Topeka organization sees growing demand for children’s services

Published: May. 5, 2022 at 6:33 PM CDT
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - Capper Foundation’s annual “Evening for a Child” fundraiser returns in-person this weekend, after two years of virtual fun during the pandemic.

The event comes as providers see growing demand for speech, physical, and occupational therapy services for children.

Three-year-old Amira Payne has a rare genetic condition that brought her family to Capper Foundation.

“We had no idea what it meant to get PT, OT, and speech (therapy),” her mom Peggy said. “Once we did, that was our fight - to get the best care she could get.”

Capper offers all three services. But demand for them has grown. Parents often find themselves searching and waiting. Capper President and CEO Zach Ahrens said it’s frustrating for the families, and providers, too.

“If you can imagine how fast a child grows and develops over time, (so) time is important,” Ahrens said.

Capper launched a five-year, $4 million capital campaign in 2019. One of the goals is to significantly reduce the pediatric services waiting list. It’s already allowed them to add four speech-language pathologists and and one occupational therapist, with another occupational therapist and a physical therapist set to join the team by the end of summer.

The additions initially reduced their wait list by several dozen families. But the trend did not continue.

“Today, we see that waiting list continue to grow,” Ahrens said. “The pandemic has been difficult for individuals, and the needs don’t go away, so it’s vitally important we continue to do what we do, in partnership with our donors, so we can support families and kids that need the services we provide.”

Amira’s family knows how vital it can be.

“Without any of this, I would not have known what to do,” Peggy said. “Without any of this, she wouldn’t be where she’s at.”

You can support capper’s services through the Evening for a Child. A live stream of the program - including the full story of Amira’s journey - starts at 7:15 p.m. Saturday, May 7 on Capper’s Facebook page.

Anyone can bid in the silent auction or donate at

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