

    When discussing her work in a wide variety of charities and community programs, Schroeder is as humble as she appeared on the stage of the Opera House receiving the award as she is much more comfortable being behind the scenes.

    But her work the past two years to startup the Childhood Cancer Awareness Walk came from a very personal point in life as Schroeder explained by noting that she and her husband of 39 years, Rod, “Lost a grandson in December, 2017 after a long, strong battle with cancer. That was when we realized the need for the opportunity of just bringing awareness to the facts of childhood cancer and the need for more research in fighting it.”

    The Schroeder’s grandson was Kaiden Schroeder, a student at Roosevelt Elementary School that took the heart of so many here in McPherson and beyond with his courageous fight and being involved in various events, including the very visible Kaden t-shirts which you still see being worn almost daily, you know the light blue ones with the huge backward K on the front. Kaden gained recognition, inspiration and support for his nearly 8-year battle with cancer before losing the fight almost two years ago at age 12.

    Schroeder also pointed out that the Childhood Cancer Awareness Walk is not a fundraiser and is done just to hopefully encourage people to join in contributing to those charities that do work hard at cancer research and in particular those working on childhood cancers.

    While the walk is her latest work within the community, Schroeder has a long list of programs, events and charities that she has worked with over the past 30 years.

    Among the programs which Schroeder has worked with are a variety of Cancer Charities such as Relay for Life, the Love Cloe Foundation and Monkey in the Chair, as well as the McPherson Thanksgiving and Christmas Community Dinners, Loaves and Fishes, the ‘Men in Tights’ and the ‘Pink Pajama Party fundraisers and the annual All Schools Day Celebration.

    Having spent over 30 years working with the All Schools Day Celebration, Schroeder for most of those years was the person in charge of training the kids on doing the May Fete Pole Wrap, and now as the go to person in getting each of the All Schools Day Royalty ready for the festivities and parade.

    Beyond the childhood cancer awareness work, Schroeder pointed out a couple of more of her more favorite works like, “I spent many years serving as President and being on the Board for the local CASA (Court Appointed Child Advocate) to help be a voice for the children and have helped do work for WACC (Woman and Children Combatting Cancer) which included a Farkle fundraiser.”

    Working with WACC, Schroeder explained how they help put together what they call ‘combat bags’ for individuals and families. These bags could have a wide variety of things in them, including gift cards, lotions, personal items, snack foods, or whatever may be needed to help the individual and family get through the cancer situation they may be in.

    The Schroeder family, Gloria and her husband Rod plus Kaiden parents Chris and Jenny also spend time doing what she calls a family program they call ‘Poverty and Food Insecurity’ where they offer food and help for those in need. An example Schroeder gave referenced a lady walking cross-country as a fundraiser and when she came through McPherson County they met her, took her out for a meal and even went with her to Save ‘N Share to pick up some personal items such as clothing.

    Did we mention that despite her sometimes very hectic schedule, she works full-time at Farmer’s Alliance, Schroeder still finds time to work with Meals on Wheels at least twice a week.

    When Tandy Wine did the introduction of Gloria Schroeder at the ceremonies on Thursday, the first thing she mentioned was that Schroeder has a totally committed ‘heart of service for those in need while also inspiring others to do the same’.

    For those at the Thursday ceremony witnessed, Schroeder also showed how she is very humble and almost shy when gaining recognition. This was visible in just the way she stood and held herself on stage when receiving the ward and facing the people in attendance as they gave her a very long and well deserved round of applause to recognize their thanks and appreciation for the work she has done.