For the Chiefs January 20, 2019, playoff game against the New England Patriots, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City (Blue KC) and the Chiefs selected Deborah Wiebrecht, Executive Director of Variety Children's Charity of Greater Kansas City as the Blue KC Chiefs Kingdom Champion. Prior to kickoff, Wiebrecht received on-field recognition and conducted the ceremonial first pass to Chiefs Ambassador Christian Okoye before touring the Chiefs broadcast booth and enjoying the game.
"It's our pleasure to honor Deborah Wiebrecht as a Blue KC Chiefs Kingdom Champion," said Christina Lively, Blue KC's Department Vice President of Marketing and Communications. "Her commitment to making Kansas City more inclusive for children with special needs is making a positive difference for so many families in our community."
Since 1934, Variety KC has worked on behalf of children with developmental disabilities, providing them with mobility and communication devices as well as opportunities for inclusion. And for the past decade, Wiebrecht has led the charge as executive director, championing the organization's belief that all kids should "be active, be social and belong."
"Inclusive communities are strong communities, and KC is truly becoming an example of the benefits of engaging the entire population," said Wiebrecht, who has served as Variety KC's executive director for 10 years. "Each and every Variety child and family is my inspiration. They are daily warriors and fighters, and each day they tackle surgeries, therapies, equipment costs and the emotional costs of being excluded by society. Through it all they remain loving, positive, hopeful and determined."
Under Wiebrecht's directon, Variety KC has grown by 4,000 percent, allowing them to assist more than 100,000 Kansas City-area kids with a variety of special needs each year. Tangible evidence of the growth and impact can be seen throughout the metro at the Variety KC ball fields, six inclusive playgrounds, the adaptive shopping carts in Hy-Vee stores, inclusive play area at the Kansas City Zoo and Variety's parking sign campaign, among others.
"KC is becoming a leader of inclusion for all kids, including those with disabilities," said Wiebrecht. "Variety KC has been championing inclusion for nearly 100 years, but never put a name to it. Today, I feel a cultural shift, and a big part of this is the advances we are making locally. The invisible portion of our population is suddenly being seen, being understood, accepted and included."
With one in four families having a member with special needs, Wiebrecht believes it is part of her mission simply to let the community know Variety KC exists. And being honored as a Blue KC Chiefs Kingdom Champion will go a long way in helping her spread her message.
"I'm so honored that our mission and our kids will be recognized," said Wiebrecht. "It is a personal goal of mine to tell 1,000 people a year about Variety KC, and as a Blue KC Chiefs Kingdom Champion, I get to share our mission with thousands! Blue KC and their Employee's Caring Program is a huge part of Variety KC's ability to help kids in our community. Being recognized by a partner that we value so much is humbling."
To nominate a local hero like Deborah Wiebrecht to be recognized as a Blue KC Chiefs Kingdom Champion in the coming season, visit chiefs.com/bluekc.