Charity Challenge of Champions raises money to help Northwest Arkansas Women’s Shelter

by Nancy Peevy ( 414 views 

The 26th annual Charity Challenge of Champions featured a variety of activities, including golf, tennis, a 5K run and social events, all held at the Pinnacle Country Club in Rogers.

Jordan grew up watching his dad abuse his mom and decided at age 9 that he wanted to be just like him. He even bragged about being a bully and being kicked out of school for fighting.

But because of the recommendation of a family court judge and the children’s support group at the Northwest Arkansas Women’s Shelter (NWAWS), Jordan is on his way toward hope and healing from domestic violence. He recently told the group he has friends at school and isn’t the class bully anymore.

The 26th annual Charity Challenge of Champions, a five-day event held at the Pinnacle Country Club from Sep. 13 to Sep. 18 raised an estimated $200,000 for the NWAWS to help families and children like Jordan break the generational cycle and follow a different path.

“If we’re able to change the trajectory for those children like Jordan, so that we’re not repeating these cycles of violence, that provides a lot of hope for me,” Shelli Cathcart, executive director for the NWAWS, said.

The NWAWS offers a wide variety of services including a 24-hour crisis phone line, court advocacy, Spanish bilingual services, children’s advocacy, counseling and community education. The hotline answers almost 2,000 crisis calls per year, assessing the caller’s needs and providing crisis intervention and safety planning.

“The need in this community for emergency shelter for domestic violence is only growing,” Cathcart said, “especially as our population grows. One in four women are affected by domestic violence. One in five men are affected.”

The NWAWS provides free emergency shelter, food and clothing to victims of domestic violence and/or sexual assault. Last year the shelter served 500 people, with half of those being children.

“The average age of the children was six years old,” she said. “So, it’s a pretty impressionable time in their lives.”

A two-day tennis tournament was held on Friday (Sep. 15) and Saturday (Sep. 16) at Pinnacle Country Club’s tennis courts. The event featured world-renown celebrity tennis professionals.

Cathcart said the shelter also offers advocacy and support groups for adults and children. An additional 200 people come to the shelter for outreach services. They don’t need emergency shelter, but they come for other help or services.

“We help with food or needs or different things that help them maintain their living outside of shelter as well as helping with the journey of recovering and becoming a survivor,” she said. “Moving from that victim to survivor mindset.”

The annual budget for the NWAWS is $1.2 million.

“We are working with grants, we also have a thrift store,” Cathcart said. “But the reality is we need $60,000 from the community in order to maintain operations. So (the money raised) will allow us to continue to maintain operations at this point and then start to get ahead.”

Angie Brandenburg, executive director of the Charity Challenge of Champions, said this is the first year for the fundraiser to benefit the NWAWS. For the past 25 years funds raised have gone to the crisis hotline.

“We’ve gotten (the crisis hotline) $1 million that they can pull from for awhile and we felt like since the women’s shelter almost closed their doors last year… they needed some support. So, we’re trying to build on what the rest of the community is doing for them and add to their funds,” Brandenburg said.

The Charity Challenge of Champions is a yearly non-profit fund-raiser that features events ranging from tennis and golf to a 5K run to a tent party and a gala. The two-day tennis tournament features world-renowned celebrity tennis players, including Tim Mayotte, Ann Grossman, Mel Segota, Rajeev Ram, Luke Jensen, John Lloyd, Ross Case, Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario, Jerome Millet, and Cliff Drysdale.

Miller-Coors was the signature sponsor for the event. Other sponsors included Amplify Snacks, Jacks Link’s, Walmart and Sam’s Club, Embassy Suites, Mars, Hershey’s, Unilever and Irving Consumer Products.

A social on Friday night and a gala on Saturday night featured live auction items which included a two-night stay for two on Omni Amelia Island; a week at an estate in L’Olivo, Italy, with accommodations for 10; four tickets to any regular season NFL game of choice, including a two-night stay at the location; a seven-night South African adventure safari and an Antigua getaway for two.

Beginning in 2018, Charity Challenge of Champions will be known as “NWA Challenge for Hope.”