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Carolyn: Celebrating Pride

As Life Unlimited celebrates the month of Pride, we are taking the time to highlight our LGBTQIA+ team members and individuals. Here is a writing piece from one of our team members, Carolyn, on what pride means to her.

“As a queer woman who grew up in an environment where it was expected for each person to be straight, having Pride was not always easy for me. It wasn’t even an option at times.  For the longest time I was terrified to come out, scared of judgment, hate, anger, and any other negative reaction. Eventually, I had to learn that no matter what anyone thought, I had to love myself for who I am. Having Pride means more than just loving who you love, but genuinely being proud of who you are, with all of your differences. Understanding and knowing that what makes you different is what makes you the beautifully unique person that you are.

 When I came out officially and publicly, I ended up getting excommunicated by the church I grew up in, which at the time was my worst nightmare. I was scared I wasn’t good enough for anyone. It was then when I realized that no matter what, I would always have a family within the LGBTQ community. I quickly met other people who were apart of the community, and they helped me realize that there is absolutely nothing wrong with me or any of us. In this community I have met some of the most loving and accepting people I will ever know.           

If there is one thing I wish for others to know about having Pride, it is that the journey to self-love and acceptance is not always an easy one. There will be down falls and heart aches and hard truths to overcome, but knowing that there are people in this world who love you for who you are makes it all worth it in the end. No one is unworthy of love, no one deserves to feel guilty or ashamed for loving who they love. Having Pride means loving who you are, no matter what.”

Monte Summers

Fund Development Committee Member: Monte Summers

At Life Unlimited we have multiple committees that are vital to our success and growth. One of them is The Life Unlimited Fund Development Committee. This committee is comprised of dedicated community volunteers who provide counsel to the organization about fundraising activities, including special events, mailings and grant writing.

We’d like to introduce you to one of our Fund Development Committee members, Monte Summers. Monte has been involved in philanthropic efforts her entire life, working with the state of Kansas American Cancer Society, Special Olympics, United Cerebral Palsy, and more. She has been a supporter and advocate for our organization for decades, originally volunteering her time on the development committee for Open Options (previously United Cerebral Palsy of Greater Kansas City). She served as president of the Open Options Board of Directors for two terms and was on the transition committee when Options Option merged into Life Unlimited in 2018.

In 2003, with the support of fellow board members Dr. Michael Frost and Mr. and Mrs. Ken and Roswitha Schaffer, Monte spearheaded the planning for a new fundraising event called Hats Off To Mothers. Community Volunteer Barbara Spilker served as the first chairperson. Almost 20 years later, Life Unlimited still hosts the annual luncheon and it has raised over 1.7 million dollars to support adults with disabilities. We can contribute this success to Monte and her remarkable dedication to the event and it’s mission.

When asked about why she became so passionate for disability causes, she tells a story about a man she met almost 40 years ago. Her friend in Fort Worth was planning a dance for Special Olympics so she drove down to help her for a weekend. “We were at the dance and there was a young man who was so engaged and outgoing and he was in a wheelchair. And I decided, everyone needs to dance so I asked him if he would dance and we went out on the dance floor together. We just had the best time dancing, it was wonderful. I remember the look on his face the whole time, I still remember to this day.”

Monte’s favorite part of serving on the Fund Development Committee is thinking outside the box for new fundraising events and projects. She also enjoys meeting new benefactors and community partners to discuss how they can best support Life Unlimited’s mission.

The Fund Development Committee is led by Chairperson of the Board Sayard Parrish and coordinated by Chief External Relations Officer Mark Bertrand and Director of Development Andrea Adams. Members are Ms. Brenda Lowe, Ms. Monte Summers, Dr. Tom Thomas, and Ms. Susie Whitfield. Welcome aboard, Dr. Thomas! If you would like to join the committee, contact Andrea Adams at 913-787-7190 or

Sarah Oyen Classic

Sponsors Night

Our Bowl-A-Thon fundraiser happens every September to raise money for our Community Therapeutic Recreation Program which serves more than 500 individuals every year. This year, Sponsors Night takes place September 20, 2023 at Main Event – Kansas City North.

Rec Participant Night

The 25th annual bowling party is returning to Retro Bowl for 2023! This event is exclusively for Rec participants and guardians. Contact Rec for details!

Our recreation program offers music therapy, bowling leagues, cooking lessons, volunteering, fitness classes and so much more. Not only does our recreation program enhance physical and social wellbeing, it teaches educational skills, increases independence, and forms life-long friendships.

2024 Hats Off to Mothers

Luncheon, Chaired by Susanne Shank
Friday, May 10, 2024
11 a.m.: Social Hour and Raffle
12 p.m.: Luncheon
Sheraton Kansas City Hotel at Crown Center

Benefactor Party: May 1, 2024
at the home of Connie and Anthony Mendolia

The 2024 Honorees

Laura Allen
Rosana Privitera Biondo
Doranne Hudson
Siobhan McLaughlin Lesley
Kathy Nelson
Katherine Schorgl
Jamila Weaver
Karen Yungmeyer

Hats Off to Mothers is an annual event that supports Life Unlimited and recognizes mothers who have demonstrated the remarkable ability to balance family life, personal achievement, philanthropy and service to our community.

Make this year a special Mother’s Day. Our Hats Off to Mother’s celebration will not only recognize our illustrious honorees, but will celebrate Mother’s Day.

You will have an opportunity to recognize your mother or a significant person in your life in our printed program and on the large screens in the Ballroom. We encourage you to invite them and your family to this fun luncheon.

New This Year: The Commemorative Keepsake Book

Support a great cause and submit an ad that celebrates a special mom in your life!

Brian C. Watson

Brian Watson has primary day-to-day day responsibility for planning, implementing, managing and controlling all financial-related activities of the organization. This includes direct responsibility for financial accounting, auditing and reporting, payroll management, budgeting, healthcare, retirement and benefits analysis, forecasting, investment management, strategic planning, job costing, contract analysis, representative payee services, financial negotiations, and Federal and State compliance.

Brian has broad experience in all aspects of accounting and financial management bringing over 16 years of executive management experience in public and utility sector finance and budgeting. Brian obtained a Bachelor in Science of Business (B.S.) Accounting from Emporia State and a Masters of Business Administration (M.B.A) Accounting from Park University. He is Certified Public Finance Officer. Brian joined Life Unlimited in May of 2018, as the Chief Financial Officer and enjoys the fast paced challenges of growth and development that Life Unlimited offers.

Paul Twenter

Paul Twenter is a financial professional with over 30 years of diversified business analytics experience. Currently the Chief Analytics and Project Officer at Life Unlimited, Inc. where he has responsibility for Information Technology Department, Quality Assurance Department, and Corporate Projects.  Previously at HNTB, Paul was the Principal for the Decision Analytics Consulting Group which provided financial analysis, business intelligence and advanced analytics expertise along with actionable information that leaders utilize to plan for the future.

Paul’s credentials include a Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting, a Six Sigma Green Belt, a Certified Public Accountant (unlicensed), a Certified Treasury Professional, and two Master’s Degrees. Paul has been the subject of magazine articles in CIO Enterprise and PCAI magazine for his work with Monte Carlo risk management systems.

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