Where can you find a group of adults worth more than half a billion dollars, approximately 30 young children, carnival games, balloon-making clowns, music and ponies? At the Special Learning Center in Jefferson City!
Twenty-seven Missouri Lottery-made millionaires and their families celebrated summer on June 29 by hosting a carnival for the children at the Special Learning Center in Jefferson City. The event was part of the 24th annual Millionaires Reunion, held in Jefferson City and the Lake of the Ozarks. During the annual reunions, the millionaires give back to the communities they visit something more valuable than money: their time.
“The Special Learning Center in Jefferson City is such an amazing place,” said May Scheve Reardon, executive director of the Missouri Lottery. “Anyone who has visited it knows what an incredible job these people do and what incredible accomplishments the children make. We thought it would be a great place for our millionaires to give back and enjoy some summer fun with the kids.”
During this year’s event, the millionaires helped the children participate in carnival activities such as a ring toss, duck pond, pony rides, face painting and more. Local vendors and volunteers that helped with the event included: Scholastic; Hy-Vee; the Show-Me Clowns Club; Cheri Bullard-Buckner, who provided pony rides; former baseball star Tom Henke; and 11-year-old former Learning Center student Samuel Luetkemeyer, who provided musical entertainment.
Reardon noted that since the Missouri Lottery’s mission is to raise funds for education, the Special Learning Center was a good fit.“Helping education is what we are all about, so what a better place to give back, but the Special Learning Center?”
The Special Learning Center, located at 1115 Fairgrounds Road in Jefferson City, is a unique educational and therapeutic facility that provides a positive start for developmentally delayed and disabled children.
“We are thrilled to have the winners volunteering and helping us with our end-of-the-school-year celebration,” said Debbie Hamler, director of the Special Learning Center. “The kids work so hard during the school year, and this will be a chance for them to have fun.”
The event at the Special Learning Center was just one of the activities held at this year’s reunion. The millionaires also heard a presentation about consumer protection presented by Tom Durkin, public education director for the Missouri Attorney General’s office.
“One valuable part of the reunions is the networking; winners sharing their stories and advice with each other,” Reardon said. “It’s therapeutic for them to be with others who have been through similar experiences.”
The Missouri Lottery organizes these reunions, and the millionaires pay their own expenses. In addition to the emotional support, the reunions provide a chance for the Lottery to educate winners about pertinent issues, including choosing financial and legal assistance, tax changes, how to avoid scams, security and personal well-being topics.
Since it began in January 1986, the Lottery has created 300 millionaires, with prizes ranging from $1 million to $258.5 million. The 27 millionaires attending this year’s Millionaires Reunion have won more than $635.5 million in jackpot prizes.