Shortly after joining Netsmart in May of 2019, Sarah Owings toured KidsTLC during her onboarding training. While visiting their campus to observe firsthand how our solutions impact the lives of individuals and families in their care, she immediately felt bonded to the organization and was eager to support their mission. It wasn’t until a few months later while surrounded by friends and enjoying the 2019 BMA Foundation’s Dine & Dance with the Stars event that her opportunity presented itself. A girls’ night out quickly evolved into an unforgettable journey of personal growth and connection to a Netsmart client for Sarah, as one of the charities included in the benefit was KidsTLC. It was in that very moment Sarah knew she would be dancing on the floor in 2020 to support KidsTLC.
The BMA Foundation was created after Kansas City native Brian Anselmo’s life was cut short at the young age of 28. The foundation aims to continue his desire to serve as a “Man for Others” through the Jesuit tradition. All funds raised by the foundation support causes that were near to Brian, including humane farming, expanding access to education, athletics and child welfare. Efforts to support all initiatives Brian valued come together under one roof once a year during the foundation’s largest event: Dine & Dance with the Stars.
Each year, a volunteer is matched with a local organization to embark on a journey to raise money and awareness on the organization’s behalf. Volunteers are also paired with a local ballroom instructor who teaches them a three-minute routine to perform on the night of the event. Cast members from ABC’s Dancing with the Stars travel to Kansas City to help judge which volunteer’s dance is worthy of the “most entertaining” title. The volunteer who raises the most money for their organization is also recognized. Individuals can support volunteers along their journey by casting “votes” while raising money.
While a volunteer has yet to win both the most entertaining dance and raise the most money, Sarah is determined to be the first! As a musical artist who’s championing raising mental health awareness, especially among youth, Sarah’s routine is set to a Lady Gaga remix. This mix ties beautifully into the mental and behavioral health services offered at KidsTLC.
Annually, 1 in 5 U.S. adults experience a mental illness and 1 in 6 youth ages 6-17 experience a mental health disorder (SAMHSA). These staggering statistics emphasize the need for greater mental wellness support and intervention. In addition to mastering the steps of her routine, Sarah has thoughtfully planned monthly gatherings leading up to the big event to help raise awareness of KidsTLC’s impact on the community and bring awareness.
Sarah strives to put and emphasis on reducing stigma by bringing the topic of mental health out of the darkness and into the forefront of discussion. The sooner we can openly discuss our mental health needs, the sooner we can remove the stigma, which often keeps individuals from reaching out or seeking help. By sharing the invaluable impact KidsTLC’s services have on children and families alike, she’s emphasizing that help is available and there is no shame in seeking it.
As Sarah continues toward her fundraising goal and delivering the most entertaining routine, we’ll share her progress on the NetsmartLife blog. If you’re interested in supporting her journey, feel free to cast a vote for Sarah, sponsor a table at the Dine & Dance with the Stars event on June 6, or purchase a one-of-a-kind “Shimmy Away the Stigma” t-shirt. Follow the Sarah Shimmies for the Kids Facebook Page to stay current on upcoming events.