TOPEKA – Former Kansas senator, and WIBW founder, Arthur Capper was known for throwing birthday parties that turned into community events. Monday’s celebration at the Easter Seals Capper Foundation was no different.
Aside from his career as a journalist and politician, Capper devoted his time to helping children with disabilities and Monday’s party was proof that his philanthropic efforts are still in full effect.
Without the help of the Capper Foundation, Matthew Downing does not think he'd be able to walk, let alone run.
“I wouldn't be playing soccer, wouldn't be doing a lot of things like that,” said Downing “I would be in a wheelchair probably. I would be a lot different.”
As a baby, Downing was diagnosed with cerebral palsy, a disorder that limits muscle motion. Nine years ago, Downing arrived at the Capper Foundation looking to ease the struggle he had with everyday activities.
“They have done a lot for me through, like, my speech, speech-e, stuff like that,” said Downing. “They've helped a lot with, like, being able to walk, eat, talk, do the normal things that people do today.”
Capper Foundation director and CEO Jim Leiker says people like Downing are Capper's living legacy and a testament to how devoted he was to helping the disabled.
“He was a publisher and a businessman and a philanthropist and a politician, but this is really what he is best known for—helping kids with disabilities, helping children and teens and adults with disabilities be as independent as they possibly can,” said Leiker.
Today, Downing is an honor student and competitive athlete who credits many of his accomplishments to the help he received from the foundation.
“They've just done a lot for me,” said Downing. They've helped me out through hard times.”
The Capper Foundation offers services for everyone from infants to adults. The organization assisted more than 3,000 individuals in 2012.