Lee’s Summit area business representatives came together Sept. 14 to focus on building character within the community and supporting young people at the annual Kick Off to Character, sponsored by Lee’s Summit CARES and Summit Bank of Kansas City. Approximately 50 companies and organizations have joined the Community of Character business sector through Lee’s Summit CARES.

Dan Meers, also known as KC Wolf, shares laughs as he talks about character, community involvement and making a difference

Dan Meers, who is KC Wolf for the Kansas City Chiefs, was the keynote speaker at the breakfast event. During his presentation, Meers emphasized being grateful for every day, encouraging others and living a life of influence.

Meers told the crowd that each person is writing his or her own life story. “Do your best to live each day so the sentence ends with an exclamation point,” he said. “Those choices you make determine your character and your destiny.”

A Lee’s Summit resident, Meers said he is encouraged by the community’s levels of volunteer involvement and support for youth.

“Thank you for what you do in our community to get involved,” he added. “We go through life and we are passionate about things that don’t matter and we are passive about things that truly matter.”

The Chiefs mascot also shared the story of his own personal wake up call. In 2013, Meers was critically injured at Arrowhead stadium while practicing a bungee cord entrance onto the field. He struck several seats in the upper decks and spent nine days in the hospital. The incident taught him to always live life to the fullest and focus on what is important, he said.

The annual kick off is an important event for Lee’s Summit CARES and the business community, said Rachel Segobia, the organization’s director. “These businesses have a tremendous impact on our entire community, and we are grateful they have joined the Community of Character effort,” she said.

The Sept. 14 Kick Off to Character was open to all area business representatives, entrepreneurs and community leaders. Businesses interested in becoming a part of the Community of Character business sector may visit LSCARES.org or call (816) 347-3298. The business sector members work together to promote core ethics and character and to support young people.

The event also included information about a Lee’s Summit CARES event taking place on the following day, Sept. 15. Around 40 guests from the neighborhood along with a dozen volunteers attended a Neighborhood Picnic at Lea McKeighan Park with families participating in lunch, face painting and games. Geared toward the downtown Lee’s Summit area, the picnic was designed to help neighbors connect and become more engaged in their community. In addition to Lee’s Summit CARES, the picnic was sponsored by Lee’s Summit Social Services and United Way.

“The picnic is a response to results from a survey of Lee’s Summit students,” Segobia added. “The students identified community as the area in their lives that provided the least amount of supports. This neighborhood picnic is a first step in closing that gap.”

Lee’s Summit CARES is a 30-year-old community coalition dedicated to preventing youth substance use and violence, promoting exemplary character and empowering positive parenting. For more information, visit http://www.lscares.org/. You may also follow Lee’s Summit CARES on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat.