A birthday celebration Thursday at the Capper Foundation honored Arthur Capper, who would have been 157 this year.
Why does the birthday of the Capital Daily editor/publisher, two-term Kansas governor and longtime U.S. senator mean so much?
The kids may not know it, but he is the reason so many of them are able to achieve more, and that is the foundation's purpose.
"I believe he had a heart of compassion and realized that there are individuals among us that have physical disabilities, and his goal was really to empower those young people living with disabilities," said Zach Ahrens, president and CEO of the Capper Foundation.
The benefactor had a love of children that led him to establish a number of events and programs to assist Kansas' youths.
Capper treated children every Aug. 14 to celebrate his birthday. His parties were popular summer events from 1908 until 1951, when the Topeka flood forced its cancellation. Capper also passed away that year.
In 1920, Capper noticed some children couldn't come out of their homes at Christmas time to receive presents he had delivered.
"He saw the need," said Ahrens. "Early on when they would deliver Christmas presents there were kids that were impacted by the effects of polio and were not able to to run and get the presents like other kids were."
The foundation has grown over the years and serves more than 2,000 children and adults in 17 Kansas counties.
"He brought awareness," Ahrens said, "you know, recognizing that every person is valued and should enjoy access."
Catheryn Hrenchir is a feature writer for The Topeka-Capital Journal. She can be reached at email@example.com or (785) 817-6383.