Buzz Briefs

Holiday cheer comes early this year with October’s Holiday Mart. The annual fundraiser, hosted by the Junior League of Kansas City, Mo., is in its 25th year and is one of Kansas City’s longest-running fundraisers produced entirely by volunteer support. Holiday Mart 2012 will feature more than 200 regional and national retailers with unique and often exclusive selections of merchandise. More than 22,000 people are expected to enjoy “great shopping for a great cause” this year as doors open October 18-21 at Bartle Hall in downtown Kansas City. Over the past 25 years the Junior League of Kansas City, Mo., has raised more than $8 million to help support the Kansas City community, providing funding to organizations such as Harvesters and Variety Children’s Charity.

Theatre in the Park toilet-papered the park in July to benefit Giving the Basics. Spread throughout multiple performances, the toilet paper drive, inspired by the show “Urinetown,” asked cast and patrons of the show to donate rolls. Rolls will be distributed by Giving the Basics, a nonprofit organization which provides dignity products to those in need. The paper piled up, though the trees at Shawnee Mission Park stayed bare. To learn more about Giving the Basics, visit

A Kansas City tradition is back. September 14 through 16, the HBA’s Home Show-Fall Edition comes to the Overland Park Convention Center. Hundreds of exhibits will be on display and the experts of home improvement will be on hand to give advice. The marketplace will feature new home products and services, remodeling ideas and cooking demonstrations. Vern Yip, of HGTV’s popular and inspirational show, “Deserving Design with Vern Yip,” will be featured on The Spaces Show Stage on Saturday and Sunday to share his eclectic design tips. Local celebrity chefs Jasper Mirabile Jr., Mark Webster, Jeff Martin and Shannon Kimball will also heat up the stage.

The University of Kansas Hospital recently received top honors. U.S. News & World Report released its annual “Best Hospitals” list and ranked the University of Kansas Cancer Center among the top 50. In addition, the program is now considered a National Cancer Institute (NCI) center, a designation that has been 10 years in the making. As a result, patients at the University of Kansas Cancer Center will have access to clinical trails only available through NCI-designated cancer centers. The hospital will also be able to apply for federal research grants, only available to National Cancer Institute hospitals, potentially bringing millions of additional funding to the area.

Boys can’t have all the fun on the field! Former Kansas City Chiefs guard Will Shields has partnered with Back in the Swing for a breast cancer survivorship program. The Sept. 6 event will provide an opportunity to learn the hands-on sport with a Women’s Football 101 training session. Held at 68 Sports Indoor Training Facility at 9111 Flint in Overland Park, Shield’s Will to Succeed foundation will donate a portion of proceeds from the event to Back in the Swing. A $10 donation is requested. For more information visit

Phase One of Overland Park’s 9/11 Memorial is expected to be completed on September 11. Located on a grassy area next to the Overland Park Fire Training Center at 12401 Hemlock, the memorial will include four educational panels and eventually feature a victim’s panel and weeping waterfall, benches and a donor panel. Centered around a one-ton steel beam from the fallen World Trade Center, the memorial was designed by SFS architects. More than $63,000 was raised in private donations to fund phase one of the project, and fundraising has begun for phase two. To learn more about the memorial and about donating, visit

Blue Valley West High School sponsored a golf tournament earlier this year in honor of a beloved teacher. Dena Highberger, a computer/business teacher diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease in 2011, was the tournament’s guest of honor. More than 100 Blue Valley school staff employees participated. Held at Metcalf Ridge Golf Course in Louisburg, Kan., the tournament, barbecue and silent auction raised nearly $11,000 for The ALS Association.

Last year, the Arts Council of Johnson County and the Arts Council of Metropolitan Kansas City participated in a research study, the Americans for the Arts Local Arts Index, which sought to measure the health and vitality of the arts at the county level. The results are in! The Kansas City metropolitan area, including Platte, Wyandotte, Johnson, Clay and Jackson counties, was one of only 100 communities to participate in this pilot program. The study showed 253 arts and culture nonprofit organizations in the metropolitan area, in addition to 359 locally owned art-related businesses. Of the 12 participating regions, the Kansas City area holds a higher rate of arts participation than New York City. Additionally, Johnson County was ranked in the top 4 percent nationally for arts participation and has the highest concentration of solo artists per capita within the region.

Marion and Henry Bloch, Kansas City residents and well-known philanthropists, think of their hometown’s residents as family. To give back, they have announced the creation of a family foundation to improve quality of life in Kansas City. The Marion and Henry Bloch Family Foundation, expected to be among the largest family foundations in Kansas City, will support efforts in post-secondary business and entrepreneurship education; visual and performing arts; healthcare, social services and education for low-income, underserved youth; and Jewish organizations. Special emphasis will be placed on the Henry H. Bloch School of Management at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art and St. Luke’s Hospital of Kansas City. For more information on the Marion and Henry Bloch Family Foundation, visit the foundation’s website at

A local nonprofit, Maison de Naissance (Home of Birth) Foundation, was selected to receive a CLASSY Award. The organization, which funds and operates a birthing home in rural Haiti, was chosen as a regional winner in the Health and Well Being category. StayClassy, a leader in fundraising solutions, hosts the largest philanthropic awards ceremony with a red carpet CLASSY Awards. Maison de Naissance is recognized for bringing high-quality, free maternal healthcare to a population that cannot access or afford it. For eight years, the foundation has safely delivered more than 3,600 babies and conducted more than 75,000 total patient visits. The CLASSY Awards will be held in San Diego on Sept. 22, where a national winner in each category will be announced.

The Fall Parade of Homes is back. Located in eight Kansas City metropolitan counties, 242 new homes representing 79 homebuilders will be showcased over two weeks. The Parade, sponsored by the Home Builders Association (HBA), will offer the latest in innovative materials and construction techniques for energy efficiency, proving there are a multitude of reasons to buy a home in today’s market. The second largest Parade of Homes in the United States, Kansas City, committed to building a better community by offering a wealth of housing options, is lucky to have extremely high builder participation. The annual fall tradition can be experienced Sept. 29-Oct. 14 throughout the Kansas City area. For more information, visit

Since 1979, the Congressional Award has recognized young people who set and achieve goals. Winners of the Congressional Gold must complete a minimum of 400 hours in Voluntary Public Service, 200 hours in Personal Development, 200 hours in Physical Fitness and a five-day Expedition. This year, 277 young Americans were honored in Washington, D.C., and six of them are Kansas City students. Britli Fuller, a recent Blue Valley Northwest graduate, and five students from the Class of 2013 from The Barstow School, Lauren Estes, Bryan Lundgren, Farwa Heideri, Nora Lloyd and Judson Woods, are Congressional Gold Medal Award winners. Students were invited to a presentation ceremony in the nation’s capital and were presented with awards by Paxton Baker, Chairman of the National Board of Directors and Congressman Dold, Illinois 10th District.

The Film Commission of Greater Kansas City has announced 10 Kansas City area filmmakers for the inaugural 2012 Robert Altman Emerging Filmmakers Fund Education Grants. The grants, which seek to help local filmmakers better realize their cinematic visions and create business pursuits, offer admission to the FastTrac New Venture program. The program features five full-day classes that will give grant recipients the expert business knowledge needed to build their craft into business. Taught at the University of Missouri-Kansas City Small Business and Technology Development Center, seats for the program were endowed by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, a private nonpartisan foundation that works to harness the power of entrepreneurship and innovation. Filmmakers receiving this award can use the FastTrac New Venture program to turn an existing film project into a more fruitful venture.