Caribbean fundraiser adds to Kistler center’s till

by The City Wire staff ([email protected]) 195 views 

FORT SMITH — The 10th annual A Night in the Caribbean fundraiser for the Gregory Kistler Treatment Center Inc. was held Saturday (May 5) at Golden Living. Daren Bobb and Ashley Beck emceed the event.

Online bidding for auction items was new to this year’s event, with bidding beginning April 17. Golden Living executive chef Mickey Sellard prepared a Caribbean feast and the band Grupo Salsabor of Tulsa provided the salsa music for the evening’s entertainment.

Access to a mojito bar and other adult beverages were included in the $60-per-person ticket price. About 235 people attended.

Kathie Smith, development coordinator for the Kistler center, said organizers hoped to raise $50,000 with the 2012 event. The party raised $40,000 last year. There were more silent auction items donated this year, with approximately 200 items up for bid. fourteen items in the event’s live auction included everything from jewelry to trips and works of art.

Chairmen Dr. Chris and Natalie Hardin know from experience how important the Kistler center is to those it serves. Natalie's daughter, Allysa, was born prematurely at 26 weeks, which caused slow motor development and coordination and resulted in spasticity of her calf muscles. Natalie and her daughter moved to Fort Smith from Northwest Arkansas after she married Chris Hardin.

She said it was difficult for Allysa to get therapy in Northwest Arkansas because of a long wait and insurance issues. At the Kistler center, Allysa was evaluated quickly and therapy started soon thereafter, Today, Allysa is receiving both occupational and physical therapy once a week.

Since beginning therapy, the Hardins have noticed a change in Allysa's motor skills. She is more confident, self-sufficient and less frustrated. Hardin now describes her daughter as a social butterfly. For this family, the Kistler center was “a Godsend” and the therapists are “like family,” the mother said.

The Kistler center’s mission is to provide support and learning opportunities in the community for children and adults with developmental disabilities and to provide all individuals an opportunity  for a full and productive life through therapy services. Parents and family members also receive support from a community environment built around the camaraderie of caregivers, therapists and other families in the same situation.