Indiana First Lady’s Charitable Foundation contributes to Riley Art Therapy Program

Patients benefit from Riley Art Therapy Program
Patients benefit from Riley Art Therapy Program

Three former First Ladies of Indiana joined First Lady Karen Pence today at the inaugural fundraising event to support her newly formed Indiana First Lady’s Charitable Foundation, whose mission is to support and recognize communities and organizations that promote the well-being of Hoosier children and their families.                               

“We started the Foundation to shine a light on the people and organizations who are working every day to benefit our children and Hoosier families. Our hope is that by promoting these organizations, we can help them further their efforts and reach more families across Indiana,” said First Lady Karen Pence.  

“The First Lady’s Luncheon is a culmination of our efforts and serves as the primary fundraising event for the Foundation,” said the First Lady. “I am so pleased and honored that the former First Ladies of Indiana were able to be a part of this special day.”

Indiana’s First Ladies in attendance included:
•         First Lady Judy O’Bannon (Governor Frank O’Bannon, 1997-2003)
•         First Lady Maggie Kernan (Governor Joe Kernan, 2003-2005)
•         First Lady Cheri Daniels (Governor Mitch Daniels, 2005-2013)
•         First Lady Karen Pence (Governor Mike Pence, 2013-present)

Former First Lady Susan Bayh had planned to attend the luncheon, but was detained in Washington D.C. due to inclement weather. 

The First Lady’s Luncheon, “Helping Indiana’s Children Bloom,” held at the JW Marriot downtown Indianapolis was attended by more than 600 people, including statewide elected officials: Secretary of State Connie Lawson, State Auditor Suzanne Crouch, and Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz. 

“This event and the fundraising success we have had at the Foundation is a testament to the hard work and generous heart of so many people. I want to thank my board of directors who guide our efforts at the Foundation, and thank especially the committee of women who planned the luncheon and made this dream a reality,” said the First Lady.

The luncheon was filled with many surprises for guests, including entertainment provided by award-winning singer, Sandi Patty, and a check presentation to Riley Hospital for Children that far exceeded expectations. 

First Lady Karen Pence presented a check to Riley Hospital for Children in the amount of $100,000.00 to support their art therapy program. Kevin O’Keefe, President and CEO of Riley Children’s Foundation received the check.

“What these therapists do for the children and their families is critical to their healing, both emotionally and physically,” said First Lady Pence. “There is nothing more difficult for a parent than watching a child sick or in pain. The Art Therapy program at Riley Hospital for Children is a blessing for all who are touched by this initiative. I deeply appreciate the work they do for our Hoosier children and their families, especially during such a time of need.”

Art therapy is a cause the First Lady has long supported, first as a board member of Tracy’s Kids, an organization that provides art therapy for children in Washington, D.C. hospitals and now as Honorary Chair of Riley Children’s Hospital Art Therapy Initiative.   

“The First Lady has been a passionate supporter of Riley Hospital’s Art Therapy Program for several years. We are grateful to her for making the program the first beneficiary of her new Foundation and look forward to continuing to work with her to ensure children have access to this healing therapy,” said Kevin O’Keefe, President and CEO, Riley Children’s Foundation. 

Each year the Indiana First Lady’s Charitable Foundation will select a different charity as the highest grant recipient to highlight at the First Lady’s Luncheon. The Foundation will award smaller grants and scholarships throughout the year. 

“We are very excited to soon begin announcing the recipients of our mini grants for 2014. There are so many worthwhile organizations doing wonderful work across Indiana. It is an honor and a pleasure to be able to support them and to share their good stories through the Foundation,” the First Lady said. 

About the First Lady’s Luncheon
The Indiana First Lady’s Luncheon, which serves as the primary fundraiser for the Indiana First Lady’s Charitable Foundation, is modeled after the U.S. First Lady’s Luncheon held every year in Washington, D.C. and with similar features, including: a surprise guest entertainer, linens and bags made specifically for the event, and a showing of bi-partisan support.  

The linens and gift bags featured at the inaugural First Lady’s Luncheon were contributed and designed exclusively for the event by Vera Bradley. Extra bags, which are pink, were donated to breast cancer survivors in keeping with the signature charity supported by Vera Bradley. Indianapolis-native Nancy Lawton was at the luncheon to receive the bags on behalf of Indy Survivoars, the pink dragon boat racers, all of whom are breast cancer survivors. 

Vera Bradley’s design for the luncheon was created to coordinate with a peony print, hand-painted by First Lady Karen Pence, which was featured on the luncheon program cover. Guests had the opportunity to purchase signed prints of the painting. The original watercolor was given to Vera Bradley in appreciation for her contributions. 

Luncheon Co-Chairs Patti Coons and Jennifer Ping hope the First Lady’s Luncheon will become a valued tradition for Indiana for many years to come. Indiana is believed to be the only state to have a First Lady’s Luncheon. Planning for the next year’s event is already underway for April 2015. 

The Indiana First Lady’s Charitable Foundation is a 501 ( c ) (3). The First Lady receives no compensation. Donations are tax deductible. Learn more about how to make a donation or request a grant or monetary award on the Foundation’s website at: www.IndianaFirstLadysCharitableFoundation.org.

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