The 26th Annual Boys & Girls Club of West Central Missouri Evening of Heart and Hope presented by W-K Chevrolet Buick GMC Cadillac was a night of champions, but there was no greater champion than the 1,100 boys and girls who participate in the programs sponsored by the organization.
The event, hosted at Sedalia Country Club, Saturday evening raised $156,000 thanks to the generosity of the bidders and sponsors of the event, which will be used at 11 club sites locally.
Ryan Lefebvre, radio and television broadcaster for the World Champion Kansas City Royals spoke first hand, of what it means to be a champion especially after overcoming difficulties.
“A few days ago at the Royals Fan Fest I had a conversation with Dayton Moore, (Royals General manager,)” Lefebvre said. “He said to me that he didn’t think the Royals needed him (Moore) anymore which really made me think.
“It took me back to an earlier time in my life and how I was raised with every advantage in life,” Lefebvre said. “I was raised by my father who coached in the majors and my mother who was a model and all of my life I knew what it felt like to be served.”
Lefebvre told the story of his success as a member of the University of Minnesota baseball team, establishing records at the University and then being drafted by the Cleveland Indians.
“I eventually left playing the game and at 24 I became the youngest broadcaster in baseball working for the Minnesota Twins,” Lefebvre said. “I was succeeding but something was missing.
“I pushed on with my wanting even though I had the best car and the best house and all the bests but I wasn’t happy,” he told the audience. “I realized nobody really cared.”
Lefebvre continued with his story saying that in 2005, one phase of his life ended life while a new life began.
“I had fought through my battles with drinking and depression when I realized I need to ask myself, ‘Is this working for me?’” Lefebvre said. “It was at that time that I realized that I wanted to be significant instead of successful.
“The reason we are all here in this life is to serve each other,” he added. “That’s why the Royals are the best team in baseball; individually they may not be the best 25 players but they won because they served each other and they realized that everyone matters.”
Lefebvre added that was the role those in attendance were fulfilling for the youth served by the boys and girls club.
“You are all here tonight because you are serving others, the youth of your community,” Lefebvre said. “You realize that everyone is important, especially the children.
“By giving of yourselves, your time and your resources you are making it possible for the children served by the boys and girls clubs to say ‘they don’t need you anymore’ because you have helped them to become young men and women who know the importance of serving others and they realize that everyone matters.”
Board president, Darren Panier, spoke many of the same words earlier in the evening.
“I truly can’t put into words what tonight means to our organization because it simply can’t be described,” Panier said before dinner. “We live in a city of what 21,000 people? And yet they continue to give and give and their support for this organization and so many others is unbelievable.
“I can’t say enough for all of the volunteers and the people behind the scenes who work so hard to make this possible and all of those for continue to support our efforts and have done so for 26 years now,” he added. “It truly is all about making a difference and giving back but what it really is about are the kids, period.”
Lefebvre spoke of the uniqueness of Sedalia in his remarks and prior to the event with the Democrat.
“I love Sedalia and have been coming here for years with the Royals on their caravans and I must say Sedalia has left an impression on me,” Lefebvre said. “Sedalia is like stepping back in time into a Norman Rockwell painting and whenever I get the chance I like to come back here.”
Lefebvre and his wife Sarah were staying at the Hotel Bothwell after the event to celebrate their eighth wedding anniversary on February 16.
“We really protect Ryan’s time in the off season,” Sarah Lefebvre said. “He truly only does things that he has a connection to and so tonight is a special event for him because of his work with the Boys & Girls Club in Kansas City and how much he cares for Sedalia.
Hope Lecchi cand be reached at 660-826-1000 ext. 1484