April 6, 2019
By Fred Liggett
Hope House handed out 15 awards to individuals and companies at their annual Everyday Hero Luncheon held on Thursday, April 4 at Kansas City’s Hilton President Hotel. The number that was most important at the event was the number of individuals they were able to help and give hope too in the past year. The Everyday Hero luncheon was created in 2016 to honor those who give so much to Hope House. This year’s event was emceed by Fox 4 News’ Karli Ritter and the keynote speaker was Kansas City Chiefs Hall of Famer Christian Okoye.
Hope House CEO MaryAnne Metheny began this year’s luncheon by thanking many volunteers and her staff for their contributions over the past year. Event emcee Karli Ritter introduced Julie Ross honorary chair of the 2019 luncheon who came to podium to announce this year’s award winners.
Lee’s Summit was well represented during the award presentation with Dr. Robert “Bud” Hertzog receiving an individual Everyday Hero award. Hertzog was present and was honored for supplying meat to Hope House. Some of the animals sold at the American Royal Livestock show are donated to Hope House to use at the shelters.
The Lee’s Summit North Boys basketball team was presented the Young Philanthropist award. The Broncos were honored for constructing a court at Hope House for kids to play on. LS North Boys basketball coach Mike Hilbert attended the luncheon along with two team members, Tommy Erwin and Trent Barker. Hilbert says he learned of the Hope House honor through an email and feels “it’s icing on the cake after a wonderful season.” Being recognized in this way “is really really special” to Coach Hilbert. The idea of building a court was shared with the team last spring and in July of 2018 a court was up and running. Coach Hilbert said the team got assistance from Don Bishop and Beacon Construction of Lee’s Summit laid the concrete for it. From there team members completed the project. LS North boys basketball likes to teach their players to become young men of character who learn to love, serve and lead others. Coach Hilbert says the team “showed its character with the way everyone cooperated and will lead to success in life.”
Before the luncheon came to a close it was time to hear from the event’s keynote speaker, Chiefs running back and hall of famer, Christian Okoye. Okoye spoke about Hope House’s mission and the chance to help someone. Okoye commented “Hope House does marvelous work, they jump in to help. If they don’t what happens to those in need?” In addition to referencing today’s honorees Okoye talked about his upbringing in his native Nigeria where there is no Hope House to be found. To the delight of many KC Chiefs fans in the crowd Okoye spent time talking about his experience playing in Kansas City and what it was like to play for Coach Marty Schottenheimer. Okoye commented on the team’s off season moves “every year teams make trades to find players that fit. I like the changes they are making.” After admitting he moved back to California for its warmer weather, Okoye mentioned he comes back to KC at least twice a month. For this month Okoye returned to appear at Hope House event after being invited by staff member Jenn Nussbeck. Later in the month, on Sunday, April 28 to be exact, Okoye will be hosting his annual celebrity roast where many KC Chiefs alumni will appear to roast Chiefs Hall of Famer Neil Smith. Everyone attending this year’s luncheon was happy to hear of Hope House success and left with the thought Okoye ended his speech with “If you see a chance to help, jump in to help.”